Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry Christmas?.....Yes!

I had to post that with a question mark because it has been a challenging week for the little ones in our house. We took a quick trip to Nashville on the 16th to see the family. It was a great trip as we were able to spend some quality time with the cousins/nephews and enjoy some special holiday fun. Aunt Marsha told us about an amazing puppet show going on at the library downtown. This particular type of puppet show was in the Japanese style known as Bunraku (I think).
I was very fascinated and appreciated that the two main puppeteers showed the children how they would be covering their faces with black cloths but there was no need to be afraid. Clark wasn't particularly interested but the girls stayed focused for most of the thirty minute program.
Aunt Marsha also got out the cookie dough and the kids made some Christmas cookies. We got a kick out of their Elf on the Shelf and how Marshall was able to locate him very quickly each morning. The kids also love their gigantic collection of Legos and other "big-kid" toys.

We returned home late on Sunday evening and it was a relief to fall into bed that night. We had no idea what the next week would bring aside from the excitement that Christmas was just around the corner.

Monday morning came and the girls both woke up with fevers so I stayed home with them and Clark went to school. Kendall recovered quickly (or so we thought) and she and Clark both went to school on Tuesday but Emma and I hunkered down at home. She was definitely feeling worse and was just pitiful.
I was so thankful that her doctor was able to fit her in that morning as I noticed that she seemed even warmer and more lethargic. At the office, we were all alarmed when more than one thermometer read over 106 degrees. I was preparing myself emotionally for a trip to the hospital and was relieved when they decided to treat her pneumonia aggressively with antibiotics for 48 hours and see how she did. I was worried but more comfortable with the idea of having her at home while we tried to get her better.
By Thursday, she was improving and Kendall and Clark took a wrong turn somewhere that took them down a similar road with fevers. I was at wits end at this point as Christmas was a couple of days away and my kiddos were miserable and was really thankful that our sitter was already scheduled to watch them since school was out.
Since we already had one with pneumonia, I ended up taking Kendall and Clark to the doctor and they decided we were now dealing with a sinus infection (K) and bronchitis (C). Now all three would be taking an antibiotic which was just fine by me.
Daddy stayed home with them on Friday and then we had a relatively quiet Christmas weekend at home with just the five of us. Our plans to spend time with the family had to be cancelled but we did get them out Friday and Saturday evening to look at Christmas lights. Clark and Emma really enjoyed getting out of the house and seeing the light displays but Kendall was not interested at all.
They were so excited to hear that I had received emails from the North Pole because Santa had sent each one of them a special video message. We were all relieved to hear that all three were on his "nice list." In light of the positive feedback from Santa we felt it would be wise to leave some cookies and milk for his pending arrival during the night. We set out a few carrots for his reindeer as well. It is important that Santa and the reindeer keep up their strength for the long night they have ahead of them you know.
On Christmas morning we were all amazed to find magic footprints left behind by Santa (see photo below)! They expected to see snow outside since his footprints were white, but we explained that these were magic and not really the typical snow that was cold and would melt.
The kids were so excited about the goodies left in their stockings and under the tree. The big ticket items were new toothbrushes and some candy (chocolate Santas, peanut butter cups, candy canes and festive Peeps). And what a great combination of sugary treats and dental care items, right?!? Santa is one smart dude.
We had a yummy breakfast which included monkey bread and then opened gifts and played with the new toys. Daddy had to make an unplanned visit to a walk-in clinic due to a serious ear infection. And I was thankful that Aunt Marsha and Uncle Bill had sent along a gift that needed unwrapping which turned out to be a play house. It was a great diversion and kept the kids happy while we spent another day at home with just "us."
The rest of the day was nothing out-of-the-ordinary and pretty peaceful. All in all, it was not the picture-perfect Christmas but we still feel fortunate that we were together and no one ended up in the hospital. This was really the first year that the kids had any idea of whatever role Santa might play. We also spent a lot of time during the month talking about how it was Jesus' birthday that we are celebrating on Christmas day and that is what makes it so special. This was definitely special for us.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Fantasy of Trees Recap

I realized that I never managed to get a post on the blog about our trip to the Fantasy of Trees. This is an annual event in our area that benefits the local Children's Hospital and occurs during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The kids love it more every year and we really enjoy the many activities that they offer for young children and anyone who wants to get in the Christmas spirit.
Uncle Stevie rode with us and we met up with Auntie Karen, Ms. Dee (my friend from work) and Ms. Lindsay and her adorable niece, G.
Our annual tradition of creating Christmas potholders imprinted with their handprints went more smoothly than ever. I do wonder how much longer we will manage to put all three handprints on one potholder though. It's getting a little crowded.
They really had fun riding on the carousel and also the ride that resembles spinning teacups but was a berry theme (a berry-go-round). We attended a little party with special guest, Santa, that included singing, story time and crafts. And, as if that wasn't enough, they each got a great little goodie bag with fun Christmas treats and toys.
I hope to continue to post more updates of memories from 2011 that I missed. Stay tuned!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas at Dollywood: Part 2

Today was another Dollywood trip with Auntie Karen and Uncle Tom but this time they took Clark and Kendall.  It was a super-cold day but beautiful weather otherwise.  The kids loved the rides, ice cream and just spending time with K&T.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sharing Some Christmas Joy

The kids seem to be understanding so much more about Christmas this year than in years past.  We are excited to share the fun of the holidays but we also want to make sure that they know that Christmas is all about our Savior,  Jesus Christ.  I have struggled to know just HOW to present all of this information to them and still throw in the stockings, Santas, tinsel and gifts.  It has been a relief for us that they have no idea that they can actually put in a "request" to Santa and have any expectations that he might deliver.  I was told that they only asked for candy during a recent visit to see Santa.

In light of the spirit of the season, I just wanted to share some things that I enjoy or look forward to sharing with our family.  Early on, we always attend the Fantasy of Trees which happens during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend here in Knoxville.  The funds raised benefit our local Children's Hospital and they always have a bunch of fun events and activities for children and adults.  (Pics to come from our trip to the Fantasy of Trees).  There is a Holiday Festival of Lights (scroll down to the end) at the Cove that offers a really nice Christmas light display, hot chocolate, visits by Santa, bonfires and roasted marshmallows.  Last year we took a short trip to the Smokies Stadium to see Shadrack's Christmas Wonderland which is a drive-through, fully synchronized, LED Christmas light (and music) show.  And there are always the wonderful displays throughout the neighborhoods in our area that we love to check out.

I also wanted to share some of the Christmas books that I have really enjoyed sharing with the kids. Aunt Sandi bought them these last year:

Jesus, Me, and My Christmas Tree, by Crystal Bowman

Jesus, Me, and My Christmas Tree

J is for Jesus, The Sweetest Story Ever Told, also by Crystal Bowman.

J Is for Jesus: The Sweetest Story Ever Told

And A Star for Jesus, which is also by Crystal Bowman.

A Star for Jesus

All of these books are available at Cedar Springs Christian Store and can be ordered online. They are great for teaching little ones about the TRUE meaning of CHRISTmas.

I am also excited about the arrival of The Christmas Angel (book and angel) that I ordered today after hearing about it here on the Frugalissa Finds blog.  This looks to be a great tradition and I'm excited about sharing it with my little elves.

Growing up, I was also very fond of the Amelia Bedelia books and I found Merry Christmas, Amelia Bedelia and decided it had to be part of our collection.

That's about all I can cover for this post.  I hope to start posting more about local events and activities that we love here in Tennessee.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas at Dollywood: Part 1

Auntie Karen and Uncle Tom took Emma to Dollywood last weekend. It was supposed to be a trip for both girls but Kendall was just not feeling up to the trip and opted to wait until next weekend. Emma was obviously very happy to have her auntie and uncle all to herself!

Apparently she had a mouth full of chicken when Santa greeted her, but that looks more like she was just suspicious of his fashion choices.

Auntie Karen is pleased to share the "lefty" world with her niece and show her that coloring with her left hand is just right. :)

And I think Uncle Tom was terrified when he found out that Emma hadn't passed her driving exam quite yet!

Stay tuned for more pics in Part 2 when they take Clark and Kendall for a Christmas trip to Dollywood!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Happy Fall (for about one more minute)

The kids and Daddy had a leaf-raking party last weekend.  We were waiting until most of the leaves had finally fallen before trying to get one of those giant piles for the kids.  I think we waited long enough, don't you?

And from the looks of things, fall is just about over.  Let's face it, Christmas music is already playing in all of the stores around town.  And I am NOT one to complain about Christmas music...ever.  So, yes, it's about time to say goodbye to fall and hello to that mean old winter.  Bah humbug!