It's been a while!

Here we are almost 2 weeks into 2014, and I haven’t posted since our Thanksgiving wrap-up post – whew! It’s been something of a whirlwind these last 6 weeks or so.

Having a late Thanksgiving – and thus a shortened time between Thanksgiving and Christmas – intensified all of that pre-Christmas time for us. We spent those weeks in between holidays finishing up the semester (Matt), recovering from colds and croup (Matt and the girls), doing Christmas shopping (mostly me), and trying to be more intentional than we’ve been in past years about preparing our hearts truly to celebrate Christmas (all of us).

This is the first year in many that we’ve put up a Christmas tree, and the first year ever that we’ve put up a full-size tree. The years that Matt and I lived in Evanston our travel was often less intense – often just over a 1.5 hour drive from Evanston to my mom’s house – but we’ve always traveled somewhere to see family at Christmas time. Living in Missouri now, with our closest family members 8 hours away, we’re usually gone for over a week, and it has seemed somewhat silly (to me) to spend a lot of time decorating for Christmas just to leave town and then have to put it all away when we’d get back. Therefore, our decorating in years past has been minimal at best. However, this year we knew that the girls were old enough that they would love it, so we went ahead and put up a tree and a few other decorations – which, I might add, we still need to take down…hopefully we’ll get to that sometime in the next week or so before Matt’s semester starts up again!

We were right – they loved the decorating process.

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Of course the girls’ assistance meant that the 90% of the ornaments were on the bottom 20% of the tree, but that’s alright 🙂

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And even though I’m ready for everything to be taken down and put away, the girls are still enjoying it. Here they are this past week – complete with “ugly Christmas sweater” pins from one of Matt’s colleagues – posing together in front of the tree.

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In addition to getting in the Christmas spirit with our decorations, we tried to focus more on preparing to celebrate Christ’s birth. We came across this Jesus Storybook Bible (which we love) reading plan for Advent and decided to go through it with the girls. I’m so glad we did – it was much more centered on Jesus than the kids’ devotional book we had been reading through at night, and I think it helped all of us prepare our hearts for Christmas. We always treasure our bedtime reading time, but it was particularly sweet during that time leading up to Christmas.

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We had our own little family Christmas celebration about a week before Christmas Day, and then we took off the next morning to head to Wisconsin and begin our visit with our family and friends in Wisconsin and in Chicagoland! I’m still collecting and sorting through photos from those times, but I’ll try to post some reflections from those times soon, too.

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