30 Christmas Memories to Cherish

You may have seen the start of this post over the last few days and wondered what I was thinking with a few random sentences in the world's shortest post??  Apparently while playing with my computer, one of my dear children published it while it was just a draft a few days ago, ha ha, so while it made little sense then, here is the rest of it!  Never a dull moment around here :)
It's so easy to become overwhelmed in the Christmas season.  There is much to do, much to enjoy, and much you never dreamed of doing, until you saw someone else do it :) The type A side of me always struggles this time of year to make the most of my time while doing everything I possibly can to make the season "merry and bright" for the ones I love.  But this is my favorite time of year for so many reasons and I never want to let the busyness or the stress of the season trump the meaning of Christmas. I love the familiar traditions, the dedicated family time, the songs of Christmas that fill the air, the quest to give our kids gifts that delight them...But more than anything, I love the focus on the birth of our Savior and making time to remember and reflect on who God is and the miracle that He actually descended on earth to become human like us, to die for us.  There is so much wonder at Christmas, it's been a fun December in our house!  However, even amidst the fun, it hasn't been perfect as I've been sick for most of the two weeks leading up to Christmas and that's changed many of my plans and ideas.  But rather than get caught up in what we didn't do or what I wish we would have done, I wanted to look back and list all that we did do to celebrate and make memories with the kids!  There are so some sweet things I want to hold on to from this Christmas.  Ages 2 & 3 are great ones for capturing the wonder and awe of Christmas and our kids have not disappointed us in their level of excitement!  We've heard lots of squeals and giggles coming out of them, which is music to any parents ears :)

So, without further ado and in no official order, here's a list of all the fun we've been having together this Christmas...
#1- We took in the Christmas charm of Charleston at every chance we had! 
Including this amazing train display at a beautiful hotel downtown.
 You can imagine how little eyes beheld the magic of a miniture town and a working train!
 #2- We enjoyed a Festival of lights tour on James Island
We got our drinks and snacks ready and enjoyed miles and miles of beautiful light displays with the windows down and Christmas music playing in the background!
 It was a fun night with Uncle Jesse and Aunt Stacie and the kids were thrilled to take it all in!
 We stopped and got out for some treats :)
 #3- We took Christmas pictures!
It's always an adventure but we did it! 
#4- We took every advantage of all the sweet Christmas movies on TV this month, like Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph, Frosty, Mickey's Once & Twice Upon a Christmas, and a few other Christmas cartoons.
 #5- We enjoyed the fake snow and fake snowmen in the mountains of Tennessee!  Oh the irony :)
 #6- We got our first glimpse of Santa and Mrs. Clause on top of a Krispy Kreme in the mountains
 Naturally we celebrated the sight with a donut!  Or two :)
#7- We stopped by Grammy and Grampy's house and enjoyed all of their beautiful decorations and lights
 #8- We stopped at our favorite bakery for some Christmas cupcakes
 #9- Inspired by all the cheer around us, we decked our own halls
 #10- We set up 3 Christmas trees this year!
One for Carter
One for Ava
And one for all of us!  No small feat, but totally worth it.  We all love the glow of the tree every morning and night.  They've been well loved and admired this year!
#11- We read books!  Tons and tons of Christmas books :)
 #12- Ava and I made a gingerbread house
 She helped me with the whole thing, putting the icing on, choosing where we should put each piece of candy and every marshmallow.
 One of my very favorite things we did together this year!
Ava did the house with me, but she wanted to do the snowman by herself and I was all for it!  She did great!  Green was her choice of color and she wanted no candy on him, but I love how she frosted him :) She was very proud of him!
#13- We attempted a morning visit from our little Christmas mouse, but it was short lived.  Our kids are blind as bats when it came to finding him each morning!  They lost interest pretty quickly so we decided we'd try next year :)
 #14- Ava danced and danced and danced in front of the tree at every opportunity :)
 #15- The kids made their first visit to Santa, at their request.  You can see how that went over!
 Although Santa woo-ed him with talk of Thomas the Train, upon actually sitting on his lap, Carter decided he was not a fan!  Ava was totally won over by his knowledge of the Disney princesses, specifically the colors of their dresses.  A hilarious experience that I wished Travis could have enjoyed with me!
#16- We got our first blizzard of the year!
 We woke up on a Sunday morning to some falling snow and a magical winter wonderland outside! The kids were glued to the window and we spent lots of time looking and talking about snow :) So fun to experience a big snowfall through the eyes of a child!
#17- We got our first "picture in front of the tree!"  A tradition :) 

#17- There was lots and lots of snuggling under cozy, Christmas blankets every morning!  Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, blankies and each other.  That's how most of our mornings have started in December.
 #17- We went sledding in the back yard!!
It was Carter's first time to really play in the snow and since we had almost 11" at once, he was practically waist deep! 
 It was one gorgeous night with snow that was coming down in heavy amounts.  After I ran around to upgrade everyone's boots, snowpants and gloves, we went sledding by moonlight and street light and had the best time!
An attempt at a snow angel and lots of requests to "do it again, Daddy!"  What a sweet memory!!
 #18- We enjoyed many Christmas deliveries from our families, and we even had some "Open Now!" gifts to enjoy.  I love this time of year!  It's so fun to hear those knocks on the door and see another package waiting!
 #19- We opened tons and tons of Christmas cards and sent lots of our own.  The mail is so fun to open this time of year!!
 #20- I made some cute Christmas appetizers for a party we went to.  So fun! 
 #21- I never expected to be completely sidelined by sickness, but overnight some kind of respiratory bug took over and even as I type this, I'm still dealing with it.  My memory of these last two weeks is lots of forced rest and chances to snuggle with my kiddos while we napped or watched movies together.  Not what I planned, but not a bad way to spend a few weeks either :)
 #22- In my desperate attempt to relieve my coughing, I got to enjoy this lovely tree at the local Urgent Care.  Seriously, not bad for a hospital, right?  I thought it was really pretty :) Then again, I got a good hour to look it over so I may have just been easily wowed at that point!
 #22- We didn't do much entertaining this year, but we did have one of our favorite friends over to play!
 #23- My one attempt at going to a local,  kid-friendly Christmas event was to go see Dora at the Mall of America for their Toddler Tuesday Christmas.  It was in one word, lame.  So we rode the rides and had lunch with friends instead!  Much, much better!
 #24- We made and delivered treats and Christmas cards to our neighbors. 
One of the sweetest things we did this month!  Our neighbors are so kind to us and they love the kids, so it's always a fun thing to deliver some cheer!  The kids were all about it and we made lots of noise while we knocked on 10 doors! 
 #25- We ate off of our festive plates almost every day and I made Christmas sprinkle pancakes all month long :) So simple, but one of their favorite ways to celebrate holidays!  Sprinkles :)
 #26- We got our annual jammies by the tree picture!
#27- We hung ornaments on our Jesse tree and read a little devotion every day in the month of December.  Such a sweet time with our kids and a highlight at dinner every night.
#28- We did lots of things that reminded us of the true meaning of Christmas. 
 The nativity got lots of love this year as did this quiet book I made in high school.  With every discussion about presents and snowmen and Santa, we tried to remind them again and again that Christmas is about Jesus.  This is his birthday and with all the fun of the season, which we are happy to participate in, we always want to point everything back to Him.  He's greater than gifts, greater than Santa, and greater than traditions, no matter how fun they may be.  If we never did anything on this list of mine, it would still be the most wonderful time of the year, simply because of the greatest gift the world has ever known, Jesus!
 #29- On the night before we left for my parents house, Travis and I spent some time with a group of high schoolers serving the homeless downtown.  These are the girls in my Bible study and we thought this would be a great way to kick off our Christmas vacation.  It was so fun and always such a blessing to go and love people who are hurting and broken in Jesus' name.  Such a sweet night with these girls I have grown to love!  It was freezing cold outside, but our hearts were very warm with the real kind of joy that comes from serving people.
#30- I will do a seperate post about this, but we had our own little family Christmas before we left fro Iowa and it was so great!  We surprised the kids with most of their gifts from us, and we just let them go for it!  So sweet, I always love this time with just the four of us.  It was just as fun as we hoped it would be and they loved every minute and every gift.  So fun!! 
 We've been busy this month!  It's been a great Christmas season and now that we're in Iowa, the best part of our celebration is just beginning.  I hope you've had a great month of December too! 
Merry Christmas Eve!! 

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