It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

I don’t know if it’s because mine and Sarah Ann’s birthdays are in November, or because I’m a constant planner, or just how much I really love fall and Thanksgiving, but I just can’t do Christmas until after Thanksgiving is over. But once Thanksgiving day passes, then it is game on, and we are ready to go!

So this year we spent the Friday evening after Thanksgiving listening to Christmas music, eating breakfast for dinner in our pajamas, watching the Disney Descendants Christmas special, and decorating our house and tree for Christmas! It was such a fun evening, even with the occasional argument over who got to put up which decoration and how exactly everything should go on the tree! And there’s just something about the white light of the Christmas tree that slows you down, calms your spirit, and helps prepare your heart for Emmanuel!

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Last Thursday we began our 25 days of Christmas for the 2016 year! It is one of my most favorite traditions where each day we do a different activity, perhaps a family activity or outing, a special treat, or doing something to serve and love others around us. We also have continued our tradition of reading through 25 Advent stories from the Jesus Storybook Bible to focus and prepare our hearts for the real meaning of Christmas, the Son of God! Each night we read one of the stories during dinner or before bed and hang them in our dining room, so that we can see how God’s most beautiful love story unfolded.

Day 1: After bath time, the kids opened up some new Christmas pajamas for this season and then we read our Bible story. And before bed we took a ride to see some Christmas lights in a couple of our favorite neighborhoods!

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Day 2: Dressing up for the Lexington Homeschool Co-op Gala! It is always such a fun night of seeing some of the different co-op classes perform and enjoy some yummy desserts with our co-op friends!

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Day 3: Dinner with friends and visiting Little Bethlehem in Gilbert! The kids always enjoy walking around the town, making a craft, drinking hot chocolate, visiting the wise men, and, of course, seeing Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus.

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Day 4: Some days it literally rains on the parade, and Daddy was sick, so we enjoyed a laid back afternoon, went to see the children’s choir perform at Nanny and Pops’ church, warmed up with some yummy soup and chili, and snuck in a few snuggles with Daddy during our Advent reading.

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Day 5: Making our Gingerbread village and going on a gingerbread man scavenger hunt before bed! And don’t worry about how much icing we ate while making the gingerbread houses.

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Day 6: Our sixth annual red and green night, complete with red and green foods and red and green clothes! The kids always look forward to this special night!

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Day 7: Grabbing dinner out and then going to see the Christmas lights at the zoo! It was such a sweet family night with Santa, snow, the sea lions, and lots and lots of lights!

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Day 8: We spent the morning being Santa’s little elves and shopping for others–family, friends, and a local foster care organization, which is very near and dear to our hearts! It was a doozy of a day, but their excitement over shopping for others and wanting to give them the very best gift is a memory I’ll forever treasure!

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Broadwell Academy, Weeks 13 and 14

Week 13: Tallying our votes in our Coke vs. Pepsi election, and Coke most definitely won! Reece finished his “Run, Pig, Run” book, and Sarah Ann finished another chapter book about soccer as well! We continued our way through James and the Giant Peach, handwriting, language and writing lessons. Carson learned about the letter K this week, and the big kids had a math assessment on some of their recent lessons. We spent a morning making snack sacks and doing our school work at the library. It was a quick week, because we spent 2 days at the Great Wolf Lodge, and Friday we finished up just a bit of work with Daddy before Mommy and Daddy heading out of town for the rest of the day! We also went to the Veteran’s day parade in downtown Columbia on Veteran’s Day!

Week 14: One more week before Thanksgiving break! Carson finished up the letter K, and we were able to spend some time helping with Operation Christmas Child boxes this week. We finally finished James and the Giant Peach, and now we want to watch the movie. The kids are definitely on a Roald Dahl kick! In art we just had some good old fashioned finger painting fun and make pictures for our art portfolio and to send with letters to our Compassion kids. In science we studied clouds this week, and we studied the continent of Australia. We talked about Australia, the Outback, New Zealand, animals, Oceania, the Aborigines, and we made boomerangs with Daddy! On Friday we took a field trip the the Charleston Tea Plantation with our co-op, and it was so neat! We got to go on a factory tour and trolley tour and try a lot of different kinds of tea!

We had our final co-op of the semester the Monday before Thanksgiving. The kids enjoyed wrapping up their classes, sharing what they were thankful for during devotion time, and playing at the park with some of their co-op friends! And then, praise the Lord, Thanksgiving break arrived, and we so enjoyed the rest and time off!

Intentional Evenings

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For most of the fall our schedule looked a little like this…

Monday was co-op, preschool, ballet and jazz…

Tuesday brought the library, two soccer practices, and karate…

On Wednesday we had preschool, art class, hip hop, awana and Bible study….

And Thursdays were Families of Hope and karate days…

Whew, it still makes me tired thinking about it!

So in the midst of all those activities, we decided to be intentional about not making any plans on Friday or Sunday evenings. It wasn’t always easy, but it was always so very worth it. It meant sometimes saying no to something that might have been fun, but knowing that being at home would be even better. And we all really enjoyed those evenings at home, and I began really looking forward to them!

Many times on Friday nights we would make homemade pizza or calzones for dinner, have a family movie night, or play games. It also gave us a chance to settle down earlier before soccer on Saturday mornings.

On Sundays we have church, grab lunch out, pick up our groceries and run any errands early in the day, so that we can be home for the evening. We’ve spent lots of time outside, cleaning our rooms, having leftovers for dinner, reading books, snuggling and cuddling, and preparing for the week ahead.

The days are full, but they are fleeting, and I am so very grateful these intentional evening where we could rest, recharge and enjoy time together as a family!

“A more intentional life purposely slows down enough to enjoy the very process of living more intentionally.” –Tsh Oxenreider

“If I really want an unrushed life, I must underwhelm my schedule so God has room to overwhelm my soul.” –Lysa Terkeurst 

Highlights and Hard Moments

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December is here, and we couldn’t be more excited!  But first here’s a look back at some more sweet memories from the fall that I don’t want to forget! 

And while these definitely are more of a highlight reel, in the midst of these sweet moments there are long days, hard decisions, times of discipline, tears, questions, and frustrations.

But all of these moments and days, both good and hard, are so very worth it! This life is far more than I could have ever asked for or imagined, and I don’t ever want to take it for granted. Oh, Jesus, thank you for the sweet highlights and all the hard moments in between. Your grace is enough, and we are so very grateful!

Broadwell Academy, Weeks 11 and 12

week 11: a great day at co-op playing games in pe, learning about water in curious kids science, and a visit from a banker in “when i grow up.” halloween activities all week long. doing art while laying on our backs like michelangelo. library and language arts. a good week of math practice. getting our school work done at chickfila. a picnic with friends at the park, and sometimes school involves cleaning the bathrooms. a pajama day filled with making muffins, playing headbands, reading james and the giant peach, and getting all of our school assignments done. ending the week erupting our volcano outside and finishing up our south america unit with argentina, a place near and dear to this mommy’s heart.

week 12: dress up day at co-op and a very special american girl tea party. welcoming november with a morning at the park and an afternoon of school. we created our own mona lisa pictures with new settings in art which the kids thought was so much fun. and for math we sorted, counted, and graphed our halloween candy. reece had an awesome week of reading, and sarah ann couldn’t wait to dive into some of the new books she got for her birthday. she’s our little reading machine. we spent thursday and friday learning about voting and the election process. we also voted early and had our own little pepsi and coke election at home. and of course coke totally won! we also spent friday at the state museum with some of our friends to check out the wizard of oz exhibit and 4d movie. it was a great way to end another week down!

thankful hearts. thankful days.

adding to our thankful trees each night at dinner. shopping, putting together, decorating, and packing our operation christmas child boxes. making blessing bags with lots of yummy food to be delivered to a local apartment complex. a fun little turkey craft before bed. making and eating thanksgiving sugar cookies with daddy. sweet cornucopia treat bags to share with some of our friends. a super fun first thanksgiving feast for our little pilgrim at preschool. cuddling up to watch charlie brown’s thanksgiving–one of the kids’ favorite things to do each year. a friendsgiving lunch and playdate at chickfila full of giggles and good conversation. making pilgrim and indian puppets and reading some of our favorite thanksgiving books. cinnamon rolls, breakfast in the living room, pajamas, and the macy’s thanksgiving day parade. spending the day at nanny and pops’ house on thanksgiving–delicious food, lots of play time, beautiful weather, playing kickball, napping, and enjoying time with sweet family!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

Today and every day we have so very much to be thankful for!

“Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind, for He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”

Psalm 107:8-9

Before the Throne

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Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea:
A great High Priest, whose name is Love,
Who ever lives and pleads for me.

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My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart;
I know that while in heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart
No tongue can bid me thence depart.

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When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look, and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin.

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Because the sinless Savior died,
My sinful soul is counted free;
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me.

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Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Praise the One,
Risen Son of God!
Behold Him there, the Risen Lamb
My perfect, spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I am,
The King of glory and of grace!

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One with Himself I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ, my Savior and my God
With Christ, my Savior and my God.

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a storybook ball and boys night

tonight sarah ann and i went to the storybook ball at adventure with our dear friends, maria and sarah. the girls got to meet so many great characters, like dorothy, anna and elsa, the cat in the hat, thing 1 and thing 2, alice in wonderland and her whole crew, and of course, lots and lots of princesses! we enjoyed a short play by the columbia children’s theatre during dinner, rode the carousel, played in the diner area, and danced down the red carpet! it was such a fun girls night out, and i’m always thankful for time with my pretty princess!

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And while the girls were out on the town, the boys were having their own fun too! it’s not surprise that reece and carson chose moe’s for dinner, and then they told jeffrey that they just wanted to play at home. they sure do love playing with their daddy and just being at home together!

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