Friday, January 18, 2013

New year goals

So I'm late for resolutions...that's ok, because:

A) I've been sick. First with a cold and then the just the same old problems, plus lots of work.

B) I'm going with goals instead of resolutions, because you strive for goals and you break resolutions. And honestly, I want to keep moving forward even if I don't achieve my goal, because progress is important.

That said, here are a few of my goals for the new year.

1) I want to be closer to God. I'm going to strive to do this through contemplative prayer everyday. I've got two sources for this, the divine office and a book of prayer based off of the divine office. I really want to integrate prayer more regularly in my daily life.

2) Develop a thankful and giving spirit. I'm going to strive to find the beauty of God's creation in each everyday moment. I can't imagine that by finding that beauty I won't be anything but thankful. I plan to cultivate this by taking the joyful challenge from Ann V. Each day I'll log three things I'm thankful for...and by the end if the year, I'll have a thousand gifts from God to reflect back on.

As for a giving spirit, I'm hoping to become more involved in charity work via my church. I also want to continue to practice the love given to me. So I will strive to bring a little if God's love in casseroles for the sick, food for the poor, babysitting for friends, random acts of kindness, and buying with a conscience (fair trade, locally grown, quality items).

3) Encourage my family in their faith walk as well. That means family devotion and prayer at dinner, time together at church, stories before bed, a thankfulness jar to read at the end of the year, and collecting money for our favorite projects. Mine right now is Solar under the Sun, while my girls like the World Vision catalog, where they can pick different avenues to support.

4) Do more quality activities with my girls. I'll be working a lot the first two months this year. So I want to plan purposeful time with my girls to enhance the moments together. It'll take more effort, but will be rewarding nonetheless.

5) Read God's word more. I'm not one to read my bible everyday, but I'd like to be. I want to follow and learn. So I'm hoping that this will develop naturally using a new translation of the bible along with a new devotional.

6) Become healthier. This means a lot of changes for me. We already try to eat unprocessed foods, but with work I've let things slide a bit. Add to that my constant changing medicine regime and I'm gaining quite a lot of weight. To change this, I'm headed back to my doctor to help with a better medication and changing our eating habits. No more quick fixes, but planned meals eaten properly. This means eating a big breakfast, smaller lunch, and small dinner. It also means exercise when I can. My health doesn't always allow me to exercise, however low impact exercises are ok for me to use. So I'm going for yoga and step aerobics as regularly as I can make it. Before when I was home more, I had lost weight on whole foods. But as soon as I let processed back into our lives my weight changed. So I know that going back full force to our whole foods diet will work. It may just take me a little time to work it completely back in to our lives.

7) Continue on our road to a greener/whole living lifestyle. We've actually already started this goal. I've gotten cloth napkins and cloths to replace our paper products. I've also gotten rid of our plastic wear for glass containers. I'm also getting rid of as many of my Teflon coated pans and pots as possible. I'm slowly replacing them as we can afford to. No more toxins if I can help it.

8) Be a better time manager. I end up working all hours of the day because I don't always plan my time well. So I'm going to do my best to plan my time and stick to my schedule!

9) Blog better. I'm not looking to blog each day. That's not realistic for me. But I would like to be more regular. Maybe once a week...

10) Create more. The homemade gifts I did for the girls went well, so I'd like to make them more items...maybe clothes, toys, or even decor.

11) Remember these precious moments. My girls won't be babies forever, so I'm hoping to try and log a page a month in an online photo album. Then by the end if the year it will be complete. I'm also hoping to catch up on a few of the years I haven't created albums for. I think it'll be a great project and time well spent.

12) Finally, take time off. It's rare that I go anywhere with just friends or my hubby. So I'm going to do my best to arrange a night every two months for us to do something. That may not sound like much to you, but seeing how we maybe went two places by ourselves all last's a big change for us.

Those are my goals. I will strive to meet them and will remind myself that progress is important...not just reaching the goal.

Happy New Year to you all!

Catching up- Christmas take two

So just this weekend we headed to Cumberland mountain state park to celebrate with Mark's family. This was a great in between place for us to meet and we all got our own cabins. I'm thinking I'd like to go back.

Anyway, we got there late on Friday so we went to bed. Saturday morning we all had breakfast and then opened gifts.

Evie was very pleased with her doll set.

We hung out the rest if the day, and then hade dinner. I brought stuffed shells and pumpkin crisp, while Mark's sister made salad and green beans. I think it was pretty good.

We played a few games and then went to bed. The next morning we had breakfast and then headed home. A fun weekend.

However, it seems everyone was recovering from colds and guess what, we caught them. So I've been trying to write while sick...but you can guess how that's gone!

Catching up- Christmas

So I love Christmas time and I try to make it special for my family as much as possible.

The first thing we always do is decorate the house. I have something like 6-10 totes of decor. Excessive, yes and no. To me I love celebrating and it has all been accumulating over the years of our marriage. To be really honest, a lot has been gifted to us by our families as well. But excessive in that we have multiple trees (full size trees) and every room as decor.

My favorite part of our decor is all my nativity scenes. Where most have a tree in every room, I've got a nativity for every room. I love them all!

The next thing we start is our Jesse tree. I love this tradition and it's only our second year doing it. Each day we read a devotion about the lineage of Jesus. We then hang the corresponding ornament on the tree. Elizabeth loves the little tree and is slowly starting to understand the stories. By the way we use the Ann V series. It's beautifully written.

Soon after we start the Jesse tree it's time for the advent wreath. I bought a new one this year and you wouldn't believe the excitement the girls had when we would light the candles at dinner.

Once work ended I tried to do several crafts with the girls. We had a ball!

We spend quite a bit of time at church this time of year and this season was no exception. I'm in choir so we practiced frequently for our cantata. And to be honest, I had a solo but gave it up. I get so nervous singing in front of people that I shut down. After a talk with the choir director it got resolved. Maybe one day I'll be brave enough to sing alone.

Mark and I were in charge of the children's Christmas production too. Because our church is small, we decided to do a variety show as we don't have enough kids in one age group for much else. The show had singing, playing instruments, a children's bell choir, a game of teens vs. adults, and some improv. It went really well. I was especially proud of Elizabeth who sang to every song. Not to mention, the teenagers who brought the house down.

During practice for the children's program, we tried to teach the kids something as well. Each practice we participated in a different mission. We made operation Christmas child boxes for our international mission. We made recycled decorations and raised money for Solar Under the Sun (an organization that brings solar power to areas with no power) for our good stewardship campaign. Finally, we collected food items for our local food bank. The kids had a ball and I think learned a little about giving back. As my oldest said, "if we don't help, some kids can't have a Christmas".

I also somehow got to run the Christmas party at preschool. I didn't go as crazy at Christmas as I did Halloween, but it ended up going well too. We had a yummy snack, made ornaments for the parents, decorated trees, and exchange a book. Elizabeth was very excited to get a sponge bob book, as I don't let her watch it.

Finally we reached Christmas eve, and Mark's aunt Fran came to spend Christmas with us. We had so much fun. Our Christmas eve consisted of a nice breakfast, lunch at my cousin Stephanie's house, a little cooking, Christmas eve communion as a family, dinner at my mom's, reading the birth of Christ from the bible, and then our traditional quiz.

Communion is probably my favorite time. It's a simple service with each family taking communion together. The reverend says a blessing and we light a small candle for our family. By the end of the evening the church is lit up in candle light. It is beautiful and you can feel the presence of God immediately.

If you're wondering about the quiz, that tradition started when we were little. You see my parents wanted us to listen to the bible story and commit it to memory. So in order to open one gift on Christmas eve, we had to answer a question pulled from the story. You better believed we listened. Over the years our competitive nature has taken over, so now we grow more excited about finding the perfect question to stump each other. I'll give you an example. We usually read the KJV of the bible, but this year we used NIV. The story is the same but the language is slightly different. I made my sister contrast the differences between the two versions when the angel spoke. If you know my sister, this was easy for her. Lol

Evie got a doll that night.
Elizabeth loved her new pony!

When we returned from my mom's we got the cookies, milk, and carrot out for Santa and his reindeer. We then lit our own advent candles together and said our goodnight prayers. The girls went to bed and we got to work.

She left Santa cookies, milk, and a hand written note (she wrote it!).  The carrot is for the reindeer.

Santa definitely came and even delivered some homemade gifts from mommy. Included were some lounge pillows for the girls to lay on while watching tv. I sewed four pillowcases together and viola, nap mats! I also created some cute figurine blocks for them with mods epode and wooden blocks from micheals. Elizabeth loves these! Finally I crocheted Evie a little doll. It's made to look like her. She also loves it.
Elizabeth's Santa gifts

Evie's Santa gifts, the doll I made is in the front.

The rest of their gifts followed a strict rule. Three gifts to follow the three gifts from the wise men. A want, a need, and an article of faith. The girls got three from mommy & daddy, and three from Santa. The rest was small trinkets of candy and nail polish. It very much simplified our Christmas and I plan to do more next year. It worked so well and no one was disappointed, as gifts were carefully thought out and chosen with care.

After opening presents from Santa, my parents and sister arrived for breakfast. We had quiches, hash town casserole, and cranberry apple bake. I hate to brag, but I think I may have found the best quiche and pie dough recipe ever.

We finished up presents and the rested a bit, before heading to my mom's house. There we had lunch and exchanged gifts with my dad's family. After the usual melee, we finally headed home. A great Christmas indeed!

Catching up- thanksgiving

Every year we have Thanksgiving at Mark's family home. When his grandmother passed a couple of years ago, it's fallen to his mom to cook most of the food. So I do my best to help as much as I can.

This year we had thanksgiving the night before, as several of his family members had to work the following day. It was a bit strange not eating together the day of, but we still had a good meal.

To help out I made: the dressing, pea salad, mashed potatoes, green beans, sour dough bread, gravy, ham, Mac and cheese, pumpkin roll, pecan pie, and sugar cookies.

I even made a few special cookies for the kids.

We didn't shop the day after, opting to get ready and head home. I'm glad we did as we were able to settle and go to church.

All in all, a pretty good holiday.

Catching up- Halloween

Let me just say, Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. It's so much fun, it rivals Christmas. So I was just a bit excited when it was time.

First we decorated the house. Then we worked on costumes. I had a spider girl and little Cinderella. They are just too adorable.

I also had a pony, because mommy bought the costume early and the forgot about it when we made spider girl. Whoops.

This year we had a ball with all the parties. First up, Kindermusik.

This wasn't a party but a fun time to dress up for my girls.

Second, the preschool party. I was in charge of the party for Elizabeth's class.

We made games:

Had a yummy snack:

And decorated our own pumpkins:

I had so much fun planning it, and you wouldn't believe how much I used pinterest for ideas. Or maybe you would if you saw my pinterest page. Lol

Next up was our trunk it treat at church. Since we live in the country, we don't have a neighborhood to really tick or treat in. So instead we do trunk or treat at our church. This year,we had record colds, so for the safety if kids we moved the fun indoors.

The day before I went over to help decorate. This included decorating our table with my two pumpkins- my lollipop pumpkin and our scary demon pumpkin. Elizabeth helped carve them too.

I have to say, Ashley, who headed the project up did an amazing job. We served hotdogs, chips, and desserts. Played games, treated kids, and listened to great music. There were ever crafts for kids.

It was a ball.

We even got a family snapshot, with an extra addition (Elizabeth's best friend jumped in). I was a butterfly, if you can't tell.

It was just a ton of fun, I can't wait for next year!

Catching up- Beach trip

So I'm pretty behind, but I'll get there and hopefully before January ends. Ha!

Next up is our beach trip.

In October we were lucky to go to the beach again. Mark unfortunately couldn't take off work, so the girls, my parents, and sister packed up and headed to Myrtle beach.

It was a blast. The girls loved the ocean, pool, and lazy river.

It did rain some, so we shopped those days. I got some new work clothes and the girls some new clothes too.

At night we crafted and watched movies. All in all a great trip!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New years

So the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013 have not gone well. I immediately got sick and Mark & Elizabeth were soon to follow. I had hoped to have a little party for the girls on new years eve, but I was too busy coughing up my lungs for much else.

In fact, I crept down the hall to wish Mark happy new year at midnight...only to end up in a coughing fit. Whoops!

So we haven't quite gotten to celebrate as I hoped. However, I'm praying that this is the low point of the year, only up from here? ;)

I've got several catch up posts to publish over the next two days and then I'll be sharing my goals for the new year. Stay tuned and best to you all!
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