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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Christmas Celebration

Christmas was a very full and fun one this year. My parents and Christopher and Hannah all enjoyed portions of Christmas Eve and Christmas day with us. Thinking back a year ago to last Christmas when I was in the midst of determining that my pregnancy was ectopic, I am so thankful to be here with my family, healthy and capable of cooking, hosting, shopping, wrapping, going to our Christmas Eve service without the worry of death...well, as long as you don't count the potential for being burned out of the sanctuary with the candles that everyone was holding. This may sound melodramatic but it is completely true!

Hanging his stocking just so.
Gifts wrapped, thanks, in part to my brother and Hannah. We still went to bed after midnight!
Stockings hung and filled.
After reading Luke 2, the kids ran down to see the horde. Yes, I felt a bit like the dwarves in The Hobbit once I saw all of it wrapped and under the tree.
Much of it was from various generous sweet family members. You made some children very very happy!

Corwin investigating the remains of Santa's snacking. Corwin helpfully finished it off.
Acting out the nativity events. 
Mary is a bit particular when it comes to the gifts, and Joseph seems to be really taken with the gold :)

I thought this was a great pic with his beard shirt.
Thank you Grandmama for the wonderful fairy dress! Rhianwen designed it and sent the drawing to Grandmama who then sewed it for her. 
Happy birthday dear Jesus!
We had fun delivering some hot fresh sticky buns to a few of our neighbors too. We also graced them with a Christmas carol. 

This year I have been struck by Christ being Emmanuel, God with us. I think of how I feel when I am faced with the challenge of being with people who have sin in their life, and how I either want to avoid it, or, if I can't avoid it, I get grumpy about having to figure out how to interact and live out love to them. It is tiring and takes much effort. Then I think how Christ willingly came down to each of us, who have so much sin, to love and save us...me. He wasn't grumpy, He didn't avoid it, He simply came and dwelt in it and does the same here and now with me. Despite my sin, God dwells within me, being and working and doing in me a work of sanctification. I am so so very thankful for this!

Alden opening his real bow and arrows. He's loving target practice. The arrows are rubber tipped.
Whenever anyone asked Corwin what he was getting for Christmas, he insisted he was getting a skateboard. So we decided not to disappoint him.
Giving Hannah and Christopher their gift. It's been so fun to have them here. 
Sock monkey popper for mom and dad.
This gift was actually so funny b/c I randomly came across it on Ebay and thought it would be a fun thing for mom and dad. I figured they could put it in the toy stash at their place for when the grandkids came if they didn't decide to have fun with it themselves. Well, then I opened the gift from my Aunt Sue, and she had gotten us the very same thing! Totally crazy.

And, yes, Pip got a little sumfing too. He was pretty possessive of it for the day.
Trying out his skateboard and ramp (that Wally made). 

The next day we left for Conway to see my Grandpa and his new wife, Jamie. We hadn't seen him in more than a year, so we were overdue for a visit! We also got to see Uncle Skipper, which was a treat. 

The kids enjoyed showing him their planes from Aunt Natalie and Uncle Robeson from Christmas, telling knock knock jokes, and singing their Cantata Christmas song. 
We really enjoyed meeting Jamie. She is so very sweet and lovely. Grandpa made a good choice :)
On the way home we saw a hot air balloon! Wally chased it down back country roads for a better view. 
2015 here we come!

December Smorgasbord

Getting ready to decorate and eating the first treat of the Christmas season: Oreos. (Yes, I momentarily forgot our fair trade dedication. Some things are so traditional it is hard to remember we don't do that anymore!).
Taking the decorating very seriously.

My kids LOVE decorating. They think each ornament is like a little treasure. I tend to agree!
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, fa la la la la, la la la la.
Filled that tree up. We have childhood ornaments plus an ornament each year for each of us. I LOVE a full tree. Just full of reminders of so many happy blessings.
Goofin' around the Christmas tree, have a happy holiday. Alden loved that song this year.
Chip the glasses and crack the plates!
Blunt the knives and bend the forks!
That's what Bilbo Baggins hates.
Getting ready to sing for the Cantata. Alden is center and Rhi is 2nd row left. Yes, and iPhone shot. They sang How Far Is It to Bethlehem.
Rhianwen had her first harp recital. I think she did a great job introducing her piece (I caught the very end on video). She did not mutter or look at her, and I was proud even before she played a note. She did a great job and kept going through her little mistakes, and she didn't look nervous (no shaking hands or fingers) to me even though I know she was. A friend of the family very sweetly made Rhianwen a white dress for the recital. I think she envisioned Rhianwen as an angel playing on the harp :) Grandmama and Grandaddy were able to come and listen too!

So happy to be done. 
Thanks Gradmama and Grandaddy for a nice family pic!
With her teacher and other students. I just love her teacher. She is very affirming and patient and encouraging. 
Awesome monster art by the boys...a collaborative effort.
With Aunt Hannah outside the DPAC looking at the Christmas tree walk. 
This was before Corwin chose to push the button on the yellow security box. At first nothing happened, at which point I did not know whether to feel relieved or worried. Then 2 minutes later, (a point at which had I really had an emergency, I'd either have been shoved into a car or died or cardiac arrest), a voice came on asking if anyone was there and if there was an emergency. Sigh. At least it was not the fire alarm. I just had to bashfully admit that my child had pushed the button. My only consolation is that judging from the position of the box along this Christmas tree walk, it probably gets pushed pretty often this time of year...just par for the course. From that point on, I had Corwin keep his hands in his pockets.

Alden getting his very first Trail Life badge. 
This is a group that seeks to mentor boys to be leaders, to serve well, and to experience nature. The troop in Durham has just started, so everything is still being worked out organizationally, but Wally and Alden are having a great time. 

The younger portion of the troop. It's been fun to see them form closer friendships.
Enjoying the first early morning snow. As you can see, PJ's are still being worn. 
Christmas cookies! Thank you Hannah for delivering coffee and help!
Alden  has really gotten into playing checkers. 
Family devotions around the fire.
Advent tree is almost full! Exciting!
The advent tree is one of my favorite things about Christmas. Going through the prophesies and accounts of Christ's birth is just so special. Using Scripture, symbols, and song is just such a meaningful way to meditate on Jesus' work of love through history to His people.

At Morgan Imports getting really excited about Christmas!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Thankful Tom Turkey. We did a good job this year! He's nice and fluffy full.
We painted the boys' room green, the shade they agreed upon. Now they are enjoying battling it out in there. We still need to put the last layer of chalkboard paint on the wall under their window.

Reading bedtime stories to Corwin and his cousin Benjamin. They  had so much fun playing together!
When we get together, our kids like scheming about how nice it would be to live together every day!

Hanging out with Uncle Averett and Aunt Jaime. I forgot my nice camera, so everything was taken on my iPhone :(

Making place cards for the feast.

Making Mr. Eggplant, a Tinsley family tradition, to grace the table.Yes, this is serious business. It takes many men to get the job done.
Putting on Mr. Eggplant's face.
Now for the cooking. Yes, men can do that too! They enjoyed making cornbread stuffing with Grandmama.
I often am a terrible photodocumenter when it comes to large family gatherings. I'm just too busy enjoying eating, watching, and catching up with people. So I didn't get a single photo of Smiley (my cute little niece) nor of her parents nor of Andy and Gina who are Greats for the kids. So sad :(

We had a wonderful time, and I am so thankful that we all share the same faith. Fellowship is sweet.

Living in the Light

Homeschooling it. We've been studying the Middle Ages this fall, so we took an afternoon to make subtleties and mead.
Cheers! Enjoying a nonalcoholic version of mead, a favorite of the Vikings.
Corwin's subtleties (bird's eggs and nests).
Rhianwen's were flowers and birds and insects.
Alden's were towers. And yes they were all edible!
A bunch of people at the ocean. I just LOVE his drawings. They make me happy. Yes, his face is dirty quite often. I try, but often fail to follow through after reminding him to go wash it.
Cleaning out a pumpkin on Halloween.
So enjoyably icky.
Our pumpkins represent us and our hearts in need of cleansing and filling with the light of Christ.
So happy to be shining. Still unique but all with the same light. 
This Fireman is all business.
Plants to the left sprouted in the dark, to the right in the light. Fun little experiment for the kids. I could wax eloquent on how this makes me think of people and our need for Christ's true light for thriving, and how we think we are growing wonderfully on our own but end up being really kind of sick and weak and constantly searching. But it really was just a science experiment.
Spanish. Alden loves it, but I'm not sure if he really is following. Rhi is following but hates having to figure it out or getting things incorrect.
Framed this and put it in his room. He gets SO messy, but he loves it.
Aunt Hannah reading Petit Rouge Riding Hood, a story that is written in New Orleans English. REALLY fun to read once you figure it out. You can see Hannah's look of concentration. This is her first time through it. 
Uncle Christopher reading to Alden.
Why, do you say, are they here randomly? Because they were visiting to scout out Durham! They now live 10 minutes from us!!! Yay! Please pray for their search for a church home and small group. We know from experience how difficult it is to start feeling rooted without one.

Rainbow! Just a theme of light. 

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