Thursday, December 19, 2013

Happy Birthday Jesus!

One of our favorite "Andersen" traditions has become a yearly birthday party for Jesus with some of our friends. I don't know exactly how many years we've done an actual party but it's been at least 4 (I think) and it's becoming more and more fun as our kids are getting older. This year with the age spread of the Andersen crew we actually had 2 parties!  The first one was for Cadence and her friends and then we also had a "littles" birthday party for Jesus. 

For Cadence's party with her friends this was the first year that we had the cupcakes decorated when her friends arrived. That's usually part of the fun to get to decorate your own. But, we had so much other fun planned that we decided to just have cupcakes rather than that be a craft. 

What's the other fun? I'm glad you asked!  We decorated a gingerbread house, acted out the nativity story, made cards for the residents of the nursing home our church goes to every week, and played Christmas bingo!

Cadence - all ready for her friends to arrive!!  How is she this big? 
She literally takes my breath away with how beautiful she is - inside and out. 
Making Christmas Cards - I was so proud of the girls. There were about 8 of them there and they ended up making over 20 cards!  When the Hootenanny Choir goes to sing at the nursing home this coming weekend we will deliver the cards to the residents. 

Acting out the nativity Story with props that were imagined 
and found by our very own Cadence Shae Andersen!  

Working on the gingerbread house - this is a perfect picture describing the phrase "too many cooks in the kitchen" but the girls eventually worked it out and got almost all of the house decorated!

And the next morning, we did it all over again for the littles celebration!

Instead of acting out the nativity, the littles and their friends all got to open a present that was a different character in the story. This way we got to tell the story as we went!

Singing "Happy Birthday to Jesus"

One of our craft projects was to make a picture frame to take home - silly boys don't love crafts but do enjoy stickers in random places!

We did let the littles decorate their own cupcakes - because what every 2-5 year old wants is their own knife and a bowl of frosting :)  throw some sprinkles into the mix and they're in heaven!

This is definitely one of our favorite "events" of the Christmas season. I love that this gives our kids to celebrate in a very "kid-friendly" way that Jesus DID really come to earth and He is really still accessible to them. I pray that this will be a truth that sticks with them their entire life. 

Happy Birthday to Jesus!!!

Christmas Jammies

Because we love our children and they have a yellow GiGi/Gramie who wants them to match at Christmas time, we chose to take pictures of them in their Christmas jammies. I happened to choose a night that I (Ashleigh) was flying solo while Chris was working - big mistake! So, after trying to get them in jammies, get a backdrop that was acceptable, find the camera, and get everyone ready, they were pretty much done :)

Poor Creed got in trouble because he wouldn't act right. This first picture is definitely the saddest one to me. Poor kid didn't know I really wanted a picture of him in his jammies :(  but he figured it out!  and then we were on track to at least come up with some options for Daddy to photoshop and work with. 

So, after the crying picture, are all the other outtakes and maybe an "in"take too…I don't remember which one I actually used for Christmas cards...

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Operation Christmas Child

Our church every year does a big push for Operation Christmas Child to see how many boxes we can collect and our family does our part to participate. It's really important to us for our children to grow up realizing that Christmas (or their life in general) really isn't about them but that it's about making much of Jesus in all that we do, including how we celebrate. And Christmas is no exception. So, we try to be purposeful in the things we do throughout the craziness of the holiday season to make sure they know that if we're not focusing what we're doing on Jesus coming to earth for us then we're focusing on the wrong thing. And Operation Christmas Child is a great way for us to kick off our holidays  - giving gifts to other kids - and knowing that with that gift comes a chance for a kid that lives somewhere else to hear about Jesus coming for them too!  

We took the kids in groups (girls and boys) to the dollar store to pick out their own stuff for the boxes. So, as we went we explained that while we were buying toys, we were buying toys that would go to other kids and we were not going to keep the toys for ourselves. I was really surprised at how well everyone handled it this year. In fact, they were excited to be buying for other kids! So, once we were all home and had all our stuff together, the boxes and bags came out. And we began filling them up!

 In the end there were more than this but these were the ones that they got to put the stuff they specifically picked out to buy for another boy or girl. It is my prayer that our kids will grow up with their eyes fully opened to the fact that if we're not loving other people well in this life then we aren't glorifying God with all we are. Let it start with a shoe box and lead to a life style that will impact their worlds forever…...

Magical Families Weekend

We had heard about this really fun thing at Disney called Magical Families that we wanted to be a part of. It's  basically a weekend where anyone who has adopted or fostered or is interested in adopting or fostering go to Disney World together. And there are lots of different fun activities and meet ups to do. It also gives you an opportunity to connect with people from all over who have similar interests/lifestyles/concerns as you do in your own life when you foster or adopt. 
And it's at Disney so how could that be bad? 

So we went to FL and the first night at the pizza party we hooked up with Tink/Jayden's family. Tink has been a foster child who lived with us the better part of a year and has now moved to a new family with her sister and they are being adopted by that family!  So, they were there too :)  We spent a good chunk of the evening playing in a window - because at Disney World even the windows are fun!

We got these awesome goodie bags at the pizza party and by far, the favorite kid thing in it were the rubber duckies. Mostly because you could make them stick to your ear…..

Because of the ages of our family at this point in the game, we opted out of paying to go to one of the Disney Parks and torturing ourselves there :)  Instead we went to Downtown Disney and had all kinds of fun!

We had lunch at the T-Rex restaurant. At first it was a little intimidating with all the sounds and big dinosaur stuff but once we got used to it, it was lots of fun! 

 Cadence has asked to have her face painted at multiple places we have been at and we always say no. Either we don't want to pay for her to have paint on her face for a few hours, or the other kids will all want it too, or someone is acting up and we don't have the time to wait for it, any number of things could play into our decision but because we were having a super fun family day as we walked past the face painting booth and she looked longingly (without asking) at all the options to be painted, we surprised her by telling her that today was the day!  She was so excited!! We just might have to spring for that more often...

While we waited for the face painting Shaun entertained himself playing with Rebeka. 

and after face painting and because everyone was so patient while she got her face painted,
 it was train rides for everyone!!

 Then on to the Toy Store to begin thinking about what would be the best purchase 
to take away from the weekend. 

Magical Families day 2 consisted of hotel tours via the monorail with the whole family! 
 The Contemporary already had their Ginger Bread House set up so it seemed like a good place for a picture :)

 This is what we all look like in a monorail car. 

 GiGi/Grammie with most of her babies looking and acting normal!~
 This one is way more the reality of what the pictures looked like :)

Magical Families Day 3 was largely made up of a trip back to Downtown Disney to settle on a purchase/souvenir from the weekend. I love how everyones choices are so different and so "them" all at the same time. 

I think this hayride was technically the night of Day 2 but I am having blogger issues so those pictures will just stay here. All the Magical Families people met us at Ft. Wilderness to go on a hay ride and have smores. It was really a fun thing to do!  At least the hay ride (which didn't actually involve hay) part was. The S'more part at the Chip and Dale sing along/movie time was a  little crowded and chaotic so we opted to just eat our s'more pieces away from the crowded area and head back to our hotel. 

I have no idea where this picture was taken. I'm assuming Chris took it… :)

Overall it was such a fun weekend to spend with our family and to be with other families who have been affected by adoption/foster care. We are so grateful for the way God has put our family together and love all the avenues He has used to get us to where we are.