Wednesday, December 23

Christmas Programs and Parties

Tis the season for precious little children doing Christmas music programs. This was the first year for Brooklyn's school to do a music program and it was AWESOME! Brooklyn's favorite part of her school day is when "Miss Jillybean" comes to her class to do music. This lady has a gift with teaching music to little ones and I am so thankful B gets to benefit from it. The program consisted of all 3-5 year olds singing 6 songs, all with motions. There was narration in between the songs and the older kids dressed the parts of Mary, Joseph, and all the animals. I love Brooklyn's sweet face right here and she likes that I got a picture of her new friend, Dennis. :) Did I mention that they also all wore Christmas pj's. Nothing cuter, in my opinion.

Emma's school had a school wide Christmas sing-a-long before their class parties on Friday. Nothing like cramming kindergarten-5th grade into a cafeteria and letting them sing their hearts out to Christmas songs. Kindergarten sat in front and you might notice that a certain 3 year old had no problem plopping herself down next to sister to sing songs.

Brooklyn and I stayed for the party too. Pinatas, yummy food, making reindeer food, and a few other games was a great way to finish their first semester of kindergarten. Hooray for a break!!

Tuesday, December 22

Merry Christmas

One of my favorite things at Christmas is to receive your Christmas cards and family pictures and I also enjoy sending them out. For many reasons, we just could not get our cards together this year.

We are very thankful for all of your friendships and pray that your Christmas is merry and full of family fun. This is our thrown together (at the very last minute) Christmas card to share with our blogging friends.

Merry Christmas!!!!

Monday, December 21

Christmas Change for the Nelson's

There is this little thing called Christmas Change that some of our friends here in NWA started. This, along with this great organization, has made Christmas look a little different for many of our friends families here in NWA. We have all made some kind of change to the way we do Christmas. It is not like I was not aware of people in need before, but there has been a heightened awareness this year like never before. I would say a stirring in my heart started about 6 months ago when I read Crazy Love and Same Kind of Different as Me back to back. He has opened my eyes to people in need. For John and I, at this time, we don't feel the Lord leading us to go across the globe, but we do feel a calling to get out and do something here in our own backyard. That might be serving, giving financially or opening our home to people for a warm meal and a sense of family around them. I desire for my girls to have open hearts for the needy, the hurting, the abandoned, the hungry. So, this Christmas season (and hopefully for the rest of the year as well) we have tried to think a little more about others, than ourselves. It has been more of a blessing and joy to my heart to do these things than I'm sure to the person receiving.

So, what changes have been made in our house? Here a few:
1. Less gifts this year. The girls will still probably get too much, but we scaled back quite a bit.
2. Our advent calendar this year that used to consist of a small goodie each day was scaled back as well. Each day, we read our verse (we have tried our best to do this daily) and also have some kind of "act of kindness" for the day. We might write a note or draw a picture for our teachers or we might give goodies to our neighbors or postman. The girls and I had the opportunity to take hot chocolate to a Salvation Army bell ringer on a VERY cold day. What a blessing that was for us to do. The girls loved it and have asked to get to do it again. AND, we will soon.
The girls have still received a couple little Christmas crafts to do in the advent, but it is now a surprise when they receive something in the advent instead of expecting it each day.
3. We have given financially from our Christmas budget to provide shoes for a girl in need and some toys for kids who would not normally get a single gift.
4. We took dinner to a new friend and her husband, knowing that there was as chance that might be their only meal that day.
5. I was able to serve by setting up for the Potter's House Giveaway and John at the Help Portrait Day. These were blessings to both of us.

I feel like because my heart is more open this year to serve, that God has opened my eyes to see the small things that I can do too. I pulled over yesterday (something I probably would not have thought of before) to ask an elderly lady with a cane and groceries in hand if she needed a ride. She did not want a ride, but she gave me a fabulous response and a good laugh for the day

I am not AT ALL writing this to boast. As I read back over this list, all of this seems so little, like not enough. I write it so that my family of 4 can see how Christmas changed this year for us and to encourage you to look around for ways to serve. It will change you. It is not to late and a brand new year is about to begin, with ways to serve year round.

Tuesday, December 15

Emma's 6th Birthday Party

We had Emma's birthday party on her actual birthday this year and it was so fun! She has wanted to do a Build a Bear Party for years and this year we decided she was old enough to appreciate it and really enjoy it. Did she ever!! She had a great time and I think all her little girlfriends did too. It was a little different this year because her party was all girls. We were able to celebrate with her boyfriends too on a different day.

Build a Bear was amazing and so easy! We had a hostess who did everything. She was great at leading them in their selections (based on our price range) and played some really fun games with them while they waited their turn for things. After Build a Bear, we went over to the Food Court for some Chickfila, cake and opening presents. What a fun, fun day!!!

On her birthday night, John and I had a party to go to, so we shared a sitter with Jayme and Bret. This meant that Molly and Morgan came over to play and we asked Molly to spend the night. This was such a treat for Emma!!!

Emma could not stand the fact that Davis would not be at her all girl party, so we also celebrated with him the next day. Allyn and I treated them to tickets to see a play, "The Greatest Christmas Pageant Ever." What sweet friends!!

Saturday, December 5

Happy 6th Birthday Emma!!!

Today is Emma's 6th Birthday!! I say it every year, but I can never believe it when my girls are a year older. A little travel back in time:


2 weeks old

1 year

2 year

3 year

4 year

5 Year

6 Year

You havve grown and matured so much this year. Maybe more this year than any other year! You are really growing up and turning into such a beautiful little girl. You started kindergarten and are doing great. You are reading like crazy and loving to learn new words. You love to write and most of all, like to illustrate your writings. I think you might be an author and illustrator when you grow up. You also think you might like to do this or be a veterinarian. ;) You started taking dance this year and were not crazy about it, so we stopped that about 2 months into it. I finally found someone that taught art classes and you jumped at that opportunity. You go every Wednesday for an hour and get to do what you do best, create things. You are still super creative, very active, curious, and one of a kind. You love Brooklyn so much and consider her your best friend. You enjoy school most of the time, but when you don't want to go, you really don't want to go and make it hard on all of us. This breaks my heart, but I know going to school is best for you. You are learning so much and having fun with all your new friends. Ms. Norris is your teacher and truly a blessing from the Lord. She loves Jesus and she loves you. You are a rule follower. (something I didn't know until this year!) You are so curious about Jesus and knowing more about him. You ask great questions and are really starting to grasp Jesus and your need for Him. You are a great friend and really try hard to treat others like you would like to be treated.
Emma, thank you for being so sweet. I pray that you always stay sweet and remember that God made you exactly how he wanted you to be. I pray that you will be a girl that stands for what you believe in and make good choices. I feel so blessed that God has entrusted you to us on this Earth.
We Love You,
Mommy and Daddy

Wednesday, December 2

Thanksgiving in Mexico

I can't believe it has been almost a month since I last posted. Forgive me!

We had an amazing and very different Thanksgiving this year. John's parents retired last June and wanted to celebrate by taking us and John's sister's family to their favorite place, Cozumel. Initially, we were to go last May, but the swine flu stopped that trip very quickly when the government strongly suggested for people not to travel to Mexico. It all worked out and we were able to work it out for 3 busy families to find a date that would work for everyone. We left on the Saturday before Thanksgiving and returned on the Friday night after Thanksgiving.

We stayed at Fiesta Americana, which was very nice. The staff was very friendly and it was a great place to stay. The pools were great, although a little cold for my liking. This did not stop the kids. :) The beach was not "the beach" we were all expecting. We are used to Florida beaches where you walk from your beach chair right into the water. Because of all the coral reefs, our beach was built up above the water and sand was placed there. You had to walk down some steps to get into the water. The water was definitely made for snorkeling and not for playing in the waves. It worked out fine. The girls enjoyed playing in the sand and then getting wet in the pool. We all tried snorkeling (except for Brooklyn) and it was amazing. I had done it once before, but had forgotten how beautiful God created all those awesome little fish. Emma surprised us all and tried snorkeling and loved it! She would stick her head down in the water and then come up murmuring loudly (couldn't understand her because of her snorkel) about what she had seen. It was precious.

We did so much and took so many pictures. I have posted my favorites here, but here is the link to a site where you can see them all. Here are some of highlights of our trip:

*Snorkeling (for me, it was watching Emma snorkel. I was so proud of her for trying it and loved hearing her mumble about the fish through her snorkel)

*Lots of Mexican food (it was good, but I'm still not sure I want a quesadilla, guacamole, or a margarita for a while)

*Chakanub Park (We paid $5 for this picture and it was worth every penny to document an iguana sitting on Sam's head!)

*Swimming with the Dolphins (I have always wanted to do this, but the price has always deterred me. This place had great prices and we were able to take our girls with us for free. It was amazing!)

*Relaxing by the pool and watching the kiddos (and Dad's) play

*Hanging out with my in laws and the Hannon's and watching the cousins play.

*Jeep Tour around the island with our family of 4

*Thanksgiving dinner at Hard Rock Cafe (My second most non-traditional Thanksgiving meal. My first was when I was younger and my family went to NYC for Thanksgiving and we ate at a Japanese restaurant)

*Getting to be with my sweet family of 4 for a week without anyone having to go to work or school and me not having to clean the house. ;)

*Our rainy day that was spent in the lobby playing cards, reading magazines and playing with Wikki Stix.

We had a great time!! Thank you Brenda and Larry for treating us to this fun trip!!!