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Thursday, November 29, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

In Alaska, the Christmas season always starts earlier here...
Maybe it's all this snow and the fact our area has been frosted over for two weeks.
..I don't know, what do you think? (wink)

Whatever the reason, we are decked out, feeling merry and bright
.. Even with the lack of actual sunshine that enters the house daily.

Doesn't stop us: we have a happy lamp!
Oh, and it helps if you get outside as often as you can stand.
Like for instance, sledding!!!

There is nothing like sledding in REAL snow!

And thanks to a sweet friend, we now have a treadmill in the garage! This sweet couple saved my sanity! Thank you!
Couple the treadmill with a bike stand for a stationary bike experience and a TRX band and, voila: we have our own little garage gym!
Which is another reason I believe my dog is starting to hate me....
...besides the reindeer antler picture ;)
Here's a picture of my "rave run" set up:
Yes, I think this qualifies for one of the 'happiest' exercising routine you coud ask for.
I am going to try to submit this to Runners World for the rave run feature of the month!
Elyse has her own sweet setup: a castle, an ABC mat, her stationary stroller ;), her swing and a ball to kick around.

This is survival people.
But I am ever grateful for where we are regardless... even if there are some painful days in our deal.
..which brings me to thanksgiving!
We gave thanks this year at a friend's house (she is a great example of a true air force wife as she held our thanksgiving meal at her house despite her husband's unexpected traveling assignment). Everyone who came shared AMAZING food, we all over stuffed our stomach's capacity on a bunch of amazing dishes and turkey turkey, good conversation, football games, a good round of catch phrase and delicious desserts, and enjoyed resting in each other's presence all while the kids ran around like crazies, enjoying the same wonderful blessings us adults thanked God for as we reflected on our year.
Man... How blessed we are.
We have been helping Elyse give thanks too as we made her a thanksgiving tree.
We put our top things to be thankful for on some felt leaves and  Elyse throughout the day will stick them on the tree. When I am near her while she is doing this, I will usually read off what we wrote on there and try to remind her why we are thankful for these things.
But I have to remember we will have to wait a while before all of this comes into understanding for her. I am just so anxious to give her the whole world, I sometimes get ahead of myself!

Here newest thing is the obsession with the hat.
She loves this hat...
so much that she wears it around the house!
Crazy girl!
(and when we are around town, she gets a lot of hand outs of stickers and goodies from cashiers and passerbyers because she is "just the cutest thing I've ever seen... look at that hat!". This kid aint dumb either....)

And it's not Christmas until the Christmas moose comes to town!

 That's right! Our cardboard moose Fred came out because of all the Christmas festivities!
And then he got overwhelmed by the Christmas Elf
(hemm... me)
and fell.
Oh well. His company was enjoyed while it lasted!
Ok, so back to being thankful for a moment....
Andrew and I recalled all of the many blessings we have experienced throughout our year and put them in a little journal, using the two days after thanksgiving to praise God and ask how to use these for his glory.... And as a result of our reflecting, we decided to move forward with our long awaited decision to use some of our financial blessing to buy a needed tool for movie nights for the many shadowy days ahead:
 a television!

I know this sounds crazy, but Andrew and I have never bought a tv in our marriage. We had one given to us from a friend (ok, given but, we paid him... really, we never went shopping for it so it doesn't really count... we kind of just helped get it off his hands.) Well, the monster was so huge, a nightmare to move and a horror to think if it ever fell, it probably would kill someone, that I was more than ready to commit to something else.
So black friday rolled around aaaannnnnd:


 A TV!
Wow. Look at how good it looks in that media center ;)

 Elyse and baby really enjoy it too!
Go Vols!

Cutest cheerleader ever.


Another cool tradition I have considered doing before but have never been prepared enough for is starting the 12 days of Christmas giving.
Its so much fun to open gifts on the day of christmas, but the more i think about it, the more i really believe our family misses the point of Christmas day when there are so many gadgets and things to distract ourselves with...( as if we weren't distracted enough already!).
Thus, we are going to try to do something new: gift giving throughout the Christmas season so we can enjoy more of one another on Christmas day. Christmas is all about Christ and giving. And Christ is also ALL about relationship, which also fits into giving. We really wouldn't give from the same heart as we give with today if we didn't first accept the Greatest gift of all: his life and his work done for us. Then, with that grace, we can give from the same heart and joy he has towards us everyday.
That's how we are to celebrate this giving during Christmas season. But we will easily miss the mark if we just focus on the gifts themselves-- something our family personally are the most prone to doing. With that said, we are going to give the 12 days of Christmas giving a shot!
Here is a picture of days 1-5... days 6-12 are still downstairs awaiting room on the small mantle ;)
For each day, I put a cordinating snowflake on our Christmas tree in the den.
It helps me keep track of what day it is... plus, we haven't decorated it yet so it looks better this way!

Then you go find the gift with the matching number for that day....


You get the idea ;)
There are no rules on how to do it (since this is the first year trying it), but I am shooting for things my family enjoys doing or gifts that tell them I love them and I was thinking of them.
Here are some things we have tried for each day thus far:

1-- partridge in a pear tree: we celebrated with the largest gift of the season (the tv), ate roasted oven baked pears as we celebrated a successful day of installing and setting up the tv, and put up our new star on our new tree (so much new! Thank you Lord!)

2-- turtle doves= date night. We go to the nutcracker every year (another seasonal tradition we hold very dear to our MUST DOs in the Christmas season), and this year we celebrated each other with a dessert date after the show and a "In 25 years..." love box. I read about this gift somewhere, but the main idea is to encourage intimacy with your spouse. For every time you make love, you put a dollar in the box... Then, in 25 years, use the money to fund a trip for the two of you or spend it on your 25th anniversary! It will be neat to see how much our box will have collected by that point ;)

3-- French hens: I wrapped three candles in brown paper and wrote a message in French to him, telling him something along the lines that I owe him a massage in candle light. For elyse, she was given three new books: a favorite from my childhood (the Sweet smells of Christmas), a favorite from Andrews childhood (The Polar Express), and a new one for our collection (The Reason for Christmas). She has requested to read them every night!

4-- calling birds: for this one, we were going to Skype some family members, but the day got pretty crazy (we did get to Skype with them earlier in the week so it wasn't total loss.. And we got to Skype with daddy as traveled! So we did some calling anyways ;) ) Elyse also got to open one of her gifts, which has to do with calling and Andrew got to open Day 5's gift so he could figure out what day 4's gift was-- phew! Confusing huh? He got another fun massage package (this kid loves massages If he had his way, he would get one every night!!! It is filled with more candles, lotion, soothing music and

5-- Golden rings: Elyse received a movie about golden retrievers (dog dogs!!!) and Andrew got a traveling journal, in which we will write encouragement notes and maybe a quick 'I love you' in and hide in a spot where it can be found easily for the other to read in time (like in a suitcase, in a briefcase, backpack, flight suit, etc). It will be fun to see where it shows up... And I actually like this idea better than a creepy elf that sneaks away from the shelf and is confronted by an unexpected and unfortunate soul...ugh! Ekk! So creepy!

6-- Geese a laying: I was a bit confused on what to do for this day, so we made EGGnog ice cream (which was absolutely delicious!!!!!! I need to post the recipe, as it is super easy and so so good!). It was all I could come up with! Haha-- I'd love to hear any idea if anyone has one.

7-- Swans a swimming: tickets to the H2Oasis waterpark in Anchoraage! Elyse and I went there today and she fooled me into thinking she really WAS a swan! All she wanted to do the whole time was dive under the water! She is such a daredevil! It was a joint gift as Andrew has been wanting to go there with her for a long time, so I got them a 10 visit pass ;)

8-- maids a milking: my favorite day... Milk has so many wonderful uses: cookies, lattes, ice cream, yogurt, lattes, cakes, eggnog, cereal, lattes... Did I mention lattes?? Yes. Yes I believe I did... Which is why I bought a gift certificate for Andrew and I to enjoy when together and while he is on the road. It accompanies an ornament too ;) I can't wait to treat elyse to one as she is such a coffee hound!
Oh a girl after my own heart... ;)

9-- ladies dancing: for elyse, I bought ballet slippers and an outfit for her to wear. She will get to wear it after our Christmas tea at the church (unless I can't find anything else for her to wear... Haha! Justttt kidding). You can be creative with this one for your husband... I'm sure he will like whatever you come up with ;)

10-- lords a leaping: a 10 movie Veggie Tale Christmas set that she can watch throughout the season. I'm still working on day 10 for Andrew as we will probably be apart for traveling reasons AGAIN for this one.... hmmm....

11-- pipers piping: I bundled some christmas classics in this one for elyse to enjoy (a movie set and some other sentimental items to add up to 11). And I just got some new cookie cutters so we might have to have a cookie making and decorating day for this.

12-- drummers drumming: 12 glow sticks to play in the bath with and some lollipops to accompany the all day fun!
That's all I have for now. I think this tradition is here to stay. I have really had a lot of fun these last 12 days.... and I look forward to being able to rest a little bit from gift packaging on Christmas day ;)
On to some more elfish fun: cookies!
Yes. Elyse and I are getting a head start on the season and making cookies for all of our friends and neighbors!
Look at this girl go!

A perfect use for the farmhouse bench:

Cookie monster!

And Elyse knows that a good chef ALWAYS tests her treats before handing them out!
She learns from the best ;)
Before I go....
Gingerbread houses!
Made with Rice Krispie treats = a practical gingerbread house making experience for toddlers.

So easy, yet so fun.

Well, that's all I have for now. Going to shoot to turn in early tonight (early as in midnight-- haha!).
Until next posting....
...and until another run:
Be blessed.