Thursday, December 29, 2011

Our {not so} perfect Christmas.

I had big plans for Christmas this year.  Big.  I put a lot of work into simplifying our holidays.  Why does it require work to make things more simple?  Not sure, but it took work.  I knew we were going to have a couple of our family Christmas parties done before Christmas so I envisioned the week after Christmas as this wonderful family time filled with puzzles, games and lots of snuggling. 

That bubble burst Christmas morning when we woke up with one droopy Isabella.  By the time we opened packages, she was throwing up.  Anna wasn't feeling much better and began throwing up the next morning.  Diarrhea (or as my children affectionately call it - "loose poop" hit our house on day 2 as well).  Three out of four kids were affected by something.  Good times.   Sick children do require a lot of snuggling.  It's just accompanied by moaning, sighing, and holding their hair back while they throw up.  Then disinfecting.  Lots of disinfecting.  Not how I envisioned my perfect Christmas.  This is day 5.  I'm hoping it is also day one of no more throwing up.  Hoping.  So far, so good, but it's only 9:30am.  At least they all look better - that's a start!

Planning for the perfect Christmas was a good idea.  It made me take time to focus on what really mattered and what didn't.  God matters.  Family matters.   The perfect gifts, homemade treats, beautiful decorations, and making everyone else happy -- well, that's all good, but it doesn't matter as much. 

And we definitely did simple this year.  We've napped.  A lot.  We're well rested so that's a bonus.  And maybe that's what God planned all along.  Maybe as simple as I had planned things, He knew I'd still mess them up, get busy, get distracted and forget about simple.  Maybe this was His way of slowing us all down.  Making us just stop what we were doing and rest.  I know I needed it.  And the kids did too.  Now I'm hoping we have a few days left of break that we can have fun together, see a few more smiles and maybe work on that puzzle Chris started.  Or, maybe we'll just take another nap! 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas from the Moons

My kids begged me to take this picture.  For two days.  So I did.  Merry Christmas!

(They're a Christmas tree).  Very classy. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

When a 3 year-old describes the birth of Jesus...

Last night we were doing our advent devotional and Sam said he wanted a turn to read from the Bible.  He opened it up and then started, "In those days Caesar..."  It was so cute.  Then I asked him to tell us the story.  He got to the part about the wise men coming to visit and then he said, "was the foolish man there too?" 

He was thinking of the song that goes, "the foolish man built his house upon the sand....but the wise man built his house upon the rock..."  Lyrics here.   So stinkin' cute!  I guess there were a few different wise men in the Bible!  

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Little Man Has Got Style

I'm not too picky about how my kids dress.  I let them pick out their clothes and all of them have had some questionably style choices from time to time. 

Sam has recently found an interest in wearing ties.  But, he thinks they go with everything.  And somehow, I think Lightening McQueen and Mater would approve! 

He also prefers to spend his days at home in jammies.  I can totally relate! 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Updating our little blog....and family pictures. {Grandparents do not spoil your Christmas by looking at this}

I'm finally breaking into the world of blog steps, I know!  While using the old template was easy, it just wasn't very personal and didn't really reflect our family's personality.  I think this new design does a much better job!  

The pictures are from a recent photo shoot with Chelsea Simmon.  She did an awesome job and I highly recommend her.  You can check out her website here.   

Let me describe our traditional photo shoot at JC Penney.  I have nothing against JCP- I even worked there as a teenager, but I'm guessing many in-store studios are similar.  All six of us cram into a busy, teeny-tiny, waiting room on a Saturday morning in November.  By the way, everyone else has the same idea.  We wait, because they're always behind.  Then we squeeze into the teeny-tiny studio.  They show us a bunch of cheesy backgrounds and I choose the white and gray ones.  The photographer is always disappointed I don't chose the fake tree/fireplace picture.  "This is for Christmas, right?"  I explain that I like the focus of the picture to be on the people, not the background.  She looks confused.  We get into posed, formal positions and she says, "say cheese!"  Some of us say cheese, others start fidgeting, some cry.  We are lucky if we are all looking towards the camera.  We beg her not to wait for all of us to smile, because if she waits that long....more of us will be crying!  We leave exhausted, and when we got home, we realize the pictures we purchased are identically posed from the previous year's photo shoot.  Different clothes, one year older, otherwise the same boring picture.  But this year was different.   

When we met Chelsea at the park it was much more natural.  The kids just goofed around and were themselves.  There were no, "say cheese" commands.  She'd position us at times, and at other times just catch the kids being kids.  And we LOVE how the pictures turned out!  Here are a few more of my favorites. 

Aren't they adorable?  I really love black and whites!

That's her in a nutshell.  Just a super happy little girl, with a lot of pep in her step!


Yep.  That's her too.  She'd rather be hanging upside down from a monkey bar or tree. 

LOVE it!  Because, I see these faces.  A lot.  Sometimes more than their smiles!

And just because.  We're a goofy family so we should have a goofy picture!

Monday, December 12, 2011

My First Christmas as a Pastor's Wife

This is officially my first Christmas as a pastor's wife.  Yikes, sounds scary doesn't it? 

The reality is, it's not that scary after all.  Over the years we've done our part to make sure our children focus on the Christ-side of Christmas. It's not easy.  We talk about Jesus' birth a lot. Daily really.  Sometimes several times a day.   We have an advent magnet nativity scene on our fridge and each day we put up another part of the scene.  We do a nightly devotional.  This year we're reading Nancy Guthrie's "Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room."  It's good, a little above some of our kiddos, but gets the discussion started.  We're at church.  A lot.  My kids think it's their second home.  No joke.  They more than make themselves comfortable!  Candy dish out of mints?  No problem, they all know where the refill stash is.  Hungry?  No problem, they can scrounge up something in the kitchen.   Want to play in the sanctuary?  Just get out the riding toys and drive around.  You get the picture.  They spend a lot of time at church. 

I found an awesome little book this year called "Christmas is Not Your Birthday."  I really recommend it.  It talks about how in America, at Christmas time, we spend most of our time making lists of want we want - like it's our birthday.  And if your house is anything like mine...there are too many presents under the tree and the kids make a mad dash to open them and see what all they got.  We have several family Christmas gatherings and end up celebrating with gifts for days.  (It's hard to minimize the gift receiving end of Christmas when it just keeps coming and coming!)  The book talks about how Christmas is not in fact our birthday, but Jesus'.  And we should think of ways focus on giving gifts to Him.  What would he like?  Obviously our hearts.  But he calls us to take care of those who need help - the poor, broken hearted, orphans and widows.  The book says that if we minimized our spending and gave a financial contribution to help others equal to what we spent on our own gifts, then that would be an amazing way to honor Jesus on His birthday!  What if we all did this?

After talking about that one night with the kids they suggested we buy presents for kids who don't have enough.  Great idea!  And in the awesome way that God works, my Mom stopped by the next day and said she wanted to adopt some angels from the angel tree and take my kids shopping with her.  Perfect timing! 

Now to the ever present Santa issue.  We don't deny he exists.  Yet.  We also don't promote him either.  It's just not the side of Christmas we focus on.   Rarely do you hear me talk about Santa.  His picture is not plastered all over my house at Christmas time.  But that means I don't get to use him as a crutch for good behavior either..."Santa's watching to see if you're naughty or nice..."  We don't make lists for Santa or spend a lot of time talking about him.  If the kids bring it up, we talk for as long as they want. That's it.  On Christmas Eve they talk a lot about him. And that's okay too for now.  We also make sure to read the story out of the Bible and bring them back to the true meaning of Christmas.  In our house, Santa brings simple stocking gifts, but anything nice comes from us.  I know we'll eventually talk to the kids about the history of how Santa Clause came to be known.  There's a lot of good in that story.  Before commercialism and greed took over. But with my youngest only 3, I have no problem waiting a little longer.  I'm leaning towards telling them all before next Christmas though.  I read a great blog about this.  You can read it here.  One thing that stood out for me is the idea that for children, how can we expect Jesus to compete with the idea of Santa who flies in the sky to bring them presents.  So true.  Another great thing the blog suggested was about gift giving.  They give their children something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.  That's it.  What a great idea!  That's going to be my goal next year. 

We have traditions.  We won't miss a Christmas Eve service.  That's ruffled some feathers over the years with planning big family gatherings.  But we won't miss it.  And when Christmas falls on a Sunday we won't miss church either.  This year, Chris is preaching our candlelight Christmas Eve service.  I'll be the one in the front with 4 kids, 5 burning candles, and a 3 year-old boy who doesn't like to be quiet or hold still.  Oh, and did I mention he's fully comfortable commenting on what's going on?  And I'm pretty sure he doesn't have a "quiet voice."  Wish me luck!   Maybe not the perfect picture of a pastor's wife?! 

It seems like we've had a gradual transition through the years of slowly having a more Christ-like Christmas.  We've got a long ways to go, but we're trying.  Our heart is in the right place and that's a start.  I'm excited about Christmas this year - more so than in years past - and I think it's because we're finally focusing more on Jesus and less on the stresses and drama that inherently come along with the holidays.   So, maybe becoming a pastor's wife isn't so scary after all.  Maybe God has been preparing me for this for a long time.  And maybe, just maybe, I'll have well behaved children at the front of church on Christmas Eve.  But don't count on it! 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Exhibit A: Why we need to finish the basement bathroom.

A picture's worth a thousand words, right?  Chris finished 95% of our basement.  Twice.  (Before and after a lovely flood).  But there's one room we've never tackled and that's our basement bathroom.  We've got a tub, electricity and lights.  We just need the rest.  And here's why we need it.  Look what 2 little girls can do to my bathroom in the process of showering....Did I mention this is my bathroom?  Not cool, right? 

I'm not going to lie.  I have no idea why blogger keeps flipping this photo.  But I'm pretty sure you get the picture!  What a mess!  Now, in exactly 6 months when the hubby is done with school and keeps telling me he'll have time to once again work on our house....I'll have to remind him of this!  Maybe the bathroom will magically move to the top of the list! 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Spreading a little holiday cookie at a time.

It's a great day to be a Moon!  That's what I keep telling the kiddos in the morning, and sometimes the hubby too.  We all need reminded pretty regularly how fortunate we are to be healthy, have jobs, a home, a great church and plenty of friends.  It's a great day to be a Moon! 

And, since we in the Moon house like cookies (a lot) I've decided to spread a little holiday cheer.  One cookie at a time.  Who can resist?  My holiday baking list is long.  Really long.  It involves a lot of sugar, flour, and eggs.  I have so many favorite cookies I like to bake this time of year and so many I still need to try!  I don't even want to think about how it affects my grocery budget.  But, it's worth it.  It's so much fun to take a plate of cookies to friends and family.  And even more fun to share the baking with my kiddos.  Though, when they're involved it takes twice as long and is twice as messy.  

I made this cookie today.  Well, I made Rudolph and 104 of his closest friends.  {recipe}  I don't normally bake that many of the same cookie, but it's for a cookie exchange at we needed some extra here at home for snacking!  We changed him up a bit and added red noses (thanks to cherry flavored chips) and longer antlers.  I also cheated and used refrigerated dough so our reindeer are quite a bit chubbier!  But, that's okay with us!  The holidays can do that to anybody, right?