Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Wishes for You...

This past weekend didn't go exactly as planned.

Thinking the rest of us were in the clear, I couldn't resist snapping this pitiful yet precious picture. If ever you see this child of ours so still for such a long period of time, you know something must be wrong. Very wrong. And so it was for our whole family, as one by one, we all came down with the 24-hour stomach bug. I won't even begin to tell you how we felt when Maddie got sick for her first time! Last night and today are much better, though, and we're celebrating with strumming some "Away in a Manger" (how I wish you could hear her sing it!)and with lots of fruits and veggies to boost immunity. Yep, fruits and veggies-- but also maybe some first tastes of "hot chock-it" by the tree... for breakfast. :)

We also want to wish you a beautiful Christmas celebration, full of moments you won't soon forget. Twinkling lights, sweet treats, the sound of laughter, plenty of hugs around your neck, and maybe even some fresh fallen snow. The setting in which miracles can happen. How comforting to remember this truly is the season of miracles, starting with the one that came so many years ago in a humble stable under a shining star.

So, from the two miracles in our home to yours, have a healthy holiday season and...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Do You See What I See?

I feel like a little kid, but THAT is what it started doing here just a little while ago and quite unexpectedly! Hope is beside herself to see the real thing, and we are all waiting on coats and mittens for Daddy to get home soon so we can play. (Please help us pray as he and Dave are on the interstate between here and the big city up north!)

As long as everyone gets home safely, what a beautiful reminder of Christmastime!

Christmas Cents

Like a friend of mine recently said, we can get wildly sentimental this time of year probably in part due to all those too flawless Christmas specials. I admit it; I am sucker for making memories. I dream up all kinds of ways to do so; some turn out better than I envisioned, and others are a total flop. But we tend to learn a lot along the way!

One thing holds true in all our memory making; usually we're quite mindful not to break the bank. This causes us to get creative, which is part of the fun. We've participated in or dreamt up cookie exchanges, mini progressive dinners (stop laughing, Becki), small town parades, giving parties (turning a normal party into a chance to make things for those who are less fortunate), loads of baking for affordable gifts, and the like. Maybe some of the rest of you can relate. If you can, here's a question; Did you know that all it takes sometimes is a trip to your friendly, neighborhood library? Seriously. It can be one happening spot.

Just the other night we got to meet THE Sugar Plum Fairy. The kids were encouraged to wear their pajamas, and this worked out beautifully since Auntie Marcie sent us a package with two cute pairs that very day (MWA!) We were a few minutes late to the performance (shocker, I know) and we made a grand entrance.

Moments inside the door Hope forgot all about the Sugar Plum Fairy and instead announced loudly to everyone, "There's NUTCRACKER!" The room softly chuckled. Then not to miss a beat, she also noticed all the other kids had cookies and juice; I scurried to get some before it was known what she thought about that too. When it was all said and done, though, she quietly settled on my lap and seemed sweetly enchanted by all the dancers.

Afterwards, still in awe, you can see by her face she didn't quite know what to think of all the costumed fanciness. One thing was clear; it was hard to get her to part from the Nutcracker, even giving "it" a shy hug. (Ironic since "it" seemed to scare the pjs off most of the other kiddos!) Maddie was so amazed she just slept and slept until it was all over; then she looked like it was the greatest ballet she'd ever not seen. Oh, those girls!

Then, we all know how most mall Santas can be with their long lines and expensive picture taking... it is also possible your library is friends with the North Pole. Ours apparently has those cool connections because we just took the girls there today to meet St. Nick. Hope was so proud that she actually sat in his lap, even reminding herself "better not cry" just like the song says. :)Again enchantment and awe, running Mommy ragged, memories upon memories, AND everyone ready to go down for long naps at the end of it all (thus, the reason for this post... they're BOTH asleep and one is in her bouncer in the kitchen where I desperately need to be doing a bunch of stuff!)

I would be remiss if I didn't mention this just in case Dolly Parton ever reads our blog, which I'm sure is more likely than I think... In our state, as long as you sign your kid up through a partnership with local libraries, she sends a free book each month until the fifth birthday. If I liked math more I'd tell you how many books that is, but in two words for us-- A BUNCH! In fact, when we got home from seeing Santa we had a new one waiting in our mailbox. So, thank-you Mrs. Parton and MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Now that I'm done with my public service announcement (you'd think I was a reading teacher or something) I say go grab your library's calendar, a local paper, and/or some friends and get to that memory making. Do tell... what has been one of your favorite little bargains of a best time this season?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Come On In!

Were you really at our front door we'd tell you how glad we are to see you and offer you something warm to drink while we showed you around. Since this is the best we can do given our limitations, "Welcome!" and don't burn your mouth on that steaming hot mug of cyber cider or cocoa. With that and a smile-- hope you enjoy following us through our winter wonderland of hand-me-downs, after the season collected treasures, and most importantly to us-- some of our favorite traditions.

Soon as you come through our front door, you'll see my early Christmas present- a little entry table we found at a steal that just begs to be decorated. Right now it holds the family Bible we got for our wedding, which is marked by a special handkerchief given to me when my Mamaw passed (I always remember her reading to me out of her huge black Bible with the big letters). The spot is Luke's account of the Christmas story, and we read out of this Bible every Christmas Eve just before bedtime. Among the other trinkets on the table is one of my favorite pictures taken in our yard before fall turned to winter. I call it my "Christmas Toes" picture (Sarah, I just heard your rendition of "Christmas Shoes" in my head and laughed out loud!)

Under the table holds an old crate with some silver balls and another tradition-- the collecting of one special Christmas book every year. You've already seen Hope reenacting the one she picked out this time, but I've been doing this for a while now. These books only come out after Thanksgiving and each holds such a special message.

Then, of course, there is the tree! Back when Joe and I started dating, we began buying or making each other an ornament. Now we pick one out as a family every year that is representative of the past 365 days. The last two Christmases the below ornaments pretty much sum up what's been significant to us! I also started picking out one ornament for each of the girls that will be safely tucked away until they are ready to have their own trees. Hope fell in love with this manger scene, and I thought it was more than appropriate for this year's choice since she now knows about the Baby Jesus.

The nativity scenes are also really special. We put the one Joe's parents gave us on top of the armoire my Dad made, and we have another little one given to us for our wedding right in the family room near Hope's level. My friend Julie gave us the great idea of waiting to put Baby Jesus in the manger until Christmas morning. That way we check each day to see if He's "been born" yet!

In the family room you also find the stockings and the mantle, both of which are great fun to me since I'm all about little surprises. I always reuse odds and ends from our wedding decorations, but this year I added some magnolia greenery from the backyard along with some of my favorite verses. I simply burnt the edge of the papers to give them that old feel. I really wanted to get us new stockings, but it wasn't really in the budget. Then, lo and behold, Grandma Martins called to see if there was a little something she could get the girls. Umm, YES!, and this is what we found to go along with the mantle. I tear up often when I look at them for whatever reason.

Don't worry, Tucker has a stocking too... thanks to my Mom several years back when she found this one that looks just like him!

Not even bathrooms or kitchens are off limits... Santa-Meet-John and peppermints are festive enough, don't you think? Here are some more details from here to there.

One of the best parts about this year is how we've told Hope all of this decorating is for Jesus' big birthday party! She's not the only one who can't wait.

Thanks for looking around and enjoying this time of year with us...

...until you come again! And in the meantime, share with us some of your favorite decorations or traditions. No matter how big or small, fancy or simple-- we'll be sure to bring our mugs along with us and enjoy yours too!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Through Their Eyes

I think we've mentioned before on here how much we love having kids to remind us to see the world through their eyes. Our first Christmas with Hope was unforgettable...

...but now that she's getting it (and has a little friend for life to share it with)-- it's really like getting to relive childhood all over again.

For instance...
I'll never forget when my parents gave me my own small bedroom tree. My mom was a restaurant supervisor at the time, so I made my ornaments out of her waitress tickets and just about anything else I could find. A few years back I bought a few of these mini trees for about a dollar a piece. I've been just waiting to give one to each of our kids; this year we helped Hope decorate hers and she was mesmerized!

Then we snuck back in later that night to watch her soundly sleeping by those sweet, twinkling lights. There is something so precious about watching the girls at peace like that.

We can hardly make a trip up the stairs that we don't pause for a show by "Mr. White Christmas."

He's always a crowd pleaser!

Can't leave out the little "friend for life" who will surely be getting it this time next year. For now she's happy to be getting a chance to grab needles off the tree, ornaments, or anything else within her tiny grasp. And we're happy to still keep getting those grins!
Then there are those moments by the family tree in footie pajamas... footie pajamas that were meant for a Christmas present, but some parents we know couldn't wait to see their daughter's face when she opened them! (We didn't give her the hair bands as bracelets; she chose to accessorize with those all her own.)

Two mugs of steaming hot chocolate and a little old school Rudolph, on VHS even, always make a holiday night complete... Okay we admit it, this one was for the adults only. Shhh... please don't tell! In fact, go indulge yourselves!

Here's to hoping your Christmas memories are full of childlike wonder too!