Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year’s Resolutions

1. Project 365/Photo-of-the-Day…NOT! I tried that in 2009. I did not succeed. What I did succeed at is overloading my computer memory with literally 1000’s of pictures I will never use. What I also succeeded at was learning LOTS about my camera. That is the part I LOVED about the project. I used my camera, and especially my new DSLR a TON and I learned so much. My photos are getting better and I am loving this hobby SO much. So, my resolution regarding photography is to continue to take tons of pictures and learn even more about photography and get better and better. That is so much less pressure than the PotD!

_MG_6655 What’s great is that I have more and more friends who are asking me to take their pictures and I {heart} doing it. It’s not a business and I do not desire it to be a business at this point in my life, nor am I good enough yet. I still have issues with focus and not noticing things like hand placement. But, I love being able to give people the gift of a nice photo of their loved ones. I treasure pictures of my family so much and to give that to my friends and family is a privilege. In lieu of payment, I do however, accept gifts such as a mocha from Woods, canned pears, frozen beef, and other such luxuries.

2. Eat less. Move more. Doesn’t get any simpler than that. Doesn’t get any tougher than that, either.

3. Make my 2009 blog into a book.

4. Try to implement a new weekly feature on my blog.

5. Hm. This seems to be turning into a to-do list rather than a list of resolutions…

6. Continue trying to save more money and spend less by using coupons and by… staying home more. Is that the key?

7. Pray more. Read my Bible more. Be more encouraging. Clean more. Get more organized. Get caught up on scrapbooking. Spend more time with my children. Spend more time with my husband. Spend more time with my family and friends and neighbors.

8. Figure out a way to add about 20 hours to every day.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A fun day

Yesterday we got out of our post-Christmas blues! Hooray! We spent the morning around the table, working on thank-you cards and other projects. Just being together. Just chatting. Fun.

In the afternoon we headed out for a free hour of gymnastics and rock wall climbing at a local gymnastics academy – part of the parks & rec department promo. It was a madhouse of people, but the girls had a great time. Some neighbors came, which made it even more fun! The pictures are terrible, but I just don’t have the professional camera required to take good pictures in a gym. My big lens came in very handy, but it doesn’t have a low enough f/stop and I don’t have a big enough flash to take really good pictures in that situation.

In the evening we were invited to the L’s for dinner, cookie decorating, and games. It was super fun – Mrs. L is the music teacher and we {heart} her! What a good day.

_MG_6343 Bethany climbing the rock wall.

_MG_6348 Sarah’s turn!

_MG_6357Elise loved the gymnastics. Here she is hanging from a bar and is about to drop into a huge pit full of blue foam squares. Apparently on Elise’s 2nd round through the gymnastics course, she told her instructor, at almost every station, “I know how to do this. I already did it.” Sheesh.

_MG_6364  Becca & Elise are such good friends…even on the gymnastics floor.

_MG_6388 Time for headstands!

_MG_6414 Bethany swinging from the bar over the blue pit of foam.

_MG_6415 And Sarah…

_MG_6468 Beautiful cookie, Elise!

_MG_6470 Thanks, Mrs. L for a fun night!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Post-Christmas Blues

Perhaps the fact that I am eating breakfast at 4:20 p.m. and am completely sick of everything in my house is an indicator of the post-Christmas blues going on at our house. Or maybe the fact that despite getting new toys and books for Christmas, the girls cannot figure out what on earth to do with themselves without whining (and being sent to their rooms for the whining) is an indicator of the post-Christmas blues in my family. Or perhaps the fact that after doing basically nothing for the last 4 days, my dear husband, who went back to work today, wants to do nothing on his next day off, which is New Year’s Day, would confirm the diagnosis of post-Christmas blues at our house.

I’m overwhelmed by the sheer number of things I’d like to accomplish before the year is over. I’m overwhelmed by the many things I failed at this past year. I’m overwhelmed by the things I know I have to do in the year to come. I know there are things we did well and that we should be proud of, but this is a self-pity post, so I will save that for a later date. Ed’s overwhelmed just trying to figure out what he should accomplish, and I’m kind of tired of making him a list.

The girls are not overwhelmed by either the past OR the future, it seems. They are only overwhelmed by the present and not knowing what to do in a day that has no routine or schedule or special event planned for them. Okay, well, sometimes they’re overwhelmed by the past so much that they find it impossible to let go…using much of their whining today to whine about the fact that I am taking down the Christmas decorations and trying to throw away old broken ornaments that they have never seen or cared about before in their lives!

And now, in the blink of an eye, this day is gone. It was a dreadfully long day, each minute dragging on for what seemed like hours, and yet, here it is dark already and it is time to make dinner once again. How is it that even the dreadfully long days seem to fly by?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Under Construction

If you read my blog on my actual blog, and not in your e-mail, you'll notice a few changes in fonts and colors and type sizes. I've been doing some serious html, man. Whoa. Welcome to Ed's world, Julie!

Anyhoo, it's not all exactly the way I want it yet. Let's just say I've got some debugging to do. All you computer geeks guys can appreciate that.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Pictures

So I started working on Christmas pictures and have a few on a web album. I don't have pictures of every single gift - some just didn't turn out. But let me just say THANK YOU to all those who spoiled our children. They were estactic about all their gifts, from the American Girl things to horses to clothes to games to books...everything. They had a very Merry Christmas.

And of course, my favorite was giving the girls their stocking gifts. In case you weren't privy to the secret earlier, inside their stockings was an itinerary print-out of our upcoming trip to California to visit cousins! We've been trying to find a good deal on flights to southern CA - Ed & I both have a brother & family down there and we just miss them so much. Ed's brother added a new baby to their family since we saw them last and my brother has a new baby that has just grown soooo much! Well, on Thanksgiving, I found very cheap tickets to CA for a weekend in January when the girls have a day off from school. We decided to give it to the kids for Christmas and that decision was well worth the excruciating wait of keeping the secret. We took a video, but Ed's got to do his computer-genius thing to it before we post it, but hopefully that will be this weekend sometime.

Here's the link to the album - enjoy!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Here with Us

Merry Christmas, readers, family, and friends! A friend pointed me to this video, made with clips from The Nativity Story. Enjoy and remember the reason for the season.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

She cleans up well, though

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I’m doing better, too. Thanks for asking.

She looks like I feel

Thankfully Bethany is beginning to get better, I think. Otherwise I would not write this post. She has been so sick (it’s pneumonia) and I feel so bad for her and she’s had one thing after another with this…blood draws, chest x-rays, allergic reactions to the meds, and who knows what else. She’s been difficult and a trooper at the same time. This morning, she was feeling some better, but she looked like I felt after dealing with this for the past 10 days.

 

 

 

 

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

School Christmas Programs

Most of you know that Bethany has been very sick for the past week. She did not go to school all week due to a high fever and coughing. By the grace of God and with a lot of prayers holding us up (literally), Bethany was able to sing her solo in the school Christmas program on Friday morning. It was beautiful.

The Kindergarteners sang a beautiful lullaby.

Following the K-4 program, we headed over to Elise’s preschool for her little program. Here’s a couple of cute songs they sang.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

For your enjoyment

I think we finally got some videos ready for you. Still missing is Bethany’s violin solo from the recital. I had to play with her, and I forgot to hand the camera to Ed, who was holding a snoring Elise anyway, and then by the time we had a chance to play it together at home to be recorded, Bethany was getting sick and has been sick since. Hopefully we’ll be able to do that this weekend. And tomorrow is Bethany’s big solo in the school program, so hopefully she’ll be well enough to sing and we can get that up here soon as well.

Enjoy the videos!

Who is that crazy woman yelling, anyway?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Love Languages

I love to give gifts. I’m pretty sure it’s my main love language. That and acts of service. I’m not as into the touch, words of affirmation, and time love languages. What’s your love language? I have to admit, I’ve never actually read the book on the Five Love Languages…except I read the one about children. When I was teaching. Not since I had my own kids. Go figure. The only things I’ve read since I had my own kids are: Corduroy, Goodnight Moon, Froggy Learns to Swim, and Winnie the Pooh A-Z. And a host of others like those, but I don’t have room or time to list them all.

But anyway, I’m  pretty excited about some of the gifts I’m giving this Christmas. Probably these people aren’t going to be as excited as I am, but that’s OK. It’s pretty standard for me to be more excited than just about everybody around me.

_MG_5870 The gifts inside these stockings are pretty cool. I can’t say any more because I have two daughters who can read and with access to the Internet. S&B, let’s just say, you are going to LoVe It! You might be almost as excited as your mother about these.

_MG_5883The gift tucked behind the tree is also pretty exciting for me to give. That’s it. That’s all I’m going to say. Oh, except, Ed – it’s not for you.

Speaking of Ed…I wonder what his love language is? Maybe I should consider that when I start thinking about what I AM going to get him for Christmas. I suppose now I’ll have to read the book.

And now for just a few more random pictures and thoughts…

_MG_5859 I didn’t notice the icicles on the arbor until they were already melting. This was a result of the freezing rain on Monday night. I love icicles – wish I had seen them before they were dripping away.

IMG_5028 Last night Sarah had her band concert. I wasn’t able to go, as someone had to stay home with Bethany, who is sick. Ed appreciates long Junior High instrumental concerts more than I do, so I elected him to go. Sounds like Sarah did great. She had a little two-measure solo, so hopefully we’ll get that video, along with a basketball video and some recital videos, up on the blog within the next few days.

_MG_5888Elise & I made a few of these today. Hey, now that I think about it, these are some of Ed’s favorite treats. Maybe I could give them to him for Christmas! Do you think his love language is through his taste buds?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Logos Christmas Party

Just a couple pictures from the Logos Christmas Party last Friday…

Logos-1023Logos-1092  It’s getting to be quite a big company. Can you find the back of our heads?

Gratituesday

I’ve been doing a lot of blog-hopping lately, trying to decide which coupon-savvy bloggers find the most deals that I can use. I happened upon a post titled “Gratituesday” and thought – what a great idea! I will blog-lift that one!

So, today being Tuesday, I’ve got a list of things that I am grateful for.

1. My warm house – with this wintry weather, I am ever-thankful for our wonderful home. And my wonderful little fireplace.

2. Friends – with this being my scrapbooking Tuesday, I am feeling grateful for friends. Last night I had to cancel a gathering of some friends due to the weather, but hopefully today’s gathering will happen. It is so wonderful and soul-filling to spend time with good Christian women who will laugh and cry and everything in between with me while we solve all our problems together.

3. Coffee – it is early and I need some. I am thankful it is across the kitchen from me.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Writing Assignments

1. My favorite Christmas sights: the Kindergarteners through Fourth Graders dressed in white capes and red bows at the school Christmas Program (pictures and details on that to come after the actual program on the 18th); lights on houses (if they’re done well – sorry, I’m a “Christmas Light Snob”); and twinkles in children’s eyes.

2. Christmas Parties: Ed & I were blessed to go yet another Logos Christmas Party – this was our 14th – we have missed only one since Ed started working there full time.  This year was especially fun as the company has grown and been so blessed and it was wonderful to celebrate that with the others in the company. Our entertainment included a professional (& Christian!) comedian named Ron Pearson who had me laughing to hard I cried; the traditional Logos Choir; singing carols together; and of course door prizes. I did not win the Roomba. Or the Espresso Machine. Or the camera. Or the Blue Ray Player. Any of those would have been great. I would have been thrilled! I didn’t win anything. Oh, except I did have a fabulous evening out with my handsome husband and we slept until 8:30 the next morning thanks to my parents who keep the kids overnight every year when we go to the Logos Christmas Party. So, I guess I AM a winner.

IMG_49892009-12-12I had my hair done for the occasion – the first time in my life! So much fun! Ed loved it, too. There is a picture of us with the whole get-up, but we don’t have it yet.

IMG_4990That’s the comedian. He’s also a juggler. And he balances ladders on his chin while he does it. Amazing. Now if he could just do it while riding his unicycle…that would be something.  

3. Favorite Christmas  Movies/Shows: I have yet to see the new Veggie Tales Christmas movie, but I love “The Toy that Saved Christmas”. I watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” for the first time when I was a freshman at Calvin. For some reason I never got hooked on that movie, though I enjoy it when I have the chance to watch. I Love Love Love the kids’ Christmas programs and recitals and my dad’s choir cantata. Almost always I have a huge lump in my throat from trying not to cry. Or else I do cry. I am a big cry-er at these things.

Two Years

Our family has a lot of things going on today…basketball, recitals, birthday parties, Christmas shopping…but we wanted to first stop and remember Mom/Grandma Freeman, since on this day two years ago she was taken home to heaven to be with Jesus. We are thankful she is without pain and no longer suffering, but we miss her so much. We love you, Mom/Grandma!

Some of my favorite memories of my mother-in-law include: receiving a card at college from her after Ed & I got engaged – it said “Welcome to the family!”; learning how to crochet from her in the back of a rental car on the way to Montana; many many games of cards -  mostly Hearts, Rook, and Euchre; having her visit for Sarah’s birthday every year until she got sick; the look on her face when Ed neglected to open the car door for me when we left our own wedding reception; showing her around the state of Washington; learning her special way to cut an onion (which I still cannot do properly, but I also cannot cut an onion without thinking of her); hearing her tell how she unexpectedly started to cry with joy on her way to work the morning Sarah was born; when she & Erik surprised us in Albuquerque on Thanksgiving; and there are more. I am grateful to have known and loved her. I am grateful for how she raised my wonderful husband. I am grateful she was given life enough to have met all of my children.

One of my favorite pictures of her from a visit about 11+ years ago:

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Delightful December Dailies

So I’m a little behind on my December daily class stuff, but I’m getting caught up, so all is well. _MG_5734 These are some of my favorite ornaments on our tree. This one with shells is from the Bahamas when we stopped there on our cruise in Nov. 2007. We weren’t supposed to go to the Bahamas. We were supposed to go to the cruise line’s private Caribbean island and have a true “Island Paradise” type day. You know, bikinis (okay, maybe not bikinis), snorkeling, cocktails, hair braiding, sun worshipping, etc. Unfortunately, our cruise was at the tail end of hurricane season and old Hurricane Nell (I think) destroyed their private island. The Bahamas was nice, too, but I was looking forward to that Island Paradise, that’s for sure.
_MG_5736 This ornament is from…that’s right! Kauai! How ever did you guess? As you can maybe tell by now, I’m in the habit of buying ornaments when we go on vacations. It started in 2003 when we went to Yellowstone. Don’t worry, I’m not about to show you every ornament. But this one is also one of my favorites and is from one of my favorite memories – our second honeymoon to Hawaii. Our first honeymoon was to Seattle, so don’t go thinking we go away to exotic locations all the time. It was our first trip anywhere exciting and we had the time of our lives.
_MG_5737 My beautiful blown glass ornament from our recent family reunion in Oregon.
_MG_5740 Never have I had a child so attached to a stuffed animal as Elise is attached to her stuffed lamb. She got lambie when she was six months old and I don’t think she has spent a night without it in 3 years. So, when we found a lamb ornament FINALLY last year, I couldn’t resist. It’s even cute!
_MG_5748 I’ve had this one about forever. I know I got it from someone. Someone very special I am sure. I just don’t remember who. If it is you, I am sorry I forgot you gave it to me. But I still love it, so that makes it OK.
_MG_5754As promised, pictures of our tree._MG_5756 
I love cut-out Christmas cookies. I’m not a big fan of actually making them, but I do love them, and in particular I love the recipe I found a couple years ago in Taste of Home. They are DeLiSH. We made them with the girls last Friday night and we all had a good time decorating them.
_MG_5542 Look, see! Becca’s smiling and look how I’m being all laissez-faire and not showing her what to do or anything. I was a good mom that night._MG_5551 Good dad here, too._MG_5552I had great hopes for those bottles of decorator icing, but they were not all that fantastic. Not worth the $9.99 minus the 40% off coupon at Michael’s. _MG_5553 Here’s the recipe for those of you that are interested:
Sour Cream Sugar Cookies
1 cup shortening (better with butter)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup sour cream
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
4 cups flour
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Frosting:
1 cup butter, softened
9 cups confectioner’s sugar
3 tsps vanilla
2/3 – 3/4 cup milk
paste food coloring
In a large mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, sour cream and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or until easy to handle. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cut with desired cookie cutters. Place 1 inch apart on baking sheets lightly coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes or until set. Cool for one minute before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
For frosting, in a large mixing bowl, cream butter until light and fluffy. Beat in confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Add enough milk to achieve desired consistency. Tin with food coloring. Decorate cookies as desired.
This Nativity Set I got from my parents, I think the first year we were married. They added pieces each year until I had a complete, but small set. It has a place of honor in our living room._MG_5767 _MG_5770 And I still have this reindeer my dad made years ago. He’s pretty cute. Every year I think maybe I won’t put him out since I’ve had him so long, but then I set him up there and I’m so glad I did.
The last thing I must write about tonight is this book:
_MG_5731 It is called “One Wintry Night” and it is by Ruth Bell Graham. If you do not have this in your collection, it is a must-buy in my opinion. The illustrations are gorgeous._MG_5733 The story begins with a little boy who gets caught in a storm and ends up with a twisted ankle and in the home of a grandma who takes care of him until the storm passes. As his stay continues, she tells him the story of Christmas. She begins with Creation and goes through every major Bible story that is pivotal to the birth of Christ. Again, I love the illustrations, but the story is beautiful, too. I used to read it as a devotional to my students every morning in December when I was teaching. They were always enraptured with the story and begged for more. I usually read it to my girls now and we LOVE it.
I started chapter one tonight.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

For Unto Us a Child is Born

That song from the Messiah is probably one of my favorite Christmas songs. There are lots more…Angels We Have Heard on High, Tennessee Christmas, Emmanuel, Silent Night, I could go on and on. Just give me a stack of Christmas CD’s (especially some from the late 80’s and early 90’s – those are nostalgic AND wonderful!) and I will be happy for a very long time listening. I’m listening as I type, as a matter of fact!

On Saturday we cut down our Christmas tree! Even though my folks aren’t getting a tree this year (they’re going to CA), we invited them to come with us. The girls just couldn’t imagine picking out a tree without Grandma & Grandpa along – they’ve never done that before in their lives! So, we went to a tree farm very close to our house, which turned out to be just as wonderful as driving 45 minutes to the hills to our other favorite tree farm. We still got a beautiful tree, hot chocolate & donuts, and even saw a live camel to boot. We had a gorgeous sunny day – cold, but so much better than tromping around in the mud and rain, which we have done many times. We got a smaller tree this year, but it is definitely one of the prettiest we have ever had. Here are some photos of our trip:

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The girls with their new ornaments: Elise has a chalkboard with ABC since she started school this year. Becca has a snowglobe with a big snowflake inside because she loved the snow so much last winter. Bethany and Sarah both have ornaments made by the GEMS in Africa. Awesome!

_MG_5672 We had so much fun decorating the tree today! The girls all have their own ornament boxes and anything that didn’t fit on the tree (since our tree was small, we did only red, green, and silver on the tree) they got to display in their rooms. They LOVED unwrapping each and every ornament and talking about it and then putting them on the tree. And they didn’t even get upset when I rearranged the ornaments so that they were evenly spaced or rehung them so that they were dangling less precariously. Becca was thrilled to be the angel girl this year! Next year – Elise!

I have not taken a picture of the fully lit and decorated tree yet. I have a bit of reading to do about how to best accomplish that and then I’ll post my hopefully successful results!

I think the Christmas tree is one of the most beautiful symbols used at Christmas time. From my research, I learned that a zealous young English missionary was the first person to use the evergreen tree as a symbol for God. Winfrid, who would later become known as Saint Boniface, used the tree as an object lesson. He taught that each point on the triangular-shaped tree represented a different Person of the Holy Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Legend has it that one day Winfrid came upon a group of men offering a sacrifice to an oak tree as an act of worship. So angered was he by this idolatry that Winfrid swung his ax and felled the oak tree with one mighty blow. According to the tale, a fir tree eventually grew from the stump of the oak. Struck by this occurrence, the missionary proclaimed that the tiny new tree represented Jesus’ victory over death on the cross and the eternal life made available to us by the King of Kings.

Martin Luther is credited with adding lights to the tree. Luther was walking home alone through a forest one December night and the stars seemed to twinkle with an unusual brightness. Luther was so overwhelmed by the awesome beauty of God’s creation that an unexpected wave of worship took his breath away. Luther chopped down a small fir tree and set it up in his family’s living area. He wanted to capture that moment in the starlit forest, yet it wasn’t until he gathered the burning candles and carefully placed them on the branches that his children’s eyes became to dance and were opened to Psalm 19:1 “The heavens tell of the glory of God. The skies display His marvelous craftsmanship.”

A Renaissance stage director was the first to decorate an evergreen, which delighted the audiences. Germans decorated their trees like the ones on stage. Decorations became more elaborate over the years, the trees were so filled with the candy that they were called “Sugar Trees”. However, hidden among the other decorations were tiny round wafers of bread, representing the body of Christ that was broken on the cross for our sins. (All info taken from “The ADVENTure of Christmas” by Lisa Whelchel). (Wow. How many of you remember her? That’s a whole ‘nother blog post…)

The Christmas tree also reminds us of our eternal life, in the evergreen branches. The lights remind us that Jesus is the Light of the world and that we also need to be His Light to the dark world. The tree stands tall and points us heavenward and the outstretched branches remind us to touch others with His Spirit.

Wow. Did you ever know that the tree could symbolize so many things? Next time you sit in your family room in the dark and gaze at the lights on your tree, think about those things and thank your Creator for His trees, His Lights, His body, His love, His gift of grace. We decorated our tree this afternoon. I think I will go gaze.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Holiday Decor

These are some of my favorite pieces of holiday decor:

_MG_5557 The Nativity Scene in the foreground was handcrafted by Sarah last year in school. This is my first Christmas to display it since last year we had a snow day the last two days before Christmas break and she didn’t get to bring it home until January! The angel behind the Nativity Scene was created by Becca and the quilt you see hanging in the back was made for me by my Mother-in-law quite a few years ago. Every time I take it out of the box I remember her and how she blessed people around the country with her quilting and how each of us in our family is privileged to have at least one quilt that she made.

_MG_5560 The star on the top was created by Bethany in kindergarten, and I think the Nativity Picture as well. These candle pictures, created with paper plates, yarn, paint, and glitter are pretty special, too. The two oldest girls made theirs during a Christmas-time sleepover with my mom & dad, probably when they were about 4 and 2 or so. The third one is Becca’s from her last year at my mom’s preschool. Elise asks pretty much every day when she is going to get to make one and since I am pretty sure it’s an every-other-year activity, I don’t think she’s going to get to make one until NEXT Christmas. Oh, how hard it is to wait when you’re 3.

Yesterday I picked up some old yearbooks at school to look through for historical facts and photos for the centennial booklet Ed & I are working on for school. The years I picked up are 1985-1989 and there are MANY people in there that my kids know…including me and their Uncle Randy, and even my dad since he was on school board at that time. In fact, there’s one picture of my dad handing out diplomas at graduation and he’s shaking the hand of a female graduate. I said, “Look girls, there’s Grandpa!” and Elise said, “Is he with grandma?” She said it kind of accusingly, like, that better be grandma he’s with.

We also made some Christmas cookies, old-fashioned butterscotch candy, and ho-ho-hot chocolate mix last night. The cookies we will take to the parade Saturday night and the candy and hot chocolate mix go into gift bags for teachers and other such folks in our lives. We have a few more goodies to create (and more cookie dough in the fridge for another time), but by 9:00 the girls had had enough sugar and needed to go to bed. Pictures to come soon, I hope!

Look around your home. Do you have any holiday decorations that are especially meaningful or that you will never give to the thrift store?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

December 2 & 3

I read an article called “Welcome Home, for the Holidays” online and it was interesting – about how we tend to wish we had all nice new things in our houses this time of year, when really what matters is that we make our house a home. It’s something I strive for anyway – to make it welcoming – but I tend to get so caught up in whatever is going on that I forget to invite people into my home! I hope to do that more in the future.

My assignment for my photo of the day for Dec. 2 was to photograph something warm. The warmest sight I saw yesterday was Becca asleep in her bed, wearing her brand new school sweatshirt that just now finally arrived after being back ordered. She just had to sleep in it, she loves it so much.

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I worked on Christmas gifts and made peanut butter chocolate bars for the girls’ lunches. Today my writing assignment is to talk about the word JOY. Elise Joy. That’s the first thing that came to mind. We gave her the middle name JOY for many reasons, including the fact that we were pretty sure she would be our last child, and our children have brought us so much JOY. “Jesus. Others. You.” That was my next thought. Jesus of course being the source of ultimate and final JOY. And then, just life. This beautiful life that we have been given brings me great JOY.

My photography assignment was to take a photo that represents the idea of JOY. I saw this well-timed idea on my cousin’s wife’s blog. I admit it. I photo-lifted. Thanks, Michele!

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We had fun. :)

I wrote in “My Story of Grace” book for 20 minutes this afternoon and I worked on making return address labels for Christmas cards. That took a while because either Word or the printer was being finicky. Ed had to help, but hey, these are cool assignments I have – I’m accomplishing things and enjoying myself all at the same time!