amberdover

The High King Lives

Advent 2014 & Christmas Decor December 26, 2014

Hello dear ones! Here’s our Advent list and Jesse tree devotions for this year. Enjoy and may you be inspired!

We kept our Advent activities in the Advent Christmas tree. I got it at Michael’s craft store and my son Michael painted it. Each day Michael opened a drawer to read the activity.

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Jesse Tree, devotions by Ann Voskamp, and Advent wreathe. We read the devotions each night and Michael would put an ornament on the Jesse tree.

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We also did this names of Jesus chain. We read a verse and one of Jesus’ names. Then Michael would write someone to pray for on the back. Each night our chain got longer. Links for printables at the end.

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First off, this year wasn’t nearly as busy as last year. Some of the activities on our Advent list we never got to but that’s okay. If peace means skipping an activity then it’s worth it. Advent should not bring stress. It is a time to remember Christ’ birth and to look forward to Jesus’ second coming.

Last year was a bit hectic but we did have fun. Here’s the link for last year:
https://amberdover.wordpress.com/2013/12/15/advent-week-1/

There are 4 posts but the rest of them are at the end of the first post. So you can hop to each one. We had some nifty parties for the Grinch and the Nutcracker. We also did some fun random acts of kindness.
This year we repeated a few activities and added some new ones.¬†I’m just doing one post this year. Here we go!

Advent 2014

1. Leeland’s ultrasound, Christmas shopping, and watch a movie.
Our precious miracle
Leeland21weeks

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2. Read “The Gift of the Christmas Cookies” & make cookies.

You can find a detailed post on the Christmas books we read this year here:
https://amberdover.wordpress.com/2014/12/24/six-inspirational-christmas-books-with-activities/
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3. Decorate Chris’ office, give out cookies, & fill a shoebox online.

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4. Nativity play at group.

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I did a whole post on this here: https://amberdover.wordpress.com/2014/12/17/jesus-our-precious-gift-an-interactive-christmas-drama-2014/

5. Broadway Holiday (take canned goods) & make cornstarch ornaments.

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Fake snow
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6. Decorate a gingerbread house & sew primitive ornaments.

We never made the primitive ornaments but Chris and Michael did put together this gingerbread house kit.

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Also, Chris and I had a date night. Details here:
https://amberdover.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/christmas-date-ingredients/

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7. Army band concert and donate to World Vision, VOM, & Valley Rescue.

We didn’t make it to the concert because Michael felt under the weather.

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8. Read “The Legend of the Christmas Tree”, make tree crafts, & watch A Charlie Brown Christmas.

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9. Read “The Message of the Birds”, take a winter walk, & do bird crafts.
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10. Watch Frosty, have a snowman ice cream sundae, & do snowman crafts.

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mason jar snowglobe~ it was hard to get a good picture.
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tea light snowman ornament
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11. Group book club, drink mistletoe cider, and watch The Christmas Box.

We didn’t make it to our group because Michael still had the sniffles.

The Christmas Box is one of my favorite stories. My Dad read it to me one Christmas. It’s about a busy father who realizes he’s missing out on his daughter’s childhood. We got the movie this year on a dvd with other Christmas movies. I’ve read the book to my family once and will hopefully do that again some day.

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12. Read “The Candy Maker’s Gift”, make candy cane crafts, & eat candy cane treats.

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13. Christmas parade & movie marathon.
We didn’t make it to the parade. We intend to each year but usually don’t. Ah, it’s too cold anyways! Chris and I did make it to our Sunday School Christmas party. We played the white elephant game and that was fun. Here’s me and my buddy Carrie.

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14. Christmas kid’s choir at church.
Well, after a busy weekend and a full morning at church we decided to stay home that night. I did go with the guys to the archery place after lunch. I had promised Chris that I’d go some day.
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I shot once and…
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found, archery is not my cup of tea. I broke the arrow. I came, I saw, and…next time I’ll stay home. At least there was a nice recliner.

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15. Read “The Lil Match Girl”, make luminaries.

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16. Fantasy in Lights.

Fantasy in Lights at Callaway Gardens is a spectacular drive thru light show with over 8 million lights! The last time I rode through was when I was pregnant with Michael and Chris was in Iraq. So it was neat this year to take the guys to this AND to be pregnant again!

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We stopped in the Christmas village for some hot chocolate and treats.

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17. Watch The Hobbit, have Christmas treats at bookstore, & visit the Pet store.

I didn’t get any pics for this. Michael got some Christmas money from grandparents and used it to buy himself a book. We took a quick trip to the pet store before going to the movies. Maybe I will write a review on the third Hobbit movie…

18. Scholars Christmas party and bookswap.

Hannah reading to the kids.

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Chris holding Miriam, Hannah’s baby.

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23 weeks

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19. Watch Seasons of the Heart, Make paper Holly garland and mini paper angels.

Mom & Michael

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20. Christmas recital & give gifts to Nana & Grandad.
Michael played “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”
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I played a few sing along tunes for fun.
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Gifts with Nana and Grandad

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21. Instrumental Christmas program.

Our church has a large orchestra.

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22. Read “The Christmas Owl” and do owl crafts.

We read the book but didn’t do any crafts. So instead here are some pictures of my lil snowman! ūüôā
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23. Read “Mortimer the Christmas Mouse”.

I let Michael start nibbling on his gingerbread house since Mortimer the mouse lived in one.

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24. Christmas Eve, Read/watch The Nativity Story, living room camp out, & family games.
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We set up a big manger scene.
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Chris preparing the chicken. We also had leftovers from Thanksgiving.
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Family game time
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We each opened one gift.
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Okay this was staged lol. They were not actually asleep ;). We all ended up in bed because my lil dog has a gas problem….sigh.

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25. Christmas Day! Holiday breakfast & funny movie marathon.
It’s almost time!
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Michael has been playing his harmonica all day, that Aunt Jenn got him.
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I think he likes our present :).
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Stocking time! (Annabelle)
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Tessa

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Chester

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Annabelle…not cooperating.

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The guys putting together a transformer and then…
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the big Lego set. It took awhile.
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But it was worth it.

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Christmas decor etc…

So I was going to make this part a whole ‘nuther post but decided to keep this simple and put it all into one. It’s kind of late to show all our Christmas prep but what the heck.

Lights on the house
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Outside the door…

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Painting the Advent tree
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Stockings are hung…

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Christmas village on the piano

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Christmas tree and Nutcracker forest

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Chester modeling in his box

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New Christmas bedding. Yaaa!

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Chester…doing finances?

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Tree chain on the homeschool room door

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Michael likes to decorate his bedroom too.

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Well, God bless & remember the High King lives! Merry Christmas! ~Amber Dover

Links:

 

Six Inspirational Christmas Books with Activities December 24, 2014

Hello dear ones! I want to share with you the inspirational Christmas books we read during Advent and the activities we did with them. Also a link to the free Christmas Around the World lapbooks we’ve been doing in homeschool. ¬†Well, all but one of these Christmas books talk about Jesus’ birth. Enjoy and¬†I hope you’re having a merry Christmas season!

ChristmasBooks

1.The Gift of the Christmas Cookie

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This delightful story tells how the tradition of Christmas cookies came about. It is a story about sharing God’s love with others. We made Christmas cookies to go along with it.

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2. The Message of the Birds
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This cute story uses birds to share the news of Jesus’ birth. For the activity I taught Mom and Michael how to draw cardinals. Then they used waterpaint and finger paint to finish.
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3. The Candymaker’s Gift

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This is one of my favorite Christmas books. A grandfather uses the candy cane to teach children about Jesus. We made a couple candy cane ornaments. Then we made candy cane hearts to eat! Links will be at the end of this post!

Crushing the candy canes
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Before adding the vanilla almond bark
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Sprinkling the crushed candy canes into the melted candy
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Voila!

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4. The Legend of the Christmas Tree
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Why do we decorate Christmas trees? A tree salesman shares the origin of Christmas trees and how the church has used different trees to share God’s story through history. I learned something new myself when we read this. Michael made a picture ornament and a cornstarch ornament tree.

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5. The Little Matchgirl

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This is the only story that doesn’t mention Jesus. It is a bittersweet tale by Hans Christian Anderson. The poor matchgirl lights a match to warm herself as she sells matches in the freezing cold. But everytime she lights a match she sees a warm vision. This is one of my favorite classics. It’s sad but also happy…depending on your point of view. I would use this story to talk about helping others and also being thankful for what we have. We made mistletoe luminaries for this story.

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We used mason jars, red & green tissue paper, modge podge, and epsom salt. The epsom salt gives it the snowy effect.
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6. Mortimer’s Christmas Manger

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This adorable story is about a mouse who finds a home in the manger. By the end of the tale he’s given his new home back to the baby Jesus. Then God provides Mortimer with another home, a gingerbread house. So I allowed Michael to start nibbling on the gingerbread house him and his dad made earlier this month. He has until New Year’s to finish it.

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I hope you enjoyed this post. You can find these books on Amazon and Christianbooks.com (except my version of the Matchgirl. It’s from when I was a kid.) I believe these stories are worth reading every year. They’re fun and they keep the focus on Christ.

Here are the links for the craft and food ideas:

God bless & remember the High King lives! ~Amber Dover

PS: Here’s the Christmas Around the World lapbooks we used.

Free passport:
http://www.guesthollow.com/homeschool/lapbooks/lapbook_country_and_culture.html
Lapbooks:
http://www.homeschoolshare.com/christmas_around_the_world.php

I used the above link for all but Asia. I wanted to explore countries besides the Phillipines. So I used three other links for Russia, China, and India.
http://www.123homeschool4me.com/2012/10/christmas-around-world.html
http://perciousperks.blogspot.com/2011/12/christmas-in-russia-free-mini-unit.html?m=1
http://www.whychristmas.com/cultures/

We did not make any of the crafts or food this year. But the nice thing about lapbooks is that you can save them and pull them out next time. Maybe next Advent season we will have time to do more.

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Michael stamped his passport each time he learned about a country.
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I apologize for the poor quality of these photos. My camera hasn’t been the same since I dropped it.
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Also Michael learned how to play “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” on the piano. We looked over the lyrics to the song and watched several versions online. I used several Susan Paradis worksheets to go over his notes. They all had a Christmas theme. You can find them at this link:

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Big Fish Christmas Stories: Games Review December 18, 2014

Hello dear ones! Got some time on your hands this Christmas? Check out these fun Christmas games from Big Fish. Here’s a review for the Christmas Stories series: Nutcracker, Tin Soldier, & A Christmas Carol.

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By the way, I’m not getting paid for this (I wish I was…hint hint Big Fish lol). Seriously, I love puzzle/adventure games. These are the best I’ve played in awhile. I just want to share with you.

First off, there is an order to these games that I didn’t realize but thankfully I just so happened to play them in that order. The Nutcracker comes before the Tin Soldier. A Christmas Carol can be played at anytime but there are references to it in the Tin Soldier. So it must’ve come out before.

The graphics are gorgeous and the story lines fun. I would let my 8 year old play these for sure…if I wasn’t so stingy with my computer lol.

A Christmas Carol~ I played this game first. It has an interesting twist. You play Scrooge’s nephew. You come to visit and help him because he’s plagued with nightmares. It turns out the evil side of Scrooge and his devil helpers have ruined Scrooge’s life. You team up with the three ghosts of Christmas and angel Scrooge to change Scrooge’s past, present, and future. I love how Scrooge’s life can be changed. It’s such a neat retelling of the story. There are plenty of puzzles and objects to interact with. You get to see several beautiful Christmasy scenes. The background music will keep you in the Christmas spirit too.

http://www.bigfishgames.com/download-games/25375/christmas-stories-a-christmas-carol-ce/index.html

Nutcracker~ You’re late for the Christmas ball but you make it in time to help the Nutcracker save his princess from the evil Rat King. The game delves into the Rat King’s backstory. I love how they tie other tales into this one. They make it so believable. The music is also a treat. Once again they deliver when it comes to graphics.

http://www.bigfishgames.com/download-games/20319/christmas-stories-nutcracker-ce/index.html

Tin Soldier~ Team up with the Tin Soldier and the Nutcracker to save the Tin Soldier’s beloved from an evil baron who has turned them all into toys. This story ties in to the Nutcracker. Meet Hans Christian Anderson and learn what it’s like to be toy sized! That was my favorite part….shrinking. Great music and graphics. Fun hidden object puzzle games and lots to interact with.

http://www.bigfishgames.com/download-games/27949/christmas-stories-3-andersens-tin-soldier-ce/index.html

I can’t tell you which was my favorite. I enjoyed all three tremendously. I usually play Nancy Drew games on PC which take several days. It took me a few hours each for these games. I like that they weren’t too time consuming. I could play one after another on a lazy day. They’re addictive like candy!

By the way, I had a membership with Big Fish so I was able to get all these games with credits that had built up. If you play a lot of games it’s better to get a membership because you save bunches. I just cancelled my membership because I may go months without playing a game. I binge play. I’m not very consistent.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the review. If you get a chance to play, please leave me a comment and tell me what you think of the games. And if you have any holiday game suggestions I’d love to hear that too!
God bless & remember the High King lives! ~Amber Dover

 

Jesus, Our Precious Gift: An Interactive Christmas Drama 2014 December 17, 2014

Hello dear ones! By God’s grace, I wrote a nativity play for our homeschool group. I also had an Advent craft and goodies for the kiddos. If you read my Easter play post then you know I do my plays a bit differently. No one memorizes lines and the kids/audience interact as they watch the adults perform. My son Michael performs too and again was a big help. Here’s the link for the Easter drama:

https://amberdover.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/easter-week-jesus-our-passover-lamb-easter-drama/

Alrighty, onto how this went down :). I played Mary who was the Narrator.

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Here’s the cast list:
Mary/ Narrator- Me
Joseph- Michael, my son
Gabriel- Hannah
Herod- Stacie
Elizabeth- Erin
Zachariah- Michael, my son
Simeon- Stacie
Anna- Rachel

Wise Men, Shepherds, Angels, & Animals~ played by children/audience
Jesus & John~ baby dolls

So the other homeschool moms stepped up nicely to play the main parts. Michael and Stacie played double roles.  I was very excited to include lesser known characters in the play, like Anna and Simeon.

I didn’t have the time or motivation to make all the props/costumes this year. I bought most of it from Oriental trading.
Setting:
Bethlehem backdrop (used for Nazareth & Jerusalem too)
Cave with manger- made from a cardboard box
Cross backdrop
Altar with incense- We just pretended for this.
Chair for Mary to sit on

I had my audience pretend to go back in time with me. Then the children picked their costumes and watched and waited for their part in the story. We have a small group so this worked well.

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We began our story by meeting Anna and Simeon in the temple. Simeon explains the dark times the Israelites were in but how God has made him a promise. I wanted to follow the Biblical time line. Most Nativity stories smoosh everything together and leave parts out. We of course did not see Simeon’s big moment until after Jesus was born. I wanted the kids to get an idea though of how everyone was waiting for the messiah. Simeon and Anna set that up.

Then we moved on to Zachariah’s encounter with the angel Gabriel and the prophecy of John. John would prepare the way for the Messiah. If you celebrate Advent then you know the Advent wreathe has four main candles (not including the Christ candle that lights them all). The candles represent Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace. The scenes in the drama each represented a candle. The prophetic scenes represent Hope.

Michael as Zachariah. You can read about this scene in Luke 1.
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My best buddy Hannah as the angel Gabriel and also her daughter Miriam as an angel in training ;).

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Zachariah loses his voice because he doesn’t believe the angel.
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We head to Nazareth to meet Joseph, and Mary goes from Narrator mode to being in the story. All of the next part is also found in Luke 1.

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Gabriel visits the virgin Mary and tells her that she will have the Son of God, Jesus.

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Scene 2: Love (God prepares the world for His gift of Love)
Mary and the audience travel to Zachariah and Elizabeth’s where John the baptist is born. Zachariah’s voice comes back as he announces John’s name and proclaims the prophecy.

Erin as Elizabeth with the baby John.

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Mary returns to Nazareth and Joseph finds out she’s pregnant. He doesn’t believe the miracle until he has a dream with Gabriel in it. Now he knows Jesus is the Son of God. Mary hasn’t cheated on him.

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Joseph takes Mary as his wife. King Herod (Stacie) announces Caesar Augustus’ decree that everyone should return to their hometown to be registered. Joseph and Mary embark on the journey to Bethlehem. Silent Night played while we walked around the room.

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Scene 3: Joy (Jesus is born) story found in Luke 2 and Matthew 1.

Mary tells Joseph the baby is coming. There is no room for them except with the animals. It was most likely a cave not a stable. We used a box with straw in it for the manger.

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Baby Jesus is born.

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Angels appear to shepherds in the field and announce the baby’s birth. Luke 2: 8-21

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We pause at the manger scene to sing Joy to the World.

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Scene 4: Peace
Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus go to the temple for Jesus to be dedicated. We run into Simeon and Anna again. Simeon holds the baby and makes a big speech (sorry no pics. Rachel the photographer was playing Anna). Luke 2:22-38

Meanwhile, the wise men ask King Herod where the Messiah will be born. Matthew 2:1-12

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He tells them Bethlehem and God sends a star that the wise men follow to Jesus. Mary and Joseph are in a house at this point and Jesus could be as old as 2 yrs. We don’t know. The audience/children used glow sticks to be the Christmas star.

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The wise men (maybe 3 maybe not. We don’t know) give 3 gifts. Mary holds up the gifts and explains them.

Gold, a gift for the King of kings. Frankincense, like the incense the priests burned, to represent the Priests of all priests. Lastly, myrrh, a perfume used in burial, a reminder that Jesus would die to save us from sin.

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Scene 5: Christ, Our Light

The Wise men return home and Herod realizes that they are not coming back to him. King Herod is furious and commands that all baby boys 2 and under should be killed.

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Joseph is warned in a dream. Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus flee to Egypt until King Herod dies.

Everyone exits except Mary. Mary goes to the cross backdrop and explains that Christ brings light to the darkness. Jesus grew up and died on a cross to save the world from sin. Then three days later he arose from the dead. One day Christ will return and destroy all evil. There will be no more sickness or sorrow. We ended the play by singing “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”. Then we hopped in our time machine to have snacks and crafts.

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Shout out to all the awesome moms who helped make the play possible. All of the pictures were taken by my friend Rachel. She has a cool blog. Right now Rachel and her daughter Maggie are making ornaments for the Jesse tree. Check her out: http://homeschoolingmom2mags.blogspot.com/

Michael and I made Red Velvet Cake Balls for the treat. Recipe here: http://www.bakerella.com/red-velvet-cake-balls/

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I put together treat bags for the kids.
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Nativity stickers

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The craft was a simple Advent wheel that the kids colored. I found it on Oriental Trading too.
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Here’s a link with Nativity facts:
https://amberdover.wordpress.com/2012/12/24/my-family-rocks-sunday-nativity-facts-the-end-of-advent

I hope the play inspires you. God bless & remember the High King lives! ~Amber Dover

 

Christmas Date Ingredients December 15, 2014

Hello dear ones! I hope you’re having a lovely Christmas season. Chris and I had a big holiday date and I want to share the ingredients with you.
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I made a list of fun couple activities. I’ll share the list and fonts I used. Also I’ll share links where I got certain ideas and printables. Heads up: most of this date is for married folk.

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Christmas Date
Ingredients
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*Visit the mall
*Buy stocking stuffers for each other
*Couple pics in photo booth
*Buy ugly sweaters
*Eat at a restaurant
*Christmas light scavenger hunt
*Watch a Christmas movie and play scrabble
*Special treats under the tree
*Dance to Christmas music
*Mistletoe kissing

I used fonts #1 and #8 from this site to make my list look pretty: http://www.atypicalenglishhome.com/2012/12/best-free-christmas-fonts.html

I printed the list in green and red and then cut out the words and pasted them to a new paper. Unfortunately, I’m unable to attach the document so you’ll have to type it yourself. ¬†You’ll probably want to customize the date anyways.

We used several ideas from The Dating Divas. I really love their site. A couple of these are for later in the season.

  • Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt:¬†http://www.thedatingdivas.com/you-me/show-him-the-love/christmas-lights-scavenger-hunt/
  • Santa’s Cookies (a game for married folk):¬†http://www.thedatingdivas.com/you-me/intimate-moments/santas-cookies-bedroom-game/
  • Hot Cocoa Love Note (for married folk):¬†http://www.thedatingdivas.com/romantic-rendezvous/hot-cocoa-love-note/
  • 12 days of Christmas:¬†http://www.thedatingdivas.com/just-the-two-of-us/12-days-of-christmas-countdown/
  • 12 days of sexy Christmas (married folk):¬†http://www.thedatingdivas.com/just-the-two-of-us/12-sexy-days-of-christmas/

You can see all the date ideas I find here: http://www.pinterest.com/doverette/date-ideas/

and all the dates we’ve tried (a few original to us) here:¬†http://www.pinterest.com/doverette/ambers-date-nights/

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We had to switch up a few things. None of the photo booths worked right so we decided to take our couple pic at home by the tree. I have an ornament that I’m going to put the picture in. We decided to get some cute Christmas t-shirts instead of ugly sweaters. I have Olaf and Chris has a minion. We found them in the mens’ section at Walmart (hey it’s comfortable and I am bigger from pregnancy! :P).

I left ornaments in the oven and we had to hurry home to make sure the house hadn’t caught fire (pregnancy brain!). Thankfully the house was fine. Praise God! We then got a box of Krispy Kremes because I had a craving and we drove around the city to look at lights. We found almost everything on the scavenger hunt list. I’m a little disappointed by the lack of spirit on my street. I think I should be the light police and leave notices (Hey, you have 24 hours to get lights up, even one cheap strand from the Dollar store!).

We don’t actually have Scrabble but we borrowed UpWords from my mom. It’s very similar to Scrabble except you can build words on top of one another. I think I like it better. I didn’t have mistletoe either but I hung fake holly in our bedroom (it’s close enough). Now our son uses it to give sloppy kisses to me, the cat, and the dog! Ha!

There are a few romantic and fun Christmas songs out there. Here are my favorites:

  • Baby, It’s Cold Outside
  • Christmas Cookies (from Duck the Halls cd)
  • All I Want For Christmas is You (Mariah Carey)
  • Santa Baby
  • Winter Wonderland
  • Let it Snow
  • The Christmas Song
  • Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree
  • Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Hot chocolate and Christmas cookies are great for snuggling and Netflix has several cute romantic Christmas movies.¬†There’s still plenty of time left for Christmas romance. The 12 days of Christmas start on Christmas Day and end on January 5th. There’s also time to make a special stocking for your spouse. Maybe next year I’ll make an Advent calendar just for my hubby. It’s a lil late for that now.

We had lots of fun and I hope you do too. It’s so easy to get caught up in the season and forget your spouse. There are so many family activities and if you have kids, it’s hard not to just focus on them. But spouses need attention too. Marriage is such a beautiful gift from God. So go ahead and show your soulmate some Christmas love ;)!

God bless & remember the High King lives! ~Amber Dover

 

Christmas Card Pictures 2014 & Watching God Work December 5, 2014

Hello dear ones! God has been so good to us. He’s always good but this year we’ve been overwhelmed by blessings. I want to testify of God’s goodness as I share our Christmas photos with you. Feel free to share your testimonies in the comments. I love hearing from you!

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It started in January when God protected my son Michael and I, in a big wreck we were in. Something changed. My perspective was shaken. I realized that I didn’t have control over my family like I thought. Sure I knew this in theory but my theory was put to the test. It was terrifying to think that my child could’ve died. My iron grip on my life and especially my family was just an illusion. No matter how much I held onto my life I could not keep it.

Matthew 16:25 hit me like a brick. “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” I began to trust God on a different level. This was the start of letting go in many areas. I was scared to drive again and my faith was put to the test when my family and I took a road trip during a snowstorm a couple months later. Did I really trust that my days and the days of my family were in God’s capable hands? Did I trust God’s goodness?

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I believe it was February when I felt the call to sign up for a missions trip to Belize. I was already looking at life differently because of the wreck. Usually I just gave money and sent someone else to missions, but when I saw the trip in the church bulletin I felt in my spirit “Go!”. It seemed crazy. As a kid I had always wanted to do missions work overseas. As a teen I had tried to go but it was never God’s timing. It was a dream that I had hung on the shelf. Mommyhood was my call. Homeschooling and being a Godly wife was my call. How could God use me in Belize? I was surprised as I watched God work everything out for the trip. I learned that I wasn’t crazy and that God had indeed called me. I saw him do miracles with finances so I could go. I also had to learn to let go of my family even more when I realized my son couldn’t go with me. I struggled to be away from my one and only child (at the time) for a week.

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Then came March. Our family stepped out of our cultural comfort zone and took a road trip to Washington, D.C. and like I said…it was during a snow storm. I gripped the handle in the car as hard as I could, closed my eyes, and prayed as we drove past semi trucks that had spun off the road because of the ice. I clenched my teeth when we drove through crazy traffic in the city. I prayed as we tried to figure out the metro system in the freezing cold. God came through every time. My best laid plans fell through several times but I saw God work as I let go. We had beautiful family moments that were never planned, like finding an outdoor ice skating rink under the moonlight.
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The rest of the spring was spent prepping for Belize. I came to grips with my lack of faith as I questioned how in the world I would get to Belize. God opened the door for me to teach about 30 kids in V.B.S. It was another test of faith and I felt completely inadequate. But God provided every step of the way and I saw several kids embrace the gospel. I also felt a love for other people’s children that I had not felt in awhile. I had been so consumed with my own family life, it was hard to care about others.

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The Missions trip came. My husband shocked me by saying he wanted to try for a baby when I got back. I didn’t put much stock into it. I was content with my life although I had pined for another child years before when we were told we were infertile. God rocked my world in Belize. I was showered with love from so many children and I loved these kids that were not my own. I played with and put my heart and soul into the children. I saw such thankfulness and joy from those who had little. I saw great faith amidst tragedy.

God gave me boldness and replaced my fear with faith as I was put on the spot to share the gospel with hundreds of kids. God gave me the physical strength that I didn’t have. For once I was not plagued with chronic pain. I walked the Mayan ruins, I played dancing games with the kids, I kayaked in the ocean, and all of it was because God gave me the health. I felt the prayers of many. God had to deal with my attitude when I couldn’t talk to my son much during that week. The phone card didn’t work. I got very homesick. I didn’t always “feel” like a missionary. God used me despite my emotional issues.

When I got home it was strange. I did not feel the same boldness that I had before. Then my husband and I began to try for a baby. I prayed and asked others for prayer. Still I didn’t expect much. I was content with my life at the time. As I got used to my rich lifestyle again, God opened doors for me to draw closer to Him through service projects and a Bible study group. Then I got pregnant (August). Once again my world flipped upside down. At the same time I had found a lump in my breast and was scared to death of breast cancer. The timing all seemed wrong. Morning sickness came in like a bear and I couldn’t see what God was doing. God got me through my biopsy though and I am thankful that I don’t have cancer.

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Now I am 21 weeks pregnant and I’m seeing the fruit of God’s plan. The sickness and depression has subsided. My body still has those frustrating pregnancy symptoms but I’m also finding the joy in the blessing of new life. I didn’t think I could handle another child. I didn’t see where a new baby would fit into our lives. But now I see God using the miracle of Leeland to bring my family closer. I’ve seen Him do amazing things in my marriage.

I’ve seen God answer the secret prayers of my heart…things that I never thought I’d see come to pass. And I realize that I had no hand in any of it. My tight grip on my family never accomplished anything. Only by letting go could I truly witness God working. I am overwhelmed. Through the good and the seemingly bad, God is faithful and He has a purpose. He is always good no matter what. I pray for the faith and thankfulness I need. I pray that I won’t get in the way of God’s plans. I am so glad that God worked despite me.

So dear ones I hope this is an encouragement to you. It’s hard to see the blessings when our focus is on saving our life. Worry will rob you of your joy. Trying to control everything will rob you of your joy. There is a beauty in surrender and truly letting go and letting God. I know that sounds cliche’ but it is the truth. It is when you empty yourself that God fills you to the brim. It is in brokeness that new life springs forth. I am still learning these lessons and will til I die. God is opening my eyes everyday to new things. Jesus is breath taking. God bless you and remember the High King lives! ~Amber Dover

 

Advent Week 4 January 1, 2014

Hello dear ones! It’s time to wrap up the Advent series. Christmas has come and gone again. Here’s how we finished Advent :).

  • Sunday we lit the last Advent candle for Peace. We enjoyed a Christmas service. On the top right is a pic of a man with a newborn baby. He sang “Joseph’s song“. It was very sweet.
  • Watched a funny Christmas movie & wrapped each other up. You can see in the pic that Chris is a Christmas tree, I’m a snowman, and Michael is a Christmas present. ¬†The pets even got wrapped up a bit (this was before Annabelle). We had a wrapping paper fight. ¬†We also finished reading our Christmas books. You can see them on the right.
  • Christmas Eve we read the Christmas story in our Advent devotional. ¬†We watched The Nativity and It’s a Wonderful Life. ¬†We usually watch these movies every year. We also each opened one present (a tradition). We all slept in the living room.

More after the pictures…

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  • Christmas day we woke up and read our last devotional. We had cinnamon rolls for breakfast then we dug into our presents and stockings. I put some of our gifts in the picture. Even the pets had stockings. You can see the guinea pig in the wrapping paper. ¬†Michael was thrilled to get his big Hobbit set. ¬†Chris helped him put it together. It’s really neat so I included pictures. We had a simple and delicious Christmas meal (ham, mashed potatoes, biscuits, beans, pumpkin pie, and pecan pie). ¬†Our last advent activity was to adopt a star @¬†http://whitedwarf.org/palebluedot/index.html . We also watched Precious Moments’ Timmy’s Gift and put a star on the Jesse tree.

Well, God bless & remember the High King lives! ~Amber Dover

Previous Advent posts and Pinterest link

https://amberdover.wordpress.com/2013/12/15/advent-week-1/

https://amberdover.wordpress.com/2013/12/24/advent-week-2/

https://amberdover.wordpress.com/2013/12/24/advent-week-3/

http://www.pinterest.com/doverette/christmas-traditions/

 

Advent Week 3 December 24, 2013

In this post: Week 3 of Advent. Random acts of kindness with the Grinch, a sweet Nutcracker party, Carol of the Bells learnin’, and Christmas tree fun with Charlie Brown. Etc…

Hello dear ones! So the beat goes on and I’m almost done with the Advent posts. So here’s the list with links at the end :).

  • Random acts of kindness and a Grinch party~ These random acts of kindness were fun but we felt like criminals because of the secrecy lol. We put up grocery carts left in the parking lots, taped a bag of quarters with a note to the vending machine, and left dollar bills with notes in the toy section of the Dollar Tree. When we got home we strung popcorn and cranberries for the animals. ¬†When Chris got off work we watched The Grinch, Michael drew The Grinch, and colored pages from the Dr. Seuss site. We had Grinch punch and played a Grinch game. We each wore a Grinch mask that I drew and the family tried to pin a heart on the Grinch.
  • The Nutcracker Party~ I had a blast making snowflake ballerinas. I decorated the t.v. area with pretend sweets. You’ll have to click on the pic to see everything. I made fake cupcakes with pom poms, glue, and glitter. I also made pretend suckers to go with ones I had bought at the craft store. I put our big nutcracker in the center along with Nutcracker books etc. I put the “mouse king” in a cage. I made the gumdrop tree with tooth pics and gumdrops. We watched The Nutcracker on Netflix and colored puppets/marionettes for our own play. Michael painted a wooden Nutcracker. Near the bottom you’ll find a picture of The Nutcracker lapbook. We learned about where Nutcrackers come from and the carving process. Then we got in the kitchen and made sweets. Later that night we put on a play for Chris.
  • Camp out in the living room and play Christmas games~ ¬†We did this the night of the nutcracker party. We had a blanket tent. We played Christmas charades and carol humdinger.
  • Carol of the Bells crafts , videos, and sweets~¬†We were supposed to go caroling at nursing homes but we didn’t feel well. We did however do a lapbook on Carol of the Bells. Michael made a bell out of a pipe cleaner and beads. We had Reese’s chocolate bells. We watched several versions of Carol of the Bells on youtube. We really liked the Muppet version.

More after…

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  • Christmas Party @ homeschool group & gingerbread house making~ Our group got together for a party. We all had off of school this week so Chris came with us. Most people bought gingerbread house kits. We did too so it wasn’t hard to put together. I made red velvet cake balls for the group. ¬†Our group always makes good food. I felt really bad that day but we made it for the party and I’m glad.
  • Watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, make Christmas tree crafts, and eat tree snacks~ We learned about evergreen and deciduous trees with a quick lapbook. We watched the movie and ate Christmas tree sugar cookies. Michael finger painted a Christmas tree.
  • Have a winter picnic, feed the ducks, & play with pet store animals~ It was muddy so we went to a restaurant to eat. Then we went to the pet store and played with two adorable puppies. I accidentally fell in love with a french bulldog. I shouldn’t have but I named her Annabelle Antoinette. She’s a pure breed and we can’t afford her now. I never wanted a bulldog but this was my first time playing with a Frenchie. I even made a Pinterest section for frenchies. Sigh…I hope she finds a good home.

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  • Christmas treats at a cafe~ We never did this but one night we ate at a diner and had an eggnog milkshake.

PS: The third Advent candle stands for joy.

Links:

http://www.pinterest.com/doverette/christmas-units/

http://www.pinterest.com/doverette/christmas-cooking/

http://www.pinterest.com/doverette/christmas-crafts/

Advent Week 1 with our printable advent list:

https://amberdover.wordpress.com/2013/12/15/advent-week-1/

Advent Week 2:

https://amberdover.wordpress.com/2013/12/24/advent-week-2/

Advent Week 4: 

https://amberdover.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/advent-week-4/

God bless & remember the High King lives! ~Amber Dover

 

Advent Week 2

In this Post: Week 2 of Advent. More random acts of kindness, food, and fun :). 

Hello dear ones! I’m finally catching up. Week 2 was slow. I thought I was going to be in pain and ill that week so I didn’t plan much. It was actually the next week that I felt bad…the week with all the plans. Life goes that way, huh? ¬†So here is the Advent list for week 2 :).

  • Christmas Musical & Prophecy Game~ Sunday we ate at my Mom and Step Dad’s. We lit the 2nd Advent candle that represents repentance. The pic at the top of Mom and Michael in front of the Christmas tree is from the musical at church. ¬†Pics at the bottom show their cat Diamond hiding in my bag, us reading as a family, and my Mom’s snowman collection. I got the prophecy game idea from Thriving Family magazine. You put different words like birth and crucifixion on Popsicle sticks. Then you read prophetic verses and try to figure out what the prophecy is referring to. I.e. Isaiah 9:6 refers to “birth”.
  • Candy cane gifts and crafts plus giving at the nursing home~ We taped mini candy canes to a poem that relates the candy cane to Jesus. We watched “The Legend of the Candy Cane” and we made a candy can ornament and Chris helped with a Lego candy cane. We went to the nursing home to play Bingo. We handed out the candy canes to the nurses/workers. Michael signed a bunch of Christmas cards and gave them to the residents we play Bingo with. ¬†I’ll include my Pinterest link with the candy cane ideas at the end.
  • Stocking craft & Gingerbread Waffles~I don’t remember when we did this but sometime during the week me and Chris tag teamed to make Gingerbread waffles. We ate on them all week. I’ll include the link at the end. My Mom came over one day and we read “The First Christmas Stocking”. Then Michael made a wants vs. needs stocking.
  • Watch Snowglobe & make one, plus Mr. Popper’s Penguins crafts/movie~ Snowglobe is one of my favorite girly Christmas movies. The guys compromised and watched it with me. We also watched Mr. Popper’s penguins because Michael had read the book. We put a penguin in our snow globe.
  • See lights at Moonlake and live nativity~ Every year a park near us lights everything up and has a carnival. Last year they had reindeer. This year they were supposed to have Nativity animals. Well, they did have a camel but the Nativity actors were teens goofing off with each other. Mary and Joseph kept wandering around…maybe they were looking for the Inn? You know what they say about best laid plans… Well, it was overly crowded and freezing. We had some hot chocolate but it wasn’t enough to keep us there. We saw a few lights and the camel and left in a hurry. Next year I think we’ll do a drive through lights experience. We did see some lights in town after we left.

More below…

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  • See The Hobbit & pass out goodies to the librarians~ The Hobbit was awesome (except the previews). We never made it to the library. We will have to save that random act of kindness for another time. Sometimes you just got to let things go for the sake of sanity.
  • Christmas parade & candy lane~ Didn’t happen. It rained and we slept in. The parade still went on but I feel sorry for those in it. Honestly, we played video games and watched movies all day I think. We didn’t even care about seeing candy lane.
  • Watch Rudolph, make reindeer crafts, and eat snacks~ ¬†This was on Sunday but I added it to this week since week 3 was super busy. We did watch Rudolph and we ate reindeer cookies. Yeah those aren’t homemade ;). We didn’t do any crafts however. I found a Rudolph drawing tutorial but Michael thought it was too hard to tackle.

So this was a slow week but I learned that sometimes it’s more fun to be flexible and forget the schedule. We still ¬†had school that week so the third week of Rome kept us busy too. I’ll hopefully post that after Christmas.

Here are the links I promised: http://www.pinterest.com/doverette/christmas-crafts/

http://myrecipemagic.com/recipe/recipedetail/gingerbread-waffles

Advent week 1 & our downloadable Advent list:

https://amberdover.wordpress.com/2013/12/15/advent-week-1/

Advent Week 3:

https://amberdover.wordpress.com/2013/12/24/advent-week-3/

Advent Week 4: https://amberdover.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/advent-week-4/

God bless & remember the High King lives! ~Amber Dover

Merry Christmas! I hope you saw my Christmas card :).

 

Merry Christmas!

Filed under: American Holidays,My family rocks! Sundays — amberdover @ 4:35 pm
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Here’s our Dover “Christmas card”. ¬†Love, Chris, Amber, & Michael. Plus Tessa, Chester, Snowball, Yoda II, Penny, & Baby (Dog, cat, guinea pig, fish, & 2 chickens).

PS: make sure your images are turned on :).

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