Wednesday, November 26, 2008

And it starts.

This is reposted with permission from my friend Becka's blog Toasty Toes.

The count down for Christmas. Except this year I won't be party to it. I don't really care how many days there are until Christmas.

Last week I cared. But this week I don't care.

This week I am already ready for Christmas.

You see, at first I thought, "This year I will make everyone's gifts." I hoarded links, and how-to's, and tutorials. I made a mental post it note list of everyone who "needed" gifts, and what I could give them.

A Christmas checklist. Like every other year. Like every other family.

And then I had a better idea. Why spend all this time frantically trying to make gifts that will never get completed? Just like every other year, I would be forced to run to the store- buying high priced, over priced crap for everyone. Why? For what reason? Did everyone really enjoy last years dollar store lotion?

So, my new idea was just to buy the stuff now. I would shop ahead, and therefore put thought into each gift. I would think about the person, and buy gifts that they would really like. It was a good idea, right?

But, then I had a better idea, helped out by a certain video I saw on youtube.

Why not buy nothing at all? Seriously? I don't even remember what my husband got me last year, much less his Aunt so and so. The gifts I so carefully picked out for my children now sit neglected on a shelf. What is the purpose of all this gift frenzy, the money spending, the debt building, the guilt induced fear of not adding up to everyone else's generosity?

So. I am opting out. No one is getting store bought gifts from me. No one is getting handmade gifts for me. Not my mother, not my pastor, not my son's Sunday School teacher... Not my children.

And I can hear a worldwide gasp. "What about the magic and awe of Christmas for the children?"

My response, " Under Control." My children will not open a single battery operated, plastic, hair growing, gun toting, miniature sized anything.

Nothing they open will have a price tag, a return receipt, or those nasty little screws that drive parents nuts every Christmas day.

They won't make a list, and if they do, I doubt their list will coincide with what they receive.

Because Esther is NOT getting a white horse with a horn out its head.
And Weston is NOT getting the entire Star Wars Lego set. No matter how much he begs for it.
And Marcus- actually, I don't have a clue what he wants. But it probably is long and shoots bullets which he most definitely WILL NOT GET.

As I travel to Ohio to spend Christmas with my parents and siblings. With my sister-in-law Carrie, and with my brother-in-law Jesse. With my little nieces- and my mischievous nephew, I will load my van with gifts wrapped in festive paper and tied with ribbon. Just like every other year. But this year, the gifts that I add to the tree will be far different than any other year.

My Christmas revelation has not turned me into the grinch. It has, rather made me a bit more Claus like. And far more Christ like.

Throughout the day, we will unwrap these gifts. The fist one will be a rectangular one. Under the paper and ribbons, our family will find my father's old black Bible, and he will open it and read the Christmas story. I will hold Esther on my lap and Marcus and Weston will be snuggled under my arm, and together we will have anew, the awe of that very first Christmas.
The Christmas story will remind us what Christmas giving is all about.

And in that spirit, the children will grab another package. Inside the gift bag filled with confetti will be a bag of chocolate chips. Together we will make chocolate chip cookies. And Marmie will have to swat at the children's hands when they try to eat all the cookie dough.

Maybe later, they will unwrap a movie. Not a new one from the store, but an old one. A favorite. Probably Star Wars because I am the only one who hates Star Wars. And we will pop corn the old fashioned way and have a family movie time.

I will have wrapped our well worn games; the ones that we already know the rules to, and the ones that everyone loves. When they are unwrapped we will play them. Grandma too. We will even make her play Bang. If I have to watch Star Wars, she can be forced to sit through a rousing shoot em up game of Bang.

I will wrap up a pair of socks for each kid, because we will need to keep our toes warm for our Christmas day walk, and maybe someone will stay home to make us hot cocoa for re-warming our frozen noses.

This is not a new idea. It's one I learned a long time ago, but the video reminded me of it.

On Christmas day, God gave me His heart. And I plan to celebrate that gift by giving mine.

Want to join me?

As this post gets read by more people and passed around, please comment and add your ideas of what could be wrapped and placed under the tree. Together, we can make this the second best Christmas this universe has ever seen.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving Traditions

I love Thanksgiving. It is, hands-down, my favorite holiday. I love everything about it. This year, I am blessed to be hosting the "event". I am further blessed to have my parents, Jon's parents and sister, and two families of dear friends joining us for dinner. (We will be 12 adults and 7 kids, ages 3-13!)
My family has always been VERY big on traditions. Some of them have been more enduring than others, but one that has ALWAYS been present at every Thanksgiving I can remember is the corn kernel tradition. My mom said she read about it in a Little House on the Prairie book when I was little. When we set the table, we put three kernels of corn next to each plate. At dinnertime, we go around the table and say three things we are thankful for.
My mom also has a tradition of early table-setting (sometimes 2 days before!). I will be able to continue that this year, as my friend Candy has offered her time (and her teenagers' babysitting time!) to come help me make my table beautiful. Those of you that know Candy know how awesome it will look! My mom dresses a gorgeous table, also. We were having a conversation recently about how much she loves it. It then turned to a conversation about how prepared she liked to be for things, as opposed to how a person we know flies by the seat of his pants. She said, "You know me, I'm the person who puts slips of paper in the serving dishes for Thanksgiving to designate which dish goes where. Mr. X is the kind of person that goes, 'Oh, hey, it's Thanksgiving! Let's go to Food Lion to see if I can find a turkey!'"
So tell me, what are you thankful for?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate.

Holy crap. This stuff is so good it's ridiculous. I ganked the recipe from a woman on a message board I frequent, who set out to duplicate the Starbucks recipe. It. is. so. delicious.
I should have taken pictures as I did it, but my camera is in the car and it's snowing (!) here, so I didn't. Sowwweee.

1. Pour boiling water into your mug to heat it, let sit while you do the rest.
2. Heat on stove (although I supposed you could do it in the microwave) 1 1/2 cups of milk, with 2 oz. of dark chocolate. Stir often, and whisk melted chocolate through milk. DON'T boil.
3. Meanwhile, whip some heavy cream with a pinch of kosher salt, about 2 tbsp. of superfine or confectioner's sugar and a dribble of vanilla.
4. When chocolate milk is hot, dump water out of mug. Spread about 1 tbsp. of caramel sauce around the inside of the mug. (If you want, now is the time to dump in a shot or so of butterscotch schnapps. Just sayin'. :) )
5. Pour hot chocolate into mug, sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
6. Drop a glob of the whipped cream on top, and another teeny pinch of salt. Drizzle w/ caramel.

So yummy!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sigh. I keep MEANING to do better.

I promise, this blog will not just trickle off to be solely comprised of my Thursday YouTube posts. I will do better this week!
But this one rocks. This video has gotten so much play at my place of employment that all the employees know the fractured Engrish lyrics by heart.

To all my fives of readers: Ken Lee. Tulibu dibu douchoo.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The previous entry was very misleading

Because I entitled it "My ElfYourself", you might be inclined to think that I've only created one. You'd be so very wrong. I've lost count. That's just my favorite one. Another incarnation included Strom and Max, my two dogs, along with Ace, my expired dog. Another one was...well, never mind. I have my mother to blame for the fact that I'm an ElfYourself geek. She's made at least a dozen so far, too.
Ah, good times, good times.

My ElfYourself

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thursday YouTube Two-fer

OK, again from "Enchanted" (I big puffy heart this movie). But I love that someone has turned it into a grungy girl-band song, too.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sharing my "ear-worm" with you.

This song has been stuck in my head for two days. I love this movie and it's a very clever song, but FOR PETE'S SAKE (I mean, "Repeat's sake", Gwenn.)! Make it stop already! (Although, as a side note, I find it extremely cute that Abbie likes to cup her hand to her mouth and sing, "Ahhh, ahhh, ahhhhh" like Giselle calling the animals. It's like her secret signal to call her siblings.)

Veterans' Day: I am THANKFUL!

I believe that our country (as a group of people, not necessarily as a governing body) doesn't do enough to be grateful for our veterans and active-duty military. I know I don't. So I just want to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to my father-in-law, to my uncles, to our Papa Jim, to all who've served for us. We are truly grateful for you and we hope to show it better. We love you!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Katie's birthday

I'm old. I have a SEVEN-YEAR-OLD child. My eldest child is such a joy. She is kind, compassionate, joyful, smart, beautiful. She loves Jesus and she loves people. She has always been the most gregarious, social child. My mom used to worry (haha what else is new?) that she'd get kidnapped because she literally does not know a stranger. She's the kid that introduces shy kids around and gently "buddies up" with the ones who don't have friends. Sometimes I can't believe she's mine!
Just wanted to share some pics of her...newborn, growing, and now.
Thanks for sharing!

About 15 minutes old
Baby feet (Grammy's finger)

Baby bath (about 3 months old)
Cheerio baby (about 9 months old)
Announcing Micah (about 13 months old)
With new brother (21 months old)
Her J-Lo "babing suit" (2 1/2)
This child has ALWAYS been able to fall asleep eating.

With baby Abbie
Pre-school graduation

Spring 2008

Mommy's birthday, 2008


Very pensive

School pictures, spring 2008

T-ball pictures, spring 2008

Soccer, fall 2008

Jack-0-lantern, 2008

Hermione Granger, Crookshanks, and Harry Potter, 2008

The Harry Potter Crew, plus Laura Ingalls and a purple dinosaur

Katie's Dr. Seuss birthday cake, by Nana

Katie's breakfast in bed

Sharing with her brother and sister

Opening her present from Grammy and Popah

My big girl!

Isn't she beautiful!?!

Pink shoes (bought with "my own money"...from Nana and Grandad).

Sunday, November 2, 2008


...I could just zoom in on the map to find out where Finland is (and I was right about its general whereabouts).
Also, someone from Turkey? (Also couldn't have located THAT on an un-labeled map.)

I have international readers!

Who ARE you people? I about passed about when I saw that someone in Finland read my blog. (I used Finland instead of one of the other countries because the other ones I could probably find on an un-labeled map. Finland, probably not so much. I know it's one of those long skinny ones, right? Like by Norway and Denmark? I suck at geography. Off to go check a globe in a minute. I DO homeschool my kids, for crying out loud. I should at least know where Finland is.)
My point being: I love that tool that lets you see where people are reading from. It's a far more useful tool than say, the hit counter. The hit counter registers when I check my blog (to see if you've commented. Comment, damn it!), so it's not very accurate. The map, however...I can't fake that. I can't fake hitting this blog from Finland. Because, as I've already told you, I don't even know where Finland is.