Thursday, December 31, 2015

12 Days of Christmas: Day 6 - Christmas Parade

One of the most exciting small town traditions is the annual Christmas parade. Actually, I think big towns have Christmas parades too. 

This year we didn't just go to the parade, we were in it! And not just one parade, but two!  

On Saturday we were in the county parade and then on Sunday we were in our local town parade. 

By "we" I mean we joined other members of our church to represent our church in the parades. 
We decorated our stroller and the kids and I had the very important job of passing out (or tossing) the candy. 

We may have broken into the candy a little to keep the babies from fussing. 

Rosie was so cute. She picked out her outfit and ran and walked almost the whole parade route passing out candy. 

We didn't have time to put together a whole nativity so we decided we would all just walk with Mary and Joseph as they traveled to Bethlehem. 

Our alter servers looked pretty fabulous. 

Beth was a fellow candy passer-outer. Unfortunately she also had knee surgery not too long ago and was quit sore after two days of walking. 

This is the only picture anyone got of me and the stroller in the parade. We were pretty proud of our festive stroller. 

On Saturday, Rosie made it almost the whole parade running back and forth passing out candy. At the very end she asked for a break so I took Obi out of the stroller.  He couldn't keep up so Vince ended up pushing the stroller while Obi and I got picked up by the search and rescue float. That was nice of them and very funny. 

On Sunday we walked again in our own town's parade where our church is actually located and we won first place!!! Yes, it's a small town and a small parade but it was still very exciting to us. 

We all really enjoyed being a part of the Christmas celebration and hopefully we spread some joy and smiles as well as reminding people what the season is really all about. 

I'm already planning for next year. By the way, in the maket for a nice friendly donkey. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

12 Days of Christmas: Day 5 - Main Street Tree Lighting

In the first weekend of December one of the local towns had their annual Main Street Christmas celebrations.

The evening included a tree lighting, Christmas carols, horse drawn carriages and lots of hot chocolate.

Each shop on the historic down town Main Street stayed opened a few hours late for this special evening. That's actually a very exciting big deal in our small town area where most everything around here closes at 5pm. But on this night everything stayed open till 9pm!

And I'm not just talking about the obvious shops where you could get your Christmas shopping Donne, like the jewelry shop or the book store, I mean everything on Main Street stayed open till 9pm. The lawyers, the tax agents, the furniture store, the other random shops I have no idea what they are. Every shop stayed open and offered treats to anyone one who would wander in. There was hot chocolate and cider and cookies and cupcakes and candy and cheese plates, and even wine tasting at the art shop!

It was truly a wonderful night of the community coming together and just spending time together and celebrating the Christmas season. I really enjoyed the feeling of warm welcomes and comradery that was buzzing up and down the street.

There was also the added joy of seeing people walked out of shops carrying gift wrapped packages. It was incredibly festive.  I told William that next year we are buying everything local (especially at the shops that offer wrapping).

I don't have very many pictures of the evening because we were busy just enjoying it.

In the first shop we went in Elsa from Frozen was there saying hello to all the little girls.  Rosie was very happy about it and wanted her picture taken.

The main thing I wanted the kids to see was the live nativity. It took us a while to walk around and find it but when we finally found it we really enjoyed it.
They even had live sheep, a donkey ...
And camels! 
They also had really lovely live Christmas music. 
In fact the whole street was full of Christmas music. The funature store even had a group of seniors line dancing to Jingle Bell Rock.

It was a cold night and we did stay out later than we normally would, but it was such a fun and festive evening. I am definately looking forward to doing it again next year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

12 Days of Christmas: Day 4 - The Gaylord Opryland Hotel

Clearly we love Christmas lights.
I've always loved driving around and looking at them but that's not as easy to do with kids and in the country where the houses and fewer and farther apart. 

One of our most favorite Christmas traditions is visiting the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville. We go every year on my mom's birthday. 
The kids call it "the White Castle" and they look forward to it all year. 

Every year the Gaylord does an amazing job decorating for Christmas. This year they even had a lot of new decorations. 
It's pretty much Nashville's Disneyland 

This bobble tree was new this year and I just loved it. 

Music notes hung from the ceiling as a nod to music city. These were new too!

They always have the most massive and lovely Christmas tree.

These were new!

And guess who we ran into?! Santa!

We had dinner at the Fuse sports restaurant. They have great food (even for allergy people like us) and the atmosphere isn't too stuffy for ramuctious kids. They have the TVs muted till 7pm. At 7:00 they turn the sound up WAY too loud so make sure you're out before that.  Otherwise the place is great. Great kids menus too. With crayons.

Baby Margaret discovered she loves French fries.

After dinner we did the boat tour this year.  The boats run till ten so feel free to have dinner and walk around a bit first. (The shops close at 9pm and Santa was there till 6pm).

The kids always love the boat tour. It's the best way to see the lights.

I swear he's happy. He just makes silly faces when I take his picture.

See.  He loves the lights

Dinner, Santa, shopping and the boat tour as well as all the lights were indoors in the giant atrium. So it was all very warm.

But if you go out the front of the hotel the trees and decorations are amazing. We always take a stroller to carry our coats and then put them on to go out to the nativity.

The nativity is lovely and larger than life size.

They also have the Christmas story from the book of Matthew playing over a load speaker.

It is very lovely.  But you are outside so it can be cold.

They also offer horse drawn carriage rides along the lighted tree area.

This is the front of the hotel. It's so beautiful. You can see why my kids call it the "White Castle"

Back inside to warm up we explored some more.  The hotel has three wings. Each is decorated in its own special way. And has its own theme. We always love playing behind the water fall in the Cascades wing.

This is the other side of the water fall.

I love all the little details in each room.  The garlands and wreaths and every little thing that transforms the whole place into a Christmas wonderland.

If you are ever in Nashville be sure to stop by the Gaylord hotel and just wonder around. It's beautiful all year long.  
There are lovely places to have dinner. 
The steak place is amazing if you're looking for something fancy. Fuse is nice for something low key. And the Irish pub is great for drinks and live music. 

For you're ever in Nashville around Christmas time DO NOT miss this place. It's amazing. 
There are plenty of free things to see and do (especially if you park at the mall and walk over). But there are also lovely places to eat and shop. 
Chances are you'll find some great Christmas gifts. 
There's an amazing toy shop for all the kids on your list. 

Christmas runs through January 2nd this year so there's still time, plus I hear the shops have great after Christmas sales. 

I'm actually thinking about taking the kids back one more time this week. Maybe I'll see you there!

Monday, December 28, 2015

12 Days of Christmas: Day 3 - Columbus Zoo Lights

I might be counting the days a little wrong for the twelve days of Christmas. I might be a day behind. But that just means an extra day of Christmas for me, and is that really a bad thing. 

Plus the Catholic Church doesn't start Ordinary time till January 11. So really Christmas Tide even longer than 12 days. 

Today I would like to share what we did as a family the day after Thanksgiving to kick off our Christmas celebrations. 

We went to Dublin, Ohio for Thanksgiving.  The day after Thanksgiving we went to the Columbus Zoo for their Christmas "zoo lights". 

Rosie wanted me to take this picture of her because she forgot her special bear and wanted to show her pictures.  I sure do love this sweet girl. 

My boys

We got there at dusk before everything got really impressive. But even at that hour it was beautiful. Rosie loved this rainbow tree. 

Happy boy just wanted to see some animals.  He was impressed with the moose. 

We saw miniature cows.  William wants some. This is as big as they get!

The lights were amazing. There was even a light show on the lake that was sponsored by Disney.  And we all took a train ride through some nicely decorated areas. 

It was cold so Margaret got to wear her new winter hat. She kept running off and making everyone who wasn't her mother chasing after her laugh. 

After wondering around with the whole family for a while ( cousins and aunts and uncles and Nana and Papa and Grampa Coleman ), our little family stayed behind to explore a little more. 
The kids loved the Christmas decorations   And then we found an old friend!

We saw Santa!!  Obi wasn't sure what he wanted and Rosie said she wanted Santa to put candy canes on our Christmas tree.  At least that's what she meant to say. Really she just said she wanted a candy cane for Christmas and Santa reached down in his bag and gave her one! She was so surprised and excited. 

Obi later decided he wanted ice skates. Although I did try to persuade him he might want a tool set. 

If you're ever in the Columbus area make sure to visit their zoo. It is one of the top five zoos in the country and it really is amazing. 
But if you're ever there during the
Zoo Lights time do not miss it. It was spectacular. And very festive.