2016 ChristSMITH

This holiday season came and went so super fast! (That seems to happen every year.) While there was lots of hustle and bustle of travel, gift buying, parties, and baking, we were able to find time for lots of simple moments with the boys. They really enjoyed listening to Christmas music (and haven’t stopped singing holidays songs yet), finding our Elf “Pixie” every day, and seeing what Advent Calendar activity we would do each day. We try to fill our calendar with a mix of fun moments for the boys and activities that will help them learn to enjoy the spirit of giving. Here are some of the highlights and special moments from this past month…

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Delivering presents to our trash collectors!

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Mommy/Brady day date

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Gato doesn’t understand the Elf on the Shelf craze either.

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#NotAmused

 

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We said goodbye to our sweet boy Albert on December 1. Christmas just wasn’t the same without him this year.

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Thank you to my sweet friend Lindsay for sending us this adorable ornament to help us honor our fur-baby.

 

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Shopping day to buy gifts for our teachers

 

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Decorating Christmas cookies at Aunt Claudia’s house

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Nolan’s Christmas program at school. He was a big ol’ bundle of nerves but he conquered his stage fright and gave the cutest performance!

 

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One of our boys’ favorite things to do during the holidays is put money in the Salvation Army bucket.

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We always take turns taking each kiddo to buy presents for their brother and mommy and daddy. On this occasion Brady insisted on buying me this fancy red polish.

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Christmas movies! Our favorites this year were Elf on the Shelf and Rudolph.

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Chris surprised us by buying an inflatable hot tub for our patio. We have all enjoyed it this month!

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North Florida has perfect fire pit weather in December! Lots of S’Mores were eaten.

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Our Gator tree which Nolan claimed as his own.

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I got to volunteer in Brady’s class a lot recently and Chris even got to spend the afternoon doing Winter Crafts with his class one day.

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Date night checking out the Nights of Lights in St. Augustine. I am a SUCKER for Palm Trees with Christmas lights!

Christmas Eve…

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Sweet boys before the Christmas tree pose turned into a wrestling match

Christmas Day…

 

 

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Christmas day selfie with my big boy!

 

 

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Poor kiddo passed out before Christmas dinner and missed the whole thing.

 

 

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Intense Lego building with Grandpa on Christmas night.

Christmas vacation trip to LEGOLAND…

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Our boys surprise Christmas present- LEGOLAND Passes!

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Brady loved the Lego city- especially the space shuttle.

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With Brady on the Sky High ride.

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Nolan loved the Duplo train ride!

New Years Eve…

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Fishing in our neighbor’s backyard

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In awe of sparklers!

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Making homemade pasta with daddy!

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Saying goodbye to 2016 the right way!

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Toasting to the Netflix ball drop countdown.

 

I can’t imagine anything better than experiencing the holidays with a 3 and 5 year old. Seeing Christmas through their eyes was so special and nothing short of magical. We are certainly blessed in many ways and look forward to what adventures 2017 will bring our family. Happy New Year!

‘Tis the Season!

We’re loving the Christmas season around here. The Smiths are the type of people who listen to Christmas carols a little too much, decorate way too early, and head to the mall in the peak of crowds. We love spoiling our kids this time of year, but we’ve made a conscious effort to teach our boys the joy of giving. I’m not gonna lie-it’s a little tricky when so much focus is given towards, “what are you going to ask Santa for?” and “how many days until you get to open your presents?” Our hope is that they will learn that giving and doing for others can bring as much enjoyment as receiving gifts some day. After all, there’s nothing quite like putting a smile on someone’s face to make your heart happy.

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Like this charitable act. “Put your heads in those things so mommy and daddy can get a good laugh!”

 

Since the boys are only 2 and 4, it takes a little creativity to think of ways to get them involved in the act of giving or doing for others. Here’s some of the ways we tried to get them in the “giving” spirit this year…

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We donated money to the Salvation Army red kettles.

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We made cards and artwork for our friends who donated money to our St. Jude fundraiser for sick children.

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They delivered cards to all the kids in their class.

 

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They picked out and purchased a toy for the Toys for Tots bin.

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They each went shopping for a Christmas present for their brother. (Dollar Store finds- gotta love ’em!)

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They went shopping for presents for Albert and Gato.

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We made cards for the mailman and trash collectors.

 

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The mailman’s surprise.

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The trash collector’s gift and card.

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We brought a small gift for each of their teachers. (Contemplated the ol’ alcoholic gift for Nolan’s teacher. Bless her patient heart.)

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They gave a small treat to each of their classmates.

And probably the biggest sacrifice this Christmas season was cleaning out their old “baby toys” and donating them to a local ministry thrift shop. This was the toughest part for Nolan- he insisted that those were HIS toys. He had a hard time letting go (but was more willing once he realized that made more room for new toys!) We also gave away all of their clothes that they outgrew recently and donated food to a food bank- thankfully that was done with a more generous heart. It was so touching to hear Brady’s thoughts about how much he cared that other children might not have all of the things that he has. Kids can be amazingly empathetic.

I hope this is the start of raising children who have a love of doing things for others. While I still fully intend on taking part in all the sparkly, indulgent, over-the-top Christmas traditions, maybe, just maybe, it will be done with a charitable mindset that rubs off on our kids!

Merry ChristSMITH! {December Shenanigans}

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December has been a quick and busy month. We kicked it off with some Christmas decorating and tree trimming. Our tree this year was less than stellar, but it got the job done. While we didn’t put out all of our ornaments or decorations because of our impending move, we did just enough to make it feel festive. Plus, it just doesn’t feel like Christmas without a tree filling the house with that awesome smell and glowing lights!

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We had a 9 day trip to Savannah and then Daytona (Chris went to Clearwater for a work trip) in the beginning of December. It seemed like a good idea (before we got our December 26 closing date). Even though it was right in the middle of Christmas season and our big move, we had some nice visiting time with my dad and step-mom and then my mom and Grandma in Daytona. The kids loved all the time with their grandparents.

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One of my favorite memories from last December was our advent calendar. Each day was filled with a fun activity or treat to experience with Brady. This year we did something similar, but we wanted the focus to be more on the act of giving and doing for others (with some fun stuff for the boys mixed in.) Here’s some of our activities we did…

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Making cards and giving candy to the kids in Brady’s class.

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Surprising the boys with their train track around the tree one morning.

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Donating a gift for Toys 4 Tots.

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Eating treats and watching a Christmas movie.

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Visiting with our elderly neighbors and bringing them a Christmas present.

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Picking out Christmas presents for Albert and Gato.

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Getting Peppermint Chocolate Chip milkshakes from Chick-fil-A (mommy’s favorite tradition!)

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Making Candy Cane Brownies for our neighbors.

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Christmas presents for the trash collectors (Brady’s most favorite activity!!)

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Breakfast for Dinner!

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Baking cookies for Santa (frosting/sprinkles for Brady and Nolan!)

Some of our other activities included cleaning out our old toys and giving them away, putting a surprise present in the mailbox for the mailman, looking at Christmas lights, and surprising Brady’s teacher with her favorite coffee one day. I hope these are traditions we continue as it was such a joy watching the boys experience the act of giving and getting to spoil them a little along the way.

While much of the month was consumed with thoughts of our new house and tons of to-do lists, we appreciated any small moments where we got to slow down and enjoy Christmas, our boys, and our new hometown. I loved getting an afternoon to myself to do some exploring and shopping downtown.

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Nothing like walking around downtown on a chilly day! (especially if you have hot coffee in hand, like I did!)

I also loved baking cupcakes and getting to go to Brady’s class celebration for Jesus’s birthday.

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How cute are these kiddos?!

But, admittedly, lots of adult beverages were consumed after bedtime this month to help keep our sanity.

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Even though adding a big trip and a big move to an already busy month at times made us a little, cray cray…

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We are abundantly aware of the many, many blessings God has bestowed upon us. We are constantly in awe of all that He has provided for us and give thanks for the good, the bad, and the crazy every day!

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We spent our Christmas with Grandpa and Nana, opening gifts, eating, and getting ready for our big move.

We hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and will have a blessed 2015!