Simply beautiful...

Simply beautiful...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas

I love everything this Christmas season brings.  I love the decorations and the crafts (no matter how simple my efforts are).  How we cherish our time together as a family and get the chance to create lasting traditions.  How it makes us think of others more than normal.  How we get to share Jesus with our kids in special ways because it's all about His birthday.  All of it is simply beautiful to me.
I love the extra snuggles because it's cold and dark outside.
I love my spontaneous dates because some little people can't quite sit through Christmas concerts yet.
I love family hot chocolate dates around the table after dinner.
I love crafting with my mom in the evening hours when the house is still and quiet.
And I love actually finishing something too!
I love the added decorative sparkle all around the house.
I love my little shopping buddies who prefer monkeying around wherever they go.
I love our little enthusiastic spirits who want to craft in the kitchen at 7am.
I love that our house is covered in family-made decorations.
I love spontaneous decisions to take the kids to see Christmas lights past their bedtime.
I love watching them soak up the spirit of Christmas with wonder.
Sometimes... I simply love.
I love the opportunity to love our neighbors a little bit more with Christmas tins of goodies.
I love snowman building days with my bug and boo.
And I love thawing out together.
I love my pink...
And I love my blue.
I love the extra special moments with family and grandparents.
And I love the added tradition of little kid Christmas programs!

Harper's Friday School Christmas Program - Musical Performance

Here is the actual performance from Harper's preschool Christmas program.  Again this is for Nana and OoOo especially ;)

Enjoy the little voices, the wiggly bodies and all the funny moments in between... if you dare to watch the whole thing that is ;)

Harper's Christmas Program - What They've Learned

This video is being posted by special request of Nana and OoOo who couldn't make it to Harper's preschool Christmas program.

Harper was near tears as we drove to her school because she said she was nervous.  Jeremy and I prayed with her in the car before we got out and she walked into the school room without a hitch.

It was clear to Jeremy and I that Harper truly has some element of her Nana in her.  Nana is a dynamic and beautiful singer and worship leader.  I could see Harper doing something of the sort someday.  Harper is expressive, loves singing loud and has lots of energy to spare!

Jeremy and I walked away realizing just what a BIG deal these things are.  It was so precious to watch Harper in her first performance.  She is our joy and we couldn't be more proud of all that she is learning and who she is becoming with every step along the way.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Oh Christmas Tree

Like so many people, I adore Christmas. I love the sights, sounds, smells, colors, activities, foods... And of course the memories. One of my all-time favorite traditions we have for Christmas is getting our tree.

Since moving to Oregon, we've made it a point to bundle up as a family and march through a Christmas tree farm to find the perfect ONE.  Jeremy and I love how this simple act of picking out a Christmas tree always carries with it priceless memories and family togetherness that is irreplaceable.

This year, Harper was very into it.  She marched through the farm of 11,000 trees and owned it.  Yes.  That's 11,000 trees.  The first tree Harper spotted and announced should be ours was reminiscent of a tree from Dr. Seuss.
We laughed at the fact that every tree she found was the "one"... and each of them was at least 14 feet tall!  Even Jeremy and I were waiting for a National Lampoon moment... you know where the light shines down and angels sing when we come across the "one".  Yeah.  That didn't happen.

As we marched around and passed up one "almost" tree after another... it was getting colder and colder.  Just as we started to feel the oncoming of feeling disheartened and just before the kids really started melting down, we found it.
Our perfect tree with the perfect place to put our star.
Thank goodness that a tree farm angel showed up just after Jeremy cut our tree down.  We had wondered further and further away from our car as we searched.  We were pretty far out.  The kids were done.  I was holding them.  Jeremy was left to drag our giant tree to the parking lot.  Out of NOWHERE a guy showed up and asked if he could help Jeremy out with our tree.  The little kindnesses of a stranger go so far...
Our little Mr. Man enjoyed a licorice rope and some thick hot chocolate by the fire up by the parking lot.  These little moments stop my heart and make me savor every single second.
As we drank our hot chocolate, I ran into my friend Annie from my BSF group last year.  It was so much fun running into her and her beautiful family.  She (being a photographer) offered to take our family picture.  Thank you Annie.  These family shots are actually more few and far between than I would like.
The kids and I started decorating the tree while daddy finished up work.  My little helpers were all on board and truly helpful this year!  Harper helped me with every single wind the lights took around the tree.  And Bentley made us a special "nest" of tinsel ;) Such a different picture than last year when we had an almost 3 year old and a 1 year old.
Harper got the honor this year of putting the star on the tree.
Little brother had to take part as well.
One of the following mornings after putting our tree up, I brought Bentley down from his room.  As we walked over to the tree to turn the lights on, he began to sing all on his own, "oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, how lovely are your branches".  Precious boy.

The final product is one we cherish.  It's a colorful, family-style tree and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Our tree is a patch-work of love.

Every year Jeremy and I have decided to buy each of our kids an ornament that reminds us of that child for the year.  This year had a disney theme.  Harper's ornament was Rapunzel's tower, Bentley's was Buzz Lightyear - since the obsessions were strong this year.  Completely epitomizing them at almost 4 and 2.

Jeremy and I have each hung ornaments from our childhood - some we made, some of Santa, some of Jesus and the nativity.

My mom also gave me a few of my brother Jeffrey's childhood ornaments to hang on our tree to remember him.  These ones hold so much emotion on our tree.

See?  A patch-work of love.  A patch-work of lives and memories.  Being able to sit next to this tree in it's glow, especially in the early morning hours, brings a peace and calm.  It's these simple traditions that cause me to feel deeply thankful for my family, our memories and the love we share in Christ Jesus.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Still Catching Up

Perhaps it's pointless to try to catch up on this blog.  This will be my last catch up attempt from an overwhelming fall season and now Christmas season.

Just before Thanksgiving, our family was able to join Jeremy on one of his consecutive weeks spent in San Diego in October/November.
The point was not for our family to have a vacation.  It was one of those trips where sleeping in the same bed feels like the greatest blessing EVER.  And seeing sweet friends was a complete bonus ;)

While Jeremy was busy, the kids and I had a blast driving all around San Diego to see friends.  I feel like I'm always trying to jam so much in when I'm down there, sometimes I (much too late) realize it is to my own detriment.  This time because Bentley can't quite go multiple days without napping and I was trying to see if he could swing it... Nope. Not yet.
(our view for the week)
I am deeply thankful for the dear friends we have down there.  That they've stood the test of time - 2+ years since we moved away.  And these dear friends still change their schedules around, invite us into their chaos and gladly join ours.  There were a few I missed seeing so... I'm sorry to those of you with whom it didn't work out this time.  Next time!  You are all dear to my (our) hearts.
We got to spend the day at the zoo with my dear friend Rhiannon and Harper's love, Carter.  We loved doing the same routine Rhi and I did when Harper and Carter were just tiny - plus one of course ;)
Cutie pies!
Getting their zoo faces on.
All Harper wanted to see that day were the polar bears.  Who knew?
I was able to get quite a bit of running in while down there since we were staying in Mission Bay and there are boardwalks galore there.  One evening, I decided a run was a must.  I was breath-taken by the sunset, so the kids and I stopped to watch it set over the ocean.
Josiah, Micah, Bentley and Harper decided to start a band!  We had so much fun playing with them.
The sunrises were beautiful every morning and we were up for each one of them ;)
We did get a play date at the park on Sail Bay with Tatum and her sweet, sweet girls... but of course I didn't get a picture of them!  I also got to share a glass of wine with Tatum later... loved that.
The kids and I were also blessed to spend almost a full day with Rhiannon, Carter and her twins Noelle (above) and Caleb.  Their family is beautiful chaos with their addition of one year old twins since we moved away... and I adore every bit of it.  Adam travels a bit too, so I knew that company is what Rhi needed ;) Rhi and I kept the kids busy, were able to catch up on much needed conversation and even managed including dinner before we had to go.  That was a sweet day to me.
The kids and I were also able to head up to Dana Point in Orange County to see Auntie Jordan and Rocco.  We went for a long walk to the park.  Harper was talking about it for days.
Harper was even able to hold the leash for a minute... Which equalled total heaven for her.  If I get asked one question the most, it is: "Mom, can I get a puppy?  I really need a pup."
We mustered all of our might to make a dinner happen so we could see the Heinrich's family and the Lehman family.  Tatum had to work, so Eric braved it alone with his two littles.  It was the purest form of chaos to try to get the kids to eat and play when it was way past Karis's bedtime and nearing the others.  Nonetheless, we loved being able to see them all (adults and children)!  
Our last day in SD, our family slowed it down A LITTLE.  We spent the day just us.  But we managed a few adrenaline rushes.  Bentley adores carousels.
We found the BIGGEST ice cream cones known to mankind!
And Harper and Dada rode the Tilt-d-Whirl!  Yes, our girl is a seeker of thrills.  She is fearless!  She screamed in pure delight for about half of it... then Jeremy and I both worried she'd either throw up or burst into tears by the look on her face.  She made it through, with no accident of any sort.
The kids watched as the Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure headed down the boardwalk... yes, kids.  There are many strange sights to be had during this event.
We spent our last evening down on the beach.  It was stunning.
It took them a moment to warm up...
... Especially after a surprise attack wave...
But eventually they were in fully and loved every single second of it!  The ocean is SO much warmer in SD than in Oregon.  I loved this memorable evening with our little snuggle bugs!