Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Night Santa Rolled Into Town

Our tiny village we live in always kicks the Christmas season off right.  The Friday after Thanksgiving, you know the one that starts with people lining up way early to get a furby and along the way throwing some elbows while running to the shelf, yea that Friday.  Well, fast forward to 7pm, everyone from the village gathers downtown {think Gilmore Girls by the gazebo}.  What I love about this tradition is literally young and old all come out.  You have families with little kids, you get elementary, middle, and high school kids there.  You see lots of college kids hanging out with their old classmates, and you of course have grandparents with their grandchildren visiting for the holidays there.  It's like a giant reunion with the whole village. 

We get the night started with singing Christmas carols, the annual town hall tree lighting, and at the same time lighting all the trees and shops that line the main street in the village, and then the loud speakers play "Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus right down Santa Claus lane..."  And you find yourself singing along with the crowd even though you told yourself and your spouse you were going to.  I guess there is something just magical about Christmas lights, people gathered around in community, and seeing Santa roll in on a firetruck.  I mean seriously, who could contain that joy. 

It's been fun going each year, this being our third year.  The first year I was uber pregnant with Lucy, like due the next day pregnant, last year it was unseasonably warm, and Lucy hung out on Eric shoulders most of the night, and this year it was freezing!  So Lucy stayed home with grandma and papa while Molly got a night of mom and dad to herself.  No matter the year or circumstances, I still find myself as giddy as the little kid next to me.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Miscellany Monday

1. Thanksgiving has come and gone and now the Christmas countdown has begun!  I love this time of year and I love seeing how everyone decorates their trees and houses. 

2. Thanksgiving was nice and relaxing at our house!  Eric cooked, which he loves to do, and the rest of us played and relaxed.  It was unseasonably warm here so we played outside and took lots of walks, because Friday it was like 20 degrees! 

3. We put the tree up on Thanksgiving night, since we celebrate Christmas with my mom and step-dad early.  Molly loved helping and Lucy really wanted nothing to do with it until it was done.  So far she hasn't damaged the tree too much.  Her little curious hands have ripped a couple ornaments off, but nothing too bad!
4. Friday morning grandma and papa made Molly's dreams come true...she opened a Barbie Dream House.  This thing is massive, 3 stories, elevator, kitchen, shower, the works!  Both girls have had fun playing with it and making everything make noise and testing out all the switches and buttons. 
5. Lucy's mommy dreams came true when she received a bitty baby from grandma and papa.  Lucy loves 3 things right now, dressing up, babies, playing in her kitchen.  She does all 3 all day long and at the same time all day long.  She is a little domestic diva.

6. I was extremely surprised to open up a Cricut Expressions 2 on Friday morning.  Both sets of my parents had me totally fooled, so I have been playing around with that and even made a banner for Lucy's birthday party.

7. We have made great progress on Lucy's party, still more to go, but I am feeling pretty good about it. 

8. Back to the daily grind today, work for me, no school for Molly, and parent teacher conferences tonight.  I took an unintentional break from the computer the last couple of days and it was nice!  I lose track of time when family comes in to town, and it felt good!  Now it's back to reality!
 My mom and the girls
 Molly {age 5}
Lucy {age almost 2}

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thankful for Denny

When I first started dating Eric so many moons ago my mom told me one night, "look at his dad, if you are okay with that, then you will be okay."  At first I thought she meant looks, which I think Eric's dad is cute in that dad sort of way.  But now, many moons later, I realize she means a lot more than looks.

Eric's dad, Denny, is a truly unique person.  He is about the most loyal guy that I have ever met, he is funny, and although we tease him about his narcoleptic ways, he is easy going {most days, ha!}.  Denny has this amazing ability to fall asleep while watching Jeopardy and still get all the answers right when he talks in his sleep!  He can also shuffle and deal cards all while sleeping at the table.  Truly talented :)

But in all seriousness, I love Denny, my dad-in-law to death.  He has always been there for me, any time I call, or show up on his doorstep asking him to fix my car tires, or crying because I hit my first squirrel while driving.  See, Denny doesn't have girls, he raised 3 boys and I was the first girl to really stick around the family.  Now he is inundated with girls!  But he loves all of us.

I have had a lot of firsts with Eric's family, and they have been through a lot of firsts with Eric and me.  I won't forget how happy Denny looked at our wedding, and the pride beaming from his face when he held Molly for the first time.  They drove down to the hospital bright and early anticipating spending the whole day with their new granddaughter, well Molly had other plans.  They waited outside my room ALL day, they held her for a little bit, then had to leave to go home.  And I am sure Eric's parents would do it all again.  Same with always helping us fix something or making something for us.  Denny always takes care of us.

Why sentimental all the sudden?  Denny had back surgery last week, and it didn't go so well.  On Friday night we were all a little down right terrified, and praying really hard.  Thoughts flooded my heart and mind about Denny.  How even though we give him a hard time, he always means well, he always loves without judging, he is always there for you, he will be loyal to you forever, he will fight for you, he will do whatever it takes for you to be okay.  Even though he looks tough on the outside, he is a big softy.  Especially when it comes to one of his girls.

In the season of thankfulness, I am thankful for all of our family, but today I am especially thankful for Denny, my dad.  

Monday, November 19, 2012

Miscellany Monday

Just another Miscellany Monday around here...

1. Thanksgiving is this week!  I love Thanksgiving, it's right up there with some of my favorite holidays, you know right behind my birthday!  {Just kidding, my birthday is not a real holiday, but in my head and heart it is.}  We were going to go out to eat for Thanksgiving, but I think we have decided to stay home and make a traditional feast.  I look forward to the leftovers!

2. My mom and step-dad are flying in Wednesday to celebrate Thanksgiving and an early Christmas with us.  I am so excited to see them!

3. Grandparents = extra hands and help with the girls!  This may excite me the most!

4. I wrapped Christmas presents last night and it got me all excited!

5. I can't wait until Thanksgiving night, that is when we will put our tree up and start to decorate our house...trying to keep Lucy from pulling all the ornaments off will be a Christmas miracle this year.  So don't judge if you see our tree and all the ornaments are at the top!

6. Our tiny little village has a Christmas kick-off on Friday night, Santa comes in on a firetruck and everyone gathers down in the little village square to sing Christmas carols and watch Santa come in.  I love it because everyone young and old comes out and enjoys a night together.  It's so much fun and something we look forward to every year.  Hopefully it won't be too cold!   

I think that's all, sorry for no pictures!  Have a great week!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Gift Giving with a Purpose

I know it's not even Thanksgiving yet, so don't throw stones, but I wanted to share some great places/organizations to get gifts for the special people in your life.  A couple years ago I really felt the pull to give gifts with meaning or purpose.  I still love to give fun gifts, but I also feel like hardly anyone needs anything, so why get another pair of socks, or wallet when you can actually give something with a great purpose behind it.  Now, I know what some are thinking because I thought/think it, is expensive.  You are right, it can be expensive, or be more than you wanted to spend on your aunt or mom.  Think of it this way, you are giving an investment.  I would rather get one thing that has a huge meaning behind it, than a ton of little piddly things that I might not use anyways. 

So here some organizations that you can get awesome gifts from, and they are not limited to Christmas, you can shop at all these places year round...enjoy!   

Avodah Coffee was founded by Jordan and Jessica Heights.  "Our purpose is to combine our passion for coffee with our passion for missional living.  We desire to offer upscale luxury quality coffee at an everyday affordable price, and make the world a better place through our business."  Awesome, seriously!  A portion of the proceeds from each bag of coffee sold goes to a different organization.  Click the link and go read more, then buy coffee! 

You all know my love and passion for this organization.  We bought these paper hearts last year for multiple people in our family, and they all loved them!  We have also bought a ton more from the shop, and we are always satisfied with the products.  Here is their mission statement: "The Mercy House exists to provide alternative options for pregnant girls living in the streets of Kenya. The Mercy House will aid them in education, nutrition, housing, prenatal care, Bible study, counseling and job skills for sustainable living."  All the money made from the sales in the shop go right back to the ladies at the Mercy House.  Click the link and support these beautiful people!

"Our passion at Noonday Collection is to connect you with the lives of artisans struggling for a better future while styling you along the way. Fashion and design are a vehicle for opportunity and change. You, too, can be a voice for the oppressed!"  I have never personally purchased anything from this organization, but after Christmas this year, that statement will no longer be true!  Plus, I have many friends who have bought items from here and they all love them. 

Sevenly is a great company..."Sevenly’s mission is to harness the power of art and community to build sustainable awareness and funding movements that support charities in their efforts to change the world."  Each week Sevenly supports a different cause and for $7 you can buy a t-shirt to help that cause.  Hello, $7!  That's like a value meal at the golden arches, you can totally do that. 

You all are in for a treat!  The MOB Society just released this little bag today, how awesome!  The wonderful ladies over there are working with an organization called Freeset"Freeset is a fair trade business and ministry that sells bags and t-shirts, made by women freed from human trafficking in Calcutta, India. The women are able to have a job with dignity, making products, instead of being the product. Every woman receives three times the wage they would receive in line (the prostitution line), learns to read and write, receives daycare for their children, and has medical insurance and retirement benefits."  The MOB Society is working to sell 250 bags, because once 250 has been reached 4 woman will be rescued from trafficking!  Who couldn't use another tote like this?!  Order one for you and for your friends!  

I hope I have given you all a little bit of encouragement to really give gifts with a purpose this year! 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How to Make a Blessing Ring

After I had Lucy my mom made me a blessing ring.  I had never heard of one or seen one before, but they are such a sweet gift!  They are so unique because they are handmade, and everyone does things a little different.  Another great thing about the blessing ring is it transcends all gift giving occasions.  It can be given at baby and wedding showers, birthdays, weddings, births, Christmas, you name it, you can give it.  You also can get the kids involved in this gift, which I love.

The supplies are simple, this gift won't break the bank, and you can make it simple or fancy, it's all up to you. 

Here are some step by step pictures...
 I bought these at Michael's, but you can get them almost anywhere.  You also can use your own paper, I just like these tags with the reinforced holes so they won't rip or tear.  The metal circle is a simple necklace out of the jewelry section. 
 Now is the time to put all those pins to good use on your quotes board!  Use quotes, Bible verses, inspirational sayings.  Write whatever you want on the tags that fits the occasion for the gift.
 Place the tags on the metal circle...
 Cut ribbon, fabric, or tulle to whatever lengths you want, and place them where you want on the metal necklace.  You can put as many pieces on as you want.  I like the fuller look, but I have also made some a little less full, too.  The ring will get fuller once they add all the blessings to it.   
 Then on a card, tag, or piece of paper write out this saying...
  And there you have it~ a beautiful blessing ring! 

I love giving this gift to new brides, new moms, and baby's first birthdays!  It's thoughtful and fun to make!  I love looking through quotes and scriptures to share.  You also can make yourself one for Christmas, punch a hole in the cards you get in the mail and add it to your ring.  Decorate it with fun colorful ribbon or fabric, and display it for all to see! 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Miscellany Monday

In no particular order...

1. Yesterday my brother would have been 37 years  I feel like that's old, especially when he passed away at 22.  Lots of thoughts have flooded my mind over the last couple of days, like what would he look like, what would he be doing, did he marry that girl, kids or no kids, where would he be living, you know all those what-ifs.  But then I look at my own life and think, who would I be if he was still here, what would I be doing, would I have married him, etc.  Sometimes it's fun for me to think about my brother, what he would say about me marrying a pastor, or how I raise my kids, because I know he would spoil my girls just rotten, and other times I get just down right sad.  Grief, it's a funny thing, it never leaves you, it blows like the wind.  Happy Birthday big brother.

2.  Onto a lighter planning for Lucy's second birthday is well under way, and by that I mean, oh crap!  It's all in my head, I just need to get it down on paper and start working!  It's Lucy's golden birthday (2 on the 2nd) so we are going all out {insert husband eye roll here}.  I don't care if she won't remember it, she can look at the pictures.  We only do parties on the even years in our family, so I feel like it's only right to make this party for her golden birthday a bash!  It's going to be 2 more years before she gets another party, geeze {insert husband deep sigh here}.

3.  Tomorrow I will be posting an awesome craft that you can give for so many occasions!  I will be posting it here and on Pinterest, so pretty please check it out and re-pin!  Seriously, this is a great craft turned gift, and it will knock your socks off by the ease and specialness it packs! 

4.  Tonight I am chatting with my gals from my Virtual Community Group...we are all pastor's wives and we connect once a month through Google+, it's awesome!  I love our time together and look forward to our chats each month!

5.  I can not believe Thanksgiving is next week, what?!  Then Christmas, then New Years, wow!  But I love this time of year and I don't mind Christmas displays set up at the stores, it makes me giddy!

6.  Have y'all checked out this new site called Together in 10, seriously, click the link and head over there!  It's awesome!

7.  Christmas shopping is under way at our house, we have our first exchange next week with my mom and step-dad.  I love buying gifts for people, like seriously love it!   

I think that's all for this miscellany day!  Have a great Monday, friends! 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Operation Christmas Child

I can't wait to show you our shoe boxes that we packed this year for Operation Christmas Child!  What is Operation Christmas Child {OCC} you might ask, well, it's a ministry that Samaritan's Purse has that gives Christmas boxes to kids in 3rd world countries, and around the world in general.  Go here to learn all the details and read the stories! 

Eric and I have been participating in OCC for years, but it's gotten more fun now with our own kids!  Molly got it a little bit last year, and this year she was begging us to get going on it!  Even Lucy had fun packing our shoe boxes.  The great thing about this project is you don't have to have kids at home or at all to participate!  It's truly not about you or your family, it's about the little boy or girl across the world who is going to open their shoe box and see and know love.  They will feel cared for and thought of, and truly at Christmas time isn't that what anyone wants. 

So grab your empty shoe boxes, or go buy a pair if you must in order to have a shoe box!  I didn't have that excuse this year!  We actually have been hoarding shoe boxes in the basement.  Another great thing about this project is the overall cost.  It really won't break your bank!  We got most of our stuff at the Dollar Tree, Target Dollar Spot, and sales through out the year, like after school started.  Crayons, stickers, pencils, some of these kids have never seen those before!  That's what I love, so simple, yet so meaningful! 

The OCC site has a ton of ideas for you, and also things you should not send.  Check it out!  The collection dates are coming soon, like next week!  So get on this quick, quick, quick!  But it's so worth it!  You can also track your package and see where it lands!  And we love that we can choose a little girl that is Molly's age to receive one of our boxes!  This is a win-win ministry project!  Seriously, how can you not love it?!  

Here are some pictures of us packing our first two shoe boxes!

I can't wait to see your shoe boxes all packed!  Have fun!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Some More Ohio Fun

Our trip to Ohio was very quick this past weekend, but we managed to have a little fun too!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Welcome to the Family

This past weekend we traveled back to Ohio for a wedding. My brother-in-law {Eric's oldest brother} was getting married! I am thrilled to have a sister-in-law, something I thought would never happen. So we made a quick 48 hour trip back to the Buckeye State for this fun occasion.

Here are some pictures from our time at home, and welcome to the family, Brittany!