Saturday, December 26, 2009

christmas 'unwrapped'...

christmas day was as crazy and as wonderful as always!!

we woke up early christmas morning. there was still snow covering everything!!! we had a white christmas in dallas, texas!!!

it was really cold, but i had to get a picture of them with the snow on christmas morning!!

o & j were very excited about all the wonderful gifts that santa had left them. o was so excited that santa left her all 3 of the things she asked for-- pajamas for emily (american girl doll), a pink and black stroller (also for emily), and a church necklace (a real necklace that she can wear to church, not dress up beads!!). jack was also pleased with what santa decided to leave for him-- a cozy coupe car, a keyboard, and puzzles!! the car is by far his favorite, but i think he liked all the gifts.
this was the kids saw when they came into the living room christmas morning!!
the kids stockings, all loaded up with little treats from santa! and what was left of the cookies and an milk we left for santa!
jack loving his car!! we literally had to pull him out of it!!
olivia with emily after dressing her in her new pajamas! the stroller made the pic too!

oh, the chairs santa left are great too!! olivia says that these are for me so that she and jack don't ruin the big furniture with their snacks and drinks, but she and jack are going to use them. ha! :)

then the kids opened a few gifts that mommy and daddy chose for them. they liked those too! the most fought over toy was the toy microwave! too bad we didn't pick up one in primary colors too! :)

then it was off to allen to visit the blanchette family. we arrived at nana and gramps' house and there was a living room full of family waiting on us-- nana, gramps, uncle sean, gramma millie, papa, uncle mark, chrissie, and bohnie and callie (the dogs) too! we all situated ourselves around the living room and began exchanging gifts, laughing together, and giving lots of hugs!!
jack LOVED his new tool set and especially his hardhat!! thanks gramps!!
olivia LOVED her new apron and chef's hat! she thought it was from uncle sean since he is the family chef, but really nana is to thank for this adorable gift!! jack has a set too!

another one of jack's favorite gifts was the "tickle me elmo" he got from gramma millie and papa!! he really loves to make elmo laugh!! :)

nana (nancy, my mom) got o a 'fancy nancy' doll!! as you can tell by the smile on o's face she is in heaven!! nana loves to read fancy nancy books to o when she is over for a visit!! fancy nancy is one of the many 'special' things that nana and o do together.

next it was time for our traditional brunch!! yummy!! :) olivia said our prayer this year and for me it was the best part of the morning. she thanked god for her family, our house, baby jesus' birthday, and for santa and all the gifts!! ha!:) before we knew it, our bellies were full, and it was time to pack up the car and head on over to the bowlins.

at pop & b's house there was also a house full of family! b, pop, sarah, christman, abby and kingsley were all there. we were so excited to continue our fun day with each of them. right before we arrived kingsley fell off a piece of exercise equipment and hurt her arm! :( she ended up breaking her arm!! :( so sad for her! she did power through the gift exchange and then sarah and christman took her to children's for a doctor to look at it. it was really sad to not have everyone together. we did have a delicious dinner, minus kk, sarah, and christman, and then everyone was back together at the very end of the night for dessert. not necessarily what we planned, but it all worked out ok. it was great that for at least part of our time together we were able to laugh, exchange presents, and watch the kids enjoy the day together.

**i didn't take many pictures at the bowlins! :( i guess with the choas of having 4 kids opening gifts and then kk's arm, i just didn't think about it!**

the girls were sooooo excited about the baylor cheerleader outfits that b and pop gave them for their american girl dolls! i think emily, ella, and marianna might have to come to game next year! :)

after a very long day it was time to pack up once again and this time go home!! we got home unloaded to sleepy children into bed and more gifts that one family needs into our living room and then headed to bed ourselves.

as i say each year, all the gifts we receive are wonderful, but the greatest gift is getting to spend the entire day surrounded by the love of family. we recognize how lucky we are to have so many people that love us in the special way that they do!! i hope that your christmas was a special one and that you were able to spend it with family and those that you cherish most!! merry christmas!

Friday, December 25, 2009

we wish you a merry christmas...

and a happy new year!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

christmas eve...

was very memorable this year.

maybe it was because it snowed all day on christmas eve!!!

for the first time in over 100 years we had snow on christmas eve and it was still covering everything christmas morning!! so beautiful!!

maybe it was the incredible worship service that we attended at our church. it really allowed me time to stop and think about this special time of year and why we celebrate christmas. it allowed me moments to think about the incredible love and sacrifice that God demonstrated by becoming to earth. it made my heart smile to look down the LONG pew and see my family (bowlins and blanchettes) listening to luke 2, the story of christ's birth, and singing beautiful christmas songs.

maybe it was because mark was missing from our pew this year, but that was because he was on stage serving as the worship leader during the christmas eve service. what a gift to watch him use the leadership and musical talents he has to praise god on weekly basis, but on this special night as well.

maybe be it was because we continued our tradition of sharing a delicious italian meal with precious friends at maggiano's after church. the hopkins, drew, and the guys are some of our most cherished friends.

maybe it was because i get to experience it through my children...

growing up we always got to open ONE gift on christmas eve. i have continued that with my kids. they haven't figured it out yet, but it is always going to be pjs!! they just love the excitement of finally ripping into one of those gifts that have been lying under the tree!!
this year their pjs represented their favorite things!! jack got elmo pjs and olivia got owl pjs. they were both very happy with their new jammies!! :)

olivia loves the idea of santa coming down our chimney, leaving her and jack gifts, and enjoying the tasty snack of cookies and milk that she prepared for him.
we had lots of fun making these cookies for the ol' st. nick. she had a very difficult time deciding which ones to leave. she decided on {in her words} "a rudolph, that's santa's favorite reindeer. a christmas tree, that was my favorite cookie i made. and an angel, that is from the 'activity scene' (navitity)"

she also loves reading "the night before christmas" before she goes to sleep on christmas eve. this is one of my most memorable traditions from my childhood that i am so glad to pass on to my children.
she knows almost the entire poem. it was precious to watch mark read it and for her to "read" along with him.

or maybe, just maybe it is all of it together that makes this day such a special one. how we can have fun and "believe" that santa is on his way, yet in the very next thought contemplate how my savior, jesus was born in a manger over 2000 years ago- and that takes my breath away! merry christmas eve!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

ballet "show-off" day...

this past week all the moms, dads, and grandparents were invited into the studio classroom to watch our little ballerinas show-off all their ballet and movement skills. it was so much fun to watch the girls sing, dance, and move all over the studio. they have learned so much over these past three months.

olivia all dressed in her jingle bells and ready to perform.
olivia, our beautiful ballerina! :)
this was one of the girls favorite songs-- the train song, so cute!!
little reindeers getting ready to grand jete'(run and jump over a box in the center of the room).

the girls showing off their flexibility skills on the bar. ms. janie is reminding them to point their toes. :)

olivia, ms. janie, kingsley

ms. janie does an incredible job teaching the girls beginning ballet skills while working on several movement skills and doing it all through fun music so they enjoy every moment. olivia absolutely loves ballet and especially ms. janie.

at the very end of the class we learned a little more about the recital and we even got to find out what their costume will look like!! the recital's theme is dr. suess, "oh, the places you will go!" and the girls will be little mice!! the costume is adorable- grey and pink with ears and a tail. we are looking forward to may when olivia, kingsley, and the other girls will be on the BIG stage, but i know the girls will continue to love each tuesday they spend with ms. janie leading up to it.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

decking our halls...

decorating the house was a family affair this year. i was the director, of course, but olivia, jack, and mark all helped "deck our halls." here are few pictures of the finished product...

our tree
our tree is decorated with red berries, red and green ornaments, and ornaments that represent significant events in our lives and trips we have been on together.

the mantel
nothing too exciting, pretty traditional i think :)

the outside
i had to include this because i decorated the outside all by myself and i think it looks really pretty at night! :O)

Friday, December 18, 2009

christmas thru their eyes...

there are so many blessings that come with having children, and christmas is one of them. i have loved christmas since a childhood, but since having my own children i love it even more {if that is possible}. i love talking about baby jesus and the nativity story. i love singing jingle bells and listening to christmas music all the time. i love all the parties. i love visiting santa and writing him a letter. i love buying and wrapping gifts and trying to teach "it is better to give than receive" to my children. i love family gatherings with all the yummy food and hugs. i love dressing up my kids in their adorable "christmas clothes" and taking their pictures. i love looking at christmas lights. i love hearing children sing "away in the manger." and the list goes on and on, but this year on the top of my "favorites" list is...

i never get tired of hearing the excitement in olivia's voice as she spots a baby jesus or "activity" scene. she has some how confused "nativity" with "activity," and now calls all nativities "an activity scene." it is so funny to me and makes me giggle everytime she says it. {that is about 5 times a day!} i also never want to forget how she plays with baby jesus and will sing "away in the manger" all by herself acting out the song while she plays. such a sweet sound and reminds me what this time of year is all about.

i love hearing jack say "ho! ho! ho!" when he sees a picture, figure, statue, anything of santa claus! i also love his reaction to christmas lights. he says "look, lights! ooooo!" he also gets up every morning and goes over to the christmas tree and finds his favorite ornament- elmo, and points it out to me. makes me start my day with a smile. i think i am really going to miss that when the decorations are put away.

what joy these two bring to my life! and what is absolutely amazing to me is that it does not even compare the the joy that jesus brings by being my savior,"wonderful counselor, mighty god, everlasting father, prince of peace." {Isaiah 9:6} thank you jesus!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

bethlehem's blessing...

the preschool ministry at our church puts on this event each year called 'bethlehem's blessing.' it is for all preschoolers and their families to come and experience what this season is really all about-- the blessing born in bethlehem, jesus. the event started out in 'big church' (as our kids call it) by singing songs about that first christmas. we sang several songs, but olivia's favorite was "no room!" (ask her to sing it, it's pretty cute!)

then we began our journey to bethlehem. there was a solider who read the instructions to return to bethlehem for the census- just like the bible says about why mary and joseph had to travel to bethlehem. we filled out our family's census and started our journey...

the solider and olivia. she was a little nervous, but wanted to have a picture with him.

once we arrived in 'bethlehem' there were all different 'shops' set up for us to experience what life might have been like in bible times when mary and joseph were there. there was a bakery where we ate bread. a rope shop where we made a rope and heard all about how the people in the bible used rope for all kinds things. a market with fruits and vegetables that we were able to taste. (jack loved the raisins.) a well with water for us to drink. a toy shop where we made a toy (baby jesus) out of clay.
olivia and her baby jesus that we made together.
mark posing with the baby jesus that he and jack made.

a jewelry shop where we got to make a jingle bell bracelet.
mark, jack, and olivia all hard at work.

a shop where we turned corn and oats into flour. that was hard work!
olivia was using her muscles and using a stone to make flour.

and then there was an inn with an inn keeper, just like the bible says. the inn keeper told us that there was no room for us. when we looked inside the inn there were puppets in all the beds, so he told us to go outside. when we went outside we saw real live animals!! goats, sheep, and a donkey. the kids got to pet the animals and then they saw mary and joseph and baby jesus in the stable with the animals. just like the bible tells us.
jack loved the animals and pet them all.

we really enjoyed spending the evening together as a family and getting to experience part of the bible becoming alive and hands-on for our kids. it was such a great way for them to begin to understand the awesomeness yet the simplicity of that first christmas.

Monday, December 14, 2009

christmas at ccdc...

today was olivia's last day of school before the christmas and new years holiday. it was a day full of extra special activities and events.

all dressed up and ready for her day. she thought she looked really pretty and wanted me to take a picture. ha! :)

i was lucky to get to be apart of a few parts of her day. this year i am serving as one of the room moms in her class, which means i get to go to the "holiday parties." basically it is an extra special snack time with a craft, but the kids love it and so do i. we decided to have the kids all make a little baby jesus and manger (thanks misty for the idea). the baby jesus was made out of a sock and the manger out of a grocery sack. it was a cute craft, super cheap, and no glue!! does it get any better!!
olivia and her friends wrapping their baby jesus in swaddling clothes.

olivia and ellie really wanted to have more time to play with their babies.

i absolutely loved watching the kids make their baby jesus, rock the babies in their arms, and then place them in the hay filled manger. i really wish every parent could have seen it. it was so precious.

fast forward several hours and in the afternoon all the 3 and 4 year olds put on a little christmas program for their families. i was so excited to get to watch olivia sing on stage.
here she is walking in and spotting her "fan club" in the audience. i love the expression on her face!

i was also nervous as to what kind of performer she would be- the loud/screaming singer, the waving child, the pouting face child, the nervous nail bitter or nose picker, or the obedient rule follower. she has tendencies that could result in any of the above, but she opted for the obedient rule follower...(not really that shocking!)
there she is singing her heart out!!
** totally my fault we did not get better pictures. i forgot the zoom lens.

pop, nana, chrissie, and the whole fifer gang were all cheering her (and kingsley) on and smiling at her from the audience. b and gramps we missed you, but know you would have been there if you could!! i know everyone was proud of her performance. she and all the 3 year olds sang-- the acorn song (very funny), tis the season to be sneezing (also funny!), jingle bells, and go tell it on the mountain.
nana and o
o and pop

o and chrissie. thanks for taking the afternoon off from work chrissie!!

christman and kingsley. kingsley was in the performance on the other side of the stage. she did an awesome job singing and doing the motions!! way to go kk!!

olivia, abby, and kingsley. abby didn't want to miss the show and i know it was so special for the girls to have her there cheering for them.

it really was a great day. i am so thankful for the school that olivia attends. she learns so many wonderful skills each and everyday that she is there from the best teachers!! days like today remind me of how lucky she is to be in such a great place.

video of the performance is coming!! i need to edit it down to a few of the highlights. :)

Monday, December 7, 2009

santa fifer...

their are so many traditions this time of year. i am the kind of girl who holds tight to traditions, so i love continuing a good tradition. my sweet sister in law, sarah, has a very patient, kind, and wonderful father in law who dresses up each year as santa claus. he sets himself up in front of her christmas tree and invites us all to come over and snap a few pictures. it is wonderful!! there is no issue finding a parking spot or waiting in a long line to see him. santa fifer is so kind and patient with all the kids and even asks them what they want for christmas. he also doesn't mind if they scream, cry, and run away- just like any good santa! this year the tradition continued so we headed over to the fifer house to visit santa fifer.

olivia is still not so sure about sitting on ANY santa's lap, not even santa fifer. but she is comfortable standing right next to him. she even answered his questions this year!! she told him that she wanted a pink and black baby doll stroller, pajamas for her emily doll, and a church necklace. :)
jack on the other hand was not as into the experience at all. he cried through the entire process, but i love it! is that bad? i am that mom who makes her kid cry on santa's lap because i want to have a picture with him every year and remember the years that they just screamed. all part of the fun for me anyway!

we did manage to get a cute picture of all the girls smiling and enjoying their time with santa fifer...

and one of all the kids with jack screaming, of course...
thank you fred for continuing this fun tradition. i love seeing you each year and i love even more that you are such a special part of our christmas season. thank you fifers for hosting such a fun afternoon!!

my mom still wants to take the kids back to the santa out in allen to continue her tradition with them, but she has had 2 failed visits so far. the line is soooo long! we are going to try one more time this week! i'll report on that if and when that happens. :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

getting in the spirit...

i absolutely LOVE christmas so instead of actually writing new posts and updating you on olivia's birthday party and our WONDERFUL thanksgiving, i have decided to decorate my blog for my favorite time of the year.