Friday, December 16, 2011

Whoo Hooo!!

I just managed to get a video off my phone, on my computer, converted to the right format, and burned onto a DVD that will... wait for it, wait for it... ACTUALLY PLAY ON OUR DVD PLAYER!!!! This is a major accomplishment, if you couldn't tell from all the caps ;-).

Emma's now practicing her dances that I took video of. Her Christmas recital is tomorrow!! Off to watch my girly <3

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

I love the way the house feels when it's decorated for Christmas. I love getting into those old boxes and getting out the decorations. So many of those decorations have great stories behind them. I thought I would share a few...

This tradition was started the year I was born. Grandma Butler started buying me a Reid and Barton cross every year. Each one is different and each has it's own story. I hang them on the tree each year on red ribbons. One year, before we had kids, this was all that was on our tree along with white lights and baby's breath. It was truly beautiful. This collection of crosses started a few years before I was born, and my mom was so sweet to fill in those missing years for me. She has also kept the tradition up since my Grandma was no longer able to get them for me. Year after year I am surprised at how many crosses there are on our tree.... hummm, guess what that means....

This reindeer was given to my mom by an old neighbor. It hung in our house every Christmas when I was a child. My mom passed it on to me. He has graced the back of our door since I got him. This year when the Christmas boxes came down I had three sets of little hands wanting to get into them. I made the mistake of popping Mr. Reindeer out of the box a little too fast (and maybe with a little growl - I know, bad mommy!). This made Luke scared of it, and he refused to come downstairs on his own for the first few days. Since then he has become friends with the reindeer and has enjoyed pointing them out whenever he sees one. (note to self: don't do that again!!)

Danny got me this train one Christmas after we got married. I think it's cute and the kids have always loved it. I love that he picked it out and got it for me.

Another year Danny got me this beautiful nativity. I love it! The characters expressions are so soft and lovely. I hope to treasure it always. I'm pretty sure there was no snow in Bethlehem, but the painting behind the nativity was done by Dan's Grandpa Browne and I just love the way it looks behind the nativity.

This nativity is so special to me. It's the one that was in my house growing up. I think I was 2 or 3 years old when my mom painted these characters. She let me help. Of course I don't remember, but these characters are like old friends to me. The cow has lost his horns, so has the donkey. Joseph's hand and staff are missing. There are many chips and glued heads, but I think that just adds to it. I'm sure that most of those bumps where done while me, my sister, or my brother playing out the scene of the nativity. I have this on a low shelf so my kids can touch and explore with it too.

This is our Jesse Tree. I made it two years ago, and we have really enjoyed adding the tradition of the Jesse Tree to our family during the Christmas season. It is a wonderful way to celebrate Advent - which means "coming" referring to the coming of Jesus. We read a story from the Bible every night along with a devotional and a prayer. We also add a leaf to our Jesse Tree that represents what we read about that night. This photo shows the first three days done. Day 1 was creation where we read about God creating the earth and about how Jesus was there then (John 1:1-4). Day 2 we read about the first sin and how God made a way for us to get back to Him through Jesus. Day 3 was about the flood and how we can have eternal life through Jesus. There is a lot of information on the internet about starting a Jesse Tree. Ann Voskamp has a beautiful free downloadable book. This is the book we have used the past couple years.

This is the jewel tree. Grandma Butler had this hanging in her house every Christmas. She made it long ago with costume jewelry. It has multi-colored lights that blink on it. For years I always thought it looked a bit tacky. This year however, I have a new appreciation for the jewel tree. Grandma Butler passes away last month, and having this hanging in the house is very comforting.

This cute stained glass Santa was made by a dear family friend. He found his place here in our front window the year we moved into this house and has hanged in the same spot every year since waving to all who pass by.

These are some of the items that make our couch cozy in December. I made these pillows after Zachary was born along with our family stockings. I also started a quilt, which has yet to be finished (someday...). I do however have a cute quilt made by a sweet friend from church. It has jolly Santa's on it, but I leave it out all year because this as the first quilt she ever made and was such a beautiful gift to our family.

And these are just some of the many (many) Christmas books that litter our couch most days. My kids love to read and be read to. Even Luke will sit still for most books. I got wise a few years back and packed all the Christmas books away with the Christmas decorations at the end of Christmas. It was so nice not to be reading Rudolf in July! It also made it so much fun to get them down again in December.

So those are just a few of our Christmas decorations/traditions that grace our home each year. A mix of old and new, comfortable, and uniquely ours.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Luke is 2!

Luke's birthday seemed to sneak up on me this year. I suppose that is something I'm going to have to get used to. It's right after Thanksgiving, right when the Christmas season is getting started. I'm sure there will be years when he will want Christmas to wait until after his birthday, but since he doesn't have much to say about that now we started decorating before his birthday.

His birthday fell on a Friday, and since Dan has Fridays off work, we took him to Disneyland for the day. But, before we left we gave him his first gift.

This old Power Wheels quad has sat in the garage since Emma used to ride it. Zachary rode it before that, and we originally got it for a steal on Craigslist. Well, the battery had worn out and so Luke has only ever seen it sitting in the garage. Of course this didn't bother him one bit. He would climb on and pretend to be driving it while Danny would work in the garage. Well, imagine his surprise when we got a new battery for it for his birthday! We put his helmet on and put it in the backyard. Danny showed him how to use the gas peddle, and away he went. I have a feeling there will many many hours spent chasing him around the backyard on that thing!

Here he is giving a "Thumbs Up" :-)

After a few laps around the yard, it was off to Disney. We enjoyed the beautiful Christmas decorations and the time together. We started at City Hall where they gave him a birthday button. All day long people were wishing him a happy birthday. It was really fun. Right outside of City Hall, Luke took my hand and started saying, "choooo choooo". So we hit the train 1st. I was a little worried that we would end up on the train all day. Luckily he was okay with us getting off near Toon Town which included a trip to see Mickey himself. We went on several rides in Fantasyland, all the while he would point out the whale on the Storybook ride and would open his mouth wide to show us how the whale looked. I didn't realize that this would cause a problem when we got on the ride and he buried his head in Danny's chest and cried (probably thinking the whale was going to eat us). Luckily, all was fine again when we got through to the other side of the whale.

On the train with his birthday button.

I think my favorite ride of the day was It's a Small World. I love watching Luke take it all in. It's so beautifully decorated for Christmas and he seems to have so many favorite parts of that ride. I think his favorite ride is Buzz Lightyear. He kept requesting, "buzzzz buzzzz". Since it was his birthday we decided to get him a Buzz toy gun and a Buzz doll. He loves them!! Even at Disney prices, it was so worth it.

Casey Jr. with Daddy and Zachary.

The Buzz Lightyear gun was a huge hit.

We decided to watch the fireworks with the crowds on Main Street. It was so amazing. Watching the show with the castle in the foreground was magical. The best part though was after the firework show they started playing, "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas", and it started snowing. Seriously, only at Disney can this much magic happen!

We waited until the next day to open gifts. Nana and Papa came over for dinner and Nana made the most delicious cake bites for Luke's birthday cake.

All in all I would have to say he had a pretty cool birthday. He was celebrated, we felt blessed, and I, well I have a two year old... again.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Luke Riding his Quad

This is my first attempt at a video, but since I took it and it doesn't do any good sitting in the camera, I thought I would share.

This is Luke riding his quad on his second birthday.

Bringing home the tree

I have dreams of taking a hike in the forest to get our Christmas tree, but where we live in sunny California, a trip to Home Depot is usually the route to our Christmas tree. This year it was a blustery cold day, which helps when you are trying to feel Christmas-y. Danny always refuses the fresh cut they offer at the store, and comes home and trims up the tree himself. Then gives it a bath before bringing it inside.

I figured it was as good a time as any to grab the camera and take a couple photos of my growing kids. I had a hard time getting them to slow down so I could take a picture.

What a bunch of characters!!