Friday, December 31, 2010

Play it Again, Mama: Cowboy Woody Party

I love my Big 5 Year Old Boy.  Being my firstborn, there's a special bond between he and I.  At times, we know how to push each other's buttons.   And other times, we're the best of friends.  I'm learning so much from being his Mommy and I love it!

This past weekend, we threw a Cowboy Woody Party.  I have never had so much fun planning a birthday party.  For weeks, I was thinking about how much fun Noah and his friends were going to have at this party.  We sent out these fun homemade invitations with the details on back and the twine tied on the top.  I love 'em!

Goody bags were sheriff badges, temporary tattoos, and candy wrapped up in a bandana and twine.  My little Lydia has hardly taken that badge off since Saturday.  They were the hit of the party.

My mom made a bunch of Woody's from the Cricut for the party...

and put together a Happy Birthday banner...

The kids got creative and pulled out the cars before the games started.  I love seeing them play together.

I put together a bunch of clues to read with the kids to go through our games.  They all centered around Woody and going on a Wild West adventure.  The first one read:

Time to look high and time to look low
Sheriff Woody's on the go
He's got his horse and he's got his saddle
Time to chase the men who stole the cattle

But wait!  There's something more
as Sheriff Woody heads for the door
The Badge!  We have to find it
The badge is what we have to get!

Help Woody with his badge!

After that we played Pin the Badge on Woody.  We didn't even spin the poor kids and it was still a challenge.

Then we read our second clue:

Bullseye is the Sheriff's horse
He's loyal to Woody, of course
But today he's thinking of playing
And Sheriff Woody's mission is delaying

Your mission: to catch Bullseye
So throw that lasso into the sky
Catch that horse for a friend
And we'll be almost to the end!

Time to catch Bullseye!

And we tossed rings (hula hoops) around the rocking horse.

Finally we got to our last clue that said:

Partners and friends in the Wild Wild West
These are the friends that we like the best
Woody says, "There's a snake in my boot"
And this game's gonna be a hoot

Don't look low, just look high
Hit it hard and candy will fly
Take a turn and don't hit a friend
Our Woody adventure is coming to an end

Break that Pinata!

And made our way to the front yard where we smashed a pinata.

 It was so much fun to watch the kids run around and check out each others bags.  They each wanted to make sure they got some candy and even helped out the younger kids.

After that, we had cake, curtousey of Grandma.  A Cowboy cake and a horse.

The kids loved singing as always.

And helping to open the presents.

All in all, we had a fantastic time, filled with memories and worth all the time put into it.

For more Cowboy party resources, check out:

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Play it Again, Mama: Dating your Kids ... and Why it's so Important

I've turned this post over and over in my mind for weeks. And I've hesitated to write it, wanting every detail to be perfect. It's a subject near and dear to my heart. But since it's been so important to me, I've put it off... and put it off... and put it off... till it's been months and I nothing to show for the time I've mulled it over.

Till finally this afternoon I decided I was just going to sit down and write it. For better or for worse, here it is. Bear with me.

With that first child, everything is glorious and wonderful. At least it was for me. Being a stay at home mom, I had household stuff, bills and appointments on my list. But for the most part, I also had an abundance of time to spend with Noah. I've heard other mom's say that first child was a hard adjustment for them. But for me, I just seemed to slip into the reality of living my life around another human being. Especially one so precious as my first child.

Then Lydia came along. Equally as beautiful, equally as sweet, and equally as in need of my time and attention. And as the saying going, work for two kids doesn't just double, but rather it quadruples. Suddenly I found myself without the time to devote all the attention my oldest child desired. And let me tell you, being a socialite, Noah desires a lot of one on one attention.

I also suddenly saw my relationship with my Noah begin to deteriorate. Part sibling rivalry, part terrible twos, part a lack of my own perspective, things were crazy that first year. There are good chunks for that first year that I don't remember. :-) And there was a lot that I learned in that year... and am still learning.

One of the greatest things I'm learning about is "Dating my kids." It sort of all just came about by accident. Two kids, two parents, occasional scheduling conflicts, and BAM! ... You have time with just one kid. But unless you take it to the next level, it remains simply that, ... shuttling one kid to an event and nothing more. The same holds true even if you're a parent of only one child. All the time in the world with that one child won't mean anything if it's not intentional.

Slowly as time evolved, we saw trends in our schedule. My hubby started taking Lydia to gym class on Tuesdays and I'd pick up Noah from school as the time overlapped. Every other week, we just come home and make lunch. But every other week, we've developed our date time. And it can look different from season to season. But nonetheless, every other week, Noah and I spend very intentional time doing something together, out of the ordinary, specifically FOR HIM. There are similiar times in my schedule with Lydia. Just me and her slowing down our day and being together.

These are just a few of the ideas we've developed so far:

*Hot chocolate dates at Starbucks-I hate spending the money, but realistically, every other week, just a kid's hot chocolate and a small latte for me. We sit down between taking Noah to school and heading off to MOPS. We sip our treats and be silly girls. She gets a chance to "talk" without being interrupted and I can really hear what she has to say.

*Lending Library/Library visits- both of the kids love going there and picking out new toys or games to play with. And going by themselves, I get to see what they're really interested in. We always pick up something for the child that's not with us. This has also developed a sense of thinking of their sibling. I've been surprised by how thoughtful they can be.

*Splitting a Jamba Juice- I recently asked if they would split a 16 oz into two cups. So for less that $4, it bought me and Noah some quality time together. I was surprised how much of a treat this was for him. We sat and sipped on our drinks, and it was just right, both price wise and calorie wise. He told me all kinds of stuff that day and we just laughed and laughed.

*Parks and museums-When we're all together, the older one can't go too far from the younger one. And the younger one can't keep up with the older one. While this is just life, it's fun to take them one on one once in awhile. Noah's surprised me by how agile he is when I just let him loose. And Lydia has shown an interest in new parts of the playground that her brother would steer away from.

*Picking a new item at the grocery store to try together-My kids have picked out some interesting items and I've vetoed a few on occasion. But for the most part, it's been a lot of fun. We've tried new things and it's built quite a memory and experience together. You'd be surprised by how impressed your kids will be that you'll try something new with them.

That's just a couple of things I can think of off the top of my head. Spending time one on one with our kids takes time and scheduling, but we know that it will pay exponentially as they grow. We've already seen a change in our son. Both kids really. We continue to marvel at how different they are apart and together. Just as sharing and thinking of others can only be learned in a group, so there are other lifelong lessons that are best learned by individual attention.

I'd love to hear how you "date your kids" and the effect it's had on your relationship. Leave me a comment sharing your personal experience.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Makin' Some Goals 2011

For the last couple of years, I've posted Nutritional Goals for the year (2009, 2010).  It's been really good for keeping me on track and discovering new things.  We've grown some of our own produce, learned more about herbs, and have incorporated several seafood dishes into our diet.  It's been good.  Having the built in accountability of an online community has really kept me on track.

Now there are a few things that have slipped by, but ... we won't focus on that.  :-)

So while it's a new year, I figured we'd open up our goals to not only nutritional goals, but also other goals in our lives.  Nutrition, spiritual life, relationships, ... whatever.  Let's make some goals and find a way to make real changes in our lives.

Here's what I had to say about setting goals last year:

Wouldn't it make sense to outline some specific goals in reaching those overall resolutions of better health? And wouldn't it make to sense to make improvements in areas that would bring lasting change?

That's why I'm hosting a Makin' Some Goals 2011 Carnival next Monday, January 3rd. A place where we can share and encourage each other in this journey that we're on.

Carnival Information

I will be hosting a carnival here on the third of January. If you would like to be involved, post your 2011 Goals on your blog, including a link back to my blog and a link to the Carnival post. Focus should be on how you plan to reach these goals in the next year.

Please feel free to spread the word about the carnival.

Tips for Making Goals
1. Make your goals achievable. Start with something small that you can change this month, then another for next month. Don't write down goals that are so daunting you don't even attempt them.

2. Make goals that you are willing to commit to. If you have no interest in sprouting seeds, leave that for another time. This is not the time to make goals simply to impress other bloggers.

3. Develop a loose timeline for achieving some or all of your goals. Do you want to achieve one a month or just incorporate all within the first 6 months?

4. Share these goals with others. Here's where the accountability of blogging comes in. You're sharing with all of us the changes that you are purpousing to make in your life. Additionally share with someone in your real life. Ask them to keep you accountable as well.

5. Understand that these goals are a work in progress. Habits are not changed overnight. These goals are meant to be working goals, working toward a better you in 2011.

So join us next week to unveil Makin' Some Goals, goals you will work toward in the next year. I'm excited to see what you come up and be encouraged by how we're all working toward a brighter future in the new year.

52 First Dates: Week Twenty-Nine

So how did it go?  Did you create a new Christmas tradition for you and your sweetie?  Something sweet for just the two of you...

These sweet little traditions are so important for building memories and gluing couples together.  Special memories are a great point to look back on during those tought moments.  Plus they're just fun.

Are you ready for this week's challenge?

You've got your Christmas tradition in place.  Now it's time to celebrate the New Year.  Whether you're going to a big party or celebrating at home, let's make it special.  I'll be doing a stop at the Dollar store this week to pick up some noise makers and to the grocery store to pick up some fun snacks.  Traditionally in our family, New Year's Eve is snack night.  It's all about:

Big Nacho Platters
Taquitos and Pepper Jelly
Mama's Homemade Spinach Dip
Baked Jalapeno Poppers
And all the other junk food and treats that are associated with the holidays.

So this year, it'll be the four of us, my mom and grandma ringing in the New Year.  And while you're celebrating this week, why not take a moment to revisit those bucket lists you made together?  Is there goal that you want/need to focus on in the next months to a year?  Let's start the New Year keeping each other accountable and growing in intimacy in our marriages.

Have a great New Year and can't wait to hear back next week how it went!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Play it Again, Mama: Formula for Throwing a Kitty Birthday Party

I love my Lydia, but with two December birthdays now under my belt, I'm discovering that I'm in for a challenge as the years come. We try to make each of our kids' birthdays a special event, something just about them, without breaking the bank. And as fun as that is, it can require lots of planning ahead and creative thinking.

For Lydia's 2nd birthday we decided to go with a Kitty theme. Her first stuffed animal was a kitty that big brother brought her when she was born. Every since then, she's loved kitties. What else would be so fitting for my sweet baby girl?

Luckily, she also was a kitty for Halloween this year. I had a hand me down kitty costume from when I was a little girl and it fit just right. So just a few days after Halloween, we dressed her up again, make up and all, and took her picture. This became the basis for a homemade invitation. I followed Jo-ann's sales till they had scrapbook paper on discount and we set to work on invites.

Our guest list always includes grandparents, aunts and uncles, a couple of families from church, and two or three special friends from the YMCA. And being a December birthday, I try to get the invitations out the weekend after Thanksgiving or the first weekend of Dec. This year they went out the first weekend of December, but even that was too late. Lydia's birthday is so close to Christmas and calendars fill up fast. Next year they will be Thanksgiving invitations.

I purchased the kitty party supplies on line when I ordered Noah's birthday stuff. This took a little planning ahead, but it saved me on shipping in the long run. All the kids got kitty plates, but I cut corners by serving the adults on plain pink plates bought at the Dollar Tree. Pink streamers and balloons where also purchased at the Dollar Tree.

Since it was December the party was held inside and the kids' rooms were open. I'd weeded out any especially loud or annoying toys ahead of time. These are moved to our room where I just shut the door and ignored the mess.

This became my "Formula for Throwing a Kitty Birthday Party:"

Take one 2 year old Birthday Girl

Package some "Kitty Treats"

Don't forget "Kitty" foods
(For this pink kitty party, we served cheese cubes, goldfish, pink lemonade, cake and strawberry ice cream. Chips and salsa for the adults too. I'd also planned pink popcorn, but never got around to it.)

Throw in some birthday presents

Add a princess hat
(This was the hat she got from my aunt and uncle. After opening it, she wore it for the rest of the day)

Sing "Happy Birthday" to the birthday girl

Top it off with a new tricycle from Grandma


My original inspiration for a Kitty Themed Birthday Party came from this post @ Sweet Paisley.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Play it Again, Mama: Amazing Race: Marriage Edition

About six weeks ago, I came across this Amazing Race post at My Insanity. Now if you haven't checked out My Insanity before, you'll have to look around her site. She has so many incredible ideas.

But before you do that, let me share with you how myself and two other wives put our own spin on this idea and sent our husband out for their personalized edition of the Amazing Race.

For those of you who don't know, The Amazing Race is a reality show on CBS. The show follows several teams of two as they travel the world, competing in challenges that test their endurance, minds and bodies. My husband and I haven't missed an episode since it began years ago. We love it. So when I came across this post, I thought, "What a great idea." I instantly knew my husband would love it. I emailed the details to a friend and we started planning.

I was in charge of T-shirts and oh, they gave me a challenge. But for someone who knows nothing about graphics, I'm pretty excited with how they turned out. The boys got theirs at the start of the race, but they didn't know we had shirts until they met us at the end. I actually really like mine and wouldn't mind wearing it once in awhile just to remind my husband I love him.

One of the other girls was in charge of clues and did a great job. We met our husbands at the church and gave them the set up:
Welcome to the Amazing Race. You were each brought here by your lovely, adoring, beautiful, smart, sexy, and talented wives.

I must now take any money and wallets that you have on you. (We left them with their ID's for driving)
Here are your uniforms that you must wear for the entire race. (They were given their t-shirts to wear)

Here are your funds for this leg of the race use them wisely. Using them you must acquire flowers for your wife before completing the race (they were each given $1 plus some change).

Here is your video camera. You must video every task, including reading the clue and completing the challenge. Tape may be turned off in the car, but must be on for all challenges.

Good luck Boys, here’s your first clue.

Clue #1 --complete with scrapbook supplies
Where you're at is your very first stop
We gave you the supplies you'll need
Go on inside and make your wives cards
Then you'll be done with this deed.

When you're done show them to Ali (barista)
And if she thinks they'll do
She get you all on video
Then give you your next clue.

Ali had to approve their work to also make sure they cleaned up their mess. This task was completed in the coffee shop next door to the church. We thought this task would go quick, but they actually spent a lot of time on it.

Clue #2--accompanied by a map
The next place you're going is a bit of a drive
Just let the map be your guide

Once on Deschutes, look for a covered arena
Take a right there, then stay left at the split
Once in the driveway, get your phone
Dial ------ for your next bone

One of the girls' mom had a horse and send the boys on a ride. Nothing too fancy as two of them had only been riding once. But they had to do a pattern (on their own) around the arena.

Clue #3
Jack and Jill, Humpty Dumpty too
This place is full of baby clothes, mostly "not new"
Baby furniture and toys, located on Hilltop
They even have clothes for your wife when she's ready to pop.

Boys had to figure out this was the used baby store on Hilltop. Once there, they were instructed to change into maternity clothes for their next clue.

Clue #4--given at store
Your next task here is to race one another
To be the first to get their baby in a cloth diaper
Don't forget to video tape the event
Or you'll have to do it all over again!

Once you're done, you can continue on
Get your next clue from the owner and be gone

The owner loved this idea. In fact, she wanted us to plan more for them to do here. She was really hoping the store would be busy during this time. Great business promotion idea if you're trying to get the owner on board.

Clue #5--given form the store owner
Your next stop is in the north part of town
At a home off ----- Drive
Two of you attended Discipleship Group there before
Watch out for the bird--it might dive

Sent them to a friends house

Clue #6--given at the house
Now we're headed back outside
Your next task is in the street
It's a game of leapfrog with each other
Now come on, isn't that sweet?

How many jumps do you have to do?
We'll you're about to find out
Use this little formula
To determine your leapfrog route

Total the number of months together
That you all have been married
Then divide that number by 6
And get started-- don't tarry!

My original idea had been to tell them to divide the number by those involved (which could be 3/guys or 6/all of us), but the other girls thought that would be too many. Still with being married 8.5 years, just the math was no small task.

Clue #8--given after leapfrog
Hooray, how was leapfrog.. are you sore?
Hopefully not too much because there's more!
Don't worry, you're almost done
Just one more stop and then it's home

We've given you $20 in this clue
To go to the store and buy some booze
We already have wine at the end
So get your favorite, whatever you choose!

And then you're done, hip hip hooray!
Make sure you've got your drinks and bouquets
Then it's time to head home to continue the part-ay!

So have you go your bouquet, your card and your drinks yet?
If not, do it now, or you'll be quite upset
When you reach the finish line and have to turn around.
The race isn't finished till these things have been found.

The finish line, and your fabulous prize
Are waiting at a place familiar to your eyes.
Make your way through the traffic, obey all the signs
And step into the home on ---- Drive.

Our original intent had been for the boys to pick up flowers at the Dollar Tree, but one of the boys snuck extra money out of his wallet before we took it. So they bought a dozen roses at Safeway while they picked up beer. By the way, you can't videotape in Safeway. Weird, huh? Anyways... they said they felt funny. Here they had beer and were waiting in line at the Safeway wrapping counter where they had the guy split their dozen roses three ways. They said they felt cheap with their case of beer their and splitting roses. Comical picture though.

While the boys were off on their adventure, us girls were at home settling things with babysitters and dinner. We laid out lots of candles and set up a lovely green table. I wasn't sure about the green, but it turned out gorgeous. We used a green table cloth with lace over the top to play down the Christmas color. Then added a friends green dishes. On a separate bar table we had appetizers of bread and artichoke dip from Pioneer Woman. Delicious! We had originally planned fondue as well, but ended up with a ton of food.

We stole My Insanity's candy bouquet idea as well. Each girl picked up their guys favorite candy and made a bouquet with tissue paper and ribbon. We figured they'd appreciate candy over anything else and speaking of my husband, boy were we right.

These were our bouquets, cards, and a gorgeous candle piece that a friend brought along. Very romantic!

When the boys arrived, we had dinner. We split the menu between us and somehow ended up with a pretty nice Olive Garden style meal. Complete with both Pasta E Fagioli (my specialty), Zuppa Toscana, and Manicotti. Desert was Lava Cakes and Berry Cheesecake. I swear I ate till I could eat no more. Everything was fantastic and complimented each other so well. The boys were starving and loved it all.

This is my honey and I, grateful to have a babysitter for the evening.

We topped off the evening by watching clips from the video and playing a game called Match Mate. Super fun, but we soon discovered that being married longer didn't help us at all. We kept coming in last place. :-) Who turns to their mate and asks, "What was your favorite cartoon character as a child?"

All in all, we had a great time. And I'd love to do it again. The only thing I didn't like about it was trying to keep it a secret from my husband. I was so excited about it; it was hard to keep a secret during the planning.

Hopefully this will give you some ideas for planning something fun for your mate. get together with a few friends, brainstorm the connections you have, and put some thought into a fun idea for your husband. Who knows what you'll come up with.

Oh, and if you do use this event, let me know. I'd love to see your fun ideas.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!!!

I hope this day finds you all surrounded by love.  Whether that be with your family and children, serving in the jungles of Asia, locked in a prayer closet with the Lord, or some combination in between, I pray that your day is filled with love.

Your support and friendship has not gone unnoticed and today I thank the Lord for you!

Be blessed!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

12 Weeks of Christmas: A Monkey Bread Morning

Every family has there Christmas traditions.  Some have stretched on for so many generations that no one can remember when they started.  Others are brand new, just trying out their wings and seeing where they fit.

We have one of those kinds of traditions.

A few years ago, my husband and I looked at each other in the rush of Christmas morning.  Presents to be opened, stockings to be explored, kids to be dressed, a house to be picked up before company, and still no breakfast anywhere in sight.  We knew it was going to be another LONG Christmas morning.  And we also knew our kids were going to have an absolute melt down if we didn't get something in their tummies... fast!

Thus the Monkey Bread Morning was born.  Ok, I really just came up with the name right now, but believe me, this creation does deserve it's own holiday somewhere on the calendar.  Assembling breakfast doesn't take long and the best part is that it can bake while we open gifts.  Ooey, gooey, and yummy... we only make it a couple of times a year, but it is so worth it.

And since Christmas morning is coming up fast, I wanted to give you this recipe a few days early so that you can start a new family tradition as well.  Hope you enjoy!

Monkey Bread
3-4 pkg of refrigerated biscuits (depending on size of your bundt pan)
Cinnamon and sugar mixture

1/2 c butter
3/4 c brown sugar

Open your biscuits and cut each on in fourths.  Roll cut pieces in cinnamon/ sugar mix.  Layer in bundt pan

Melt butter and brown sugar and bring just to a boil.  Stir continuously for approx 3 min.

Pour over biscuits and bake at 350 degrees for 30 min.  Let cool for 15 min before turning onto a pan and serving.

This bread stands great alone or it can be served with something as simple as fruit and bacon.  Very yummy!

Do you have any Christmas morning traditions?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

52 First Dates: Week Twenty-Eight

Ok, true confession time... I didn't date my husband last week.  Cookie cook-off... great idea.  Execution... impossible.  I thought we'd be able to get it on the calendar, but our week ended up being completely shot. Is anyone else feeling the pinch of planning dates during the holiday season?  We have been so busy.  We've been together, but have we really been together?  That's the catch of these dates... finding time to really be together.  So this week... flop for me, but hopefully you had a chance to date your spouse this week.  How did it go?  Did you have fun?

Ready for this week's challenge?

This week let's start a new Christmas tradition with our spouses.  Something for just the two of you.

*Champagne at Midnight on Christmas Eve

*Love Letters to each other

*Praying together under the tree and the lights

*Taking a quiet walk hand in hand in the snow

*Mailing each other Christmas cards

I know my mind is already turning through what I'd like to do with my husband.  We take all this time during Christmas for our kids and our families... why not take just a few moments with our spouses?  I'm so excited to have a few moments alone with my husband as we celebrate.

How will you be dating your spouse this holiday season?

*Linked to these Parties

Terrific Three

Christmas 2009

January 2010

Valentine's Day 2010

March 2010

April 2010

July 2010

Sept 2010

Oct 2010

November 2010

Lydia's Birthday Party Dec 2010
Mama's Girl on her Third Birthday

My Terrific Three Year Old...

Our little Christmas baby... born at only 6 lbs, 13 oz... you are my itty bitty...

Imaginative... sweet... sparkling... assertive...

My precious baby girl...

I can't wait to spend this Terrific Three Year Old Year With You!!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Lee's To Do List

I love this sweet little Jean Skirt from Pants (@ Someday Crafts).  What a wonderful way to recycle an old pair of jeans.

How about trying some Homemade Hummus (@ from Chapel Hill to Chickenville) for those holiday gatherings?  Yummy and nutritious!

Looking for some last minute gift ideas?  Check out 48 Homemade Gift Ideas in a Jar (@ Tip Junkie).  With 48 ideas, you're bound to find something you like.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

12 Weeks of Christmas: I Spy Bag

Have you seen the I Spy stuff that's floating all over these days?  Maybe I'm just late to the game since my oldest just turned 5.  But he loves all things mind puzzles and memory.  Particularly he loves I Spy books.  With each double set of pages, there's a new list of items to be sought out and identified in the picture.  Over and over again, he pours through these books and the puzzle that he has as well.  It's become quite a challenge to spot the hidden items before him.

The I Spy bag works on the same concept.  There's a list of items to be found in the bag and the challenger must search them out.  It's a super simple, super easy gift that can challenge a variety of ages, depending on the items you place inside.  Plus it's a fun interactive game that will see hours of play.

Here's how to get started:

You'll need:
*A large rectangle or square of material
*Heavy plastic from the material store or a double layer ziploc bag
*Small objects to find
*Attached list of objects

Cut a square out of the center of your material for the window.  Double your plastic bag and sew into the window.  Double stitch in the corners.  Stitch your bag up three sizes to make a pouch.  Fill your bag 1/2 to 2/3 full of rice and objects.  Finish stitching the top edge of your bag.  You can also laminate and attach the list of object to find.  By laminating your child can cross each one off as it's found and erase it when he's done.

*For more detailed instructions, you can check out:
I Spy Bags
Valentine I Spy Bag
How to Make an I Spy Bag

I can't wait for Noah to open this one.  I know he's going to love it.  And since it's portable for long car rides, I love it too.

How is your creative side going these days?

*Linked to these parties

Psalm 107

 1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
      His faithful love endures forever.
 2 Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out!
      Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.
 3 For he has gathered the exiles from many lands,
      from east and west,
      from north and south.
 4 Some wandered in the wilderness,
      lost and homeless.
 5 Hungry and thirsty,
      they nearly died.
 6 “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,
      and he rescued them from their distress.
 7 He led them straight to safety,
      to a city where they could live.
 8 Let them praise the Lord for his great love
      and for the wonderful things he has done for them.
 9 For he satisfies the thirsty
      and fills the hungry with good things.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

52 First Dates: Week Twenty-Seven

Remember how last week's date I said, "Don't forget to take pictures"?  Guess who forgot to take pictures?

I finally get an evening out with my hubby and I forget to take pictures.  Now in all fairness we did go to a family Christmas party for his work, and I DID take pictures of the kids.  But pictures of us dressed up?  Didn't even cross my mind.  Oh, well.

As I said we went to a work party and we did take the kids, but they were so well-behaved.  It almost like have a real grown up date.  We sat at a table with two of my husband's co-workers and their wives.  There were a few games set up for the tables to play together and then we had dinner.  The food was so yummy; better than anything I would have had on the menu that night.

Afterwards there was dancing and dessert.  Hubby and I didn't dance, but it was nice to sit back and laugh at the kids trying to dance the night away.  It was also fun to be able to go out with some of the guys that my husband works with.  Working in the environment that they're in, they get to know each other pretty well.  And for me, it's fun to see how he interacts with them.  All in all, we just had a good time and it was nice to get out with others.

Are you ready for this week's challenge?

Let's have a cookie taste off.  Come on, you know you're already baking this time of year.  And you're probably already eating them too.  (Remember the ice cream taste off we did over the summer?)

This week, why not make a batch of your favorite Christmas cookies and his favorite Christmas cookies.  I know for my husband and I, we each have our own favorites from growing up.  Then have an evening of fun reminiscing about Christmas when you were growing up.

Share some thoughts on what traditions you like, those you don't, and those you'd just rather throw out the window.  Is there a new tradition you want to start for your family?  Any old holiday blooper stories you haven't shared yet?

Check in and let us know how it's going.  What are you learning about your spouse?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Reaching out at Christmas


          it's a word that spark so many images and emotions.  Decorated Christmas trees, baking cookies, music, lights, presents, Nativity scenes, gestures of good will, family gatherings, and pumpkin pie to name a few.
                       Happiness, ... 
                              anxiety, ...
                                   exhaustion, ...
                                       anticipation, ...
                                             elation, ...
                                                 obligation, ... 
                                                     magic, ...

But for some people, Christmas brings up other images and emotions.  An empty house, a quiet home, a lost loved one, memories in every corner... loneliness.

We live in a broken world.  Sickness, divorce, death, custody weekends, ... loneliness still exists... even on Christmas.

There are people all around us, crying out to be invited, desperate to be noticed on a very lonely day.

Look around you...

... the widower spending his first Christmas alone...

... the couple who's gone through a miscarriage in silence...

... the divorced mom facing her first holiday without the kids...

... the elderly neighbor who's children and grandchildren are far away...

... the faithful couple with children serving overseas...

... the newlyweds far from home...

... the teenager who's parents can't stop fighting long enough to notice the date...

And the list goes.

This Christmas...

        what would happen if we just asked for eyes to see the heartache around us?

What would happen...

         if we just extended one more invitation and opened our homes?

What would happen...
         if we just opened our hearts to one more?

This Christmas...  lets refine our definition of family and expand our holiday to reach just one more.  Together we can share the love of Christ with a hurting and desperate world on the most significant of days.

As we celebrate Love's entrance into the world, let us honor that moment by pouring out the same love on a broken society.  Can there be any greater testimony to the work that Christ has done in us?

This Christmas...

           What would happen...
                          if we reached out?

Searching for Contributing Writers...

We are moving into an interesting phase in our family life.  It seems like the past year has been full of change and new commitments.  In particular, we see this coming spring as being very full.  We're moving into a new season and are excited to see what the Lord will do as he's stretching us.  

I am currently looking for contributing writers for Creative2xmom. I have decided to open my blog up for some amazing ladies to contribute on a variety of topics that Creative2xmom usually touches on. I'm excited to hear your unique perspectives and insights on life. It will also give me a chance to step back and spend more time with my kids.

This is a win-win situation for contributing writers as well. It gives us both a chance to introduce our readers to new writers, and the contributing writers a chance to write for a new audience. It's a challenge to learn and grow in voice and ideas. It's a great way to increase your blog traffic and network with other bloggers.

I'm hoping to find guests bloggers whose commitment can range anywhere from once a month, up to once every 3 months.

Topics I'd most like to include:

Pursuing Jesus
Real/Traditional/Nourishing foods (nutrition topics, as well as recipes)
Kitchen tips and techniques
Gardening and raising your own food
Infant, child care, and parenting (from a Christian perspective)
Homemaking and home management
Good stewardship/Natural living from a Christian perspective
Food preserving (canning, dehydrating, root cellars)
Homeschooling (particularly in young children)
Crafts and home decor
Strengthening your marriage
Party planning

If you have topics in mind that don't quite fit in, just ask me and I'll let you know what I think.

Please email me via the contact form if you're interested.

I think you'll find that I'm easy going to work with, and I would love to have you join the team at Creative2xmom!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Made by Me Monday

Hey everyone,
How was your weekend?  Are you enjoying all the fun activities that pop up in December?  Or are you reveling in the warm of the fireplace and a good book?

Either way, I hope this past weekend found you relaxed and energized.

We had a full weekend.  My husband's work Christmas party was the weekend and it was wonderful to see how they created a family event.  We love taking our kids with us wherever we go, so it was nice to see them included.

Then my friend, Laura, created a Christmas craft party for the kids on Sunday afternoon.  She's always so creative and I look forward to sharing some photos with you later this week.  She did a wonderful job and my kids were very delighted to be invited.

As for me, I also completed another Christmas present.  An I Spy bag for Noah.  I've been wanting to do one for quite some time now.  But I'm a horrible sewer.  So I had my mom help me a little while I was home for Thanksgiving and I just finished it this weekend.  Come back on Friday and it will be featured in our 12 Weeks of Christmas post.

For now, let's start linking up.  Write a blog post highlighting your project with a link back here so that others can join in on the fun.  Then link up below to the blog post itself.  You can post more than one project; just add more than one link.  So let's start partying!

*Disclaimer: Linked to these Parties

Lee's To Do List

I love this Rice Heat Therapy Bag (@ Sew, Mama, Sew).  The material is beautiful and it would make a great gift idea.

In case your searching for more Altered Clipboards, here are several variations (@ Frugal Girls).  These are so adaptable to the recipient and so much fun to make.

I'm dying to make these Chocolate Gingerbread Bars (@ Martha Stewart) with the kids.  They've been wanting to make gingerbread and read Gingerbread Friends.  What a fun activity for a winter evening!

In the past several months, I've found myself referring to this post over and over again: Raising Kids with a Heart for the World (@ Passionate Homemaking).  With all the conversations that have been coming up about the origins of Christmas, I'm reminded that this is so important.
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