On any special holiday and just random days throughout the year, we make it a point to go “feed the ducks“. Unfortunately for our family there’s a back-story to that. It means we’re visiting my brother-in-law’s grave site. (It always stinks to summarize it like that … I won’t fill in all the details in this post, but you can click here or here to understand what that means us.)Anyhow, I managed to snap some really cute pictures. The ducks were HUNGRY on this particular day!!
A little too hungry!! They snapped at Evan’s finger when he didn’t give them bread quick enough!!
Each Christmas, we take a new ornament to hang on Jeremy’s tree. This year we went with something that both Megan & Evan love!
Because every little tree needs a dinosaur ornament! Holidays are always tough when you’ve lost someone close. We’ve done this every year since Evan was a baby. I really hope it’s a tradition they learn to respect and love. We want Uncle Jeremy to be a part of there lives even though he’s not here with us. I know Pepper hates having to celebrate Christmas with his brother like this, but at the same time I know he appreciates the tradition as well.
I tend to think that no matter the age, most everyone has a little child in them at Christmas time. As we get older it’s probably a combination of excitement for giving that one very special gift but maybe also the surprise or excitement of receiving one as well.
I still go to bed Christmas Eve with a little bit more excitement than most any other night of the year. This Christmas Eve was a little different for us. We had an extended family dinner with my in-laws. It was nice to see everyone – most of which we hadn’t seen since this same time last year. However, it was also sad to find out one of the families was going through a really tough time.
We ended up having unexpected company. We invited two of my husband’s younger cousins to spend the night at our house. We played the Wii, watched a movie, drank Hot Chocolate and just hung out together until early in the morning. It wasn’t how I had planned our family’s Christmas Eve. It wasn’t going to be the way I planned our Christmas Morning.
It was unexpected.
Several years ago, I went to a Vera Bradley Outlet Sale. I purchased a few things for myself but a lot of things to give away as gifts. I had given all of them away over the last year or two with the exception of one cute little cosmetic bag. I had been keeping that one for someone special – but I had no idea who.
Last month we went to a local craft fair. My husband likes to collect unique musical instruments. He found and bought several unique thumb pianos made from really cool wood and gourds to give as gifts. He bought one too many.
Earlier this month my husband ordered one “cute little bible” as I like to call them (for a gift for me); however two arrived. For no apparent reason … it wasn’t even on the order form.
So on Christmas Eve night we had unexpected company. Two young teenagers would wake up in our home on Christmas Morning. They wouldn’t be there long as we’d be taking them back to their parents, but still … it was Christmas Morning … a morning that in my opinion all kids and kids at heart should go to bed with a little bit of excitement and anticipation for the next day.
But it was early in the morning after the movie was over and the Hot Chocolate was gone that my husband and I realized our company wasn’t unexpected at all.
That Vera Bradley cosmetic bag that I had held on to would finally be given to ‘someone special’. That “cute little bible” that just happen to be shipped by mistake would be given to a teenage girl who could be reminded of its promises. And that unique thumb piano that my husband purchased one too many of would be given to a teenage boy who loved music and could use a reminder that someone loved him.
We all woke up under unexpected circumstances this Christmas morning … but I think God was in the details. And none of it was unexpected to him!
I’m a visual learner. Back in my school days, I could remember a lot of things if I studied long enough. But it would typically be just pure memorization & then ultimately I’d forget about it after I took the test. Most of the things I remember for a period of time however, are visual.
Now I grew up in church & at church. If the doors were open, our family was there (and my Dad was always part of the lock-up crew … so we could open those doors whenever necessary!). I was in at least 18 Church Christmas Plays and have probably seen another 18+ on top of that. When I think about the traditional Christmas story, I think …
In a manager.
Riding a Donkey.
To a Barn.
And the Three Wiseman brining their gifts.
*Sidenote, all of those things are much more significant than I just gave them credit … but I’m trying to get to the point of this post in a reasonable amount of time.
So fast forward many years all the way up until LAST NIGHT. I was reading The Jesus Storybook Bible* to Evan. I was reading about the birth of Baby Jesus and it talked about the Wiseman traveling days which turned into several days, which turned into weeks, which turned into months, etc. etc. before they met baby Jesus!!! But he wasn’t a baby anymore … he was a CHILD. The Storybook Bible even had a picture of a little boy sitting in his mother’s lap as the Wiseman gave their gifts!! And they didn’t come to the manger … they came to their house!
Now can I just be flat-out honest & say I HAD NO IDEA!!!! Or maybe I did learn this at one point but then forgot. I believed the nativity scenes, the church plays I grew up with. Sure, I’ve read the story many of many times throughout my 31 years of life but like I said in the beginning … I’m a visual learner.
I can honestly say I was floored when I read this. Of course I had to re-read the story & then today I asked my sister about it & of course she knew that it wasn’t in the manger and he wasn’t a baby-baby anymore!! She would know that. So I’ve been doing my research today and I guess I’ve learned today that he was anywhere from about 41 days to 2 years. I won’t go into detail about all that … again, it’s significant – yes. It’s important – yes. But that’s not the main point of this post.
The main point is … So, what else in the world have I missed!!!! And why does every Nativity Scene & every Church Play lump the Wiseman in with the manger?!?!
*And one more sidenote – this is a really great book!! We haven’t had it that long but Evan is enjoying it a lot & obviously even his mother (aka ME) can learn something from it too!!
I’m making my list.
And I’m checking it twice.
Gonna find out if I can get it right.
Cause Christmas is comin’ in … just three nights!!
Man is it ever true that things come faster as you get older. It’s going fast enough for me!!!
So I know everyone has a To-Do List right now. Maybe mine will make you feel better about yours!! Or maybe it won’t (sorry if it does that!). But here’s my Top Ten Things to do before Christmas morning!!
1. Buy three more gifts – I was doing so good until I realized that!!
2. Make Becky‘s Sausage Ball Recipe – this was going to be for breakfast with the in-laws (it’s a several-year Christmas Morning tradition, but they backed out this year!!) I already have the ingredients so we’re having a breakfast for dinner on Wednesday night.
3. Make Paula Deen’s Garlic Cheese Grits – see #2.
4. Make my family’s favorite Broccoli Casserole dish – because I’ll be taking this dish to my husband’s family Christmas … I think his family thinks it’s the only dish I make!!
5. Pay the bills – because with Christmas on a Friday I need to make sure we’re paid up for several days!! A missed bill would not be fun the week after Christmas!
6. Get caught up on laundry – because I want the hampers empty on Christmas Morning … that would be a Christmas MIRACLE!!!
7. Stuff the Stockings – it’s a Christmas Eve thing over here.
8. Have a “Happy Birthday Jesus Party” with Evan – because I like the idea of that tradition.
9. Develop some photos – not sure if I’ll remember how to do that – ha!
10. ENJOY the SEASON!!! And most importantly the reason for it!
So, did I make you feel better about your list or worse?!?! I’m sure I’m forgetting something!!
For more Top Ten Tuesday lists or to link up your own, visit ohAmanda.com.
This past Saturday, we had our 10th Annual Sisterchick Christmas Party. 10 Years we’ve been getting together for Christmas!! These are my very best girlfriends – some of them date back to diapers!! Seriously. I wore diapers when I first met ohAmanda and her family. And now we’re changing diapers on our babies … crazy!!
Since we’ve been having an “official” Sisterchick Christmas Party for 10 years now, we’re pretty good at planning them. In fact, I think next year’s is already half-way planned!!
Anyways. Back to this year.
We always have the party at someone’s house. My husband asked very sarcastically “why don’t y’all go out or something?” Um (I said very sarcastically) because where would we go that we could spend one hour eating and five hours opening presents and taking pictures?!?!
Sometimes getting the date is the hardest part. It’s tough to do and there’s only six of us. But the key is to plan a date early in the year & know that everyone can make it. If someone says they can’t come, then we’ve been known to drive 2.5 hours to meet them in a different state!!! We can’t have a Sisterchick Christmas Party without one of the Sisterchicks!
We can’t just have a get-together for Christmas. Everything must be planned. And everything is always theme-based.
Food theme – This is the fun part!! We’ve had mexican, fondue, chili, soups & salads, pizza, casseroles, and more. This year we had breakfast for dinner … YUM!
Gift theme – We each bring one big gift. Sometimes we play steal the gift. The last several years we’ve drawn names. Our themes are always silly. In honor of our 10th Anniversary, our gift theme was numbers. Our gift somehow had to represent a number(s). All six of us had a different spin on it. It’s so fun to see how we each interpret the theme every year. Explanation of this will require an entirely big & long post … maybe over the holidays!
This year we even threw in an Attire theme – We’ve never done this before. But this year, it just seemed appropriate to all agree to PJs since we were having breakfast. Plus we usually hang out til after mid-night so it made for a comfortable evening & easy to hop right in bed!
It’s important to always take lots of pictures:
Add a game or two:
And have lots of deserts –
These aren’t just my girlfriends … these are my Sisterchicks!
Today is December 7th.
7 days into December.
17 more days until Christmas Eve.
18 more days until Christmas Day.
One family party is down.
Four more to go.
The big 10th Annual Christmas Sisterchick Party is this coming weekend.
Only two more weeks of school.
Christmas cards have been mailed.
Gifts are already wrapped and under the tree.
And I already have that feeling that I’ll wake up on December 26th and realize it’s over.
Time to slow down.
Time to stop.
Time to remember the real reason for this very special season.
Christmas Isn’t Christmas
’till it happens in your heart,
Somewhere deep inside you
Is where Christmas really starts;
So give your heart to Jesus,
you’ll discover when you do
That it’s Christmas
Really Christmas for you.
*Christmas Isn’t Christmas Til it Happens in Your Heart ~ Carol Owens & Jimmy Owens.
While I don’t enjoy the work of getting the house decorated for the holidays, I do love the result !! It’s just fun to have a house decorated for a specific season!! One of the best parts of the actual work, is dragging the boxes down from the attic and opening each one every year. Seriously – it’s like the first gift of the season!! So many memories are unpacked with each box opened.
And I think the ornaments are the most special. It’s as if every ornament has its own little story. Most bring good memories, a few bring sad.
So, here’s my Top Ten Ornament Stories.
1. The Musical Note – This one’s for my husband. He loves music. I wouldn’t have been something I would have picked out. And to be honest, when he picked it out (yes, HE picked it out) I was not that excited. But, I’ve grown to love that little musical note because it’s him.
2. The Angel – My mother in law gave this angel ornament to both my husband & his sister several years after my brother-in-law died. Each year I hang it next to Pepper’s stocking on the mantle garland. I don’t know if he “gets it or not”, but just my little way of thinking his angel is especially with him during this tough season.
3. The Santa Claus – This is one of my childhood ornaments. I’m almost certain one of my Great Aunts made this for me when I was a baby.
4. The Evan Sled – One of my husband’s friends gave this to Pepper for Evan’s 1st Christmas. It’s proudly hung on the tree for the last 5 years!
5. The Foam Star – *Sigh* I love crafts made by Evan, but I also love having a pretty Christmas Tree. One day I’ll have to devote an entire tree to the “kids’ crafts”, but for now that one little foam star is just perfect.
6. The Sisterchick Chic – Staci gave these to all of us last year. It hangs proudly & reminds me of the girlfriends I love so much!!
7. The Cool One – I LOVE this one – I just happen to come across these at a tiny little store in town. Unfortunately it was in January and they only had three left!! I love them & their rustic look!
8. The Soccer Cleats – I found this ornament at Target. It was the first Christmas we would be celebrating after my husband’s brother died. Jeremy played soccer for his highschool team & he was known for his red soccer cleats. He wore a size 13 at 18 years old! Those red shoes definitely stood out on the field – they were huge!! We laughed because if you set his shoes on my forearm (from my elbow to my hand) they would hang OVER my fingertips … that’s a big old foot!! It took about 5 different Targets to find three of these ornaments that weren’t broken, but now everyone in the family has one. It’s a cheap old ornament but it hangs right at eye level in the front of our Christmas Tree each year.
9. The Beautiful One – My Sisterchick Kristen gave this to me a long time ago. I don’t even remember how long it’s been. She bought it while she was in China one year. Isn’t it beautiful!!!! It even has it’s only tiny little storage box. I absolutely adore this ornament … and my friend that gave it to me too:)
10. The Other One – That’s an exciting name, isn’t it?!? I found these shortly after I found “The Cool Ones”. Since the store only had three of those I needed something with a similar look & feel to make anything work. I do love the little rustic snowflake though that hangs off each star.
So those are my ornament stories. What are some of your favorite ornament stories?
For more Top Ten Tuesday Posts or to link up to your own, visit ohAmanda.
I should begin by saying the ideas for these advent calendars are super cute. My personal versions however, leave much to be desired!!!
Last year my friend ohAmanda linked up to one of the cutest Advent Calendars EVER – the Dentyne Gum Advent Pocket Calender. I filed it away mentally as a reminder to make them this year. They were a little trickier than I thought. It took me a few extra cuts & folds and I’m still not completely satisfied. The grandmothers & aunts got the first prototypes pictured below (sorry ladies!) and now that I’ve got the folds right, I’ve got just one day to finish up the ones for Evan’s teachers. I thought that would be a fun & unexpected gift for the 1st day of December since it’s also his 1st day back at school after the Thanksgiving Break. For the cost of gum, some leftover cardstock & a pack of stickers you have a fun, unexpected little gift for someone!!
Then Amanda once again found another one of the cutest Advent Calendars EVER – the Bubble Wrap Advent Calender. Evan, like most any other little kid, loves Bubble Wrap … what an awesome idea to incorporate popping the bubbles as part of the Countdown to Christmas!! This project didn’t cost me a dime! I already had some bubble wrap from some Christmas shipments that came in. I used an old frame that I had lying around. And some extra stickers. Super Cute & Super Cheap!!
So, the overall moral of the story … if you’re not following ohAmanda then you should be!! She does super cute things all the time & if she doesn’t do them, then she finds them for you!! Thanks my friend!
For the last two years, we have participated in Operation Christmas Child through Evan’s school.
Out of complete honesty both years have consisted of me going shopping at the stores, me packaging the boxes, me wrapping the boxes, me sticking the money in, me sealing the envelope, and me carrying the box to his classroom. I know I mentioned it to him each year … that we were taking a present so some other children that didn’t have much – so that they would have a Christmas present to open, but I honestly didn’t expect him to get that much out of it. And even more honestly I probably didn’t try to hard either.
I’m hoping this year will be different. He’s four now. He knows that Christmas is getting closer. He’s already started telling me what he wants to get. I’m hoping this year he’ll start getting a better understanding & even an excitement about what he wants to give. He’s always been very excited to give gifts to Megan or his Dad, a grandparent or a friend. But he has absolutely no idea that he has so much compared to so many other children throughout the world … or even down the street!! His little world is shattered if he can’t get a toy every time we go into a store.
So this year, we’ll go shopping together. We’ll pack the box up together. We’ll wrap the box together (or maybe I’ll wrap & he’ll stick a bow on it), we’ll seal our envelope of money together, and together we’ll carry the boxes into his classroom. Then at his school they’ll have a big drop-off celebration for all the boxes collected.
Sarah at Real Life is hosting an Operation Christmas Child Carnival. You can link up & we can share about past Operation Christmas Child experiences or plans for this upcoming drive. Plus there’s even prizes … and Veggie Tales at that!