Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
1 Corinthians 3:17

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Our Christmas Celebrations

This whole month has just flown by! It seems like just yesterday we were walking down the road in search of our family tree...and there it was!
I sold our wagon since I thought we were moving, so this year we mixed it up a bit and did some extra running back and forth because the thought of hauling the tree home on our shoulders wasn't all that appealing, ha!

There were visits to Santa, lots of goodies to try from my Pinterest board (most were a hit, awesome!), and special things I hoped would be meaningful to our family. I was really hoping that all these little things would show everyone how much I love them and want them to feel cherished.

And of course there was this extra special Christmas surprise...

This is how our tree looked on Christmas morning, before anyone else was awake...well, technically, before I let Caleb come downstairs...everything looked shimmery from the all the candles, and I thought it looked so magical and beautiful.

When Caleb and I {finally} roused everyone, we raced downstairs and checked out the empty plate and coffee mug and sang Happy Birthday to Jesus...
some look more awake than others, huh?  =)

The kiddos have been thanking us all week for Ryder- they walk around saying, "I still can't believe we have a dog!" I love it!

 We went to my parent's church and the children were called down front to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and then they served birthday cake to the entire congregation! I thought that was so neat!

I was ultra organized with some things, but not with others, like Christmas dinner. I know, I know! I made due but it was nothing spectacular. The drinks and treats on the other hand were really great!  =)

 so fun and festive!
and a great way to use up leftover decorating gel & candy canes!

 the official taste-tester gave these a thumbs up!
 doesn't that look gorgeous!?!
 This was so much fun too! I was thrilled it actually worked! (ignore the weird lighting and color- my camera was yet again in the wrong mode and I just didn't realize until later, as in, when the cake was all gone.) The red and green were SO vibrant and pretty! The recipe called for white and green frosting, but we wanted some chocolate so I made a quick glaze and sprinkled snowflake candies all over. Thank you Pinterest!

We have had a wonderful week, going on hikes with Ryder, special dinners out, a little night swimming and ice cream sundaes for lunch! I must say it took a couple of days for me to get used to having a dog in the house, but he is a sweet, sweet boy! So far, Jonah has fallen asleep on him (yes, ON him) twice, he cuddles so nicely, and he doesn't run off or pull hard on the leash. He is the perfect dog for us and I'm so thankful I gave in and said yes!
There is one thing, though.

The kitties aren't quite convinced yet.
But I'm sure they'll be good friends in time!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Kitchen Helpers and a Prayer for the Lonely

I love these things....
I mean, really, really love them.

But today was both a good day and a not-so-great day. Kinda weird. I'm trying to make Christmas special, but I keep getting bogged down with unrealistic expectations and dashed hopes. It's my own fault I think- there are SO many things that are special and wonderful right in front of me but I've worked myself up in such a frenzy that it's become difficult to remember, or enjoy.

My heart feels heavy for people who are all alone during this time of celebrating and family togetherness. I know I'm not alone even when I'm feeling my most lonely, and it makes me sad to think of those who truly, truly are all alone. There seems like so little I could do to help anyone, but I can offer a smile, a kind word, a small gift or goody bag, maybe even dinner at our is my heart's desire to show Christ's love and concern for those around me, but so many times my intentions stay just that- intentions. I want to DO something! Hopefully I'll have something to share about this later!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Birthday Girl & Pics from Caleb's Pajama Drive

My baby girl is growing up!

Five years old today!
I'll share her portraits when I get around to taking them, you know, in all my free time lately.  =)

She was pretty psyched about her lunch dates...her very first ballerina barbies! I have to admit, I'm not a huge fan of the whole Barbie genre, but...these were on clearance, and for $2.99 a pop, my little girl has been smiling
And their bodies are painted so no nekked barbie bods around the house.
Win win. Is that weird that I think that way? Probably...what's new, right?

 Daddy brought the birthday girl special flowers!

I love how she is gazing up at Belle here! I have to tell you, Belle's hair is so soft and silky, I was having a hard time giving her back to my Belle. I have always loved brushing and playing with baby doll hair! More weirdness, I'm sure!  =)

My five-year-old sweet birthday girl and me

Happy Birthday Isabelle Kate! You will always be my heart's greatest joy and delight!

And here are a couple pics from our annual PJ drive on Caleb's birthday:

Nine-year-old Caleb and his proud Mama - what a wonderful young man he is becoming!
 We celebrated on his actual day with Birthday Pie- YUM!

I guess this picture should have gone first...oh well- backwards seems to be the perfect descriptive word for me these days, ha ha!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sharing My Heart

I've been trying without success for several minutes now to upload some pictures onto Picasa, but...nada. I don't know why, but boy oh boy does that make my blood boil! I'm trying to do something important here and the powers that be- mainly technology in general- have thrown a wrench in the works. (Yes, I am poking fun at myself here.)

Sigh. Deep breath. Life goes on.

I think I may be a teensy bit frustrated and flustered because my schedule has changed this week (and keeps changing) and with two birthdays, school parties, teacher gifts, plus a long, sad soap opera of a story with my minivan, dealing with some personal issues, and life in general, I feel like I'm sinking. And it's only 6:20 AM!

I want this time of year to be filled with peace and joy and wonderment and gratitude for all that I have, all that I have been blessed with. But I'm finding that easier said than done.  I'm just plain sad. I know I've chosen not to share very personal details about my family life, so there's really a mountain of things the world at large knows nothing about, and it seems to be leaving deep, messy scars all over me. I find myself often wishing that I didn't have to go through this, that this can't possibly be my life story. I feel desperate to trade mine in for another, any other. But God is in control, and while I don't even pretend to understand the reasons for these trials, I do know that none of my hurt will be wasted. Normally that helps me, but I'm just plain sad.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Caleb's Wild Volcano Birthday Party

Happy Birthday Caleb!!
Today is officially my littlest boy's 9th birthday!
To be perfectly honest, I'm having a really, really hard time with it. He just isn't supposed to be getting this much older this quickly!

Saturday was the big day for the party- Caleb invited some friends and we had family come over to celebrate with us. Some years, I combine a party just for family for Caleb's and Isabelle's birthdays, and then do a party with friends at a different time, but that's a lot of work too! So this year we had everyone come party together, and Caleb had a great time so that makes all the effort worthwhile.

The volcano cake I tried to make was a total and complete disaster!
So Bill came to the rescue and stayed up really late to make this one for Caleb- I think he did a fantastic job!
 The bottom layer was a bundt cake (my only contribution that didn't flop, ha!), and then he baked a second dome cake, cut out a thick hole in the center to fill with "Magma" frosting, and we drizzled the "Lava" all along the slope of the volcano.
For extra fun, we burned marshmallows for charcoal debris and added some red fruit roll-ups to look like pooled up lava along the edge. Caleb thought it was awesome so I was happy!  =)

It began to spit snow as soon as we headed outside for more volcano fun...and it was freeeeeezing! But the boys didn't care!

I just love their reaction to the Mentos geyser here!

 Get out of the line of fire quick, Caleb!!

That was our best one!

We did a few things with baking soda and vinegar, and then were off on an adventure scavenger hunt. Bill had made several clues for them around the house (outside...yay!), only sometimes boys don't get clues...I guess you need to be a bit more direct at times, ha ha.
They finally made it through and found their treasure- we wrapped some Super Heroes and Star Wars puzzles from the dollar store and taped some Christmas candies to the boxes. I thought that would be a fun alternative to the traditional goody bag, and they seemed happy with the whole thing. It was fun watching them collaborate and run this way, then that way, then over there, squealing and yelling the entire time!

And then it was time to come inside for cake...Caleb was especially excited to see a sparkler atop the volcano! I got that idea from Cake Boss when he made a Transformer cake. Thanks Buddy!

 My gorgeous birthday boy!
Caleb is one of the friendliest, kindest, most enthusiastic people I know, and I'm so privileged to have the honor of being his Mom. I love you so much my big little boy!

All the elements of fun for any little boy:
food, friends & family, and FIRE

We're thankful for a wonderful family and fantastic friends- thank you for making Caleb's day a hit!

I just have to include these pictures of Isabelle and her sweet new cousin Naomi!

I was running around in the kitchen and had no idea what was going on in the family room until Karen told my settings were all off, but I think you can see how proud and happy Isabelle was to be giving Baby Naomi a pachi all by herself! I am having an even harder time with the fact that my baby girl is turning five on Thursday. It just can't be!

Today is a busy day- I've got to finish up Caleb's birthday pops for his classmates, work on some projects, wrap a bit more, clean a lot more, and then tonight is our annual Pajama Drive with hot cocoa to see all the Christmas lights. It is one of my favorite family traditions!

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