Come right in! Let's take a look around!
Our large round table has had a new centerpiece for Christmas, some things that we found locally. In the background is my "Jesus" plate that I found last year in the capital city, it has "Jesus" in the center and "shepherd mary wise man joseph manger angel peace" etc. around its rim. I love it and use it for serving. Or maybe you're feeling a bit hungry and need a little snack? Here's the table all decked out for a party we hosted recently.
Let's move over a bit into the living area. New this year are some stockings I found in a the capital city...don't you love these jewel tones? They were chosen based on their style and color to fit members of our family. John's is a masculine green and red. Mine is a lovely deep red with sparkly snowflakes. Clara Anne's is purple satin with gold trimming, suits her to a T. Chloe's is a beautiful deep blue, just like her eyes, with little sparkles here and there. Christin's is a plush red velvet with a velvet rose at the top of the stocking. They were really fun to fill and watch the girls open! (Note to self: the girls love small gifts! And if the gifts are in the stocking, they don't have to be wrapped! Everyone wins!)
Here's a closeup of the nativity set which we bought in Hong Kong on a trip in 2002. It was carved by an Asian minority group, and all of the features of the people are Asian, wearing Asian traditional dress, etc. We love it. One of my friends in town gave me the framed cross-stitch above; it means "Immanuel" in the local language. What a precious gift! (P.S. Look carefully and you will see two "interlopers"--small figurines that came from central Asia. They were a gift from friends who had been there and we decided it was fitting to have them join in the nativity.)
Our small tree sits in the picture window, where it can twinkle and glow out onto all of our neighbors. We did not bring any sentimental ornaments from the States, so all of these are either crafts that the girls made or simply decorative ornaments bought locally. The poinsettias are not real, either, but they add some wonderful Christmas cheer!
The girls really enjoyed doing this Advent calendar this year. I'm sorry this picture ended up rather small, but you can get the idea. It is cross-stitched, and the pieces for each day are stitched onto special plastic that can be cut out. The girls thought it was great fun to close their eyes to choose a new piece each day--but we save the piece with Mary and the baby for the last day. It's a beautiful calendar! I borrowed the pattern for this from a friend the Christmas that Clara Anne was born, and had it completed by a local cross-stitch shop. So fun to see the girls enjoy it more this year! Chloe reminded me every day at breakfast that it was time to do the advent calendar!
This little foam craft was new to us this year. John spent a few hours with a hot glue gun putting it together; each little piece required much assembly and then the frame had to be put together, as well as with velcro on each individual piece. Also a fun way to count down until Christmas! A piece each day meant we ended on Christmas Eve.
Here's a larger view of the top of the piano, with nativity set, lights, and candles:
And finally, our Jesse tree. This formed the core of our family devotions for the last month, we began on November 30th retelling the story of the Bible from creation until Jesus' birth. This year we used a book called "His Glorious Coming" by Ann Voskamp for our Scripture readings. (Fyi, her poetic style of writing the meditations wasn't as helpful for our kids, so usually John read the Scripture and then explained the text himself and asked the girls questions for comprehension.) The book came with beautifully illustrated "ornaments" that John laboriously cut out, laminated with packing tape, and trimmed with ribbon so that we could hang them on a small tree. (John also completed that project the weekend I was sick!) You could also put a poster up on the wall and hang the ornaments that way. Here's Chloe putting on the Christmas Eve ornament:
I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of our home at Christmastime! I realize now that I forgot to take a picture of the girls' wooden nativity set that they play with, as well as Christin's felt nativity which was a gift this year from Grandpa and Grandma, but that'll have to wait until next year. The decorations won't last much longer--probably by the end of this week we'll take them down. But for a few more days, it's still Christmas at our home! Thanks for stopping by for a visit!