"I hold on to You for dear life, and you hold me steady as a post..." Psalm 63

Monday, December 27, 2010

Around here...


 We've enjoyed some quiet, family-filled days around here this week.  
Christmas vacation has afforded us a lot of togetherness and catching up...{much to a certain 14yr-old-who-would-much-rather-spend-24/7-with-her-friend's dismay}

The days leading up to Christmas included a lot of this

{Dark chocolate-covered pb filled Ritz and Mint chocolate covered Oreos}

{Dark Chocolate covered pretzels}


 {Packaged and ready to be delivered}

We hosted an UGLY sweater party here last week.  
 {My UGLY sweater...}


I remember a time when wearing an UGLY sweater was humiliating...
now it seems the uglier the better!

The kids and I buy an ornament every year that has something to do with a big event that has occured throughout the year.  We have houses, cars, pets, words of expression, etc....
We took a vote on whether we should buy another little house ornament or a raccoon,
 in honor of these guys

 who have taken to entertaining themselves in the walls of our house for the last few MONTHS.
It was unanimous...

Although it is not the cutest ornament on our tree, 
it probably holds the most memory of all of them!

 Unbeknownst to my mom...she purchased the same one for us 
and now there are two. 
 Ironic.

By far, the best day we've had this week was Christmas Eve.  We don't have the typical set-up for celebrating Christmas...what with the kids celebrating at home and with their dad, too....but we've found our own traditions that seems to work for us and we make the best of whatever we need to.  This year we had an unexpected surprise of spending all of Christmas Eve Day together...and maybe because it was unexpected, it was even sweeter.

We spent a little time doing this...
 And eating some of this...

We did gift-giving a little different this year...
and it was perfect...

The kids bought me the sweetest little cupcake pedestal...

Look how sweet the box is, too!  

But, by far, the best gift of the year came from my daughter and looks something like this...



It's been displayed on the front of the tree ever since...
and will quite possibly be varnished, framed or bronzed when the tree is taken down.
She knows my love language is words of affirmation...
and the fact that hers is NOT
 made this piece of paper all the more to be treasured!

There are many more days this week together and I'm going to go out on a limb and just 
assume that they won't all be warm and fuzzy...
by next Monday I'm guessing we'll all be ready for school to start up again.

Until then, I'm treasuring the sight of all my children under the same roof
and the sound of all of them talking at the same time.
There'll be time enough for QUIET when our routine has resumed...

"The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I 
have passed at home in the bosom of my family."
Thomas Jefferson



Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bloggers unite...


A few days ago I had the privilege of coffee-ing with two of my blogging friends, Jeane and Janelle.  

We gathered at Jeane's lovely home...and consumed enormous amounts of coffee.  It was such fun to be in Jeane's home and see three of her beautiful children.  Her household is busy with little people coming and going and I loved watching the way she takes it all in stride.  

Jeane's twin boys...

How cute are those smiles???!!!  
I couldn't tell them apart if I was paid, but they were so much fun to watch!

This is Janelle's youngest..

She is the princess of their house...
reminds me so much of raising Emma after two busy boys.

Our time together was really precious.  I have forgotten how busy a houseful of toddlers and preschoolers can be...forgotten how impressionable they are...how much they watch every little thing you do.  I've also forgotten how hard it is to sit down and enjoy "mommy" things without being interrupt by little needs.  I can't remember when I stopped observing these things.  I can't remember the last time one of my kids sat on my lap...for the very last time.  It just happened, and I forgot to take note.  

It was good for me to spend time with younger moms...I needed a reminder of how far we've come, and yet how much we've changed.  It's a strange thing when someone who identifies themselves as "mom" suddenly realizes her identity is being redefined.  When you're in the midst of wiping snotty noses and bare bottoms you   have no way of understanding how quickly these years pass.  But they always do.

It makes me feel pretty old...
but such is the cycle of life, I guess.

I left with lovely parting gifts...

{I won a giveaway on Janelle's blog a few weeks ago}

{Janelle...the blanket is the PERFECT shade for the sunroom AND everyone fights over it..
Emma snuck it up to her room and slept under it last night}

and THE BEST baked oatmeal EVER from Jeane...
{I'm not kidding, Jeane...THE BEST!}
  
I could have stayed all afternoon, chatting, but I had an appointment with a wood-deliverer....
who came early...
and dumped the WHOLE pile of wood on the
OPPOSITE side of the yard that it needs to be on.
Sigh..
Guess who has to convince her kids that it's worth transporting the pile across the yard NOW 
so that we're not walking through the snow to get frozen wood for the fire later???
We're in for many hours of happy togetherness this week, I predict.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

cheeseburger picnic...

Doing a little gift-making over here this week.  
Can't show it all, cause there are sneaky eyes that peek on here.

Emma and I spent a quiet evening here tonight.  Nick disappeared for a little bit to join his friends at "Wing Night"...which afforded us a little cheeseburger picnic by the fire. 


It was one of those rare moments in the life of a mother and her 14 year old daughter.
 I didn't embarrass her or say something dumb.  
She didn't roll her eyes at me when I walked in the room with the tray. 
And there was no complaining that this was her least favorite meal.  
It was rare, I tell you...
Rare, but thoroughly savored.

I remember being 14.  
I was just as unpredictable, I surmise.

I grew out of thinking every move my mom made would thoroughly humiliate me.
There is hope.
This too shall pass....


Dear daughter, 
There are days we all think no one understands or appreciates us. 
 It's not true.
You will never wake up on any given day to find you are
 all alone 
unappreciated
misunderstood
or
unloved.

May the God of all creation fill you up to the brim with HIS unmistakable LOVE...
May HE fill in all the cracks that you sometimes feel are left open...
You are LOVED beyond measure, 
treasured beyond belief.

Just in case you ever wondered...

 "For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
   your faithfulness reaches to the skies."
Psalm 57:10

What the daughter does, the mother did.  ~Jewish Proverb

A daughter is the happy memories of the past, the joyful moments of the present, and the hope and promise of the future.  
~Author Unknown


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Avoiding the mall-rush...

You couldn't PAY me to go to the mall today!!
 We're down to two weeks until Christmas and the frenzy has hit the last minute shoppers
{I, myself could maybe considered one of them}....
As always, at this time of year, I get this little rebellious streak rising up inside of me.

 I hear people talking about all the things on their shopping lists, I see people completely stressed out over finishing all their buying and I observe a nation full of young people who feel that they are entitled to get everything on their LIST.

And every year I hate it even more. 
 I hate that I buy into it all. 
 I hate that somewhere in the back of my mind I feel obligated to join the frenzy.

When did we decide this holiday should be all about us?  
When did we decide that because it's Jesus birthday, WE should all receive presents...
and LOTS of them- 
especially the most expensive kind?

How did we go from sitting at our Thanksgiving tables, giving thanks for all the blessings bestowed upon us, to rushing out the door at midnight so we can buy more STUFF?
We were so thankful only moments before, but that all changes when a SALE is at stake.

I know, much of what we buy is for others...
and I'm not against blessing others with something they really want.
But, every year I am more and more frustrated with the way we blow it out of proportion
 and buy beyond our means to give to someone who doesn't have a need

Sounds a little Scrooge-ish, I know.  
I hear it as it's coming out of my own thoughts...
but it doesn't change the fact that I feel like, as a nation, we've allowed things to get out of control.  

I never really know what to DO about these thoughts and feelings this time of year.  I've never bought a lot for under our tree, but I still buy...I still go beyond what I should -because it's just what you do.

This year things are going to be different.  
I had thought a few weeks ago that I would share how- here.  
But I've decided not to...
mainly because it's just a personal decision.  
It's a trial...and it may only happen for this year,
but it needed to happen.

I keep thinking that what I want most of all, is for my kids to look back on their childhoods 
and on Christmas in particular and remember how we celebrated Jesus, 
and not stuff.

And I'm willing to "wager" that ten or twenty years from now they will not remember the particular trinkets that awaited them under our tree.

I stand corrected...
I DO remember something that was under our tree about 30 years ago.  
It was a really ugly polyester "pant suit"
{sorry, mom and dad!}
I remember traipsing up to my room and trying it on...
 {mumbling under my breath at how unfair it was that I should receive something so hideous.}


{THIS IS NOT ME..it's a google image, but I'm pretty sure if this kid saw me in my polyester number he would have asked me to be "his girl"}


{And SHE would have asked if I wanted to be best friends}

I can't remember if I let my attitude show..
I'd like to think that I smiled a polite smile and said "thank you"...
but I'm not naive enough to think I didn't put a great big lemon-puckered face on
and roll my eyes
right
 at
 my
 parents.

The point is, my heart was wrong...
because I wanted MORE...
I wanted to feel special...
I wanted to be lavished with lovely gifts,
because I was worth it and it was what I deserved.

I wish now that I still had that little stretchy-pant number so I could at least take it to Goodwill
 for some other kid to appreciate...
because someone else WOULD have appreciated it.
If you have no food, you would certainly appreciate a plate of vegetables,
and if you had no clothes, you would certainly appreciate
a stretchy-pantsuit.

I'm trying to wrap my head around how I can make Christmas time special for my loved ones
and not get all wrapped up with the gift-buying stress.

I may have stepped on some toes with my opinions here...
didn't mean to.
They're MY opinions...
{and it's my blog, so I can share them, the 1st Amendment says so!}
It's just where I am right now.

It doesn't mean you won't run into me at the mall in the next few weeks, cause you probably will.
But it does mean I'm thinking through things differently.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

{Word-less Wednesday} Your eye is a lamp...




"No one lights a lamp, then hides it in a drawer. It's put on a lamp stand so those entering the room have light to see where they're going. Your eye is a lamp, lighting up your whole body. If you live wide-eyed in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. Keep your eyes open, your lamp burning, so you don't get musty and murky. Keep your life as well-lighted as your best-lighted room."
Luke 11:33-34

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

zappos

I've just discovered Zappos.com.
 I've heard of it before, but thought they only sold shoes.  I had no idea they had a little bit of EVERYthing AND a SALE/CLEARANCE section...which makes me happy.
 Plus, they offer FREE SHIPPING every day.

I've been looking for a bag for the camera I recently bought on ebay.  I'm not a fan of the boring black ones that they sell everywhere, but I can't seem to find anything I like that is affordable.
Until I found THIS at Zappos:

It's a cooler.  But, how cute is it?! And, because it's insulated, it'll protect my camera.
And for $34 I do believe it could be the one...someday.
  Vera Bradley - Cooler<em>Canon</em> EOS <em>Rebel XSi</em> Digital SLR Camera with <em>Canon</em> EF-S 18-55mm IS ... = ♥

This time of year I want to wear a scarf everyday.  
Our house is cold and I'm freezing ALL THE TIME...wearing a scarf makes me feel like I have a blanket wrapped around me.  I'm always on the lookout for ones that I like.  
I like the colors of this one...
Product Image
Echo scarf @zappos.com
but at $54 it won't be mine.

North Face scarf @zappos.com

At $35 this one is coming closer to my price range, but still not quite.

I'm a little confused by these, they're everywhere, but I'm not sure I like them.  

Looks a little too bulky around the neck for me. 

Maybe I should just turn the thermostat up...or buy myself one of these:
Zappos is the place to go if you want to do all your Christmas shopping in one place.
They have a little bit of everything, it seems! My eye steered towards the bags, scarves and shoes but there's SO much more...
check. it. out.

I never win anything, but last month I actually won a drawing at my friend Janelle's blog.  Instead of just handing it off, I suggested she come here for coffee with another blogging friend, Jeane.  So tomorrow's the day...and it's also the day that I have someone coming to fix my heat.  

Should be an interesting mix of company!  

Sunday...

The best thing about Sunday was being home. 
 All afternoon.  After church in the morning I built a fire in the fireplace,
 we put on our warm sweaters and chilled...
right here...
...all afternoon...
I'm not kidding!  It was a really lazy day.  
Lazy, and perfect.

The second best thing about Sunday was stopping at Weis Market on the way home
 from church and finding these...
They are RED VELVET COOKIES...
can you stand it?!?  

I'm pretty sure I can move a few ingredients around in my favorite go-to book and recreate them a lot cheaper.  They might even become a Christmas gift to someone on my list.
They're THAT GOOD.
Unfortunately because I spent the afternoon reading in front of the fireplace I did none of this...
 and it was all waiting for me today.  
I really hope that in heaven there will be no dirty laundry...
eternity is A LOT of loads of laundry-
and a LOT of bottles of Tide.

I did a quick run into Goodwill today...just making sure I don't miss out on something thrifty-good.
I stumbled across this sweetie for $4.97...
You like?
It's a heavy iron coat hanger w/a beveled mirror.
I've seen similar racks like this in catalogs for a LOT more than $5.  
It's unique...reminds me of something that might have hung in an old hotel.
It might not really be old at all, but that doesn't matter to me...
It's perfect...

I have just the place for it in my front hallway.
Only problem is that there are no studs in the place I need them to be in.  
{story of my life...}
Not exactly sure how and when I will figure out how to secure it into drywall...it's pretty heavy.
I think it calls for a mother's touch.
{mom, that's you...HELP!}

 Btw...The third best thing about Sunday was that we woke without being disturbed by racoons for the second day in a row.  We decided that the remaining two animals were spooked away by the cage in the attic and had found a new place to live.  FINALLY!  Emma slept in my room for 5 straight nights to get away from the sound of them chewing the inside of her closet walls.  

The worst thing about today...
They're BACK.
Apparently they like our house...
like to wake us up at midnight when they leave...
and then again at 5:30 when they return.

You really can't make stories like this up...
I'm trying to laugh-
the alternative will get me nowhere.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

traditions...

Although there's a few scenes and a little language I'd prefer to edit out, 
National Lampoon's Christmas vacation is among my all time favorite Christmas movies!
Tonight, the kids and I ordered a pizza, put on our warm jammies and cozied up on the couch to watch it...again.
{$2.99 on On Demand, folks}

This is one of my favorite scenes...

before the season is over, we'll have watched
The Nativity Story
Elf
A Christmas Story
It's a Wonderful Life
The Grinch
The Santa Clause movies
Charlie Brown
Rudolph
A Christmas Carol
Polar Express
Frosty

It's tradition...you HAVE to do it!

It's also tradition that we take a "personal day", just the four of us.  We shop, we eat, we laugh, and we buy our annual Christmas ornament.  The ornament always has to represent something big that happened in our family throughout the year.  I was thinking about a house this year, since we made a big move...but now I'm leaning more towards finding a raccoon..or maybe a family of them.  Totally tacky, but it does represent something big!   {Btw, the count is still at 2 for 4...the remaining two SEEM to have disappeared...but the verdict is still out}


I'm not sure I'll ever get used to continuing on with the traditions even though we're not all here.  It's just not the same with Alex at school while we carry on.  I'm counting the days until we're all under the same roof again!  

I ♥ MY FAMILY

"The universal joy of Christmas is certainly wonderful. We ring the bells when princes are born, or toll a mournful dirge when great men pass away. Nations have their red-letter days, their carnivals and festivals, but once in the year and only once, the whole world stands still to celebrate the advent of a life. Only Jesus of Nazareth claims this world-wide, undying remembrance. You cannot cut Christmas out of the Calendar, nor out of the heart of the world." 
Anonymous

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

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