Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Birthday Jesus! Merry Christmas to ALL!!!

We had a wonderful Christmas day and hope you and your family did as well!


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve traditions

Growing up we always had the same Christmas Eve traditions. We went to see a movie in the theater, out to dinner at Steak N Ale, looked at Christmas lights and then to church at the 11 PM candlelight service. Now that we have kids, we are making our own traditions. For the past two years, we have gone to the kids' Christmas Eve church service, then out to dinner. This year we came home and left reindeer food out in our yard for Santa's reindeer and then left a note and cookies for Santa.Brewer leaving the reindeer food out in the grass for Santa's reindeer.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Family Time









Christmas time should be spent with family. Tonight was as my mom prepared a meal for us at her home. We decorated Christmas cookies (these are some of the ones we'll be leaving out for Santa). And we sat around the Christmas tree and enjoyed one another.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Baking & Christmas movies

Probably a tradition most of you have in December...baking holiday goodies and watching Christmas movies-- Even though you might not do them together like we are today. It is a chilly, chilly day and while it's beautiful outside, it is too cold to play. So we're spending the afternoon baking brownies and watching The Happy Elf. (We love this cute movie!) We also are going to make some Jello and then tonight (once the Jello has done its thing), we will use Christmas cookie cutters to cut shapes out of our Jello.

Off to finish cleaning the brownie mess...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Advent Wreath

The advent wreath is a tradition my church did as well as my family when I was growing up. As a teenager, we often made fun of the advent wreath at church because of the silly lines they would have the kids say each week about the wreath. Like, "Why do we light the third candle?" But secretively, I always loved the advent wreath.

In my nine years of marriage, I have always tried to have an advent wreath in our home. However, I must say that I am unsuccessful most years. I just can't seem to find an advent wreath that isn't "flimsy". I am always scared that our house will catch on fire due to the advent wreath. And since we've had children, there is no way I'd light candles right now...especially with the activity that can be produced by two boys. Yet, I hope there comes a time in our future when we can have an advent wreath; one that we can light each night as we sit and have dinner together. I picture us discussing the coming (that's the meaning of advent, coming) of Christmas and all that it means.

Today's post ends up being of a tradition I had in my past, and one I long to have in my future. However, for now, we do not have an advent wreath in our home.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Parties

I wasn't sure I'd be able to post this many traditions when I first started this journey of blogging our December traditions. But here we are on day 20 and here goes our 20th December tradition. PARTIES!

I think it is safe to say that everyone is invited to at least one holiday party...whether it is for church, school, work, social, groups, clubs...everyone has a party to go to. I tried something little differently this year. Yesterday, I saw on a friend's Facebook update, "4 parties down, 4 to go." I thought to myself...she needs to take on my 2008 party decision.

Most Decembers we go to several parties; in fact, I usually help host 3 parties at Christmas time. But this year, I decided we weren't going to let our December be ruled by parties. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE a good party. And I am usually game for a party. Maybe it is because this is the first Christmas I've had two children, maybe it is because I feel behind in my housework all the time, maybe it is because I know I need to learn to say 'no' more, I am not certain...but whatever the reason, this December I decided we wouldn't be ruled by a party schedule, we wouldn't get frantic looking for that babysitter, we wouldn't stress because our nightly calendar was filled, we wouldn't fret over the perfect outfit, we just WOULDN'T.

So for two of the three parties that I usually help host, I gracefully bowed out of them. I continued this year with the Kids' Christmas Party. Partly because I do it for my own children, partly because I love doing it, and partly because I feel it works somewhat as a ministry. Also, I attended my Bible study Christmas party...but I usually host this party (not this year though). And that was it!!! I didn't attend any brunches, I didn't attend any Christmas school parties (of course, if Brewer's class needed another volunteer I would have been there), I didn't attend any work Christmas parties with Lou, I didn't attend any cookie exchanges, I just didn't. And you know what, my Christmas will be joyful this year with or without those parties. Jesus is the reason for this time in our life, and I find it easier to celebrate in this time when I am not stressed by a calendar. So for me, in 2008, I was selective on the parties I attended. It's something you might try in the future...or at least give some thoughts to ways you can help your December slow down. And to my friend from Facebook with the 8 parties -- I do hope you are enjoying these parties. I am tired even thinking about YOUR eight parties! LOL!

On a side note: PLEASE keep inviting us...because in December 2009 I may feel differently AND I certainly would feel left out if we weren't invited!!! (giggles)

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Nativity


Brewer has started a little tradition with us where we play a game while driving. The objective of the game is to see who can find the most nativity scenes. It is pretty funny to play this game with a three-year-old. I am certainly joyful that he associates the nativity with Christmas. After all, this IS the meaning of CHRISTmas!


I hope you take some time and reflect; make sure your focus this holiday season is on the right reasons!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wrapping

So after the shopping is finished, the wrapping must begin. This is a photo of the floor of our bedroom as Lou and I started the wrapping process. It took us about an hour but we got it done! Another December tradition--wrapping those gifts!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Shopping

So our Christmas shopping is almost done!!! A few things to pick up here and there but nothing major. In a previous post, you may have seen that we do the "three gift thing" -- where we give three gifts to our kids and each other b/c Jesus' received three gifts from the wise men.

This year while shopping I realized that we are overindulged, we need nothing, our house doesn't have room for anymore junk...and yet, I felt a bit panicked about making sure I purchased the right gift. The gift that would please the recipient. A gift that would not disappoint. What should have been a simple shopping journey began to feel like a little pressure. Maybe it is because Brewer is old enough to know if he likes something or not. Maybe it was because this is the first Christmas I had to shop for two children and I want them to have equal value in their gifts. I am not sure what it was but something caused a little bit of stress for me in shopping this year.

I kept reminding myself of the gift God gave us in Jesus that very first Christmas. And how His gift has never and will never disappoint. I wonder if I will be able to teach my children the excitement of the coming of Christ rather than the excitement of opening gifts. While I do hope all of my friends and family -- especially my boys -- enjoy opening the gifts that have been chosen for them, I hope more than anything that God's gift is impressed upon their heart this holiday season!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Elf on the Shelf


The tradition I am writing about today is a new one for us. It is Elf On The Shelf. We started it this year. If you know about Elf on the Shelf, then you know one of the first things you have to do is name your elf. Brewer has named our elf, Kelfie the Elfie and recently has shortened his name to Kelf. Kelfie watches the children and then magically flies back to the North Pole each night while they are sleeping to report to Santa on the day's behavior. When Kelfie returns to our home, he always finds a new place to watch us the next day. Brewer loves getting up in the morning and going downstairs to find where Kelf is for the day. It has been a fun tradition to bring into our home!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Cookies

Christmas cookies were a tradition in my house (the Beam family) growing up. For a few years when David and I were grown and there were no grandchildren yet, my mom would let us know how she was looking forward to making Christmas cookies with her grandchildren. Since Maddox is still too young to make Christmas cookies he didn't participate, but Brewer and Me-Maw made Christmas cookies today. They are just precious! They baked triangle cookies, turned them up-side-down and made them into reindeer. And I must say they are VERY tasty as well. They even left two cookies un-iced so Maddox could enjoy the fun of eating the cookies!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Lights

We love looking at Christmas lights. It's another one of our December traditions. Lou and I have to plan carefully in picking the nights that we "officially" go looking at lights. BECAUSE once we do, we'll have to go every night from that point on to see Brewer's favorites. This year his favorite (so far) is a blow up Grinch and Max. The good news for us is that it is only about 2 miles from our house. Therefore, we are able to go there every night after dinner.

This year on our "official" Christmas light looking evening, we went and ate pizza for dinner, then picked up coffee for Lou, hot chocolate for me, and chocolate milk for Brewer. Then it was off to look at lights. Personally, I think those blow up things in the yard are tacky; therefore, I never plan on owning one. But Brewer thinks they are great!!! So a huge thank you from me to all of you who have them. You make Brewer's Christmas light evening even more exciting!!! (Maddox decided to sleep in his carseat through all of the "Christmas light" excitement.)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Kids' Christmas Party

This is one of our favorite traditions in December -- throwing a Kids' Christmas Party. We started it when Brewer was 6-months-old -- that makes this year our fourth annual party. It was great fun today! We had 30 kids and 29 adults attend, plus Mr. and Mrs. Claus. It was a happy and busy morning!

The party started at 10 AM today with a craft time, we also have a playroom available for those that finish early and/or those that don't want to do a craft.
A little while later in the party we let the kids play Snow Dig. This is Brewer's FAVORITE party of the party!!! Since we don't get any snow in Florida, the kids have to make believe that shipping popcorn is snow. Hidden within the "snow" are trinkets and candy. The kids load up their bags with goodies. I must say that Brewer's bag was about three times as full as any other child's. He LOVES this game!!! Also, most parents probably are trying to be considerate and cut their kids off from digging...but not Brewer's parents (ha!), he digs almost for the rest of the party. :)


Around 10:45 everyone gathers in the dining room where our family is able to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. This year we also made reindeer food during this time. We talked about how the greatest gift for Christmas was the birth of Christ. We sang Happy Birthday to Jesus and had his birthday cake. Around 11:00, Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived. The kids take their Christmas wishes to the Clauses, and the parents are able to take photos and NOT have to fight the mall crowds (just a little extra gift from us). {Brewer and Maddox seemed excited about seeing the Clauses this year!}

The remainder of the party is spent eating snacks, birthday cake for Jesus, finishing up crafts, playing with toys, and visiting with Santa. As the children left today they were given a personalized cup (or sports bottle depending on their age). Each child also made his/her own bag of reindeer food to save until Christmas Eve.


It was so much fun! We love throwing the party and are grateful for so many wonderful friends to open our home to!!!




Santa come back soon!!!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ready for the coming...

Today's post is about a tradition my mom did with us as kids. While I think the idea is great, I think Brewer is too young and certainly Maddox is for this. Yet, I want to share it. Are you preparing your family for the arrival of Jesus? Our hearts need to be in the right mindset for this. Yet, during the Christmas season, we get so busy doing other things that we often forget about preparing our hearts for Him.

Growing up, my mom would put out a manger the weekend of Thanksgiving and lay a blanket in it. She told us that for every good deed we did that someone did not know about, we were to go out into the yard and get one pine needle and place it in the manger. (You could use hay instead of pine needles.) The idea was that our manger should be filled with pine needles ready for the baby by Christmas morning. The only way it would be filled is if we were doing good and filling the manger with our pine needles.

I think it is a neat idea and one that you may want to implement or modify for your own family.

He is the Reason for the Season!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

December Cleaning

We think about spring cleaning and cleaning of the closets when we switch seasonal clothing but I doubt many people think of doing a December cleaning. Although I believe all of us do one [a December cleaning] without realizing it is done every year. So today's post is not a tradition I like, but one that seems to get done every year -- DECEMBER CLEANING. Because we are having people over on Saturday, our house is getting a once over big time today! So far, I've done the playroom, bathrooms, dining room, and entry area. I have the den, kitchen, and floors left downstairs -- that's a huge job. Therefore, I must log off for today and continue with my December tradition of cleaning this house so it is ready for guests!!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas Program

I hope that Christmas programs at my children's schools become a December tradition. They always seem to be so special. Last year was Brewer's first Christmas program. You can see a clip of it by clicking HERE.

We went today to listen to the school program. He did a great job. The first thing he asked his teacher when it was over was if he could untuck his shirt!!

Here is a video of the program. You may want to fast forward for one minute as it is just them coming in and Brewer waving to us. Brewer can be seen between the ladies head on one side of him and the man with the blue shirt on the other side. Brewer is wearing a long-sleeve plaid shirt and is on the front row.
video

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Okay, so not such a tradition

I have had a busy, busy day and am not so sure I can think of a December tradition at the moment, unless you call being ON THE GO all day a tradition! Ha!

A few posts back I shared with you we were having a family photo made. Here they are if you want to check them out:
www.kurtenglish.com
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session ID: Sicilian_Portrait

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas cards


Every year we mail our Christmas cards to our friends and family. Usually I get them in the mail the weekend of Thanksgiving. However, this year they are going out this week. They take awhile to prepare as you need to choose the photos, design the card, address the envelopes (I don't think I'll ever use printed labels...just wasn't in my southern upbringing), write a family update for the out of town-ers, stuff the envelopes, lick the envelopes, and put postage on the suckers. Sometimes I think about not doing a card but honestly getting the mail from the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas is one of my daily highlights. I sure would hate it if you all stopped sending them out, because we love receiving them. So I will continue with this December tradition!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

For unto us a Child is born...

Today Brewer saw a bag he had never seen. Inside the bag had goodies we had brought the kids back from our trip to the SEC CHOMPionship game in Atlanta. On the bag it said "Atlanta Zoo". Brewer pointed to the word ZOO and said, "Zoo." WOW! He read his first word. That was exciting. A little while later he saw some of my mail. He picked it up and used his fingers to scan over the words. While doing so he said, "For unto us a Child is born..." What beautiful, sweet words he said! In fact, it brought tears to my eyes. Now, he had picked up a bank receipt and it did NOT say those words. But he certainly thought he was reading. What I loved about the moment was that he showed us that he is memorizing scripture. I sure do hope that scripture memory will be one of the many traditions we have not only at Christmas time but throughout the entire year!

"For unto us a Child is born..." Isaiah 9:6

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Football

So when I mentioned on December 1st that I was going to share our families December traditions, I am certain you thought Christmas traditions. Well, this is a December tradition that does not have anything to do with Christmas. THE SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME or as we are calling it this year the CHOMPionship game!!

The first weekend in December every year we enjoy watching the SEC championship game. In our nine years of marriage, the Gators have gone to the championship game 3 times. Lou and I are going to the game against Alabama today. If the Gators win, there is an incredible chance it means they are going to play for the National CHOMPionship game!!!

The SEC Championship game is also played the same day as the ACC Championship game...and if Clemson could ever get to that game, I'd be thrilled!

The day of the SEC and ACC Championship games is somewhat bitter. A lot of years it means the end of college football for us...and we love college football!!! Hopefully this year this game will mean our season is extended into January with the National CHOMPionship game!!! CHOMP, CHOMP & GO GATORS!!!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Three Gifts


Another tradition we have here in the Sicilian household is the tradition of giving three gifts. We started this after we had Brewer. Christmas was huge and completely out-of-hand as I am sure it is in a lot of your homes. I had read once that a good way to limit Christmas is the three gift rule. Jesus received three gifts (from the wise men), and it would be a good way to limit the gift giving in homes. So we adopted this philosophy. Now, don't feel bad for our children...they get three gifts from us, at least one BIG gift from Santa, a stocking, three gifts from their grandparents, and then they have their uncle and other relatives.


There are several nice things about this three gift rule. The main one that I have noticed is that Brewer is extremely selective in what he picks as gifts to ask for. We've made it clear to him that he only needs to ask for three...and his selections have been well thought out.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Girls' Christmas Party

When I moved back to Jacksonville in the summer of 1998, my dear friend, Christina, and I started a Bible study in our apartment. The Bible study lasted for years, people came and went, got married, moved away, had babies; you know LIFE HAPPENED! We haven't met in a few years to do Bible study, but all of the girls have remained friends. Each Christmas we have a Bible study Christmas Party. What is ironic about this is that there is no Bible study any longer...but this is what we call it. I believe all of us long to be able to attend a Bible study together but with work schedules, kids, and other activities...we simply aren't able to do so. Every year at the party, we eat appetizers and desserts and have an ornament exchange. It is always a lot of fun. Two of the best parts are girl talk and no kiddos! For those of us in the group that have kids...We all love our kids to pieces. Yet, we also like to be able to just be silly girls and not wear our mommy hat for a few moments. Anyway, tonight is the night of the GIRLS' BIBLE STUDY CHRISTMAS PARTY!!! I am really looking forward to it. What a great tradition we have here! My friends are amazing and I love being with them!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Christmas Photo

Another tradition we have each year is to have the photo made for the Christmas card. This year I have two kids to get photos of...and I must say that in Maddox's nine months of life, I have yet to get a photo of the boys together that I like. Even at this photo shoot, I am not in love with any of the photos of the boys together.

Here are some of the photos that we got for the card this year.

One of my favorite things about this photo of Maddox is his outfit. Brewer had the same one for his first Christmas! I think it is so sweet. I am very thankful I was able to find the same outfit in Maddox's size so I have photos of both boys' first Christmas in the same outfit!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Me-Maw's Tradition

My mom (known to Brewer and Maddox as Me-Maw) started a tradition of giving the kid's a figurine for their own nativity set each Christmas. She actually gives it to them before December 25th so that they can enjoy it for the whole season.

So far Brewer has:
1. Baby Jesus - the year I was pregnant (2004)
2. Mary and Joseph - his first Christmas (2005)
3. the donkey - his second Christmas (2006)
4. the sheep - 2007
And this year she was planning on giving him the angel except when we pulled out the characters he already had and set them up in his room, he informed us that it wasn't complete b/c he was missing the stable. So this year, he received...
5. the stable - 2008

So far Maddox has:
1. Baby Jesus - the year I was pregnant (2007)
2. Mary and Joseph - his first Christmas (2008)

I am grateful she has started this tradition with the boys. Not only can I remind the boys each year that Me-Maw give this to them; it is also another way to reinforce the real meaning of this Christmas season!

Monday, December 1, 2008

December Traditions

I thought I'd use the month of December to update you on our December traditions.

Every Thanksgiving weekend, we use the weekend to decorate for Christmas. This is the first time in 33 years of my life that I've had an artificial tree. But in our new home we need a very slim line tree and so artificial was the way we had to go. I must admit that it was a little easier to deal with than the real tree. However, my heart still has a slight cringe whenever we drive by a lot of trees. This year I actually was done with decorating for Christmas before Thanksgiving day. Lou calls it the Christmas creep...but I want to enjoy my long weekend with the family. Therefore, it was great to have it finished early!

This year we have lights on the outside of our house, a Christmas tree mixed with what I refer to as "filler" ornaments in the browns and blues of our home as well as family ornaments we've collected through the years, our nativity sets (Willow Free, Fontanini, and Fisher Price), and garland with stockings coming from the staircase. (Our new house doesn't have a fireplace or mantel so our stockings are hung with care at the staircase.)

Since Brewer and Maddox are still three-years-old and 9-months-old respectively, they can't really help with decorating, but I do want them to know that all of these decorations and light shining is because we are celebrating the birth of Christ. Brewer does love holding the baby Jesus from our Fontanini set.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Family Photo

Today is family photo day for us. It is in 3 hours and I am absolutely NOT ready...but here I sit at the computer. (Is anyone else thinking 'procrastination'?) I am not ready in so many ways. I still have post-baby weight I am hoping to lose. (Do you think that will come off in the next 3 hours?) I still need to iron clothes for the boys, try on clothes for me...I have no idea what I am wearing, pack combs for everyone, pack a touch up make-up kit for me, etc. I guess I know I work well under the wire...so here I sit instead of doing what needs to be done. We haven't had a family photo since Maddox was born. When I have taken the two boys together for a photo, I have been exhausted after the photo shoot and I'M NOT EVEN IN THOSE! LOL! Whew -- maybe I should take a nap first. Maybe I should take a shower for the day (always a plus, especially on a photo day).
Yet, I am not concerned or nervous about the photo session. We are having them done by Kurt English at his studio here in Jacksonville. He is so professional and talented. His assistant (and wife), Lisa, is patient and kind. Together Kurt and Lisa will do an awesome job working with our family. If you think of us at 5 PM/EST today, say a little prayer for our session. I don't think I have it in me to go back for a second take. Or better yet, say a prayer for Kurt and Lisa because I am leaving this one to them!!!