Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Simple Nativity Play

We act out the Nativity every year on Christmas Eve. We did it at my house growing up, and we have continued on the tradition. Since my sister moved to town, we have done it with them, and my parents were here for it this year too.

Most of the cast of characters - an angel, a shepherd,
a wise man, Joseph,another wise man,
another shepherd, and Mary

1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went
out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world
should be taxed.

2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius
was governor of Syria.)

3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee,
out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David,
which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house
and lineage of David:)

5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused,
being great with child.

6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days
were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him
in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger;
because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding
in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them,
and the glory of the Lord shone round
about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring
you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David
a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe
wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel
a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth
peace, good will toward men.

1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea
in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came
wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews?
for we have seen his star in the east,
and are come to worship him.

3 When Herod the king had heard these things,
he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and
scribes of the people together, he demanded
of them where Christ should be born.

5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea:
for thus it is written by the prophet,

6 And thou Bethlehem in the land of Juda,
art not the least among the princes of Juda:
for out of thee shall come a Governor,
that shall rule my people Israel.

7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men,
enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.

8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said,
Go and search diligently for the young child;
and when ye have found him, bring me word again,
that I may come and worship him also.
9 When they had heard the king, they departed;
and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them,
till it came and stood over where the young child was.

10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with
exceeding great joy.

11 ¶ And when they were come into the house,
they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down,
and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures,
they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not
return to Herod, they departed into their own
country another way.

"Away In A Manger"

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Jelly Bean Turns 8!

Jelly Bean turned 8 in mid December. I can hardly believe that it has been 8 whole years since she was born. She loves American Girl, reading, swimming, and anything that her sister likes OR anything that might annoy her sister.

Also, in our church, children can get baptized and confirmed when they are 8, and Ellie was baptized a few days after her birthday.

Her sister and her cousins made her this card

Cutting the cake

We had a family luncheon the day of the baptism

Jelly Bean and her Great Aunt N

Jelly Bean and the family - sorry, Super is 5,
and well, sometimes not cooperative.
Jelly Bean and my parents.
They flew out here for the baptism
and the holidays.
We were so happy to see them!
Jelly Bean and Great Aunt N
and Mr. Simple's mom, Grandma S
Happy Birthday Jelly Bean! We love you!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

From Mitten Strings: Rhythm

One thing that I did when Flower was small was that I tried to set a rhythm to our days. Now, she was a baby, so rhythm was a bit relative. I certainly couldn't count on something being done necessarily at an exact certain time - but we had things that we did at certain times of the day. Things like nursing, playing, singing songs to her before she went to bed, etc.

As she got older, and we added Jelly Bean, and then Super, we would shoot for times on things - Breakfast eaten by 8 am, outside around 10 am, bath time by 6 pm, and in bed/asleep by 7 pm. Some of my friends would say "How can you have your children in bed so early?" Well, there were a few reasons for their early bedtime, most importantly, they were tired. By 7 pm, my children were ready for bed. We did have make our rhythm flow so that this would happen - so dinner happened around 5, and bath was by 6, and stories were started by 6:30. The sun was setting, the stars were coming out and the day was slowly disappearing into night, so they were slowing down their internal rhythm too. They would usually sleep for 11-13 hours. The other main reason that we put our children to bed at 7 pm was so that we had some adult/alone time. I love my children. I enjoy being around them. But I am a better mom and wife if I am able to have some time to talk, to read, to do something without my children before I go to bed at night.

But it isn't just sleep that is part of our rhythm, although it is an important part - there is the routine of three meals eaten at our table, dishes done after dinner, grocery shopping on Saturdays, naps taken after church, stories at bedtime.

Now, if you are a regular reader, you might also know that we got off our rhythm over the summer. It was awful. We got off our rhythm because our life changed for the summer. We were busy with swim team and baseball. We were out later, and we were out more often. But I didn't just modify our rhythm to fit our new routine. I just let go of it all. Did I mention it was awful??

But the worst part of it was when the summer was over, I didn't gratefully embrace our old rhythm. I had let our world of controlled chaos remain instead. I didn't even look at our old rhythm and see if perhaps it needed some tweaking, now that the children were getting a bit older. I just let go.

The author says "But it is a challenge for us to incorporate rhythm into our daily lives. To do so, we must commit ourselves to order and routine; to a slower, more deliberate pace; to intention rather than to happenstance. In other words, we must develop a sense of ritual. Only a few generations ago, human activity was, by necessity, informed by the rhythms of the natural world: we slept when it was dark, rose with the sun, planted and harvested according to the seasons, experienced profound connections between the cosmos and human consciousness. Modern life has severed these connections.

Often enough, I do find myself speeding up, trying to pack too much into too little time. But children find contentment and strength not in the day's array of activities, but in consistency, and in the familiar, homely routines that give each day its shape."

This passage speaks so much to me because it is the way that I want our lives to be - in tune with the natural rhythms, and following simple, familiar routines. I've been slowly trying to find my way back to a rhythm. Thankfully, we've had one before, and I know we can do it again. Thankfully, I have the rhythm of the days and seasons as a guide.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Festival of Lights

Saturday night, after we ate, we went to the local Festival of Lights. I had never been. It was very neat. Plus the kids all fell asleep on the way home. Nice way to end a holiday evening.

We had to take a picture of the fire truck for Super

Wall -E, although this one was spelled Wall -Y

A whale

A dinosaur

Horses pulling a wagon

Heading out

There was WAY more,
but I just put up a few of my favorites.

Locals, this was definitely a fun activity!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Group Birthday Dinner

We had dinner tonight at our favorite restaurant - our "birthday" restaurant. We didn't go for Flower's and Super's birthdays back in September, and Jelly Bean's birthday is coming up next week, AND we had family in and Grandpa S had a birthday this month, so off we went. It is a Japanese Steak House place where they cook the food in front of you and the kids love that. The first time we went, I figure the kids would have watching the cook, but I didn't think they would eat that type of food. But they all love it.

The kids and Grandma J

The grill getting "fired" up

Grandpa S drinking sake

Mr. Simple drinking sake

onion "volcano"

The food right before the cook served it

The cook

Mr. Simple and his dad -
The fortune said "A romantic encounter awaits you two tonight."
Happy Birthday Everyone!!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

From Mitten Strings: Quiet

The busier and louder my life has gotten, the more I've come to appreciate quiet.

The author says about quiet: "If we are to feed others, we must first be fed ourselves. We must embrace quiet ourselves before we can bring it to our children."

I used to think of quiet as JUST silence. But it doesn't have to be just that. It can mean more creating a more natural, peaceful sound in your home. She quotes a mom who says "If my daughter is listening to tapes of CDs that means she is taking something in instead of generating something of her own. I would rather hear her singing her songs." I think there is room in life for both - but I like the idea of using the quiet as a springboard to create something of your own.

I think that we are so conditioned to listening to something, or someone, that it can be unnerving to really, really just be quiet. But some of my best thoughts have come after that moment of blankness - that moment where my eyes are closed and I just sit. Of course, not every time I sit in the quiet is so dramatic. But even if I don't think of anything, the quiet rejuvenates me and gives me the strength to continue on.

She closes the chapter with this quote:

"When I clear a quiet space for my family, I make room for our souls to grow."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

From Mitten Strings: Peace

I long for peace - internally, in my family, in the world. I've had fleeting moments, but for far too much of my life, I've been without peace. Some of my unrest is brought on by myself and my reactions to situations. To life. Probably most of it.

The author of Mitten Strings says:

"It is Sunday afternoon, Jack is curled up in the crook of my arm, having decided to fingerknit a whole ball of yarn while I crochet mitten strings for all of our surviving pairs. We have been quiet, absorbed n our work, for quite some time when he asks, 'This is peace, isn't it?' I agree that it is indeed. 'I love this peace,' he says."

I love peace too. I'm hoping to create more peace - internally, in my family, in the world.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Once Upon A Holiday, Part III

This event actually wasn't part of the downtown Holiday festival, but I was on a roll there with my titles. On Saturday night, we went to our church's Christmas party. They did a Christmas play, caroling, visiting with Santa, and cocoa and cookies. It was very nice, but I must admit that I was getting a little overloaded with the Christmas spirit by this time. (This was our fourth Christmas event in 24 hours.) I was torn about going to this because it just seemed like TOO much (see my Simplifying The Holidays post). I was frustrated because there were just so many events in our community that were scheduled for these two days, and then from then on, there were plenty of days with none, or just one thing, and many of the other things were events that my children weren't interested in/hadn't been talking about all year, etc. But I am the grown-up. I should have said no to something.

We have the preschool Christmas party next week, but I think that might be it. The only other thing scheduled for this month is gift preparation and family visits. And that is enough. I mean that in a good way.

It's a bit hard to see, but above the gym,
there was a scroll with the names of all
the children that had been good this year.

Super having one of the MANY cups
of cocoa that we had had in the past 24 hours.

The play

Super talking to Santa

Jelly Bean


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Once Upon A Holiday, Part II

We went back downtown on Saturday morning for Christmas At The Courthouse. The County Museum of History is at the old county courthouse. The courthouse always reminds me of looks just like the clock tower building in Back To The Future. Except the Courthouse has a domed roof. Anyway . . . We did Christmas At The Courthouse last year, and the kids wanted to come back since it was so much fun. You can see St. Nicolas and his wife, do crafts, listen to music, have refreshments, and then, of course, go to the exhibits. My kids love this museum.

Standing on the courthouse steps

Making cards for veterans

Super getting help making paper snowflakes

An interior shot

The Jaycee parade ends at the courthouse, so we
watched it from the comfort of inside the courthouse

Flower watching Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive on a fire truck

Santa and Mrs. Claus disembarking off the fire truck

Super visiting with St. Nicholas and his wife.
When St. Nick asked what he wanted, he said
"I'm still thinking about it."

Flower and Super making a Santa puppet.

Jelly Bean playing in the Pioneer Room.
Guess what this is supposed to be?

Jelly Bean churning butter.

Super's completed puppet.
I love the messages on him.

After Christmas at Courthouse, we went home and had lunch quickly so that the girls and I could go to the local production of The Nutcracker. It was fun to take the girls. I was in the Nutcracker a couple times as a kid, and my mom also took me many, many times and so it was fun to start the tradition with my girls. Although, now the requests have started to do ballet instead of swimming . . .

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Once Upon A Holiday, Part 1

Our city has a downtown Holiday Celebration called Once Upon A Holiday. On Friday night, they did live window vignettes in over 30 windows, and Santa came on the Bookmobile. Many of the shops also had activities and snacks inside, so there was plenty to do, and plenty of time to warm up in the shops.

With Santa on the bookmobile. The kids had never been on a
bookmobile, and they thought it was SO cool.

There was a lady doing face painting at one of the
downtown art galleries. Isn't he the cutest Rudolph
you've ever seen?

The Snow Princess and The Princess

Super wanted his dad to look like him.
So meet young Rudolph, and adult with
a moustache Rudolph. Thanks Mr. Simple
for being a good sport.

An artsy picture of a downtown street.