Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Stop! Don't Put Away Your Christmas Stuff Yet!

Haven't you heard of that Christmas carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas?"

Well, it only started yesterday. We are only on the Second Day of Christmas, despite what the stores may think.

A long, long time ago it was illegal to be Catholic in England. Lame. But, that didn't stop children from learning about their faith. The parents came up with this popular Christmas carol as a way to teach their children these things without getting in trouble with they were out and about. Cool, huh?

So, what do these things mean exactly? The ADVENTURE of Christmas cracks the code and it is pretty nifty.

buy it here!

When you hear "My True Love," that is God. He is the One giving these gifts.

Partridge in a Pear Tree = Jesus who died on the Cross

2 Turtle Doves = Old and New Testaments

3 French Hens = faith, hope, and love

4 Calling Birds = the 4 Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John

5 Golden Rings = the Pentateuch (first 5 books of the bible)

6 Geese a-laying = the 6 days of Creation

7 Swans a-swimming = the 7 gifts of the Spirit (Romans 12: 6-8)

8 Maids a-milking = the Beatitudes (Matthew 5: 3-10)

9 Ladies Dancing = the 9 fruits of the Spirit ( Galatians 5:22-23)

10 Lords a-leaping = the 10 Commandments

11 Pipers Piping = the 11 faithful disciples

12 Drummers Drumming = the 12 points of the Apostle's Creed

How great is this? I, honestly, never knew the meanings behind this song until I read through this book. There are always some interesting things to learn within some of these classic carols.

If you are following us on Facebook/Twitter, don't worry. I am sharing the day and the meaning every morning.

See? It really is still the Christmas season. We only just ended the season of Advent. So, leave those decorations up, keep on singing along to those festive songs, and tell those you cross paths with while out returning that ugly sweater from Uncle Bob, "Merry Christmas!!!" And keep it going until the Epiphany! And, why not anyway? We just celebrated a WONDERFUL day!!


Monday, December 24, 2012

Oh, the Weather Outside is Frightful

But, we went out anyway! Being cooped up gets to you after a while. It was chilly, but not all that bad last week. Still too cold for me... But, apparently, it was good golfing weather!

 Teeing up

 Waiting for his turn

 Moved to another "hole" which they called "another golf course"

 Packing up to get to the next one :) I love how they use their cozy coupe as the golf cart

 Off they go!

 Celebration moves

 Time to head home

Alex told me to take a picture of the "a pane" 

Andrew picked a flower for me :) Thanks, sweetie!!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Prelude to Christmas

Found this poem in Christmas Ideals 2012. This is one of those books that I was so excited to find a few weeks ago. I grew up reading these little books with my mom and loved every minute of it. This is a wonderful book filled with beautiful pictures, poems, songs, and stories. And, PS - Mom, don't buy this... ;) 

Prelude to Christmas
by Clay Harrison

Tonight the world is white and silent
with freshly fallen snow.
Stars twinkle and shine like diamonds
above the village below.

There's gingerbread in the oven, 
spiced cider, and pumpkin pie, 
tasty echoes from yesteryear
when childhood friends stopped by.

Popcorn and cranberry garlands
are being strung with care, 
and the fragrance of pine and cedar
permeate the frosty air.

Sleighbells ring in the distance; 
all is calm and bright, 
and nearby a church choir's singing
a soulful "Silent Night."
There are gifts beneath the Christmas tree, 
decorations wall to wall
and hopes are high as days pass by
that God will bless us all.

In the prelude to Christmas, 
there is much to be done
as friends unite to celebrate
the coming of His Son.


Favorite Christmas Toys and Books

Every Christmas we bring out all the toys and books for the season. These books are read over and over and over again. And the toys are loved more and more with each Christmas as these two get a little bigger.

I thought I'd share with you these items that have become loved over the years.

 Books galore!  How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Gingerbread Man, Santa's House, Away in a Manger, etc. Lots of great ones!

 Now the train tracks stay out of course, but we add to it. Clearly, they added ALL of Christmas toys to the trains to make a "Christmas Town." We have my little brothers' Little People Christmas Train Set (which they only make different pieces of this now, but not this exact set anymore). We also have the Brio Polar Express Christmas Tree (and I'm told that they have the present car and Santa somewhere in their closets lol). This is so magical. It lights up when you either push a button or when a train passes through. So cool.

 And, we, of course, have the Little People Nativity (which is different from our that we got LAST year. How do toys change that fast?!). I love how they put all of these things together. They make the little kids ride the train to see Baby Jesus, and then they go see Santa. There have even been a few time when either Santa visits Baby Jesus or the stable animals visit Santa. I love their little imaginations. So sweet.  

As for Christmas books, we have LOTS! I even found some awesome deals at 2nd & Charles - which if you have one near you...GO!! It's used book store and it is so awesome. Most of the books we have gotten for this Christmas were free since I traded in some other books we were done with for store credit. Love that. 
Tonight You Are My Baby This is a library book. It is such a sweet story about Mary's first moments with her baby - for tomorrow He will be King. It's a board book, too. So Alex pretty much carried this one everywhere until it was time to turn it in. I need to add this to our books for next year.

 Little Master Dicken' A Christmas Carol  This was one of my 2nd & Charles scores. $2!! Awesome, I know. This is the picture board book version of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. It is TOO COOL!!

 The Last Straw Another library book, but was too long for my boys' to sit through, but I read it and it was another wonderful story. A cranky old camel is sort of annoyed that he was chosen to take those heavy gifts to the newborn king. Along his journey he is handed more and more things to take to this baby. It is a cute story. You just have to read it. I can't tell you more or I will give it away.
 You Are My Miracle  Another 2nd & Charles score - that made me cry. I love this book. We have read this one a few times now. Andrew loves that there is a toy elephant on almost all of the pages, so he listens to the story. Alex like the baby bear. And I love the snuggles I get while we read it.

 The ADVENTure of Christmas - This one we got in the mail from Jason's Uncle Pat and Aunt Terri!! Thanks!!! I love reading through it :) Jason has flipped through the pages, too. Next year we are DEFINITELY going to work our way through this book!! There is SO much information in it. Like, saying "Merry Christmas" in different languages, why we decorate the tree, tales behind some of the carols, the REAL 12 days of Christmas (which the 1st day of Christmas is...Christmas Day. Another reason why our tree stays up until January 6th - the 12th day of Christmas...the Epiphany...when the Wise Men came, etc.). I LOVE THIS BOOK!!

This is the last one I will share. This book was a free gift when I spent $25+ at Books-A-Million. And, Andrew LOVES that we picked this one. It's filled with a lot of different puzzle pages, but the mazes are his favorite. Jason showed him how to do the word searches. No, he can't read just yet, but he knows his letters and is starting to recognize smaller words. So this has been a fun thing for him.

Other books we have added this year:

If you have any favorite Christmas toys, books, or traditions to share, leave us a comment :) I would love to hear about what your family does at Christmas.

Crazy Busy

It has been crazy busy here at the house getting ready for Christmas and all. We have been watching all kinds of Christmas shows (mainly the classics, but some new ones), reading all of our Christmas books, baking cookies, looking at Christmas lights, and, of course, getting all the shopping and wrapping taken care of. So, I have more than just one picture to share with you. And plenty more posts coming!

 Watching "Santa Claus is Coming to Town"

 We made cookies for Santa!

  Reading "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" with Daddy before bed

Best picture of us for the month!

I will have PLENTY more pictures to share in the next week or so. It's about to get a little wild here! 

We hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

Monday, December 17, 2012

DIY Ornaments {Pinterest Projects}

I finally got around to getting a few projects done that I had pinned a while back. Yay! I'm really pleased with how they turned out, too. What do you think?

Ornament #1: DIY Sheet Music Ornament (inspired by I Heart Nap Time):

Festive, eh? I had a bunch of clear plastic balls that I was going to use last year for another project that never worked out. So, luckily, I only bought the card stock stickers (I used one for a the tag) and a piece of scrapbook paper (which had Christmas carols on it!) from Hobby Lobby. Yay me!

Ornament #2 and #3: Baby Beanie and Wrist Band Ornaments (original idea pinned here):

SO CUTE!!!! Andrew's beanie and band are on the left. Alex's are on the right. I LOVE how they turned out. These are regular size ornaments. I just used the end of a paint brush to get the little hats in there. I love them. I just tied on some ribbon to hang them and done!

I originally had these in their scrapbooks that documented their first year. But, they were in a box that I just happened to be able to get to since the boys rooms are in the process of a makeover (much more on that to come). Granted, these will only be out at Christmas, but better than in some random box, right? And, again, SO CUTE!!

I have a few more projects that I am working on, so stay tuned for another update on those.

In the mean time, how about some amazing cookies? YUM!

I know, right?! And, aren't my little elves the cutest?! If you want to follow all of our Christmas fun on Instagram, here ya go! Click here! Yes, it is private, so you will have to wait until I allow you. I had some spammer the other week. Lame.  Get a life, spammer!

Have a great week!!

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Today Must Be That Day

This is a long post today... You may want to come back if you don't have enough time to read and/or take this all in. I know... I still need time ;)

Quite a bit of you follow us on Facebook. From time to time I'll post some random things that probably throws some people off a bit. For instance, back in November I posted about "new changes in our lives" and "great happiness" and a lot of other things that my Mom has dubbed "vague-booking" (you know, those annoying status updates where you have not a clue in the world what that person means...vague-booking. catchy, huh?).

I was wondering when I was going to tell everyone or even if I was going to tell this story at all. But, apparently, today is that day.

As, many of our family and close friends know we had some very difficult times after Alex was born. Again, it was not the pregnancy and it was not anything to do with his birth. We are very blessed to have him (and Andrew) in our lives. However, there were too many people in our family that got a little more involved than we would have liked them to be, only we either didn't do anything about it or we didn't even realize it until it was too late.

When Alex turned about 17 months old, things began to change. For the better.

I had been pestering Jason to be more passionate about our faith - the Catholic faith. Little did I know that was already brewing in his mind. See, we had a speaker come to our Church back in September about Queen of Heaven Radio, EWTN, and such. Well, my nerdy hubby was excited about their new app and thought it would be good for him to learn a little bit more about his faith. Well, he ended up learning A LOT. So much, in fact, that he began to embrace it more than I did - in one specific area.


You know what I am talking about. Catholics... we are the anti-birth control types. Except for us modern thinkers. We know everything, right? Not so much. At least not me.

Jason came in from working on my car one afternoon and, with no introduction or anything, "Honey, I want us to be Catholic." Um, we arrreee? Nope...not 100% anyway. We just pick and choose what we want. Either you are Catholic...or you aren't.

Of course, I was all "NO way" and "Yeah, right." and everything else under the moon that said NOT HAPPENING. Yeah, well, we are NFP now. (see here)

Many things happened to me that month of September that changed my mind. Here are the top 2 that made a big difference:

1. A very good friend of mine - who has come to mean so much to me these past few months - woke me up, too. Everyone who knew us knew something wasn't right with us anymore. There just were no sparks - it wasn't there. Well, Jason said that he thought that this would help us and he had been praying about it.  Well, I was telling her all about this and being the amazing friend she is asked me the most simple question in the world that had a scary answer: Why not? If he thinks this is going to help our marriage, then why not? God won't give you anything He knows you can't handle. Thanks, Kristi. :)

2. Father W at our Church - 2 Masses in a row that month,  he might as well have been talking to me... He might as well have called out my name and "lectured" me in front of everyone in the congregation. I realize now that those were the Mass times God wanted me to be at (For one of them I wasn't going to go and for another one I was scheduled to be a Eucharistic Minister for a different time so I called for a sub to go to another one). Those were the Masses that I needed to hear. Those were the words I needed to hear. Father W. spoke of faith. I'll tell you I have never been so alert and into the Homilies ever before. I was almost to the point of crying right there. In the church. I knew it was God speaking to me. To us. Father W. basically said that we do not need to have evidence or proof of something if we have faith.Then he said at Mass the following weekend that basically if you are Catholic then be Catholic. Quit pretending. Just do it. Embrace it.

Crazy, huh?

So, here we are. Coming to the end of 4 months of doing this "Catholic thing" I and must say this:

Yes, it is scary.
Yes, it is one MEGA leap of faith.
Yes, it works (and I can see how it wouldn'

Has it changed us? YES!!

I LOVE hearing the garage door open - He's home! And, no not home to save me from the kids. Home with me. With us. I love that we are the way we acted with each other when we were dating. I love all his goofy jokes again. I love the way he looks at me. I love that he is a better husband and a better father. I love that he loves our Church as much as I do (even though this did make me question it a bit...). I LOVE HIM!!

We decided to open our hearts to God and He closed that gap between us.

Are you wondering why I decided to share this today?

I was almost not going to go to my mommy group at Church today. I ended up going and guess who our speaker was....

Father W.

Please note this is about our lives and these are our beliefs. We are not pushing them on anyone nor do we judge other faiths. We are simply sharing the wonderful things that have happened (and are still happening!) to us over the past few months.  Negative comments are not welcome and will be removed.

If you are a bit more curious about this journey of ours, I will be glad to answer an questions. Leave a comment with you email address (or email me at heatherwoyak {at} gmail {dot} com) and I will send you one back :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Menu Plan

Railroad Park

We took a little ride down to Railroad Park last week. We were there until it was time for nap! I got 2 miles of walking done, we had a picnic, and the boys played and played! Here's a look at our fun day out at Railroad Park!

Feast Day of St. Nicholas

Last week, I was getting a few last minute items for our stockings and I ran into a very special someone...

Can you believe that? At night...hmm... Must be making sure that all the good boys and girls are in bed sleeping. It was about 9pm anyway on a weeknight.... Well, I, of course, had to ask Mr. Claus for a picture.

But, just who is this guy?

Santa Claus, rather St. Nicholas, is REAL. He was a real, live person. And, he did many wonderful, amazing things throughout his life. He was such an inspiration to those who heard about his life that he became a saint.


There are many legends about who this man really was, but the big picture told of his love for children and generosity to those in need. All over the world this day is celebrated in many different ways, but nonetheless St. Nicholas is remembered. The Dutch children leave treats for Santa's horses/reindeer in their shoes in hopes that Santa will leave a small prize for them in return. In Germany, children dress up in a Bishop costume (just as St. Nick wore in the picture above) gathering alms for the poor.

Here, however, the celebration is a little different or next to nothing. People are still madly searching for things they want and things they have to have for others and whatnot. Honestly, Christmas in the US is getting a little out of hand for me. Which is why (one of the reasons) I do not plan on doing the Elf on the Shelf idea. Sorry. No offense to anyone who loves it. It is a great idea, but it's just not for us. The little elf freaks me out... I don't do puppets. 

Anyway, basically, a way that we like to keep this particular season not so commercial is by honoring certain days such as this. They way that we remember St. Nick is with our stockings. Whether we are following this idea from the Dutch children or another legend, the stocking/shoes are a part of St. Nicholas. This is how he left little prizes or money to the children or those in need. We started this tradition last year, and here's what we did this year (remember, you can click the picture to make it bigger):

 From the top left: Alex LOVES this idea!  The layout of everything in the boys stockings - including gold coins like St. Nick left. Candy Cane Kisses - yes, please! Andrew is such a big boys this year...he's growing too fast! Jason's stocking goodies :)

Opening their stockings - love Andrew and Alex faces!! LOL

Now, yes, this year Andrew did ask more questions about this. He knows that St. Nicholas and Santa Claus are both the same guy. But he wasn't sure why we were just doing the stockings for now. We explained that today (December 6th) is when we celebrate all the good things that Nicholas did for those around him. He was good with that answer so moved along to his Christmas Goldfish :) 

We definitely do the "Santa thing" here and will continue to do so until whenever. I definitely go Christmas wild here. House is decorated, all the Christmas books are out, the DVDs, the music is on 24/7 it seems. We love this time of the year. In fact, our decorations don't come down until the Epiphany - Jan 6th (AKA the 12th day of Christmas). But that is another post for another time.

Happy St. Nicholas Day!

To learn more about the life of St. Nicholas and how you can celebrate at home, Church, or school check out the St. Nicholas Center for LOTS of ideas and stories.


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