Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry (Almost) Christmas!

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve.  To say my plans for this week were altered would be an understatement.  But I know that bumps in a road are just bumps.  And nothing is going to stop Christmas from coming ~ and I mean that in the literal and the spiritual.

I have decided to mail out New Year's cards instead of Christmas cards.  And even that's a maybe.  We'll see.  But for now, I'm going to rest in the knowledge that Christmas COMES, and with the birth of Jesus came life, hope, peace, joy, promise and oh-so-much-more.  I pray that in all our hearts is a deep peace and joy, one that can only be known because of a little baby's birth that we celebrate.

MERRY Christmas!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Signs Of The Season!

Oh, Christmas season, how I love thee.  You are brimming with beautiful sights to behold. 

Here's some recent and not-so-recent sights that bring that Christmas cheer to my heart:

Bless their little hearts.  This was Christmas 1998.  Brenna had just turned one, and Alex was three and a half.  (Those "halfs" were a big deal in the single digit years!).  We went to a beautifully decorated, festive business that we love, they even had live reindeer!  So much fun!  Right?!  Brenna just fell apart.  And Alex was stunned and not capable of smiling at the lady in the funny hat trying to take a picture of his screaming sister.  This BROKE MY HEART!  I hated it, and I never again in all these years took my children to sit on Santa's lap.  Never.  Again.

But now I look at this picture and it gives me the giggles.  I'm so very glad I have this!  Is that a bit twisted?  I don't know.  Maybe it's partly because I know these two little people have grown into perfectly normal teenagers who have suffered no lasting effects of this experience.  At the time? Traumatic.  Now?  A memory I'm glad to have.

And last weekend was full of Christmas signs.  Brad swam in a meet called "Rudolph's Plunge".  It was a big flashback for me...sitting on those metal bleachers watching him swim and waiting for him to come up after his flip turn and then watching him win.  Loved it.  I didn't get the whole connection to Rudolph until I saw this picture:

And it reminded me of this:

So, yeah.  Now I can see it.  Ho Ho Ho and Merry Christmas.

And then we had the joy of celebrating Christmas with the Shipleys.  It was a scrumptious meal in their beautiful...beautiful! kitchen.  And just plain 'ole good times together.  They are such a happy, bright spot in our lives, and we are so very thankful for them.

a teenagers favorite gift!

new earrings from Auntie Debbie!

here are the kids posing with Auntie Debbie.  She skyped in from the Washington D.C. Costco parking lot.

Brenna's new hat and scarf from Auntie Debbie!

new slippers!!

and here we all are.  these two people LOVE us in the truest, sincerest way.  and we LOVE them right back.  they are a gift to us, a blessing we hold dear.

Love, love, love this season!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It's Almost Here!!!!

A matter of hours now ~ HOURS!!! ~ until it is Christmas Vacationnnnnn!!  I may be just a wee bit excited.  On Wednesday, I may have noticed the time just after noon, and commented that the day was officially half over, which meant the week was officially half over, which meant that I was beginning to think I could make it to Friday.  And I may have puzzled a couple little people with this observation.  But it made me happy.

And now it's practically here, and I'm so relieved.  Now I can physically check off things that are lingering on my mental list.  The last two weeks have felt a bit like I'm on a merry-go-round that just won't stop.  I want to get off.  I'm dizzy.  Things have been getting done, but barely.  Dinners this week have been pathetic, and my sincere apologies to my family for that. 

(Actually, I have a new thought regarding disappointing my family.  It's actually doing them a favor.  My son one night had politely thanked me for dinner when he left the table.  I asked if he liked it, and he said it was okay, but really not his favorite.  Translation:  "I barely choked it down, and while I appreciate the caloric intake you provided me, I hope I never have to touch that to my lips again!"  My response?  "You're welcome."  Yes, truly.  Because if I knocked it out of the park every single meal, I would be setting an impossibly high standard for him to find in a wife someday.  I have to leave a little wiggle room for him to find someone better than me, otherwise I'm setting him up to marry a woman who could never live up to the standard I've set in the kitchen.  So my culinary flops are a favor to him.)

Anyway, back to vacation.  I'm so very thankful to have one starting tomorrow afternoon.  I want to get some baking done.  I want to finish putting up my nativity sets.  I want to sleep in.  YES!  Amen and hallelujah to not setting an alarm.  Unfortunately, I've scheduled a crazy amount of dentist and doctor appointments next week to get them all out of the way without missing school.  But still.  I'm a bit excited about the whole sleep thing.

I haven't even ordered our Christmas cards yet.  I'm pondering not even doing them this year.  And writing a letter?  I just don't know about that.  I only know of two people who enjoy getting that.

I really want these next two weeks to linger.  I don't want to hurry up Christmas and then wonder how it passed so quickly.  I want to enjoy the little moments.  I want to take the days slowly, and not rush from one thing to another.  We have one more concert left this month, and I want to enjoy it.

Off to bed I go.  One more alarm to ring before I can celebrate!  I just may be in my jammies by 4:00 tomorrow afternoon, sipping some coffee.  Seems like the ideal way to screech this crazy merry-go-round to a complete stop!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

My Little Lady

So this sweet little baby....

Is now this sweet little lady...

14 years old!  I really am so surprised at how very much the same she is, though.  All that sweetness is still there in such a big way.  She is as much a joy now as she was the day they laid her on my chest while her daddy passed out across my belly.  Oh yes he did.  But that's for another day.

We had a great day with Brenna...she is a simple girl when it comes to celebrating her own day.  She wanted chowder in bread bowls, which has become a birthday theme in 2011.  And German chocolate cake.  Mmm.

A new ring from her sweet sister,

A scarf and earrings from her sweet brother,

which she had to check out...

yummmmmmy cake!

there is a sweet story behind this:  Brenna's first 4 months were very unhappy for her. She had a nasty case of reflux and was cranky and miserable. she cried and fussed in large quantities.  I spent hours snuggling her and rocking her while she fussed, trying to soothe her.  I would say into her ear over and over, "Brenna, Jesus is growing within you the beauty of a gently and quiet spirit..."  SO many times I spoke that to her and over her.  Years later, when Brenna was a toddler and clung to my hip, I casually described her as "shy".  That person corrected me and said, "She's not shy, she has a gentle and quiet spirit!"  WOW!!  Yes, she does!  And if you know Brenna well, you know how very true that still is today, and I believe forever.  She is precious.  So I made this sign for her, and after all the opening of boots and jewelry and clothes, she said this was her favorite present.  See?  Precious!

Then, of course, the annual visit from Santa through the neighborhood happened to fall right on her birthday again!  Santa forgot to say Happy Birthday in all the excitement, but that's okay.  We still were happy to see him!

On Friday, it was finally time for Brenna to celebrate with her friends.  We didn't do a big party this year, instead just had her closest friends come home from school with her.  She waited for  the birthday biggie:  piercing her ears!  until her friends could come be her support.  She was so freaked out about doing this, yet wanted to do it so badly.  The whole way to the mall was a discussion of all the things that could possibly go wrong, how badly it was going to the time we got to the mall I was ready to just hold her down and do it myself!  (I kid.)  (Kind of.)

The before.

The during.

The first cleaning.

The after.  She did it!!

Beth came to watch the big show too, and to offer her encouragement ("Oh, Brenna, it doesn't hurt at all!  Just do it!!!).  While we were there, she picked out a set of rings for her and her sister that say "I love my sis".  Sweet.

After the girls shopped for a couple hours (while I did a little shopping by myself and then sat in the food court reading and people watching ~ fun!) we went to Red Robin for some late dinner.

The picture of Brenna standing on the chair while everyone sang to her came out with weird eyes that creep me out, so this will have to do.  A loooooved girl, this one.  And I'm so glad she'll always be my little girl!!!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Favorite Things Friday #2

I know it's Saturday.  But the days!!  The DAYS!!!  They are running together this week in a crazy way.  I didn't even do a shout out to my baby girl's birthday on here!  Then there was the birthday part-ay.  Oh, I have some catching up to do.  And I only have about 20 minutes until we are off for a busy day of Christmas celebrating with precious people and then off to cheer on Brad at a swim meet.

So, I will have to catch up tomorrow.  But for the next 20 minutes, I'm going to pretend it's still Friday and I'm going to do a few more favorite things!

1.  Olay Total Effects 7-in-1 Anti-Aging Cream Cleanser

I have no picture of this, but I love, love, love it.  I use the version with the added anit-blemish control, but they have it in a couple forms.  It is so very creamy and soft.  My face feels clean but not dried out.  Love it.  (And when did they stop calling themselves OIL of Olay??)

2.  Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion

Favorite.  Lotion.  Ever.  I use this head-to-toe.  Never greasy.  Always soaks in and leaves you feeling hydrated but not smothered.  Even Brad grabs a squirt of this!

3.  Soft Jammies

I love all sorts of very soft jammies.  Nothing quite like putting on some fuzzies and settling in for an evening.

I really love the Nick and Nora brand from Target.  They are super soft, and in fun, bright prints.

I also really love the Karen Neuberger pajamas.  Those are probably my favorite, and you can even find them at Marshalls if you keep your eyes peeled.

I would love to put on some new fuzzies and curl up to watch some cheesy Christmas movies right about now...

4.  Have A Little Faith

This book, I do believe, will always be one of my favorites.  It is a sweet, true story by Mitch Albom that will move you and inspire you.  Loved it.  The movie is currently playing on the Hallmark channel, and it was great too.  But, as always, the book is always better.  It's a quick one to read, but it left a long-lasting impression on me.

5.  Mint Truffle Hershely Kisses

These are dark chocolate filled with a mint truffle.  And the way I looooove them is in my chocolate-mint biscotti.  Oh, Merrrrrry Christmas!

Now I am out of time, 5 minutes over actually, and gotta run.

Clean, moitsturized skin, cozy jammies, good book, chocolate mint biscotti...

.....these are a few of my favorite thiiiiiinnnnngs!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

It's A Major Award...

Yes, it's a major award, and fortunately it doesn't involve a leg lamp to display in our front window!

I'm proud of Brad every day.  I see how hard he works, how genuine he is, how devoted he is, how totally committed he is, how loyal, how friendly, how kind...I could go on and on. 

But this weekend he was awarded for being all those things by his company, whose employees voted him "Employee of the Year"! 

The week leading up to it?  A bit stressful for me.  We had not planned to go to his office Christmas party because we just weren't sure what our plans would be for this weekend with Brenna's birthday.  And we had to decide well over a month ago, and there was so much unknown we decided it would be easier to just say no. 

Then, on Monday, I came home from work to find seven missed calls from Brad's office.  I was so puzzled because I had heard from Brad during the day, and he knows when I am not home, yet all those calls...

In checking the messages, it turned out to be one of Brad's bosses, calling to talk to me about this party.  I called her back, and she told me I really had to find a way, if at all possible, to get Brad to the party.  She told me why, that he'd won this award and they wanted to present it at the party.  You know what that meant for me?  Keeping a secret from Brad and PRESSURE to try to act suddenly interested in going to his party, without being over-eager.

I started with the oh-so-subtle "We need a date!  Will you take me on a date this weekend?  A nice date where we can get a bit dressed up like grown-ups???"

He was quite willing, and told me the two places we had gift cards to, and wanted to know which of those places he could take me to dinner.  (Mr. Romance, that's right.)

I said it was too bad we decided not to go to the party.  He agreed (!) but said it was way too late to say we would go.  I dropped it for the night, my mind churning with how I was going to lure him there.

THEN!  The next day at work he sends me a text saying that a couple gals at work were giving him a hard time about now going, and he told them we probably could stop by after dinner and what would I think about that?! 

What did I think about that???  RELIEF!  So the plan was set, and now I just had to watch Brad go through a very stressful week at work, and not grab him by the collar and say, "It's worth it because you are the Employee of the Year!!!!!" 

Saturday finally came, and it was such a great night.  We went out for a fabulous dinner alone together.  Loved every minute of it.  I even said a couple times, "Are you sure you want to go to the party?  This is so nice just being alone..."  I had to make sure I didn't make him suspicious.  Although that is a very un-suspicious man.  (I could do a whole post about our dinner.  I'll leave it at this:  I fell in love with Cornbread Pudding.)

Then we headed over to the party just in time for the crazy gift exchange, a little mingling, and then the big (and very heartfelt and warm) speech announcing all this.

I'd love to have taped the speech they gave about him when they announced it, Brad's reaction, and his speech afterwards.  It was so sweet.  I looooooved hearing people acknowledge HIM, just the core of who he is.  It wasn't about his technical skills, but all about his character.  Everything I know, it's just so nice to hear other people honor and recognize those things.

And Brad's speech was pretty special too.  He got a bit choked up, and gave a very heart-felt thank you.

The plaque is beautiful.  And the other thing?  They are sending us on a vacation!  We got a very generous travel voucher to plan a nice vacation for ourselves.  How incredible is that?  It's something we probably would never do for ourselves, so to have this given to us is overwhelming.  And, even though I know I'm immensely biased, I think he is so very deserving of this.

terrible phone picture, but it had to do!

I love him so much, and I'm so glad all those people who get so many hours of his time each day love and appreciate him too.

He's the real deal.  He's pretty great.  And I'm so proud to be his wife.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Favorite Things Friday

"I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don't feeeeel, so baaaaad!" 

I'm not actually feeling bad at all.  Very tired, very glad for a Friday evening leading into a Saturday that I'm very excited for, but not bad at all.  Just have been singing that song all day, and it made me start thinking about what my favorite things are.  And since this is December and I'm in the "what shall I get for (   )" kind of a mood, I thought I'd just get on here and do some favorite things!  Maybe you'll see something that will become your favorite thing!  (Although many of these may not be present-worthy, they really are things I love!)

And the best part of doing favorite things?  The LIST format.  Love that.

1.  The Centennial Elementary Winter Choir Concert CD.

This beautiful cd is my favorite right now for a couple reasons.  One is that it is filled with the voices of a bunch of little people who make me smile every day.  But most importantly is the beautiful artwork on the cover: designed by my beautiful daughter!!  Isn't it lovely?

2.  The Oral Breeze Shower Breeze. 

Okay, stick with me.  I consider flossing to be like interval training:  go in fast spurts, then slow, then recover, the other words, I'm inconsistent and irresponsible.  But get me within a month of a check up and I'm a crazy regular flosser.  Well, that doesn't work so well, and you get away with that less and less as my age goes up and up.  So six months ago my hygienist suggested I try a water flosser.  But this one goes in your shower, so any "over spray" that would thoroughly gross me out goes totally undetected and stays in the shower.  I LOVE this thing!  I LOVE it!  When I went in for my check-up a couple weeks ago, she did a quick check to see if my measurements were better. The answer?  The last time they were this good was 8 years ago!  So I essentially got myself 8 years back!  (Let me believe that.)  The ironic thing is that now I love the heightened level of clean so much that I do this in the morning with my shower AND I floss every night!  WHAT?!  That's the power of the Shower Breeze, my friends.  And it's also fabulous for anyone in any stages of orthodontics. Clean, clean, clean.  It takes a bit to get use to due to the tickly feeling, but it's worth it!

3.  Armani Diamonds Intense

My favorite perfume, and has been for a couple years:  Armani Diamonds Intense.  I love this.  It's a fruity/floral.  Or maybe a floral/fruity.  But I like my smell, and Brad likes my smell.  Good enough for me. 

4.  Mother's Circus Animal Christmas Cookies. 

I don't know. There's just something about these little cookies.  Every now and then they hit a sweet spot that nothing else could hit.  And dress them up for Christmas?  I'm all in.  My son gushed the thanks when he saw that I came home from the store with these.  He went on and on about how they are his absolute favorites.  Why do I bother baking when "Mother" has it all taken care of for me?

5.  Cuddl Duds.

Okay, I'm as serious as I will ever get on this blog.  I LOVE these.  I've lamented on here before how cold I am at work.  c-c-c-c-cold.  Shiver-me-timbers cold.  And these Cuddl Duds?  They have rocked (and warmed) my world.  Today I wore the leggings under my jeans for the first time, and other than they are a size too big, they are fab-u-lous.  Toasty warm, thin layer so you don't look all padded...I truly love these.  They have all sorts of different types, so check them out.  The title above is a link that will take you to their website where they are having 25% off and free shipping right now.  I have the "Climatesmart" and love it.

Well, a child just called ready to be picked up and I have Costco shopping to do.  I have so many more I thought I would get on here, but it will have to wait until next Friday...

"Snow flakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes....Silver white winters that melt into Spring...these are a few of my favorite thingssssss!"