Friday, December 31, 2010

What did you get Cohen for Christmas?

In my previous post, I listed out the three things Santa brought to Cohen. Jace and I also got him a little something.

It is a tradition in our family to purchase an ornament each year. Jace and I have been doing this since we got married. Many years, this was the only gift we exchanged. This year, Cohen got his second ornament to put on the tree (he got his first one last year, even though he wasn't at home to open it).

He also got several books, including one titled "Russia ABC's." I wanted to give him something to help him learn more about the country where he was born. This is a great book because it takes each letter of the alphabet and assigns it to something in Russia. For example "V" is for Vladivostok, the city where Cohen was born.

He also got some flash cards with the states on them. If you have a 2 year old, this is a must! Cohen already knows 6 of the states and he loves looking at the pictures. Later I can use them to teach capitals, the state motto, flower, bird, etc.

We only got him one "toy." This kid has more toys than he knows what to do with, and he's still at that age where he'd rather play with the boxes. We got him a Buzz Lightyear action figure. He really liked it.

At our home, Santa does not fill the stockings. We requested that Santa allow us to do that because Jace and I still don't really exchange gifts, we just exchange stockings.

We filled Cohen's stocking with Play-doh stuff.

And his very own flashlight!

Lucy and Ella also get a stocking. This year they had new collars in their stocking.

I didn't take any pictures of Jace and I opening our stocking, but they were also stuffed with great gifts!

Funny story about the stockings. I was with Cohen in Wal-Mart one day and decided to get stuff for Jace's stocking. I asked him what we should get for Daddy. He said "Bob," which is Bob the Tomato from VeggieTales. So we went down the movie aisle and they had 4 or 5 VeggieTales movies. He picked one and we got it and gave it to Jace for Christmas. The one Cohen picked was "It's a Meaningful Life." It's sort of a rip-off of "It's a Wonderful Life." Anyway, in the movie the main character has an adopted daughter. If you know the story of "It's a Wonderful Life" you know that the movie is a story of what life would be like for everyone else if the main character never existed (or in this case, made a different decision). Ok, I'm getting to the point of the story...the main character never does get married, and he never has his biological children, and he never adopts the little girl. They show her still sitting in the orphanage. I'm in tears again just thinking about it. Jace and I both were shocked that Cohen picked this movie for him. Where would my Cohen be today if we had not listened to God and adopted the most wonderful little boy on the planet? Oh I don't even want to think about it. I'm so grateful that God has a plan that is so much better than anything I might think up.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What did Santa bring Cohen?

Prior to reading this, I'd like for you to read this. We need to keep reminding ourselves that Christmas is a time for giving, not getting. This post is our feeble attempt to teach Cohen about giving and to teach him about the gift that Christ gave him at Christmas.

Santa does indeed visit the Raney residence for Christmas, but prior to Santa's visit, Jace and I had a long talk with him about Cohen and how we wanted to celebrate Christmas. See, Santa is very understanding and he always follows the parents wishes when it comes to how to celebrate Christmas. We believe that everything Christmas related should have a connection to Christ. We explained that since Christ only got 3 gifts that first Christmas, we wanted Cohen to only get 3 gifts from Santa. We feel that if 3 gifts was good enough for Jesus, then it's certainly good enough for Cohen.

Also, we explained to Santa that Cohen still has friends on the other side of the world. We wanted him to limit Cohen to 3 gifts, so that Cohen's friends could get the things they need for Christmas.

Below is our tree on Christmas morning. On the left are the 3 gifts Santa brought to Cohen, on the right are the things he got from us.

Jesus received 3 specific gifts: Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. When we talked to Santa we said that we wanted his three gifts to represent the gifts Jesus received, so that when Cohen opened the presents, we could explain why he got what he got.

Frankincense and myrrh are both oils that were used in religious ceremonies. They were also put on the bodies of the dead, used as makeup, among lots of other things. Cohen's first gift from Santa was something for the spirit: a manger set. The second gift was something for the body: a new pair of shoes.

The manger set fulfilled Cohen's request for a donkey.

The last gift, gold, is something of value. Today, Cohen values toys, so Santa brought him one toy: a remote controlled car.

It was so kind of Santa to respect our wishes!

I hope that next year, you will sit with Santa and have him play an active role in presenting the real meaning of Christmas.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What did you do on Christmas Eve?

Jace and I both have lots of fun memories of our childhood Christmases. We were both lucky enough to live close enough to our families that we could spend the evening of Christmas Eve at our grandparents house with our Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, etc. Well, unfortunately, this is one Christmas tradition we simply cannot pass on to Cohen.

We live in LaPlace, and our families live in Baton Rouge and Farmerville. We simply were not able to go and have dinner at our grandparents house with the rest of the family and still have time to do all the things we need to do to prepare for Jesus' birthday and Santa's arrival. So we started our own tradition.

Our church hosted a candlelight service on Christmas Eve. I love that they do this. What a wonderful way to begin the official Jesus' Birthday Celebration! We got to sing Christmas songs and listen to the Christmas story. I also love that, even though we were not with our relatives, we were still with our family. Jace, Cohen and I do life with these people 365 days of the year, so it is only appropriate that we spend Christmas Eve with them.

After the service, we headed home to enjoy our first Christmas Eve as a family. We started the evening off with a birthday cake for Jesus. We only baked the cake on Christmas Eve, we decorated and ate it on Christmas day so stay tuned for more on the cake.

While the cake was baking, we took the fun outside. It is a tradition for my family that you pop firecrackers on Christmas Eve.

After the fire crackers, we got our bag of reindeer food for the backyard. I was hoping that by putting it in the back yard, Santa would park the sleigh there, and not on top of my house.

For Christmas, one of our neighbors gave Cohen a really cute stuffed reindeer. Jace and I kept explaining that the food we were tossing in the yard was for the reindeer. After we finished throwing all the food in the yard, we went back inside. About 2 seconds later, Cohen was beating on the back door saying he needed to go back outside. He had his stuffed reindeer in tow, so I opened the door and let him go back out. He put the reindeer on the ground and explained that he was eating the reindeer food. Too cute!

On Christmas Eve, I allow everyone to open one gift from under the tree. Of course it is a gift that I choose....and oddly enough, it was our Christmas pajamas!!

The last picture I took on Christmas Eve was of Cohen sleeping. I'm sure the sugar plums are dancing in his head.

Monday, December 27, 2010

How does the Raney Family celebrate Christmas?

On Christmas Eve, we headed over to Jace's parents house to celebrate Christmas with his family.

Beware: This post is mostly pictures!

Cohen loved passing out gifts and then helping everyone open their gifts.

Here he is helping Aunt Trix.

And helping me.

Of course, after helping open the gifts, sometimes he would just sit on them. Good thing Snuggies are not breakable, right?

Here's Cohen helping Uncle Awesome open his gift.

And helping Nan.

And helping Pops.

I must not have been paying attention when he was helping Jace. I'm sure he helped open one of his gifts, but I never did catch that with my camera. Oh well, maybe next year.

For those that remember this post, you would know that Cohen asked Santa for a donkey (and five trees). Uncle Awesome and Aunt Trix got Cohen a stuffed donkey. They also purchased a donkey through Samaritans Purse to be donated to a family in need and they purchased 5 trees from the Arbor Day Foundation. I think this is one of the best gifts you can give at Christmas time. Thank you Adam and Tricia for helping teach Cohen how to GIVE at Christmas time.

Nan and Pops gave Cohen this game called Elefun. It was great. Here we are all trying to catch the butterflies. If your small child does not have this game, go buy it now. It is so funny to watch their face when those butterflies come flying out of the elephant's trunk.

Each year, Nan and Pops have given the four of us (Jace, Adam, Tricia, and me) pajamas for Christmas. This year, Tricia thought ahead and got them a pair as well. Great thinking Tricia! It is a Raney family tradition to put on the pajamas at the party and wear them until you leave.

Nan in her new pajamas. This is just too funny!

Pops, aka Superman, in his pajamas.

Not sure where they are going, but they sure do look cute!

All the girls in our pajamas. (Jace and Adam did not join in the fun. They refused to put on their!)

This year, Nan purchased this beautiful ribbon for her gifts. The ribbon looked great, but it was covered in glitter. In this picture, Jace is shaking the glitter onto my head while I'm trying to open a gift.

Shaking glitter ribbon on someones head is like an invitation to have that glitter ribbon rubbed across your face, right? (Note: At work today, three days after this party, Jace was asked if he was a vampire, because he sparkled in the sun from all the glitter. Hehe! Maybe he will be able to get rid of the glitter before the end of the year).

Ok, I'm not sure what Cohen's doing in this picture, I just wanted to show off his adorable shirt. Isn't he just so cute! And yes, he is Santa's Favorite!!

Nan and Pops gave Cohen this spinning chair for Christmas. Maybe one of them will comment and tell you what the correct name for this spinning chair is, but it is super fun! You sit in it and then you spin around. Cohen got it right away. He was spinning in no time!

After seeing how much fun he was having in it, Jace and I decided we needed to give it a try. It really is a lot of fun!

It also doubles as a hat. I think he's supposed to be some character  from something, but I don't know what. Maybe he will comment later and explain this picture.

Nan and Pops gave Cohen Jace's Kermit doll. Then Jace took it from Cohen and cuddled up in the recliner with him. Such cute little friends! Reminds me of Joey and Hugsy.

Nan and Pops also gave Cohen a really nice easel.

  After all that fun, we moved on to the Raney family tradition of taking a nap.

 The party was lots of fun! Can't wait to do it all again next year!