GIVEAWAY: A Quiet Advent at Home

A Quiet Advent at Home

Crafting. That’s what we all think we should be doing with the kids this time of year, right? And that’s my subject matter here on Catholic Sistas. But sometimes these days leading up to Christmas can be so busy… when we really need to calm and quiet our hearts. So today, here is a little peak into our home and how we are celebrating Advent (without many crafts).

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The view from my kitchen sink is my favorite at Christmas.

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Here are our nativity peg dolls that I made as part of a swap this year.

I am very much enjoying them and can’t wait to find the right creche!

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Back when I was in high school my Dad and I made this stable one year for my Mom. They have moved since and had been storing it in the attic and not using it because it was so heavy to move. Last year my Mom asked me if I would like it for our home and I was ecstatic! The kids LOVE setting up the Fontanini figurines!  I am still working on the canvas in the background.  Maybe it will be done before Christmas, or if not, it will be next year.

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Our candy countdown is a religious mosaic of the Holy Family. We put three small chocolates (one for each child) inside the boxes. This is the kids’ favorite daily Advent activity and right now I count it as part of the pre-schooler’s math to find the correct number for the day. 😉

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Our Advent candle holder is new this year. It is setting on a cake stand and I took some loose garland and made a simple wreath below and wrapped it in purple ribbon. It is lovely to light the candles at dinner each evening and share a little Advent tradition with Daddy as well.

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We have been doing a Jesse tree for several years now. It is a smaller tree set up in our dining room and we read a verse each day at breakfast followed by hanging the corresponding daily ornament. Our ornaments are a mix of ones from another swap I painted with earlier this fall and some old favorites. The bags below are just brown kraft gift bags that we painted the numbers on and filled with purple tissue paper. Very simple and re-usable!

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I love the idea of book baskets. The Shower of Roses blog has SO MANY good book recommendations and we have started to get the kids a few each year as part of their Christmas gifts. I keep it simple and pull books daily for us to snuggle on the couch and read. Snuggle time is MY favorite!!!

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Slowly but surely I am working on my Christmas cards. Although this takes time and is considerable work my hope is that our card and family photo will bring a bit of the true Christmas meaning to those that receive it. This year our card says “Love was Born at Christmas” and it truly spoke to me. Maybe because I am so close to having baby #4… I don’t know but this particular card brought tears to my eyes.

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We don’t do a lot of gifting on Christmas but we do like to share surprises! I have an extra set of peg dolls of the Holy family that I would like to share with one of you! Tell me about your family’s favorite Advent traditions and I will choose a winner to send this set to. Please comment before midnight CST on Sunday, December 20th and I will announce the winner in the comments on Monday December 21st.

May God Bless you and your family this Advent Season! XO Janalin

75 comments
  • NatalieDecember 18, 2015 - 1:27 pm

    Beautiful photos! Thank you for sharing what you do in your home for Advent. we have only done the advent wreath but I really hope to make Advent a little more special for my children next year.ReplyCancel

    • Janalin HoodDecember 21, 2015 - 12:33 am

      Thank you! And you are doing it just right… we all start somewhere. For me it was with the Jesse tree. I love the simplicity of the Advent wreath best! XOReplyCancel

  • Antonette KerrDecember 18, 2015 - 1:37 pm

    Our kiddos are still very young so I keep advent simple with them. Every Sunday I like to point out the “differences” in our church before Mass (another candle lit, color the priest is wearing, etc.). I love hearing their excitement when the notice the changes.ReplyCancel

    • Janalin HoodDecember 21, 2015 - 12:38 am

      We point out the differences too! And Saturday night our (almost) two year old was trying to blow out the Advent candles since we were sitting in the front row. Good times! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • TeresaDecember 18, 2015 - 1:40 pm

    My favorite Advent tradition is that we don’t decorate for Christmas until Christmas Eve. It really keeps the Advent time sacred.ReplyCancel

    • Janalin HoodDecember 21, 2015 - 12:40 am

      Yes. That is fantastic that you don’t decorate at all until Christmas Eve! Does everyone help you decorate or do you surprise them Christmas morning?ReplyCancel

  • Lauren BlueDecember 18, 2015 - 1:49 pm

    Beautiful photos! Right now our 7 kids are all fairly young, so our Advent traditions are more “small kid” friendly. The favorite right now is lighting the candles in the Advent wreath during our nightly prayers. The kids love this tradition, and so do I.ReplyCancel

    • Janalin HoodDecember 21, 2015 - 12:41 am

      The Advent Wreath is a tradition we didn’t know we were missing out on. We LOVE it too. XOReplyCancel

  • June PumphreyDecember 18, 2015 - 1:50 pm

    Our favorite tradition is the advent wreath. It is lit at every evening meal and our meal is followed by a scripture reading.ReplyCancel

    • Janalin HoodDecember 21, 2015 - 12:42 am

      What scripture readings are you using? We should add this to our wreath lighting!ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer N.December 18, 2015 - 1:55 pm

    Lovely article! One of my favorite Advent traditions is going to our church’s penance service. All confessions are heard individually and privately, but the overall service is beautiful.ReplyCancel

    • Janalin HoodDecember 21, 2015 - 12:43 am

      What a beautiful way to keep the focus on the season. A gift in itself! XOReplyCancel

  • ChristinaDecember 18, 2015 - 2:02 pm

    Wonderful, thanks for sharing. My newest favorite tradition is to have my son pick out his favorite peg Saint (I’ve developed quite a penchant for the Saint swap on FB-haha) and then we do research and learn about them together. He’s happy to snuggle and read with me in the couch, and I’m happy that he’s taking an active role/interest in learning more about the saints. Over the last two years, I’ve done the full “advent calendar of activities”, but it’s just too much this year. I think that something was lost in translation, because I felt such a pressure to “go, go, go, go”. And, sure it was a lot of fun, but staying at home and having quiet family time is more representational of the Christmas that I want To celebrate.ReplyCancel

    • Janalin HoodDecember 21, 2015 - 12:46 am

      I can identify fully with the ‘penchant’ for peg dolls!!! We have quite a collection here as well. I hope next year we can do a better job of using the saints on their feast days during Advent… but yes, simple is really the best way to focus and prepare our hearts. <3ReplyCancel

  • AleesaDecember 18, 2015 - 2:04 pm

    Such a beautiful post! I love that huge canvas with the star behind the nativity! We love advent and someday will get a round to incorporating a Jesse tree, all we have ever done is an advent wreath and pray together the O Antiphons. We have an ornament for each of the golden nights that we place on the tree and read the antiphon and sing a the corresponding verse from O Come O Come Emmanuel. The kids get to open a gift for them to share after, just something little.ReplyCancel

    • Janalin HoodDecember 21, 2015 - 12:47 am

      The small gift sounds fun too! We hope to add the O Antiphons nest year. XOReplyCancel

  • KearryDecember 18, 2015 - 2:14 pm

    What an inspiring article! And your home is lovely. My daughter is only five, and so we are still working out our family’s Advent traditions. We have a simple Advent wreath that we light each night, which is when we hand our Jesse tree ornament and read the corresponding Bible verse. We also have a lovely Advent calendar that my mom gave us with painting of Mary and Jesus from the National Gallery. And on Monday I am going to try my hand at organizing crafting for the first time– salt dough ornaments.ReplyCancel

    • Janalin HoodDecember 21, 2015 - 12:48 am

      Oooh! I would LOVE to see your Advent calendar! Art lover here 🙂 It sounds like your traditions are fantastic! Merry Christmas! XOReplyCancel

  • AlixDecember 18, 2015 - 2:18 pm

    Oh how we love Advent! We always have an Advent wreath on our table and light it every night and sing O Come O Come Emmanuel, which conviently is my favorite Christmas song. We also bring out all our Christmas books and read them only until Epiphany. We homeschool, so we put aside regular school and work on Advent school.ReplyCancel

    • Janalin HoodDecember 21, 2015 - 12:51 am

      We go to a more Advent homeschool during this time as well. And my favorite Christmas song has always been “Oh Holy Night” but lately “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” has been rising in it’s ranks. Such strong lyrics!ReplyCancel

  • MackenzieDecember 18, 2015 - 2:21 pm

    Loved this! Such great traditions and a beautiful home! We currently do the mosaic with the little chocolates as well. The first thing in the morning the boys run to open their little windows, eat their chocolates, and we read the printed Bible verse for that day. I am wanting to collect more decor and have more Advent traditions to get the kiddos more involved. Such a heartwarming post! Thank you for sharing!ReplyCancel

    • Janalin HoodDecember 21, 2015 - 12:52 am

      Thank you Mackenzie! The chocolates are most certainly an attraction in our home too! 😉ReplyCancel

  • Amber GauthierDecember 18, 2015 - 2:21 pm

    Thank you for sharing all your wonderful crafts and advent ideas! We made our first family canvas to hang behind our nativity. Our little kids thumbprints are the stars in the sky 🙂

    We do an advent wreath and light the candles every night. My 2 1/2 loves to blow out the candles so we started “practicing singing” happy birthday to Jesus every night before blowing the candles out 🙂 he loves it so much and his 1 year old sister tries to blow and sings along with us. We also do the Jesse tree ornaments every night and he colors them then gets to hang them on the tree! Christmas time with kids is so much fun!! I love your Holy Family peg dolls and that would be such a great item for our kids to be able to put in their room! I hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas this year and may God bless you all!ReplyCancel

    • Janalin HoodDecember 21, 2015 - 12:53 am

      Awwww! Practicing singing to Jesus, that is adorable! And great idea on the stars! What a keepsake! God Bless you and your family this Christmas! XOReplyCancel

  • KRAFTYDecember 18, 2015 - 2:22 pm

    We love our Jesse tree, made with a swap group this year!ReplyCancel

    • Janalin HoodDecember 21, 2015 - 12:55 am

      SWAP groups are the only way I get anything done! So glad for the deadlines and being able to look forward to the wonderful treasures that everyone creates. XOReplyCancel

  • AmandaDecember 18, 2015 - 2:50 pm

    Advent Calendar. Very simple and easy.ReplyCancel

  • Kayle landriganDecember 18, 2015 - 2:56 pm

    I love showerofroses blog. My favorite advent tradition is opening a book from our book basket and reading it with the kids each day.ReplyCancel

    • Janalin HoodDecember 21, 2015 - 12:57 am

      It sounds like you wrap your books like Jessica does too. HATS OFF TO YOU! My kids would love it if I did that. Maybe next year… (if I start in July) lol XOReplyCancel

  • Laura DDecember 18, 2015 - 3:03 pm

    The kids exchange gifts (that they choose,buy and wrap for each other) after Christmas Eve Mass before heading to sleep.ReplyCancel

    • Janalin HoodDecember 21, 2015 - 12:58 am

      I like that you have them exchange gifts after Mass. We are letting the kids shop for one another for the first time this year… I like the idea of exchanging after Mass, thank you!!!! Merry Christmas to you and your family!ReplyCancel

  • SharaDecember 18, 2015 - 3:27 pm

    We’ve always had an Advent calendar that I’ve made every year. This year I made one that is a wall hanging – quilt. The kids attach manger scenes and such each day leading up to Christmas.ReplyCancel

    • Janalin HoodDecember 21, 2015 - 1:00 am

      And your wall hanging is BEAUTIFUL!!!! A family heirloom for sure! XOReplyCancel

  • KatieDecember 18, 2015 - 3:30 pm

    We are really diving into the Jesse tree this year which I love!

    The other day after Solomon’s ornament, my husband asked my son to help him act out the judging of the mothers – it has made an impact and he really remembers so much of Jesus’s genealogy!ReplyCancel

    • Janalin HoodDecember 21, 2015 - 1:02 am

      Learning through play. That always makes the most impact doesn’t it? I also will through the kids a ‘quiz’ of sorts and some days ask them to open the ornament for the day and see if they can figure out (and then tell) the story that goes with! That’s fun too! God Bless!ReplyCancel

  • Sonja CampbellDecember 18, 2015 - 4:47 pm

    Thank you for your generosity and offering this giveaway!

    We haven’t had much success with forming Advent Traditions. It seems that as much as we try, certain members of our extended family trump Christmas commercialism over quiet, holy reflection on the real purpose of the season. But I still try. In the past we’ve done Advent calendars with chocolates in them, but this year, I chose to focus on the saints feast days of Advent : St. Nicholas, St. Lucia, St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe – Celebrating each feast day with an inspired food, and sometimes dressing up as the saint. The Saints point us to Our Heavenly Mother and Our Savior, Jesus Christ. And that’s really where I want my children’s focus to be. On the birth of Jesus, the anticipation of it! And while the sparkling lights on houses and trees are a lovely sight to behold, it’s the humble, quaint manger of the King of kings that continues to draw us deeper into our Catholic faith during this blessed Advent season! God bless you and yours this, and every season of the year. 🙂

    P.S.
    I really wish I could post a picture of my 3 year old daughter dressed up like St. Lucia! Best.Advent.Ever. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Janalin HoodDecember 21, 2015 - 1:04 am

      I bet she was completely precious! Our daughter was St Lucy for all saints day this year… and also dressed up to celebrate her feast day. What special memories!!! Merry Christmas to you and your family! XOReplyCancel

  • Suzanne Satterlee SandersonDecember 18, 2015 - 8:01 pm

    Thank you for sharing! I think the favorite tradition we have is actual count down to Christmas. We have number stockings filled with peppermints for our advent calender. Each night after dinner we take one down. 10 kids filled with anticipation you can feel in the whole house!ReplyCancel

  • Mackenzie AtkinsDecember 18, 2015 - 8:10 pm

    Loved this!! Very much enoyed hearing about and seening your family traditions, beautiful home! We currently do the little chocolates in a mosaic calendar as well for Advent. Every morning the boys love going to find the right little window to open and then we read the Bible verse that’s printed for that day. 🙂 I am wanting to add to our Advent traditions and decor because I want to involve our kiddos as much as we can. Thank you for such a heart warming post! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Molli McAndrews GlowackiDecember 18, 2015 - 8:17 pm

    We have a pretty simple Advent- we light the candles on the wreath and sing a verse of “O come, o come, Emmanuel” at dinner; the kids color paper Jesse Tree ornaments while I read the related verse (though we do get a little behind and play catch-up every few days). I’d like to do more with the O Antiphons this year. I like the idea of gifting books and having snuggle time reading them. Thanks for sharing your Advent traditions too!ReplyCancel

  • Teri Ann MyersDecember 18, 2015 - 8:23 pm

    Some of our favs are lighting our advent wreath, reading a Christmas book each evening, and celebrating feast days.ReplyCancel

  • Rachel Maxwell PieperDecember 18, 2015 - 9:03 pm

    I love the tradition we have of celebrating the true season of Christmas with a smalll gift for the kids each of the twelve days. I usually try to coordinate the gifts.ReplyCancel

  • Melina NobertDecember 18, 2015 - 9:16 pm

    Have you heard of Kris Krindles(or kk’s as it is lovingly refered to in our home)? Similar to Secret Santa, we each choose a name from a hat and do secret things for that person during Advent (make their bed, hide a treat under their bed, pray for them, colour a picture…). It is our Christmas gift to baby Jesus. We also have a Jesse Tree and Advent candles 🙂 Thanks for sharing! https://musingsbymelina.wordpress.com/2015/12/12/advent-at-our-house/ReplyCancel

  • Katie DarlingDecember 18, 2015 - 9:32 pm

    Thank you for the little peek inside your home and beautiful Advent traditions. I LOVE your Advent wreath centerpiece, it is beautiful! My favorite Advent tradition, which I did not follow through with this year unfortunately (pregnant with #2 and didn’t have my crap together), we decorate the whole house in purple, have a short meditation each Sunday of Advent before lighting the next candle, and really take advantage of the amazing opportunities our parish provides during this preparation time. I take down the Advent decorations on Christmas Eve, after mass, and then when we wake up Christmas morning, the house is so magical, filled with the joy of Christmas!ReplyCancel

  • Lauren CalderonDecember 18, 2015 - 9:40 pm

    This is wonderful! We are trying to keep everything simple this year with our girls. Our twins are one, but my three and five year old are starting to love Advent. We love lighting the Advent candles at dinner time and reading the scripture that coordinates with our Advent calendar.ReplyCancel

  • Hannah MoultonDecember 18, 2015 - 9:49 pm

    I’m still developing advent traditions for my family since we didn’t really do advent growing up. But I got some good Christmas books to start our collection to have a book a day during advent!ReplyCancel

  • Cindy CinadrDecember 18, 2015 - 10:32 pm

    Love your traditions and home. Our favorite tradition is the Jesse tree. I was in the swap too and we’re having fun adding the ornaments and learning what each one means. Merry Christmas!ReplyCancel

  • Monica KinneyDecember 18, 2015 - 11:03 pm

    Our family is still young, so we are tradition building.? A consistent winner has been the Velcro Jesse tree that I crafted one year. We always get our tree on Gaudete Sunday, and of course singing O Come Emmanuel at the Advent wreath!ReplyCancel

    • Janalin HoodDecember 21, 2015 - 1:05 am

      Tradition building here too. I don’t know if we will ever have it all ironed out… but laying the foundation is the important part. I love that you are singing with the Advent wreath… we need to try that! God Bless!ReplyCancel

  • Lisa ThummaDecember 18, 2015 - 11:31 pm

    Those are so cute! My favorite tradition is going to Christmas Eve mass. We go to a gorgeous older church and they have it decorated so beautifully. They also lowee the lights and sing silent night at one point. It’s something that I always look forward to.ReplyCancel

  • Laurel SteinDecember 18, 2015 - 11:54 pm

    I think that having your advent wreath on a cake stand is brilliant!! It keeps it compact, without spreading all over the table! My brother-and-sister-in-law hosted a Advent Sing Thing on Gaudete Sunday this year – a bunch of families came over, we ate way too many finger foods, and sang all the Advent songs around the piano. It was wonderful! I’m hoping that turns into a tradition…ReplyCancel

  • Christine Lorenz HeckDecember 18, 2015 - 11:57 pm

    We help the Knoghts of Columbus do their thanksgiving and Christmas dinner boxes. Included in the Christmas boxes are the children’s Christmas cookies that they make for others not themselves. I love the painting behind your nativity it really makes the whole scene beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • Amy CarolineDecember 19, 2015 - 12:44 am

    We love unwrapping a Christmas book each night up until Christmas Eve!ReplyCancel

    • Janalin HoodDecember 21, 2015 - 1:07 am

      Books are our favorite too! But I wish I would take the time to wrap them. I bet your family can’t wait to see what they unwrap each evening! XOReplyCancel

  • Jenna GernonDecember 19, 2015 - 12:44 am

    I so enjoyed reading your post! Advent looks a little different here, every year, depending on the ages of the kids, we either do more or less crafting/baking/activities. This year has been particularly simple. My kids have been following along with the Holy Heroes Advent Adventure videos and colouring their Jesse tree ornaments every day. We’ve been lighting our Advent wreath, adding decorations to our home, and reading Christmas stories. I brought my two older kids to our local Christian radio station to donate pyjamas for their pyjama drive. I’m looking forward to slowing right down for the next week to really enter in and prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ!ReplyCancel

  • Esther DeWatersDecember 19, 2015 - 1:49 am

    We love doing a Jesse Tree, with reading the stories of the Old Testament figures who prepared for the coming of Christ and gradually decoring our tree with symbols that represent each one of those figures. I see a big difference from this tradition in my children’s familiarity with the story of our salvation!ReplyCancel

  • Lynn Hatch SensionDecember 19, 2015 - 2:00 am

    On the first Sunday of Advent we bring out our Nativities and the Wise Men begin their journey around our home. Each year I have tried to add some new element to our tradition that helps us refocus on the truth of this Season. We have our Advent wreath made with boughs and cones from our yard, we celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas, we pray the O Antiphons, we read lots of stories, we make gifts for our neighbors, and we have chocolate Advent calendars–I can’t forget those. It’s all my favorite. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Patty Story HughesDecember 19, 2015 - 4:11 am

    We share the same traditions as your family with a few feast day celebrations mixed in. For the feast of St. Lucy, we drive to see Christmas lights each year…on her feast day. It’s an automatic calendar event 😉
    Thanks for the give away! I love it and hope I win 🙂
    Advent blessings!ReplyCancel

  • Angela Miles HighsmithDecember 19, 2015 - 4:24 am

    Every day I read a different Advent, Christmas traditions, or Christmas story book to my children – from the first Sunday of Advent until Epiphany.ReplyCancel

  • Julie CerdasDecember 19, 2015 - 5:20 am

    We have an advent spiral on which we put peg people related to advent (angels, Mary, Joseph, sheep, shepherds, wise men, Saint Lucy, a star boy, Saint Nicholas, etc.) We also sing O Come O Come Emmanuel and light the advent candles. We celebrate the O Antiphons too. I think the O antiphons are my favorite.ReplyCancel

  • Cathy StalinskiDecember 19, 2015 - 7:00 am

    Favorite advent tradition is sitting by the Christmas tree.ReplyCancel

  • Cathy McCrearyDecember 19, 2015 - 8:19 am

    We take our time putting out our Christmas decor a bit each day and we light the candles on our Advent wreath each night at supper time.ReplyCancel

  • LauraDecember 19, 2015 - 10:49 am

    My kids love watching Advent Adventure each year. Last year we started doing the Jesse Tree and using an advent wreath, and they love that, too.ReplyCancel

    • Janalin HoodDecember 21, 2015 - 1:08 am

      We haven’t watched Advent Adventure yet. I am sure that it would be popular here as well! Merry Christmas to you and your family!ReplyCancel

  • Adrienne StravitschDecember 19, 2015 - 6:12 pm

    We light our Advent Wreath every night at dinner. No matter how hectic our week is going, that is a physical reminder to slow down and enjoy the wait.ReplyCancel

  • Brittany BreuningerDecember 19, 2015 - 7:24 pm

    The evening Advent wreath prayers have been our favorite this year. We also do the Jesse tree and have a special set of ornaments for the O Antiphons as well.ReplyCancel

  • Jacquie JonesDecember 19, 2015 - 8:51 pm

    We light an advent wreath and read a Christmas story everyday. When my kids are older we will be doing the Jesse tree.ReplyCancel

  • Jessica ComptonDecember 19, 2015 - 9:59 pm

    We have an Advent wreath and Jesse tree.ReplyCancel

  • Michelle LaDecember 20, 2015 - 2:36 am

    I have been reading Christmas books with my preschooler every day.ReplyCancel

  • Lindsey SteciwDecember 20, 2015 - 7:11 pm

    We’re still trying to find our groove with Christmas traditions (our oldest is 4 and we’ve been married for 6 years), but my favorite so far is lighting our advent wreath to a rousing rendition of O Come O Come Emmanuel (it’s a house full of boys). Thank you for sharing your Advent traditions- it’s always wonderful to see how everyone celebrates the birth of our Lord!!!ReplyCancel

  • Becky Lenihan VigilDecember 21, 2015 - 12:17 am

    My favorite Advent tradition we do is hanging a different piece of our Little People Nativity Advent Calendar each day. The kids love getting to see what character comes next and it’s one of the first things we do each morning. 🙂 They’re also having a lot of fun with our Jesse Tree ornaments too! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Janalin HoodDecember 21, 2015 - 1:15 am

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    You guys have made choosing a winner incredibly hard! I thought I would be able to easily choose a comment that ‘spoke’ to me… but truthfully THEY ALL DID. Thank you for sharing in our simple Advent and for sharing your traditions as well. I will be printing out comments and doing an old fashioned drawing later today when the kids can help me. XOReplyCancel

  • Janalin HoodDecember 21, 2015 - 2:19 pm

    Congratulations Aleesa! Your name was drawn as the winner! Please email me with your mailing address: hello (at) janalinhood.com

    And Merry Christmas to each one of you that were so kind to read my post and comment. I wish I had a set of dolls for everyone. God Bless! XOReplyCancel

  • Sonja CampbellDecember 21, 2015 - 3:08 pm

    Congrats, Aleesa! And Merry Christmas everyone!ReplyCancel