On Christmas Eve, it was time to celebrate with our Brinker family!! Kurt and Mandy would be coming in a few days to play, so here are some pictures of what we did in the meantime!
The screams and squeals coming from the swing were awesome!! ;))
Don't be fooled by the summer attire.. it was just 80 degrees on Christmas Eve, ha!!
I wanted to plan a whole Christmas experience for the kids.. an adventure that focused on Christ and emphasized the importance of this day. The teacher in me wanted to have activities that would really bring the Christmas story to life. Along with the traditional Scriptures that share the story of Jesus's birth, I wanted to find something that would be a new and fresh telling of it for them, something fun and simple and childlike.
I began the search for the most perfect book to read to the kids.. And the neatest thing happened. I planned out a pilgrimage to Bethlehem... and a night of gingerbread house making. Both sounded like so much fun and sweet memories for the kids, but how would I ever connect the two?! And then God sent me this: Mortimer's Christmas Manger.
After looking through lots of books, I checked a few out at the library. When I got home, this was the first one I read.. and I got goose bumps and started screaming!! It was the perfect Christmas book for us this year.. the story of a mouse who moves into a nativity scene, taking Jesus out of the manger and putting himself into it. He continues this every day until he hears the family reading Luke 2 and understands that he is living in the stable, the birthplace of the Son of God. Mortimer removes himself out of the manger and puts Jesus back where He belongs. On his way out of the nativity, he prays that God would send him a nice, warm place like the stable.. and he sees the GINGERBREAD HOUSE, which is ultimately, the most perfect home for him.
Why do we think any detail would be unimportant to God?? Why do we not bring everything to Him in prayer, even the search for the most perfect Christmas book?! God shows His goodness in even the most simplistic of ways and I am building this alter to Him now so that I don't forget how only He could have done this!! Lord, I just love You! Thank You for caring about the little things.
So there you have it. The connection between my two ideas brought together in one small book and all the glory and praise going to the Father.. Christmas experience, indeed!!
After reading about Jesus's birth from the Bible and from this children's book, the kids got dressed up for their pilgrimage to find the new baby Jesus!
Here we are, travelling by foot to Bethlehem!
Innkeeper! Innkeeper! Open up!!
(Anybody else see Wade's face in there?! Haha!!)
(Anybody else see Wade's face in there?! Haha!!)
Innkeeper, we have a question to ask you!! Where are Mary and Joseph?! She just had a baby!!
Innkeeper of my dreams. :)))
The innkeeper said, "You know, there was a man and woman who came through here.. She looked like she was about to have a baby. Come! I'll show you where they are!!"
Heading to the stable on a donkey named Ford. ;))
Our adorable shepherds:
Our innkeeper with the Cajun accent. ;)
Sadie, Savannah, and Rylie, all keeping watch for that stable!!
We knew we were close when we heard the cattle lowing..
WE FOUND THEM!!!!
Mary and Joseph and the new Baby Jesus!!
Everyone, come and see the newborn King!!!
....and then pass him around. Hahaha!!
Cutest Mary and Joseph everrrrr.
Our family took a trip to Bethlehem this Christmas and held the very reason for the season in their arms. Well.. at least a representation of Him, anyway.
We loved hearing the moo of the cows as everyone snuggled the new baby..
Thank you, Hezzy, Jase, and Wadie, for being such good sports! You played such an important role in highlighting Jesus's birth for us this Christmas!
What should you do when the King of Kings has been born?! Throw him a birthday party, of course!! (Sadly, we only had one P in Happy.. but that's okay! We gave Him all we had! Haha!!)
Such a sweet moment as we sang Happy Birthday to Jesus!!
AND Happy Birthday to SAMUEL!!!! He would be turning ONE the very next day.. how is that even possible?! He is such a special boy to share a birthday with our Savior!!
My bear bear and me.
After cake, we went back to Jenny's and got ready for dinner, ha!! Here is Wade, carving up a most delicious turkey!
After dinner, we turned around when Heather started screaming..
which made Kate SOB, hahaa!
Sneaky little Grant had gotten into Hezzy's chocolate tart!!!!!
GRRRRANT!!!!!! Hezzy had spent so much time and effort on that tart, and she was so sad that it was no longer perfect!!
Grant was repentant, alright..
Repentant that he hadn't gotten more cake before he was caught!
Pooooor Hezzy. It was still so delicious even with the wet spoon marks.
Our baby birthday boy!! With 4 teeth, 2 baby blues, and hair that gets lighter everyday, he is such a precious baby. He loves being the center of attention, but doesn't mind having two brothers and one sister steal it from him, either. He is used to be pushed, pulled, and carried all over the house and although they can be rough, his siblings absolutely adore him. We are currently in the battle of the bottle.. he does NOT like them. I'm thankful to have nursed him a year, but I'm excited for the new phase that being one brings. He is happy, sweet, and adorable and I'm so thankful he is ours.
Happy Birthday, my little Samuel Wade!
Or, as Daddy calls you, our little Sammy Jenkins. ;)
Jen was so happy that Sadie found this cat and brought her inside... hahaha!! NOT.
Now this, this is EPIC.
Rylie had to finish her plate, because that's important to us Brinkers.
She didn't love Grammie's cranberry jello salad, but the rule is you have to eat a little of everything.. however, instead of struggling through it, Heather decided it was high time to show Rylie how to get it down.
Typical aunt advice right here:
Now, Rylie, let me show you a trick. If you don't like something...
"...hold your nose!! Pinch it tight!!"
"Swallow it... and you don't taste a thing!! And then it's all gone!!" Rylie's life has henceforth forever been changed. Thanks, Aunt Hezzy!!! :)))
Pretty Jenny was waiting by the tree, ready to play Buzzword!!
Because board games are what we do best. ;))
The girls with our favorite DAD!!!!!!
Grammie and Pops had bought the kids a few things.. and Andrew kept asking, "Is it time to open presents yet?!"
We got together with our families and it was finally time to open!!
Everyone got a tether ball!! Pops and Grammie are going to make a tether ball stand for all of us to have!! Remember TETHER BALL at elementary school?! Oh my gosh, so much fuuuun!
After presents, Pops read the Christmas story to us all..
And it's always one of my most favorite parts of Christmas!
And this is one of my new favorite things that I am making become tradition:
A CHRISTMAS DANCE PARTY!!!!!!!
Growing up, Mom would record the Christmas music on the radio onto cassette tapes. We could put them in at any time and listen to Christmas music.. and our family song is, "We Need A Little Christmas Now!" For as long as I can remember, we would drop whatever we were doing and race to the kitchen as soon as that song was on!! We even have a family dance for it!!!
Clasping hands, we heel-toe-heel-toe'd it around the living room:
Teaching our next generation how to do our dance:
Heel, toe, heel, toe, slide, slide, slide!
Heel, toe, heel, toe, slide, slide, slide!!
Clap once, clap twice, clap together, clap your knees!
After such a wonderful jam session, we couldn't stop!! We kept the dancing going!
Except for Samuel, who was more interested in playing with Pops's glasses.
The cutie Kees' in all their red!
Mom's adorable cheer routine from college!!
Working up a sweat from all the dancing around.. which is the BEST.
Somehow, we made the transition from Christmas songs to just fun songs... and that called for a little Justin Beiber's "Baby!" Hahaa!
Baby, baby, baby, ohhhhh!
Setting up the self-timer, because you know how I do..
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!!
Oh, and those gingerbread houses?? We waited for Kurt and Mandy to arrive to finish our Christmas adventure.. Those pictures are coming soon!
To give you the reason for our hope, our joy, our gladness in life, I leave you with Philippians 2:5-11.
This is the Christmas story, y'all!! Not just that our Savior was born, but that He was born and lived a perfect life in order to rescue us from our depravity! To provide a way for us to be made right before God! To take on the wrath of God for our sins and impute His righteousness to us!!
WE HAVE GOOD NEWS OF GREAT JOY!! Let's celebrate that truth everyday of our lives!!