Monday, December 26, 2011

christmas did me in!

This weekend kicked my tail.

It was fun and memorable and fantastic.  But also exhausting.

I fell short of 12 Days of Christmas.

The kids were in bed at their normal bedtimes tonight for the first time in DAYS.  Lily proceeded to throw an epic fit about an hour later.  We lost her special blanket a few days ago and are now waiting for the Amazon fairies to send another one.  Of course its not easily found in stores.  But she HAD been quiet and maybe even asleep before she decided she wanted to throw a fit.

Even though the kids are out of school and we aren't working this week, we should get some routine back into life.

And then I'll return to this little space.

In the meantime, enjoy the last days of 2011.  I'm very ready for 2012!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

day 10 {cranberry bread}

When my brother was in second grade, he had this great teacher.  I think her name was Mrs. Love or Mrs. Lovejoy.  I need to ask my mom.  But she sent this recipe home at Christmastime with the students and my mom made it, and it became a family favorite.  I still remember the original copy of the recipe.  It was that old-school blue print, I guess it used to be a cheaper way to make copies?  We've made it almost every year since.

I really wanted to make this bread and have lovely photos to share.  But who am I kidding? I have the best of intentions but don't always quite have the energy or time.  I do hope to make a loaf before the end of the year.

This is not my bread...but looks similar!

This is a great gift for family, friends, neighbors, co-workers or just to have during the holidays.  It's great toasted with a little butter too.

Grandma's Favorite Cranberry Bread

Ingredients:

2 cups of sifted flour
1 cup of sugar
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup butter
1 egg beaten
1-3 tsp of grated orange peel
3/4 cup of orange juice
1.5 cup chopped cranberries (I think about 1 bag)
(You could also add chopped nuts.)

Instructions:

  1. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda into a large bowl.  
  2. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly.  
  3. Add egg, orange peel and orange juice all at once.  
  4. Stir just until moist (overstirring will make the bread too dense).  
  5. Add in cranberries. (You can use a chopper for the cranberries or just a big knife to chop them).

  6. Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan.  
  7. Bake at 350 for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  
  8. Remove and cool on wire wrack.
You could also make this into muffins, which I've done before, but I think the bread turns out better.

Pick up a bag of cranberries next time you are at the store (they're usually in the produce section) and make this recipe.  You will thank me! I don't know if I've tasted other cranberry breads, but I think it's the orange juice and peel in the batter that really kicks it up a notch.





Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Day 9 {the christmas story through the eyes of a child}

My sister sent me this video today.

It is perhaps the best Christmas video I've ever seen.

I showed my kids tonight and they loved it.  I have a feeling they will be asking to see it again in the days to come.  I won't mind at all, because I could watch it again and again.  Kids in New Zealand are really cool.





I love that my little girls are beginning to understand the Christmas story this year.  The Christmas program they learned and performed at their preschool was a big help in that.

It's a poor phone photo but Lily is on the bottom left in the plaid and Gracie is  at the top right in the red and black dress.


I found a neat wooden nativity set that's made for play and they know the characters and so many of the details.

Please take the time to watch this video.

You will thank me.

Coming up in the next few days, I will share a Christmas story that sounds like a Hallmark movie, but it really happened to me!

Day 8 {ho ho ho}

Day 7 {ready to sing}

Day 6 {first christmas} 

Day 5 {Christmas Movies} 


Day 4 {Christmas Music} 

Day 3 {Childhood Memories} 

Day 2 {The Most Coveted Gift} 



Day 1 {O Christmas Tree} 







Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Day 8 (ho ho ho}

I fell behind a day! I can't believe I got 7 new posts up in a row though.  The busyness of life is weighing on me, along with the kids being out of school now and I haven't been feeling all that great.  I think it's stress.  I wish I could control my stress, but it feels pretty impossible.

But, on with the 12 Days of Christmas.  I'm a day behind, but I'll catch up in a few days when I have more time.

So, about the big bearded guy in the red suit.  I've seen quite a few blog posts about Santa Claus in the last few weeks and the various approaches families take.  Everyone goes about this one differently, and I don't know that there is a right or wrong.

I mentioned before that our Christmas' were very simple and minimal when I was a really young.  My parents never talked about Santa Claus or told us gifts came from anyone but them.  By the time I was in fourth or fifth grade, our Christmas' were a little more like everyone else's and I remember knowing the story of Santa Claus, but that it wasn't real---even though other kids believed it.

I never felt like I missed out and when I was older, I enjoyed telling people that I never believed in Santa.

Bean on the other hand, DID grow up with the Santa story and he thought it was fun and part of childhood.  We were a bit at odds on what to do with our children.

But, like all good men, Bean didn't really fight me and let me have my way :)  He lives by the adage, happy wife, happy life. And I try to not take advantage of that.

The Christmas Miss Rose was about to turn 4, she began to put the story together about Santa Claus.  I never outright told her that Santa wasn't real but when she asked pointed questions I answered them honestly.  She eventually came to understand that Santa was a story that some kids believed and we always reminded her that she didn't need to tell other kids he wasn't real!

By the time Miss Rose was turning 6, she changed her tune and decided she WANTED to believe in Santa.  That has been really amusing the last few years.  I wasn't going to fight her on it, because she was making that choice even though she knew the truth.  We pick our battles in this house!

Even a few weeks ago, she told me that she thought Santa WAS real, but that the Santas in the mall weren't the real Santa.  I think part of her desire to believe has been that friends believed and it was a fun story that she wanted to be a part of.

But last week, a few of her good friends found out the truth from their mom.  And what do you know...she came home from hanging out with them and told me "Mom, I don't know if I believe in Santa anymore.  Will told me he isn't real."

I'm sure we'll still put out cookies and carrots, if the kids want to.

But there won't be any gift tags under the tree that say "From Santa" and if the kids try to give credit to him, I gently remind them that their gifts came from us.  I want credit for the items they are most excited about!!

If Santa is a part of your Christmas, I fully support that too!  It just wasn't for us.

Tell me what your family does and how it was for you growing up!


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Day 7 {ready to sing}

It's late on Sunday night and I realized I haven't posted today.

So this will have to do. The two older girls sang in church this morning and were supposed to dress like they were going caroling. Lily wanted to dress up too.


And this is what happens when Dad gets everyone dressed & to church by 8:30am. I have to be there at 7:30am. I have to confess I take just a little bit of pleasure in how frazzled and beat Bean is on Sundays, usually arriving at church between 9 and 9:30. I like to remind him that 3 days a week I need to have everyone ready for the day and out of the house, with lunches & backpacks by 7:30am.

Dozing in my office

Friday, December 16, 2011

Day 6 {first christmas}

I'm doing a little series I made up called "The 12 Days of Christmas".  It's just a fun way for me to talk about Christmas, memories and more.  If you want to join in, share in the comments or write it on your own blog and share the link in the comments.

I don't know why, but there is something special to me about having a baby at Christmastime.  I loved each of my girl's first Christmas.  Maybe it's because my youngest sister, who's 9+ years younger than me was born on Thanksgiving weekend and I vividly remember her first Christmas.  Maybe it's because I felt a little like Mary.


I still have this dress.  I've almost gotten rid of it a few times, but never did.  And now I'm keeping it.  My niece had a matching dress (bought at JC Penney's the day of these photos) and they wore them in photos for Grandma, along with my nephew--but I don't have any of those scanned.

Miss Rose

This "my first Christmas" onesie from Old Navy was the ONLY thing I could find to slightly fit Miss Rose on her first Christmas.  Marketers need to realize that some babies grow quickly and it is possible for a child to need a "first Christmas" garment in a size 18 months.  But I squeezed her into this 12 month one.  We lost a lot of photos of Miss Rose's first year, including Christmas.  Luckily I had some uploaded to a photo website, so I have prints, just not digital versions.  I need to find a picture of Miss Rose in this onesie.  The pants I found for Gracie as a resale store and they made me very happy.

Gracie 


I feel like Lily wore the same dress as Miss Rose (Gracie was my peanut baby, and having an April birthday, she didn't fit into at Christmas), but I can't find any photos.  But here's one in the onesie and striped pants!

Lilybug

When I was thinking about having a third child I really wanted to plan for a holiday baby.  My plan would have been to give birth towards the end of the year, probably in 2010. But God gave us a special gift that arrived in January 2009 instead!  I'm a little sad I never got my holiday baby, but I think my babies dressed for the holidays are pretty cute anyways!


Day 1 {O Christmas Tree} 

Day 2 {The Most Coveted Gift} 

Day 3 {Childhood Memories} 

Day 4 {Christmas Music} 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Day 5 {christmas movies}

I'm doing a little series I made up called "The 12 Days of Christmas".  It's just a fun way for me to talk about Christmas, memories and more.  If you want to join in, share in the comments or write it on your own blog and share the link in the comments.




White Christmas is one of my favorite Christmas movies.  I don't exactly know why.  Except that I love it. It's been on AMC every night this week, and I've had it on three nights in a row.  I'd go another night or two without any hesitation.


There are a lot of movies on my "must see" list in December. 




I was an avid reader growing up and Little Women was a book I really enjoyed.  Several years ago when the newest movie came out, I went to see it on Christmas Day with my mom, sisters and a best friend.  I balled like a baby.  I now own the movie and sometime during Christmas, I will watch it, probably when at least one of my sisters is at my house.  


Who doesn't love Chevy Chase and Christmas Vacation?  Although I will warn you, it's best to watch it on TV.  I made the mistake of showing the DVD version to a church group and realized for the first time, it's edited quite a bit on TV.  Elf is the newest Christmas classic, and if you don't like it you are a cotton-headed ninny muggins.  I also love catching Jim Carey as The Grinch


Right after Thanksgiving while running in my neighborhood I spotted a Leg Lamp in a window.  I've never seen one in person.  It's pretty fantastic.  I can't wait until my kids can appreciate all that's in A Christmas Story.  Making the "I'll watch it if I find it on TV" list are It's A Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street.


Let me tell you though, my Christmas is made if I happen to catch Dolly Parton in Smoky Mountain Christmas on TV. 




 It's like a Sasquatch sighting though, very rare.  We didn't have a TV until I was in elementary school and this is one of the first Christmas movies I remember seeing.  I don't recall all the details, but I know that for many years my siblings and I always looked forward to finding it on TV.  I have tortured Bean with partial viewings.  It's bad, but oh so good.


I'm realizing this series has become a very self-revealing exercise.  Roller skating to Amy Grant yesterday, Smoky Mountain Christmas today, what's going to be next?


What are your favorite Christmas movies? Are there any classics you haven't seen?  Bean hasn't ever see It's A Wonderful Life all the way through.


Day 1 {O Christmas Tree} 
Day 2 {The Most Coveted Gift} 
Day 3 {Childhood Memories} 
Day 4 {Christmas Music} 

Day 4 {christmas music}

I enjoyed reading Liz's family's Christmas Eve traditions!  Thanks for joining in on my little 12 Days of Christmas!  (BTW, Liz designed my blog template and my sister's and you can check out her services here.)

So, I love music.  I love Christmas music and Christmas carols.  Earlier this month I was thinking that if I ever were to record an album, I'd love to just do a Christmas one first.  Because I love Christmas songs and I love singing them.

I'm probably never going to record an album.  I do love to sing and lead and I think I do a pretty good job, but I also don't have any illusion that I'm the next Darlene Zesch, although had the timing been right and I had the right break, I'm pretty sure I could have been Amy Grant.  I have the curly hair and all.  I used to roller skate to her "Straight Ahead" album playing on a "My First Sony Cassette Player" on a large square of concrete in our condo complex when I was in 4th or 5th grade.  If they had figure roller skating in the Junior Olympics, or maybe a human video on roller skates category, I definitely would have been a contender.



I'll go ahead and let you soak that image in for a moment.

As a kid, my favorite Christmas song was Away In Manger.  It was about the Baby Jesus.  And I loved babies and I couldn't wait to have my own someday (yes, even when I was a kid).

We listened to this album every Christmas for years on cassette.  Every December when we unpacked the Christmas boxes, we were always excited to find it.  I just spent 30 minutes trying to find it online.  I can't find any downloads, which is a bummer.  But I think my mom still has the cassette.  I may have my kids listen to it in the car, since that's the only place we still have a cassette player.
It is a narrated Christmas album about family and tradition and was a lot of fun to listen to.  I have no doubt I could quote the dialogue and all the songs if it were playing. 

When I was in high school, this album came out and I'm pretty sure it was a Christmas gift that year.  Because I love me some Amy Grant.  And if we ever met, I'm pretty sure we'd be friends because she has a daughter named Corinna.  I was SO bummed that the Amy Grant/Michael W. Smith concert a few years ago was so pricey.  I would have LOVED to go.



It's no surprise that Amy co-wrote my all-time favorite modern Christmas song, "Breath of Heaven."  I love the lyrics, the thought of the emotions Mary must have experienced, the "haunting" nature of the music.  One day, I hope to be able to sing/perform that song at a Christmas service.  It's on my not-yet-written bucket list.

In the past few years, I've gained an appreciation for some of the traditional but not as common Christmas songs.  This year I've been studying and teaching some on Advent, a traditional approach to the weeks leading up to Christmas.  There is a tension in Christmas. We anticipate it, and it happens, but then life goes on and we wonder, did we miss something?

The truth is, we did.  We do.  Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus, the Messiah, the one who came to take away our sins and offer salvation.  But his coming wasn't everything.  The story isn't complete until he comes again and that is what Advent is about.

I never took the time to understand and meditate on the lyrics of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel."   What does it mean to "ransom captive Israel?"  But oh the richness of that line and the rest of the lyrics. Steeped in Old Testament prophecy and promises about Jesus.  It's one of my favorites right now.

"What Child Is This" is another of those well-known yet mysterious songs.  I love it.

These songs are haunting and full of minors and discordant.  They leave you hanging.  Waiting, wanting.

As so we are.

A few albums I've been enjoying lately, O Holy Night by Sara Groves and Songs for Christmas by Phil Wickham.  Usually I just turn on my Pandora holiday station and enjoy the variety.

So, what Christmas songs--modern and traditional do you like?  I could go on and on about other songs and the memories tied to them, but it's my day off and I want to go cuddle with my kids.




Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Day 3 {childhood memories: it was never about the gifts}

I'm doing a little series I made up called "The 12 Days of Christmas".  It's just a fun way for me to talk about Christmas, memories and more.  If you want to join in, share in the comments or write it on your own blog and share the link in the comments.


I spent my first years in Washington State, before moving to San Diego where my parents were from and most of our extended family lived. 

My Gramps and Grammy (paternal grandparents) loved Christmas and family.  They had 2 children, but 9 grandchildren!  Each Christmas they would plan a day that we’d come over and drive down to the local Thrifty’s Drugstore in Gramps’ light blue Pinto and we got to pick out gifts for our parents.  We each had $5 to spend per parent.  If we wanted to buy a more expensive gift, we’d have to convince a sibling to go in with us on it.  My dad got a lot of Brut cologne.  Mom got various perfume and doodads.

After our shopping trip, we’d head back to their house where Grammy had a wrapping station set up.  We’d pick our wrap and she taught us all how to wrap gifts in such a way to utilize the least amount of paper.  Growing up during the Depression was never far from her mind.  To this day I hear Grammy’s voice when I wrap gifts and I am very efficient in my wrapping. 

Grammy also served us eggnog cut with milk and she usually added a little more nutmeg to cover the watering down!

Their house had no fireplace and at some point when my dad and aunt were young, Gramps came up with a false fireplace.  I think it came from a play set because he had been involved in Junior Theater.  We inherited the fireplace when we moved to San Diego and it traveled from home to home with us for maybe 15 years.  It was a basic wood base and every year we’d find this brick printed corregated paper to cover it with.  Even though we never believed in Santa Claus or were worried about not having a fireplace, it was another Christmas tradition.

The fireplace was a great place to hang our stockings.  I don’t remember having a true stocking until the Christmas of my 4th grade year.  My brother and I were going to the local elementary school and somehow we pinpointed as being a “needy family.”  Which in some ways we probably were, but our needs truly were met and we weren’t too concerned about how many gifts were under the tree or what they cost. 

I remember a few days or maybe a week prior to Christmas a vehicle pulled up next to our condo and unloaded a TON of wrapped gifts for our family.  There were basic red stockings with white fur at the top that had our names glued on in cut out ribbon and our ages.  I don’t really remember what the gifts were that year, but I do know we used those stockings until just a few years ago.

A few years ago I decided that maybe it was time to let go of these stockings, which were beginning to fall apart  I had been keeping them for the past several years.  I surveyed each sibling and they were willing to give them up as well.  Good memories, but it was time.  I want to sew new stockings for all of us, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Another fun Christmas memory involves Princess, a cute cocker spaniel dog.  She belonged to some good friends of ours who often traveled at Christmastime, and we got to dog-sit.  It was pure heaven for four kids to have a dog to play with at Christmas, even if she wasn’t ours to keep. 

When I was in 9th grade, in a moment of weakness we convinced my dad to take us to see some pupplies I had found in the newspaper and we came home with a puppy named Star, because we got her right before Christmas.  Star was a part of our family for more than 10 years.

These are the things Christmas is made of in my mind and heart. 

Christmas wasn’t made of the gifts on my list or the gifts under the tree.  It wasn’t about luxurious vacations or fancy parties.  Christmas was made of family, time together and silly traditions.

While Bean and I strive to be able to give our children a little more than what we had as kids, my goal is still for Christmas to be more than lists and gifts.  The kids are still young and I’m just starting to feel like I’m coming out of the fog of being a working mom who had 3 kids in 5 years. 

But I’m trying to find our traditions.  To seek out what can make Christmas about family and shared memories.

What fun Christmas memories or traditions do you have from childhood? 


Monday, December 12, 2011

Day 2 {the most coveted gift}


Have you ever seen So Random on the Disney Channel?  It's kind of like Saturday Night Live for kids.  And it can be pretty funny.  There's a character named Rufus,  a kid with tons of excuses that always begin with "you're not going to believe this."  

Watch just 30 seconds of this to get the idea and hear what Rufus sounds like.  Watch the whole clip for a lot of laughs.  

And so I open this post with a "you're not going to believe this" in Rufus' voice.

Maybe that shouldn't intro my post if it needs such an explanation.  But it just sounds so good in my head.  We use Rufus' line a lot around here. 

For many years, the most coveted Christmas gift in our family was a roll of toilet paper.

I have no idea the story behind this photo, but it's pretty awesome.


I’m completely serious.

There is a cute mountain town about 90 minutes from San Diego that we went to a lot as a kid.  We developed a tradition that lasted several years of going to Julian to celebrate my youngest sister’s birthday, which usually fell days to a week after Thanksgiving.  My parents would often let us Christmas shop for each other while we were there. 

One of the first years we were there to celebrate Ali’s birthday, my parents bought some Christmas toilet paper.  It actually looks more like crepe paper, and I imagine it would NOT be comfortable to wipe with.  It says Merry Christmas all over it in red and green

We thought it was pretty funny too and it became a family joke.  That year when I was opening my gifts on Christmas morning, one was several boxes nestled in each other—and deep inside was the Christmas toilet paper.  A gift I was definitely NOT expected.  We all laughed SO hard.

When the next Christmas rolled around, everyone began to speculate who would get the toilet paper that year.  When we unpacked our holiday decorations it was always fun to find the Christmas toilet paper.  We determined that last years recipient would gift it the following year. 

That toilet paper went around the family many times.  Creatively packaged and wrapped and I think it was even given to some of our pets also.  Anytime we had a guest with us on Christmas (roommates, friends, boyfriends, girlfriends etc) they usually got the toilet paper.  Bean got it early on in our dating or married years and I think we’ve given it to Miss Rose now too.  I think this year Gracie is old enough to appreciate it—so this may be her inaugural year of the Christmas toilet paper.  She loves words like fart and poop.

Yup.  The toilet paper lives on.  In fact just this weekend as I was unpacking Christmas stuff, my youngest sister was here and spotted the toilet paper.  "You still have that?"  It even still has the plastic wrap around it.

Does your family have any fun gag gift traditions? I'd love for you to play along with my 12 Days of Christmas! Share your story in the comments or if you're feeling super inspired, write your own blogpost and share the link the comments.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Day 1 {O Christmas Tree}

Vintage book...I just liked the cover!

I love Christmas, mostly because it means family and memories and traditions.  Some of my favorite family memories growing up involve Christmastime and very few are actually related to the gifts under the tree.

This year I thought it would be fun to do a little series on my blog called The 12 Days of Christmas.  It doesn’t really have anything to do with the song, just that I’m going to do 12 posts related to Christmas, in the 12 days leading up to Christmas.  If I am feeling real clever, perhaps I can connect the song with my topic for the day.  But not today.

Perhaps my all-time favorite Christmas memory involves Christmas trees. 
Me, 36 weeks pregnant with Miss Rose!
When I was really young, the church my family attended was very conservative and kind of discouraged the secular celebration of holidays.  So there was no talk of Santa at all, and we were unaware of all the hub-bub that surrounds Christmas. 

But come Christmas Eve, my parents usually gave in.  Not because we (I was the oldest of three at the time) asked for it, because we weren’t aware of what we were “missing.” 

Miss Rose, almost 3 yrs old
When I was real young (7 and under) I vaguely remember my parents getting a tiny tree by the time Christmas day came around, and we got a few small gifts.  I don’t think we even have pictures of those years. 

I think it was the Christmas I was 8 that we got “Christmas plates” instead of stockings and we got to pick out an ornament for a small tree at Fred Meyer (we lived in the Seattle area). 

Our family, 2006, about 5 months pregnant with Gracie
What I didn’t know, until the Christmas I was 9, was the reason we often got a tree on Christmas Eve was because my dad would go out and find the abandoned tree lots and bring home a tree for free.  We lived very meagerly, so I doubt a tree was in the budget. 

Christmas 2007
Then we started going with my dad on Christmas Eve to get trees and it became this fun, memorable holiday tradition that we anticipated as soon as December hit.  By now there were four of us, and we couldn’t wait to get in the car with my dad and bring a tree home to my mom.

One year when I was in college, my dad didn’t go with us—but us kids still went and even introduced my college best friend to our tradition.  I think that year might have involved scaling a fence, but thankfully my memory is a little fuzzy.

Christmas 2007
Now, all these years later, I’ve noticed that tree lots usually stay open late on Christmas Eve and they don’t abandon their unsold trees.  Trying to squeeze every last dollar out I guess. 

Christmas 2009
We like getting our tree a week or two before Christmas because the kids are really excited and want to enjoy it.  And that way we’ve enjoyed it enough to take it down by New Year’s Eve. 

Christmas 2009: the year I had TWO babies needing Mommy to hold them.
But every year, when we get our Christmas tree I think back to all the fun Christmas Eve’s we had as a family, with my favorite holiday tradition.  We may not find abandoned trees on Christmas Eve, but I hope we are creating memories with our girls that they will look fondly back upon in their adult years.

Our first Christmas in our new/current home!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Babywearing Hobo

At church on Sunday. Yes I did let her leave the house like this, but you are only 2 once.




- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, December 5, 2011

keep breathing {just write}


Breathing in and out.  That's what parenting is all about.

Breathe in.  My children about killed me this morning. The Mondays between Thanksgiving and Christmas seem especially torturous this year.  They are tired and ornry and they don't want to go to school.  Changing clothes, arguing over every little thing.  The 2.5 year old pranced around naked for an hour, wearing fairy wings much of the time.  She even came out onto the porch to bid farewell to big sister.  Oh the whining, the complaining, the disrespect.  And they are just 7, 4 and 2?  I'm scared for what is to come.  I suck the air in deeply through pursed lips, hoping with it comes patience.

Breathe out.  It's now been more than 5 weeks since Lily's last fever.  That's the longest stretch since the end of the summer.  She shows no signs of an oncoming fever.  Her throat isn't thick, she's not walking around with extra saliva in her mouth--both indicative of a coming fever and throat ulcers.  The tightness in my chest is loosening.  I'm trusting in and claiming her healing through the tonsil and adenoid removal surgery.  I can breathe out again.  Just maybe I won't spend one in four weekends holding a feverish toddler, the thermometer climbing to 104 and even 105.  Breathing easy.

Breathe in.  The 7 year old, soon to be 8.  I just don't understand her.  I don't know what is her and what is influence from friends and television.  We don't know what to do.  The stubbornness.  The disrespect.  We try so hard to give her grace and walk her through appropriate behavior, attitude and treatment of us.  Yet I hear from other adults how enjoyable they find her and what a neat girl she is.  And  know she is.  It breaks our hearts that her worst comes out with us.  We hold our breathe, our tempers as we try to guide this life entrusted to us.

Breathe out.  I cancelled our participation in a dinner tonight.  It would have been enjoyable fellowship, a tradition I enjoy.  But it was just too much.  The kids would have been in bed late again.  Life would have gone undone.  So I did the big girl thing and regretfully recanted my RSVP.  Dishes, dinner, laundry, tickling, baths, reading, homework.  It got done.  Sometimes being a big girl feels good.  There was breathing room in life tonight.

Breathing in and out.  It's what I do.  Some days, most days right now, it seems like we do a lot more breathing in.  But I know days are ahead, when we will breathe out more.  

I look for the moments that make me catch my breath.  The sweet things they say.  Chubby hands that pull my face in towards the pillow for a sloppy kiss.  Requests for multiple kisses.  And when the big girl goes to bed angry, I pray anyways and tell her it doesn't matter if she is listening or not, because it's God who I need to hear me, not her.

He is the giver of life, the giver of breath.  

And I pray, God who gives breathe to all living things, breathe into my nostrils once again, and give me life, reclaim the moments that seem to have sucked the life out.  Come to me in a whisper, and let your Spirit guide me.

Breathe in.  Breathe out. Keep breathing.

I'm linking up today with Heather at The Extraordinary Ordinary for  Just Write, an exercise in free writing your ordinary and extraordinary moments.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

It's the holiday season...

It's the holiday season, which I really enjoy.  I love when the weather is cooler.  I love watching my kids experience the magic and enjoy lights and Christmas displays  I love baking and sharing goodies with friends.  I love time with family and Mexican food on Christmas.

I don't really like the hustle and bustle though.  I don't like the busyness.  I want to marinate in the holidays, but so often it feels like I end up microwaving them.  Trying to see how quickly I can do things, last minute shopping and changing plans last minute due to lack of time.  Sometimes it's my own fault, but other times it's just how the schedule goes.

For the past few years I've wanted to make stockings for my family.  I actually did an experimental stocking 3 years ago or so, and yet I still haven't made them.  If there was one thing I could accomplish in the next few weeks that would make the season for me--it would be actually sewing the stockings.

I've also printed out a few Pinterest inspired projects that would make great budget-friendly Christmas gifts for family.

Tomorrow...I will come up with a plan.  I will map out when this all gets done.  I will stay on task and manage my time well.

These are the visions of sugarplums dancing in my head.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Insta-Friday (where I post A LOT of pictures)

life rearranged

I always love reading the Insta-Friday posts but I don't always have enough photos each week to do my own.  This week though I do! Partially in part to my awesome husband who surprised me by upgrading my very slow iPhone 3G to the 4S.  One of the things I am most excited about is the awesome camera in this phone, it's even better than our digital camera which is a few years old now.  I find myself taking the majority of my photos with my phone, so now they will be decent quality!

Warning: You're about to be inundated with photos.

This was actually last Wednesday.  But I can't help but share because I just love these for some reason. We were pre-Thanksgiving shopping.  I conceded to push the huge cart and they played musical seats the entire time! (I'm not sure what Gracie was mad about here, you just never know).


Three kids sometimes feels like a lot, and it kinda is, but I absolutely love being a mama to three and having a full cart.



LOVE this one.  Lily absolutely loves to push carts.



And what's Thanksgiving-eve if you aren't wearing a tutu?  We went to visit friends and Lily insisted on wearing this dress-up costume.  I figured, why not?



Testing out the new iPhone 4S camera on Gracie and my nephew G playing some Mario Cart on the wii.  They honestly don't know how to play, but they try really hard.




What's better than driving arcade games without quarters in them?  This mini arcade at a burger place charges like $1-$2 per game.  RIDIC. There was lots of pretend play.



Love this face and fierce beard.




What's more fun than lining up cut string cheese on your arm?



It was my little sister's birthday this weekend.  She turned 25.  She's almost 10 years younger than me.  Which means I'm 35 on my next birthday.  YIKES. She has her own style and is the only girl in our family tall enough to rock a long skirt well (unless we are on a missions trip in Latin America, you know.)  I teased her that she should have children around her as her skirt flowed about them.  This was our interpretation of that!




The whole fam-bam.  We are pretty freaking awesome if I do say so myself.  (and for you stalkers out there, you know who you are, that's the middle sisters boyfriend, not fiance or husband)




I confess, this photo was NOT taken with my phone, but it DOES have an Instagram effect on it.  My fab friend snapped it at our church staff photo shoot.  It captures my kid so well.  Miss Rose and her own style and attitude with the sunglasses.  Gracie posing like she knows how to work the camera.  Lily being cute and coy.
That pretty much sums up my kids!



I was not feeling well on Tuesday.  I made it through my work day, but came home and spent the evening laying down.  The girls hung out with me of course.  Miss Rose did homework, Gracie danced and made up her own songs, Lily played on my phone and threw gang signs--oh wait, that's sign language she's learning in her preschool class.


Wednesday: also known as my Friday, which I like to treat like casual friday and dress down.  I also ran tons of work errands including buying 20 gallons of milk.  It's called #churchlife .




Diet Coke for me, Sweet Tea for her.  It's like our love language.




Thursday was gorgeous and I went for a run at the Bay.  Pushed the girls in the jogger for 5 miles, then they got playtime at the playground.  Win-win.




Thursday night was my staff holiday party and I borrowed a dress from my mom, which she has never worn!  Notice that Gracie needed to get in the pic with me (taken for Bean, since he was in class) and is wearing my sister's high heels...as well as a too short dress! 



Gracie learned how to use emoticons on my sisters phone and I got these texts from her all night!



This was my hot date at the dinner, Baby Ryder! I miss having a baby.  There's things I don't miss about having a baby, but I still miss having a baby.



And finally, what is a Friday morning if you aren't reading books on the couch, in mom's running visor and a pair of too big shoes.  Lily kept saying "once upon a time" as she was reading. Love these kids!



These are some of the moments I've been embracing this week.  Life is good.