December 27, 2008

And We're Off...

Today is the big day.  I'm so excited, I'm about to wet my pants!

The trip of a lifetime with my mom.
We are flying to Germany to spend time with my dear brother (stationed there).  
13 days of exploring, eating, traveling, laughter, and rest. And eating.   

My precious dad and wonderful, capable husband are graciously standing in the gap for me at home.

While I am thrilled to have this unbelievable opportunity, my mommy heartstrings are pulling hard.  This is the first time I've ever been away from my babies for more than 5 days.  
To all my bloggy sisters, could you please pray for me/us?
Please pray for:
1. Safety, for me and my family while we are apart.
2. Health (ditto above)
3. My children to be so busy having fun that they don't have time to get weepy.
4. My husband and my dad's energy and patience.
5. A wonderful memory to be made with my mom.

I SO appreciate your prayers.

I probably won't have access to my blog while I'm gone.  I've got a few posts ready to publish while I'm away, so as to not lose my faithful readers. Smile.

December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas, friends!

December 23, 2008

Peace or Pressure?

With only 2 days until Christmas, you might be feeling a little bit of PRESSURE.  

This pressure comes from a variety of sources.
1. Family situations: trying to please all of the in-laws, out-laws, step-laws and the kids.
2. Traditions: struggling with 'how it's always been done' and breaking that cycle
3. Budget: Need I say more?
4. The Culture: Commercials bombard us with the pressure to find the 'perfect gift.'  Do you really know anyone that received a Lexus tied with a red bow?  Seriously.

Many times this pressure is self-inflicted.  It comes with the gender.  Have you ever seen a group of men in a flutter over Christmas?  Well...  if you happen to go to the mall today, you might see some men in a flutter.  They all look alike, with a dazed and confused look on their faces.  Many of them will be toting along several kids, loaded down with their purchases.  Bam!  Done in one trip to the mall.

But as women, it isn't just about the shopping.  
It's about creating the environment for the season.  We are designed to nest and nurture.
We are creative and caring.  It is often the mom's job to set the tone of her home.  With that comes the responsibility and the pleasure to make her home and the Christmas festivities a true blessing.   

Many of us thrive on details.  We want our homes and families to be captured in the wonder of the season.
Unfortunately, we often go to the extreme, adding pressure to ourselves.

We get so wrapped up in the BUSYNESS of it all that we forget about the Prince of Peace that we are celebrating.  My weakness is that I get so busy, that I overlook my Savior.  The true reason we celebrate this time of year.

The last thing God wanted for the celebration of His Son's birth is pressure.  Stop and think how He entered the world.

A peaceful night. A quiet, holy night.
No pressure.
No busyness.

Just a Savior.
The Prince of Peace.

Jesus says, 'Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Do we usually associate the words REST and EASY with Christmas?  I think not.

We can't have the peace of God until we have peace with God.

My prayer is that you will be a joy to others and have a presence of peace toward those you encounter this week.

December 22, 2008

Project Update

Remember this little project? It was so fun to change it up for fall (click here).
But it was even more fun to make it festive for Christmas.
I LOVE change. Call me strange.
Ha! I love to rhyme too, it seems!

Anyways, what I love about this candle tray, is that I can change it out for every season/holiday/passing whim. The white candles keep it very versatile.
I'm not sure what January will hold ... something wintery and wonderful. But February is all about the red.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves, though.
Feliz Navidad!

December 21, 2008

Sunday Rest

The time came for the baby to be born, 
and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.  
She wrapped him in cloths and 
placed him in a manger...
Luke 2:6-7

December 18, 2008

The Dreaded Gift

Top 10 Responses to the Dreaded Gift

10. Hey! There's a gift!

9. Well,well,well...

8. Boy, if I had not recently gone down 4 sizes that would've fit.

7. This is perfect for wearing around the basement.

6. Hmm. I hope this never catches fire! It is fire season though. 

There are lots of unexplained fires.

5. If the dog buries it, I'll be furious!

4. I love it--but I fear the jealousy it will inspire.

3. Sadly, tomorrow I enter the Federal Witness Protection Program.

2. To think--I got this the year I vowed to give all my gifts to charity.

1. I really don't deserve this.

December 17, 2008

Christmas Organizing

Maybe it's just me...
but the holidays can make me lose my mind a little.

A couple of years ago I was in a store and I panicked. Did I buy this robe for my mother-in-law last year, or did I just think about it?
I needed a way to keep track of gifts I had purchased so that I wouldn't do re-peats.

This was my solution:
It is just a composition notebook that I covered with festive paper and added some embellishments.
I created 2 sections with cardstock that I glued to the pages inside.
This first section is where I keep my christmas card list. By writing the addresses in ABC order, I don't have to search for my address book. Plus, if you're like me, you don't keep local friends in your regular address book. In this book, they are ALL together in one place, ready.
My Christmas return labels are tucked inside, so I know where those are each year, too. Another thing I do is make a little note if I received one from that family. If I haven't heard from them in a couple of years, I know to check their address to make sure it is current.
The other section is where I keep track of the gifts I have purchased for family members for that year.
It doesn't take long to write it down, and it saves me a lot of second guessing.

The beauty of this little project is that it can be as simple as you want it to be. You could just buy a notebook with 2 sections and write "CHRISTMAS" across the front.
It is versatile too. This same idea could be used for keeping track of any kind of purchases, bills, etc...

December 15, 2008

Christmas Open House

Come on in, ya'll!
Our first stop is the family room,
where we celebrate Christmas. The
whole month of December. Every day.
This is the tree that holds all of our fun family ornaments.
I love red and white. It is so festive and fun.
Below are some pictures that I hang each December and
I usually leave them up until spring. They hold a special
place in my heart: My grandfather painted them.
Why didn't I get any of that artistic ability?
Let's go upstairs, shall we?
Don't mind the dog toys on the steps.
Here we are in my oldest daughter's room.
She wanted a Hawaiian themed room when we changed it
from baby pink.
It's a fun place to hang out.
Hot pink and orange can be festive, too!
Let's go visit daughter #2's room. She loves
everything horses and girly.
Her room is a periwinkle blue with brown (horse) accents. I haven't found the perfect ribbon for the top of her tree, but this is festive enough.
On to Little Man's room.
Doesn't this ornament just evoke feelings of peace
and "silent night"? Ahem.
My husband loves finding ornaments for this tree.
Any wonder why? And no, if you were wondering,
he didn't slay anything to decorate it. They are plastic:
Follow me. Let's go back downstairs.
Watch your step.
Wouldn't want you to slip on a lightsaber.

Confession time: I know I stood on my soap box a
couple of weeks ago about how every home (except those
plagued by terrible allergies) should have real trees
and stay away from those fakery bakery ones.
But, oh the shame, I have one.
I know. Hypocrisy at its southern finest.
Here is my new, old tree. Confused? Me too.
We bought this pre-lit, charlatan tree a few years ago to
adorn our front porch. I usually create a USA theme using flags and other red, white and blue trimmings. This year, much to my delight, we decided to bring it indoors and use
in my new room.
This meant that we were able to unpack our breakable
ornaments that have been packed away since we moved into this house. You see, our family tree sits on hardwood floors. It is dangerous to combine glass ornaments with 3 busy
children and a dog with a big whopin' tail.

Ya'll. It was like Christmas morning when I opened up those fragile beauties after 7 years! This tree sits upon real, wall to wall carpet. Soft carpet that forgives me when I drop
my favorite glass ornament. I had fun with a silver, white and green theme. It's a little froo-froo, but even my manly man commented on how much he likes it. Ka-ching!

Let's go get something to eat in the kitchen.
Don't forget to wash your hands!
This sits above my sink: even the clock
gets a new Christmas bow.
I have a little 4' skinny tree in the kitchen.
It is red and white and yummy with sugared fruit
and little kitchen gadgets. I leave it decorated
and just set the whole thing in the attic after Christmas.
I love short cuts!
We added this shelf last year. It is the perfect place to
display my ever growing collection of Nutcrackers.
Would you like to have a seat and enjoy some coffee?
I hope you've enjoyed the tour. I wish we could
all get together, trade cute ornaments and indulge
in some Christmas goodies.
Make sure you check out the other homes
on tour over at Boo Mama's Blog , Hooked on Houses AND

December 14, 2008

Sunday Rest

For unto us a child is born,
to us a son is given...
and he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Isaiah 9:6

December 11, 2008

Ornament Traditions

I love traditions: making new and keeping the old. One of our favorite traditions is the pickle ornament. We have this little glass pickle that is the 'piece de la resistance' when decorating the tree. The kids are giddy about bringing out the pickle, because it means a whole season of hide and seek. Why a pickle? It is an old German tradition. Not sure why a pickle, rather than a carrot or an onion. But we like it.

We hide the pickle in various places around the house and the kids try to find it. It starts on the tree and eventually ends up on the tree by Christmas Eve.
Another ornament tradition we have is making our own. Behind my hand in the picture above, you can see the beaded candycane we made a few years ago. Simple and easy for my little crafters. Sliding beads on a pipe cleaner turned out to be lots of fun.
This year we did something a little more involved, since the kids are getting old enough to enjoy it. This was a two-night craft. We created the salt-dough ornaments. They had so much fun mixing, rolling it out and using the cookie cutters. We also made some 3-D snowmen and candycanes. The second evening of fun was painting them. Above is one of the stars. Imagine that, red and white!
Last year we made these candy canes (do you see a pattern here?!) This was SUPER easy. Red and white pipe cleaners. Twist and bend...that's it!
They make great ornaments and present toppers.

December 8, 2008

Birthday Blessings

With a birthday so close to Christmas, it can sometimes get lost in the festivities.
Not this year. My family and friends have made it a special one, even before it began.

My hubby arranged a babysitter and took me out for dinner on Saturday night.
One of my dear friends, who happens to be a gourmet cook, made me the most delicious apple pie (I'm not much of a cake kinda girl). Another dear friend made a special cd for this music lovin' gal. My in-laws gave us a night out along with 2 warm sweaters, 2 pairs of warm shoes and yummy bath stuff topped off the night. My walkin' buddy gave me some beautiful handmade stationary cards and a pre-paid international phone card, because...
My parents gave me (a few weeks ago, so I could start to get things in order) a trip to Europe to visit my brother. I know. CRAZY!!!! I never imagined. It is my birthday and Christmas for the next, um... 10 years. Thank you, thank you mom and dad.

So, today I begin the day with MUCH to be thankful for: many birthday blessings including my precious family and dear, dear friends
On another note, I want you to know that Martha Stewart has invaded my husband's body. I don't know what she did with him. But guess what she, I mean he made:
Yes. A live fraiser fir and boxwood wreath. Can you believe it?! He just whipped this up in the back yard with the remaining limbs from our Christmas tree and some boxwood bushes.
I took this picture in his manly room, just so you know he's still a 'manly-man.' Hehe!
Over Thanksgiving I usually purchase a fraiser fir wreath when we get our tree. This year we are really cutting back, so I figured I wouldn't have a wreath for the front door.
Guess I was wrong!
I love you, honey! It is perfect! After all these years together, you still surprise me with your creative abilities.
From our front door to yours!

December 7, 2008

Sunday Rest

I am the Lord, and there is no other;
apart from me there is no God.
I will strengthen you, though you
have not acknowledged me,
so that from the rising of the sun
to the place of its setting men may
know there is none besides me.
I am the Lord and there is no other.
Isaiah 45:5-7

December 5, 2008

Poor Santa

Twas the night before Christmas and Santa's a wreck...
How to live in a world that's politically correct?
His workers no longer would answer to "Elves",
"Vertically Challenged" they were calling themselves.
And labor conditions at the North Pole,
were alleged by the union, to stifle the soul.

Four reindeer had vanished without much propriety,
released to the wilds, by the Humane Society.
And equal employment had made it quite clear,
that Santa had better not use just reindeer.
So Dancer and Donner, Comet and Cupid,
were replaced with 4 pigs, and you know that looked stupid!

The runners had been removed from his beautiful sleigh,
because the ruts were deemed dangerous by the EPA,
And millions of people were calling the cops,
when they heard sled noises upon their roof tops.

To show you the strangeness of today's ebbs and flows,
Rudolf was suing over unauthorized use of his nose.
He went to Geraldo, in front of the Nation,
demanding millions in over-due workers compensation.

And as for gifts...why, he'd never had the notion
that making a choice could cause such commotion.
Nothing of leather, nothing of fur...
Which meant nothing for him or nothing for her.
Nothing to aim, Nothing to shoot,

Nothing that could be cut from a root.
Nothing that clamored or made lots of noise.
Nothing for just girls and nothing for just boys.

No baseball, no football...someone might get hurt,
besides - playing sports exposed kids to dirt.
Dolls were said to be sexist and should be passe.
and Nintendo would rot your entire brain away.

So Santa just stood there, disheveled and perplexed,
he just couldn't figure out what to do next?
His sack was quite empty, it was flat on the ground,
nothing fully acceptable was anywhere to be found.

Something special was needed, a gift to give to us all,
that crossed every border and knocked down every wall.

So here is that gift, it's price beyond worth...

December 4, 2008

Festive Fireplace

You know I have an affection for stars. Christmas wouldn't be complete without a starry host.
I love having the fireplace on during the winter, so I was a little concerned about putting a garland on the mantle. So far, no burning plastic smell.
While I love the natural look most of the year, I was drawn to the glitter for Christmas.
I found these fun silver glittered leaves and green glittered ferns on clearance. The glittery deer is from the Dollar Tree. (2 for $1)
Kudos to the Nester for her fabulous garland tutorial. I learned so much. For instance, the garland here is actually 3 garlands wrapped together.
1. Fraiser fir with pine cones
2. Long needle pine
3. Boxwood with berries (you know I've got to throw some berries in there)
I tied some wide satin ribbon and a couple of sugared apples in for a punch of color.
My finished festive fireplace, complete with some of my favorite things: stars, candles and my new 'artwork.'

December 2, 2008

Mantle Project

I wanted to jazz up my mantle this year. So I've been a busy little elf. I took the Nester's advice and created a garland (more to come). But I really needed something with height to go ON the mantle.

I started with a 24" x 30" painters canvas, on sale at Michaels. I chose a fun green acrylic paint(Folk Art brand 'forest moss') and began making large brush strokes:
Then I used my artistic finesse (snicker) and very expensive tools...

It was a quick project. I am sure I could have made it much more exact by tracing a font from the computer; but I, well um, didn't.

I really wanted something that would honor the true meaning of Christmas:
3 bottles of acrylic paint
1 sharpie
painters canvas

New mantle for Christmas: priceless