Women's Christmas Dessert:
Christmas started early this year at the New Song Women's Christmas Dessert. Two weekends before Thanksgiving, close to 300 women crowded into our open cafe area and sang songs, ate great foods served to us by the pastoral staff, shopped local home businesses, and had a great time. I hosted a table again this year, and after winning the "best use of theme" award last year, I went for it again. Our women's ministry theme this year is "Rise Up" (with the colors of purple and gold and a lioness' face). This table design came to me while I lay in bed one night:
(Get it? The balloons are making the tree "rise up"!) :)
(And I was so happy with my cute "lioness" cookies):
This feat of brilliance (okay, maybe I should just call it a silly mish-mash of fun) won yet again in the theme category. Yay! I have to be honest, there was only one other table who went for this category...but theirs was very beautiful and I would have voted for it had I not made my table. But I'll take the prize (it's a $25 Macaroni Grill gift card! Can you say "date night"?!). I also scored in the raffles, taking home an adorable bag handmade by orphans in Haiti (everyone knew that was right up my ally!) and a gift card basket (uh, Christmas gifts for Jim!!!). After being called up for the third time, though, it was getting a little embarrassing, but I'm full of gratitude for the little shower of blessings God rained down on me!
Neighborhood Boat Parade:
No, we don't live on the water, but every year, our extended neighborhood has a boat parade. I don't know who started it or gets it going every year, but it is SO cool. Fifteen to 20 vehicles (boats as well as other cars and trucks) deck themselves out in lights and all other sorts of holiday cheer and circle around about a mile or so loop. Last year there was a fire truck and a Marine tank, but this year was a bit more small scale. From the trailers they throw out candy, and Christmas music plays, and neighbors line the streets to watch. We love our neighborhood, and this little tradition makes us love it even more!
Last night, I took Jadon to a living nativity at a local church. It was supposed to be a family affair, but I forgot Jim was preaching for the whole church this weekend, which includes the Saturday night service, so instead of pouting, I decided to just take Jadon on my own. It was so neat, even if I was exhausted by the end trying to reign my crazy two-year-old in! Hopefully next year, Jim can join in on this activity that helps focus on the real meaning of Christmas.
The church's multi-purpose room was transformed with over a dozen little booths reliving what it would have been like in Bethlehem. You walked in and "registered for the census" and then were given coins and your choice of "authentic" garb (Jadon refused to put anything on!)...
Then there were tons of activities kids could do for a coin, like make a mosaic cross (let's just say, Jadon's was a little more "artistic" than everyone else's!), make a leafy garland, make a toy spinning top or sheep, listen to a story, visit a synagogue, practice carpentry and leather-working (um...Jadon and hammers...a little intimidating to the poor souls working those booths!), bake bread, eat baklavah and raisins and other fun snacks...and a bunch of other options that we didn't quite make it to.
Okay, so what's the Christmas season without the infamous family pic? While we already had a good one of the three of us from this summer, we decided that we needed one with Austin. So between all the hustle and bustle of our chaotic schedule, we flung ourselves in front of the Christmas tree before running out the door to take Austin to his basketball game and Jadon to Legoland. All things considered, it turned out okay:
Except notice that Jadon isn't smiling. Half a million attempts later, this is the best face we could get from him. Most of the time he was just a blur. So I think this is actually my favorite realistic pic (notice all our hands pinning Jadon down):