Saturday, December 31, 2016


It's the end of December and time for the last monthly round-up of 2016.  

December 1

The month began with a walk around Knaresborough after dropping our Thanksgiving guests off at the train station there.  It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  I'm always ready by the first of December.

December 2

I had such a fun Christmas-y day out brunch with this lovely friend in Harrogate.  I ended up with several trips to Harrogate in the past month, and it is nice to feel like I'm getting to know the town.

December 3

I had a photoshoot with two families at Fountains Abbey on this Saturday.  I managed a few country-living shots of my own kiddoes in the midst of it.  Just look at that cutie.

December 4

We drove to Whitby with our church family to celebrate a friend's birthday.  We ate fish and chips and walked along the beach.  It was so beautiful and mild compared to the first December we visited when we realized just how inadequate our winter gear was.

December 5

We didn't put up a tree this year since we were coming home for Christmas, but the living room wouldn't have been the same without twinkly lights so I strung them about where I could.

December 6

A foggy, foggy, cold, cold day.

December 7 

We really enjoyed our advent candle this year and had really sweet times of reading and praying together as a family.  I loved hearing the overflow of the kids' hearts talking to God. They took turns blowing out the candle each night.

December 8 

The kids' classes at school had a joint Christmas play where they both played the roles of innkeepers in charge of full inns.  James happily wore his shepherd costume from last Christmas.

December 9 

We had a busy two weeks of Christmas concerts.

December 10

After a Saturday of running errands around town I promised the kids a treat from the bakery.

December 11

I was stopped at a light beside this house on a flying trip to Harrogate on Sunday afternoon. It's noticeable for obvious reasons.

December 12

I ended up purchasing a small artificial tree for our early Christmas morning.  We realized at the last minute that this Monday morning was our only chance to have a family Christmas so there were a lot of envelopes with promises of presents from Amazon to come.

December 13

KJ captured this early-morning moment.  Morning snuggles with James are one of my favorite things, and I treasure these days when he still fits in my lap.

December 14

Pizza and Chamomile Tea courtesy of K.J. when I got sick on a Wednesday night

December 15

It was supposed to be my day to focus on packing, but instead I spent most of it with a fever and sore throat.  Being forced to be still and rest is restorative, though.

December 16

Christmas Jumper day at school (and the last day of the term!)

December 17

Christmas Concert Ella took part in

December 18

Christmas Present!

December 19 

Headed Home!

December 20

Cousin Sleepin' 

December 21

Christmas Tree Bokeh

December 22

Playground Fun

December 23

Sunny Alabama Morning

December 24

Christmas Dinner

December 25 

Murphy Cousins

December 26

Target Run with my Sister

December 27

Pugh Cousins lining up for Presents

December 28

Playground Fun

December 29

I had my first really good experience with eggnog.

December 30

Shrimp and Grits!!!

December 31

We celebrated KJ's birthday a morning early with Krispy Kreme and Chicken Minis from Chick-Fil-A.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Three Ways to Create Christmas Magic

In a very time-honored tradition in our family, we celebrated our family Christmas early to facilitate traveling home for the holidays.  Getting to do that this year is a gift that we were not expecting at all when we went home this summer.  We are so grateful for the wedding of these two making it possible.  The biggest gift is that they even want us to be there that much!

I am a bit nervous about being in charge of their wedding photography!  But conversely, I love photographing interactions between people I love, and I think having someone you know and trust behind the camera makes people more comfortable being themselves, which results in better pictures.  All the technical prowess in the world means nothing if you have stiff and uncomfortable expressions!

But back to our early Christmas yesterday...

We have been rocking our fireplace out for the past three weeks at least.  It makes everything feel so cozy pleasant.

Why so excited James?  It's obviously because my mom gave me some extra thumbtacks for the bulletin board in my room.  It is always, always the little things.

Also a big hit was KJ's idea to give the kids a little cash in an envelope.  Nothing makes you feel so happy as having a little pocket money.  Ask me how I know?  KJ gave me some, too. 

This charity shop find made Ella so happy, and she spent the day tapping away.  It's such a pleasant background noise.  

I began writing this morning out of a desire to record our lives more frequently in this space as I used to do, but I've ended up thinking of a few things that made our faux Christmas morning full of that Christmas magic we all desire, and maybe they'll be helpful to you, too.

  1. Cultivating gratitude.  I really think being intentional about being thankful for gifts big and small throughout the month of November made our Christmas morning so pleasant.  I was really thankful yesterday for God's grace at work in our kids' hearts in how thankful and content they were through the day.
  2. Paying attention.  Sometimes it's hard to know what to buy for someone, but I found it so easy this year especially to pick up those little things that my kids have been talking about and requesting for the past several months.  Because even though we all love a really nice, expensive gift from time to time, our lives are mostly made more joyful and easier by little things.  For us this year it looked like thumbtacks, a lunchbox that looks like a book satchel, and a pen with a cool inscription:  Mightier than Sword.
  3. Don't pass up the thrift store or in England, the charity shop.  Because that typewriter was the most thrilling gift of the day.

Monday, December 5, 2016

November Days

It's the beginning of December, and we've already had our first taste of Christmas lights and Santa Claus, but I'm taking a moment to savor and record November as per usual at the beginning of the month.

November 1 - Raking the Leaves and Picking Up Rocks
This proved to be a good way to get the kids outside on homeschool days and also made our back garden look nicer.  November is the month of fading light, so we paid special attention to that evening sun.

November 3 - Autumn Drives

November 4 - Rainbow over the Moors
This incredible view is on the way to the kids' school, and when you're running early and catch a glimpse of what looks like a rainbow halfway painted on the horizon you pull over to take a picture.

It was probably pouring rain five minutes later.  North Yorkshire is crazy like that.

November 5 - Remembering the 5th of November
I just love this girl so much.

November 6 - Leaves, Leaves, Leaves

November 7 - Ballet Stretching
Ella has a list of stretches to work on during the week for her ballet class.  Ella's giving James some instructions on how to join in here.

November 8 - Golden Leaves Outside our House

November 9 - Unexpected Snow Day
Waking up to a winter wonderland in early November was the best kind of surprise.

November 10 - After School Sun

November 11 - The yellow leaves have been glorious this year.

November 12 - Feeding a cat while her family was away...she got a bit lonely and needed a good head scratch.

November 13 - Christmasy Wander with Christmasy Drinks

November 15 - Playground Fun

November 16 - Rainbow over Arkendale

November 17 - I was chatting with friends waiting for the kids to get out of school when someone pointed out a rainbow behind me over the school yard.  November really is a month of rainbows.

November 18 - Friday night fun with Friends
A nearby city recently got a Domino's Pizza that delivers to Boroughbridge.  This is cause for celebration.

November 19 - Pizza Party Hosted in part as a thank you to a friend with the right tools for hanging curtains.
We were so thankful.  Curtains at last!

November 20 - Tap and Theatre Craft Exams

November 21 - New pajamas from Great-Gramma Lister

November 22 - Friends!  And Christmas Bookshop Windows!

November 23 - School Mornings

November 24 - Thanksgiving Preparations

November 25 - Afternoon School Run
It's basically night time when we drive home from school now.

November 26 - Thanksgiving 

November 27 - Leftovers Quesadilla Style

November 28 - Chasin' Waterfalls

November 29 - Exploring York
We love showing our friends around!

November 30 - Sunset on the Block