Friday, December 28, 2007

Just to Clarify...

We received this anonymous comment to our Christmas Survey post. I initially rejected it because it's our policy to reject any unsigned comments. However, I wondered if other people misunderstood our intentions about what we teach our children about Santa Claus and I decided it would be a good exercise to answer the comment.

"I find it funny that you put that parents threatening about Santa was annoying. I find people who make up that Christ was born on Christmas Day annoying as well. You tell your kids that Santa is made up and you don't even know the true history behind Christmas. All your stories are made up as well, from the 3 wise men to the 25th being the birth of Christ"

We actually don't tell our children that Santa Claus is made up. We firmly believe that he was a real man. His name was Saint Nicholas and he was also a follower of Jesus, just like us. Because of his love for Christ he sold everything he had and spent his life giving to the needy. He died in the year 343. We actually like Santa Claus a whole lot. In fact, if you read the rest of the Christmas Survey post you would have seen that my favorite Christmas movie is "The Santa Clause."

When I said the most annoying thing about the season was hearing parents threaten their children with Santa Claus I was referring to the practice of telling kids that Santa won't come or that they won't get any presents or that the parents will tell Santa to put the kids on the naughty list if they don't behave. It bothers me that these parents convey the message that people only get gifts if they deserve them. This was certainly not how St. Nicholas offered gifts and definitely not how Jesus gives gifts either.

I do know the true history behind Christmas. I know why we have the traditions of the Christmas tree, gifts, stockings, Santa Claus, and nativity scenes. I know that some of these traditions started from vastly different religions from mine and I also know that symbolism is what you make of it regardless of its origins.

As for the three wise men, the Bible only mentions three gifts that the magi brought for Jesus. There is no mention of how many actual magi there were. But that doesn't mean the story is made up. I believe it is a true and important story and I don't think it matters how many wise men or wise women were there. The same goes for celebrating Christmas on December 25th. I don't believe that is the actual birthday of Jesus, but that is the day we choose to celebrate it. That's why it's called Christmas--as in Christ Mass, Messiah comes. Again, not a hill to die on.

So, while we admire and respect Santa Claus, we don't teach our children that he will be coming to our house in a flying sleigh and dropping down the chimney. We don't tell them that they will only get gifts based on behavioral performance. We teach them about the real Santa Claus, being generous because he was and because Jesus was, and about loving people regardless of how they treat you...and, just in case you were wondering, we also teach them about jumping to conclusions, making assumptions and leaving tacky anonymous comments.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Favorite Christmas Memories 2007

  • Cuddling on the couch with my husband and sons, early in the morning, just gazing at the Christmas tree.
  • Telling the story of God's special baby who was born to crush the serpent's head.
  • Learning about George the shepherd and Sam the sheep and Jesus riding on a democrat donkey.
  • Having all my family in our home.
  • Noah's "magic tree".
  • Playing with wind up toys at the farm.
  • Watching the beautiful snow.
  • Reading The Shack for the first time.
  • Tobin's reindeer bum.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sweet Nothings

"Your sense of humor is one of the things that makes me most attractive to you."

Geary James Linhart, age 31

Monday, December 17, 2007

Cinnamon Bear

On Saturday Grandpa Bob and Grandma gave us a very special treat. We all got to go on a cruise with Cinnamon Bear! Cinnamon Bear was a radio showthat started in 1937 and Grandpa Bob remembers listening to the story when he was a kid. You can find out more about Cinnamon Bear here. When we found out there was a Cinnamon Bear cruise on the Portland Spirit we all decided it would be super fun to go. Lila and Eldred were able to come along, too. We had a great time exploring the ship and meeting all the characters from Maybeland. Queen Melissa read the Cinnamon Bear story to us and Presto the Magician showed off all his magic tricks. Noah even got to turn the captain's wheel and meet the pirate, Captain Taffy. It was a really fun time and will be one our cherished Christmas memories. Thank you Grandma and Grandpa Bob!


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Survey

I copied this from Annie, who copied from her friend, Alysun...

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper. I love making a gift look beautiful and gift bags can be kind of limiting. I also enjoy making my own wrapping paper.

2. Real tree or Artificial? Fake. I hate the mess of pine needles. Also, I don't get it when people say they must have a real tree because they love the smell. There are so many better Christmasy scents than pine.

3. When do you put up the tree? A few days after Thanksgiving.

4. When do you take the tree down? The first week of January.

5. Do you like egg nog? I like it--but only when it's cold and there's nothing added to it (Rum? Brandy? Ick!)

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Hmm. I don't know if I could pick a favorite but I do remember getting my first Cabbage Patch Doll. It was the year when Cabbage Patch Kids were the IT toy to have. I named him Jeremiah Lee. He was bald. Also, he may or may not have been stolen. Let's just say my mom got a very good deal on him...and later found out about a missing shipping container of Cabbage Patch Dolls.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes! It's beautiful! I would love to get the other pieces in this set. There is a camel and more animals. And it still needs an angel. This picture was taken last year in our old apartment. This year I have a gold star hanging from the ceiling above Mary & Joseph. We also have a Little People Nativity Set for our kids to play with.

8. Hardest person to buy for? My dad.

9. Easiest person to buy for? Noah.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail...although sometimes they turn into Presidents' Day Cards...

11 .Worst Christmas gift you ever received? A hot dog cooker. It was from a White Elephant exchange. I believe the official name was "Wee-Nee Roaster".

12. Favorite Christmas movie? The Santa Clause (with Tim Allen). I love the quirky ways in which the movie explains the mysteries of Santa Claus. And I love the line, "Seeing isn't believing. Believing is seeing." Side note: We're teaching our children that the real Santa Claus (Saint Nicholas) died a long time ago but people like to remember his generosity so that's why they still dress up like Santa Claus. This year we had to tell Noah that some parents play a game with their kids where they pretend Santa is still alive. We would hate to ruin a child's Christmas by telling them Santa is dead.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? December. I wish I could be one of those people who buys Christmas gifts year round but I just can't wait that long to give people a present!

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Sure. But nothing I've ever gotten from you, of course. (Ahem)

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Gingerbread anything.

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Clear On the house? Clear, but this year we don't have lights up outside. Maybe tomorrow I will get Geary to hang them.

17. Favorite Christmas song? Welcome to Our World by Chris Rice.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Used to travel but this year we're staying home! Yay!

19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? Dasher, Dancer, Comet, Cupid, Prancer, Vixen, Donner, Blitzen...and I guess, technically, Rudolph. Also, I just learned that all of Santa's reindeer are probably female. Poor Rudolph, now being teased about his (her?) nose is the last of his (her?) worries.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Star. I've yet to find an angel topper that doesn't look fussy or prissy.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Morning! Although, I do confess to shaking boxing and trying to guess on Christmas eve.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Hearing parents threaten their kids with phone calls to Santa Claus or bags of coal.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color? I like silver and gold trees. Our tree is mostly silver and red and I'm trying to incorporate more gold into it.

24. Favorite part of Christmas dinner? Anita's sweet potatoes.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? Harmony and crystal clear communication.

26. Gift Cards. Yes, I like them, or No, too impersonal? Yes, love them!

27. If yes, where from? If No, best place to shop for your present? Target.

28. Any plans for New Years? Go to bed before midnight...sorry, I just can't stay up. I always end up falling asleep.



Now who's going to copy me? Let me know by leaving a comment!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Because "Ants on a Log" are so yesterday

With young children, sometimes food presentation is everything. Take, for instance, these apple and wheat thin "pirate ships."
















Snacks like this may cause your child to "aaaaargh" with delight.

















Some children might even make up a Pirate Snack song on the spot!

video

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Good Point

While listening to Christmas CDs...

Noah: Are they actually singing about Jesus?

A child, a child, sleeping in the night. He will bring us goodness and light...

Jeana: Yes, how did you know?

Noah: Because only one child can bring goodness and light. Besides Toby, I mean.

CD switches to Little Drummer Boy

Noah: Is this song about Jesus, too?

Jeana: It's about a little boy who is very poor and doesn't have anything to give to Jesus. So he plays a song for the baby on his drum.

Noah: Why doesn't he just give his drum to Jesus?

Putting Shirts on a Hanger

A tutorial by Noah James Linhart, age 5

1. First you have to make sure the outside is on the outside and the inside is on the inside.

2. Then you have to wag the air out of it.

3. You have put the hanger in the necky hole.

4. This is the hardest part: You have to make the hanger like your shoulders and it has to be in both sleeves. When I was little sometimes one hanger shoulder would be in the hood and that is no good because then your shirt will just fall right off and it will get all crinkly at the bottom of your closet.

5. You have to make sure it is nice and neat with no edges folded. If you don't make it nice and neat Mommy makes you start over.

6. You just hang it on your closet bar. That's it!

7. Chores are hard work but you have to do them because you are a member of this family and hard work makes you strong and smart. If we all help eachother we can do something fun because we will have time.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Milestone!

Tobin's bottom front teeth have emerged! Pictures coming soon!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Dear Melinda Maples,

Apparently my new cell phone number used to be your cell phone number. The only reason I know this is because your collectors are calling me. At first I didn't mind telling them that they had a wrong number. It became slightly irritating when I had to use my cell phone minutes to explain that I have no idea who you are but that this is my number and you cannot be reached here. Some collection agencies are hard to convince. I can certainly understand why you wouldn't want to give them your new number.

However, it has become downright annoying to be yelled at by your collectors. To be told, "Stop lying! We know this is you Melinda! Just grow up and pay your bills!" Please, girl! That is not cool!

I realize that I don't have to answer my phone when I don't recognize the number but those people are relentless. They will leave loooong voice messages and then they will call back again and again and again. So, I'm begging you, Melinda Maples...Just grow up and pay your bills! And give everyone your new number, while you're at it!

Thank you for your attention in this matter.

Sincerely,

Jeana Linhart

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Life as Newbergonians (Newbergese? Newbergites?)

We can hardly believe we've lived for a whole season in Newberg already! The past few months have flown by and I think we're settling in nicely. Geary really enjoys his job at Veritas Classical School. The staff and families there have been so open and welcoming to us. We've been attending Grace Baptist for the past six weeks and we've joined a Connect Group with several other young families. Our Connect Group is working through a video series called "Marriage on the Rock" by Jimmy Evans. We've watched two of the videos so far and I know Geary and I are already getting a lot out of them. Plus, it's so nice to be making new friends!

We love our house! Even though there have been struggles, like the water-heater breaking, the squirrels in the attic (which are still there, ack!), and those blasted ants (which sometimes make a minor appearance but nothing like the hordes that attacked us earlier). There are still a few rooms I'd like to get painted and still a few boxes of stuff in the shed that I need to figure out what to do with, but other than that we are completely moved in. We bought a chandelier for the dining room which really makes that room feel homey and warm. I'll have to take a picture for you. Or Noah can...*smile*.

We're planning on Noah starting pre-school after Christmas. We figured it would be a more natural transition for him to start after all the kids came back from a long break. I need to confirm that the school of our choice still has a spot for him and if so he will be going to school three days each week. I've been taking him to Story Time at the library every week and he's made a few friends that way. Also, some of the moms I see at Story Time go to our church, as well as the Story Time Librarian. It's very fun to live in a small town!

Only a few weeks until Christmas! We have our inside decorations up and I'm still trying to convince Geary to put up outside lights. A couple nights ago Geary came home from work and announced, "Our neighbors have busted out the Feliz Navidad." I thought he meant they were playing Spanish music loudly but last night when we left the house I saw what he was talking about. They have decorated their entire lawn with light-up reindeer, trees, snowflakes, you name it it's out there. Not quite as elaborate as the Green's neighbor, but close. I'm very thankful for all the lights and decorations around town as it's been very soggy and kind of gloomy in Oregon this month. The rains and winds have made lots of messes but that Christmas cheer is definitely still there.

Thank you, God for bringing us to Newberg, for directing us so clearly, and for providing everything we need. You have proven over and over again how intimately involved you are in our lives. May our family reflect your glory and your goodness to everyone we meet. Please keep showing us your way. Amen.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Interview with a 5 year old

Jeana: So do you feel older?



Noah: Well, I think five is still young.



Jeana: Do you feel five?



Noah: I am five!



Jeana: Did you have a good birthday?



Noah: Yeah, it was really good.



Jeana: What was your favorite part?



Noah: Um...all of it!



Jeana: Great! What were some of the best parts?



Noah: When Granny came to see me...all my presents like my Thomas trains, and DVDs, and Spiderman watch, and my camera! Playing Legos with Uncle Jared. And I liked reading to everyone and my sea turtle cake...there was only one part that was no good.



Jeana: What part?



Noah: When I kept cutting peoples' heads off.



Jeana: With your camera, you mean?



Noah: Yeah. But now I can take good pictures! Wanna see?




To see more of Noah's photography click here.