Thursday, December 31, 2009

My year

Whew. I just worked out and I think I pulled my epidermis.

As I sat and tried to pull up some photos from this year earlier today, it hit me how incredibly uneventful our year really was. Which I guess can be good and bad- good because it means no traumatic things have happened; bad because the year flew by with nothing monumental on our plates. It is what it is.

To be honest, this year was not my favorite. Actually, it was one of my least favorites. We started it off with moving to a much smaller house in February (which I can't complain about, because we were living in one of the nicest houses I've ever laid eyes on, and we really didn't deserve it). My husband's company, that had been so blessed from day one, went out of business and we were left with nothing. Three years living high on the hog (to sounds like a grammy), to barely being able to afford groceries. Or, to have to make the choice between rent & electricity. But God's hand is still upon us regardless of our situation (and always will be!) and we are so thankful for the amazing ways He provides for us everyday. It is only by His grace that we still have a roof over our heads and to Him, and Him, alone be the glory.

My absolute favorite memory of the year is our trip to the mountains in February. We had just recently moved and Big Hunk was about to start his new job, so we took advantage of his few last days as a free man, and the free weekend stay in a beautiful Big Bear cabin. It was one of the most wonderful times we've ever shared as a family. No internet, cable or phone- just our sweet foursome and lots of solitude.

My least favorite memory? Hands down, my baby girl getting hurt.

So in no particular order, here are some of my favorite pictures and/or memories of the year.

As I look back on all these photos (and boy, you don't know how many didn't make the cut. I am a little camera happy), I realize that despite all the hardships we've faced this year, it still has been pretty great.

Our year has included {and is partially evidenced in photos above}: moving, a new puppy; Ikey getting her ears pierced on her 5th birthday; swimming; whale watching (which was more awesome than I can even describe); more swimming; baseball; concerts; finally meeting my sweet friend Linny; being written off forever by my sister; more baseball; adopting 2 kittens; saying goodbye to old friendships; embracing new friends... did I miss anything? How in the world I can look at all that and think my year was boring is a mystery. ;) All that to say, we are a busy folk and I love my life.

Happy New Year!

{and my main goal for 2010 is to be more on top of things. guess i'm already succeeding because hello, I posted this all in one sitting, rather than hitting save and walking away for a day or three. go me!}

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Donde esta Santa Clees, the vato with the bony knees?

We had a great, mellow Christmas. And while I'm writing this the kids are playing with Mikey's new Robosapien he bought with his T@rget gift card & months worth of allowance I owed him. listening to him burp & fart and all the other things 7 year olds love. (FYI: we paid a gazillion times less than the listed $174, which makes me want to buy 5 and sell them on the black market).

Big Hunk had to work Christmas Eve, so after he got off we headed to church. With no childcare. That should be outlawed. Because while I know tons of kids across the country are totally used to attending church with their parents in the main sanctuary in the land of quiet, my kids? Not so much. And it results in lots of "whispering" (because how many 5 year olds do you know are successful at that?) and grinding my teeth while singing Joy to the World. But it was a beautiful service and ended with an a cappella rendition of Silent Night that made me cry. Holding my baby girl as we sang in unison with 100 strangers of the birth of our Savior. Unforgettable.

After church we spent time at my friend's house where we enjoyed lots of food and the kids had a blast running from one end of the house to the other, so what more needs to be said? Their needs were met.

We ended the night reading the Christmas Story and lying in bed together. And I only stayed up till 2am cleaning for the next day.

Christmas morning the kids woke up and we opened presents. Thanks to the economy we had a very modest Christmas, but I kinda like it that way. Only a few gifts to each kid (and one to BH & I) but you know, I find it so much easier to keep their minds on Jesus and why we're celebrating when the tree isn't overflowing with gifts. Seriously, what kid is going to look at the gifts and think "they're not important, that's not what this is about"? ;-) But they got stuff they loved and we kept it simple. And truthfully, they don't need tons of stuff that is going to last 2 months before breaking or getting tossed aside. {I'm not trying to show you what a saint I am, because honestly, I was bummed that day that BH & I had gotten just one thing each, and it made me feel totally poor. And unloved. So I did have my *very* selfish moments. But I'm just keeping it real.}

My parents & two uncles came over around noon, and we waited hours before the ham was ready. Apparently I need to buy a new meat thermometer, because BOTH of mine kept telling me the ham wasn't ready. Which resulted in many Christmas movies and munchies before we actually ate dinner. But it was good and uneventful. Not like my kitchen after dinner. And after no one helped me clean up. Except BH because he could see the steam coming from my ears.

All in all, it was a great Christmas. My SIL & nephew came over (with her boyfriend) on Sunday and we got to do it all over again. I'm sorry, but any time I can have sweet potatoes smothered (and I do mean smothered) in butter and marshmallows is a darn good day.

I went outside last night and enjoyed the cool breeze and clear, starry sky, reflecting on how in the world it could already be New Year's? I'm still baffled. It feels like it should be October, not approaching a New Year with Christmas long gone. Before you know it, I'll be complaining about the summer heat and planning birthday parties. Craziness.

MckLinky Blog Hop

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Night of Nights

Merry Christmas!!

Am the only one in total denial that it's Christmas Eve already? And well, the mid-60's weather doesn't help to set the stage for hot cocoa, obnoxious sweaters and a steamy kitchen that's been baking all day. {not that i'm complaining, what with the mid-west being threatened by blizzards and all.}

Big Hunk was supposed to be able to close up shop whenever he wanted today, but turns out they can't close till 4pm (2 hours early). Being my house still needs a huge touch from Mr. Clean though, I will take any extra time I can get. I was up until 1:30 this morning baking, cleaning and wrapping {and boy are my arms tired!} but it's amazing how much still needs to be done. Which is exactly why I'm sitting here typing.

I'll give you a hint why I need this break. 4 stores, 3 hours, 2 kids.

Yeah, told you.


Last year I bought this really awesome 90 day devotional by Beth Moore, and I loved it so much I wanted to do it again. {you seriously have to get it. it is SO amazing.} So when I was reading the other day, I was brought to tears by Beth's thoughts on what might have been going on that one precious night a young virgin gave birth to our Savior. It's long, but I loved it and I think it will truly touch your heart.

Her body lay sapped of strength, her eyes were heavily closed, but her mind refused to give way to rest. She ached for her mother. She wondered if she yet believed her. She heard the labored breathing of the man sleeping a few feet from her. Only months before he was little more than a stranger to her. She knew only what she had been told and what she could read in occasional shy glances. She had been told he was a good man. Over the last few days, she found out he was far more than a good man. No man, no matter how kind, could have done what he had done. She wondered how long it had been since he'd really rested. 

A calf, only a few days old, awakened hungry and could not find its mother. The stir awakened the baby who also squirmed to find His mother. Scarcely before she could move her tender frame toward the manger, He began to wail! She scooped Him in her arms, her long hair draping His face, and she quietly slipped out of the gate. She gingerly sat down and leaned against the outside of the stable, propped the baby on her small lap, and taking a strip of linen and tying back her hair, she began to stare into His tiny face. She had not yet seen Him in the light. She had never seen the moon so bright. The night was nearly as light as the day. Only hours old, His chin quivered, not from the cold, but from the sudden exposure of birth. His eyes were shaped like almonds and were as black as the deepest well. She held Him tightly and quietly hummed a song she'd learned as a child. She had been so frightened of this moment, so sure she would not know what to do. She had never held an infant so small, and He was God, wrapped in soft, infant flesh, with bones so fragile she felt like He could break. She had pictured this moment so many times. What would the Son of the Spirit look like? She never expected Him to look so normal, so common. Must have been the part He inherited from His mother. She was so sure she'd feel terribly awkward. So afraid she'd drop Him- the Messiah- and God would be awfully sorry He had given Him to her! Instead, every fear, every doubt, every inadequacy was momentarily caught up in the indescribable rapture of a mother's affection. 

She remembered asking Elizabeth things she dared not ask her father and mother. Once when they were walking together at the end of the day, the wind blew her cousin's robes against her, and like a curious teenager, Mary tried her hardest to catch a good glimpse of Elizabeth's rounded middle. At the time she herself had no physical evidence that God's promise was true. But she had enough faith to ask endless questions. What am I to do when He comes? Her cousin's reply would remain etched upon Mary's heart long after He had saved the world. He will tell you what He needs from you. Beyond what He needs, all He wants is for you to embrace Him and talk to Him.

She looked back into His delicate face and watched Him closely as He seemed to stare deeply into the moonlit sky. And she began to talk. "Sweet baby boy. Do You know who Your Daddy is? Do you know Your name? Do you know why You're here? What do You see when You look out there? Can You see the stars? Do You remember their names? Do You think I'll do OK? Will You love me too?" A tear dropped from her chin to His. He yawned and made such a funny expression she grinned, wiping her face on the yellowed rags she'd draped around Him. The fussing calf had obviously found its mother. Not a sound was coming from inside the stable. The earth stilled. The infant slept. She held the babe next to her face, and for just a moment, all the world was silent to the breath of God.

She closed her eyes and listened, stealing time like a hidden metronome, as high and as wide as she dared to think, but she still could not begin to comprehend. She, a common child of the most humble means who had never read the Scriptures for herself, was embracing the incarnate Word. The fullness of the Godhead rested in her inexperienced arms, sleeping to the rhythm of her heart. This time she hummed a song she did not know, a song being sung by the choir of angels hovering over her head but hidden from her carnal senses. The deafening hallelujahs of the heavenly hosts were silent to mortal ears except through the sounds of a young woman's voice who had unknowingly given human notes to a holy score. The glory of God filled the earth. Heaven hammered a bridge, but one young woman sat completely unaware of all that swelled the atmosphere around her. The tiny baby boy had robbed her heart. "So, this is how it feels to be a mother," she mused. 

She crept back into the stable, wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in the manger. Just down the path, the sun peeked gently over the roof of an inn full of barren souls who had made Him no room.


Merry Christmas my dear friends. May Jesus be the center of your celebrations! Today, tomorrow, and everyday.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Camels and airheads

Holy cow. December 17th? Really??


I can't really complain since I'm further on my Christmas shopping than I normally am this time of year (read: I've bought more than one present) and I guess I'm a little more prepared, but I truly feel like every year it comes quicker. I always want to sit back and enjoy the time with my kids but how can I do that when December 25th keeps sneaking up on me?! 8 days people!

Big Hunk and I went shopping this weekend while my parents watched the kids. We've never really been the type to shop separately and really enjoy doing it all together, but it gets increasingly hard with more and more family members dropping off the face of the planet each year and those darn kids climbing out of the trunk every time we lock them in.

Oh I'm just kidding, we tie them up first.

A couple weeks ago the kids & I took a field trip to see Glory of Christmas at the Crystal Cathedral. It was so amazingly beautiful, so I was so excited for Big Hunk to see it soon. Thanks to half-price discount nights, he got his chance Tuesday. And by "tuesday", I mean we got a babysitter, dressed up, and rushed off to Orange County only to find out that my tickets were actually for Thursday and I am a total airhead. {Well we knew about the airhead part.}

Thankfully the staff there was incredibly gracious and immediately switched my tickets over, no questions asked. AND, our seats were even better than the ones I had bought for Thursday. Score! The funniest part of our night- besides my airhead moment- was one of the camels trying to bite anyone that was near him. It smelled like incense in there, so maybe the scent brought him back to his college days and he suddenly had the munchies, I don't know. But it was entertaining.

Now if you have any desire to gain 13 trillion pounds like I am this holiday season, make these cookies. So worth the 50 months of P90X I'll be starting on January 1st.

Camels everywhere love them.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Child

I love Compassion. And truly, the past six months we've sponsored two little boys, Francis {in Africa} & Basil {in Asia}, have changed our lives. We have learned to look outside ourselves a little more. To complain less. To realize how truly blessed we are and how many people across the world would give anything to have even a tenth of what we have. And on the days when I feel down and like everything is falling apart, I think of Basil and the only photo I have of him, showing him barefoot and thin, on the dirt floor of what I presume is his house. Or I think of Francis, who is being raised by a single mom along with his 2 siblings.

But Compassion isn't about pity. It's about hearing that call God has put upon each of our lives when He said "I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me." It's about realizing life is more than just this little bubble we put ourselves in- and that it's not about us at all. Think about it- if we turn our backs on these kids, where else will they hear about Jesus? Who else will cover them in prayer and shower them in love? Can we guarantee someone else will come along and fill in the gap?

This year I signed up for a program with Compassion called "Christmas Child". We were assigned a beautiful little girl that is awaiting Compassion sponsorship, and we promised to pray for her and try to find her a sponsor. I knew all this. What I didn't anticipate was the intense desire to help this little girl that would come over me when I saw her picture.

She's a beautiful little girl. Her name is Winnie Yusuph Hassan and she lives in Tanzania. Her birthday is June 9 and she is 5 1/2 years old. So sweet! This is what her folder says:

Winnie lives with her grandfather and her grandmother. Her grandfather is sometimes employed as a laborer and her grandmother maintains the home. Winnie works at home carrying water, running errands and cleaning. There are 4 children in the family.

Playing house, playing with dolls and jumping rope are Winnie's favorite activities. In kindergarten her performance is average and she also regularly attends church activities and Bible class.

Your love and support will help Winnie to receive the assistance she needs to develop her potential. Please pray for her.

Please please consider (and pray!) sponsoring this sweet girl. The words I've written really don't do her justice.

$38 a month. That's it. $38 to change the life of this sweet thing and show her the love of Jesus. And I forgot to mention- you will get letters and drawings from her at least twice a year (though it can be more! We've heard from Francis at least 4 times in the few months we've sponsored him!) and you will get to write her letters as much as you want. You can send her photos of your family (they treasure them so dearly!) and even bless her with a gift at her birthday and Christmas, or other times if they work better for you. This truly will change your life, I promise you that. Just try me. ;)

If you are interested in sponsoring Winnie, please do not hesitate to leave a message and I will get more info to you. I really really want to get her sponsored by Christmas!

I just have to warn you. Once you sponsor her, your life will never be the same. <3

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My favorite cookies

I am so excited to participate in Jessica's First Annual Cookie Recipe Exchange! Check out the link above for many cool cookie recipes, just in time for your Christmas baking!

But truly, these cookies are WONDERFUL. I have made them so many times and they always get rave reviews. How can you go wrong with a cookie that has peanuts, peanut butter and peanut butter cups?

extra chunky peanut butter cookies

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups chopped Reese's peanut butter cups
1 cup dry roasted peanuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or lightly grease. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in medium bowl.
Beat peanut butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and butter in large bowl with electric mixer until creamy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add flour mixture; beat until well blended. Stir in chopped candy and peanuts.

Drop dough by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets. Bake about 13 minutes or until set. Cool on cookie sheets 1 minute. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.
Makes about 4 dozen cookies.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Staying afloat

I've been trying desperately to actually update this pathetic blog for over a week now. But I feel like when my home and my life are a disorganized mess, the last thing I can justify is sitting at the computer pounding on the keys. Though most times I think that would be beneficial for my sanity. Or lack of.

So instead? I'm sending this from my phone (along with a photo that has nothing to do with anything) while I let my dishes soak and download a computer program. Oh- and watch the Dancing with the Stars finale that aired NINE DAYS AGO. The chaos knows no bounds. (And I'll casually slip in here that we had a field trip yesterday that I *completely* forgot about, until the coordinator called to give me direction changes. Two hours before it started. Doesn't matter that I had been looking forward to this field trip for weeks. Chaos.)

So yeah. I'm trying to find the bottom of paperwork stacks that should have been dealt with weeks ago, I'm determined to find that floor that is rumored to be in my office, and I'm trying to get bills in order when I'd much rather let the dust bunnies eat them.