384. Oakridge Christmas. I love all the details that go into this event - the reclaimed wood hot cocoa shack, the burlap and gingham garland that lined the entire path to see Santa, the brass band playing Christmas music, and of course, Santa himself. He's the real deal.
And that little hand on her hip.
And our community's very own, Buddy the Elf. He just might be the real deal, too.
"You want a what?" :)
See how Cruz is casually stepping away from Santa here? He is getting called out. Santa happened to ask Cruz and Mila if they have been good listeners at home and if they are picking up their toys. And just as Cruz was about to make a run for it, Santa said, "You wait a minute, young man. I need a hug." As Cruz went in for it, Beau and I got a grin and a wink from Mr. Claus. :)
385. A fun start to my favorite weekend so far this month. A night at Petrie's sweater party, where we shared lots of laughs, a locket with our engagement picture in it, an owl decoy that almost came home with us, and that crying baby mask I am slightly regretful over. Love this group, especially the host and hostess.
386. My first Christmas in Walnut. I can't say enough about this morning wrapping thirty-some gifts side-by-side with others from our church community. I am completely fascinated by the size of this mission project. Nearly 2500 gifts purchased by families, more than 250 volunteers, and 400 families in the Walnut community blessed with gifts to put under their tree at Christmastime. But gosh, it was so much more than that. I won't ever forget watching these people take their garbage bags full of wrapped gifts, and being stopped by volunteers of all ages circling around them to pray for them before they headed out the door of the Boys and Girls Club. Upon leaving, one of the ladies commented to a volunteer, "There's a whole lot of Jesus in that room," and I couldn't agree more. And as we left that gymnasium just after noon on Saturday, with big flakes of snow calmly falling all around us, it felt the way Christmas is supposed to feel.
387. I took that Christmas spirit with me to Main Street, where I met Beau and Mila for tacos at Pablos while Cruz played at Chuck e. Cheese for a friend's birthday party. Main Street was lively with shoppers and Santa visitors, and the falling snow created a storybook scene outside the windows.
I spy a Santa in need of a bathroom break!
388. My little brother and his bride-to-be. They asked me to take some pictures of them for some save-the-date cards and I happily obliged. It's not every day you get to take pictures of two people that actually stand still and do what you tell them to do (for the most part)! The snow made it all pretty romantic and I'm so glad we talked Taylor into the red wool blanket.
389. We hunkered down in Single Speed for a good while after pictures, rewarding Taylor for smiling and Beau for watching the kids while I took pictures. And as I watched those big flakes fall on the other side of the window, I coaxed my own not-so-still littles outside to play and catch snowflakes on our tongue. And I rewarded them with gelato next door. :)
390. That little tongue of hers, attempting to catch a taste of nature's sno-cone.
Mila dropped her ice cream three times from the Chocolate shop to Single Speed. Good thing the snow made for a pretty clean landing.
391. Window shopping and skirts that stick out of coats just so.
392. A night to be snowed in. And do Daddy's hair.
393. A movie night in our bed, and being convinced to let them sleep there all night. The idea of this was a good thing.
394. Late night "happy hour" talks with Kate. After the kids go to bed, we dig into a bottle of wine over Facetime and talk halfway through the night.
395. Boone's week of kindness. We collected toys for donation, canned food for the Food Bank, and money for the red kettles outside the grocery stores. After I read this letter to the kids, Mila was holding her precious blankie and baby and innoncently said, "But mommy, I use these things." Needless to say, we kept blankie and giraffe baby and found a few other toys to share!
396. An impromptu happy meal night and a picnic by the Christmas tree. To class things up a bit.
398. A different kind of If:Table. After the BELONG Conference in October, an idea was born to replace our December If:Table with something to dig in to a pocket of the community who could use a little love this season. So Tuesday night, the seven of us met at West Presbyterian Church in Waterloo to partner with women from House of Hope. We made Christmas treats together, did crafts with their babies, and shared spatulas, stories, and hugs. It was uncomfortable at times, a step out of our comfort zones and away from our pretty tablescapes and cozy comforts of home, but I'm convinced it was a step in the right direction.
399. Pretty (Rifle Paper) packages, tied up with string.
400. And window seat playtime and her fluffy blond hair.
401. Changing into our warmest pjs as soon as we're home from school.
402. When I catch them doing this...
403. How close they sit by each other on the couch (and his sweet folded hands).
404. A big stack of Christmas cards, and discovering others in the mail.
405. Our house, all dressed up for Christmas.