Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you and yours a Christmas full of
love, peace, hope, and joy.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Come on in

Hey there! Come on in and have a look around. I meant to post this little home tour a couple of weeks ago, but life got in the way. I'm squeezing this in before I have to get ready for Christmas Eve services which start at two this afternoon, so excuse my lack of editing.

This is our front porch. I love the old sleigh. I wish there were a little snow so we could use it.

So, grab some tea, coffee, or cocoa, and we'll talk Christmas. I tried to tone it down this year, and really I did, but it still seems like a little too much somehow.

I love the garland from Lemonade Makin' Mama. The descriptions of Jesus...Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.


Maybe it's that I'm so worn out and tired that anything extra seems like too much. I can't believe I haven't posted since the beginning of the month. The time has rushed by with WAY too much activity. We had something in December. It wasn't until Sunday we sat back and took a breath. I enjoyed the kids' concerts and activities, but this mama is tired.

I want to focus on the coming of His birth. Try to wrap my mind around the Mighty God making a way of salvation for all...God in the form of a tiny baby.

Still a mystery to me
That the hands of God could be so small
How tiny fingers reaching in the night
Were the very hands that measured the sky

Hallelujah, hallelujah
Heaven's love reaching down to save the world
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Son of God, Servant King,
You're here with us
You're here with us

It's still a mystery to me, oh,
How His infant eyes have seen the dawn of time
How His ears have heard an angel's symphony,
But still Mary had to rock her Savior to sleep

Hallelujah, hallelujah
Heaven's love reaching down to save the world
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Son of God, Servant King,
You're here with us
You're here with us

Jesus the Christ, born in Bethlehem
A baby born to save, to save the souls of man

~Here With Us Joy Williams

It's all such a mystery. God has a beautiful plan for our lives, and it's never what I thought it would be or played out the way I think it should be. He's so much more than I can even comprehend. We've been reading through the Jesus Storybook Bible for Advent. The stories are so good and keep pointing to the plan God had laid out from the very beginning...Jesus, God with us.



The next photos are of my dining room. The roosters above the buffet were a project my grandmother worked on when my uncle was fighting in Vietnam. They have always been a part of her home. She passed away in January, and I was blessed to get to bring the roosters home with me. I love them. They are a constant reminder of my precious grandmother.

Joy is my word for now. It seems the joy has been stripped away the past several years. Joy is a choice. The bracelet I got for my birthday is a reminder for me to "Choose Joy." I have joy sprinkled throughout the house...sometimes I'm a slow learner.

This concludes our little tour. This is what I see on my way out the back door.
I hope you find the joy of Christmas this year. I pray you know the hope that only comes from knowing the ONE who is HOPE...Jesus. Blessings to you and yours.
With love,

Saturday, December 7, 2013

I'm on the hill

So, it's my birthday today. I wouldn't say I'm over the hill yet--maybe just on it. I'm 41 today. I'm having a great day. The celebrating began last night with an awesome dinner out with some long-time friends. It was a nice treat to have some grown up time and adult conversation without interruption from little people. We ate at Zelko Bistro in the Heights in Houston. If you're local you must try it! I had the shrimp and grits and Kelvin had the pork chop. One of our friends had the salmon and another had steak. The food was melt-in-your-mouth delicious! The desserts did not disappoint! I had the tres leches and my friend had the chocolate mousse...OH.MY.GOODNESS! I don't even know what to say. We will definitely be back! 
This morning, Kelvin and the kids took me to a local joint, El Toro, for brunch. I only found out a few weeks ago they serve brunch. SO glad we finally had time to try it. YUMMERS! After we finished eating, they gave me this awesome cuff! 

Heather, at Bits of Grace Designs, made it. She's a local gal someone suggested I Like on Facebook, and I'm so glad I found her! I'm tickled pink with my cuff, and it's just the reminder I need. I also got some new work-out shoes and very hip socks to go with them. No excuses now not to get my hiney running again. Yesterday, I treated myself to a pedicure. Tonight we're going to watch Luke's choir perform. His choir teacher is a member of a Houston area chorus, and her choir was invited to sing in their Christmas concert tonight. I'm so excited! Tomorrow the festivities continue with lunch after church with my parents. I'm one lucky gal! Actually, I'm blessed beyond measure!
Not sure why this is so fuzzy. Only thing that would've made it any better would be my main man in it too. He's taking the photo. Love these munchkins so much!

After brunch, we headed to Hobby Lobby so the kids could pick out their annual ornament. Carleigh chose the funniest hippo...reminds us of Gloria on Madagascar. Cora chose a cute little puppy with a pink feather boa, and Luke chose a Wii remote. It's so cool how they all chose something that reflects their little personalities so well right now.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

On the verge

Warning: this post may contain a bit of whining and complaining...okay, more than a bit. Read at your own risk.

A few weeks ago my friend Shelly took our family photos. I can't wait to see them. She does a great job. It happens every time though. I start thinking about family photos, and I get a lump in my throat. I think about the one who is missing, and it makes me sad. I miss my Emma. We've been taking pictures of Carleigh in my wedding dress since her first birthday. We started it with Emma too. We took Carleigh's photo in the dress again this time. She's so grown up. The dress that once hung off of her and puddled all around her is fitting better and better. I can hardly stand it. Cora put on the dress for a photo too. Of course, it swallowed her. She was so funny flapping the sleeves like a bird. The last family photos we took with Emma, she just laid on the dress, because she was so uncomfortable, we didn't want to make it worse by stretching and moving her body around so she could wear the dress. I wish I had more photos of her in it.

The holidays are hard. I guess they stir up emotions I don't realize are there. I feel like I'm on the verge of tears all the time...there's a perpetual knot in my throat. I say every year that I'm going to get it together and have gifts purchased before December starts. Well, this is not the year, again. And this needed to be the year more than ever before. Between the kids' activities and extra concerts and the Christmas musical at church, we have something, at least one thing, every night between now and Christmas. Add in trying to get underwriters and make contacts and so forth for Emma's Bayou Bash, I'm feeling like I can't catch a breath. This is not how I wanted to spend the month. I wanted to do fun things with the kids like bake cookies for our neighbors and watch Christmas movies while making popcorn garland. I wanted to go ice skating and go to the Houston Zoo light festival. I've heard it's beautiful. Luke asked me this morning why someone would describe Christmas as blue. I told him when someone was blue, it meant they were down or sad. I'm feeling a little blue, I think.

The good thing is that we are enjoying our Advent time together every day--so far. It's amazing to me how God had a plan from the beginning. Our Advent scriptures started in Genesis. The sweet Heather, who did my recent blog makeover, posted a link on her blog for a free printable Advent Kit. I just love it. The Jesus Storybook Bible says, "Every story whispers His name." And it does. That's what I want this Christmas to be about...focusing more on Him, Jesus, our Messiah. I'm already worn out. I haven't finished decorating my house, haven't purchased a single gift, and don't even see an available spot on my calendar to make this adorable wreath that Tara featured on her blog. I had big plans for Carleigh and me. I might just have to take her out of school one day. I know she would love making the wreath, and I would love spending the time with her. I think that's what I'll do. Thanks for letting me talk that through.

I had my Rockwell moment the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We went to a tree farm not too far away and cut down our own tree. Luke did the honors. He's such a burly him! It's in the tree stand with lights on it, and that's about as far as I have gotten. Maybe tonight we can get the decorations on it.

Sharpening the blade.
Over the river and through the woods to the Christmas tree farm we go!

Vanna Carleigh, show us the "one." And you too, Doc McStuffins.

You ring this bell, and someone comes by and loads the tree in the trailer to take it to the front. It's kind of like magic. Wish I had a bell like that at home! Only I need a cleaning crew and secretary instead of a trailer. ;)

A little bit more.

Load it up, kiddos!

Isn't she a cutie!?

Cora is so strong!

Don't you just love this truck!?

Loaded and ready to roll!

I kind of like it just like this.

So, what's on your calendar this Christmas season? What are you doing to stay sane? I wish you all joy. Joy is my word for the year to come. It's a I'm intentionally making...even when I don't feel it. He is our joy. I'm clinging to Him.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Hello Sunshine! {updated with links}

It's Thanksgiving Eve. We have had several days of chilly and rainy. I'm so thankful this morning for the sunshine pouring in my windows. The temp is still chilly, but at least I'm not getting wet when I venture outside. The kids and I are headed to the grocery store. I'm crazy that way. It's a mad house the day before Thanksgiving. I know...I was there last year. Anyway, I need some herbs for the turkey and some ingredients for a pie we have not yet chosen.

So, what's on your menu for tomorrow? I'm responsible for the turkey and deviled eggs and
Cinnamon Apple Cranberry and the spinach and artichoke dip I've been making for over a decade now! (Wow, time flies!) YUM-O! I'll update later with recipes, and give you the recipe for the delicioso shrimp burgers I made for dinner last night. Think fried shrimp in a bun but not a po-boy. They were gooood!

Update: the turkey was eh...not so great. I wish it would've been a little more moist. Oh well, I'll try again. The Cinnamon Apple Cranberry was goooood! I will keep this recipe fo-sho! Carleigh was a doll and helped me with the deviled eggs. Don't you wish there was an easy way to peel those hard boiled eggs?! There isn't. I've tried everything...even the egg peeler thingy off the TV. Anyway, Carleigh commented on how I make the deviled eggs. She said, "Is this one of those recipes you just guesstimate?" Yes, yes it is. I put the yolks in a bowl and break them up with a fork. Then I add a few tablespoons of mayo, some salt and pepper, a few dashes of dill weed, a little marjoram, a little (maybe a teaspoon) dry or wet mustard, and mix with a hand mixer. If I decide it needs something upon tasting it, I add some more of whatever it needs. I then add the mixture to a large baggie and clip one of the ends to make a pastry-type bag and pipe them into the egg whites. It's so much easier and prettier that way. I saw a recipe the other day for deviled eggs with a kick. Can't wait to try them. If you get to it before I do, let me know how they turned out...Spicy Sriracha Deviled Eggs.

Here's a glimpse of fall around our house...and a little cutie at her Thanksgiving lunch at school a couple of weeks ago.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A date, a movie, fall fun, and a soccer champ

Kelvin and I had a great date yesterday. It was a day date. I loved it! Sometimes you just have to spend the money on a sitter, ya know? We went to a brewery in Houston, ate at one of my favorite restaurants that, unbeknownst to us has actually changed owners and the name, and checked out a new-to-us place. It was AWESOME! I needed the time with my man in a bad way. We even spent some time making out. Hee hee. It was fun. You should try it again! When we got home it was still pretty early, so there was still time to watch a movie. OH.MY.GOODNESS.GRACIOUS! Have you seen Parental Guidance with Billy Crystal and Bette Midler? I know, it's SO last year. I'm very behind the times. I rented it off Amazon, because my man said he was up for a movie. What he meant was he didn't mind if I watched one while he caught a nap on the couch. ;) But seriously, the movie was so great. You have to see it. Billy Crystal is hilarious as always. Bette Midler is one of my all time favorites. There's so much truth in this movie. Like the time Bette tells her grown daughter,
After your kids grow up, your husband is the one who stays. I know you're trying to be a perfect parent, but honey, there's no such thing. And frankly, you need to show Phil [insert your husband's name], he's not just their father, he's also your husband. I get the man, love the dream. Well, your husband's dream is coming true, and part of that dream is you being there with him.

Stings a little, doesn't it mamas? It's so true, though. Of course we need to strive to be good parents and raise kids who feel good about themselves (and I would add kids who love Jesus.) But we also need to remember to put our husbands first, because the Bible tells us so. And after all, they ARE the ones who will still be around once the kids are gone. I think it's hard as mamas to remember the order God intended...HIM, husband, then children and church.

Another great scene in the movie is when the grandfather, Billy Crystal is about to spank one of his grandchildren in front of an entire audience at the symphony. He says,

I'm sorry, I can't take it anymore...these teachable moments and protecting their self-esteem, and nobody gets punished! And every game ends in a tie! All I hear is 'use your words. Use your words.' But the word they never use with these kids is 'no.'

Oh my. There's so much good in this movie. Man, this movie was such a good reminder of how it's ok to say "No" sometimes. I'm moving on now.

We had a cool front blow in Friday morning. It's feeling a lot like winter. So before we actually hit December, when winter officially begins, I wanted to share a little of fall around these parts. We took the kids to an awesome farm this year. It's loaded with fun stuff to celebrate the fall season...pumpkin launch, corn maze, haystack mountain, pumpkin patch, fun fall food, a giant hill slide, and an incredible culvert pipe swing. We had a ball. Check out Berryland Farms if you're in the area.

We've enjoyed Luke's soccer games this fall too. He usually plays goalie, which comes with a pretty big responsibility. He really enjoys the game and does a great job. His team played in the playoffs Saturday and Sunday before last. They placed second, but Luke really did an awesome job on all three playoff games. During the championship game, he blocked SO many goals! Luke's coach said if not for Luke, the other team would have stomped all over us. He said Luke was their saving grace. Kelvin said the coach on the other team approached him asking for our phone number to talk to Kelvin about Luke playing for him! Kelvin declined. Luke is loyal to his Coach Elo. Of course, I'm one proud mama!

I'm glad our family was there to support our little Beckham. :)
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