Saturday, December 31, 2016

Our Family Christmas

Making peppermint play dough for a fun school activity a couple days before Christmas.

I had the brilliant idea to give them real candy to decorate their play dough "cookies" with...

only I forgot that because the play dough was warm, right off the stove, the candy would MELT into it!

Their "spaceship."

So, in the end, that lovely green color we had going turned a disgusting camo-green thanks to the melted brown chocolate swirled into it.  It was so disgusting looking, and the smell had turned to a weird combo of peppermint and cinnamon drops and little boy hands, that I ended up throwing the whole batch away.  Lesson learned.  Oh well, it was fun while it lasted!  This literally kept my older boys entertained for 1 hour segments each time they played with it!

JoJo opening a car present from Grandmommy and Granddaddy.

We celebrated our own little family Christmas on Saturday, Christmas Eve Day, since we knew we'd have church on Christmas morning followed by a 3-hour car trip to Grandma and Grandpa's house.  The plan was to open presents and have our traditional Christmas Day meal on Saturday with our birthday party for Jesus and stockings reserved for Christmas morning.  Everything went according to plan until most of the family woke up with the stomach bug on Christmas morning. :( We ended up skipping the birthday party (since nobody but Mom felt like eating) and just doing stockings before everyone was ready for naps all day long!

But back to Christmas Eve Day:

A super cool explorer's belt from Grandmommy and Granddaddy!

A Little People fire truck for Addy.


Monkeys in a Barrel for Isaac.

New sweaters for Daddy!

Books are always a hit with our children!

So are puzzles!

This ring set from Grandmommy and Granddaddy was Adoniah's favorite gift of the day!

He sat there for the longest time putting the rings onto the pegs.  Since then, he's played with it over and over and over...

Isaac got a tool set for Christmas so he can be just like Daddy!  He was ecstatic and has been busy "fixing" and "building" things ever since!

A T-ball stand for all the boys to share!

Daddy checking out his new Garmin "Fitbit" from Mommy.  I think he likes it! :)

Look who finished the puzzle all by himself!

Making a quick recovery from the stomach bug, we decided to go ahead and keep our plans for a big Britton family get-together at the home of Nathan's parents on Monday.

For the first time in 4 1/2 years, the whole family was together!

Grandpa and Grandma with their 14 grandchildren.  There will be 3 more added in 2017!

The Britton sisters and sisters-in-law. :)

Such a cute shot captured of my in-laws!

We had a great time with the family until Josiah ended up throwing up Monday evening, so we quickly packed up our stuff and headed home, not wanting to give anyone the bug we thought had left us!  Turns out, several more members of our little family had another episode of it the following day and we've been in recovery mode ever since.  Now, I'm down with it too! 

Here's to hoping that 2017 starts out bug-free in our household!
Happy New Year to the rest of you!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Family Christmas Newsletter 2016

Merry Christmas From the Britton Brigade!!!

Dear Friends and Family,

Warm greetings to you all from cold southeastern Ohio!  We hope and pray that this yearly Christmas letter finds you all rejoicing in those “good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people” - that a Savior was born so long ago to bring redemption to our souls and reconciliation with our Creator!  It is indeed a wonderful time of year for celebrating His birth…and connecting with our loved ones both far and near.

2016 has been a full year for our family in so many ways. After our big move across the country that we wrote about last year, it has felt good to be settled in our new house and church.  This corner of Ohio definitely feels like home now!  We are loving our beautiful property and all the fun that each season brings: baby chicks, turkeys, and a garden in the spring, blackberries in the summer, beautiful leaf colors and walnuts in the fall, and soon, snow in the winter (much to Isaac’s great anticipation)!  In the near future, we hope to add both milk and meat goats to our small homestead that we have dubbed “Hilltop Farm.”

And now for an update on the “Brigade”!

Major General - Nathan
Nathan’s year was full of both challenges and blessings in his role as senior pastor of Faith Baptist Church.  As with any new job or ministry position, there were many new things to learn, some changes to begin instituting, and a couple of tough decisions he was faced with making.  We have truly been blessed with a wonderful church family who have been incredibly supportive of Nathan’s leadership and helpful throughout this year of transition.  It’s been especially exciting to see new folks from the community trust in Christ as their Savior and new families join with our fellowship!  When not engaged with church work, Nathan has spent a lot of time this past year mowing grass, working in the large garden we planted, and keeping up with handy-man projects around the house and property.  He is currently in the process of building quad bunk beds for our growing brood of boys.  He also enjoys playing basketball with a group of guys from the community and keeping up with politics in his spare time.  A highlight for Nathan this past year was an anniversary get-away we took to the Hocking Hills area where we hiked, fished, and relaxed in the hot tub!

Deputy Commander - Katrina
My job is a never-ending one as I care for three young children, meals, laundry, housework, chickens, and church ministry.  A highlight for me this past year was attending the Great Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati where I learned so much from various workshops I attended and found a fantastic preschool curriculum that has been great fun to implement with the boys!  Even though my oldest is only 3 years old, we have begun homeschooling in earnest and are having a wonderful time enjoying these early years of learning!  Another huge blessing for me was finding an answer to a 7-month health struggle in some amazing, all-natural supplements from a company called Plexus Worldwide.  This in turn has led to a recent business opportunity with the company that fills the nooks and crannies of my spare time.  At church, I love helping with the AWANA Sparks club (K-2nd graders) and serving in the music department.  I’ve also discovered (much to my surprise!) a new-found enjoyment of painting wall murals in the children’s wing!

Little Soldier #1 - Isaac (age 3)
Isaac is our tall and lanky “all-boy” boy whose imagination has come ALIVE this past year!  He is always creating something, whether indoor or outdoor, be it a tree house (on the ground), a castle, a painting, a Duple block construction, or a big box of drawings under the Christmas tree.  He has been gifted with a bright, inquisitive mind that is always processing life around him and coming up with questions that keep us on our toes!  It’s been a fun year of watching him learn and grow in so many ways.  Isaac loves to do school, play outside, have books read to him, and engage in any kind of art/craft activity.  A highlight for Isaac was getting to start Cubbies at AWANA this past August.  He also thoroughly enjoyed a recent airplane trip to Arkansas for Thanksgiving.  Isaac has natural leadership qualities that seem to come with being the first-born, which he is learning to use well instead of in a bossy way.  It’s been especially exciting to see his understanding of the Gospel and spiritual concepts begin to awaken!

Little Soldier #2 - Josiah (age 2)
Josiah-Bear is our sweet, sensitive, and sometimes stubborn little snuggle-bug!  He is full of love and affection, giving out kisses on a regular basis.  Josiah has made great strides in his language abilities this year and can talk quite well now.  He’s still learning to use those words when a brother infringes on his play, rather than shrieks of protest…so hopefully, that will come with time!  He is also learning how to go potty like a big boy.  JoJo’s favorite activity of all is cooking with Mommy in the kitchen.  He also greatly enjoys playing with his own pretend kitchen, being read to, riding his tricycle, playing with cars/vehicles of any kind, helping with chicken chores, and doing school with Isaac.  It’s amazing how much he is picking up by being the tag-along little student!  Highlights for Josiah this year included all the times we went swimming, both at a friend’s pool and at the beach in Virginia.  He has proven to be quite adventurous and daring when it comes to activities, although he can still be quite shy around people.

Little Soldier #3 - Adoniah (age 1)
Adoniah is our blond-haired, blue-eyed, finger-sucking, blanket-toting ray of sunshine who is into EVERYTHING these days!  Busy and wiggly are great words to describe this little mischief-maker!  If I turn my back for one minute, he can have a drawer or cabinet dismantled in no time flat.  Addy Boy has grown up quickly these last few months in his determination not to be left out of anything that his brothers are doing.  He has gotten very good at running and is learning to communicate through attempted words and sign language.  He loves to play outside, feed the chickens, and ride around on feet-propelled cars.  A good eater and a solidly-built child, it won’t be long before Adoniah passes up Josiah in size and strength.  Overall, Addy is a happy boy with a contagious smile and giggle that brings so much joy to all of our lives!

Little Soldier #4 - Baby Boy (due in March)
God has once again blessed our family with another child on the way!  At this rate, it won’t be long before Nathan has the basketball team he was hoping for!  This pregnancy has been the best one yet (thanks to Plexus supplements that have stabilized my blood sugar and caused nausea to be almost non-existent), and we are looking forward to welcoming our fourth boy into the world toward the middle of March.  We have found an experienced, capable midwife in the area and are planning for another home birth, assuming everything stays low risk.  We would appreciate your prayers for a smooth delivery and healthy baby when the time comes!

As we head into the new year, we hope and pray that it will be a blessed one for you all!  

We send much love across the miles with wishes for a very merry Christmas celebrating the Savior!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Holiday Happenings, Part 2

Making magic milk for school was a simple and fun activity!

Simply squirt some food coloring drops into a plate of milk and touch them with a Q-tip dipped in dish soap.

And presto!  The colors swirl together in a really cool way!  The boys asked to do this over and over.

Our "Countdown to Christmas" chain and calendar has been a great way to practice counting and number recognition.  Plus, it's built excitement in the boys for the big day!

Friday night at the movies.

We enjoyed a fun Christmas party with other young families from our church!  The gingerbread-building competition was a hit!

Team Bell

Team Britton (all Nathan's creation!)

Team Northup

Team Groves #1

Teams Groves #2 and Team Puckett

Three prizes were at stake for Most Impressive, Most Creative, and Most Festive houses.

After a break to play another game and eat dessert, the decorating of the houses commenced!

The final products!  I thought everyone did a great job!

This is the one all my boys worked on that graces our kitchen table.

The next big event on the calendar was the children's Christmas program at church.  I was so grateful for a group of ladies who met with me to bake cookies and popcorn balls to serve as refreshments after the program!

Sticky hands!

Popcorn balls.

Baking up a storm!

Caught at work!

Decorating in earnest.

(photo courtesy of Tasha Groves)

The Christmas program went so well!  We started rehearsals at the beginning of October, so it feels like we've been working on this event for a long time.  All the children did a great job learning their parts and the songs.  I was so proud of them!

(photo courtesy of Lia B.)
The angel choir.

Meanwhile, back at home, this kiddo makes me laugh!

This past week, we baked teddy bear breads to deliver to some of our neighbors.  This is a tradition my family started when I was a teenager at Christmas time that I wanted to pass on to my children.

Cute and pudgy!

I'd say this one could use a little Plexus Slim! ;)