It was a slow and relaxing day. We started the day by finishing the Advent story of Bartholomew while enjoying a glowing fire and eating coffee cake. We were a little behind on the story so it took awhile to finish reading it. Then on to the presents...
I just adore these boys!!!!!
I (almost) surprised him with this iPad!
This is how the boys spent the rest of the afternoon (before going to Grandma and Grandpa's for dinner)... putting together Lego sets...
Miss Jolene and her brothers visited us on Christmas Eve with a box of special Christmas goodies! So fun! Here's Shep wearing one of the new costumes. Have I told you how much we love Miss Jolene?!? I think I could just adopt her! :) I wish I had a picture with her in it from that day... (in real life I forget to get all the pictures I want to have)
Then, we got to spend the evening at Ken and Shelley's and it was a special night! Here are the highlights...
Everyone is gathered for a Christmas trivia game...
Ken is reading the kids a Christmas story...
But first he lets them decorate him for Christmas - they had a lot of fun doing that!
The kids drew names this year and had fun giving each other gifts...
I found these two playing on top of the pool table with the train and having a great time!
I love this picture of Ken and Shelley while she was opening the special gift from Ken. :)
My Grandpa and Lois were able to come to Springdale yesterday, and Josh and Joy and Caden were already there, too, so we got to have an early Christmas dinner at my parent's house. It was a lot of fun!
Here's my Grandpa (age 95) and Lois...
Here's a pictures of all the cousins (except little adorable Caden who was sleeping)...
I forgot to get a group shot of everyone there. :( The time flew by too quickly and we stayed late, but it was great to see everyone.
We had a really fun day at GG's today! She hosts us all every year for a special Christmas celebration and meal with her. She's a great cook and prepares lots of goodies for us. (She also just celebrated her 93rd birthday!) She's amazing!
Here's Shepard sitting with GG... (notice his cool new watch - he really loves it!)
A group shot (not everyone though...)
All the kids took turns playing their Christmas music at the organ - even the Wasson boys who don't know how to play anything but sweet noise. :)
The kids had a lot of anticipation to see what was in GG's package...
The Boys Toys!! Check out the sword fighting... fun!
We got our Christmas cards ready to mail today... (all 500+)... well, we're still missing stamps... so maybe one day this week we will actually get the cards in the mail. But, it was so nice that everyone pitched in to help. (Except Will... he was napping... and not really ready yet for this kind of job.) We made an assembly line and it was done so quickly. Most of the cards are for John's MSM clients and we found ourselves grateful for each one of those cards that we get to mail! And it's a neat opportunity to share our love for the Lord, too! Here's everyone hard at work...
On another topic, I love our advent tradition! We're reading the 3 book advent series by Arnold Ytreeide and this year we are reading Bartholomew again. (This is our 5th or 6th year to read these books.) The stories are wonderful and every night just before bed we turn out the lights and then light our advent candles and have a snack while John reads to us. It's really wonderful. Tonight we had a cozy fire in the fireplace, too. Wow, we are blessed! We have new advent candles this year... I'm not very creative, but I really love this new idea I had. I've been searching for a neat way to do our advent candles for a couple of years and I think I finally found it. It's just a kid's coat rack with little candle lanterns hanging on the hooks. Isn't it fun?
Here's the boys with it. (They especially love taking turns blowing out the candles!)
We spent the day in Springdale with my parents yesterday... baking Christmas cookies and well, just having fun! The boys got these fun balloon swords from a clown at the pizza place during lunch and so you know we had to have some good sword fighting when we got back to Grandma and Grandpa's. But, I really LOVED the way that both of my parents parried with the boys - let me tell you, they've still got it! I don't think they knew I was taking these pictures with my phone at the time. :) You still love me, right, mom and dad? (I wish the pics were better quality, but I don't think action shots are a specialty with my phone.)
We continued our annual tradition of rescuing a Christmas tree this year. It's always so much fun to go to the tree lot and try to find the worst tree. The boys have a lot of fun with it. We get a lot of stares when people see how excited we are over an incredibly ugly tree. But, wow, the spiritual lessons are so strong! Doesn't God love us the same way and He chooses us even when we aren't lovely? And then He fills us with His spirit and makes us new.
Buying the tree:
We think this is probably the tree that has been the most in need of rescue that we've ever had!
Transformed (by the hands of little boys):
(I really love that most of the decorations are on the back of the tree! You can't see them in the picture, but I can see them from my window where I sit at the computer.) Kinda makes me think that there might be another spiritual lesson in this... even though we are saved and transformed, we are still a work in progress!
We took the boys to Dry Gulch, USA on Sunday and it turned out to be a really fun outing! We wanted to do something special together as a family that would make a fun Christmas memory for the kids and we did! Dry Gulch is a western theme camp town with several things to do that the kids really enjoyed - a Christmas train, puppet show, arcade, bumper cars, playground. Fun! It was really cold that night, but we bundled up and made a memory! Here are some highlights...
This is a little train that the little boys rode first:
Shepard just kicked back for the ride. :)
The boys had a lot of fun at the arcade:
A sweet lady took a picture of our whole family while we waited to ride the big train:
Will was busy making new friends all night long. He spoke to every costumed worker he saw - he seemed to be especially interested in all the workers at the park. He would always ask them what their name was and then tell them his name and just start talking about anything he could think of. He went out of his way to call out to them and get their attention so that he could talk to them. It just amazes me. But it is really fun and we meet a lot more people with his friendliness. He had made friends with this train conductor while we were waiting to ride the train, so when it was time to call "All Aboard" the conductor came and asked Will if he would like to say it on the microphone. You betcha! He ran over and was thrilled to call the All Aboard. I couldn't see his face, but here he is:
Looking out the window of the train:
Will loved the playground - he'll climb anything and is not afraid of heights:
The bumper cars... a big highlight for Josiah and Shepard. They were the only two driving for this round and they had a blast. This was Shepard's first time to ever drive something like this.