December 25, 2011

Christmas Morning

Marah has thanked me for her play kitchen stuff about ten times already this morning. She's been trying very hard to share with Alex who seems to be more interested in her toys than with his own. There are puzzle pieces and wooden stacking blocks and candy and wrappers and stickers and tape all over the floor. The breakfast dishes are still on the table because we're all too tired/distracted to deal with them right now. The last of our gifts are being wrapped before we head over to The In-Law's house for the next couple of days. Diapers are being washed. A Christmas Story is being watched. I'm feeling happy but still a bit stressed and trying really hard not to take it out on the kids but sometimes that is hard to do. I keep reminding myself "It's Christmas and it should be fun and I should not stress." I just keep hoping that my crabby stress is outweighed by my joy and love :) and that the kids won't remember me acting so high strung.

December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve... feeling emotional

Today is the day before Christmas. The day known as Christmas Eve despite the fact that "eve" is defined by that time when the sun has gone down but whatever. It's also the day that I rush around trying to finish up the 97,000 projects that I started or wanted to start but never got around to. So, here I am, once again trying to make cinnamon rolls and a nice dinner and start and finish a baby blanket and pack for our trip to The In-Laws' and do laundry and keep the house clean and... and... and...

It's a good busy though. The kind of busy that reminds you of all the wonderful blessings in your life. The kind of busy that has you thinking of the memories you are creating for your children and remembering the memories that your own parents created for you. I like this day. So full of anticipation. The children are practically bubbling over with excitement and you just want to roll around in the giddyness, wrap it around you like a blanket and snuggle up with it late into the night. But, instead, you are sitting at your dining table frantically making that blanket you bought the materials for. :)

I've noticed since I woke up that I have been teary and finding every excuse to hold back sobs which means it's the most wonderful "time of the month," too. So I find myself opening Christmas cards with unexpected gifts and crying happy, someone cares about me, tears. This gets me to thinking about all that I have been given this past year by friends and family alike and I can't help but feel overwhelmed with emotion because, really, what would this year have been without these wonderful people? I am truly blessed. My children are blessed by you, too, because you make me happy and a happy mom makes for happy children. So thank you, to all who have given me gifts, of things, of time, of money, of travel, of friendship, and most of all, of love. Life's so much more warm and fuzzy and lovely with you in it.

I've got my cinnamon roll dough started and I'm thinking about how we're going to make it to the Christmas Eve service tonight. Plus I've got dinner in the crock pot, minus the mashed potatoes and rolls, and I have a few more treats I'm hoping to bake and make labels for gifting. Yes, it's all a glorious, last minute, procrastinators dream! Don't you wish you were here? :)

I've got plans for tomorrow, too. SO much to do and so little time left. I'll probably be up most of the night. So, I am signing off!

Random: Words Marah uses that make me smile: saus-a-sege (sausage), neck-er-ize (recognize)

December 9, 2011

Christmas movies

It's the time of year for those Christmas movies we love and hold dear! We have a box full of Christmas DVDs that we pull out with the Christmas decorations each November and it is definitely our mission to make sure that no movie is left behind. In our family, movies are one of our favorite forms of entertainment and we try to make each movie night fun and special even if it's not the most extravagant event.

The list of movies we must watch grows longer each year! The thing about Christmas is that people love it so much that the film industry feels the need to capitalize on that obsession by churning out new Christmas movies each year. Some become family favorites and others are best left on the shelves. However, in our family, it seems as if even the not-so-great Christmas movies are enjoyed by all to at least some degree because, after all, Christmas is a magical time of year.

Here is our list of must watch movies and specials:

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
A Christmas Story
Home Alone
The Santa Clause
Bad Santa (not for the kids)
Mickey's Christmas Carol
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
and pretty much any Disney Christmas cartoons

There are movies that I loved as a kid that I really would like to get on DVD to share with the kids but haven't had the opportunity to buy them yet. Movies like Heidi (I loved the Shirley Temple version) and Miracle on 34th Street. I think my girls would enjoy them. Maybe this year I can get them. We'll see.

Anyway, Christmas movies. They're a fun tradition. We only let the kids watch our Christmas DVDs at Christmastime. This keeps them as a special treat so that they don't get tired of them. I think I get almost as excited as the kids :)

So go pop some corn and buy some special drinks. Make cookies and put on Santa hats while you cozy up with blankets in front of the Christmas tree and watch movies in it's gorgeous glow.

Make each day count!

December 8, 2011

A Night in Bethlehem

The girls took part in our church's Christmas program for the first time this year. I'm not even sure what our church has done in the past at Christmas other than the candlelight service for Christmas Eve. This tends to be the time of year when we get caught up in other things and start to taper off on church attendance for awhile. When it gets colder we tend to hibernate. Plus I hate getting the kids ready to go out in the mornings when it's freezing out. It just takes too long!

We do like our church, though, and the kids have come to really enjoy going so we're trying very hard to stick to the habit because it's a good time for us to all spend time together and our pastor is a really great leader who really makes the Word come alive for us. Anyway, let me tell you, I do not envy our Director of Children's Ministry. She has a tough job and it's clear that she really loves it. You would not see me trying to get all these kids to learn these songs and line up and stay on stage and pay attention. Just the idea of it exhausts me! So I really appreciate her and the other workers who spend their time with my children. It means a lot to me.

The girls sang Christmas songs with the other kids and some of the older kids did some scripture readings. It was clear that most of the songs were not practiced enough (I think it would have been good to have the songsheets sent home so that the kids could practice because I had no idea what they would even be singing for the program) but it was still nice to see the kids trying because it's cute when kids don't know the words. It's not cute when adults don't know the words... :)

December 2, 2011

Christmas... already?!

Well, I can't believe it is Christmastime again. Time, could you please just slow down a little bit? I have lots to accomplish and you are making it very difficult to do so!

I have so much planned for Christmas this year. I love December. I love making this time of year special for my family. I am blessed to have a husband who loves Christmas (probably even more than I do) and we have fun celebrating traditions brought in from our families growing up as well as introducing new traditions for our own children to pass on one day.
The day after Thanksgiving is when we set up our tree. I believe it is good to keep the holidays separate. Keeping Christmas stuff postponed until after that turkey is consumed helps the kids to appreciate Thanksgiving which seems to becoming nearly an afterthought in this day and age (wow... saying that makes me feel incredibly old LOL).

This year I really wanted to decorate our white tree with simple, colorful, shiny things. Growing up, I always wanted to have a white tree with colorful ball ornaments. We always had a tree full of keepsake ornaments and I loved it, treasured the memories attached to those ornaments, but just wanted to experience a fun but simple tree just once. So, this year I did just that. I bought a bunch of pretty ornaments on clearance at Target last year. I have been admiring them in our garage all year (seriously) and thinking of how lovely they will look on our tree. And, I will say, I do think our tree looks pretty and cute and fun BUT it's not the same.

We didn't pull out each ornament and hear "that's mine!" I didn't look at each one fondly, remembering my childhood, recalling my children as little toddlers, clumsily hanging each one with chubby fingers. So, it has been nice for this year, and I might hang on to these ornaments and maybe one day we'll have a family room AND a living room and we can do a tree in each room. I don't know. We'll see. All I know is that I miss my eclectic, cluttered tree.

So I was a little excited to see that the first activity in our family advent devotional was to make a small heirloom tree. The directions were to use an evergreen branch and decorate it only using ornaments that were handmade by the children, ornaments that have been passed down, and ornaments that held special meaning. So I went out, cut a branch off of our very prickly tree (um, ouch much?!), and stuck it in some water. Then the girls and I picked through our ornament box and chose the most special ornaments and all the handmade ornaments and hung them on our heirloom tree. It was nice to look through that box again and it helped me remember how many special memories are there. Thank you, Mom and Dad, and Grandmere, for all of the beautiful memories in that box. Without you we wouldn't have them.

Our little heirloom tree. Right next to our photo wall. How perfect :)

And now I'm crying. Just a little. :) Alrighty, I have so much to do today! Let me show you what I'm working on for my latest customer (please ignore the terrible Blogger jaggy quality):

Like what you see? Check out my Etsy shop and purchase your own custom silhouette just in time for Christmas gifting! CLICKY HERE ----->

I have so many activities planned for December. I am excited to celebrate the birth of Jesus with my family! Please come back and see what we're up to. And leave me a comment telling me about your favorite Christmas traditions.

November 30, 2011

A Day of Thanksgiving

We celebrated Thanksgiving with family and good food. Hosting holidays at my house really just makes me happy. Not sure where I get that from! I had lots of wonderful help from my girls this year. They are growing up so much and turning into quite the little chefs. Jenna made the cornbread for our stuffing and basically helped with all of the cleaning. Marah did most of the work on the sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, and mashed potatoes, and helped a lot with making the stuffing. She really enjoys helping out in the kitchen. Jenna always says she wants to help but then ends up bored and wandering off.

I really wanted to play games with the adults after the meal was finished but it seemed like we were all just too tired at that point so we just watched some shows on the TV instead. Marah was really just so excited about the day and kept talking about how she wanted to make everything beautiful and how she was so happy that our family was coming over. It was very sweet. I had the girls make placecards for the table this year and they really enjoyed that. Marah even made the centerpiece for the table. I had to let go of my control issues and let her proudly display her vase full of dollar store flowers. :) It was all very nice and the food was yummy and no one got sick from the turkey and so I consider it a success (food poisoning from undercooked meat that I cooked is one of my biggest fears)!

Sometimes, when you are struggling to make ends meet, when you're dealing with a long run of depression, when your mind keeps wandering to those sweet memories of the time you spent with your family in San Diego, when life just seems to be getting you down, it can be hard to feel thankful. It's sad, really, because I know that I have much to be thankful for. I know that my life is cake when compared with the long-suffering of people in other parts of the world. It's ridiculous to feel like my life is so hard or so dark and depressing. I need only look around me to see all of the beautiful people God has blessed me with. I need only look up to see that roof over my head. I need only look left to see my kitchen sink with clean running water. Hot and cold, at that! I need only walk about 40 feet to get to my bathroom. I am so very blessed. I need to remember that more often.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, too.

Marah puts the topping on the sweet potatoes.

Marah and Uncle Fred peel the potatoes.

All the food is ready for consumption. Please ignore the big brown box that was brought by one of our lovely guests. This ain't no magazine cover, folks!

Grandma's place card made by Marah. The other place cards said Aunt Tera, Uncle Fred, Grandpa, Eric, and Ashley. ;)

The table has been prepared by the girls. Please pay special attention to the beautiful centerpiece.

Jenna was not happy about being told to sit at the "Kid's Table" but I told her it's holiday tradition so deal with it.

November 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

We miss you, Nana and Papa!
(So. Cal post to follow)

November 15, 2011

Oops! Halloween :)

How easy it can be to forget to blog. Or even to just put it off because you have more pressing matters. And so it is that I am blogging about Halloween in the middle of November. I still have my trip to San Diego to blog about. In fact, I still have our family trip to San Diego to blog about! Crazy. Anyway, our Halloween was fun and simple this year. I made the kids use what we had around the house to come up with their costumes, so that we wouldn't have to spend any money, and it worked out great.

I helped Jenna come up with the idea for the Dios de los Muertos costume and we made paper flowers for her hair. Simple with a little bit of edge to it (Jenna always wants a scary costume). Marah knew she wanted to be a bride back in August when she received the play dress from her Aunt Krista. I ripped apart an old costume to make her veil and utilized the skills I picked up while making my sister-in-law, Ai's, veil. I think it turned out pretty cute! We added a lacy shirt under the dress and it ended up looking like it was part of the dress. Very Kate Middleton. :) For Alex's costume I just used his Woody pajama shirt, a red bandana, and a cowboy hat, which I realize is red but is all we had and worked just fine even though the girls said that was Jessie's hat.

We did our trick-or-treating, coming home with a ton of candy (of which all that remains are a bunch of Tootsie Rolls) and then settling in for some good old fashioned Halloween TV. We watched the Garfield Halloween special and Icabod Crane and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I love Halloween. It's such a simple concept. Dress up, get candy, eat candy, watch fun shows. There is no pressure to buy gifts, make a fancy meal, put up a ton of decorations (unless you really want to). It's just easy and fun!


Jenna received a lot of compliments on her makeup.

Such a beautiful bride.

She knows how to make me laugh!

Recap for last week

Make each day count!

November 14, 2011

I may love rainbows but...

I have something I need to get off of my chest. I have struggled in the past with reading certain blogs that seemed to portray family life as happy, beautiful, perfectly lovely, something easily treasured and never looked upon as a burden or a source of frustration. I have read these blogs and wondered 'what am I missing?' and 'why don't I have this life?' I have felt the pang of wistful longing for that storybook life and I have questioned my own purpose, my mission, my place in my family. I have wondered, because of these bloggers, if I am doing something wrong or if I am just abnormally lazy, depressed, whatever...

Then I read posts like this: and I understand the point being made, I do. I know that they don't want to share all the negativity. They don't want to come across as complaining. I realize that there is a heavy weight placed on the spirit when you are always being fed depressing, sad, dark moments. I get that. I don't want to read a blog that was written by Debbie Downer, either. I love reading the happy posts. I love being inspired to do better because I see others doing fun stuff with their families and I read about them enjoying the everyday blessings. I'm so grateful to the bloggers with their bright and cheery, sunshine and rainbows, beautifully celebrated lives. Their blogs encourage and inspire me.

But, I have to say, I like reading about the hard times, too. And it's not because of some sick need to know that someone else has a messed up life, it's because I know that we are all imperfect and I strongly believe that sharing our imperfections can not only be freeing for us BUT for others as well! I have always felt that God wants us to bring the darkness into light. Isn't that what fellowship is all about? Aren't we supposed to form relationships based on reality? Isn't it important to know that we are not alone in our sinful nature?

Sure, the moments that make us feel good are God sends and He wants us to take the time to express our joy in those moments, but the trials and tribulations of life on Earth are also a part of being human, and in this age of technology and Facebook and blogging and internet friendships the opportunity to find comraderie in real life is becoming smaller and smaller. We are an internet generation and I think that it can be a bit of a hinderance to our relational intimacy, but it also gives us an outlet for getting things out that we don't feel comfortable sharing face to face.

And, really, why don't we feel comfortable sharing? I believe it is because nobody does it. It is very uncommon to hear someone sharing their "dirty little secrets." I think that keeping it to ourselves does our own spirits a deep injustice but I also believe that it does others an injustice. We need to know that people have been where we are. We need to know that there are others out there that we might be able to talk to who have been through what we've been through. If I didn't tell you that my marriage has suffered the deep blows of infidelity would you feel comfortable coming to me with your own issues on this matter? How would you know that my husband and I have worked very hard to overcome these terrible hardships and that I might have some advice for you if you are in the same situation? How would you know if I didn't share that? This is why I strongly believe that God wants us to share. He wants us to bring the darkness to light. Expose yourself and you might be blessed. It's not easy, for me it comes easier than others but it isn't easy for me either. I think it's important though.

Okay, so maybe your family blog isn't the place you feel comfortable exposing your marital problems. I get that. You don't have to go that far. It's a place I choose to go because I feel led by the Holy Spirit to do so. What I'm trying to say is that I want it to be OK to step outside of that perfect box that people feel so pressured to stay in. I want us to feel safe to share when life isn't perfect. I feel blessed by the sharing of these moments. Hearing about or reading about the times when life gets us down, that's what helps us get through our own rough patches. We need to know that we are not alone.

I know it's not for everyone, but I just wanted to throw my own feelings into the mix. I know some people blog the happy moments for a particular reason, and I understand their reasons, but I think it's okay to strike a balance between sharing our happiness and sharing our sadness.

Thanks for reading. :) I'm going through my own rough patch right now that I would really like to blog about but for now I'm just going to say that this blog here, it's about real life and all the ups and downs that go with it.

October 21, 2011

time to myself... almost

What a cute lil' nerd :)

circa 2010

Today my husband took the girls on a road trip to visit family in South Dakota for the weekend. He's going down for the annual Nerd-o-Rama and Zombie party. Have I mentioned that my kids love zombies? No fear in these kids, I tell ya! My kids are pretty awesome. So, anyway, they are all excited to dress up like the living un-dead and get their scare on. I can't wait to see pictures!

I did take part last year, and had a really great time, but this year I decided to stay home and take it easy. I figured it would be best to keep Alex home this year because he's prone to crabiness and this weekend would be surely filled with late nights and lots of activities. Besides, I just got home from a very busy trip to San Diego and I'm not sure I'm ready for such a busy weekend. I had a feeling that I would go and be miserable most of the time and then come home and need a week to recover.

So, in the best interest of all involved, I decided to stay home and keep my handsome little guy with me. We've got nothing special planned. Lots of writing and housework and playing and resting and maybe some cooking, I don't know. I just want to take advantage of this time that I have to get things done!

My biggest goals for this weekend are to get a lot of blog posts written to have ready for publishing whenever I don't have the time to write time-sensitive posts. In other words, general topics that can be posted at any time. My other goal is to get our house cleaned up and do some major decluttering. I don't know why there is ALWAYS a ton of stuff to get rid of. Seriously, why?! We don't even have much money so where is all this stuff coming from? How do we get it?! Is it breeding in the closets and toy baskets? I want to be ruthless. I've got boxes at the ready. It's time to let some things go.

Stay tuned.