Saturday, December 27, 2008

My New T-Shirt

Can I just tell you that this shirt that I received for Christmas makes me really happy?  

On my side of the family, the grown-kids draw names to see who will buy gifts for whom.  My brother-in-law, Allan, drew my name, and he - evidently - had the perfect gift idea for me.  This t-shirt says Forks, WA (the setting of the Twilight series), and the tag line says, "making it sprinkle so you won't sparkle".  Hilarious!  And perfect!  I love it that he knows enough about me to know that I would love a shirt just like this!  Thanks Allan!  

Friday, December 26, 2008

5 Years Since

Today has been 5 years since I lost my first baby...
5 years since everything changed.
My sister gave me this ornament today.
It means everything to me that she remembered.
Thank you, Sara.

I still miss you everyday, little one.
Until heaven...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

25 DaYs Of ChRiStMaS - Day 25

Day 25 - Christmas Day!
I can't believe it's here!  Christmas Day!  Every year it seems to sneak upon us faster and faster. 

After the kids went to bed last night and as Corey & I were wrapping up a few things in the living room, Jack came out (yikes!) and told us he wasn't feeling well.  He ended up sleeping in our room and coughing the night away... and was even woken up by his cough about 3am when he woke us to ask us if we could go see if Santa came.  We get up early on Christmas morning... but not that early!  At 6:30 Allie (who generally sleeps until about 10am these days) came into our room and announced that it was morning.  She was happy to wake her brothers and tell them that Santa had come while Corey & I took our places as the photographer & videographer.  (After we lit the fire, got our cups of coffee (mine was in my new Fiesta cup), and put the breakfast casseroles in.)

The kids were very excited with all of their gift, and we were excited to watch them discover them!

Corey gave Jack a special book with a copy of his letter and pictures of the day that Jack killed his first deer.

Santa left this note for Cooper with his new blocks.
Jack picked out this magazine for Corey.
When Cooper & I went shopping a couple of weeks ago he picked this blanket out for Allie.  As soon as we walked through the door, he ran to Allie and said, "Allie!  I got you a monkey sheet!"
Jack gave Allie a special necklace that he picked out himself.
I was very surprised by my gift from Corey - an iPhone!
On Christmas Eve I always make breakfast casseroles for Christmas breakfast.  We put them in first thing on Christmas Day, so when we are done opening gifts our hot, yummy breakfast is waiting for us.  This year, we really liked the new recipes that I chose.  On the left - Baked French Toast, and on the right - Farmer's Casserole.  Thank you Google.
After breakfast (and all day long) we have watched our new movies, played with new toys, and played the new Wii games.
For lunch I decided to make an untraditional Christmas meal since we will be eating that type of meal soon.  We had lasagna, salad, bread, and cookies... and later a little pie.
~ me & Cooper at lunch ~
The rest of the afternoon was filled with more of the same - eating, playing, napping, baking, etc.  It was a great day!  This evening, we dropped in at my sister's house for a little while and hung out with the fam then came home to try to clean up the chaos and get ready for the next few days.

Tomorrow we will celebrate Christmas with my side of the family at our house.  Hopefully, I will get to post pictures of that soon, but it may be a few days as we have other adventures on the horizon.  

I am a little sad that my 25 Days Of Christmas has come to an end... and a little shocked that I actually made it to the end of the challenge.  (though a few posts were a day late)  It was fun to join my friend, Stacy, and a few other buddies in sharing the things that our family does during the holiday season.  And it was good to have an incentive to document many of my family's traditions.  As you can tell, we have a lot of them.  :)  

In case I don't chat with you again for a while.  MERRY CHRISTMAS.  It has been fun sharing it with you.  I pray that you all have a HAPPY NEW YEAR.   

25 DaYs Of ChRiStMaS - Day 24

Day 24 - Christmas Eve
I love Christmas Eve!  The hustle and bustle of last minute preparations.  The excitement of what's to come.  The traditions that our family shares each year.  Teaching our kids about our faith and the reason that we celebrate Christmas.  I love all of it!

This year, Corey & I started Christmas Eve with coffee, by the fire.  It was wonderful!  The kids slept late, and after we relaxed for a while Corey & I worked on a project or two before they woke up.  That afternoon, Corey & Allie disappeared for a few hours... a regular occurrence for Corey on Christmas Eve.  They came back home too late to go to the Christmas Eve service that we had planned to go to but were glowing with Christmas cheer.  I could tell that they were excited about what they had been doing. 

A little later we did, in fact, make it to the Christmas Eve service at church... thank goodness they had several to choose from.  After church, we went to our favorite shopping center and went to dinner at the restaurant that we ate at last Christmas Eve.  (Maybe that is becoming a new tradition.)  It was a very nice evening out.

When we got home, I took a few pictures of the kids in front of the Christmas Tree then we all baked cookies for Santa.    
~ one of my favorite things in my kitchen at Christmastime ~
While the cookies were baking we each opened one gift.  
Every year we all get new PJs at Christmas.

~ new pajamas ~
Allie's PJs came with matching pajamas for her American Girl doll.
Next, we sat by the fire, and Corey read the Christmas story to all of us from the Bible.
Then, the kids put milk & cookies out for Santa.  (In the same Winnie The Pooh dishes that we have always used.  Allie asked if we had to use them this year... of course we did!  Forever!)
Last, the kids and I laid by the fire, and I read The Night Before Christmas to them.  

Then, we tucked them all in as they anxiously awaited things to come...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

25 DaYs Of ChRiStMaS - Day 23

Day 23 - Going To The Movies
Yesterday the kids and I took a break from the hustle & bustle of last minute preparations (and there were LOTS of last minute preperations!) and went to the movie theatre to see The Tale of Despereaux. Going to the movies might not seem like it fits in my 25 Days Of Christmas posts... but it does! Last year was the first time that our little family spent Christmas Day alone, and during that day we decided to go to the movies. I don't know if I had ever been to the movie theatre on Christmas Day before, and I was kind of expecting that most people didn't do that as part of their normal routine either. Boy, was I wrong! When we got to the theatre, there was a line of people waiting to buy tickets, the movie that we wanted to see was sold out, and we had to buy tickets and come back for a later showing. It was actually a fun outing for Christmas. I am a BIG fan of going to the movies, and there are usually a lot of family friendly movies that are released for this time of year, so I wouldn't be surprised if movie-going becomes a part of our family's Christmas traditions.

The Tale of Despereaux was good. Pretty intense for little ones at times, but we all liked it and give it our 8 thumbs up. :)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

25 DaYs Of ChRiStMaS - Day 22

Day 22 - Catching Up With Old Friends
Tonight we went to our dear friends David & Stephanie's for dinner. We met David & Stephanie in the early 90s when we were all in the Young Marrieds class at our church in Dallas. At the time, none of us had children, and we spent a lot of time with that group from our church. There is something really special about that time in our lives. When we were all living in apartments or our first houses. When we were all finding out that we were expecting our first babies. When our weekend schedules were full of basketball games and Bible studies and baby showers. There were many people in that class that we love but sadly, only a few that we have kept in touch with. As time has passed, we have all moved away from the part of town where we lived back then, most of us have moved on to other churches, and we have all had more babies and gotten busy with raising our families. A few times a year, we try to get together to keep in touch. Tonight was one of those times, and in addition to seeing David & Stephanie, we saw our friends Paul & Amber, Steve & Tammie, and Brian & Margie. Something about being with them all just makes me feel comfortable. It somehow takes me back to the good ol' days. We have all basically grown up together, and though we don't see each other nearly enough, we instantly pick up where we left off last time. We know each other... we are those kids that met in that Young Marrieds class way back when. Except now we have children that are almost teenagers. We have more gray hair or less hair all together. We know the jokes that this one or that one is going to tell - because they have told the same joke every time that we have gotten together for over 15 years. We share memories of times that we have spent together and let each other know what is going on in our life at the moment. It is family. And I love it. And I miss it. So, each year at Christmas it is a highlight for me when we get together and reconnect. Share some time with our "lifelong friends" as David called us tonight. Even though our paths don't cross nearly often enough, our hearts are forever linked, and seeing each one of these people at Christmas is part of what makes the holiday so special for me.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

25 DaYs Of ChRiStMaS - Day 21

Day 21 - The Nutcracker
In our family The Nutcracker is special. When Corey & I had been married only a few years he gave me tickets to The Nutcracker ballet for my birthday. We saw it at The Majestic in Dallas, and it was wonderful. I think that I cried. I had never been to anything so beautiful. That Christmas, he gave me this ornament. It is Clara, the girl in The Nutcracker. It is really one of my favorite gifts ever! I knew that he had hunted her down... just for me... to remind me of our very special first time to see The Nutcracker.  Each year when I come across her as I unpack the ornaments, I remember that time in our lives fondly then we all make a big deal about her as I hang her on the tree. The first time that we took Allie to see The Nutcracker she was only 2 years old, and she was absolutely mesmerized by the ballet. We were so surprised that our little bitty girl made it through the entire ballet without a peep. She just sat there and watched, wide-eyed and in amazement of the beautiful ballerinas.

Our family has gone to see The Nutcracker most Decembers since then, and the year that Jack was 3 we took him to see it for the first time. He was a bit more antsy than his sister had been the first time that she went to the ballet, but still - he was captivated by it.

Today we went to The Nutcracker. Our family has gone to many venues to see The Nutcracker, and ironically this year - Cooper's first time to go with us - we went to the same venue that we went to the year that Jack went for the first time. The entire time that we were there, I could imagine my little 3-year-old Jackson as I watched my little 3-year-old Cooper. He loved it - all 3 kids did. He sat through the entire show with only a few wiggles and requests for popcorn. :) It was a very special time that we shared as a family... all snuggled up in 4 of our 5 seats whispering about what was going on on the stage. As I sat there, I reminisced about the days when my little girl in her "spinning dress" then my little boy with the chili-bowl haircut were as mesmerized by seeing the giant mice, toy soldiers, beautiful ballerinas, and life-sized nutcrackers as my little finger-sucking boy was today.

After the ballet, we planned to treat the kids to dinner at a nice restaurant. As we were getting ready to go to drive there I said, "Kids we are going to go to a nice restaurant for dinner, doesn't that sound fun?" Cooper yelled, "Yeah! Let's go to McDonald's!" We'll we didn't go to McDonald's... we went to an area in Dallas that has beautiful Christmas decorations and quaint little restaurants. Ironically (again), it was the restaurant that we took Allie to the first time that she went to The Nutcracker with us. While we were there, we surprised the kids by giving them each a nutcracker.

Cooper LOVES Indiana Jones... or as he say, "Indy Andy Jones". When I saw this nutcracker, I knew I must get it for him. He was thrilled with it.

Jack loves baseball, so this was a great nutcracker for him. I had not thought about it, but the player has a #8 on his jersey - that is how old Jack is, and he thought that was really cool.

Allie's nutcracker is Clara holding a miniature nutcracker. When I saw her in the store a few months ago, I picked her up right away... girl nutcrackers are hard to find. Allie seemed to like her.

~ Highland Park ~
(where we ate dinner)

After dinner we walked around Highland Park a little bit, but it was VERY cold. We stopped in at Starbucks where we got coffee and cocoa to help us warm up and Cooper serenaded us (and those near us) with Santa Claus Is Coming To Town... over and over.  :)

On the way home, we drove around and looked at Christmas lights. This is a house in a neighborhood that we used to live in... it had a ton of decorations. They had even turned their windows into displays. When we got home, the new nutcrackers joined the collection. The first one on the left is Allie's. She is Dorothy from The Wizard Of Oz. Allie received it the year that she dressed up like Dorothy on Halloween. She LOVED that movie! The next nutcracker is Jack's. It is a skier. He loves to ski. The next 3 nutcrackers are the new ones from today. The next nutcracker is one that Allie got from Santa - he's the first one of our family's collection. After one of her first times to see The Nutcracker ballet, she asked for a real nutcracker "like Clara has". The last nutcracker is another Clara. Allie received it the year that Jack got his skiing nutcracker.
When we got home, Corey & I took pictures of ourselves to document this special night.

I love this picture that Allie took of us laughing together.
It was a great night. Full of memories made and love shared.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

25 DaYs Of ChRiStMaS - Day 20

Day 20 - Outdoor Decor
~ our front door ~
Before I decorated it, the lights in the garland worked.  After I had it hung up, I realized that 1/2 of them were not working... So, this is the way that our door looks this year.  No time for REdecorating.

25 DaYs Of ChRiStMaS - Day 19

Day 19 - Sharing the Love
Last night Allie and I went to a mother/ daughter Christmas party.  It was fun to get out with my girl and spend the evening together.  What really made it special was what we did...

The mother & daughter that hosted the party are new friends of ours from Allie's new school.  Their names are Anna & Madeline.  For 8 years they have adopted a family at Christmas then invited their friends with daughters the same age as Madeline to go in together for gifts for the family that they adopt.  Before Christmas each year, the mothers and daughters get together to wrap the gifts that they have all bought at a Christmas party hosted by Anna & Madeline.  

This year, several months ago, Anna & Madeline's neighborhood decided to raise money and build a Habitat For Humanity house.  It sounds like they had great participation, and after all of the neighborhood garage sales, kids' lemonade sales, and donations were made they had raised enough money to build TWO Habitat houses.  The people from their neighborhood are  actually the ones that built the houses.  (How cool is that?!?)  Earlier this month they presented the houses to two single mothers and their children.  Those families are the ones that Anna & Madeline adopted for Christmas this year.  One of the mothers said that she had told her kids that their new house was their Christmas gift this year... they were thankful for that and expecting nothing more.  Oh!  How excited they will be when gifts that match their ages and interests show up!  Anna's family will be delivering them soon.  

So last night Allie & I went to Anna & Madeline's house and met a lot of new people, got to know some people better, wrapped a lot of gifts, wrote a letter to the family that we were assigned to, and were thoroughly blessed that we got to be a very small part of a very huge blessing.

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