Gifting: Gifts are purchased and I am now enjoying that place where I can wrap a few at a time and watch it all come together under the tree. Every year, the kids open a new Christmas movie and ornament at our North Pole Party and then a special new pair of Christmas pajamas and a new book to add to our collection on Christmas Eve. And then, Christmas morning. I LOVE opening gifts on Christmas morning. Love it. In my attempts to cut back on the number of gifts the kids are going to receive this year, I have enjoyed thoughtfully planning gifts that fit just who they are. Thankfully, the Cubbies winning the World Series has provided lots of unique gifts for Beau this year, and I have done my best to shop small here at home and online for everyone else. I keep going back to Miss Wonderful for Rifle Paper pads and notebooks for teachers, friends, and gift baskets, helped Mercy Candle Company go out of stock with their pretty and meaningful candles, and purchased a few of Peekaboo Baby's Manhattan Toys, including the cute wooden car and people set Mila is going to love. Other favorites include anything from Anthropologie's kid collection (everything in the picture below), Shutterfly's new personalized Memory games, and the Calico Critters house that Mila is going to flip for.
Reading: My goal is to finish Jennie Allen's, Restless, by the end of the year, and use it and all my other input from 2016 to frame some themes and goals for the new year. One of my reading goals is to read 17 books in 2017, and so far, I believe I have 22 titles on my list! Looking forward to sharing my learning from them, as well as thoughts from Jennie Allen's book after Christmas.
We are also enjoying our first family advent study this month from She Reads Truth. The kids' table cards are my favorite part, for they have broadened our conversations and teachings around the Christmas story in a deeper way. Thanks to my recent Facetime date with Kate, we are now pairing our advent cards with two stories from our favorite children's Bible, hoping to make it to Jesus's birthday by Christmas Eve. If you are still looking for good gift ideas for the kids, I cannot say enough about this Bible. I read nearly every story in awe and wonder, and with a lump in my throat for how beautifully written it is.
Watching: Between all these Christmas movies on Hallmark, classics like Home Alone, Frosty, and Charlie Brown, and my Tuesday nights of This is Us and Season 4 of Fixer Upper, my DVR is full! The first half-season of This Is Us was tremendous. I still can't get over that Thanksgiving episode and secretly hope that one day the four of us can spend a holiday in a sketchy hotel eating Kwik Star hot dogs wrapped in cracker crumbs, curling up together in a bed that is way too small. For "those no one I'd rather be too hot or too cold with." (cue, sobbing)
Drinking: The return of last year's hot cocoa bar has been filling our cups in more ways than one this holiday season. I put it in the entryway this year, bought festive disposable travel cups at Hobby Lobby, and am always sure to have marshmallows, peppermint shavings, and some kind of treat available for the random or planned guest that blesses our doorstep. Because it's in eye's sight, we have cocoa quite frequently around here, and it's our favorite way to warm up after a day at work and school. I heat up the equal part milk and water, the kids fill their cup with two scoops of cocoa mix and all the fixings they want, then bring their cups to me for a fill of cheer (with a little whipped cream on top). My favorite was the night we had eight college girls over and I sent them all out the door with a cocoa cup. Nothing warms your soul more than something hot to drink during this brutally cold winter.
Listening to: All things Christmas music, of course. Mom and I attended Selah's Christmas concert at Naz this week, and left feeling all sorts of merry after two hours of listening to this power house do their thing. But my favorite part of the night was listening to my favorite local duo, Brad and Kate, fill the room with their talent and love for Jesus. They released their first four-song album that night and were overwhelmed with the support they received. I have since listened to Kate's O Come O Come Emmanuel twenty-five times since Monday. :) We are all pretty excited that they are going to do the music for Taylor's wedding in May, too!
Also loving Johnnyswim's Christmas album, and Rend Collective's Campfire Christmas. :)
Loving: Christmas cards from pretty families in my mailbox, packages delivered to the porch by joyful UPS employees, Cruz's bus driver, and cozy nights at my desk with Kate on my computer screen. Flannel sheets on all the beds, a sermon series that sparks all kinds of conversations between Beau and I, and winter scene puzzles at the table. Snow flurries, lunch dates, and Alice and Ames dresses and rompers. Mila rocks them.