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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Christmas Traditions/Weihnachts Traditionen

Now that we've had kids for just a few years, we have developed some traditions.  They are a blending of David's family's traditions, my family traditions and some that we came up with after seeing them somewhere else.   And one or two that we thought of ourselves even.  But all in all, we are a family of traditions.  We just love them.

Jetzt da wir Kinder haben, haben wir natuerlich manche Traditionen eingefuehrt.  Manche sind von David's Familie, manche sind von meiner Familie und manche haben wir neu eingefuehrt nachdem wir sie gesehen haben.  Und dann haben wir auch noch ein paar die wir uns selbst ausgedacht haben.  Alles in allem, wir sind eine Familie die Traditionen liebt.  

This is not a tradition but I just loved the moment.  Isabelle climbed up and wanted to steal Abigail's yogurt.  Abigail kindly put her safely on her chair and then proceeded to share her cherished yogurt with her very much loved baby sister.  

Das ist keine Tradition aber ich mochte den Moment so sehr.  Isabelle wollte Abigail's Jogurt stehlen.  Abigail gab ihr aber sehr liebevoll die Haelfte ihres Yogurts.

Ok, traditions.  Well, if you have kids, chances are baking and decorating cookies is high on the list.  This was Isabelle's first year decorating cookies and she did great.  Although she didn't get the concept of the flour on the counter.  She thought it was intended for rubbing over her mouth...

Ok, zu den Traditionen.  Wenn Du Kinder hast, dann steht Plaetzchen backen und dekorieren wahrscheinlich ganz oben auf der Liste.  Dieses Jahr war das erste Jahr fuer Isabelle.  Obwohl sie einige Probleme mit dem Mehl hatte, ging es ganz gut.  Sie dachte das Mehl waere fuer ueber den Mund zu reiben...

She did great with cutting out cookies as well.  Her shapes weren't complete always (hence the half head and missing leg) but she got the concept.  Sugar cookies are a favorite in our family.  This year it was the only cookie we made.  We tried to keep it simpler this year but I'm hoping to make more than one kind of cookie next year.  Thankfully grandma bakes cookies every year and this year they turned out really great.  I think we devoured all of them within 3 days.

Sie hat sich auch sehr viel Muehe gegeben die Plaetchen auszustechen.  Hier ist ihr Maennchen mit halben Kopf und nur einem Bein.  Wir machen bei uns gerne Zucker Plaetzchen.  Dieses Jahr waren das die einzigen die wir machten.  Wir haben versuch es dieses Jahr etwas einfacher zu halten damit wir nicht alle so gestresst sind.  Dankbarerweise hatte Oma Haar dieses Jahr gute Plaetzchen gemacht und diese mit uns geteilt.  Ich glaube nach 3 tagen waren diese alle verschwunden.

Nathan and Abigail hard at work decorating.  They had frosting and all the fixings.  We may have gone through a few bottles of sprinkles....

Nathan und Abigail schwer am dekorieren.  Sie hatten Glasur und alles andere das noetig war.  Wir sind vielleicht durch einige Dosen Schokoladensplitter gegangen...

Both took great care with their decorating this year.  Their favorite cookie shapes are the gingerbread boy & girl, the Christmas tree, the stars, the bear and the hearts.  Tangent:  Love that apron Abigail is wearing.  We got it brand-new in a local antique store for just $5.

Beide haben sich sehr viel Muehe gegeben.  Ihre Lieblings Plaetzchenschneider sind die Gingerbread Leute, der Weihnachtsbaum, die Sterne und Herzen und der Baer.

After all the decorations where up, the last finishing touch were the lights.  Oh, we love lights.  Yes, we do.  At least I do.  Candles, colored lights, white lights.  Christmas to me has lights.  Especially at night.  When you lay in bed and there is the soft glow of lights.  I remember this from being a little girl.   When all the lights were on at Christmas time.  It is such a peaceful glow and the night is much less scary when you are little.
I wrapped Abigail up in a string of lights and she thought it was the coolest thing.  Also, when you decorate for Christmas, one must wear a Santa or Elf hat.  If at all possible, Santa slippers too.  It's the law.

Nachdem die Dekorationen alle aufgestellt waren, kamen zum Schluss die Lichter.  Wir lieben die Lichter.  Kerzen, bunte Lichter, weisse Lichter.  Weihnachten braucht Lichter.  Vor allem zur Nacht.  Das ist etwas an das ich mich gerne erinnere von meiner Kindheit.  Es war immer so ein friedlicher Schimmer und die Nacht ist viel freundlicher fuer kleine Leute.  Abigail wurde in die Lichter eingewickelt und sie dachte das war das Tollste.  Natuerlich muss man einen Santa Hut oder Elf Hut anziehen wenn man dekoriert.  Das ist Gesetzt.

Isabelle's first experience with colored lights.  She was so fascinated by them.  She kept touching them over and over.

Isabelle's erste Erfahrung mit den Lichtern.  Sie war so fasziniert.  

They fascinated her so much, she even took off her beloved Elf hat to inspect this closer.

Sie war so fasziniert, dass sie sogar ihren geliebten Elfenhut ausgezogen hat.

Our second sugar cookie decorating day.  This time we decorated with cousins Olive and Rosie, auntie Megan and grandma.  Abigail and I had baked the cookies in the daytime.  We had asked everyone to come over after Nathan's school so he could decorate too, only to find out that I had forgotten about his wrestling practice.  And although he loves sugar, he opted for wrestling, which he loves even more.  Abigail was happy to spend  special time with Olive.

Unser zweiter Dekorationsabend war mit Olive, Rosie, Megan und Oma Lorena.  Nathan hatte leider wrestling training aber er war darueber sehr happy.

I think Olive quite enjoyed herself.  This time around we put the frosting into plastic food baggies and snipped the tips off.  That way, the girls could just squeeze the frosting out onto the cookies instead of getting all messy.  Abigail made one cookie that looked like herself and one that looked like Olive.  I had to freeze those two for her to eat on Christmas Eve.  She was very proud of those cookies.  Olive was happy to make  various cookies for various members of her family.

Little bitty Rosie.  She is growing up so fast.  I just love that look in the picture.  She is a champion drooler and just coos so adorably.  She has the cutest baby sounds.  She is also a very eager girl.  It seems she so badly wants to go along with the bigger kids and just is frustrated with her little body not yet letting her.  

The finished cookies.  Works of art.  They were yummy too.  :-)

Isabelle is just in love with her auntie.  At first, she just had a thing for Rusty.  Then she adored Olive (she still jumps up and down with delight every time she sees Olive).  Obviously she adores Rosie since that is a "baybee".  And lately, she just can't get enough of her auntie.  She runs away from her squeeling and just grins at her always.  She gets all coy around Megan.  It is really funny.

Ah, the manger.  This is a tradition from my family.  One year when we celebrated Christmas in Germany, my brother Matze introduced David to this tradition.  We haven't looked back since.  In the years before we had children (and still lots of money), we invested in a very nice manger set that tries to show daily life in Bethlehem at the time Jesus was born.    The set is now discontinued so the manger has become a collectible. Abigail is showing me her two favorite pieces.  She loves the two ladies carrying water.  One was lost for a while last year because a little redhead played with them without permission.  This year we let the kids play with the manger quite a bit.  We may need to reconsider that because as I packed it up, there were quite a few broken pieces that needed to be put back together.

This is the Bethlehem side of our manger this year.  Again, pretty simple in 2012.  There is also a wilderness side to the manger with travelers, animals, oasis and a waterfall.

Isabelle was interested in playing upside down.

We watched a few Christmas movies.  Our favorites are various Veggie Tales Christmas stories (The Little Drummer Boy, The Star That Saved Christmas, The Toy That Saved Christmas, etc),  the classics (Rudolph, Frosty, etc.).  Isabelle is our first baby to actually enjoy TV unfortunately.  Then again, she sits on the couch in the exact same position when there is no TV on.  Maybe she just likes to sit on the couch?

Our Jesse Tree.  The kids and I did the ornaments last year.  This year we got Egermeier's  Bible Story book and read the corresponding stories from it.  Nathan, who a little while ago had grown tired of bible stories, all of a sudden had a newfound hunger for them.  Instead of just reading the corresponding stories to the ornaments, he'd beg to read more about each person than just that story.  Moms love that.  And he added a new ornament: A green jingle bell, a present from his teacher for the 12 days of Christmas.  He asked me if the bell could be a symbol for somebody and after some thinking, we decided it would be symbolic for the High Priest who wore bells at the bottom of  his clothing.  And he was after all, a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ.

We have chocolate Advent calendars every year. That is a tradition from my family.  In addition, last year we started the Advent activity calendar.  This year we also added advent activities for Jesus.  We focused on doing something for others in the name of Jesus. With the theme of keeping it simple, we did things like purposefully giving encouraging smiles, opening doors for people, etc.  Activities and Jesus serves didn't happen every day but we did a few of them.  The chocolate advent countdown however, somehow was thought of every single day.

The tree.   Of course we have to have a tree.  Putting up the ornaments is so much fun.  Just like the decorations, the kids tell us their favorites and get all excited about certain ornaments they love.  The German wood ones seem to win out every time.  They are figurines and things like Christmas trains made out of wood and brightly colored.

Christmas tea is a new tradition where we invited two very special ladies (Margie and Earline) over and served them tea and yummy goodies as a thank-you for their wonderful friendship.  Mama quite loves the company of older and wiser women.  I've come to appreciate it in recent years.  Hopefully this will be a yearly tradition.

The new tiered server came in very handy during the Christmas season.  It was used to serve food and/or to display decorations.

While the big girls had tea, the little ones had fun having their own tea party with water on the ottoman.  They had raspberries and kiwi as well.

The gingerbread house or this year, the train (much to Nathan's chagrin who wanted a house).  This year they ate the train right after decorating it.  No displaying and admiring it this year.  

Did you know that Christmas trees make perfectly good caves for hiding?

Nathan's favorite figurines from the manger: Baby Jesus and the Roman soldier.

Yum!  Sugar cookies.  Nathan got to decorate the night after his wrestling practice and he enjoyed it just as much as the girls did the night before.  He also had me freeze two of his cookies for Christmas Eve.

Abby loved this picture of herself all lit up.  

Abby and her pink Christmas tree.  She decorated it all herself this year with white lace ornaments from Germany.

Books.  Special books and movies are a special part of our Christmas just as Christmas music is.  And Isabelly learned how to thumb through a book which she is doing right here.

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