Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Getting Ready for Christmas

Here at the Bradshaw house we are getting ready for all things Christmas!  It's been such a fun few weeks for us.  Busy, but fun!  Jonathan and I went to the Andrew Peterson Behold the Lamb of God concert.  Nora had a ballet performance and a big Christmas party yesterday.  We've been baking Christmas goodies like cookies and fudge.  And, we've got some other big baking plans in the works.  We have a Care Group Christmas party this Friday night and several other things in the next week.  Whew! 

Look who can sit up (sort of)!

In the midst of all of the busyness, I am trying to spend quality time with the kiddos.  To be honest, I have such high hopes of accomplishing so many fun things with them-- crafts, Christmas activities, baking, etc.-- but I am always running out of time!  I have to confess that although I love Pinterest, I get so inpsired by the millions of wonderful ideas and hope to do WAY too many things.  I keep trying to tell myself that I just can't do everything.  There are many, many years ahead of us with our children where we will be able to do more crafts, art projects, baking days, etc.  I don't have to do it all this year.  I can't do it all this year.  And that's okay!  So, I am pulling out a few things here and there, and the rest of the wonderful ideas that I am pinning will be stowed away until next year.  Or the year after that.  Or the year after that. 

One thing that I am trying to be consistent with is our Advent Calendar.  I feel that Liam and Nora are definitely at a point now where they can understand what Christmas is about (at least on their level), so we have started our very own Family Advent Calendar.  I am so excited about this!  The kids absolutely LOVE it and ask every day about our special Advent Calendar time.  We don't do much.  We learn a little bit about the Christmas story each day, open the day's calendar box, they get a small piece of candy, and inside each box is a slip of paper with a fun Advent activity on it.  Now, there are some days where we are busy and away from the home, so we'll just double up the next day.  But for the most part we've been able to talk about Jesus' birth everyday.

I make the kids sit on the couch, and I sit between then.  We are taking the story of Jesus' birth very slowly.  Each day we talk about something small, then we review it the next day and add to the story.  Liam is doing really well with learning it, although the first few days he couldn't remember anything except that it was Jesus' birthday on Christmas Day and he thought that everyone was named Beth.  Jesus' mommy is Beth.  Jesus' daddy is Beth.  I guess he was getting confused with the whole Bethlehem thing! 

On one of the days their Christmas activity was to play with some Nativity finger puppets that I had been given a few years ago.  They love those, and I have used the finger puppets to tell the story to them.  On Monday we talked about the shepherds and their sheep, and how they were sleeping on a hill when an angel appeared to them to tell them about the birth of Christ.  On the finger puppet, the shepherd has a staff so I was trying to teach them what a staff was and how the shepherds used it.  I explained that it is the shepherd's job to protect the sheep, so if a sheep is supposed to go down to the river to get some water to drink but it decides it doesn't want to obey the shepherd, the shepherd will use his staff to guide the sheep in the right direction.  Last night, we were reviewing what they had learned about the sheep and so I decided to act it out with them.  I made Nora be the shepherd and I was the sheep.  I told her to give me directions to follow, and I gave her a broom to use as a staff.  If I obeyed my "shepherd," then she told me "Good job!"  But if I disobeyed and wandered off, she had to use her "staff" to guide me in the way I should go.  It was so fun!  They would get a kick out of me 'Baaing" and wandering off to snack on the entertainment center or trying to eat the Christmas tree.  It was so fun and such sweet memories.  This morning, they were both acting like sheep! 

Anytime we are riding in the car listening to Christmas music, they notice when songs mention all of the Christmas words:  Bethlehem, angels, Jesus, manger, etc.  "Mommy, he just said Mary!!!"

It's been so fun.  I definitely want to make this a tradition we use every year.  It's been so helpful for me, personally, because I've been able to remind myself daily of how miraculous Christ's birth really is.

Here are some of the Advent activities we have done so far:

1.  Opened and played with our Little People Nativity.
2.  Decorated the Christmas tree together as a family.  (THAT was interesting!)
3.  Popped popcorn and watched a Christmas movie.
4.  Read a Christmas book together.
5.  Had hot chocolate and marshmallows with breakfast.
6.  Colored Christmas color sheets together.
7.  Shopped for our Angel Tree gifts for our chosen child.
8.  Had a candlelit bubble bath.
9. Played with the Nativity finger puppets.
10.  Had at-home pedicures (this was just Nora and I).

Nora and Daddy watching a movie and eating popcorn.  That girl loves to watch and eat popcorn!
I hope you all are enjoying this season as much as we are!  I'll be sure to post what the rest of our month looks like later on! 

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