It is my favorite time of year and yet the busiest and most stressful as much as you try to get stuff done early and not plan too much. I think just admitting that it will be stressful is the only thing that can ease the stress. I had a few battles with Ebay that put nerves on end, but I think I was the victor in the end. I won't elaborate on the details here. Instead I will just show you all my favorite pictures that make my life look like a bowl of cherries.
We started the season off with a visit from Nana on her way back to Hawaii after being in West Virginia for Thanksgiving. I think this made us feel slightly better about Nano and Nana not coming to visit this Christmas.
The first day of Advent we started our traditional countdown chain. Each piece of the chain has a clue of some place to look so the boys take turns. What they find is a note with something fun we will do that day (or some day before Christmas). The first day is always "Get out decorations." Of course, our favorites are our numerous nativity scenes. The boys probably love the Playmobil one the best because they certainly play with it quite a bit. A lot of extra animals have been added to come glory in baby Jesus.
Nora really loved the Little People Nativity.
She doesn't so much play with as much as she eats it, but she loved the glowing light and music it plays.
We even got to hang out with our friends in their much bigger nativity.
We usually try to get our outside lights up as early as we can get around to it and the boys always want to "help" Dad.
(I won't mention how long they stayed up after Christmas)
We made our annual trip to the Electric Light Parade.
Nora enjoyed her first parade from the comfort of Baabee's jacket.
Every Dec. 6, Santa always makes an early visit under his alternate name of St. Nicholas.
I guess he had been waiting until their were three Weisse "Guys" so he could bring them the three Wise Guys.
The boys were pretty excited to check their shoes. They also got a nice note from St. Nick along with two gold coins each. After a little encouragement (it took a little more for Gus) they offered one of their coins to the poor box at church.
We did some sugar cookies earlier than usual this year because there just weren't enough cookies in the house yet.
We had a gathering with the Woods Family at the St. Francis baseball field. The past few years we have had a softball game before Thanksgiving, but weather conditions moved it into December this year. It is always good to see all my mom's side of our family. I wish we all got together more often.
This was the first year both my boys got in the action.
We got out tree on the third Sunday of Advent. I would love to have it up for the whole season, but I also like it to still be alive on Christmas day.
Decorating the tree is always one of my favorite events of the season.
We had some fun with the lights.
We didn't get all the ornaments up, but that was okay. Part of that was because it was a school night and part of that was because Dad gave the boys Star Wars Lego ornaments that he had been saving for this very occasion. Once Lego building was going on, I was the only one still putting on ornaments. Jimmy got the privilege of putting on the star this year.
Another favorite pastime of the season is reading our Christmas books in the living room so we can be by our tree and the fireplace. Sometimes there is cocoa and cookies involved if the kids have eaten all of their dinners.
We always pick one night to drive around and look at lights. We live very close to a church that has a huge field where they have a really cool light set up. There are lights timed to music and best of all tunnels to run through!
At the end of the tunnel is a nativity scene. Unprompted the boys kneeled down by baby Jesus and Gus even gave him a kiss. I love that they really do know the true meaning of the season.
Then, of course, we had to go see Santa so he would know for sure what the kids wanted. Jimmy asked for a Playmobil of Santa's choosing preferably Castles, Future Planet, a Gym, or an Exploding Mine. Gus asked for Swords. Nora didn't cry so it was a success. The pictures were super over priced, but I paid for them anyway because I am a smuck and they are so cute. I got a digital copy that I can't locate, but I kind of like my Instagram photo of a photo with the vintage filter that makes it look like one of my childhood photos:
Mimi went with us to get the pictures and we had a nice time walking around the Biltmore.
Now that Jimmy is in Kindergarten, we got to have our first pageant!
His school does something rather brilliant. The kindergarteners do a sepaate show during the school day. While some parents may have to get off of work for it, it does mean that they get to sing more songs, they don't have to stay up late, and you don't have to sit through a million kids you don't know. Jimmy was the number 1 below.
His line was "1 is for the 1 holy night that was calm and bright." He did it perfectly, but are any of us surprised by that? They had been working so long and hard to prepare all of it and Jimmy was beyond excited about it. I helped sew some of their angel costumes and Jimmy was my eager helper. He would practice all his songs and his line at home whenever he was given the opportunity. He would also just sit in the backseat of the car singing them every time we were in the car.
He was so happy that Dad and Mimi made it to watch.
Gus has been quite the performer lately as well. He became quite obsessed with The Little Drummer Boy (mostly the Veggie Tales one, but we also watched the old version). He wanted to re-enact it every day multiple times. One day I helped him dress up and Nora got to be his sheep BaaBaa. We would use various other stuffed animals as needed, but I got to be most of the other characters if Jimmy was at school. There was one line he would repeat with so much emotion, I had to bite my lip so I wouldn't crack up. "I don't want your money!"
We were a little late on getting shortbread cookies made this year, but that just meant that I had them to eat longer after Christmas to help keep up the spirit.
The boys usually help for awhile and then give up which sort of happened, but this year they were such good helpers cleaning up. It is little things like your kids happily washing dishes, that make for one happy mama.
We might not have had Nano and Nana this year, but Angie proved she loves us the most by coming to have Christmas with us. Nora might have had something to do with it. Angie does love playing dress-up with her Goddaughter.
So does Mom...
Our Advent Wreath is another important tradition for us. We sing "O, Come, O Come, Emmanuel" when we light the candles each night at dinner. The boys have both gotten really good at it and remind us in case we forget. (They also fight over who gets to blow the candles out, but we won't focus on that). Once we lit all the candles we knew it was getting close to the big day.
Too bad we got hit with a major epidemic, but more to come on that...