Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Pictures Galore!

We let the boys open one gift from us on Christmas Eve, a tradition of getting new jammies to wear on Christmas morning. They also opened a gift from Nonna, who had a Lightning McQueen book and Dinosaur book personalized with the boys names. The boys think this is amazing, to have their names in the story of a book.

Then on Christmas morning we all sat on the couch and read the story of the birth of Jesus from the Bible and hung the final two ornaments on our Advent tree. Burrito hung the baby Jesus ornament and Noodle hung the star. Doesn't it look great? This was a huge blessing to do as a family this year and we will most definitely do it again next year. Noodle still asks us, even now after Christmas, "Do I get to hang the ornament tonight?"

We also started the tradition of giving 3 gifts to the boys for Christmas on Christmas morning. This is just another way to remind us of the Bible story in which the wise men brought Jesus 3 gifts. This is the first Christmas that both boys really understand Christmas and gifts and giving so I thought it was a good time to start this tradition. We gave them both a new movie (Hermie!), new books and then a fun toy (Burrito got new Hotwheels and a Hotwheels set and Noodle got a Geo Trax set). I think the boys liked it.

The boys then opened their stockings to find a new coloring book, a Diego ball and in their opinion, the best thing on earth......gum!

Uncle Daniel came over for breakfast and the boys opened their gift from him....a new movie, Kung Fu Panda!

Then we all headed to Mimi and Poppy's for Christmas Day. We let the boys wear their new jammies over there to maximize toy playing time, instead of pulling them away to get dressed. They of course, received a ton of presents, and the theme this year was games. The boys are old enough now to really enjoy playing games as a family and we got all the good ones! John and I relived a little piece of our childhood as we played Toss Across, Hungry Hungry Hippos, Hi Ho Cherry-O, Rhino Rampage, an electronic fishing game, a Little Einsteins game and maybe some others I've forgotten.
It was a beautiful, warm day outside, we had good Mexican food for lunch and good company in family. We made some good memories! And we haven't stopped playing since!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas (A Day Late)

Yesterday was full of good many good things that I did not get a chance to post our LAST Advent reading. And in my haste to pack up Christmas decorations today, I forgot to leave out our Advent book to note the reading and symbol for Christmas Day. Oh was something like this:

Scripture reading: Luke 2:1-21 -- The Birth of Jesus

Symbol: Jesus in the manger and the star, of course!

We have a picture of the completed Advent tree and lots of pictures from Christmas Day to share....I just haven't loaded them on the computer yet. Maybe tomorrow....I've been busy organizing and reorganizing and playing lots of games today! :)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Advent Reading Day 24 and Our Christmas Eve Adventure

Scripture reading: Luke 2:1-5 -- The Journey to Bethlehem

Symbol: A scroll, representing Caesar's proclamation

We took the boys to their first movie theater experience today to see Bolt. John and I have not been to the movies since before Burrito was born so it was a treat for us as well. The boys totally loved it! We went to the Movie Tavern where you can actually order a meal and eat while you watch the movie. Though we only ordered popcorn, it was really fun to watch a movie together in the theater on Christmas Eve. We may make this a tradition! And it was a 3D movie where we had to wear the 3D glasses so that made it fun too. I think the boys were amazed at the size of the screen and the loudness of the sound. There were several times where they jumped in reaction to the sound. And Bolt was a great, cute, family friendly movie that we would recommend!
And yesterday the Rutherford men all went for a haircut. They all go to the salon that I have been going to for 10 years now. All of the women there think the boys are so cute and a couple of the ladies getting haircuts commented on how well behaved they were. Hooray! They all looked so handsome afterwards that I couldn't resist taking their picture in front of their Christmas tree!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Advent Reading Day 23

Scripture reading: Matthew 1:18-25 -- The Annunciation to Joseph

Symbol: A carpenter's square, representing both Joseph's trade and the uprightness of his life

Monday, December 22, 2008

Advent Reading Day 22 and The Story Behind St. Nicholas

Scripture Reading: Luke 1:26-38 -- Mary and the Angel

Symbol: The angel Gabriel

The Story Behind St. Nicholas

Santa Clause is the North American version of Saint Nicholas, a 4th century bishop who lived in Turkey. Oral tradition holds that St. Nicholas was revered for his generous, anonymous giving to the poor. The most well known account is of Nicholas' midnight ascent upon the roof of a poor family who was soon to have to sell the three daughters into slavery because there was no money for their dowry. Nicholas secretly dropped gold coins down the chimney, which landed in the girls' stockings, which were hanging by the fire to dry. This money ransomed the girls from slavery and possible death.

St. Nicholas is a "type" of Christ and portrays Jesus in 3 ways:
1. He gave to those who were undeserving
2. He gave to those who could not repay
3. His gift rescued them from slavery and death. I've been wondering what "to do" with the whole Santa thing this year. It's never been that much of an issue before. Over the past couple of years, Burrito would see a picture of Santa in the stores and call him Noah from the Bible. John and I would just crack up over that one! But now that Burrito is in school, he's been asking a lot of questions about if Santa is real and is quite fascinated with the story of him coming down the chimney on Christmas Eve to deliver presents. Part of me likes the idea of believing in Santa because it's fun and it's what I believed as a child, with the understanding of course, that Christ is the most important thing about Christmas and it is His birth that is the greatest gift.
I think we've done a good job of emphasizing that with our boys this year. At a party last night, a friend asked Burrito if he was excited that Christmas is almost here and of course, he replied yes. When asked why he was excited about Christmas, John and I held our breath in anticipation of his reply. We were so proud when he said, "Because we celebrate Jesus' birthday!" Hooray, *high five*! Maybe he is listening to all of these Advent readings! Thank you Lord for teaching his heart the Truth.
So, all that to say, obviously the historical St. Nicholas is not a bad thing, but unfortunately culture has skewed Santa into a symbol of consumerism and greed, which are not values I want to teach my boys. Instead, I am trying to instill in them the attitude that it really is better to give than to receive. Lord help me to believe this and be an example of this to my boys, to my family and to others.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Advent Reading Day 21

Scripture reading: Luke 1:5-17, Matthew 3:1-6 -- John the Baptizer

Symbol: A scallop shell, a traditional symbol for baptism

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Around the Town and Advent Reading Day 20

We are quite blessed to live in an area where there are LOTS of fun, Christmas-y things to do and see. Last night we took advantage of the super nice weather (temps were in the 60s-70s) and went to our favorite locale nearby. It is really quite breathtaking and the pics do not do it justice. If you are not in the Christmas spirit when you show up, you surely are when you leave. It is so fun to see all of the people and families enjoying the sights and sounds of Christmas. And I think we even got the picture for our belated Christmas card so I won't post that one here! :)

And you know you're kids are getting older when you ask them to take a picture of you!
Here's Burrito's picture.

And here's Noodles's picture.

Not too bad!

It was also the day for Burrito's Christmas party at school, which Noodle and I attended.


And last but certainly not least, Advent Day 20!

Scripture reading: Malachi 3:1-5, 4:1-6 -- The Sun of Righteousness
Symbol: The sun of righteousness that will rise with healing in its wings.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Advent Reading Day 19

Scripture reading: Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4 -- Waiting on the Lord

Symbol: A watchtower
The book of Habakkuk has some sentimental value to me. I heard John Piper preach on this and loved it so much John and I had this Scripture meditation in our wedding.
Habakkuk 3:17-19
17 Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
19 GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Advent Reading Day 18

Scripture reading: Jonah 1:1-4:11 -- The Story of Jonah

Symbol: A great fish, though the story is more about God's calling a prophet who tries to run away from his task
We love the Veggie Tales version of this story. As a baby, Noodle would rock to the music and Burrito would say, "Jooooooonahhhhhh!" as if he were God calling Jonah by name. It was so funny!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Advent Reading Day 17

Scripture reading: 2 Chronicles 36:11-21 and Jeremiah 30:23-31:14 -- The Babylonian Exile

Symbol: Stalks of grain, representing the promised abundance

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Advent Reading Day 16 and Lately

Scripture reading: Isaiah 8:11- 9:7 -- A Wise and Just King
Symbol: A crown for a king of justice and peace
Well, as I mentioned in my last post, it has been a crazy and unusual time for us. Well, unusual in the sense that John has been absent more often lately due to the end of the semester of grad school. Only one more semester, woo hoo!!! So, while the boys and I have been home A LOT lately, John has been gone A LOT lately, which is the unusual part. And with John being gone, family time has looked a little different lately and we just haven't had much time for our typical seasonal sorts of activities, like going all out in decorating for Christmas or making the trek over to the Galleria for our annual Christmas card picture. Yep, that's right, the Christmas card is being sacrificed this season! It's our burnt offering (ha, ha, just kidding, it just seems appropriate to call it that with all of our Advent reading lately)! I've thought about doing a Happy New Year's Card instead, and I still might, it's just not tradition, and if you know me, I LOVE tradition! Or with all my handwriting work lately, I don't know if I have it in me to address and stuff and stamp Christmas cards this year.
Have I mentioned my handwriting job before???? It really is a HUGE blessing, one that came straight from God, of course! John noticed an ad back in July in this parent magazine advertising a job opportunity for stay at home moms or retirees who have good handwriting and can pick up and drop off material in our town. Totally perfect for me. And even better, it is hand addressing mail-outs for non profits and charities! So I have been, in a sense, working for such organizations as Feed the Children and The Navigators. Up until 3 weeks ago, it is basically a once a month type of job. However, in the past 3 weeks, I have done 1750 mailouts....that includes writing a personal message, stuffing envelopes and stamping them. Needless to say, the money this time of year is great but all of my personal time (i.e. naptime and bedtime) is COMPLETELY consumed with this job. This week is the last of it until January. Bummer for the checking account but good for my personal time! And we ALL need a little personal time after the past few weeks!
So all that to say, we've been busy BUT we have accomplished what we wanted for this Advent season.....we have not taken part in the hustle and bustle of shopping and parties and it has been SO GREAT! The boys have really enjoyed the Advent readings and the stories and we are talking a lot about the meaning of Christmas and how much more important it is to give than to receive. Yeah, that last part, I am not sure if they are convinced of that yet, but darn it, I'm doing my best to convince them! We had an opportunity to give to a family at our church who's mom has been imprisoned and the grandmother is now taking care of two small children. We cleaned out our closets and made a trip to WalMart for undies and socks. The boys even met one of the kids at church on Sunday and I am hoping that putting a face with the act of giving made an even better impression. Even in doing this, I was reminded of my sin and selfishness.
This is such a great time to reflect on the gift we were given in Jesus.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Advent Reading Day 15

Scripture reading: Isaiah 6:1-13 -- Isaiah in the Temple
Symbol: The tongs and burning coal by which Isaiah's mouth was cleansed in his vision.
My sweet hubby is in the throes of finals, at the school where he teaches and also his own finals in grad school. Poor thing, I haven't seen him or this laptop much over the last few days, which explains why these blogs are short and to the point. Pray for John! :)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Advent Reading Day 14

Scripture reading: 1 Kings 18:17-39 -- Elijah and the Prophets of Baal

Symbol: A stone altar

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Advent Reading Day 13

Scripture reading: 1 Samuel 16:1-23; 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 7:1-17 -- David

Symbol: A lyre, for the musician king

Friday, December 12, 2008

Advent Reading Day 12

Scripture reading: Judges 2:6-16, 6:1-16, 7:1-23 -- Gideon
Symbol: A water jar, like the ones that hid the torches

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Advent Reading Day 11

Scripture reading: Joshua 1:1-9, 5:13 - 6:20 -- The Conquest of Jericho

Symbol: A ram's horn trumpet, which helped bring down the walls of Jericho

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Advent Reading Day 10 & The End of Gymnastics and Soccer

Scripture Reading: Exodus 19:16-20 - 20:20 -- The Giving of the Law
Symbol: The stone tablets that we associate with the Ten Commandments

This week marked the close of our gymnastics and soccer classes. We take the classes at our local recreation center and it has been great! The boys have learned some new things and it is not that expensive.

Noodle finished his "nastics" class on Monday with Mrs. Carolyn. All of the parents were invited in to watch what they had learned over the past 10 weeks. They started off with these cute stretches and then practiced somersaults and cartwheels on the gym mats. Then they moved to the beam where they walked forward, backwards, sideways, crawled like a cat and hopped like a bunny. I was quite impressed. To finish off the performance, they hung from the bar and did their legs like scissors and pulled their feet up to the bar. Only a few kids were able to do the latter and Noodle was one of them! I was very proud!

Burrito finished his soccer class last night. It was a great skills class where they learned to dribble the ball, run, stop and kick, dribble around the cones and dribble down to the goal and kick the ball. T said every week that "soccer was boring" but I didn't see him looking bored last night.

Both classes gave me good ideas of what to work with them on at home. And now with our new swingset, we can really do a lot on the trapeze bar. And we have a soccer goal and ball in the backyard too. It will be nice to take a break over the Christmas holidays and then start back after the first of the year.
Way to go boys! You made your mommy really proud!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Advent Reading Day 9

Scripture reading: Exodus 12:1-39 -- The Passover and Escape from Egypt
Symbol: A kneading bowl (when God freed the Israelites from the Egyptians, there was not even time to bake the bread, they gather up the raw dough in their kneading bowls and carry it along with them like that)
I should make clear that I did not come up with these Advent readings on my own. They are from a book called Let's Make a Jesse Tree! by Darcy James. I have adapted some of it to our needs and liking. I referenced the author and her book on my first blog about this and don't want to give the impression that this is my own.....I am not that good! :)
And this is how we do this with our boys:
Each night after dinner, we all sit on the couch and read the bible story. We talk about the symbol and what it means and the boys take turns each night hanging the ornament on the tree. Then we pray and I have each boy pray something pertaining to the Bible story. I also try to review some of the previous stories and symbols with them to reinforce what we have talked about.
Some nights go better than others. Some nights the boys really pay attention and others not so much. Even so, it has been a sweet time together as a family and the boys really look forward to doing it.