Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Our Three Hour Drive...

.... that turned into a 27 hr adventure!

So Dave got his plane for New York Monday morning and the kids and I were off to Grandma's. Sunday afternoon Dave had taken the car into the shope to have two new tires put on and have it realigned. I left Redding confident that we would arrive safely.

About 20 minutes outside of town, the car started acting up again. So here I am, alone with two kids and ready to drive 3 hours with a car that's not running too well. Oh, and heading over two snow covered mountains.

We finally arrived in Weaverville, a hour from home and I had to stop and have the car fixed. It wasn't safe with the kids. Take it into the shop to find out that several things are shot and the axle is about ready to break in two. The mechanic tells me that he can't believe they ever aligned it in the first place with the axle being so bad.

To make matters worse, it's going to take a full day to get the parts 'cause I'm in a small town. And if I would have just taken care of it the day before I'd be on my way.

So my mom and grandma drive two hours to come spend the night with the kids and I in a hotel room while it gets fixed. A three year old and a one year old who comes down with a nasty cough and has to sleep in Mommy's bed.

We finally arrived here yesterday. Thank God. I ran to the grocery store and fed the kids quickly before leaving Weaverville. And then just drive straight through. I'm so glad to be here and frustrated that it took so much to get here. But we're here! Stay up late and crafting tonight.

What a way to ring in the New Year!

Happy New Year!!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Where is Lee?

You may have noticed that it's been quite quiet around here lately. This blog has really been lacking for posts as of late. So what's up?

The beginning of December my husband lost his job. Wonderful Christmas present, huh? For the first two weeks of December (the 9th-13th and 15th-20th), he worked in my hometown doing odd jobs for my uncle, helping around his property and working on a new ceiling for his shop. Since he was in my hometown, and in fact, next door to my mom, the kids and I went as well and spent two weeks with Grandma. My plan was to blog while I was there, but unfortunately, this was also the time that my mom's computer decided to poop out. The best laid plans.

It wasn't a total loss as the kids and I had a great time with Grandma and Great-Grandma. We baked, crafted, and spent time playing in the snow. In fact, we really had to plan our trip home this last weekend in order to avoid the next snow storm.

As if that didn't make life busy enough, we also commuted on the weekends to finish up Christmas preparations and attend church. The evening of the 14th we met up with friends at the big light display downtown. The kids rode the train and we took in the sites.

My daughter's first birthday was also yesterday. So coming home on the 20th, I arrived to clean up the house and get things ready for the party. We hosted family this weekend and celebrated with a small party. She was so dainty when eating her cake and quite the opposite of the wild woman we usually know. It was sweet to celebrate such a wonderful little girl.

Today (or yesterday as I look at the clock) was filled with finishing up loose ends. Baby Girl had her portraits taken and I made up a shift at the YMCA. Wrapped packages, and sat on my bum watching a couple of great movies. In fact, my favorite holiday movie is on right now, White Christmas. I'm never truly ready to celebrate till I've had a chance to watch it.

Tomorrow (or again today) we're driving my in-laws and spending most of the week there. Visiting family and eating too much hominey casserole, pumpkin pie cake, and homemade cookies. We'll be back for the weekend and church, then the kids and I are off again the following week to Grandma's while my husband is off to visit friends in New York.

So I just wanted to let you know that I haven't abandoned you. I'm still hanging in there if you are. While the posting may be light and fluffy for the next couple of weeks (although I do hope to write more than I have been), I do plan to get some great posts in January. I hope you're sharing a great Christmas with those you hold dear. And find the Lord working in your life in new and miraculous ways.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Friday, December 5, 2008

Simple Living: Part Eight

Simplifying Christmas is a hard one for me. It seems as soon as this time of year rolls around, I want to do it all. As if I didn't already have a SuperMom complex, it kicks into high gear when December rolls around. It's the one time of year that I really let go and want to treat my family and friends beyond the usual.

However, as the mom of two small children, I'm constantly confronted with my inability to do it all. So as I sit here tonight, I'm still paring down my list and trying to get to what really matters. These are just a few of the thoughts that are running through my head:

*Baking: I come from a long line of fantastic cooks. Recipes that have been passed down from my grandmother that symbolize home and warm, comfort and family. Last year when I was pregnant with Baby Girl, I had to really think about what cookies I wanted to symbolize the holidays for my kids. And I pared it down to two: Jam Shortbread Cookies and Molasses Crinkles. They have a warmth and richness that I love and instantly take me back to those holidays growing up. I still have many other favorites that I've continued to bake in our kitchen. But who says I can't start a new tradition? My grandma used to make chocolate covered cherry cookies for christmas. Now in my family we make them for Valentine's Day. Maybe one day they'll make their way back to December, but for now, we've started a new tradition.

*Christmas Cards: When Big Boy was little I made homemade Christmas cards. This year, I just threw my hands in the air and said forget it. I looked around in January for a pattern that I liked and planned on making a few a month. But when Nov rolled around and I realized I didn't even have a pattern, it just didn't seem worth it. That's when I started looking for a coupon code for picture cards. I paid a little more, but with one less thing to think about, the lack of stress definately payed for itself.

*Homemade gifts: This is my best tip and yet, the one that I'm still perfecting. I do a lot of homemade gifts. It started out as a way to save money and now it's grown into a labor of love. I love watching for ideas as the months go by and thinking of how I can bless other people. Making homemade gifts has forced me to be extra creative. I watch all year, making notations in a notebook of ideas that others may like. As I get a coupon for Jo-Ann's or Micheal's, I pick up supplies and work on it throughout the year. This year I've made some altered puzzles and calendars and am already thinking of some great ideas for next year. My only problem is that I sometimes bite off more than I can chew. Then I'm up late, and... well, it's worth it in the end to give them something that really represents how much I care for that person.

*Decorations: We decorate pretty minimally. Especially for a house with a 1 year old and a 3 year old, excessive decorations are not part of the deal. Why put a bunch of stuff out that's just inviting to be touched, only to tell my kids that they can't play with it? Maybe as they get old, I'll add too, but for now, it's just not worth it.

*Friends: I have some great friends, but I just can't afford to get them each something. I send Christmas cards and attend cookie parties. For me, it's more about making time to spend with them, rather than buying each of them something. If I happen to come across something that one or the other may enjoy, I might pick it up, but I never leave myself feeling obligated to buy for each of my friends. And I try to never make them feel obligated to buy for me. As far as even spending time together, I know that this time of year is so busy. This year I'm thinking of planning a Girls' Night for January or February to catch up with those friends that have hectic schedules in Dec. I just remember that they're trying to do the best they can like the rest of us.

*Outside obligations: There was a time when my husband and I accepted any and every invitation to get out of the house. Then we had kids. And although we're still pretty mobile for a family of four, we've begun to re-evaluate what opportunies are the most beneficial. Small group remains a non-negotiable, as well as church on Sunday morning. Our kids aren't in school so we don't have a Christmas program to attend. Our outside events generally boil down to: the lighted Christmas parade (tonight), one evening of driving around to look at lights, and maybe one social event in a home. That's about all we can take at this time of year. It's a time when I'd rather be at home "nesting" with the kids so we've decided these are the important things to us.

Although none of these things are earth shatteringly new, I hope they've caused you to pause and think about why you do what you do. How important is that 13 batch of cookies when you're little ones are begging to play a game of Uno or watch The Grinch? How important will they be next month when the rush of Christmas is over?

Just food for thought.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Tackle it Tuesday

We had a busy week last week, as most families in the US. Despite a slowing economy, we were excited to see the lowering cost of gas. We packed up the car with lots of snacks, clothes, and books and headed off to Grandma's. The day after Thanksgiving, my family goes out and picks out Christmas trees. It's always a full day event and lots of fun. So when we got home on Sunday, we put up our tree and started decorating. And then... I started to get frustrated...

Last Christmas we had a four day old baby and after the holiday, I was recovering from my C-section, exhausted and just ready for life to get back to normal. So the ornament packing wasn't as thorough as usual. Add to that a move in the last couple of months ... and you have broken ornaments and a very thrifty Mama trying to salvage them.

So here I am while my husband and Big Boy are decorating the tree, frantically trying to glue ornaments back together with Mod Podge which could only go so far, but it was all I had in the house. Sitting there, waiting, waiting, waiting, and trying to hold them together while they bonded. Yes, I do know I'm crazy to think it would work. But it did save Ariel's face and bust. However, the rest of it...

I'd planned on hitting Walmart in a couple of days, but on a whim, I thought I'd check out the Dollar Tree while I was in there this morning. That's when I saw it, three different types of the glorious invention: Super Glue. I never thought I'd find it there, but I'm so glad I did. I threw a package in my cart and practically ran to the checkout. I had to try it.

Here's my sad little bunch of broken ornaments. Ariel was practically glued from the Mod Podge and it also worked on the flip flops, but nothing else. I later found other ornaments on the tree that needed repair as well.

Big Boy gladly offered to take my picture while working on this project. Not too bad for a 3 year old.

And finally my happily fixed ornaments. I breathed a sigh of relief. It just felt so nice to have this little project done. I hate having things like this just sit around and accumulate, waiting to be completed. I also love having these little miniature memories on our tree. It's like a special scrapbook that only gets opened at Christmas. Just adding to the magic of the season.

And for a thrifty Mama like me... great tackle!

To see what others are tackling this week, check out Tackle it Tuesday at 5 Minutes for Mom.
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