Saturday, December 24, 2011

Countdown to Christmas Fun!

Along with our Jesse Tree Ornaments to facilitate a season of worship, I wanted to be more intentional with our time and effort to enjoy some fun activities during the holiday season. I always think I'm going to do fun, Christmasy-things with the kids, and then "life happens" and I get tied up with other distractions, and before you know it it's New Year's Eve and we haven't done a single "fun" thing as a family all month!

Which is why I really loved this Countdown to Christmas idea from Life As Mom and wanted to add it to our December fun! It's strategic, intentional, and flexible enough to incorporate our own family activities leading up to Christmas Day. And yes - I originally thought we'd do something EACH day, but that just isn't realistic : )  So sans a few days from our little "hospital hiccup" with AJ and a few other conflicts, we actually managed to squeak in some holiday fun this month!

Here's a recap from the Utecht Family December Fun!

 Hayrack ride while at the Hazen Walk Around - had to do this one twice!

 The kids watching Charlie Brown's Christmas for the first time! (I think they liked it.)

 Ellie and I enjoying our mocha and smoothie while taking in the shops and sights at the Beulah Walk Around.

And just to mix things up a bit, let's have an appendix removed! Ohhh - but the good that came from this ... adjusting expectations, learning how to show compassion, growing a heart of gratitude for her health, and learning to be a gracious recipient of others taking care of our family during this time. 

 We wanted to keep focusing on the needs of others through providing a gift through a gift tree.

 The girls loved stringing popcorn and cranberry garland (especially Ellie)!

Draw a picture of a Christmas scene ... 

Tickets to the Utecht Express! We got PJs on, got bundled up, and went driving around to see Christmas lights in Beulah.  Print your tickets from the Confessions of a Homeschooler website here -->  Express Tickets!

 The conductor punching the kids' cards as they entered the "Utecht Express". 

Ellie got to attend a birthday party for Jesus at a friend's house (no pic). As the "gift" they gave Jesus, the kids pooled their offering together and then selected an animal to buy through the Heifer Project for a community in a third-world country. Great idea, Wolsties!

 Suncatcher ornaments

 Making goodie gift bags for our teachers and service workers. 

 Ben delivering his goody gift bag to truly one of his favorite people - (Sunday School teacher) Mrs. Nelsen! Oooohhh how we love Mrs. Nelsen!

The kids participated in the annual Christmas program at IBC. Abbie was an angel, Ellie was a sheep, and Ben got to play instruments with his toddler-class (led by Mrs. Nelsen, of course!). 

We attended the Knife River Christmas Chorale concert (no pic), and thoroughly enjoyed a full choir and orchestra performing some of our favorite Christmas hymns and carols!

Family outing to Bismarck to see Santa and finish some shopping. Gotta stop at Barnes & Noble for a smoothie and time in the Children's department :) 

 The girls are practicing to sing "Happy Birthday Jesus" on Christmas morning with their friends Carter, Daiton, and Owen. 

 Making Christmas tree felt ornaments. 

 Some baking fun with the kids ... an interesting process with multiple hands involved!
Reading "Twas the Night Before Christmas" before bedtime...

When you ask Ben "where's Christmas?" he points to our Christmas tree and says, "Underneath." He cracks us up ... obviously we have some work to do on that thinking, but it's pretty cute for now.

Just putting this blog post together makes me smile from looking at all the pictures and recalling the fun memories we created this month. While our church family and friends here in Beulah are so good to us and make us feel so loved, we still miss being in Iowa and Nebraska with our extended families at Christmastime. These Christmas Countdown activities brought back some sweet childhood memories of our own, and added a few activities as new traditions with our own kids, not to mention how it slowed us down a bit in the rush of the holiday season to spend quality time together, and enjoy some good ole smiles and giggles together!  I hope you all will consider using this "countdown" activity in years to come :)

Merry Christmas from the Utechts to you all!

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