Thursday, December 21, 2017

Santa! I know him!

We went and had our annual Santa picture taken this past Sunday and it went pretty well. The last 2 years Jake and I have had to be in the picture so it was nice to not have to be in it this year. Jackson was a champ and did great. Avery, was a little timid and wasn't really having it at first but did eventually warm up and sit on Santa's lap. She didn't say much but they did both tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas this year.

We went to Six Flags to see Santa this year and he was a great Santa! He was really sweet. While we were there we also saw Mrs. Claus and we wrote letters to Santa as well. Of course we rode rides too and saw the Nativity show again because it's just so good.

Jackson has really only asked for one thing this year and it's the Cars 3 Florida Speedway Racetrack. Avery has been asking for 2 dollies, 2 barbies and a toaster. Ha! Between Jake and I and all the family members she gets presents from, she will be getting all of those things. ;-) She's so funny and has been so easy to buy for this year. She gets so excited about even the littlest gifts so anything girly will be so exciting for her to get. Ha.

I'm so excited for Christmas this year. We've got all the presents bought, wrapped and under the tree... all but their gifts from Santa that is. Those are bought but still need to be put together. Jackson's Santa gift is the Cars 3 Racetrack he's been asking for and Avery's gift from Santa is a Disney Frozen Ride-On Sleigh. The kids are at such fun ages for Christmas. They are so excited and make Christmas so much fun! I'm really looking forward to it.

We have a fun and full Christmas weekend planned. Saturday we are spending the day with Jake's immediate family at his brother's house. Sunday (Christmas Eve) we'll be going to my Aunt and Uncle's house in the afternoon and then to church that night for the Christmas Eve service. Then Christmas day we'll spend the whole day at home in our pajamas and then the day after Christmas we'll be hosting my immediate family. It will be such a fun four days of celebrating Christmas! I am really looking forward to it.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas!

Have a holly, jolly Christmas; It's the best time of the year

      I don't know if there'll be snow but have a cup of cheer

      Have a holly, jolly Christmas; and when you walk down the street...

      Say Hello to friends you know and everyone you meet.

     Oh ho the mistletoe

      hung where you can see;

      Somebody waits for you; kiss her once for me.

      Have a holly jolly Christmas, and in case you didn't hear...

      Oh by golly have a holly jolly Christmas this year!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Our 2017 Frasier Fir and Christmas Decorations

We decided to go somewhere different this year for our tree. When we lived in our old house, there was a family-run stand right down the street that we went to every year. Then last year we went to the Kirkwood Farmer's Market which is not far from our new house. They had a lot of great trees, but they were so crowded!! It was hard to look at trees and then get someone to help you. So this year, we decided to try a little family-run tree stand near our house and it was really nice. They weren't overly crowded and were very nice and willing to help. It was nice to support a family-run business again like we had in the past.

We used to always get a Noble Fir, but for the last few years we haven't been able to find anywhere that's had them around us. They are a tree from the Pacific Northwest and I know there has been a bit of a tree shortage the last few years, so we've gotten a Frasier Fir the last 2 years instead and decided to go that route again. The Frasier Fir is very similar to the Noble Fir so it hasn't been much of a difference.

Here are a few pictures of us at the Home Grown Trees stand last Saturday morning.

After getting our tree home, we always put it in a bucket of water in the garage for the rest of the day and overnight to let it get a good drink of water. Then we typically decorate it the next day. I already had the rest of the house decorated, so all we had left to do was decorate the tree. :-) Every year I take a "before" picture of the tree in the tree stand with the tree skirt on it that Jake's Great Grandmother made for him before we were even married. His grandmother is 93 and still doing well.

And here is the tree all decorated, even with a few presents under it already. I just love getting all the ornaments out and looking at them. They bring back so many memories for me. Some are from my Grammy who passed away 6 years ago. Others are from trips we've taken. I've made a few of them and bought a few that I really liked. Some are hand-made by the kids and others were gifts. Three years ago I started putting a special ornament for each of my kiddos in their stockings from Santa. They are always excited to put their special ornaments on the tree each year. I just love the hodge-podge of sentimental ornaments we have for our tree.

And a few more decorations in our living room and dining room.

The buffet in the dining room.

The chalkboard in our dining room that I need to change to a more Christmassy message.

I'm thinking of doing something similar to this on my chalkboard because the saying is so cute and exactly how I feel these days.

Printable found here.

And I can't forget the favorite decoration for the kids, (and husband) our Christmas Train. :-)

So that's a little peek at our decorations this year. We've decorated the outside as well, which I need to take a few pictures of. Maybe I'll do a little post on that soon.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Christmas Mini Session + Christmas Cards

Typically I just use our most recent family picture for our Christmas card every year, but this year I decided to go a different route and took some Christmas pictures of the kids. I also brought our dog Max along as well and I'm so glad I did.

My kids aren't the easiest to take pictures of. They are usually not interested in it at all and despise even the mention of getting their picture taken. I usually have to bribe them in some way, shape or form to get them to take a few pictures for me. This session was no different. Ha. I did get them out there though and they cooperated about as well as I expected. I did get some cute pictures, despite their not-so-enthusiastic attitudes. And thankfully, I was able to do a few head swaps to get the perfect picture for our Christmas Card this year. ;-) I just love the way it turned out. It was a gorgeous evening for late November. The temperature was in the 60's! Perfect for a quick Christmas Photo session.

I ended up using Walmart again for our cards this year. At $7.00 for a set of 20, you really can't beat that. I send out around 60 cards and the expense of cards plus stamps can be quite a bit. So I just always use Walmart. Plus they are done the same day so I don't have to wait for them to come in the mail.

And here are a few more that I really loved, but didn't make the Christmas Card 

This was my bribery for if they did good for the other shots... they could blow milk bubbles. ;-)

Monday, December 4, 2017

Family Pictures 2017

We've made it a bit of a tradition to take family pictures on Thanksgiving Day. This was our 3rd year and it was another success. With 6 kids in the mix now, its a bit more challenging, but I think they did pretty good all things considered. My uncle has taken our large family picture every year and then my sister takes my immediate family picture and I take the rest and then edit them all. It works out well. :-) So without further adieu, here they are.

We had a hard time getting Avery and Emerson to smile for this picture and Jackson has a bit of a goofy smile, but we call it a success that no one is crying and everyone is looking at the camera. Ha. With six kids ranging from 10 years old to 1 month old, you kind of just have to take what you can get.

My parents with the grandkids.

All 6 grandkids.
My parents.

 My family.

 Jackson and Avery.

 My sister and her family.
My sister's kids.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Five on Friday

Happy Friday!
Today I'm linking up with Christina, April and Natasha for Five on Friday!

Happy December!! I can't believe it's December already!

We got Avery's school picture back this week. I had asked her if how she smiled for her pictures before we got them back and this was the exact smile she showed me. She did so much better than last year when she didn't even look at the camera. She's getting so big!

We had a great Thanksgiving! The Saturday before we hosted Jake's family and then on Thanksgiving day we went to my Aunt and Uncles house for my side of the family. Both were wonderful. We are so very Thankful for all of God's many blessings.

Smith/Testrake Family Thanksgiving

Lambert/Beaty/Stoffel Thanksgiving

Friday evening, after taking the kids Christmas Pictures for our Christmas Card (post on this later), I took the kids by the Teddy Bear Christmas Land house to see if the lights were on yet and they were!! We got out and walked around a little bit. This house in in our town and the man decorates it every year for Christmas. I can't imagine how much time and work goes into it. He does a wonderful job!

This past Saturday evening, we took the kids to Six Flags for Holiday in the Park. It was SO much fun!! We had a great time. We rode rides, watched a couple of shows and we saw Santa. Plus there were so many pretty lights to see, Christmas music playing and carolers. I definitely recommend it if you live near a Six Flags. The Majesty of Christmas show is a must-see. It's the true story of Christmas with live animals!

After weeks of planning and preparation, we got a majority of our Christmas shopping done last week. With all the black Friday sales, we were able to get some great deals and did almost all of our shopping online. We also got the lights hung outside thanks to great weather and I have the inside all decorated, minus the tree that we plan to get tomorrow. I even have gotten our Christmas cards done, and they're going out in the mail today! I'm so happy to have so much done already (which is totally not like me at all.) I'm usually still doing last minute shopping the week of Christmas. Ha!

Have a great weekend!