Christmas outsourcing

I really enjoy making gifts for my family.  People have advised to keep things simpler.  People like my husband who made me promise to never again knit scarves for all the girls in the family right before Christmas...apparently I was a little distracted.  But this is tricky.  Making and giving gifts is how I express care.  I am not good at doing it with words. It is how I am able to spend time thinking about (and when I am able to work undistracted, actually praying for) the people that I love.  Our days (and nights) are so full right now, lots of time can slip by and I do not even stop and really think about, much less actually call the people I am closest to.  Making things for people gives me the opportunity to show intentional thought about who they are and what they might like.  Granted, not all these endeavors have been home runs.  I am pretty sure some things may be on display (or not) only because I am someone's daughter or grand daughter.  Nevertheless, I hope they know that making things is my way of purposefully slowing the rest of my life to intentionally focus on someone else.  

So, this year, because I did not want to give up on making some gifts, but knew I could not make for everyone, I out sourced the kids gift to their extremely talented father!  Thanks to Pinterest, I was able to present him with a couple of pictures and, just like the Halloween costumes, he made it happen.

The first was a doll house for the girls.  

A plan drawn from a picture.

 She had no idea she was helping with her own present.

Finished project to come!

A busy board.  

Christmas is(was) coming

This is the year I let go.  I think I have been letting go by increments for the past few years, but this year, possibly from exhaustion, possibly/hopefully from maturing, I let go of Christmas.  Life in a family is so much more fun if you let go.  Not of everything, of course.  But just ask my children if decorating for Christmas isn't a lot more fun without your mother breathing down your neck, suggesting alternate places for every ornament you hang on the tree and hyperventilating over the constant rearranging of the nativity.  I am, by the way, still finding pieces of the nativity around the house due to said rearranging.

Part of the letting go was getting smart.  Rather than wig out over little paws on the breakable nativity my mother passed down to me, I ordered a cute plastic one that can be handled and mishandled at will.  I also out sourced some of the gift making (more on that soon).  All in all, I think Christmas was a bit more peaceful this year.  Here's hoping for an actual fun! Christmas next year! :)

Henry really got into the decorating.  I placed actual ornaments on the tree.  Took them off again and rehung them.  Over and over.  He was not interested in the annual showing of White Christmas. 

The peaceful, after decorating, popcorn chill.

Go ahead, just put that anywhere.  I mean it!

I am not sure what they were dancing to, but check out Olivia's face in that last picture.  We enjoyed many an evening around that tree...until it became a fire hazard around New Years.

Wrapping up fall

Turns out there is a homeschool day at Legoland.  That was a wonderful find, as we otherwise just could not justify the price for our family.  It was totally worth what we paid at a discount.  I think I would have been a little peeved if we paid the full amount.

Giggly girls.

 Probably should have gotten more pics of the cool Lego creations.  It lives on in their memories.  Trust me.

Shout out to the family pet.  Still around.  Still sweet.  Still deserving of more attention than she gets.

 Ventured out for a little day hike in hopes of getting a good family Christmas card shot.  Is anyone else's family this difficult to photograph?  It is moderately comical.  For every one shot you see, there were at least three others just like it, but just move the goofy look to a different family member.

 Great!  To bad it is blurry.  The hike was really nice.  That was the redeeming part and original intent of the outing.  As much as I miss my Smokies, West Coast/desert hiking really is spectacular.
 Not blurry, but everyone looks like they are experiencing a mild amount of pain.
 And then somewhere along the line, Olivia apparently lost her shorts!

 Skip it!  Let's move to Thanksgiving.  Here are our new, dear friends - the Masurs.  They are around the block neighbors.  They are some of the most hospitable people I've known.  They love Jesus.  They have a maturity about them that puts you at ease.  Translated it communicates: don't be afraid to fail or not be a perfect friend or say something stupid.  In ministry, I am learning, these are vital friends to have.

This was Thanksgiving.  They have 3 kids - 2 of them were in the truck picture from Olivia's birthday a few posts back.  Hopefully you will see more of them on here.

Okay, on to Christmas and then 2014!!

Luke, Leia, a koala and a cow walk into a bar...

So, here's the great thing about Mike - you can just show him and picture and say, "Can you make this?" and whammo! 5 straight years of Halloween costumes!  And now I've learned I can do this at Christmas too.  Wait till you see what he made them for Christmas. 

He uses the sewing machine once a year.  And fixes it about twice a year.  Those are the other two times when I am actually sewing and get the bobbin screwed up somehow and am just about to throw the whole thing threw the window and he comes to the rescue.  But that yearly, personal usage is reserved strictly for costumes.  Sometime early 2013, Olivia declared she wanted to be a koala.  I learned 5 years ago not to doubt these declarations.  She said she wanted to be a zebra in 2009 and I was sure she would change her mind and want to be a princess instead, so I did nothing by way of preparations.  Which is why we found ourselves in Wal-Mart, day of,  buying supplies and sent her out trick or treating with a warning not to lean on anyone's house as her stripes were still wet.

There were mock patterns and fittings and in a day and a half we had 3 costumes.  It is our practice to borrow or use hand-me-down for the youngest until they are at least 3, longer if we can swing it.

 Princess Leia and the neighborhood pirate, which, if you know Lilly, is pretty appropriate.
 It also seems appropriate for Greta to be Princess Leia and not Princess Belle or Jasmine or something dainty like that.  She looked more natural with a silver and purple taser than a wand.

Face paint and head gear - that is my job at Halloween.

 That's all! Moo!