Saturday, December 31, 2011

They're 3!

One week ago today, our Fab Four turned 3 years old! As usual, we celebrated with family, cupcakes, a ton of balloons, and lots and lots of presents. Jude got his wish for a blue cupcake and a blue birthday hat; Isaac tolerated his green birthday hat long enough for a picture; Lucy got the purple cupcake, purple dress, and purple crown that she'd been dreaming about; and Dahlia was thrilled with the "yellow" (gold to you and me) crown that we bought to coordinate with Lucy's:

3 years old: 
(l to r) Lucy, Isaac, Dahlia, and Jude

A good time was had by all, and Ted and I were again reminded of how blessed we are to be parents to these four miracles. Can't wait to see what the year ahead has in store for all of us!

Friday, December 30, 2011

One of our favorite things

Forget Paul McCartney or our wedding video—the latest craze around here is the singalong feature on our Sound of Music DVD. Every night before bed, I pop in "Maria" (as the kids call it), and the playroom is magically transformed into Salzburg, with the Fab Four taking on the roles of various characters in the movie—including, of course, Maria:

Dahlia as Maria 
(she came up with this ensemble all by herself!)

The kiddos have a great time copying every twirl and gesture they see onscreen, and Ted and I get a big kick out of seeing them perform (and perfect) their routines. I especially love watching them do "Sixteen Going on Seventeen," with all of its leaping and spinning and—the best part—the kiss at the end:

Who knows—maybe one of these kids will end up on Broadway someday!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A new tradition: DIY Advent calendar

One of the many things I've learned in the past 3 years is that, when you have four birthdays to celebrate on Christmas Eve, Christmas itself easily can—and does—become an afterthought. And recently, with both big days already around the corner again, I've been thinking a lot about how to change this. How can I teach my children that their birthday, while wonderful and exciting, is not the most important birthday of the year? What should Christmas look like for a family such as ours?

Although I don't think there are any perfect answers to these questions, I've decided to try to address the issue this year by starting a new tradition for us: For the first time, our Christmas celebration will include an Advent calendar. And not just any Advent calendar—once I realized how pricey ready-made calendars tend to be, I decided to make my own!

First I bought a small hardware storage box with 25 compartments:

Then, to dress it up, I lined the drawers with leftover Christmas wrapping paper and numbered them with punched card-stock circles (labeled with a gold-leaf pen and attached with foam dots). For the finishing touch, Ted spray-painted the case with some Rustoleum for plastic. Here's how it turned out:

I've filled each drawer with four pieces of Christmas candy, one for each kid to eat while I read a story from our illustrated children's Bible. Since the kids are so small, I didn't bother coming up with symbols to place in the drawers; instead, each one contains a "coin" (bottled water lid painted gold) that tells us the name of the person we will be reading about on that particular day. (I figure I can use the next 12 months or so to come up with something a little more elaborate.)

We started our Advent today with the story of Creation. In the tradition of a Jesse Tree, the following days will take us through the Old Testament and into the New, with the last 5 days focusing on the events surrounding the birth of Jesus. I am trying to keep things as simple as possible by just reading a story and then letting the kids color a picture related to what we've read (as they get older, perhaps we can make some sort of craft or ornament instead).

Time will tell whether this Advent calendar will end up being the solution to our Christmas quandary, but at least it's a start!


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