Sunday, January 10, 2016

Last Liturgical Day of Christmas

Got all the kids on the picture on this the last liturgical day of Christmas. 
Today we celebrate the baptism of Christ and talked about our own baptisms with the kids. 
We listen to Christmas music one last time and then tomorrow we move into "Ordanay Time". Rosie calls it "green time" because the priest wears green. It's a time of growing in our love and faith and understanding in Christ. 

Also. It's one month till Ash Wednesday ! Why is this year going to fast already!?

Happy Christmas lovely people.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

12 Days of Christmas: Day 12 - Epiphany!

Happy Twelveth Day of Christmas! 
Happy Kings Day! 
Happy Epiphany! 

Today around the world we celebrate the arrival of the Magi, Wise men, or Kings arriving at the house of the Baby Jesus and bringing him gifts.
This is a very big holiday in some parts of the world like Mexico, Spain, most of the Spanish speaking world and Italy.

The kids and I had so much fun watching little clips of different celebrations from around the world on SnapChat. 
Yes. I said SnapChat.
I know it sounds crazy but there was this little button that you could click on and it showed you lots of little clips of people around the world celebrating.
We saw parades.
Mass with Wisemen coming down the aisle to bring gifts.
We are totally making Kings cake next year.

There were also some fun clips on Instagram and Twitter if you check out the hashtag #Epiphany.
Make the technology work for you and make it fun.

The kids really enjoyed watching it all.
There was one clip from Spanish Harlem and Rosie was excited that "Hey! They are speaking our language."

Many Catholics around the world do a house blessing on Epiphany.
All you need for this house blessing is:
The Blessing (I printed mine from
Some Holy Water
and blessed chalk 
(I'm sure regular chalk would work too, but it's so much more fun asking your priest to bless a piece of chalk. I keep mine in my jewelry box and reuse it every year)

Then you get everyone together... say a little prayer and blessing and write
above your door

The 20 and the 16 are for the current year and the letters C, M and B stand for 
Christus Mansionem Benedicat, which is Latin for "May Christ bless this home."
 They are also the initials for the traditional names of the three wisemen.
Balthasar of Arabia, Melchior of Persia, and Gaspar of India.
(Traditional. Not factual. We don't actually know their names.  But these are fun to say).
Balthasar is our favorite... we just like saying it.

Obi is the official Holy Water distributor. 
He splashed it all over the door.

In many parts of the world children leave their shoes under the tree and receive a gift from the Kings as they pass by on their way to Bethlehem to see Jesus. We didn't do the shoes this year but there was a gift under the tree! Obi was very excited to discover it.

It was a 3D puzzle that we can all do together this weekend.
Rosie declared the Kings must be still alive.
I tried to explain traditions and that weren't but I was out voted. 
"Nope. I think they're still alive. That's more fun. "

 I've always loved Kings Day.
 I love that one last day of gifts before the Christmas season comes to a close.

Also, I didn't realize this until I became Catholic but the Kings or Magi were the first non Jewish people to honor Jesus and so they represent God's gift of mercy to the whole world.

I thought I'd share a couple pictures of our nativity. The kids had fun setting it up and decided the nutcrackers should be there to guard the baby Jesus.

Thank you so much for celebrating the entire month of December and the 12 Days of Christmas with me. I enjoyed blogging again.

I hope you have a wonderful year and that the joy and peace of Christmas is in your heart and home all year long.

Merry Christmas!! 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

12 Days of Christmas: Day 11 - How Christmas Day Went Down

Christmas Morning!
The day we think about and plan for all year long.
It was so peaceful and wonderful this year.

The kids woke up and examined everything. 
They were excited to see that Santa had not only eaten all the cookies and brownies we left him, but he also emptied the can of beans and the cup of oats. 
He left the book (we left out "The Night Before Christmas") open to the page that says "up the chimney he rose."
They thought that detail was really fun.
Obi exclaimed "He DOES love beans"
I think they were more excited about that then they were at all the gifts under the tree!

The only thing Rosie had asked Santa for when we visited him was candy canes on the tree. She was happy to see that he left both peppermint ones as well as jolly rancher flavored ones, since Obi doesn't like the peppermint. 
That Santa is a thoughtful guy.

My Mother-in-law sent the kids ornaments that have a motion detector on them and sing "we wish you a merry christmas." The kids thought they were wonderful! 
Quite honestly I thought they were hilarious. Every time any one walks by the tree (including the cat) it starts singing.
They also sent two birds that do life like bird songs.
So our tree is very noisy and freaks the cat out. 
It's great!

Santa brought the kids these giant stuffed animals because he must be a little crazy.

They were a huge hit. . .

for a while anyway.

Playing under the Christmas tree..... we are very slow gift openers. We like to take our time to stop and play with things for awhile before we move on.

It took us four hours to open our gifts and we didn't even have that many people this year.
I got an Instax camera!! 
I took this picture at "intermission." 
We had to stop for second breakfast and coffee.

Margaret was the cutest. I think her favorite thing was this box. 
She kept climbing in and out of it all morning.

She finally got the hang of opening the gifts herself after Rosie showed her. 
Then she thought it was great fun.

I put together this frame for my mom. 
Andy died last year and he'd been part of the family for 16 years. 
We all still really miss him.
I saw this idea at my friend Julie's house and thought it was lovely.
Now Andy is on the wall with all of the other family pictures.

When all the gifts had been opened and we picked up the paper, we found one last big box in the back under the tree. 
The kids opened the box and found this note in it.
It told us to go outside and open a door.

I had no idea what was coming... Santa was up to something.
We opened the garage door and found this crazy thing!!
Santa had really out done himself this year. 
The kids were ecstatic.

The rest of the day was peaceful. 
I had put a turkey in the oven in the morning.
After the gifts were open I took a nap.
The kids spend most of the day in their bouncy house with Papa,
And Margaret got to sit on the counter while Nana pealed oranges.

After my nap I baked four pies. 
It was such a lovely dinner and such a lovely day.

Some of my personal favorite gifts were these!
I got lots a warm socks, which I really wanted.
Obi made me this Christmas ornament all by himself!
And I got this camera that I've wanted for years.

Rosie said this was the best Christmas ever. 
I told her that every Christmas is the best Christmas...
but this one really was extra special.

Monday, January 4, 2016

12 Days of Christmas: Day 10 - Christmas Eve

Happy Christmas Eve!

Christmas Eve is the true start of Christmas at our house.
I have a personal rule that all my gifts must be wrapped by Christmas Eve because I hate being locked in a room while every one is enjoying the peace and joy of the day.

For us it means hanging out and baking cookies and then going to Mass.

We usually got to the Christmas Eve Mass. 
My kids are still too young for Midnight Mass.

The nativity this year was absolutely amazing. 
I tried to get all three kids in the Nativity picture but it is so hard to get all three kids in the same picture... and getting everyone to look and smile is just out of the question.
The kids had lots fun running around after Mass and playing with their friends. They were all so cute. And we got to song JOY TO THE WORLD! 

On our way home we had planned on stopping and caroling but we stayed at Church so long and the kids were hungry. Instead we just drove very very slowly past the lovely decorated houses.
These two houses are the best decorated in town.
The defiantly have the most decorations and they put a lot of work into it.

Awkward family Christmas picture!!

We have some amazing friends at church. They always give us such great Christmas gifts. We always enjoy opening them on Christmas Eve.
 Margaret got this cute stacking snow man. She played with it all night. I haven't seen the whole thing put together since that night. She carries the pieces all over the house and treasures them.

 Some other friends gave us these cute nativity crafts. They were a perfect craft for the kids to do while I made Santa some brownies. 

Finally it was time to put out our goodies for Santa. 
I totally forgot to buy carrots for Rudolf and the other reindeer so we decided they might like some oats.
 We left Santa brownies and meringue drops and some nugget cookies we got at World Market. 
We also left him a small candy cane and a cup of oats and a glass of Eggnog.
We left a book for him to look at too in case he wanted a break.
And yes, my kids are naked because it was 70 degrees outside!
Plus it's hard to keep clothes on my kids for some reason.

At the last minute before it was time to go to bed, Obi came running out of the bed room. He opened the pantry and said he wanted to leave something for Santa "that he will really really like."
Then he grabbed a can of black beans, "THIS!" he exclaimed. 
It was the cutest thing ever. 
He was feeling a lot of love and he wanted to show his love to Santa through a gift.

One thing William and I do on Christmas Eve is put gold on the Christmas tree to mark the beginning of Christmas. Leading up to Christmas Day is Advent and preparation. Christmas Eve marks the beginning of the Christmas Season.
(the 12 days that follow... or more)

Santa also hangs candy canes on the Christmas tree and of course adds gifts under the tree.

Our stockings after Santa came.

I was laying all snug in my bed when I heard something in the living room.
I got up and caught this guy!
(using the KringlApp)

12 Days of Christmas: Day 9 - Christmas Shopping Elves

My kids are awesome shoppers. They love going to almost any store and looking at things. They also love buying gifts for other people and they are so good at finding just the right thing.

I had asked the kids what they wanted to get William and they both said they wanted to get him Avengers Comic books.

On December 22, Christmas Eve Eve Eve, I took the kids to Nashville for some last minute Christmas shopping.

We were very impressed with the Christmas tree made of books. 

The kids were so cute in the book store picking out gifts.
They dug through the comic books with me and picked some out for William and then they looked through the kids books and decided they wanted to get a book for Papa called "I want to Eat your Books." 
No idea why they wanted that one except it had monsters on the front of it and I guess that reminded them of Papa.

 Then we went over to Target and they picked out a travel makeup case for Nana. 
We also picked up some stocking stuffers.

Luckily the Target nearest to us (about an hour from our house) has a Starbucks in it and we all got a festive red cup and some hot chocolate.
Obi takes his hot chocolate very seriously.

We then went over to World Market and we even stopped at The Bath and Body Shop. 
Four stores with three kids a few days before Christmas is quite an accomplishment.
Especially when all the kids were so well behaved and in good moods.

We even had a lovely drive home with a gorgeous sunset to watch as we sang Christmas songs.

I know it sounds pretty ordinary but it was actually quite a lovely day. 
It was one of my most favorite things we did this Holiday Season. 
It was just fun to get out and have a cheerful fun day with my kids and to watch them pick out lovely gifts for other people. 

What sweet kids my little Christmas Elves are.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

12 Days of Christmas: Day 8 - Dickens of a Christmas

After our lovely Pink Sunday Mass and a picnic lunch in the car, we made our way over to Franklin, Tennessee for their annual Charles Dickens Christmas Festival.

You may notice that Rosie is wearing an entirely different outfit.  She said that she had to wear pink to Mass for Pink Sunday but she had to wear Christmasy things to a Christmas party. 
I like the way she thinks.

Franklin Downtown is a lovely historic little city that does a wonderful job every year being Christmasy. It can get a bit crazy with the parking and the crowds. Actually it gets really crowded. BUT I'll tell you my secret. 
Go on Sunday while everyone else is in church and the crowds aren't so bad. We actually headed home just as it was getting crazy.

As soon as we made our way to the closed off part of the street we came across this man playing the water glasses. 
He was Amazing! 
He knew every song and played lovely Christmas music. 
I'm actually kind of sad I didn't buy his Christmas CD.

Then someone asked him to play Star Wars and he just whipped this out!
He was amazing.

I'm sorry I don't know what his name is... but I hope to find out next year.

The best part about the Franklin Christmas Festival is that it's a Charles Dickens theme and you can run into so many great characters. In fact, people are encouraged to dress in period costume.
 The kids got to meet Father Christmas and he gave us peppermints.

 There was also "snow" falling from the balcony of one of the old buildings. People were sitting on a bench under the balcony and taking pictures. 
We stood for a while and tried to catch the "snow," it was very fun.

 I also really love that there are a number of artisens demonstrating their craft.
There are all kinds of booths of hand made crafts and interesting gifts. You could get various unique things for everyone on your Christmas list. But I especially love the ones that have demonstrations of how they make their crafts. This girl was making wool yarn. 
There was also a few painters, a jewelry maker and a back smith. 
The black smith was fun and had a big crowd around him.

 The one thing I wanted to make sure we did was go on the horse drawn carriage ride. Rosie had seen them at the Gaylord and at the Main Street event near our house but we hadn't ridden one yet. So I wanted to take her on one. 
We were all very excited. We had a wonderful horse and an excellent driver. The line wasn't too long. The price wasn't high ($2 a person I think) and the people in the booth were wonderful.

Rosie really loved the house. She really wants a horse. This boy was SO big. His name was Maximillion. 

 I looked every where for mulled wine and roast chestnuts but couldn't find them. That was disappointing. When you go to a British themed Christmas event you want there to be mulled wine and chestnuts...maybe even some mince pies. 
We did find a stand that sold cinnamon candied hot nuts though and those were good.
We sat and ate them while Margaret danced to the Christmas music.

 Margaret loves music and she loves dancing. She seems to really love Christmas music too.  The stage had bands and choirs and even a few dancers that performed Christmas music. It was loud but Margaret really enjoyed it.

Since Rosie got to choose the horse carriage ride Obi wanted to ride the mini train. It was a cute little train. 
I think next year they should decorate the driving path with some festive decorations or a mini Christmas village, but the kids loved it and it was quite a long ride.

 As I mentioned before, there were characters wandering around all morning. Here Rosie got to meet some of the Dickens Dancers...

 Then we ran into all three of the Ghosts! 
That's the Ghost of Christmas Past in the white dress and the Ghost of Christmas Present is the man that looks like Santa. Of course the Reaper on is the Ghost of Christmas yet to come.

 These boys were our very favorite. They were setting up just as we were making our way back towards our car and we stopped and sat on the ground and watched them. They were not only wonderful players but they were so festive and dressed for the period.
 Rosie says she wants to learn the violin and Obi LOVES the tube. So it was just perfect that this group was a tuba and two violins.
The tube guy was amazing and he had his tuba decorated and covered with other little noise makers. The kids loved them. 

Margaret danced the whole time and Obi was all smiles. He really does love the tuba.

Our little sassy dancer.

Right before we left we saw the whole Cratchet Family. I thought that was fun and was able to tell the kids who they were. We watch various versions of A Christmas Carol every year so they thought it was neat that we met the Cratchets.

Here's a bonus picture of Margaret and Daddy being silly in Daddy's beanie hat after we got home.

The Franklin Dickens Festival is every year. This year it was on the 12th and 13th, a Saturday and Sunday. I recommend visiting the website and checking out the fun events they have planned on each day. 
If you have kids then do go early in the morning. We found Sunday worked really well for us. 
It's best to leave when it starts getting crazy crowded. 
There is a petting zoo and lots of fun snack food if you aren't allergic to everything like we are (we brought own own food and left it in a cooler in the car). 

I defiantly recommend trying this event out. I very much hope we all get Dickens period costumes some day and get to dress up. 
I think that would be a fun way to participate.

The highlights of this event is definitely the street performers. There were harpists and singers and fiddlers and dulcimer players and so much more. 
It was so festive and completely free.
(Unless you want snacks or to do some Christmas shopping.
You would have a great time finding really unique gifts here if you did you shopping here).

We just went for the Christmas spirit of the whole event.
We will be back again next year for sure.