Just a few pictures of Christmas at the Brock’s house!
We had a blast, even if Caidoc did wake up with diaherra at 1 am Christmas day and tore apart everything in his stocking in the dark before deciding to come tell us that “St. Nick had come!” . No, seriously, it wasn’t as bad as it sounds, the kids were so grateful and got a couple things each and we had a lovely day relaxing 🙂 Also, I got my very first sewing machine! I’m so excited!
Zelie has been not eating well and coughing like crazy and Caidoc has been having weird bowel movements. I suspected something worse than a cold, and sure enough, both kids threw up today. Heeellloooo stomach flu. I’m just grateful they were able to enjoy Christmas and their gifts for awhile before they became like this..
I hope your Christmas ended on a better note! Cheers!
Here it is! I hinted that this Christmas event would get its own post. Ta-da! (So, technically it’s called the “Santa Train” but since our kids know Santa as Saint Nicholas, we will leave it at that to limit confusion.)
Earlier this year we decided to do this very fun family excursion and ride the St. Nicholas train that runs in late Nov-mid Dec. in Snoqualmie. We decided this year was the best year for the train trip, it’s short enough for the littles to not get cabin fever, Caidoc is very into trains, and this is the last year Zelie is free of charge.
BEST DECISION EVER. The kids loved it and even got to meet Saint Nicholas and get a present from him, and have cookies and cocoa in an old box car. The “Santa” we met was great with the kids and was very respectful of their shyness. We are not the kind of people to put our kids on a strangers lap if they don’t want to and this Santa didn’t mind one bit. He could understand Caidoc’s very quiet voice and even knew who “Dusty Crophopper” was and didn’t go on about asking if Caidoc was “naughty or nice” . This impressed me no end. It was a short and sweet visit which was perfect for Caidoc and Zelie. *Unfortunately, our pictures didn’t turnout well, they were taken with our phones quickly*
The train is very old and runs slowly, which made me feel like I was in the 1920s, staring out the window at the landscape on my way to the country side to see relatives on holiday (yes, some quick daydreaming happened 😜). Both kids loved that there were no buckles and they could peek out the windows easily. It didn’t rain much thank heavens, but boy, it was freezing. No, literally, it snowed in Snoqualmie the next day!
We caught a train on the very last day, and I have to say if you are considering it, book early. It’s very, very popular. I’d also say don’t do it if you just want to meet Santa, the highlight of the whole experience is definitely the train ride so if your kiddos aren’t into trains it might not be worth the money and time. For us though, with a little engineer in the making, and a little lady who loves to make very loud train sounds, it was so very fun.
Whew, the holiday season is always so busy, right? I’m finally getting a breath to post a quick little look at our holiday traditions. I always have to remind myself not to take on too many different traditions during this season, despite how fun it may seem to do them all! This year I’ve probably done a little too much, but so far so good :)! Before I explain all the traditions we do it’s helpful to know that we are Byzantine Catholic, and practice “advent” a little differently. That being said, we incorporate many secular traditions as well, such as the idea of Santa Claus, although we call him “St. Nicholas”. We also decided to start incorporating some Roman Catholic traditions as well, this is the rite of Catholicism that most people are familiar with. What can I say? We like to be well rounded 🙂
So, without further ado, here are our Christmas traditions!
I know many people who have a problem with this tradition. It seems so silly to me for people to the elf idea is “creepy” or “mean”. The idea behind this little guy is that he or she is one of Santa’s “helpers” who comes to visit once a year to report on your behavior to Santa. You can read more about the traditional concept of it in the link above. Now, I guess I can see how some people might think it’s “creepy” to tell your kids that this elf watches you all day, “so you better be good!” but really, I don’t see how that’s any different than telling your kids they will get coal if they are naughty, or that there is a “naughty and nice list”, or even just plain having to nag them yourselves (hey, having the elf help reenforce good behavior only seems helpful, but that’s just me). The elf always seems to get such a bad rap, but this past year a story was circulating about parents who made their kids dinosaurs “come to life” and it was praised all over the internet, I don’t think I saw one bad article written about it. Kids don’t think about things like this like we do. We instantly see the elf as “creepy” because a doll is watching you, but I think kids really just see it as magical–a part of Christmas coming alive? How cool is that? Who DIDN’T pretend their toys came alive as a child? The elf can be what you make I think, if you think the elf is creepy, chances are your kids will think so too. *Did I rant enough? 😉 *
Chris and I love the elf tradition, except we don’t really talk about how the elf is “watching” the kids, we just have him show up to “say hi from St. Nicholas” and do silly, fun things or be an example of good behavior. The kids love it, we love planning out what the elf will do next, and I think it helps us get into the light heartedness of Christmas. Chris in particular likes to plan out the elf antics, he recently had the elf TP the tree! I think the elf tradition has the opportunity to foster the suspension of belief in children and, much like fairy tales, it gives them the chance to believe in the unbelievable (like, ahem, a thousand year old man flying around the world at night with reindeer delivering presents, ahem). We love to foster imagination around here and I think this elf helps us do that.
Although we’ve been doing this since Caidoc’s first Christmas, he really understood the concept this year and named our elf Otto. Both kids love to run around and find Otto in the morning. They know they “can’t touch him or his magic goes away” but of course, we don’t pretend that thats easy for them so Otto is always out of reach.
2. Christmas Tree
We cut down our tree for the first time this year! Usually we just go get it from a store or a lot. It was a super fun experience to DIY it 😉 We will probably do it again. Since we got married Chris and I make the tree decoration experience a little more relaxed (it can be stressful with toddlers, as so many know) so we make mimosas while we decorate! We also cut a thin round from the bottom of the trunk mark it, and use it as an ornament, we’ve remembered every year except our first Christmas 🙁 . We will do this year once the tree is taken down.
3. Jesse Tree
The Jesse Tree is a Roman Catholic tradition, a way of commemorating each week in Advent. Now, this is my first year doing this by myself, I’m pretty sure I didn’t do it right, haha! But thats okay, I’ll figure it out! My goal was to have this part of our daily school, it’s been working well so far, even if things might be a tad out of order. Caidoc likes to color the daily ornament while I read the Bible passage that goes along with it. This tradition has really helped me incorporate the Bible in our daily routine. Isn’t that the cutest little tree? Husband made it with old pallets!
4. Advent Calendar
I made an advent calendar for Caidoc’s first Christmas. It is not exactly religious based, though I do use it in partner with the Jesse Tree and our wooden nativity set. It starts on December 1st, and concludes on Christmas morning. Each pocket has a ornament for the Jesse Tree, a Christmas carol, and a good deed. Every couple pockets has a piece of the the nativity set to be put in the stable. The good deeds are new to us this year since Caidoc is old enough to get a grasp on them.
5. Light Service
See the wooden star with the candles in the middle of the table? That is the Byzantine “advent wreath”. The preparation for the birth of Christ in the Byzantine rite is longer than the Roman rite, hence the extra candles. I FINALLY got the whole star together is year, I’ve been missing the wooden candle cups and have been searching for them, I finally gave up and took off the ones we had and replaced them with brass ones. The little read booklet is the evening Light Service that is said at dinner. A candle is lit each week in . We prefer this tradition over the Roman rite advent wreath. If you’re curious about this tradition you can read more here. I’d try and explain it but I’m sure I’d botch it ;). Do you like those candle that are a little wonky? Haha! I think it was hot in the attic this year, eh?
6. Lights, Parades, and More
We always do at least one Christmas light drive every year. Chris and I have been doing this since before we were married (because we both grew up doing it). In fact, our first Christmas on break from college we went on a very snowy Christmas light drive and Chris says that is when he first realized he wanted to marry me. Christmas light drives are super special to us, even if they are a bit louder and much shorter these days ;).
I love Christmas lights. The glow, the twinkle, it’s the best! We decorated the outside of the house for the first time, it was so fun, even with all the martial enrichment that went on ;). I always put lights in the kids rooms too since I have very fond memories of the growing up with lights in my room.
We also love the Snowflake Lane parade. It was so much fun this year, but almost impossible to get good pictures, so I don’t have any here 🙁 . This year we are also going to go on the Santa Train for the first time! YAY! This is not the most economical option but we cut out a couple things this year in order to go. This seemed like the best year since Z will still be free and Caidoc loves trains (and planes..and trucks…etc!). We are really hoping for snow since we haven’t seen much snow yet this year, its more likely with the train ride being in the mountains. I will probably do a separate post for that adventure so keep your eyes peeled!
We attend the tree lighting in our neighbor town this year again and the kids love it. There is free popcorn and hot cocoa and they can run around with their friends. Uncle G came with us this year which made it extra special.
New this year is a hardware store workshop for the kids. We are going to build a Christmas train so I’m pretty excited for that since its a craft that I don’t have to prepare! I HAVE prepared several crafts for the kids but those mostly went to being *shh* gifts, so no photos! We did make a gingerbread house, the kids didn’t even try and eat the candy and did almost all of it by themselves!
I’m doing a new memento ornament this year, I’ll see how it goes but so far I like it. Im going to put little scraps of things we did this Christmas in a plastic ornament. I have several of these so far but they are yearly pictures (which I need to still update to do this years and last years…eek!).
Of course we decorate around the house a little. I’m not a huge fan of lots of decorations, I know, what a grinch ;). I guess I just can’t stand all the extra clutter. With presents and wrapping paper and the tree all lying around, more decorations just feels so stifling. But here is what I do have up..
8. Christmas Eve Box
I’m so excited for this tradition to start this year. Now, if you scope out Christmas Eve boxes on Pinterest you will see some awesome stuff! Ours are not that elaborate. I am starting this tradition because I like the idea that after we come from from Christmas Eve mass, we have a little family down time. The kids are getting pjs, some healthy snacks, hot coco, and one of their Christmas movies in theirs. I’m making them for Chris and I as well, I don’t want to post what’s in ours since it’s a surprise for him, *hint* it’s similar just more “adult” beverages 😉
Wow, where to start with this one?! I’ll keep it short, we all know I can talk about food all day long. I do a Christmas Eve meal before church that is simple, which is part of the Byzantine tradition. For that meal I’m attempting to make pierogi for the first time! Ill have some other small dishes too. Christmas morning I have cinnamon rolls and juice for the kids and a fancy morning cocktail for Chris and I. Christmas dinner I go all out! This year I’m doing bacon wrapped pistachio stuffed dates, honey baked ham, scalloped potatoes, blanched asparagus, baked brie, and (I’m going to attempt) mini soufflés. I’m very excited to pull out all my china and silver and decorate the table. It’s one of my favorite Christmas traditions.
Okay all, I think that is it for this year! I hope you your Christmas season is merry and bright. Cheers!