Friday, December 28, 2012

Emma's observations

Will was in the midst of a tantrum, and as we walked away from him Emma said matter of factly, "Will is just reminding me of the foolish man and the White Witch."

Then later the same day when he was again whining she told him, "Will, you can't always get what you want."

Friday, December 21, 2012

Colonial Williamsburg

We had a nice mini-vacation in early December to Williamsburg. We were there to use a Groupon to Great Wolf Lodge, but had to make a quick stop in Colonial Williamsburg. I had never been at Christmastime, and it was beautiful.

Emma and Will enjoyed the the wagon.
Check out the authentic Colonial lantern!

Not something you see everyday...Emma kept yelling "watch out for the poop!"

The Kings Arms

In the stocks.... root beer!
And a special treat - Ginger Cookies
Will did a great job pulling the wagon for a while

Walking with Pap

The Capital building, just before sunset.

While walking around Williamsburg was great, the real reason we were there was to see the Fife and Drummers. Emma and Will absolutely LOVE seeing a video Pap Pap took more than a year ago, and they were so excited to see them in person.

We marched with the fifes and drums all the way down Duke of Gloucester Street, listening to them play. The final song was Yankee Doodle Dandy. So much fun!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Fancy Birthday Party fun

Emma attended a fun birthday party earlier this month - it was a "Fancy" party and everyone enjoyed the special treats (Emma loved the pink wafers!).

Emma was very nervous at first, but warmed up as the party went on. She was especially excited to see the cake - that is one of her favorite parts of birthday parties.

All warmed up!

A picture with the birthday girl - the light haired Emma and the dark haired Emma!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

When things don't go as planned, Christmas edition

My childhood Christmas memories are more or less perfect. Not that Christmas was perfect, but the images and impressions that I hold in my mind are not marred by feeling too busy, by cookies that didn’t look good, or by not getting something that I desperately wanted. I loved decorating the tree, listening to Christmas music while baking cookies with my mom and sisters, and writing a note to Santa knowing that “he” always wrote back with Dad’s handwriting. Now that I’m on the parent side of things, I am abundantly aware that these memories are not the complete picture. Christmas was never “perfect” when I was little. Rather, the pure joy of my childhood memories is a testament to the faithfulness of my parents when things didn’t go as planned.

Since moving out of the home for my first Christmas married, each year has been different, as our lives have moved from newlyweds, to expecting our first child, to having one small child, to having two small children. This year, with Emma nearly four and Will two (but thinks he’s three), Christmas is beginning to look more like my childhood memories.

I knew December was going to be full when I looked at the calendar in mid-November and saw the first three weekends already booked with two to three activities each. I geared myself up, worked on saying ‘no’ to keep things from getting crazier, and thought that this would be the year for the perfect Christmas.

We put up some decorations, played Christmas music, and pulled out all the Christmas stickers and little toys I had stored away a year ago. I had my Scripture verses and advent activities from last year all ready to go, just needing to be paired with a little jar for the kids to open and a small treat for each night. I even planned ahead and bought felt to make a Christmas tree that the kids could decorate and re-decorate. It was only December 1st and I was on top of things…for a few days at least.

The wreath was on the front door, but so were the ‘Happy Thanksgiving’ window clings. The decorations were out, and so the snow globe was dropped and shattered open. We cut down our tree, and it stood completely naked for a day until I added the lights. Two days later we hung the ornaments. I made gingerbread cookies (after 3 trips to the store in 24 hours). We decorated cookies with friends, and my children shoveled handfuls of sprinkles into their mouths while I pulled the cookies out of the oven. The kids enjoyed the first week of advent activities, but then I fell behind since I hadn’t prepped them all at once, and we skipped a week and a half of the perfect little homemade advent calendar. As so many of my best laid plans and intentions fell crashing out of my hands this week I had a choice to make. I could despair, throw myself a pity party, and complain, or realize that things don’t have to go perfectly to be meaningful or special or perfect.

Our kids have had a blast helping decorate, make cookies, and take part in our disjointed advent activities. We’ve read the Christmas story from Luke and they are excited to celebrate the birth of Jesus. They don’t need a thousand special activities to make Christmas special, they need Mom and Dad to point them to what is most important, even when the tyranny of the urgent and less significant tries to take over. They don’t need me to make their memories perfect, they need me to respond to imperfect situations in a way that leads and prepares them for an uncertain future where plans are thwarted and mistakes happen. They don’t need me to make more of Christmas; they need me to make more of Jesus. To use the times when I’m frustrated because chocolate is stuck in the frosting tip to acknowledge my own sin and need for a Savior.

The candles still aren’t in the windows and I have more shopping left to do. Every day Emma asks if today is Christmas. I’ve been responding with a simple “not yet,” but I think it should be more. Christmas isn’t here yet, but Christ is – when things don’t go as planned, when today’s “special activities” are laundry, and yes, when Christmas finally arrives.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Visit with the Dunphys

The first week in December we had a visit from Grandpa and Betsy and enjoying a trip to the Brandywine Museum to see the annual train garden.

It is always fantastic and both kids were really able to enjoy it this year.

Will stood with one of the conductors for a long time, learning about how the engine (it's a locomotive! A locomotive!) is cleaned and other things about the display. Then they have him a model railroader magazine - they told us not to advertise because they only give then out to kids who are really into the trains. So much fun!

After lunch we took a quick trip to Trader Joe's and enjoyed the small shopping carts of course.

And after dinner we spent time swimming!

Emma and Will both had a blast with their inner tubes from the summer and were so brave!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Martin's birthday

We celebrated Martin's birthday with a day early trip to Bugaboo Creek Steakhouse for dinner. They have great burgers and (a favorite for the celebrant) sweet potato fries.

They also have animals mounted on the walls that come alive and speak periodically. Will was especially excited about this!

Sweet picture of Emma and Daddy!

Mommy and Will (who still couldn't keep his eyes of the animals)

The kids meals came with ice cream that they got to eat with a stick. I remember using these at the Hartman reunion specifically. We were pretty sure they were going to get ice cream everywhere since there was no spoon, but surprisingly, the stick worked excellently!

In fact, it worked substantially better than a spoon. Our hypothesis is that the ice cream does not melt as quickly on the wooden stick as on a metal spoon :)

Martin had the day of for his birthday and we had some special fun as a family. We also ordered Martin's iPhone and case and he is loving it!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

After Thanksgiving

We spent Black Friday at Pizza Johns having some I the most delicious pizza. Everyone had a blast and we polished off a good bit of pizza :)

That afternoon Will burned off some energy running around on the porch with Uncle Evan.

And we had a visit from the Proffitts,

which meant that Emma enjoyed holding the babies.

She had a terrible time, can't you tell?

Then, on Saturday, we went to see the Festival of Trees with Grandma. We went last year also and there are a ton of spectacularly decorated Christmas trees.

Plus a huge train set that Emma and Will loved watching.

They also enjoyed getting to ride on the train together.

And had a blast on the carousel also!

That evening we pulled out the N64 and had a good old fashioned Mario Kart race off.

Even Emma got in on the action :)