Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Three Lines!!!

Yesterday was a really fun day for us because we found out that we're having a girl!!!

I'm not gonna lie. I really wanted a girl. I've been praying for her to come into our family for awhile now, but really wanted to be just as excited to have another fun, cutie-pie boy. {I guess now we don't get to see what my true reaction would have been, but I like to think it would have been the picture of graciousness. ;) }

We hope to adopt one day, so I just told myself...and Josh....that if we didn't have her biologically we would adopt her. In fact, I think my exact words to him were (after enduring a lot of flatulence at my dinner table *again* one night), "You WILL get me a girl. Either biologically or by WILL get me a girl."

I love when God does what I want Him to! We are seriously, SO thankful for a healthy baby ....and, according to the nice tech, we have a very fiesty girl who would barely stay still for her pictures, shoved her head up against the camera over and over and then kicked me with Mia Hamm force. I don't know where in the world she would get that from. ;)

Sorry for the quality of these pictures. They were taken with my sad phone camera.

{Grammie helping Isaiah sound out the word "girl" on the picture.
Once he figured it out, he ran around the house, jumping on the couches
and doing a happy dance for at least 10 mins.
He REALLY wanted a baby sister and has been convinced that's
what we were having all along. I can't wait
to show her the video one day.
He's already a precious older brother to her.}

{At this point, Isaiah was having a melt down and Manny
was the excited older brother. Is this how it's going to
play out?}

{Our beloved Zoe Brennon}

Friday, November 25, 2011

My (Slightly) Simpler Christmas Plan

I have been thinking about this so much lately. This idea of a meaningful, quieter and simpler Christmas is something that has eluded me and my family every year. Not that I'm complaining....we are so blessed to have both mine AND Josh's family 15 mins away (including extended family). Our boys enjoy time with their grandparents on a weekly basis and are growing up calling their cousins "best friends." I absolutely LOVE this. It's important to me and I can see how it has enriched our lives in countless ways.

Having said that :) .... one of the challenges of living so close to our families is balancing our holidays between them. Here's how it looks right now:

Thanksgiving: every year we alternate who we spend it with. This year was our year to be with Josh's family. Next year we will be with my family, etc.

Christmas Eve: we arrive at my aunt's house (all extended family on my mom's side come) around 3pm for our yearly tradition of singing, eating, my grandmother reading the Christmas story, opening presents, etc. At around 5:30 we leave and head to Josh's parents' house (30 mins away) for their tradition of Josh's mom fixing a huge dinner and all us kids and grand kids being together and opening presents with each other. This is my most favorite day of the year!

Christmas Day: as soon as we can get up, we head over to my parent's house for a wonderful breakfast and Christmas Morning Cappuccino (I'll have to post the recipe later) and then us kids and grand kids open presents with my parents. At noon we round ourselves up and go to have a big lunch with Josh's extended family. Sometimes (because the morning is so rushed) we go back to my parent's house and spend the rest of the afternoon and evening.

I'm tired from just writing that.

{Now, I'm sure you practical planners out there already have a million solutions as to how we could do this better (and I'm sure they're great!). I have thought through some big changes that would make things easier too, and we will probably have to implement them in the future (esp with a new baby coming), but for this year at least, this is what we're doing.}

So, one of my dilemma's is carving out our own family time in the midst of this craziness. The other (bigger) dilemma is having time to really reflect and celebrate JESUS (you know, the main character in the story) with the boys. The way we're doing it now, I fear, will only leave them with the impression that Christmas is when we see lots of family, eat lots of food and get LOTS of presents.

My "Miracle on Main Street" Plan:

(We live off of Main St. Get it?)

--use Christmas Eve morning to celebrate Jesus' birthday with canned cinnamon rolls and birthday candles. I love the idea of a simple breakfast everyone will love that requires no prep on my part. This plan, however, will require me to be completely ready for the next 48 hours of festivities by the time we wake up.

--implement the Jesse Tree this year which includes a daily bible reading and short devotion. I'm actually thinking of foregoing the traditional tree in favor of just having a table top Jesse Tree. (I really love how Ann did her decorations so beautifully and simply. Raffia bows with paper snowflakes and popcorn and cranberry garland. Sigh.)

--doing a major pre-Christmas purge. Since we are preparing to fit 5 people into a small house this is a necessity anyway but especially essential when I know that we will be schlepping lots of new gifts home. My plan is to attack the boys toys hard in the next few weeks and pare down to only their very favorites. I plan to donate what we don't keep. Fingers crossed there.

--plan, plan, plan ahead. Have I mentioned that my brother is getting married on December 17th and the boys and I are in it? Yeah... So, I hope to finish up ALL Christmas shopping this week, send out Christmas cards in the next couple of weeks, bake and freeze goodies.... and basically just stay as ahead of the game as I can.

Oh, wouldn't it be wonderful to look back at this season and remember more sweet moments than hectic ones? To really sink into the fact that Jesus came quietly? And that there was no endless flood of people or special deals or tons of merchandise being lugged from house to house? And that Him coming means so much more -- the difference of life and death for us?

I usually look back and am grateful that it's over. I just don't think that was what the Father had in mind for His Son's birthday.

And I really do think it's going to take a miracle to have a peaceful heart in the midst of this season (especially if my little plan doesn't work), but... given His track record... I'm pretty sure He can handle it. :)

Praying for a peaceful heart for you too, friend.

(found here)

{If you're trying for a simpler Christmas this year, I'd love to hear your suggestions}

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pinterest Project: yarn wrapped letters

In my experience, Pinterest can either be inspiring or maddening. There are SO MANY great ideas out there it's very easy to think "I could totally do that" and, before you know it, there's about 237 new projects now on your to-do list.

Enter this little project. I am always looking for very cheap, very cute decorative things to do to my house. My house and I are in a love-hate relationship and so I try to do what I can to make it cute, but on a limited budget. I'm not interested in sinking a lot of money into this house.

I bought the stuff for this several months ago....

I really liked the look of the cute letters and I wanted to add something interesting to the floating shelves in my kitchen so I bought the letters EAT and yarn at my local Hobby Lobby.

The letters are cardboard and were on sale so they were about $1.25 each. I chose a mustard yellow yarn and it was $3-4. LOVE decor that costs under $10 including tax....and I had tons of yarn left over for other projects! (I already had the glue gun and glue sticks.)

There are instructions at the link above, but they're not really all that necessary. I pretty much just started wrapping the letters in yarn and glueing here and there. It was pretty straight forward once I got the hang of it and decided how I wanted to wrap them.

The "A" was a little tricky so I sucked up my pride and looked at her instructions. :) I will say though, it was time consuming. It took me a good couple of hours to finish, but I really, really like how they turned out. :)

If you have cute decor ideas, please share!

I have another completed project and now 236 projects to be completed so I'm sure I'll be sharing about them.


The Thankful Tree 2011

I just realized that I posted about this very same thing last year, but I'm a year older, pregnant and don't remember anything so you'll forgive this similar post, right?

And I'm happy to say that I managed to finally get this done a full week and one day before Thanksgiving. That makes me one day ahead of where I was last year! I'll take it! :)

So, the Thankful Tree? Chances are you've heard of this before, but in case you haven't, the Thankful Tree is just a tool to help us maintain hearts of thankfulness through the Thanksgiving season. The ideal is to start at the beginning of the month. I am not the ideal, but you're reading this must be ok with that. ;)

It's a pretty simple project and great to do with kids. My boys really got into it this year. Here's how we do it:

I usually find some leaf clip art that I cut out and the boys color. When we're done, I punch a hole in the end and then tie some ribbon in the end to make a loop for hanging.

Here's where it gets fun. We sit down and I ask the boys to tell me what they're thankful for as I write each thing on the back of a leaf. I'm always hoping they'll name things like food, shelter, warmth, Jesus dying to take our sins away, etc. You know, deep, spiritual things.

This year I managed to get "myself" ..... from both boys. Oh, and Manny threw in "my head" and "my hair" (he really does have senator hair). So, while they were feeling very thankful for themselves, I prodded us to consider just a few more things they left out. We'll keep working on that.

We had already gathered some branches from outside and put them in a vase so now we hang the leaves on the tree.

The overall goal for us is to take a leaf (or a couple) each day and thank God for what we wrote on it. I put our tree in the niche with some burlap underneath and a few decorative things I had laying around and there you have it!

I'm thinking that in December I'll spray paint the branches white or silver and make it a Jesse Tree. We haven't done that before and I'm pretty excited about it. One of my favorite bloggers, Ann, tells you how to do it in her ebook here.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Hard Moments

I am just about 16 weeks pregnant now and, I have to say, this feels like the hardest of all of them. Now, in full disclosure, I do have pretty easy pregnancies. I don't get very sick, I don't require medication for nausea, I'm not bed-ridden (except by choice) and I am not high risk. So, I feel bad complaining at all because I know women in all of those categories and I think they are freaking champions. Truly.

However, I was expecting to get my energy back around 12 weeks like I normally do, but instead what I have is the ever-shrinking will to live. Not really, but it feels like it. It takes everything I have just to get myself ready in the morning, and if it's a morning that I have to get me AND the boys ready to be somewhere (several times a week)....I am pretty much done for the day by the time we reach our destination.

The real issue here is not just that I have zero energy. It's more that I have zero patience. I apologize to my poor boys at least once a day because the daily norm has caused me to lose my pleasing personality over and over.

And can I be honest? I know this is going to reveal some ugly stuff, but when I spend time with the Lord in the morning and it doesn't "fix" me...I feel robbed a little bit. I REALLY want to be gracious, loving and patient to my kids and not get mad at them for being the sinful little creatures that they are. I want to give them the loving, gracious training they need from me....but in the moment, I lose the battle more than I win it.

I guess somewhere I believe that the end result, me being gracious and patient, is the only proof of God's grace to me when it's hard. And if I'm not those things, somehow I missed out on that grace. Wrong, I know. It's just a little harder for me to swallow that sometimes the grace is that I come to the end of myself and cry out desperately to Him. And sometimes the grace is that we got through the day, it may not have been pretty, but there was (hopefully) confession and forgiveness and Jesus died for it....and tomorrow is a new day.

So, here are some things I'm trying (and plan to try) to implement both before and in the midst of those crazy, rage blackout (as my friend calls it) moments to try to regain some sanity:

--send kids outside to play in the back yard until I can pull it together

--send kids into separate rooms with doors closed until we all calm down

--go Ikea, use the free childcare, get free coffee and sit and read for an hour or so

--pull away (usually locked up in my bathroom) and try to count the gifts of the day that I'm thankful to God for

--confess right there to the boy(s) that Mommy is having a hard time and can we pray together? (pretty much breaks the cycle in my heart immediately)

-- start a pot of water for hot tea and light a yummy scented candle...both very soothing to me

--keep on top of the clutter as much as possible so the house doesn't feel like another stresser

--put on music

--go to the park for awhile and get fresh air

--schedule a coffee date with a friend 1-2 times a month to look forward to

--have verses about God being my help and rest up where I can see them easily

--realize that today is just a particularly hard day and a movie for the boys and pb&j for dinner is ok :)

Got anything to add?

PS...I enjoyed reading this article and I especially love her closing line: "Thank you Lord, for loving my holiness enough to give me kids."