Christmas is just around the corner! With Baby #4 ready to debut any day, some of plans have slightly changed, but all in all, we've stayed busy making the most of the season and finding ways to have fun together. Here's a glimpse of some of what we've been up to...
Visiting the Southern Christmas Show: One morning, because I wasn't in the mood for science and phonics, and because the boys were actually a few lessons ahead in other areas, I decided a day out enjoying the Christmas spirit would be fun. We ventured to the Southern Christmas Show on a weekday morning, being sure to get there promptly when it opened. I knew that regardless of when we went it would be busy, but I hoped that the crowds of women-on-a-mission to shop and taste test and decorate would be minimal, relative to an evening or a weekend crowd. Phew - I was right. My boys, however, were overwhelmed with all the people and couldn't believe so many people were there "just to buy Christmas stuff." And the sight of some women dragging rolling suitcases for all their purchases was more than they could imagine. We oooo-ed and aahh-ed over trees and lights and fun decor. We sampled several yummy treats. We played on toys and gimmicks put out in the aisles enticing folks into the booth to buy. And, we spent a half hour - a long 30 minutes - observing the model train exhibit and playing a game of seek-and-find around the track. A fun morning together, and if I'm honest, much more fun than the planned science and phonics lessons back home.
Participating in Operation Christmas Child: The kids and I wandered the aisles at Target and the Dollar Store to choose toys, school supplies, hygiene items, and underclothes for boys and girls in another country. My boys are old enough to understand why we do this and have a lot of fun carefully choosing the right color, size, and scent of each item. I'm pretty sure Annalyse just thinks it's a fun shopping spree where she is allowed to carry her own shopping basket and take items off the shelf and carry them around the store, "because I am a big girl and can do it by myself." As we got in line to pay, I knew the boys had their wallets tucked into their back pockets and wanted to help pay for things. I was blown away, however, when they each drew out $20 and insisted that they pay for their gifts "using our own money so that it's really a gift from us to another boy in a different country." They don't earn an allowance, so this money was likely some birthday money they'd stashed and were saving for something special. I think this qualified as something special.
We also joined about 40 ladies from my women's Bible study for a Christmas brunch and OCC packing party. This time my kids had fun circling tables and choosing items to pack in boxes alongside their friends.
Sending Gospel For Asia Christmas Gifts: We've supported a darling little guy through Gospel for Asia for a few years, and now that the boys are old enough, they enjoy writing monthly letters with him. This fall when I received a catalog about practical gifts we could purchase for families in Asia, I knew this was something my boys would be thrilled to do. We created a long list of jobs, above and beyond their regular chores, and I tagged a monetary amount to each job. They had the freedom to pick and choose what they wanted to do and when they wanted to do it - and they knew that any dollar they earned from completing these jobs would be applied toward gifts through GOA. My boys hit the ground running! They were eager to cross of each and every job on the list, and, in fact, I had to come up with more jobs to add to the list. When all was said and done, they earned enough money to buy a pair of chickens, a pair of rabbits, several hundred New Testament Bibles, and several hundred gospel tracts. They wore big smiles when they placed the order form in the envelope, licked it shut, and put it in the mailbox!
local display of gingerbread houses - another simple (and free!) Christmas tradition we enjoy each year.
Watching Christmas Movies: Thanks to a slew of full-length movies available on YouTube, we've been enjoying a variety of Christmas shows. Sometimes this is an earned privilege when schoolwork is done or when good behavior is met with good attitudes. Other times this is a family event where we all crowd on the couch covered under a blanket with the candles and fireplace burning. Simple. Cozy. Together.
Crafting: I don't enjoy making crafts because it means messy and it means a creative something-or-other that I need to keep and display in my home. But, since it's not always about me and since my kids are always ready to paint and glue and cut, I try to take a couple of days a month to let their creative juices flow. I've gathered a few, but super simple, Christmas craft ideas for us to work on over the next few weeks.