Christmas 2015 – Recap

It’s hard to believe the holidays are just about over. I actually get a little down every year starting December 26. I tend to feel like someone burst my bubble and I’m suddenly back in the real world. I try to hang on to Christmas as long as I can. 

After all, the Twelve Days of Christmas only begin on December 25. I’m totally that weirdo still rocking out to Christmas music. My tree and decorations may come down in the next few days, or I might leave it all up until Three Kings Day, also known as Epihany, which marks the end of the Christmas season on the church calendar. 

Before New Years and it’s suddenly January (!), I wanted to stop in and share a little bit about our Christmas. 

In my last post, I mentioned that the Sunday School Christmas program was the following morning. I’m not sure that I shared that it was a family affair. It’s a pretty small church, so Rosie, Shane and myself were drafted to play Jesus, Joseph and Mary. Tristan played both a scribe to the Wise Men as well as a [wandering] sheep. 

The whole thing is on YouTube, if you’re so inclined. It’s about 24 minutes long. There’s two different perspectives available, actually. One of the high school youth wrote the play. It’s a comedy that focuses on the Wise Men and I found it hilarious. 

Tristan’s shining moment as scribe is about 5 or 6 minutes in. 

The rest of the week consisted of fudge and pizzelle-making, the crafting of paper snowflakes and a visit or two with some family. 

 Shane was working, so I took the kids to church on Christmas Eve. They were adorably excitable throughout the service. It all went well except for the part where Tristan nearly lit Rosie’s hair on fire during Silent Night. Thank you, Jesus, for letting us avoid that disaster!

Christmas morning started early, especially early for Shane who worked until midnight Christmas Eve. I’m not sure who was more excited, me or Tristan. He came up to our room about 4:30am, which is typical for him. He’ll usually snuggle in and go back to sleep until 6 or 6:30. 

This year, however, he knew to check to see if Santa left gifts. On his way to our room he stopped to check out the gifts under the tree. All were wrapped except for a new play tent, which he started asking about once in bed with us. Shortly after, Rosie woke. Everyone was squirming around and we realized nobody was going back to sleep. Thus, gift opening began at 5am. 

Tristan was so excited to figure out which present had his Kylo Ren lightsaber. Rosie was just totally content to toddle around holding scraps of wrapping paper. 

Once the much anticipated lightsaber was located, the dueling commenced, using the Anakin/Vader lightsaber he received last year. My kid has a thing for the Dark Side. Much of the morning (and the past week, actually) looked like this:

Gifts were pretty simple this year. Apparently Shane and I are of an age where gifts are [mostly] practical and received in advance. We didn’t exchange gifts with each other since we got power tools to build the swing set (post coming soon!)

We set a strict budget for gifts for the kids – and lucked out when we scored a few new-to-us items from friends that were moving. Rosie’s big gift from Santa was a sing & learn dog. However, I think she was most excited by the jingle bells in her stocking. 

Between coffee, pizzelles, more lightsaber duels, and ripped wrapping paper, we Facetimed with our family on the mainland before heading to brunch with Shane’s dad and Anita. 

Shane had to work that afternoon and evening. The kids took a nap when we got home while I assembled one of their gifts – an art easel – and watched Elf. The three of us had a simple dinner and called it an early night. 

All in all, it was a great Christmas! Don’t mind me, I’ll be hoarding candy canes to make it through to next Christmas season. 

Vacation Bible School and Starting to Feel Settled

Vacation Bible School and Starting to Feel Settled

I spent the past week volunteering at our church’s Vacation Bible School program. I’m pretty sure I will have the songs from our “Gangway to Galilee” theme stuck in my head for a long time – especially since they sent us home with a DVD/CD and songbook of all the music we learned!


The thing about moving is that if you ever want to feel settled and make new friends it seems like you’re constantly having to put yourself out there. After awhile, at least for me, you start to feel like you’re permanently outside your comfort zone. A week ago, I was seriously questioning why I volunteered to help at VBS. After all I didn’t really know anybody at church and it was going to completely throw off Tristan’s bedtime routine for an entire week (any parent of a toddler knows that could make the whole week difficult). I was feeling downright negative and anxious about the entire commitment.


Now, on the other side of VBS week, I couldn’t be more happy that I honored my commitment and helped out. Not only was I able to develop some friendships with both adults and kids, I had the pleasure of witnessing Tristan’s joy as he experienced the magic of VBS for himself!


That boy was the youngest kid there, but had all the adults and big kids wrapped around his finger.


There’s no question that he’s a Hanley; he was the life of the party. The first night was a little bit difficult (on him and me) as he had a hard time sitting through the introduction and Bible lesson. Luckily, he warmed up quickly and by the last night had everyone cracking up with his sheer excitement at seeing Rusty the Cat (the puppet) and dancing and singing to the music.


The week held some really positive moments for me as well. I was especially flattered after teaching the Preschool lesson on Friday that one little boy wanted me to keep playing with him after the other kids moved on to crafts and games. We pretended to be the disciples out fishing on the Sea of Galilee. Afterwards, he couldn’t believe that I “worked” there. It felt really great to make such a great connection with another child.


I also felt a huge difference at church this morning. Volunteering at VBS this past week gave me a sense of ownership over my church community and I felt a whole new sense of connection and communion with the folks I worship with every week. I even feel like I made a couple friends (one who doesn’t even attend our church) and that’s always a victory to be celebrated when you’re still new in town. It even gave me the confidence to start pursuing some other things I’ve put on hold while waiting to feel settled.

Another great moment from the last week was when Tristan recited (unprompted and completely on his own) one of the memory verses we learned:

I have called you by name and you are mine. Isaiah 43:1

How cool that he now has a little bit more of God’s Word stored in his heart!


Of course nothing could beat roasting marshmallows and eating s’mores with my son!