Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas Traditions

My mom did a great job of creating Christmas traditions for us when we were kids.  I remember driving around looking at Christmas lights every Christmas eve. We also got new pjs every Christmas eve.   We got new ornaments every year and she always let us have our own tree to decorate. There were tiny stocking ornaments on the tree that she always put lifesavers or gum in. Even now, I smile, thinking back on these traditions.

Now that I'm grown, there are a few decorations that I enjoy every year. Actually, there are lots of things I enjoy really - lots of my ornaments and decorations are handmade gifts of love. They just make me smile when I get them out.   

Here is my absolute favorite decoration. It's our tree skirt. Mike's mom made the skirt. Then my mom painted it.  This is just one of the pictures on it. Every year I get it out, I just hold it. Admire the talent. and let the tears fill my eyes with all the love I feel. 

One of the easiest things I do (and it's cheap!), yet has a big 'wow' factor - is wrapping the girls bedroom doors up as presents.  I was super happy when they gasped with joy when they saw their doors again this year.
Another tradition I started is our 'countdown to Michigan' stockings.  We are never here on Christmas Day, so I just do it for the 24 days before we leave...and that means the stocking opening started today!! At our last house, I hung them on a clothesline on our stairway. At our new place, I have them on suction cup hooks in the window.  They have pieces to the nativity set in each stocking (I bought an unbreakable set for this purpose).  Each day we tell part of the Christmas story.  I also have small prizes and candy on some days, as we don't have 24 pieces to our nativity set.  Last year I added another element to the stocking.  It's a slip of paper with a family activity on it.  It's my reminder to slow down and enjoy the season with them.  Includes things like, watch a Christmas movie, do something kind for someone, play a game wearing Santa hats, bake cookies, do a Christmas craft, go see Santa, etc. 

Lastly, Morgan made me hot cocoa last weekend... as you can see, we go all out and have 1st class hot cocoa in our house... marshmallows, whipped topping and sprinkles! Life is just too short to drink just plain hot cocoa!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Our Thanksgiving Day

 Being that on Thanksgiving Day my heart is both abundantly full and tenderly aching at the same time, I've come to appreciate the peacefulness and laid-back-ness to our Thanksgiving Days.  Here are a few moments I wanted to remember about today.

We slept in a bit, then enjoyed cinnamon rolls while watching the Macy's Day Parade on TV, in our pjs, as the sleet and freezing rain fell outside.

The girls also enjoyed a scavenger hunt around the house.  As soon as they were done, Sarah wanted to make a scavenger hunt for us.  Then Morgan made one. We enjoyed finding their treasures.

For the past several years, the girls have made all the dishes for our thanksgiving meal. Mike takes care of the turkey, because frankly, I don't touch raw turkeys. I assist the girls as needed, but they are getting so grown up and are doing a great job reading recipes and making yummy dishes. 

As Sarah, Mike and I worked on a puzzle, Morgan insisted on setting and decorating the Thanksgiving table all by herself. Didn't she do a beautiful job? Candles, leaves, fancy glasses. 

As we sat down and filled our plates, I looked over at Sarah and she just had a look of pure happiness on her face - smiling at the fancy table before her.  It was precious. 

The girls insisted on toasting our sparkling grape juice...for the many things we have to be thankful for.  They both wanted to say our Thanksgiving grace today. And they both did.

I got a nap in this afternoon, Mike got to watch some football, and then had 2 desserts! Then off to our annual tradition of ice skating downtown!
We returned home, had a cozy fire, and ended the day watching Miracle on 34th Street together.  Relaxing. Perfect.

I also enjoyed the phone calls that connected me to my family whom I could not be with in person today.

A to Z Gratitude: Part Two

Ok, here's the rest of my list.

N – North Point Church (and the 1000s of lives changed every year because of it.)
O – Opportunities to celebrate milestones (like Darian & Beau’s upcoming wedding!)
P – Photos (that capture so many sweet memories on life’s journey.)
Q – Quietness (that replenishes my soul.)
R – Remembering those I love (thru tangible things they made me…paintings, woodworking, baskets, quilts, and other things around my home)
S – Sarah (who reminds me to enjoy the moment, who is both sweetness and compassion, and who adds much joy to my life as I share life’s journey with her.)
T – Teacher Friends (who keep requesting me as a sub!)
U – Unrushed evenings (where we can kick back and relax.)
V – Visits from mom & dad (every Spring and Fall for the past 14 years we’ve been in Missouri)
W – Writing (and chances to pursue writing as a career)
X – Xcellent Health (for myself and my family)
Y – Yesterdays memories (of holidays spent with my cousins.)
Z — Zippers (‘cuz it’s ‘z’ and ‘cuz they add a lot of convenience to my life! Afterall, it’s the little things in life!)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Daddy's Christmas Present

So, I ask the girls what they want to get their dad for Christmas.  To which one responds, and the other agrees, "Work Clothes - not the kind he wears to work, the kind he wears to fix the lawnmower and other stuff!"  So, after I stop laughing, I explain that work clothes are old clothes we no longer want or have gotten to worn to wear for nice. 

But I was thinking, why would they say that?  It's because they have a great dad, that's why! Who is super handy at fixing (almost) everything around our house! And who does so with a great attitude! Who when they ask to fix a necklace or a broken figurine, he does so without hesitation or complaint.  He has definitely had to fix the lawnmower way too much this summer (different things keep breaking!).  And because he's so good at it and does it so willingly...they think this actually makes him happy (and it kinda does!).  Don't worry, we will be finding him something besides work clothes for Christmas though. :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mrs. Baker

I've been subbing a lot this fall, for Kindergarten thru 3rd grade.  It makes me smile at all the names the kids come up with trying to say Mrs. Baker.  Here are a few... Mrs. Bakes, Mrs. Bakers, Mr. Baker, Mrs. Cooker, Mrs. Cook, Mrs. Bakery, and the latest... Mrs. Bacon.  I love kids!! :)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A to Z Gratitude: Part One

On facebook, several friends are writing something every day they are thankful for this month.  One friend is doing gratitude from a to z, and well since I've been all about A to Z this year (same friend got me started!), I decided to 'copy' her idea and make my own list a to z of things I'm thankful for.  I decided to post it on my blog, so I can always remember the things I'm thankful for in this season of my life.  Here is the first half of the alphabet (not necessarily in order of importance).

A – Amazing Grace (I’ve yet to discover anything more powerful than grace. I’m spending my life in pursuit of understanding it better every day!)
B – Being an American (It’s election day, afterall!)
C – Computers (They help me keep in touch with those I care about and give me access to almost any info I need!)
D – Daisy Dog (have you seen those big brown eyes and floppy ears? Need I say more?)
E – Education (and the opportunities I’ve had to expand my horizons thru it.)
F – Family (and their love that is always there for me.)
G – Girlfriends (they add both depth and joy to my life!)
H – Home. (There’s no place more beautiful. More sustaining. More life giving.)
I – Incredible husband (the perfect one for me. He still makes me smile everyday.)
J – Jesus (and the joy of knowing him.)
K – Kisses (my husbands, my kids, and chocolate ones too!)
L – Laughter (is there any sound more beautiful?)
M – Morgan (among other things, she's thoughtful, helpful, trustworthy, and I love being a part of her life and watching her become this amazing young lady (too quickly, I might add!))

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fall Humor

So, I'm walking by our Fall Scarecrow...only to discover the poor guy has to use the bathroom! Apparently the girls' friend was over (love her!) and she moved the scarecrow's limbs a bit. Cracked me up! :) Just thought I'd share the humor! :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Morgan's First 5K...You Go Girl!

Today Morgan ran her very first 5K and I ran my second 5K. The morning dawned cold and crisp, as we met up with other racers at 6:30 this morning to get checked in. 
These past 10 weeks, Morgan participated in a program called Girls on the Run. Today was the accumulation of 10 weeks of working hard and having fun.  I have nothing but wonderful things to say about the Girls on the Run program and I'm so thankful Morgan got to participate. As you can see from these pictures, she is a tad bit excited about her run this morning, ok maybe her excitement is bursting out of her! It certainly brought joy to my heart too! It was fun to be able to participate in this with her.

Morgan and Madisyn - Running buddies in training and friends forever.
Darian, who is very special to us and who really is more like an aunt than anything, came to cheer Morgan on in her first race. That's love...coming to watch her at 6:30 in the morning when the temp is hoovering around the 30s! She also brought donuts too!! Yum!!

Here we are crossing the finish line. Morgan actually sprinted to the finish line 13 seconds ahead of me. Something abour her dad promising her $5 if she beat me to the finish line. And me, from behind, with a smile on my face and a tear in my eye, watching my daughter cross that finish line. So proud of her!!  p.s. She finished in 37 minutes at 16 seconds.

"Your feet will take your soul where it wants to go."
(quote on the back of my race shirt)