Jolly Days

We had a fun Christmas season but was sad to see it go by so quickly! This calendar year there was one less week between Thanksgiving and Christmas and that made it feel like everything was a big rush, with activities and outings happening one right on top of the other! But oh well!! We made do with the craziness and ended up enjoying the Christmas season and making some fun memories.

I almost died from shock when Jon didn't even argue about us getting a real Christmas tree, and a big one at that, and putting our smaller artificial tree in our dining room. Two trees! A few years ago, that never would've happened! So we took off to Millbrook Tree Farm and chopped down our Christmas tree. 
 The kids guarding our tree while Daddy went back to get the saw we forgot to carry along with us. 
 Mekonen wants to be just like Daddy...doing everything Daddy does. Some day when he's big enough, I'm sure Jon will gladly let him chop down the tree and drag it around. 
 Our tree was so big it took three people to get it through the netting. The Castro family would be so proud, seeing as though the only true, real, and acceptable Castro family Christmas tree is one too big to actually fit in the living room.
 My friends and I joke about how guys can be Scrooges during Christmas time. The only acceptable excuse is that they do get the worst Christmas jobs like chopping the tree down, setting it up, putting the lights on, and paying for all the presents. But oh well! Such is life! Jonny boy was not a Scrooge this year! Santa would be so proud. 
 An early Christmas gift- Ethiopian soccer jersey from a friend who recently traveled to Ethiopia. He's so handsome. 
 And of course, Evie had to get her picture by the tree, in a Santa hat, just like her brother. Cutie.
 In all seriousness, she calls them "Christmas socks." Oh, love her! 

The Jesse Tree is an annual tradition we do with our kids. The Jesse Tree represents the family tree, or genealogy of Jesus. It tells the story of God's salvation plan, beginning with creation and continuing through the Old Testament, to the birth of the Messiah. The name comes from Isaiah 11:1, "Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit." 

This year, some friends and I did a Jesse Tree Christmas ornament exchange. Each person was assigned two ornaments that you made however you wanted to go along with the Advent story for your day. You made 12 of them (12 people came) and exchanged! So you left the party with all the ornaments needed to complete the Jesse Tree Advent. We had so much fun! 
 First night of the Jesse Tree. The little tree in the background behind Evie was used for our Jesse Tree. 
Jesse Tree
Every year we head to the Children's Museum to do all the Christmas activities and see Santa. I'm super surprised Evie didn't run or cry. They both look so old. We often get asked what we choose to do about Santa Claus with our kids. Here's the post I put up last year about it.
Even though the season seemed rushed, we manage to squeeze in some favorite crafts and desserts. We made salt dough Christmas ornaments and our favorite sugar cookies. It's my Mom's recipe and I have yet to find a better sugar cookie! Even ones from the bakery. I think Baby Oren enjoyed WAY too many cookies this year. 

Salt dough ornaments (and a super cute pony-tail on that baby girl).
 Sugar cookies and the proof that kids refine us. The thought of sugar cookies from scratch, rolling them out, and flour being a large part of this endeavor makes my love of order and cleanliness go hay-wire! You should see my floor. Evie ended up just crumbling the dough everywhere! Luckily, our dog seems to like cookie dough.
 She calls gingerbread men, "Ninja-breads."
One of our Christmas crafts. Here is Evie's nativity scene. Things got a little wild and crazy that night in Bethlehem. Several years ago, I would've nicely insisted they go on the "right way" but kids have a way of pushing you along in the OCD world. And besides, it's just cute. Oh, and according to Evie, "baby Jesus sleeps in a nest!"(And there was no convincing her otherwise)! 

Mekonen's nativity scene. 
Every year we go on a family date downtown- out to dinner and a ride on a horse-drawn carriage. This year, Baby Oren requested pasta so we went to The Old Spaghetti Factory.  

 Evie was beside herself because our carriage looked like Cinderella's carriage. Hehe.

Checking out the horse!

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