I'm usually a fan of keeping Masami's hair a little longer in front, but it was getting a little out of control with it constantly in his eyes. So, since we do boy haircuts at home (with little prior experience), it is a straight-up buzz. He'll have 2011 to grow it back out.
Snow blanketing the trees and roofs...It has been a peaceful and merry Christmas indeed.
Alethia was the first one up. (Thankfully it was after 8:30 since her excitement had kept her up late last night.)
Last night we did our last night of advent, lighting the candles and reading passages of the Christmas story. The Christmas Eve Service at Chapel was canceled due to the snow, so we enjoyed a turkey dinner, then let the kids open a couple presents to play with until bed. Our friend, Jennessa, stayed with us, so we played a game of Carcassonne before setting out the presents under the tree and heading for bed ourselves.
This morning the kids unwrapped presents in record time...this is the first year that they both understood the concept of unwrapping. Alethia was excited to get the "painting" (easel) that she had been asking for.
We had a nice brunch and some more play time.
So now the kids are napping and we are enjoying some mellow adult time. Looking forward to our prime rib dinner and hoping for some time to reflect on the importance of this day and the greatness of the gift that God gave us through Jesus. Feeling so grateful for the many "comforts" that we have, for the richness of life that we experience, and for the many sweet relationships that we enjoy. How precious are these moments with my husband and children!
Praying you all are enjoying a rich and meaningful holiday with your loved ones! Merry Christmas!
It is chilly and snowy here! School has already been canceled a few days (American school, that is...the Germans don't shut down for a little snow) and delayed on several others. We have basically had snow covering the ground since Thanksgiving. I guess if it has to be this cold, then it is nice to have the beauty of the frosted tress and rooftops and the fun of playing in the snow. We got an inner-tube and sledded down the little hill in our yard.
We also made a snowman and some snow angels. Alethia really likes playing in the snow, but Masami is not so into it. It takes a lot of coaxing to get him to enjoy it for even a few minutes. Like many of you are experiencing, this is an abnormal amount of snow (and cold) for us this early in the winter, so we are trying to enjoy it (even when we are shoveling the sidewalk).
We have gotten several inches of snow in just the last couple of days, then got about 6-8 inches more last night. Chapel was canceled this morning, so we stayed home and played in the snow some more. Alethia and I made a snow-dad and a snow-girl. And while we were out shoveling and playing, we got another inch or two. More is supposed to come overnight, so we may be a bit snowed in this week. It is kind of fun!
Our snow-dad with his "beard" and walking stick and our snow-girl
In Alethia's classroom at school there is a drawer for each child to store their artwork to bring home. For the first month or so of school Alethia's drawer was mostly filled with leaves and sticks that she had collected during recess. Then, she started bringing home stacks of paper with just a scribble on it and bits of paper that she had cut up.
A couple weeks ago. she proudly pulled these out of her drawer:
(They are kind of hard to see.) I was surprised that she has graduated to actually drawing people. She must have caught some artistic bug because she has been drawing a lot lately.
Then, last week when I was working on a stocking for my niece, Alethia sat faithfully by my side working on her own project for Lucy. She was basically just cutting-up some fabric scraps, but she thought she was sewing. So, I cut out a paper tree for her and she decorated it with her "sewing"...
She also came home with a Christmas decoration that she made in school:
Now she is asking for "a painting" (an easel) and "a pink sewing" (a sewing machine) for Christmas. It is fun to see her creative side developing!
A few weeks ago, we celebrated St. Martins day with Alethia's school. It is an annual festivity that German children take part in.
All the children made paper lanterns at school for the celebration. On that evening children, parents, and family members met at the school and paraded around the village...the children lighting the way with their lanterns.
We were led by a trumpeter and made a brief stop to sing some traditional carols.
We ended-up back at the school for a short program (which, of course, was all in German). The school yard had been strung with lights and it was a mild and beautiful evening. Some of the older children sang for us. Afterwards, there were brats and gluhwein and waffles for a small price.
Our friend, Jennessa, came with us, and we had a great time. Such a fun way to enjoy a fine Autumn evening. It was fun too to watch Alethia interacting with her classmates. She was so excited to see them and was searching through the crowd for certain friends. We were able to chat with several of the other parents and get to know them a bit, which was nice too.
This past year we found a book series at the library about a little girl named Lulu who pretends to be a super hero called "Lady Bug Girl." These books have become Alethia's favorites. So, when I asked her what she wanted to be for Halloween, I wasn't all that surprised that she proudly proclaimed "I want to be Lady Bug Girl!"
One of the books in the series is called "Lady Bug Girl and Bumblebee Boy." The two kids take on the playground together and have a blast protecting it. I had planned to re-use Alethia's dino costume from last year for Masami, but when a cute Bumblebee costume went on sale just before Halloween, I couldn't resist.
Masami loved his costume and was so cute when we would announce that he was "bababe boy." Both kids have worn their costumes around the house just about everyday since Halloween.
I cannot believe that my baby boy is already 2 years old! His second birthday was much less eventful than his first considering that he was in the hospital with pneumonia on his first birthday. This year he was able to celebrate happy and healthy.
Alethia really struggled with not being the center of things. She was Masami's faithful present-opening assistant.
The night before his birthday, we all went downtown to our city's fall festival. We walked around, got crepes with nutella, and the kids got to do some rides. This festival is an annual event, so I was surprised when I realized that the last time we actually went was with my mom when I was pregnant with Alethia. Anyhow, it was a fun evening.
The day of Masami's birthday, I took him swimming with his little friend Morgan. He is really loving the pool these days. Then, we spent the evening at home as a family. The kids played with Masami's new toys including a shopping cart and tool set while I made a dinner of gourmet mac'n'cheese and fresh green beans. Then, we sang to him and had cake and ice cream.
Masami is such a sweet, tender-hearted boy with a great sense for adventure. I love being his mom and getting to watch him grow. Happy Birthday my beautiful boy!
Last weekend I got to get out of town for a few days and have some great ladies time. All of the women on the Germany field with Cadence Student Ministries took four days off and headed to the Black Forest for retreat.
On our way down, we stopped in Strassbourg, France for lunch and a quick wander around. We enjoyed some yummy Flammkuchen (like a very thin crusted white pizza).
It was a pretty fall day to walk around the picturesque alleys and amazing cathedral. And of course, the stroll wasn't complete without a chocolate eclair.
Then we headed on to the Black Forest and to a new and very lovely Cadence House. Our dear fellow Cadence missionary, Candy, was our guest "speaker." The theme was rest. We explored what Sabbath rest truly looks like and how to make it a priority. It was thought-provoking and helpful.
The rest of the weekend was spent resting, of course, and shopping. We found some thrift stores in France and got some great bargains. We played games and spent lots of time chatting. Conversation was rich and filling. I feel so blessed to be among these women and to know them. And our surroundings were gorgeous as all of the windows were filled with the bold colors of fall.
While I was away, Anthony got four fantastic days with the kids. They did well. However, it was nice to be greeted with big cheers and hugs upon my return. I missed my little gang.
Last weekend we went to a local Kurbis (Pumpkin) Fest. We have been going to this farm the last few years...it has sort of become our fall tradition. However, this is the first year that we thought ahead far enough to make sure to make it to their annual festival.
We were a little hesitant because the sky was overcast and it was sprinkling on-and-off. We half wondered if they would cancel. But we decided to venture out anyways and figured that at the very least we would get a nice drive out of it. As we were on our way, we remembered that Germans do not mind the weather as much as most Americans. Germans just throw on a few more layers, grab an umbrella, and refuse to let the weather ruin their time. So, as we approached the farm, we were not surprised to see several fields filled with parked cars. The place was packed.
There was an extensive farmers and crafts market that was fun to peruse. We got a jar of "weihnachts backerei," preserves made of pumpkin, vanilla, anis and cinnamon that is Autumn in a scrumptious jam. We also got a bottle of pumpkin wine and an artichoke blossom, as well as, a bouquet of Lampion blossoms and ivy.
We had great eats! Of course, we had to have a bratwurst. But we also enjoyed this super yummy pumpkin soup, sweet corn cakes with weihnachts jam, and pork steak. All was fresh and delicious!
After lunch, the kids climbed around the hay playground and, of course, we picked-out a couple pumpkins. They have dozens of pumpkins in all colors and sizes.
We did not take time for the huge corn maze...we will have to make another trip this fall for that. We had a sweet time together as a family enjoying the some of the best the season has to offer.