This was the first year that we actually participated in the Advent. Growing up in a non-denomination church (First Christian), our family did not celebrate the Advent. As I've grown more towards an Evangelical believe, I wanted to start the tradition of the Advent - lighting the candles, reading selections each Sunday, and reading the book "Jotham's Journey" together. This turned out to be highly enjoyed by the kids, who reminded me daily it was time to light the candles or to say our prayer every night after dinner. Advent will continue to be included in our Christmas from here on out.
Another thing we started this year was actually making Christmas cookies. I'll be honest, I am NOT a baker! I can burn a frozen pizza within minutes of entering the oven, so this was actually a scary experience for me. Usually, we just buy "Slice and Bake" cookies from the store for Santa but this year, the kids really wanted to make cookies from scratch. And so I found a simple sugar cookie recipe on pinterest, along with a recipe for the icing and we got to work. Unfortunately, we couldn't find the red food coloring, so we were limited to blue, green and yellow on the icing, and let's be honest, I'm not about to open a bakery anytime soon, but overall, the cookies were tasty, weren't burnt, and I've seen far worse decorated icing jobs.. LOL
One of our usual traditions is to watch "The Polar Express" as a family. Hot chocolate and Popcorn is a must.. The kids were ready to watch, so while I made the snacks, they started up the movie.
Before the kids went to bed, it was time for Christmas Eve Service. Unfortunately, there's not a candlelight service here on base, so one of our traditions (at least for the past four years) is to sit around the television and watch the Christmas Eve Service from Celebration Church in Green Bay, WI. This is where Pastor Mark Gungor is and we consider ourselves part of the congregation even if we are many miles away. Celebration Church always does a wonderful service and the Christmas Eve service was no exception. With great worship music along with a reading of the Christmas story from the book of Luke to Pastor Mark's sermon, what a great service. "Christmas begins what Easter celebrates. The child in the cradle became the King on the cross".
After service was over, the kids checked Santa Tracker one last time to make sure they had plenty of time to fall asleep (at that time, Santa was in Saskatchewan, Canada), they said their goodbyes to Jack, our Elf on the Shelf. Jack allows the kids to hold him and kiss him only one time during his visit with us - on Christmas Eve right before Bedtime.. The kids each gently cradled him in their arms and gave him a quick kiss before heading off to bed.
Then the stockings were hung on our entertainment center.. complete with a roaring fire on the television LOL .. The kids placed the "Magic Key" that Santa uses to enter our house on the wreath on our front door, and snacks for Santa and the reindeer were put out... Santa got some of our homemade cookies along with a Coke (the kids said that the commercials show him drinking Coke not milk) and apple slices for the reindeer. Ashleigh even wrote a letter for Santa.
Here's Santa enjoying the snacks ;)
NoRad Santa Tracker showing Santa flying over Edwards AFB. Luckily the kids were asleep.
Santa came and left presents.
Kenny is completely wore out from all the Christmas eve excitement.
To say the kids were excited to open presents was an understatement. Dad and I found them sitting on the couch waiting at 3:45am and had to send them back to bed.. Finally, at 9:30am, we woke Dad up and it was time to open presents. The kids, however, had already had a peek into their stockings by that time.. LOL (Btw, we don't typically allow the kids to have soda this early.. But Alyssa was drinking one and allowed Ashleigh to have the last few sips of it.. lol)
Ashleigh REALLY wanted a leopard Beanie Boo and was super excited Santa had brought it for her. However, she couldn't have ever imagined that he would also bring her a Beanie Boo Rat.. Santa did a great job.
Garrett is completely fascinated with gears and how they work. So Santa bringing him a K'nex set was perfect for him..
Santa brought Alyssa a set of PoloClub perfumes.
Ashleigh and Garrett exchanged gifts as well. Ashleigh had used some of her AWANA dollars at the Awana store a few weeks ago to get Garrett a puzzle and a hot wheels car. Garrett decided she would really like some Littlest Pet Shop toys.
Alyssa was VERY happy to receive a video game that she wanted.
Each kid gets "Something they want, something they need, something to read and something wear".. Here's Garrett opening his something to wear.. Ashleigh already received her something to wear in the form of two pairs of LuLaRoe leggings, one pair that she's wearing in today's pictures. Alyssa received a pair of ankle high boots that she had her eye on for a while.
Garrett opening his "something to read", a book on computer programming with Scratch from Osborne books.. Ashleigh's "something to read" was a magazine subscription for National Geographic Kids while Alyssa was given two volumes of a new Anime series, "Orange" that she was unfamiliar with but came highly recommended from one of my friends.
Garrett's "Something he needs" is more like a "Something Mom Needs".. Because of his fascination for gears, we thought this would be a great idea, it even comes with a motor.. Great STEM idea and it will keep him from wanting to destroy electronics to get the gears out of them.. LOL
Ashleigh's "Something she needs".. She hates brushing her hair because it hurts when she gets tangles. She has already said this brush is the best thing in the world!! lol
Mom received a nice present from Santa as well - a new Lodge 8 quart Dutch oven.. Something I have been wanting for a long time.. Kitchen gadgets/cookware are always a hit with me.
And here's a picture of before the madness... Right now, as I write this, my living room looks like a wrapping paper factory blew up. LOL