Tag Archives: christmas

Christmas 2014

We really had a wonderful Christmas this year! The kids opened their jammies on Christmas Eve again. That is a fun tradition we have done for several years now.


This year even Titus and I got new jammies!


Christmas morning:


The cutest super hero ever!


Titus’s new shirt! It says, “I love my wife”


Faith was kinda hard to shop for. She got this cute pink lady bug that spits balls out the back. She likes it a lot although it hasn’t held up very well.


Opening presents:


Looking at the presents:


Faith got a snack cup from Daddy. She absolutely loves it!


Playing with toys:


James and Gideon got How to train your dragon 2 movie and stuffed animals for Christmas. Here they are watching the movie with their very own dragons.


Loot pictures: Titus got some shirts and the all the seasons of Hogan’s Heros.


Titus did so well getting me things off my list! That makes me so happy!


Merry Christmas!

Christmas Clothes!

I honestly was not planning on writing a whole blog post about my children’s Christmas clothes. I just wanted to take a picture of them to put on facebook so the grandmas back in MN could see them. But the pictures turned out so funny I had to write about them

We got back from church a few Sundays back and I told the kids we would take pictures of their clothes to show Grandma.


We started out sitting down and everyone had a book to look at. But you couldn’t really see their clothes very well.


So I told them to stand up. But Faith’s book was too big and she kept dropping it and not standing up.


So I gave Faith a different book to hold that wasn’t so heavy. But that made Gideon mad. Check out his face in the corner:


I told the kids to say cheese and look at the face Faith gave me!! And Gideon is still mad.


I went to Kmart and lusted after all the cute Christmas dresses. But I just couldn’t get myself to spend $20 on a dress just for Christmas. So I went to the ARC thrift store and found a Baby Gap red dress for Faith. It is just beautiful on her! It has cute ruffles down the front and netting underneath. It’s the prettiest dress she has ever had. I paid less than $5 for it.


James shirt and vest also came from the ARC.


Gideon’s overalls I made for my little brother when he was a toddler, who is turning 13 soon so they are about 10 years old. I would have been in high school when I made them. They are still in great shape.  They are on the fourth little boy wearing them, Levi, Lincoln, James and now Gideon. (and Gideon is still mad)


Teaching children to be giving at Christmas

I am always trying to find ways to bring more Christ into Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, I love the lights, presents, and food. But when all that is said and done, I want my children to know it really is about Jesus. In a culture of Santa and the focus being on trying to get stuff it can be hard to find a way to teach this to children. Especially little children, since you can’t volunteer at soup kitchens and other things like that. Which is why I love Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes! It’s easy and you can involve younger children! We budget all year for Christmas which includes money for shoe boxes, but we had a difficult summer (both vehicles breaking down in the same week among other things) and ended up using Christmas money for other things. I was terribly disappointed that we weren’t going to do shoe boxes this year. How ever a miracle happened! Just before Thanksgiving we were given an envelop with $200 from someone in our church. We don’t know why or who it was. I know that they probably won’t read this message, but thank you from the bottom of our hearts! I instantly hopped on Operation Christmas child’s website to see if we were too late. We weren’t, we had a few days before pick up day! A few days later during donut time at church a lady walked up to me and said, “I love watching you and your children. I am sure there are things you need. I hope you will let me give this to you.” At home when I opened the card, there was $100! That night I sat my boys down (4 years and 2 1/2 years) and told them we were going to go to the store and buy things for other children. I had them watch a little video on Operation Christmas Child’s website that explains where the shoe boxes go. I think James understood. He told me, “I’m a little bit sad.” 😉 I told him that giving isn’t sad, but happy. We will be making a little boy’s Christmas so happy. And off to Kmart we went.

We got three plastic boxes and told James and Gideon to pick out things to put inside. James picking out some stickers for his box:


and toothbrushes/tooth paste


They got a little bit distracted by the Christmas tree décor. I can’t imagine why.


James adding something to his box.


Believe me I was tempted not to take a 4 year old, 2 1/2 year old and a 11 month old Christmas shopping for someone else. I could have done it faster. Much faster. But that isn’t the point. The point was to teach my boys about giving. Giving a really fun box away to a little boy that wouldn’t have a Christmas otherwise. I pray all the time that my children will grow up to have a giving heart. Hopefully through things like this they will learn to give, and to do it happily. 🙂

 I have to say I am very proud of my boys! They happily filled most of the box for their child then Titus and I finished it for them while they played in the toy aisle. Because of the generosity of our church people we were able to make 3 boxes this year. The most we have ever done!


I told Titus when we got married that I would like to do one for each child we have that year at Christmas. So as we have more children we would do more boxes. Sadly this has not happened every year. But this year we were able to give 3 boxes, 2 for boys and one for a girl representing our three children.


Shoe boxes are about $50 to fill. I told Titus if we end up with 10 children we will have to budget $500 just for shoe boxes every year! ha ha ha WOW!!!

Winter Park Days

The past week as been so nice.  We have gone to the park three days in a row.  It’s great for my boys to run off some energy and to get some very valuable vitamin D.


On this day at the park there were twin 3 year old girls that had just as much energy as my boys.  James loved playing with them.



My little ham




Titus went with us to the park this day.  I took all the kids on Sunday by myself and it was a lot.  So I made him go with us.


Our little princess!


At the edge of the park is a Christmas tree recycling picking point.  It’s super depressing to walk by this every time we go to the park.  Our tree is in there some where:


Christmas stockings

I think my favorite part of Christmas Eve is putting stuff in the stockings.  Titus said he didn’t grow up doing much with Christmas stockings, but I did, so I guess it’s up to me.  I made all our stockings last year, but they didn’t have names until this year.

 This is Titus’ stocking. I didn’t make this one we bought it the first year we were married.  But I did use it as a pattern for the other ones.


Chantal’s stocking.  I looked and looked for one I liked and finally gave up and made one. I just love it!  And it looks so nice next to Titus’!


James’ stocking. It has little cowboy boots on it…perfect for my boot loving little man!


Then I made a ‘baby’ stocking.  I figure I won’t make a stocking for the each child until they are about two, so if they are under two then they get the baby stocking. That didn’t really work out very well this year since we have two kids under 2. 🙂  I thought about making one for Gideon but thought all my patterns and fabric were left in MN. Guess what I found when we put up the tree and all the decorations? Oh well, I have all of next year to make one for Gideon. Less pressure that way.


I love finding yummy snacks that I never ever buy to put in them.  This year both James and Gideon got cookie gold fish bags in their stockings. Plus they each got three little airplanes!  Titus got a Marine Corp charm thing that goes on a zipper, and gushers.  I put a mom hook in mine that I had just bought off mamabargines, and found out that my stocking is just wide enough for a package of oreos!!  Score! And yes, I stock my own stocking, what of it?  I need something to look forward to as well. 😉

It took me a year to get the names on them.  At first I bought iron on embroidery letters, but they weren’t red, and I couldn’t find red anywhere!  So I took them back and asked my mom to cross-stitch the names on them.  But we had trouble finding big enough letter for the stockings.  I guess I made pretty stockings!  Then we moved to Denver and I had the brilliant idea to get them custom embroidered.  I started calling around to get the best price.  I only ended up paying about $7 a stocking, which isn’t too bad considering how great they look.  I wish James’ name was bigger, but the only way he could do that was if he took the stocking apart.  For the next ones I make I’ll probably take just the cuff in and have him do the name before I sew it on the stocking.  That should help him be able to make it a little bit bigger.


I’m so excited to make more stockings as our family continues to grow!

Christmas Day 2013

Despite my earlier post about a blue Christmas Titus and I did get it together and we had a fun morning.  Last year we started a tradition of getting our kids new (well new to us) jammies that they can open on Christmas Eve.  I started looking for jammies at second hand stores back in October.  We got some very cute ones this year!

Christmas Eve, James, Gideon and Faith in their new jammies:


Gideon and I got up earlier then everyone else so we watched the end of A Very Monkey Christmas (Curious George) while we waited for everyone else to wake up.  First we opened stockings:


Both boys got 3 little airplanes in their stockings.  I bought them very cheap at a second hand store way back in Oct.  They have had a lot of fun with them.


And then I made breakfast, which no one ate but me.  Titus wasn’t feeling well (upset stomach among other things) so he didn’t eat and

the kids ate the stuff from their stockings.  I made so many cinnamon rolls I ate them for days!


Opening presents:


Daddy and his pull up bar:


Our boys and their new cowboy boots!  They have worn them every day since!


Mommy and her new yellow cast iron pot! (super super super happy!!!)


New blue tractors from Grandparents Penner:

IMG_1838 IMG_1839

And the best present for the boys, Hungry Hungry Hippos!  At the last minute on Christmas Eve I bought it for them at the second hand store for $2.  My poor boys, it only came with one marble!!!! 

But that didn’t stop them from having fun and they played with it all day! 


I am very very proud of Titus for really getting in and having fun with the kids, even though he felt sick.  Way to go Babe! It was a very Merry Christmas!

A Blue Christmas

We are struggling with Christmas a little bit this year.  I was asking Titus yesterday morning why that is.  I love Christmas!  I love everything about it!  And I married a man who loves it just as much as I do.  He even called me a Grinch one year about something, which is just ridiculous because of how much I get into all the decorating and planning. 🙂


But this year we seem to be lacking enthusiasm for the holiday. Maybe it’s because of having a new baby, or sleep depravity, or the fact that this is the fourth house we’ve had Christmas in (we’ve never had two Christmases in one house), or lack of extra cash lying around wanting to be spent ;), or not having any extra family Christmases (we normally have 3 other ones!).  What ever it is Titus and I are struggling a bit.  On one hand it’s a good thing that our kids are still so little and don’t have expectations.  But on the other hand I want them to have a happy and exciting Christmas morning.


Yesterday, two days before Christmas we left the house for the first time since Faith was born and went and bought a tree.  We spent more than I wanted to, but did get a nice little tree.

(Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree!!)


It actually fits in that little corner pretty well.   To add to our already blue Christmas when we got the lights out we found that none of them work except half of two strands.  Titus was pretty grumpy last night, I think he isn’t getting enough sleep.  It amazes me how much sleep men need.  So the lights weren’t a very good way to start, and Titus didn’t want to try to fix all of them.  For some reason we have a whole bunch of lights but the strand is white, not green. We’ve never used them before (because they are white!), but they work!  So we put white lights on the tree.  There is a reason they make green stranded lights, in case anyone is wondering.  I tried to stuff them to the middle of the tree so the white isn’t as noticeable.


Then Titus put the star on the tree.  I really really don’t like the star we have…in fact we have had it for 4 years and I’ve gotten out of using it every year so far! But not this year, AND we couldn’t find the plastic thingy it sits on so the blasted star is zip tied to the tree.  No, I’m not joking!

IMG_1817 IMG_1818 IMG_1819

I love doing ginger bread houses and have done one every year since high school. I have been so sad that I haven’t done one this year.  But yesterday I found a kit at Sam’s greatly on sale and James and I decorated it last night!  It’s made me a little less blue!  And it’s a huge house, I’ve never done one this big before!


The frosting wasn’t gluing very well so I got the hot glue gun out to put the house together. I’ve never done that before! That worked remarkable well!  I highly recommend using one if you are frustrated with your frosting.


Another good thing that happened was that I found my long lost Ecuadorian manger scene that my Aunt Sylvia gave me as a bridal shower gift!  We’ve never gotten to use it because I couldn’t find it any where!


AND our stockings are done!  More on that later, but they look fabulous!


Today I’m going to go to the store and buy pre-made treats and cinnamon rolls for Christmas breakfast.  There are two presents for the boys that I really really want to still get them, that I actually ordered and never picked up at the store so the order was canceled. I have a feeling that the store might just have them in stock though, so I might drive over there and see what I can find.  That probably won’t happen though. 😉

And finally, the results of mommy getting out of the house: a new outfit for Faith, one that actually fits!  I was so sure it would be too small, it looked so small on the hanger.  It fits just right!


All this to say even though our Christmas might be a hot glued, zip tied, not home made Christmas, we do have so much to be thankful for.  We have three beautiful, healthy children.  We have a warm house, and good food.  The very first Christmas was less than ideal.  Comparing my Christmas with having a baby in a barn doesn’t look so bad after all.  Christmas isn’t about the tree, or the presents, or the food, or the decorations…it’s about Jesus birth.  The start of his life, that He gave for us.  So maybe by having a blue Christmas, in the end it’s really a good thing because our focus is more on Christ.  The only reason we even have Christmas.

Christmas Letter 2012


Hi Family and Friends!

Here we are at Christmas time yet again! What does the time go? Since we didn’t send out a letter last year we have quite a bit to catch up on.

I am sure you all know we have moved back to Minnesota from Hawaii (facebook sure does help keep people posted doesn’t it???).  We have been back for two years now.  What a great two years we have had.  Our biggest news this year is the birth of our second son, Gideon Jonathan Penner! Here are some personal updates:

~Titus (26) is fulfilling his dream of being a dairy farmer. He has taken over the dairy from his dad for almost two years now. He does like it, but some times wonders if he wouldn’t like to do something else.  Titus does think about going back to college, on the G.I. Bill, but we haven’t taken the step yet (maybe in Colorado?). He also loves our big, white Ford truck that we drive. Rather a HUGE step up from the beater station wagon we drove in Hawaii! He loves theology and the high light of his year was going to Texas for the Free Grace conference in Dallas.

~Chantal (5 weeks younger the Titus) is also fulfilling her dream of being a wife and mother.  She loves being a stay at home mom. She loves having two sons so close in age (although it as NOT been easy!). In August due to one of Titus’ Military friends moving in with us she started meal planning for the first time. It has made such a difference! She also loves the new house we moved to this summer. It was kinda stressful (Gideon was only a month old), but the house is beautiful and we have so much more space. Please come visit us as she loves to entertain with such a pretty house now!

~James (2) is filling his little life with anything he can get his hands or mind on. He loves his baby brother (he calls him Dee Dee), Curious George, chocolate milk , and TRACTORS! We had a hard start with James as he cried all the time and he got 16 teeth in a year, but he is such a happy, fun little boy now. The highlight of the year for him was harvest since he was able to spend a lot of time with Daddy driving (I mean riding) the tractor and combine.

~Gideon (8 month) was born at home on April 4th 2012 at 10:45 in the morning. He was a big boy weighing in at 9 pounds 6 ounces! He loves his big brother, his pacifier, and nursing at night.  We also had a rough start as Mommy had to go on a strict diet, no dairy or wheat for a few month! But when Mommy did the hours and hours of crying i the evening finally stopped.  He has continued to grow faster then James. In November he was weighing 18 pounds already. James weighed 18 pounds at a year. Of course that might have more to due to the fact that he nursed EVERY hour and half during the night until recently (poor mommy!). He really wants to walk and eat animal crackers, but mommy said no, not yet to both of those. 🙂

~Dustin and Samantha Starweather moved in with us a few months ago. Titus and Dustin are Marine buddies and we hare helping them get back on their feet.  It is entertaining to hear the men sit around and complain about the military.  If anyone wants to be talked out of enlisting please come over and these guys will do just that! Ha ha  Samantha stays home with Chantal and Dustin is working in Jackson. They have plans to move to Jackson as soon as they can.

We hope you are all well and happy! Have a very Merry Christmas!

Love, Titus Chantal, James, and Gideon

Christmas Morning:

Christmas morning

The Christmas picture that was sent out with the letter:


Christmas 2012

As Christmas came and went this year I found myself dwelling on these verses:

Matthew 2:16-18

16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

18 “A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”

I can not even imagine what this must have been like.  I have two boys, two years and under.  If we had lived at this time both of my children would have been killed.  How would a mother ever get over that? So often I read over these verses knowing that Jesus and his family left and were safe.  But the longer I am a mother the more I notice stories like the one above.  It is a heart breaking story.  Full of sadness, and tears.  Just the thought of some military man coming in and slaying both my children gives me shivers.  My heart goes out to these mothers that lived so long ago.  I am so thankful to live in a safe country were my boys can grow up to become great men of God!


On a more positive note here are some pictures of Christmas.  This year again we had 4 Christmases: Our own little one at home, one with Titus’ parents and siblings, one with Grandma Penner, and one with Chantal’s parents and family.  It gets a little crazy, and my children have so many people to love them through presents it’s quite something!  But we are so very blessed to live here, to be so very close to family and to have all this time to spend with them.


New matching shoes! Opening presents Opening Presents Penner side Christmas Grandpa and James James and his cousins singing