Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas is in the air and on the table!

I have managed (with the help of my daughter) to get a few things decorated for Christmas.  I love my Christmas china. 

And plenty of room for lots of family to gather around and enjoy some Christmas goodies.

What will you enjoy at your table this Christmas?  I would love to hear about your great recipes. 

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

He wears many hats!

The boy loves to wear a hat.  Do we have a cowboy in the future?

Or maybe the next LSU football star? (Hey it can happen)

Beware if you leave one laying around. 

Even if you don't think it's a hat! 

Such a happy little man. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Stories of Christmas' Past

I've been known to be fanatical about how things go at Christmas.  Yes I get completely caught up in the gift giving part of Christmas.  I love to pick out all of the presents and I love to use themes.  No clue where that started but it did and I do it most often without even realizing that I've done so.  I also have traditions that seem to be expected!  Last year I made the grave mistake of thinking that everyone had plenty of pj's and didn't need a new pair.  Well - it appears that we had been opening them on Christmas Eve and wearing them Christmas morning.  How did I miss that??  The scene last year was an ugly one when it was discovered that there would be Zero new jammies.  Bet that one never gets overlooked again.

We should have taken a cue from our not quite 2 year old on her second Christmas.  She hated Santa and we had to avoid all things Santa.  I had a really cute stuffed Santa sitting in a rocking chair and she insisted we "put back".  So back to the closet he went.  Everyone kept telling her that Santa was coming on Christmas Eve and guess who stayed awake ALL night long for fear of that man coming to her house!  Yep - all night.    Santa has caused us many sleepless Christmas Eve nights.  That same child only hated Santa that one year.  The next year she was awake and ready to check for his arrival around 1 a.m.  And so the tradition began of waking long before morning.  When she became a tween we set limits on the time.  (we actually threatened to put pad locks on her door and lock her in)  We decided that 6:30ish was plenty early to get up.  I'm getting sleepy just thinking about it!

I was so fanatical about the gifts that I would boobie trap them to see if they had been bothered!  Yes - Seriously.  If one was moved I would know it because I would have a string of lights laying over a particular one and if any gift was disturbed it would disturb the light.  Yes indeed - you would not outsmart me and peek in those gifts.  There is a reason for such behavior.  When I was a teen-ager - I thought it would be really fun to sneak my gifts from under the tree -slice open the tape and re-tape them after I had peeked inside.  Christmas morning was miserable.  Totally no fun.  I simply wanted to spare my children of such an unhappy Christmas morning.  I'm just that kind of nice mom to want to spare her children such sadness! 

Gift wrapping became another challenge.  The girls would beg and worry me about their packages that it became my newest challenge to give them more adventure!  I would wrap their presents in their own special paper and not put names on them.  So they spent the time trying to figure out which gifts were theirs!  I changed it up to different bows one year and numbers and just about anything to keep them guessing.  Can you tell I love a challenge? 

The year 2001 proved to be a very difficult Christmas.  My dad died on December 14 and the terminal diagnosis of my mother-in-law came the very same weekend.  I had been my dad's caretaker and he had been very ill for the entire year.  I was in no mood to shop and certainly did not have time to spend wrapping.  I was not the best person to spend that Christmas with but we kept it together and survived.  I was extremely sad that I had no fun wrapping and to top it off I had a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.  It was as sad and pitiful as a tree could be.  We were renovating our new "old" house and living in a temporary home full of boxes.  All of the gifts were stashed at my mom's and I pulled one more trick out of the hat.  Just a few days before Christmas I brought home two large boxes (and I don't mean coat boxes) two rolls of wrapping paper and I made a plan.  I took all of the gifts for our girls and placed them in the two large boxes.  I wrapped them in the two different papers and set them beside our poor little tree.  I apologized to my girls through tears and told them it was the best I could do.  They tore into those boxes on Christmas morning and thought it was the best idea ever.  They only had to open one box and pull everything out.  In the end it turned out to be quite fun. 

This year will be another "different" year but it will be filled with lots of family time and through all of the chaos it will be special in it's own way.  It has already proved to be way out of my comfort zone as far as Christmas goes.  The girls joined me for shopping on Black Friday and picked out most of their own gifts.  That is another first for me.  It spoils all surprise factors and that is going to stretch me beyond my bounds of control.  And I mean really stretch. I keep thinking they will be so sad because they already know what everything is. But I am reminded that they are grown and that is really hard to believe. We have young Owen and he will be surprised but as far as the girls go - they will get to open and enjoy their things but not be surprised.

But if I stop to remember that Christmas is about the real gift of Jesus and that His promises are new every day, I won't have any reason to be sad or let down.  The most important gift that I can give is to teach them about Jesus not Santa.  To remind them that there will never be a more important gift than the one that was given so freely.  The gift that will last them an eternity.  The only gift that can truly satisfy us and meet our needs.  Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

He was and is our gift.  Freely given and He hold everything on His shoulders.  He is a Mighty God and worthy to be praised. 

So Merry Christmas!  Make some great Christmas memories but enjoy the true gift.  It's a free unconditional gift.  Maybe Santa does need to be "put back" in our closet.  His bills can get rather scary after all!


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Works For Me Wednesday

works for me wednesday at we are that family

Kristen is the host of Works For Me Wednesday and she hosts a weekly blog carnival.  You can visit it here.  This week's theme is Holiday Gift Tip.  She is also having a wonderful giveaway if you link up.   She has some great ideas about shopping this holiday season that you should really check out.

Through the years some of the tips that have helped me or that work for my family are:

Wrapping paper - My kids were fanatics about trying to guess their packages.  So - I took a tip from a friend and wrap each childs gifts in their own distinct paper.  The kicker is that I don't tell them which packages are theirs.  Their guessing is all about which paper is theirs.  Makes things a fun for me since I am the only one who knows which paper belongs to which kiddo!  It certainly works for me.

This year in the spirit of giving more and spending less it has been decided among dear friends that we will give each other the gift of time.  Rather than exchanging gifts we will take the time to spend an evening together and enjoying our families.  The last few years have been spent trying to find a simple hour to exchange gifts.  This year we will set aside an evening and catch up.  I am so looking forward to cooking some goodies and enjoying that evening.

Lists - lists always work for me.  I listen to what the kids are asking for and then determine what fits in my spending budget.  That's the list I try to stick with and seek out those bargain prices.  Another way I work those bargains is to buy something during the Christmas sales and set aside for birthdays.  Those things start in January at my house.

If you need ideas for shopping  this season -  And if you want to make a contribution then go here.  You can't go wrong. 

Last tip - don't like to shop?  I have a friend that wants to shop for you.  Seriously.  Any locals that want someone to shop for you.  Give her a list and she'll take care of it.  Groceries and all.  Want your stuff wrapped?  She'll take care of that as well.  I'll gladly hook you up if you want to give her a try.

Merry Christmas - happy wrapping!

Return to Reality

30-Day Giving Challenge

I stepped away from reality for a little while.  I started the month of November out with an enthusiam for giving.  I wanted to make the month about doing for others and stepping away from self.  I managed to gain so much more than I was giving.  The gains were certainly not monetary but gains all the same.  When I signed on to the 30 days of giving challenge I wanted to make certain that it was not a financial hardship.  While working on ideas to give  without cost I began de-cluttering.  I was overwhelmed by clutter at my house along with the task of going through the personal things of two other households.  There didn't seem to be enough hours in the day to clean and de-clutter so I simply fretted about it all.  Delivering clothes to a local shop that supports a woman's shelter was one of my choices in giving.  An overflowing closet can now be used again.  Although there is still so much to de-clutter - it's a beginning. 

Another area that is cluttered is my life in general.  We, as a family, live life on the go.  I was tired and the anxiety of the holiday was taking over.  I had things I wanted to do yet I seemed to be pulled in different directions so I did what normal people do.  I bailed!  I accepted an invitation to spend the holiday with an Aunt and I took it.  Although DH could not join us - the kids and I loaded up and left town for a few days.  I had 5 full days of family.  We ate and shopped.  Took in some Christmas lights in Ft. Worth and oohed over Cowboy Stadium where our beloved Saints just played (and won).  We watched TV together and we did things that we should do much more often like laughing and being lazy.  Our tree is up and decorated and most of the shopping is complete. 

I wanted to be disappointed in the fact that I didn't get to all of the things on "my" list of giving opportunities.  I leaned toward the feeling of failure - but the reality is that giving does not have to go outside the doors of my home.  My family needed the down time and they needed me to slow down and enjoy the blessings that were right in front of me.  Saying no to some meant saying yes to my family.  Setting some boundaries with my time was the best gift I could offer my husband and children.  It was a blessing to participate in 30 days of giving and to open my eyes to what is important.  The good thing is that there are many days to come in which I can pull out my list and do some things that I choose to do. 

It has been refreshing to seek out ways to give and to pay better attention to the needs of others.  Even if that need is to simply notice that they are having a bad day and need someone to simply care.  I took those opportunities as divine appointments from God - He placed those types of situations before me and it was my place to follow through with showing His love to others - to complete strangers. 

What a blessing these ladies are to host such an event.  Each one was an inspiration as are their blogs each day. 

So - here's to many more days of giving.  Here's to returning to reality as a rested and relaxed member of society. 

Love you guys,