Final Christmas Post!!

I have been trying to write this post for a few days but was having major issues logging in to my blog…so thankful its back.  Thank you Scott Crews for keeping me up and running (since I obviously know NOTHING about the blog world other than how to sign in and write a post!)

This is the final installment of our Christmas Happenings and what our Christmas looked like in the Hetzel house!  We traveled back from Georgetown and got ready for round 2 with Ed’s family.  Our elf continued to hide in crazy places…

For the record…this post isn’t like it looks.  Alvin is not really hanging like he has a noose around his neck…the rope actually goes under his arm and he was supposed to have been the one who put Scout to the wall (since we don’t have GI Joe men or anything with guns in our house).  But, as you can see, the way Alvin has his arms makes it look like I am hanging the chipmunk and the elf won!

We started a few new Christmas traditions this year that we will definitely continue and we realized a few things we want to do differently next year.  One thing LOVED doing that WILL stay as part of our tradition is having appetizers on Christmas Eve.

We also continued our tradition of having tickets for the girls to give us so they can get on the Minivan express and go look at Christmas lights while eating popcorn and drinking hot chocolate (minus the hot chocolate this year as we know the van would have wore more of it than the girls go to drink).  This idea came from this site.

We loved continuing the Advent Event, talking about Jesus, and playing with our nativity set.  I love that she is finally understanding the Christmas story this year and able to tell it to me.  She even made sure to tell all our students this year at Encounter about Mary, her baby Jesus, their being no room at the inn, and the rainbow (yea…thats from Noahs Ark…haha…we will work on that one).  We also loved our new tradition of reading the Christmas Story from the Bible on Christmas morning before we open our presents.

I also loved our house this year for Christmas and that we got to enjoy it through Christmas.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Cookies and milk for Santa is a must and look at what Santa left in return.

And lastly, one of the best parts…..spending time with family!!

The girls loved their presents and especially Kinsley since she understood it all so well this year.  She really wanted a dollhouse and a baby that pooped and peed.  Ed’s parents opted out of the poop part but did go with the baby that pees.  That baby also spits up…seriously??!?!?  Don’t we already have a baby that does that?

It was an awesome Christmas and we pray that you also had a fabulous Christmas celebrating the birth of our Savior!  Christ is born!!

Christmas Happenings #2

Just a warning…be prepared for a lot of photos!!  Thought I would share what we have been up to this Christmas through photos:

I love living in a small town where they do fun things like sleigh rides for the kids and Easter egg hunts.  Here we are riding the sleigh….Kinsley was not in the picture taking mood.

Ed took the girls to Marbles one morning while mom did some work.  They had a great time and I love that Emerson is getting into playing so much more!

Next on the Christmas to-do list…visiting my mom and dad’s house.  We are spending Christmas eve and day with Ed’s parents at our house so we went to Georgetown to “do” Christmas with my parents and to visit a few ministry partners.  Emerson came down with a high temperature a few days before we were went so unfortunately, she was sick for most of the time.  We did get to do a few fun things that are Christmas traditions – going to see the lights at James Island County Park (seriously one of the best displays I have seen…and I have seen lots!) which the girls LOVED (we even had to go through 2 times for Kinsley and we had to ride the carousel twice), opening presents, petting Joker (their neighbor’s horse), listening to all of their singing Christmas animals and gadgets (Emerson loved the chicken one in the picture and made sure to “bak bak” with it), and eating oysters (look forward to this EVERY year). Here are the pictures that tell the tales.

And where did Scout, the elf, appear this time?

And lastly, look what Ed got….a 6 pointer!  He hunted a few times when we were there at Thanksgiving and a few times this time around and he finally got one!  Deer meat in our future…yummy!!  Not a whole lot more than my man putting free meat in my freezer…other than Jesus of course!

Christmas Happenings

One of my favorite things about Christmas is all the new things that come around this time of year…things that help us think about Christ, things that are just fun, and things that are seasonal like end of the year Christmas parties.

For the things that help us think about Christ…

nativity sets – we are loving our new Fisher Price Little People nativity set.  The girls love playing with it and I love using it along with school and just talking about Christ and the true meaning of Christmas.

The Advent Event – I debated about doing this again this year because we already have so many things we are memorizing and learning through school, but I decided it was well worth it.  Kinsley is definitely loving it again this year and I love that while she is still having a hard time sitting through everything, she definitely is doing better than last year.  Check this out at  Its a great resource to teach your children about Christ and the big picture of the Bible.

gift giving and giving to others – we have tried to take every opportunity this year to talk about why we give to each others and to others.  We did Operation christmas child and loved getting to share with her about it going to others overseas who may not get gifts and don’t have much.  How special that Ed got to actually see some kids open Operation Christmas Child boxes this summer in Senegal and that he can attest to the joy they had in receiving them!  We also have loved sharing with her that its not about what we get or give but that the reason we give is because God gave us the ultimate gift through Christ.

Not sure she is getting all these things at age 3, but praying the Lord softens her heart and lets it sink in.

For the things that are just fun….

Christmas tree decorating.  What a difference a year makes in Kinsley being able to help us decorate.  She LOVED decorating the tree and was so sad that we made her stop to go to bed (such mean parents we are!).  And she did a great job…only a few ornaments were broken.

Elf on the Shelf.  We don’t really use this as naughty vs. nice or as Santa is watching you, we have loved making it into a game where we find out what silly Scout (his name) is doing that morning.  Here are some of the ways we have found him so far…

and lastly, things that are seasonal like end of the year parties.  We went with our team to see Meadow Lights in Benson, NC.  To make a very long story very short, we had a lot of hiccups that night which lead to us having to forgo our original dinner plans, run into the tree lighting ceremony which held up traffic on the way to our backup dinner plans, and then having to wait in an amazingly long line for the lights.  When you get in line at 8:15 and know that you will have to wait for an hour or longer and your kids are supposed to go to bed at 8, you know its trouble.  But the girls did amazing (like ah-mazing!…couldn’t have asked for better) and we had a great time with our team.   We rode in a train while we looked at lights and both girls LOVED it.  Here is a pic of Kinsley waiting.

Also check out this CUTE pic of the girls we had taken for year-end pictures….

Adorable, right?  And this isn’t Christmas related, but check out my Pinterest-inspired bow holder I made for the girls.  I have seen a few to buy but they have been nowhere near big enough, so when I saw this one, I thought “I can make it for cheap” and thanks to a great sale on Black Friday at Michaels and my amazing husband for helping (I do not like operating a staple gun…the thought of it going through my finger hits me every time I hear it go off), it is a success.  I wish you could see the ribbon more because it is so cute!

Way too many bows right?  Thanks to my facebook co-ops that have allowed me to get them for WAY cheap, we now have way too many!!  Somehow with two girls I am sure we will use them a lot.

Black Friday Craziness

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with my family in SC.  We got to visit with lots of family, ministry partners, and churches, Ed went hunting a few times, we watched the parade (which Kinsley is old enough to enjoy), and lastly, ate LOTS of good food, from home cooked meals to my parent’s restaurant to Miyabis (the BEST japanese restaurant in the world!).  We definitely know we have so much to be thankful for and loved sitting around the table and talking about what those things are, especially focusing on Christ and the Gospel.  We made these cookies with Kinsley (yes, some of them don’t really look like turkeys and are messed up…lets just say it was a learning adventure) and these pinwheels for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning (they have bacon, cheese, and ranch in them and they were good, but maybe not worth doing again).

But, after Thanksgiving, is one of my most favorite times of the year.  No, its  not Christmas….its Black Friday!!  A lot of people have asked me about my trip and deals so I thought I would share it all with you, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I am not a fan of all these stores opening up so early, but I don’t know if I could ever stay away.  Unfortunately, my dad, who loves to tag along and get in on the action, was sick and had to stay behind, so my mom and I tackled it alone this year.  Ed lovingly stayed with the girls (but I think deep down, though he won’t admit it, he wants to be there and be a part of the action too).  Mom, I am sorry that I am going to share some things that you don’t want me to (running over a curb ringing a bell?)….I will ask for forgiveness later.

We started our adventure by heading to WalMart to pick up a few movies, toys, and one other thing (can’t share what in case that person is reading this 🙂 ).  WalMart began their first sale event at 6, and because we weren’t getting big items, we though we could get there 45 min or so early.  We had a few WalMart’s in Myrtle Beach to choose from so we picked the one that we thought would be the least crowded.  Bad idea.  When we pull up at 5:20, the parking lot was COMPLETELY FULL and cars were parking behind the building.  Uh, yeah.  Mom was so flabbergasted and distracted by all the cars that she ran over the curb in the midst of trying to figure out where to turn.  She dropped me off and went to park the car and I went to the movies since that is normally the craziest place.  When she parked (on the back near the grass mind you), she went to the toys.

This WalMart didn’t let anyone pull plastic off the pallets or grab anything until it was 6 (some others will let you put things in your cart but not check out until 6).  Literally, people tried to just look at the movies (which we facing the yogurt and deli containers where you couldn’t see them) and the worker would fuss.  When mom went to the toys, she couldn’t even get to half of them because they were in the garden department which had its glass doors shut.  There was a line waiting to get in there and people had been waiting since 3:30…seriously?  So after getting fussed at by a few people who thought she was “skipping in line”, she came to me frustrated and saying it wasn’t worth all that.  When it turned 6, we got the movies we wanted and mom went to get in line to check out (#1 rule in Black Friday is if you have two people, don’t wait until you are done shopping to get in line, but have one person get in line while one looks and then you switch).  Meanwhile, I decided to brave the madness in the toy section.  After watching many people get heated with each other and coming to a complete deadlock where I couldn’t move because of so many people and carts, I thankfully found a few things we were looking for and started the 20 minute trek to find mom at the checkout lines (yes, it was that crowded!).  I was checking out only to have my card get declined for being out of state (seriously, on black friday when this NEVER happens).  It worked fine the rest of the day and the next so I have no idea what was up.  We heard from others later that other WalMart’s weren’t that crazy, so not sure why the one we went to was.  It was enough that I told mom that this would make me not want to do this ever again (and that says a lot after many years shopping on Black Friday).  I don’t think I have ever seen people be so hateful and rude like that.

Then, knowing how many people were at WalMart, we knew that we had better high tail it to Kohls and get in line, though they didn’t open until 8.  When we got to Kohls, we were some of the first people in line and we were stunned there weren’t more (my guess is that they were all at WalMart!).  We waited for over an hour here before they opened and it was freezing.  I literally thought my toes were going to fall off and gained a huge appreciation for homeless people who are forced to endure the cold out of necessity.  We spent a lot of time in Kohls and waited in line for over an hour (but again, we took turns and one of us was shopping during this time so it wasn’t like shopping plus waiting in line).

After we finished here, we went to another WalMart to see if they had the thing we didn’t get and let me tell you, it was so empty and most of the things we wanted were there so the moral of the story is wait about an hour or two to go and you will get all you want with WAY less people.  Then, we decided to come home, get a good night’s rest, and venture out with everyone the next day to hit a few more stores (it was hard when some stores opened that night and some didn’t open until the next morning).  So early the next morning (okay it wasn’t super early…it was only 8 or so but with two kids, thats a big deal!), we headed back up the beach and hit up Dicks, Michaels, the mall, Bed Bath and Beyond, Lowes, and Sams Club.  The girls had a great time shopping and Kinsley got to visit with Santa.  At first she was scared, but then she warmed up and wouldn’t stop talking to him!

So what were the best deals I got?

Movies for 1.96 and 3.96, TV series for 9.99, clothing for $5 to $10, 24 pack of batteries for $3.88, toys for MUCH cheaper than you would buy them regularly like $5 Disney princess dolls, appliances for $3-9 a piece (good appliances like panini makers and waffle makers), a few other good deals that I can’t name because people are reading this who can’t know, craft supplies for projects at 30% off, and my favorite deal of all – a Dyson Vacuum.  I love getting these good deals because not only am I being a good steward of our money, but I am able to get more for people for Christmas that they need because I get things for less.

Let me brag on the Vacuum deal real quick because this is probably my best deal of the night and made it all worth while – Dyson DC40 which was one sale at a lot of places for Black Friday for $299 – went to Kohls where it was $299, was going to use the 15% coupon to get a discount but the clerk gave me 20% off because I had to wait a few minutes because of a problem with the lady going before me, and then I got $75 in Kohls cash back to use this week.  Um, yeah….$160 or so for a Dyson Vacuum.  And let me tell you, I LOVE IT!!  I told Ed that I didn’t care if it was the only thing I got, that I was happy.  It is sad when you get old enough that a vacuum is all you want for Christmas.

The great thing about all of it…my Christmas shopping is 90% done….who ho!!  Happy shopping to you!