This year we tried to incorporate some new traditions and old traditions to celebrate the season with our girls. We started out by following an advent calendar. In my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group at church we made a special advent calendar with envelopes for our kids to open every day for the four weeks before Christmas. We hung a felt Christmas tree on our refrigerator and each day Meilani opened an envelope, which contained a felt ornament that symbolized a different part of scripture. She really looked forward to opening the envelopes and reading the Bibles stories as a family as we anticipated the birth of Jesus on Christmas Eve.
Our traditions also included going out to Cobbs Ranch and cutting down a tree. Meilani's favorite part of Christmas decorating is setting up the nativity scenes. She helps with Nana Maria's collection and this year she helped with our (breakable) one. She loves arranging all the people and making up stories about how they all arrive at Bethlehem. One afternoon I found her on the kitchen floor with our (kids) nativity pieces piled inside trucks and cars in a long parade. I asked her what she was doing. "Mom, the nativity are riding in their hybrids to Bethlehem." If only Mary would have had that option.
We also started a tradition my sister did through the years with her kids. We wrapped all of our Christmas books and then starting December 1st each night before bed we would open one and read it together. Since I'm such a lover of kids picture books this was a real joy for me to share with my girls.
Giad even got in on the action of opening some of the books. She has taken a real interest in books lately and loves to page through them herself. We may just have another reader on our hands!
This year we continued several family traditions. We extended our usual Walk Down Christmas Tree Lane in Fresno to five of the families we are closest to through our church. We hosted a Soup & Salad party at our house before hand. Everyone brought something to share and we stocked up on hot beverages before heading out for the walk together. What fun to have all these little ones in the same buzzing house!
I'm posing here with my friend Brandy Freeland. I actually have known her a few years through other moms but we had the chance to travel to Haiti together this summer and all those bumpy truck rides cemented our friendship. She is the mama of five and married to Nathan. Their family has been a gift to us as we continue to journey through life here in Fresno. We especially appreciate their heart for adoption and the needy. They have a daughter, Aeniah, who is Meilani's age and adopted from Russia. The Freelands have encouraged us as we are pursuing adoption from Haiti.
Meilani loves hanging out with the Freeland five. Here she poses with Ashton, who has a special heart for my girls. He loves playing with Giada and taking Meilani under his wing. He's like a big brother to her.
The other families included the Fords, the Vasquezes, the Puseys, the Schmidts and the Benedicts. We are so blessed by a community of friends who are like-minded and raising their children in ways we admire. Meilani rode in a wagon with her friend Josiah Ford and oohed and ahhed at the lights. How these two have grown since last year!
Our double jogger was awfully popular - even with the older kids who kept switching and pushing each other in it. Meilani and Giada (our social butterfly girls) loved being surrounded by so many friends.