Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

I love November. I love the weather, the warmer clothes, the leaves, the anticipation of our yearly trip to Mamaw’s, and I love being reminded everywhere I look to be thankful for all the things we take for granted. Being a blogger (albeit, an inconsistent one), I was eager to join the ranks of all my other blogging, instagramming, pinning, flickring friends and post pictures of my thanksgiving advent tree. Us crafty types take pride in our creative, usually all-natural ways of inspiring our children to act out gratefulness during this season. Verses learned, goodies baked, moments remembered, simple acts of kindness, all done by little angelic faces and hands, make perfect blog fodder in this season of thanksgiving.

I mean really . . . .


Melt your heart, right? Moments like this make you say, “ah, that’s why we had kids!”

So naturally, I’ve been attempting to fashion moments where the gratefulness in their little hearts can pour right out.

Well, there isn’t any.

Today was day four and not once have we had an advent tree activity that hasn’t involved, whining, arguing, crying, complaining or pouting. Yesterday’s was so bad, we didn’t do it. We were supposed to do something nice for daddy to show how thankful we are for him. We couldn’t settle on something and we didn’t have a TON of time, so I suggested we drag the trash can back up from the curb for him because he always does that. It’s a tiny little thing, but when he sees it done, he’ll feel special, etc. Nothing doing. They weren’t going to buy it and thought that it was a “lame,” “not very good,” “how the heck is that thankful?” idea. How the heck indeed. After many long, exasperated moments, I guilted them into doing it, but every inch of the way was riddled with complaints and grunts and groans of difficulty and dissent. It didn’t end well. I sort of got mad and told them to forget it and get in the house while I not so patiently dragged the trash can up the drive, stormed into the house and declared that clearly no one was really thankful for daddy and some other guilt inducing, law infused, grace bereft remarks that ended with everyone in a crying heap.


Maybe my advent tree is broken.

Honestly, ever since I read Ann’s book last year, I’ve seen so much more clearly the lack of thankfulness in my home both in myself and in my children. I did my 1000 gifts and went through this really great season of genuine gratitude, but once the rush of all that died down, it’s been so hard to get that momentum back. There’s ungratefulness everywhere and I know that I can only teach it to my children by demonstrating it in my own life, but it seems the harder I try to do it, the more I fail at it. It’s so discouraging to be trying to teach thankfulness and end up angry (clearly, unthankful myself). How confusing it must be for them to see me flounder so much in this area. I don’t know how to get out of it. I can’t just generate thankfulness in this broken heart.

On a lighter note, I really am thankful in this moment that the Thanksgiving advent tree is still standing (even though Gillian suggested tossing it out the window). Tomorrow’s another day.



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Loving Lacey

No, this isn’t a sappy post about my blogging/crafting/homeschooling/dressing wacky/make cool stuff out of other stuff buddy, although many of you read her blog, so I could probably tell Lacey stories and you would be just as interested. I just liked the title. I’ve had lace on the brain for weeks now, as I’m finally doing things with a stash of tired, over-loved tablecloths, napkins and doilies I got from my folks. I’m super excited today because I finished my “winter garland,” made from a sad old table cloth that was absolutely begging to be gently disassembled and turned into something that would make someone (that’s me!) very happy.  My favorite part of this whole process is finding something that has beauty in it, but no more usability as it is, and turning it into something fun that can be enjoyed again. I really think that little “lightbulb” moment is the best part. I’m not always the best or most skilled in my follow through, and often, once I make it, I have to give it away because I have no place for it, but I love the “oh, I could do THIS with that!” moment.

As to the garland, now I’m thinking winter nothing, this baby’s staying up year round! It’s really not all that wintery looking. The lace isn’t even ivory anymore, it’s more of a beach sand or wheat color. Of course, it’s got a handfull of my antique buttons and it’s just simple and sweet. Next year I may hang it on the Christmas tree, but not sure. I also may divide it into two and put one at the mantle, and one over the “window” that separates the kitchen from the dining room. I’d love ideas for a place to put it. I do wish the pictures were better, but my house is dark, these days are gloomy, etc., etc. It is what it is.

Enjoy your holidays friends! Hope you’re all making and buying hand made as much as you can!

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As I mentioned yesterday, I don’t normally get my Christmas decorations up the day after Thanksgiving because we traditionally stay in GA with the Martins/Jacksons/Stovalls, etc. on the Friday after and I’m just too beat to use up my Saturday. This year though, thanks to VZW and Black Friday madness, Andy was working and there was just no way I was going to get in another day of school in this week. Knowing in advance that I was setting myself up for a lot of frustration, I hauled down the boxes and told the kids we were going to decorate today. Their excitement was through the roof until I opened the box with the Christmas tree and told them to start fluffing the branches to look like a young blue spruce.

Well, the seven year old and the five year old were pretty typically hyper/enthusiastic/bickering/too short to reach anything/digging through everything and asking “what’s this?!” every two minutes. I tried blaring Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree and Christmas Cannon Rock all morning, thinking I’d just party through the annoyances. You can guess how well that worked. Although there was this really cute moment in there when they were pretending to own a Christmas shop and were trying to sell me boxes of lights, candles and bulbs. They even made a sign. It was pretty dang cute.

In the end, of course, they ended up watching lame early 90’s Christmas specials while I did all the decorating.

It was a good thing I guess anyway, because I have a hard time letting go of things–especially my tree. I want it just so. I don’t want the homemade ornaments on my tree. I want a little tree to go in their room that their homemade ornaments can go on. Actually, we don’t have any homemade ornaments yet. (Don’t tell, but we really teach our children at home JUST to avoid them coming home from school with homemade ornaments.)

Just kidding.

Sort of.

Is that bad? Do I have control issues? I mean, I’m all for handmade, I’d LOVE handmade . . . if they were good . . . . .

Ohhh, that IS bad!!!

I really did do better this year! I let them do the tree all by themselves and I only readjusted about a half a dozen ornaments when they weren’t looking. Difficulties of their age aside, they really made it all worth it. As I was putting on some final touches Gillian ran up behind me and squeezed me hard and said, “I love the Christmas you made Mommy! Thank you for the Christmas you made!” Ahhhh. Moments like that are priceless gifts.

I remembered how my own mom always made our home a warm and festive place to spend the holidays both in very lean years and years full of blessings. It’s a gift to get to do that for my kidlets.

We wrapped it all up with cuddles on the couch “readingA Charlie Brown Christmas, drinking hot cider. As I admired the soft glow of pretty, twinkling things that makes December my favorite month to hang out in my living room, I gave thanks for my family and tried to hold on to the way Gilly says “ordamins” instead of ornaments, for next year she’ll be a big girl of six who won’t make that mistake ever again.

On a final note, I didn’t take many pictures, because I’m not very good at getting indoor pics that do the decorations justice. I did want to show my “new” windows. I’ve not done these before. The “snowflakes” are hand crochet pieces from a tablecloth that I’m taking apart and repurposing. In your mind, picture them attached and think winter garland. It’s coming ya’ll.

I always do my little “Charlie Brown Tree.” This year I let Liam decorate this one all by himself too and he was quite proud.

The entry way is always one of my favorites. I also had a “new” apothecary jar to use and I’m not sure this is quite the best use of it (or the best picture). It’s all I had on hand though, so that’s what we’ve got this year. I’m going to keep brainstorming on that. I love the glass jars/vases/hurricanes filled with ornaments look, but it always seems too modern in my rustic room.

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I overheard the children talking about the holidays. I tried to get it down word for word.

L: Easter is a better holiday than Christmas. Easter is the best holiday.

G: A lot of kids think that Santa Clause is just a stupid, fat toy seller.

(This is the point when a dashed to grab a piece of paper and get this conversation in writing.)

L: A lot of kids think that Santa is the real spirit of Christmas.

G: I do!!!

(Sigh. We’re still working with Gillian on the true meaning of the holidays.)

L: That’s not it Gilly.

G: Then what is the Santa Clause stuff all about?

L: People celebrate Santa because they just want Christmas to be fun, but the real spirit of Christmas is Jesus coming to die on the cross.

G: What about Valentine’s Day?

L: Valentine’s day is a stupid holiday. It’s the worst ever!

At least we know that one of them is listening . . . . sort of. It’s so interesting to hear their interpretation of the things we tell them. It’s a good reminder to be very careful of the words and ways I speak to these little ears.


654. Buckets and buckets of grace.

655. Lightning flashing menacingly outside and thunder rolling hard to shake the house.

656. Trying to braid Andy’s beard

657. A snooze on the couch while Andy plays the guitar

658. Cuddling with Andy and playing silly games on the iPad

659. Liam asking me to kiss him all over his face.

660. Liam telling me, “you’re the best mom I’ve ever known.”

661. Picking out music for two dear friends’ wedding

662. Sitting around a fire with good friends on a wet, cold spring evening

663. Staying up stupid late

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I’m not saving the best for last. It’s too exciting to hold back, although most of my readers who know Anne Marie already know, that


My beautiful, precious little nephew was born very early on Sunday morning. Our family is soooooo blessed to have this precious one. He’s Mark and Bean’s first and I’m thrilled for my kidlets to have a little cousin just five minutes down the road! I made my first trip to the store since he was born today and did that compulsive  scanning of the baby clothes that had nothing to do with my own kids! Buying clothes for my nephew was fun as I remembered all those times Bean came over with irresistible outfits that she’d purchased with her meager college kid resources. My turn!!!! I’m looking forward to having a kid that I get to spoil rather than discipline. HA! In actuality, he’ll probably end up being treated like one of my own soon enough, but I can pretend to be a softy just for now, can’t I?

By the way, look at beautiful Anne Marie! She’s such a lovely mommy and you wouldn’t think for a moment that she’d given birth less than 48 hours before this picture was taken. Here’s her Birth Story.

In other news . . .

Well, after that, nothing else is really news, but you know, the day to day.

Valentine’s day has come and gone thank goodness. I’m just not much of an enthusiast when it comes to V-Day. We try to fit  in a nice dinner somewhere around the day, but other than that, it’s not really a big deal. Sometimes I feel bad though because I never plan ahead to make a deal of it for my kids. I remember being 5 and my mom helping us make these FANTASTIC valentine boxes and filling them up with all sorts of yummies and sweet notes.  I think it’s because in February I’m still recovering from all the Christmas crafts that I just don’t want to clean up all the mess! Could I be any lazier? Well, yeah. Anyway, we DID do cute little valentines for our home school group’s party. They were fun, easy, and I didn’t have to clean up any glitter.

Moving On.

Today in school, while Liam was busily working on trading pennies for dimes, Gillian and I were having an insane Play Dough creation-fest.  I got a little carried away with accessories and ended up killing the whole amount of time Nana was teaching (usually used for cleaning, laundry, blogging, shopping, etc.) playing. I can hear most of you saying something like, “play with your daughter, the laundry can wait!”, and I would agree with you that playing with Gill is every bit as worthwhile as cleaning, but the ugly truth is that she was trying to build a snow man and I took over, refusing to let her contribute because I wanted it to look a certain way. I’m a little over-controling when it comes to playing that way. It’s a vice. I’m working on it. I’m sure that some of you who live in community with me will hear all about it from Gillian in a few years. Nana thought it important to document the snowman family that Gill and I built “together”. (I blame Nana, but you all know I just had to show off my snowman family because I want you to think I’m wonderful. Uh . . . . at play dough? There really is no end to my need for approval. 🙂

I also briefly wanted to mention the success we had with Mother May I?, a recently acquired dinner solution thanks to my new friend Lacey.   Basically, on a night when I have not planned well or don’t feel like cooking a real meal, the kids just get to pick whatever they want from the pantry and, as long as there’s something healthy in there somewhere, they can have it for dinner. The one change I made, was that I wrote down on the board everything that was up for grabs or that I was willing to prepare (ie. hard boiled eggs, noodles, etc.) and they got to choose from the list. I only did this because I did not want to deal with the pushing and shoving at the pantry door that would quickly morph into whining, screaming, a fit, delaying dinner for discipline and restoration, only to be repeated at least once. Now you can call this bragging if you want, I don’t mind, and you can be cynical if you want and point out that there just wasn’t any junk in the house for them to choose from, but I was pretty proud of the fruits of their combined efforts. Dinner came out looking like this:

Honey Granola Cookie 

Harvarti Cheese



Trail Mix

Snap Pea Crisps



Gillian  looks pretty peeved in this picture, but it wasn’t about the food. She was just upset that I was making her wait to eat so that I could take a picture.

And Finally . . . .

A couple of baby pictures with Eliot, the 10 month old who now has four teeth, a low, sometimes raspy  laugh (so unlike Liam’s high pitched little giggle at that age), and has started to randomly incorporate down dog in between intervals of military crawl. Just had to show him off a little.

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This Christmas was a little foggy. It was good of course, time with family, so many blessings, many reminders of grace. Sickness descended on us the day before though, and we’re just now sort of coming out of the fog.
After Christmas is always a little hazy anyway, isn’t it? . The leftovers, the stocking stuff scattered around, wrongly sized gifts to be returned (where’s that receipt!?), all the wrappings and trimmings that weren’t used laying in a corner and, of course, the half unpacked suitcases and LAUNDRY.  Add all of that to the normal chaos of a family with three wee ones who are sick and it’s a wonder anyone is sane over here at all.

There’s always grace though.

Even in the middle of a whole lot of coughing and fevering, there was grace.  I want to confess to you (certainly not for the first time!) that I’m not a very compassionate person. I’ve never been good with Andy when he gets sick or has a migraine. I don’t personally get sick often. Sickness is very inconvenient and I just don’t do well at dealing with other people when they are sick. That is my norm. I have to say though, to make God big, not me, this sickness in the house didn’t effect me like it normally does. There was this HUGE sense of “okay-ness” about the whole thing, and while it still wasn’t fun, I made it through caring for my sick ones calmly and with some measure of joy. What a kind gift that was to me after Christmas! When my nature is just to make everything worse by my bad attitude, God comes along and says, you don’t know you need it and you haven’t even asked for it yet, but here’s some grace to get through this.  Isn’t He good?

Along with the peace I had personally, there were also little things, little moments that I was so thankful for amid all the yuck. One, goes without saying, was the CUDDLES. Boy, do sick babies love their mamas!!! I got cuddles like I’ve never gotten before out of Gill and Eliot. Gillian was so sweet, during her sickness. It was almost weird how precious she was with her snuggles and secrets, raspy giggles and songs. (It almost made me wish she got sick more often. . . . . no, you did not just read that.)   We also set up the air mattress in the living room for a few days to intercept sick kids and give one adult a good nights sleep.

(breaking down the air mattress today)

It turned into the family gathering spot on which we all crammed to have a Star Wars marathon. So, ten little arms and legs, three runny noses, tons of pillows and an ungodly amount of spilled popcorn discovered the wonder of science fiction and made memories that will hopefully stay with them through the years.

Things are getting back to normal now though. Today the boxes came down out of the attic. The decorations gather together on the table to discuss living arrangements in the boxes for the coming year. (Yeah, Toy Story had a profound effect on me).








I tried to let the kids help. I knew that if I was going to make the decision to let them help that I would have to let go of the order and “just so-ness” with which I intended to pack everything away. Again, my need for control kicked in and it took a great many deep breaths and prayers for patience. Sadly (thankfully?) they got bored with it before long and I ended up doing it myself without much difficulty.



Is it weird that I’m showing you pictures of the Christmas BREAKDOWN when I didn’t show you any pictures of the way things were set up? As if I had things together enough to take pictures then, let alone post them.

(The tree skirt always looks so lonely and pathetic when the tree is taken apart)

As the kids are in the habit of bidding adieu to inanimate objects,


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Sometimes I don’t think. When I was a kid my dad would say, “use your head, kid!” I hated that, because as a kid, obviously, I assumed I knew everything and was therefore constantly using my head. As I get older though, I feel more and more keenly those times when I really should have seen something coming and didn’t. Anyway, the actual details are boring, so I’m not going to go into them, but I just made this really stupid mistake concerning our insurance and feel like I could have saved us a lot of (this spring’s tax) money if I’d planned better. SIGH. Well, there’s the whole “trust God because he’s going to provide” thing, which I know. I’m not worried about him providing. I’m embarrassed that I made a mistake. As if it would be fine if this just happened to us, but because I did it with my own stupidity, it’s a really bad thing? Why is it “easy” to trust that he’ll provide but so hard to trust that he may allow me to make mistakes for some other reason? It doesn’t come to me easily that not all financial mistakes are about learning to trust in God’s provision.  I don’t like being the one to make the mistakes. 😦 Trying to apply to gospel to even this.

On a lighter note, I was driving today, eating a chocolate mint cookie that was left over from our fantastic shepherding group holiday feast only to have one of those “oh crap!” moments. I’m not talking about serious mistakes (see paragraph above), but little things that make you say, well . . . . “oh, crap!” (sometimes you say worse too, but I’m going to keep it nice for the holidays!) Sometimes they’re just really annoying and inconvenient, like “oh crap, I’m half way to Earth Fare and I left the water bottles behind.” Sometimes they’re really embarrassing, like, “oh crap I got sidetracked this morning and forgot to put on my right eye makeup!” as you’re walking into a meeting with one eye glammmed out and the other . . . not. (True story, really did that once). Other times they’re really expensive, like, “oh crap, I just set my phone on the top of the car and then drove away!” Then sometimes, they’re just gross.  I think the just gross ones happen the most-at least to me-at least to probably most mothers of small children. See, as I was about half way thorugh this yummy, gooey, chocolate mint cookie that I had so clandestinely sneaked from the kitchen into my purse and then into my lap without a single child noticing, I remembered that this specific cookie I had put into a baggie for Gillian to eat today. The “oh crap” part wasn’t that I was eating Gill’s cookie–there were more cookies.  The problem was that this particular cookie went into a baggie to save anyone from eating it because she had already licked the whole thing to get the powdered sugar off. Licked it good then handed it to me a slimy, soggy mess.  Who knew it would dry up so nicely and even re-gain it’s former perfectly crunchy outside?

Who knew?

I noticed a sign today at the gym that the Kid Zone workers were so thoughtful as to put up: Only 16 days ’till Christmas. I am so not ready. I am so far from being ready. I am trying not to freak out. I miss the days of lying under the tree (and fitting!), listening to the Carpenters Christmas, having nothing to worry about but whether or not we were going to have chocolate pie or pecan after Christmas dinner. Being the grown up isn’t nearly as fun for a lot of reasons. I’m so thankful that there’s much more to it than that–so much more than what will happen if I don’t get all my gifts bought and wrapped. There are a lot people out there digging through Christmas traditions, trying to find the “magic,” trying to find “the soul of Christmas” and they just keep missing it. There’s this hodge podge of sentimental holiday feel goodness that people cling to in hopes that they can recapture the joy that Christmas brought them as a child, as if that would satisfy their soul’s true longing in the first place.  If I’m not careful this will turn into a grinch post about stupid Christmas movies and their lame plots and emotionally manipulative scores. I’m just glad that Christmas isn’t ANY of the things that movies or advertisers or even our fond childhood memories tell us that it is. I’m thankful that Christmas is a reminder of a much bigger picture, and that 16 days are going to come and go, and with or without the presents, the party, the feast, I’m good with God because of Jesus.

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