Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy 4th Birthday Jack!

Happy 4th Birthday Jack!

4 years old must be a magical age, Jack is so proud to be a 4 year old!

A few days before his birthday he was standing in front of a mirror and said (while nodding his head), "I'm 4 years old! I'm 4 years old! My legs are longer, my head is bigger... yeah, I'm 4 years old!"

Because Jack's birthday falls on Christmas Eve, we decided this year to have 2 separate small celebrations. First the day before his birthday with my dad and the Wyatt's, then after Christmas with my mom's side of the family. Both were informal, but he had a good time.

Mary Coleman made a cake for Jack and I decorated it (wrote Happy Birthday Jack, there wasn't much decorating going on!)
Jack really wanted a Jet Pack for Christmas or his birthday. About 3 days before his birthday we still didn't have a gift for him and Freddy T. mentioned trying to find a jet pack. We didn't even know what to look for, so I typed in "Jet Pack" on and this came up. It was perfect and it was free 2 day shipping, so we ordered it and it arrived in TN the afternoon of his party.
He loved it! At one point I think he really thought it was going to give him real flying ability.

A few days after his birthday we had round 2 of birthday celebrations. This time was just as exciting as the first party.
He had a little help opening his gifts this time.

Freddy T. and I are so proud of Jack and so honored to get to be his parents. He is a loving little boy and full of life! We love you Jackers!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bring a group of ANY size to NYC!!!

Hey Friends! We need mission teams in NYC of ANY size and pretty much ANY age the following dates!

March 20-13
June 13-16
June 26-29

Please let us know if you are interested in bringing a group of 5 or 50, 2 or 20, 7 or 17! It will be an experience you'll never forget and it will advance God's work in wonderful ways!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

We need your help...and it is easy!

Some of you may know that Lifeway Christian Resources has named their theme for the 2011 Vacation Bible School, "Big Apple Adventure". We are humbled and excited about this and the opportunity it provides for us and our ministry here. Thousands of churches across the nation will be praying for NYC as they teach their kids about Jesus.

Could you help us with a small favor. We really need your help on this! Would you prayerfully send the video below to all the Pastors, Children's Ministers and VBS directors that you know and ask them to do the same? It is a very easy way for you to support our ministry here in NYC!

VBS Missions Offering from Freddy T. Wyatt on Vimeo.

Thanks so much for considering forwarding this on! MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Jack and Santa Claus

*If someone in your family believes in Santa Claus don't let them read this and don't read it aloud.*
Freddy T. and I never really made a formal decision on how we were going to handle Santa Claus. One Sunday last Christmas the teachers in Gallery Kid told us that when asked "What is Christmas all about?", Jack told them Santa Claus. When they told him it was all about Jesus, he firmly stood by his Santa Claus answer. So Freddy T. tried to talk to him about it last year and they got into a friendly debate, Jesus vs. Santa Claus. Freddy T. finally told Jack that Santa Claus was pretend. It was kind of a knee jerk reaction, but the truth nonetheless. He shared with Jack that Mommy and Daddy are the ones who give him presents under the tree and that Santa Claus was fun to talk about and fun to pretend with, but that's what it was... pretend.

Jack was so adamant that Santa Claus was real, a hard core believer, we really didn't think he heard a word about Christmas being about Jesus and the truth about Santa Claus. So one day last Christmas, while we were in TN, Jack and Patton, our nephew who was in Kindergarten at the time (and a SC believer), were in the car with Freddy T.'s mom. While they were riding down the road Jack looked at Patton and said, "Patton, you know Santa Claus is not real, it's just pretend and it's really your Mommy and Daddy!" It still makes me laugh. I wish I could have seen the look on Mary Coleman's face as she hears her 2 year old grandson saying this to her 6 year old grandson. I think Patton thought Jack didn't know what he was talking about because he was just a 2 year old. That was the end of the conversation and to my knowledge it was not mentioned again.

On a side note. We have no problem with anyone who chooses to believe in Santa Claus at their house (we even took our kids to see him this year). I did as a kid and loved it! This is just how our family is handling it. And it's not my desire to have my kids spoil it for any other children. Part of what is so funny to me about Jack and Patton's conversation is the fact that Jack was listening to every word. We had no idea! And if you could have heard Mary Coleman telling the story at a Christmas party last year, it was pretty funny!

Don't be discouraged though. The spirit of Santa Claus is alive and well in this household. Jack has not stopped talking about him since last Christmas. He asked multiple times through out the year to watch Christmas movies, but I would not let him till November. He has talked about it with our friends. My friend Rachel was over one afternoon back in September and Santa Claus came up in conversation. She asked Jack about him and Jack said, "My Daddy says he's pretend, but I think he is real!"

We are making some progress this year. We've been talking a lot about Baby Jesus and Jack is beginning to understand that it is in fact ALL about Jesus and he'll tell you Santa Claus is just pretend, but his imagination runs wild with thoughts of the big, jolly guy. As I wrote few posts ago, Jack was upset at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade because the real Santa Claus was not there. The real one would have come out of the sky, not on a float.

So, all of that said to bring you our final Christmas decoration. A few mornings ago Jack brought our family together and shared this,"We have a problem. We don't have a chimney in our apartment and Santa Claus is too big to fit in our front door. We have to build one!" And he proceeded to give us all jobs. Who am I to crush his imagination? If the kid wants a chimney, then we will find a way to have a chimney in our apartment. My mind started spinning. I'm not an artist, but I like a challenge like the one Jack gave us. Brenda, an intern at church who has helped me once a week this semester, was coming over that day so I could run errands, so it was the perfect chance to gather our supplies. I bought paint and felt and 3 little stockings. That afternoon I dug cardboard out of the recycling room in our building and began construction. I spent 2 days, when I had a chance, to work on the chimney. The second day Jack helped me a lot. He painted all the red and black (I had already painted it white and taped everything off so he just had to cover it with red). I made the mantle, cut the flames out of felt, put names on the stocking, and gathered a few sticks. Once the paint was dry we hung it up and put the finishing touches on it. He loves it and so do Lillie and Elliott. It adds a little cozy piece to our tiny hallway. And best of all, we have a chimney for Santa Claus!

Since we already have stockings with our names on them we gave Brandon (an intern/Gallery Administrator who lives with us) one of these stockings and of course the animals Jack sleeps with, and who are very dear to him, need stockings, so Lucky and Puppet are sharing one and Monkey and Puppy have the other.
Lillie and Elliott stare at the "fire" and say, "hot, hot, hot!"

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Christmas Decorations

I wish I had known that our first Christmas in a house would be our last. I had fun decorating for Christmas in 2007, but would have taken it all in more and enjoyed it more had I known what I know now. For the past two years our Christmas decorating has been the bare minimum. Stockings and a tree. Partly because it was a lot of work to get it all together and our kids didn't even really know what was going on or care and the other part was the fact that our apartment is small and there aren't a lot of options or space for decorating.

Last year was Jack's first Christmas to really get into things and boy did he get into them. He has talked about Christmas and Santa Claus (which I'll share about in my next post) every month of 2010. He LOVES this season, so this year I decided to ramp things up a bit. It's mostly homemade things, but it has made our apartment feel festive and special this holiday.

It's our little tradition for Freddy T. and Jack to go out and get our tree. I'm sure next year Elliott will join them, maybe Lillie too, but this year it was the two originals. They had to walk a few blocks to get to a tree stand and then haul whatever they bought back home. My jaw dropped when I saw our tree out in our hallway all wrapped up. It was so tall! I could tell it was a big one. I can't imagine how heavy it was for Freddy T. to carry it home. He said Jack kept saying, "You can do it Daddy! You're almost there!" We brought it in and got it set up and it is in fact the biggest tree we've ever owned. But it is a beautiful one! We put lights on the first night we had it and then the next day I, along with all 3 kids, put the ornaments up. It was thankfully an enjoyable experience considering I was braced for the worse. Last year we had a gate around the tree to keep little hands off of it. Since then I've sold the gate, so this year there has been a lot of "don't' touch the tree" and "no, no!" I think Lillie and Elliott think ornaments are called "no, nos!"

Enjoy a little tour of our decorations.

First some decorating action!
Elliott checking things out.
Jack adding a few ornaments.
About half way through I heard Elliott saying "Mommy! Mommy!," when I went to find him he had crawled up in Jack's bed with his paci and blanket and covered up and said "night, night!"
Since Jack had to take it easy, due to his arm, he said he could be the ornament passer outer!

Now for a tour of ornaments.

These next few are little ornaments we were given from different countries and the globe has "For God so loved the world" from John 3:16 written on it. I look forward to adding more little tokens from people who have visited other countries or served as missionaries there and sharing them with our kids. We want them to be mission minded people.
From the Clayton's who served in Mexico.
From Hannah, Freddy T.'s cousin,when she took a trip to Russia.
These two are "just married" ornaments from 2004.
This one if from the year I was pregnant with Jack. It is one of my favorite ones on our tree.
This is for Lillie's 1st Christmas. Elliott had one and Jack broke it on Christmas morning 2008. I think my mom has a replacement for me, but it's in TN still. I didn't even put it out last year because it didn't feel fair for Lillie to have one and not Elliott. This year I got over it. Maybe next year I'll have Elliott's from TN to put with it. I just need to think about it before the tree goes up!
Here is our tribute to New York City. We got the "city" ornament in 2004 after we had served up here as church planting interns. The taxi is from 2008. It was our first Christmas in NYC and Jack was into taxis pretty good. He was even one for Halloween that year.
And we have this taxi ornament too. This year it is one of Lillie and Elliott's favorite. They look at it and say "car!"
The year I was pregnant with Jack I was also teaching 8th grade and one of my students (who I think actually reads this blog still) gave me this ornament. I really love it!
And then we got a new one to represent our family as it was Christmas 2008, with Lillie and Elliott.
A student of mine in 2006 had this little ornament as part of the bow on the gift he gave me for Christmas the year Jack was due. I let Jack hang this one and if you look closely you can see how he chose to hang most of the ornaments he hung this year... on a light bulb instead of a branch!
I love this cross. It's small, but beautiful and it's because the birth of Jesus and his death on the cross that we even have a reason to celebrate Christmas.
And finally, after several years of looking for a tree topper that I liked and having no luck, I decided last year to let Jack make our star. I hope it lasts a long time! Today he actually informed me that he didn't like that star, that special stars were yellow and we needed a special star.
And for a few other decorations around our apartment.

I added this "real" wreath to the window in our living room and then put one on our front door. There are only 2 apartments on our floor and the other one is vacant, so we are the only ones who get to enjoy it, but it's fun to have it up and it smells so good!
Here's the tree and the stockings. Mine and Freddy T.'s stockings are hanging behind the tree, you just can't see them.
And finally I let the teacher come out of me and the kids and I made hand print wreaths. They are hanging in the doorway to our kitchen. I think it might be my favorite decoration of the year.
I have one more decoration I've been working on for a few days. I'll share it with you tomorrow, along with a funny story about Jack and Santa Claus!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Santaland at Macy's and The Rockefeller Christmas Tree

Today we went to Santaland at Macy's. Santaland is a portion of the 8th floor where you venture through a magical wonderland and get to meet the big man himself. My pictures don't really do it justice, but the kids loved it! Elliott was a little hesitant and reserved, except for looking at the trains and Lillie and Jack just enjoyed it all. The main reason for going to Santaland is, of course, to see Santa. The big moment at the Macy's Day Parade is when Santa closes out the parade and makes his grand seasonal appearance. At that moment Jack became very frustrated because he knew right away it was not the real Santa Claus. The real Santa comes out of the sky, not in a sleigh on a float. So, we went to check this one out. I don't know what his thoughts are about the "realness", but he liked it nonetheless. Jack's big thing he wants for Christmas this year is for our family to get Jet Packs, so we can all fly. He relayed the message on to Santa. From the look on Santa's face, my guess is that was a new one to him!
"Getting on" the train to the Northpole.
In one of the cars.
Entering the North Pole
They all loved the trains and I love this picture of Lillie and Elliott.
This reminded Freddy T. of the train station in New Brunswick, NJ (where I lived for a year and where Freddy T. joined me for a few months after we got married) and George Street that is kind of the main stretch of road in downtown New Brunswick.
This is our first ever picture with Santa Claus and all the kids.

You get to visit Santa Clause in his own little house. When you leave you are directed to the exit. If you look back you'll see about 5 or 6 other houses. There is a Santa in each one! They work hard to make sure the kids go the right way so they don't discover there is more than one!

Afterwards we went down to the 7th floor to eat at McDonald's and then off to Rockefeller Center to get our annual family picture at the Christmas Tree. I'm way ahead of the game this year. Last year it was the night before we were leaving for TN, when I hauled the kids down there to meet Freddy T. and it was a blizzard out there.

This one won't go down in the books as the best picture ever taken. The man who took it for us got more of the pavement in the picture and didn't even get the whole tree, you can't see the top, and you can barely make out that it's even our family, but oh well... here you go!
Jack has to wear one of my jackets until his arm is out of the sling. He has been such a sport.
Freddy T. had to make a big deal of the ornaments and get Jack to tell me about them in order to get him to look at the camera.
This was our first trip during the day. It was easier, but the tree is much prettier at night. You can barely tell there are lights on it here.
There are Elmo's and Cookie Monsters floating around during the holidays offering to take their picture with your kids. You take a picture then they pull out their bag for money. It's worth a dollar or two, especially this year when Elliott is pretty fond of Elmo and his Sesame Street Pals.