Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas in pictures (and memories)

Here is a new Christmas memory. There are a lot of firsts in this post. This is my first Christmas getting to see my sweet friend, Leslie. She and her family are missionaries in Russia and are here for a furlough. I'm so thankful for her wisdom, kindness, and friendship!

This is not a first. In fact, according to my "Nanny", this birthday cake is at least 30 years old. We can't have Christmas without singing Happy Birthday to Jesus and letting the kids blow out the candles...again and again. Just like me, my siblings, and cousins used to do when we were their age.

Here's my sweet boy. He loves his "D-oh". He runs to him and gives him hugs all the time. Dad has had a rough couple of months with back surgery, which led to blood clots. Now we're just praying for the wound to heal and Dad can get back to normal.

My babes. Holding hands and smiling in their cute little Christmas outfits in front of the tree at church. I love those kiddos!

We went to Callaway Gardens this year to see the lights. This is the first time we've gone with just our little family. We had a great time, though. We took this at a great little restaurant right near the gardens called The Cricket. We ate their last year with my parents and thought it would be fun to go there again...and it was!

A first with this little generation. A Christmas drama of baby Jesus being born. The kids did a great job performing as I narrated the story!

What is Christmas without the Christmas story? It's a blessing to hear my grandfather, "Papa", tell the Christmas story from Luke each year. Now he tells it with his great-grandchildren in his lap.

Another first here. This is my little nephew, Tristan. Check out that hair. It's incredible! That's his Daddy, my brother-in-law, Carl. It's Tristan's first Christmas. Next year Carl is supposed to be overseas serving with the Army. My brother, Adam, is also supposed to be overseas, too. Please keep them in your prayers in 2011.

And yet another first. All of the cousins together. We decided to do family pictures this year on the grounds of a museum in Macon. I'm so glad we did it. We have some great shots of each family, my parents, and all the kiddos.
I have tons of Christmas pictures. I thought these captured some of my favorite moments. But there are many more. Merry (late) Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!
God bless!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

It's Christmas time!

Christmas is probably one of my favorite times of the year. I love pretty much everything about it. The family gatherings, the music, the food, the gifts...I could go on, but you get the picture. We had our first family gathering of the season on Wednesday night and it was fun, as usual. We did a little "play" with the kids about the birth of baby Jesus. Then my grandfather, with the great grandchildren gathering around him, told the Christmas story from Luke. Of course, my little Isaac had to push the button on the Dora sit 'n spin right in the middle of the story and the "D-D-D0ra" song started ringing out. That's my boy. So after we silenced Dora, we refocused and continued with the story. Tonight me and the hubby and kids decided to spontaneously drive around and look at Christmas lights while listening to Christmas music. It was great. We needed to have a little outing and some time together. It was also the perfect activity to guide the kids right into sleepy time when we got back. See, we didn't sleep well last night. Sophie kept getting up for one reason or another, and she would come to Joe and I, who are also sleeping in the same room as they are, and say, "I just can't sleep" she has some kind of sleeping disorder or something. We all know she usually has no trouble sleeping. But we made it through the night...barely...and Mommy got a much needed nap today so I could maintain my sanity. Thank you hubby. Tomorrow night is the annual Christmas Eve party with my Dad's side of the family. It's always filled with fun and laughter. I am looking forward to it. In fact, the rest of the weekend will be filled with fun times with family and friends. Quality of my favorite things about the holidays. And now I leave you with a little Celtic Noel that I played in church last Sunday. I'm thankful that it went well and pray that it was a blessing. Blessing to you this Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Thoughts on a Monday...

Mondays. Sometimes they're good. Sometimes they're not. Just like any other day, I guess. It's Tuesday, but I thought I'd just have a little post-Monday therapy by writing about my day yesterday. Yesterday was weird. I had tried to pump myself up the night before by making out my to-do list for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before we go out of town. Making out my list of to-do's helps me focus. It's encouraging to me to mark things off my list. The only problem was...I was tired yesterday. Not just tired...I was physically and mentally (I'm sure, knowing me, there was some emotional, too) exhausted. We have had several busy months around here. My Dad had back surgery several months ago, so we were traveling to Macon a lot for a few months there. I enjoyed going, but you know how it is...packing up kids, hubby, going away for the weekend and coming back to laundry, cleaning, homeschooling. I'm so glad we were able to go...but I started getting a little tired. The past couple of weeks we've been home, but it's been a flurry of Christmas gatherings, music concerts at church (I play the flute), a wedding last weekend that I played in, and playing in church at three services Sunday. I'm also trying to be crafty this year and make several gifts for family. And, of course, in the midst of all of that, I'm trying to take care of my family, do all of my bargain shopping, changing diapers, trying to take care of laundry mountain (as I like to call it), wrap gifts, get those Christmas cards out, and the list goes on. So all started catching up to me. Physical meltdown. Trudging through the day. Not much heart in what I was doing...just trying to make it to nap time and bed time. Hot, long bath time. By myself time. I made it. And then I wrote in my journal. I think journal writing has always helped me to be introspective. It has also pointed me to the Lord. Last night, at the end of that long day, I was able to write about my fears, my insecurities, my tiredness...and take it to Him. I was able to pray for these things, pray for my friends and family, and my perspective started to change. Today is a new day. I have a renewal from the Lord that is so much better than even a good night's rest. Yes, I'm still tired...but I'm hopeful. Today I'm going to mark some more things off that list. I'm going to change those diapers, do those dishes, and pick up those dvds that my son just strewed (is that a word?) all over the floor. For the hundredth time. But I'm going to try and remember that what I'm doing is unto the Lord. For I know he can renew my strength. I'm just gonna cling to that today...and keep on movin'! God bless!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The story of Christmas

I saw this on another blog and just had to post it on mine. I loved it! Hope you enjoy it. God bless you this Christmas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Favorite things

I've noticed that a few people have mentioned their "favorite things" lately on their blogs, so I thought I'd join in. I love those cheesy little "get to know me" things...where you answer all those questions or tell things about yourself using the ABC's, etc. I'm not exactly going to do that. Here goes...

* A favorite I saw the link to this on another gal's blog, and I decided to check it out. I love "pioneer" stuff...novels mostly...but it definitely caught my eye. This is the blog of Ree Drummond, mother of four, homeschooling mom, living out on a ranch in the middle of a small town in the midwest, and calls her hubby "Marlboro Man". She has a blog-novella called "Black Heels to Tractor Wheels"...the story of how she met and dated Marlboro Man. The second I started reading it, I was addicted. In a few days, I had read all 40-something blogposts. (I know...I think that was a little over the top...but it was She's got a cookbook, she's crafty, and funny. I really wish I could be a friend of hers, I think she would be a hoot. But probably about 1,000 other people do, too. At least. She recently had some people over to her "lodge" to do cookie decorating. I might just have to put that on my bucket list. To be chosen to go to Pioneer Woman's lodge and decorate cookies. The chances are very slim. I'll be sure to blog about it if it ever happens : )

* Favorite accessory...scarves. I've always been a scarf lover. I wore scarves in college a lot, and have continued over the years. I started out with the short little see-through type scarves around the neck. Cute with a button up shirt and blazer (at least I think so). Now the style are the longer, chunkier scarves. I like those, too. I LOVE the scarf my sister bought me in Paris. I feel very cool in it. It's a pretty green, too. Mom bought me a scarf from the Scottish Highlands when they went last summer. They're special treasures. Plus, it's awesome if you don't have a lot of cute necklaces.

* Favorite sinus/cold medicine....Alkaseltzer Plus the pill form. If you have sinus congestion, go get this. I LOVE this. Joe and I both love it. I had a bad sinus issue last week. Couldn't even get a squeak of breath in my nose. I told Joe it felt like I was breathing through a brick wall. Misery. I took extra strength Benadryl, NyQuil....nothing helped. Until I went and took some of my Alkaseltzer. Viola. In a few days of taking it...I can breathe. I'm feelin' great! Thank you Alkaseltzer!

* Favorite thing to do in my spare As you can tell from all of my book review posts, I love to read. My latest read...and I think I finished this one in about 3 days...
The Frontiersman's Daughter by Laura Frantz
This story is about the life of Lael (Lay-elle) Click, a girl born in the wilds of 1770's "Kentucke". Her father is a famous frontiersman, but has a past that includes being captured for 6 years by Shawnee Indians. Lael is a girl who is a lot like her father. She has a connection with the land, the Shawnee, and feels her best when she outdoors, barefoot. The story covers her life from the time she is 14 to 21...and a lot happens to her and her family over the course of these years.
At first I thought this book was a little slow, and it took me a little while to get into it. But once I was drawn into Lael's story, it was hard for me to put it down. Would she marry Simon, the love of her youth, or Captain Jack, the Shawnee leader who was really a white man who was captured by the Shawnee as a boy? Both were interesting characters. I also loved the character of the Scottish Dr. Justus...a Christian man who not only healed the physical body but the heart. Great book!
I'm probably going to ruin my eyes with all this reading. But, as I've told people before, reading a book for me is like watching a really good movie. It's hard to stop in the middle. I've got to pace myself a little better : ).

I'd love to hear some of your favorites. ; )
God bless you this Christmas!

Monday, December 13, 2010

A new guilty pleasure...

I looked for pictures, but couldn't find any. It's called Private Selection (Kroger) amaretto.....cherry cream. Yes. It's awesome. It's all the flavors I love, all mixed into creamy deliciousness. I love amaretto flavor. I also LOVE cherries. I have since I was a kid. I've even been known...not recently, take a few spoonfuls of cherries from the jar along with some of the juice. And chocolate. Oh, I love thee. Even when "dieting" I still snag a bite of chocolate here and there just to curb the craving. This ice cream has all three....amaretto, cherry, chocolate. *cheering* One more time now....amaretto...cherry...chocolate. To top it off, while I was looking for a pic of it online, it appeared on the live strong website. This is a site that gives info. about foods that are good for you. I think that this ice cream is on a list on there for not being too crazy bad for you. A girl can hope! I haven't been eating it every day...and I get one my kids' little bowls when I get some so I won't get too much. But I will say that I haven't been eating/exercising my best lately. I'm not really on track too well over the holidays. But...come January...I'm going to do better! I'm going to get this weight off. But until then it's....amaretto....cherry....chocolate! : )

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas singing and farewell cupcakes

Tonight is the first time my baby girl sang in front of the whole church. I thought this was so cute! The little boy on the right in the video is the one that Sophie loves to play Cinderella with. He's always Prince Charming!

And the cupcakes. Oh, yes, the cupcakes. I finally made them today. Our children's minister, Kim Campbell, is leaving us today to move on to minister at her home church in Florida. She will be greatly missed! She's been there since before Sophie and Isaac were born and has done so much to help teach and take care of them. I'm trying not to think about it too much. A cry right now with all this congestion would not be good. But I made the cupcakes and I even decorated them, complete with some "K"'s to represent Kim. Ok...they're not Martha Stewart quality...but I think I did use some Martha-esqe color scheme. Right? I also didn't have time to make my own icing...which I prefer...but I did take the time to color that white icing from the that gives me a few points...right? : )

Thursday, December 9, 2010

No cupcakes today...

I was all excited about my cupcakes. I had a vision. Today I was able to make a dash over to the local grocery store to pick up what I needed. I even found these cute cupcake papers at the store (I got the black and white ones in the middle)...and I had a 50 cent off coupon for them...which actually doubled and made it $1 off! I was pumped. I bought devil's food cake mix, white icing (both of which were also on sale at the store...woohoo!) that I was going to dye blue, and more white icing that would possibly become a snowflake. It was meant to be...or so I thought.

After my successful...and trip, I got home and little Sophie girl was running a fever. She had been running one last night. I thought she was doing better this morning. Well, the fever got worse. And even with a little Motrin, it was still there. As my Mommy alert began raising closer to code red, I decided not to wait it out and just gave our pediatrician's office a call. The nurse called me back and said, "go ahead and bring her on now." I knew without an appointment it might be a long one. But, we needed to do it. So we went. And a few hours later, we don't know why she's sick. But she's still running fever. So we're going back tomorrow. And today...there were no cupcakes. We got home at 6pm...and the party was at 6:30. I know God has a purpose in everything, so maybe those cupcakes are meant for another day. When it comes, I'm sure there will be pictures! ; )
God bless!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


There's just something about cupcakes. I've become very interested in them lately. Maybe it's the new discovery that our cable company has given us The Food Network as a part of our limited channel choices. The addiction...I mean addition...of this new channel has brought me a little more tv bliss in a season where there's not that much to watch on tv. I have a few tv favs...CSI Miami, The Amazing Race, The Biggest Loser...ok...maybe more than a few. But now that I've got access to something new, I can't get enough. And one of my favorite shows is Cupcake Wars. I love seeing what these folks can do with just a little cupcake. The flavors, the decorations, the presentation. The cool icing swirl they can do with a nice piping bag and tip. It sparks a little creative interest in me. Cupcakes aren't as overwhelming to me as a cake. Smaller, easier to work with, not quite as time consuming (maybe?). I don't have that natural ability to throw ingredients together and come up with something spectacular. I'm pretty recipe dependant. I'm also a firm believer in not trying to reinvent the wheel...if someone's already thought of it, then just go find it and get an idea from them! So what got me thinking about cupcakes? Well, tomorrow night we're having our Sunday School class Christmas party. I'm excited. I've been asked to make cupcakes. Hmmm...what to do, what to do.
On the Williams-Sonoma website, I got this pic. It's cute. It looks classy. Doesn't look extremely hard, but that icing looks awfully smooth and fondanty. Do we have fondant in Eastman...if we do, I don't think it's in white and green...not sure if I want to deal with that. The chocolate sprinkles...I'm sure I could find those.
Next thought. Our class is made up of mostly very trendy, classy 20-somethings. I think they're awesome. It's fun hanging out with them and seeing what's "new". Most days I don't even wear make-up, so I definitely don't feel like I'm up on the fashion scene. So in the spirit of cool and maybe trendy, I was thinking something kind of like this. (Plus it looks easier!) I'm thinking chocolate cupcakes, a sky-blue icing, and some white snowflakes piped on top, or even some cool white crystally sprinkles...or even some of those chocolate sprinkles? We'll see what the local Walmart has. And we'll see how much time I have (presently I have a feverish 3 yr old and a runny nosed 1 yr old). I wish there was some way I could incorporate Nutella in there. Mmmm. It may not be the best time to experiment. If it comes out...there will be pictures. : )

Monday, December 6, 2010

More reading!

In between church activities, homeschooling, laundry and all of that other stuff...I'm reading. I love reading. My imagination is fueled and active when I read a good book. For me, it's like watching a movie in my mind. It's often hard for me to put one down...I want to finish the movie! Recently I've discovered an author that I've really enjoyed. Our little church library has gotten two of her books (and I just now realized that they're part of a series! Uh oh! I think I must read them! lol). Her name is Cathy Marie Hake. The books I've read are:

Letter Perfect. It was the first one I read, and I loved it! It was funny, set in the west, and of course, a romance. But a sweet romance. I just loved the way the main character was clumsy and didn't really "fit the mold". There was also a little mystery to it that added some interest to the story.

The other book...Fancy Pants. Again, it was funny, entertaining, and I think I read it in about 2 days...2 days of staying up late and sitting around with this book within reach! It's the story of Sydney from England who was arranged to be married, but soon found that the man she was arranged to marry was not for her. She wrote a relative, who thought she was a boy, and agreed to have "him" join him out west. In order to escape, Sydney dressed like a boy and headed out...without thinking of how she was going
to keep up the charade. She was soon nicknamed "Fancy Pants".

Happy Reading! God bless!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

New reviews!

I was able to get some new books recently from Bethany House Publishers to review. I was excited because this time I was getting contemporary fiction...a change from my usual historical fiction. So I hope these reviews are fun and helpful for you!
I'll start with Amy Inspired by Bethany Pierce.
This is the story of Amy, a young woman struggling through life, trying to make a living, publish her writing, and find love. She's teaching writing at the local college, living with the eccentric Zoe, and then meets Eli, who ends up becoming a third roommate. Amy wants to be loved, appreciated, and valued, but has been very discouraged by the events in her life. Eli seems to be the one person who accepts and believes in her.
My thoughts on this story...well, honestly, it was my least favorite book of the three. I'm a pretty conservative reader, and the several references to underclothes, the shape of people's bodies, etc. was a little uncomfortable for me. Beyond that, I was most concerned about the way Amy, and other characters, defined their faith. Amy would describe her faith in the Lord...but I never felt that her faith was clearly defined. The same went for her friends. Her friends made choices that were contrary to the Lord's teaching, yet they were described as having faith in Him. And that all seemed ok, according to the book. Kind of like a just-do-what-you-can kind of faith, and it'll all be ok. One thing I did like about the book was that there was some humor and the references to popular culture were very easy to relate to. Overall, I don't think I would recommend this one for the church library. It was interesting, at times entertaining, kind of sad and depressing quite often, and a little confusing if you don't have a good understanding of doctrine/faith in the Lord.
Next story...Hattaras Girl by Alice J. Wisler
This is the story of Jacki, quite secure as a writer for a magazine, and living in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. She's constantly being set up with guys, but never seems to find Mr. Right. Her lifelong dream--to own and operate a local Bed and Breakfast that she used to visit as a child. On a writing assignment, she meets Davis Erikson, who is handsome, wealthy, successful, and a little secretive. He's also connected with the Bed and Breakfast.
One thing I immediately noticed, and that I liked, about this book is that the story is told completely in first person...from Jacki's mind, her perspective. It was great to see everything from her thoughts. They were real thoughts that you and I would have, but not something we would necessarily say out loud. It made the book interesting. Even her selfish and irritated thoughts were revealed, and it made Jacki even more real in my mind. I laughed out loud several times...I loved the humor in the book. I also enjoyed the references to popular culture, which included shows I watch on tv even now! The story was not as predictable, had a few little twists and turns, and there was even a love story. Overall an enjoyable book and one I would recommend! It even had three recipes at the end of the book...including a lemon cookie recipe that I'm seriously thinking of making soon! : )
Last, but not least, A Rush of Wings by Kristen Heitzmann
This is the story of Noelle St. Claire...frightened and confused, escaping from a darkness that she can't quite figure out. She flees from New York and a life of privilege, to Colorado, where she knows no one. She wants to feel safe and protected. She makes her way to the Spencer ranch, and manages to rent a place to stay. There she meets Rick, the man who owns the ranch, trains horses, and loves the Lord. Noelle sees the ranch as her haven, a place where she can finally learn who she really is...but all the while there's a darkness that keeps creeping in and she is afraid to confront it.
Ok...this is my favorite! I must begin by saying that I have read this book before, but I had forgotten a lot of what happened. Kristen Heitzmann is also one of my favorite authors. Her books are often suspenseful (this one included), but clearly define what faith in God is. This book has a great use of imagery and language. I felt like I was right there on the ranch with the characters. There are also a lot of twists and turns in the story, so it's hard to put down. In fact, I read most of the book in one day! There is romance, but it was described in a way that wasn't uncomfortable. Overall, I would definitely recommend it!
Happy reading!