Saturday, November 29, 2008

Christmas Tag!

I LOVE Christmas! I got tagged twice for this one (by Heather and MaryLou) and I would do it twice I like Christmas so much, but I'll just answer it once so as not to bore everyone.

The rules:
1. Post the rules on your blog.
2. Fill out the questions below
3. Tag 5-7 people at the end of your post.
4. Pass on the tag.
Have FUN!!

1.Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
Um, Hot Chocolate, although I can't really say I've ever tried egg nog. The idea of egg nog just grosses me out.

2.Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
No Santa here, but definitely wrapped by me. I LOVE wrapping presents! I'm always offering to help wrap other people's presents because I love it.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
None on the house, but if I were to actually have money and energy to decorate the outside of the house, they would be white. My attention-to-detail-personality has difficulty with the randomness of colored lights. :) Obviously, the tree lights are white.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
No. I don't believe in PDA. :)

5. When do you put your decorations up?
Our tradition is to put them up the day after Thanksgiving and then watch "It's A Wonderful Life." This year, we are still out of town, so the tree won't be up until Dec. 1.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
One dish? I can't pick one dish, it's about the meal as a whole. The husband doesn't like turkey and ham, so that's pretty much the only time I get it. I will second Heather's answer of Mom's homemade potato rolls. I loved waking up to the smell of those rolls cooking and sneaking one as soon as they came out of the oven!

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child:
Ditto Heather's response, "Oh, I can’t pick just one.. cutting down the tree each year, building the nativity stable with dad and adding the life - size figures - Christmas Eve pajamas and reading the nativity story. The year mom and dad pulled off the biggest surprise ever - a trip to Disney World! We left the next day." Holidays were pretty good in our house!

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I don’t remember. However, Heather, I didn't know that you got to help fill stockings! How did I miss that?

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
We've carried on the Christmas Eve pajama gifts also. Mom made the girls Star Wars pajama pants this year. (Yes, I said made the GIRLS Star Wars pajama pants. They love Star Wars.)

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
White lights (I hate that part, one day we'll buy a pre-lit); red and gold ribbon; red, white, and gold ornaments, red tree skirt. I try to hide the "homemade" and Star Wars ornaments on the back of the tree, but somehow they always sneak to the front. Hmmm.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
Love it as long as I don't have to drive anywhere!

12. Can you ice skate?
Never tried. Pathetic huh?

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
The Disney World Trip! Hands down! Mom wrapped a "Good for One Trip to DisneyWorld" coupon in a jewelry box and we opened it and they told us we would be leaving the next day! I hope to surprise my children with a fun gift like that someday.

14. What is the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
Celebrating Jesus' birth and spending time with family. Creating great Christ-centered traditions and fun for my family.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
Pumpkin Pie with whipped topping and a good cup of coffee!

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
The Advent Calendar, driving through the Christmas light displays, setting up the nativity scene in the front yard, watching Christmas movies throughout the season. I obviously can't pick a favorite. I love everything about Christmas!

17. What tops your tree?
A gold star.

18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving?
They are both fun, but Giving is the best! It's so fun to shop for other people!

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
"Go Tell It On the Mountain" Though, I'm a self-proclaimed Christmas music junkie. I'll be putting up a post about this later this week!

20. Candy​ Canes​!​ Yuck or Yum?
Yuck.

21. What do you want for Christmas?
A new necklace for my Jael pendant, a stand mixer, Rachael Ray pots and pans, a new electric knife, a camera case, stuff to decorate my house, a Wii for the family, books. My list is kind of long this year because I'm missing MOST kitchen utensils after moving!

22. Do you attend an annual Christmas Party?
We haven't in the past, but will be with the Media Team this year. The girls and I are going to start a new "Christmas Tea" tradition with all our girl friends.

23. Do you dress up on Christmas or wear PJs?
It used to be pajamas for most of the morning and then change into casual clothes the rest of the day. Now, I tend to shower and get dressed as soon as I get up. Just depends on where we are and what we're doing.

24. Do you own a santa hat?
Nope. Don't promote the man here.

25. Who do you normally spend Christmas with?
Changes from year-to-year. Sometimes we go to the in-laws, sometimes my family, sometimes we stay at home. I usually try to invite Mom and Dad to at least join us so they don't have to spend the morning by themselves, and so that Mom can make her traditional ginormous Christmas brunch! :)

This was fun! I got kind of teary-eyed remembering some of the things! I'm looking forward to hearing your answers! I'm tagging.

1. Kim
2. Meghan
3. Sarah
4. MamaHenClucks
5. Carrie
6. Tyler
7. Aimee

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Biggest Loser Thanksgiving Live Blog

1. Oh, I miss Coleen too. Absolutely, Vicky will be after Amy. She missed her chance to take Vicky out! Bob, we don't like Vicky! We wanted her gone! I guess now we know that Bob probably pressured Amy into voting for Coleen. Heba is right, Vicky is still out to get Amy. Did you see those evil glances from Vicky? I'm sick to my stomach seeing Vicky put on her sweet face for the NFL players. I would so be flat on my face on that rope course. Too funny that they have football week and there is only one guy left on the ranch!

COMMERCIAL BREAK: I REALLY want to see Four Christmases. I wonder if I can cram that in this weekend somehow? OH, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade! I love it!

2. Michelle's legs are looking skinny in those tight black pants. Ugh, Vicky is so manipulative! Right on Renee, Vicky should have been gone! Whatever, it totally mattered to you who won this prize.

COMMERCIAL BREAK: I'm cold. Going to get some coffee. I'm back. Make that coffee and a cupcake. :)

3. Ed, the only man in the house. Poor guy. Seriously. I don't think I could handle living in that house! What's up with Bob biting Ed's head off? The only attitude I heard was Bob's. I'm sorry, I love you Bob. I really do. Amy is so cute. I don't know how to play football either, honey. Oh man, I was hoping for some tackle football. I wanted to see Michelle and Renee take down Vicky. Well, the challenge actually sounds fun for once anyway. I wouldn't mind 4 nights in Honolulu, though I probably would skip the Probowl and stay on the beach. :) OH my, Heba looks like she was born to wear a football uniform. Ed is funny. I'd be all about catching the balls too. Okay, maybe not. Looks a little harder than I thought. Ha ha, "Heba had already spent that money as soon as it touched my hands." Yep, we can tell she wears the pants in the family. I was hoping Renee was going to tackle Heba to get that ball. Oh, Amy, I can't believe you thought you and Vicky had patched things up. I sure hope Vicky is below the line again this week.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

4. Um, hello, did everyone else in the house really not see the Ed, Heba, Vicky alliance? Oh, Amy. There's something about two malicious women being friends that scares me. Anyone else? I don't want to talk about it either Michelle. I'm not sure I want to see "the crazy side" of Jillian. "No one bullies my team, except for me." That's funny. I do hope Michelle, Renee, and Amy win this weigh-in! Does Amy have a crush on Rocco? That turkey looks nasty. Not as good as the one I'll be making Thursday. :) Ham hocks? I just finished making my stuffing today. I can't wait to eat it Thursday!

COMMERCIAL BREAK: We would love a Wii this year. Maybe next year. I don't like K-Mart, too much bad customer service. Every time I go I swear I'll never go again.

5. Amy does have a thing for Rocco, I thought so! I hate touching raw meat. I can't stand cleaning the turkey. Good thing Mom will be here to help! Can you make pumpkin pie with a crumble? Who am I kidding? The crust is the best part. It's not worth eating without the crust! Traditional turkey has 480 calories per serving? That's crazy! New family? You all don't even like each other! That was a sweet speech from Rocco. Does it make anyone else sad that Vicky is a mother and the example she is setting in her manipulative/vindictive attitudes? Thank you Renee, for actually mentioning God!

COMMERCIAL BREAK

6. When did they record this Thanksgiving stuff anyway? I never noticed Amy's tattoo before. I love her Mom. Aw, Michelle's Dad is so sweet. Wow, how young is Renee's husband? Those were sweet videos! Oh, Vicky and Brady's little boy is so cute! More than one leaving the ranch? Oh, maybe Vicky and Heba? I suppose that would be a little too much to ask wouldn't it?

COMMERCIAL BREAK: I don't do Black Friday. Me and crowds don't get along very well. It totally drains me and makes me crabby for the entire day. I prefer the online shopping. Yep, I'm an introvert!

7. Oh Bob, drop the four-strong thing please!

COMMERCIAL BREAK: I put that girl to bed an hour ago, why oh why is she screaming at me instead of sleeping? Why don't they make one-piece pajamas that two-year-olds can't unzip? She's been tucked for the fifth time now.

8. Finally, we're to the one-piece weigh-in shirts for the girls. Why can't they just do that from the beginning? Wow, 5 pounds for Amy. I wonder how that will play out? It's amazing how Heba is just now getting to where the other ladies were at the beginning. That's a huge mountain to climb. Even though I don't like her, good for her!

COMMERCIAL BREAK: Teasing me with Four Christmases again. Did I mention that I really want to see that? That commercial was gross, kind of makes me want to use Dove, even though I've never liked it. I think that Diamond ring is actually ugly. Oh, toilet cleaning, I have to do that tomorrow and showers and floors and kitchen. I'm tired already. Here we go with Rosie again. Anyone else can't stand her like me? No thanks. I won't be tuning in to that show.

9. I think Vicky is grinning seeing Amy's name move down the list. Ugh. Let's hope Vicky has less than 5 pounds this week. Shucks. One of our three will probably be going home. :( Awesome Renee! But darn, that pushes Amy below the line! Okay Michelle, let's push Heba below the line! She looks so much smaller than 186 to me. I wonder how tall she is?

COMMERCIAL BREAK: Those earrings are ugly too. Can you tell I'm not really a jewelry person?

10. I'm nervous. Holy Moly! I think Bob might throw up! Actually he looks mad! That Heba hug makes me mad, she's totally going to vote Amy off. But wait, where's the twist? So, they'll vote two and two. How do they decide who goes? Wait, Vicky might just vote off Heba? She is manipulative. Maybe Vicky wants to break up Ed and Heba over getting revenge on Amy? Hmmm, interesting. I can't believe this is in the hands of Vicky. Revenge? Made promises to both of them? Oh isn't that convenient?

COMMERCIAL BREAK: Crying again? Seriously, just go to sleep baby girl! I'll be back. "Mommy, I need chap-stick on my lips." Well, if you would stop crying, you wouldn't need chap-stick! I'm a very sympathetic mother, can you tell?

11. Surprise Surprise, Revenge wins out in Vicky's world. Okay, who else is going home? Just cut to it! Did you see the smirk on Vicky's face when Amy walked out of the room? It made me cringe. Oh, I love the makeover shows. Vicky looks awesome! Shellay looks tiny running! I didn't know she can sing! I don't like Tyra either. Okay, did I miss something? Didn't they say two people would be going home tonight? What's up with that?

DISCLAIMER: Remember, all in the spirit of reality TV. Not usually mean and bitter like this. Just talking some smack and rooting for the nice ones. :)

Monday, November 24, 2008

December: Planned and Purposeful

I know, it's not even Thanksgiving yet. I'll get back to Thanksgiving tomorrow. I just wanted to put this post up in case some of you wanted to do something similar. With Thanksgiving being so close to December this year, I thought I should give you some time to plan.

Every year it seems that we anticipate the Christmas season and then it is gone before we know it. We meant to take the girls to the live nativity. We meant to read those scriptures as a family. We meant to make cookies together. We meant to do that Advent wreath. We meant to make it more about Jesus. But somehow we didn't.

I decided this year to plan ahead to make sure that our Christmas is purposeful. To make sure that December doesn't come and go and we've lost focus again. This year, I have a plan to stay focused.

We used to do the Advent Calendar that you hang on the wall and open a door for each day. The girls loved it, but I felt like something was missing. So, I decided to make it more than an Advent Calendar, but an interactive Christmas where we spend time worshipping and celebrating together. I put together a list of all the things we want to do together and then "planned" my December. Here's what we're doing.

My mother got us one of these. I'm not sure exactly what it looks like, because she is bringing it up on Thanksgiving. Anyway, there are tons of different kinds (even a church). I love that we can use this year after year.


We also have a Nativity Set. In each box of the calendar, there will be a clue to find a present somewhere in the house. The present will include one piece of the nativity set, a scripture from the Christmas Story, a Christmas book, and a card explaining an activity that we are going to do that day, and the name of a family member or friend. (Don't worry, I'm making them one day at a time so the girls don't find them ahead of time. Don't ask why I know to do it that way.)


Each day, we will start with our Calendar. Find the present. Put the nativity piece in the set. Read the scripture verse. Pray for the family member. Read a Christmas book. Then, we will do our activity sometime during the day. Of course, the final nativity piece will be Jesus, which they will unwrap and add to the nativity set on Christmas Morning before we open any presents to ourselves.


I'll be doing a post about the books we will read later, but here are the activities we will be doing. I hope to do some more research this year and have a better idea of events that happen in our local community next year!



November 30
ADVENT WREATH AND SING CHRISTMAS CAROLS WITH DADDY ON GUITAR
DECORATE HOUSE-PUT UP TREES AND STOCKINGS
ORDER PIZZA AND WATCH IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE

December


1 --START ADVENT CALENDAR/FAMILY GAME NIGHT
2 --CHRISTMAS TREASURE HUNT
3 --MAKE CARDS FOR GRANDMA AND PAPA AND GREAT-GRANDMA JENNY
4 --GO TO LIBRARY FOR CHRISTMAS BOOKS
5 --BAKE CHRISTMAS COOKIES
6 --WATCH ELF
7 --ADVENT WREATH/A NIGHT IN BETHLEHEM (Children's event at church)
8 --FAMILY GAME NIGHT
9 --MAKE TREATS FOR NEIGHBORS AND DELIVER
10 --MAKE CARDS FOR GRANDMA AND GRANDAD
11 --HOT CHOCOLATE AND CANDY CANES FOR DESSERT
12 --MAKE TREATS FOR CHURCH STAFF AND DELIVER/VISIT LIVE NATIVITY
13 --WATCH HOME ALONE
14 --ADVENT WREATH AND SING CHRISTMAS CAROLS
15 --SHOP FOR MOMMY/FAMILY GAME NIGHT
16 --SHOP FOR DADDY AND WRAP PRESENTS
17 --GO OUT TO BREAKFAST
18 --BAKE CHRISTMAS COOKIES
19 --CHRISTMAS TEA PARTY!
20 --WATCH A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS
21 --ADVENT WREATH AND SING CHRISTMAS CAROLS
22 --DINNER OUT/DRIVE THROUGH CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
23 --CANDLELIGHT DINNER AND CHRISTMAS CAROLS
24 --ADVENT WREATH/OPEN ONE PRESENT (PAJAMAS) AND READ LUKE STORY
25 --SPECIAL BREAKFAST WITH HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS PARTY


That's what our activities will be. I'll be putting up a post about the books we will read later. I hope you will have a planned and purposeful December as well.


What special things do you have planned to do with your family this year? I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thanksgiving Fun

Another great thing about homeschooling is that we get to make our own schedule. When I made our schedule for this school year, I intentionally took the entire week of Thanksgiving off so that we could just have fun with learning about The First Thanksgiving, doing crafts, cooking, and well, doing all things Thanksgiving!

It ends up that we will be hosting a small amount of family for Thanksgiving this year, so this will be a great time for the girls to create the decorations as their craft projects as well as share with others what they are thankful for. I thought I would share what we are going to be doing with you and see if you have any more suggestions.
To start the week, we will read the book. "Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving." This is a great book for teaching about the first Thanksgiving. We also have the book, "Give Thanks to the Lord." We're going to make a trip to the library this Friday to find some more. Any suggestions for a good chapter book to read together this week about Thanksgiving? Age-appropriate for 4 and 5 year olds?
We're going to make these fun turkey cupcakes.


And maybe even these fun turkey cookies because we have a whole bag of candy corn to use, why not?



And then maybe we will deliver some to the neighbors because we DO NOT need that many sweets in this house!

We're going to make these coloring books to learn more about The First Thanksgiving.

Of course, we'll do a Tree of Thanksgiving. That's pretty much a tree made of construction paper and we will cut out leaves from all different colors of paper and write things that we are thankful for on the leaves and then "decorate" our tree with our thanksgiving messages. We'll put this on our dining room wall so that we can share it with our guests and even leave some blank leaves for them to add to it.

We're going to make placemats with scripture verses about Thanksgiving to use all week.

We might make Pilgrim Hat placecards for our actual Thanksgiving Dinner. We'll have to see if there is time for that!

A Pilgrim Scavenger Hunt is scheduled for Tuesday. We'll talk about things that the Pilgrims would have had at the first Thanksgiving and then have them go throughout the house finding items we have hidden such as corn, pumpkins, a small boat, turkeys, etc.

We'll read Bible stories about giving Thanks, such as Luke 17:11-19.

There are TONS of printable crosswords and word searches and coloring pages all over the internet. We might do some.

I'm hoping to make this centerpiece and fill it with something?


A tradition I started a few years ago, is to cover the Thanksgiving Table with butcher paper instead of a tablecloth. Then we leave crayons all over the place for people to write on the table what they are thankful for. We may just do this on the kid table this year? Might be a little too much with the Tree of Thanksgiving there too.

I'll use these as the kids' placemats because that'll keep them out of the kitchen for awhile. :)

That ought to keep us busy most of the week!

I've been serving Frozen waffles cut into the shape of a turkey for several years, so that will be breakfast on Thanksgiving. Unless I switch to the cinnamon rolls in the shape of a turkey I saw somewhere? After our bellies are full, it's time for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and waiting for Lunch to be ready. Yes, we're doing our meal at lunch this year.

A few years ago, when I hosted my first Thanksgiving, I found a great article in a magazine that gave recipes and talked about how to bake a few side dishes each day of the week in order to make Thanksgiving Day less stressful. It was a wonderful article. I used their "schedule" and it worked beautifully. I plan to do the same thing this year. Here's what I'll be cooking each day so that the only things we have to make on Thanksgiving are the turkey, mashed potatoes, and rolls!

Monday: Make bacon-pear stuffing. (This stuff is good!)

Tuesday: Make mashed sweet potatoes.

Wednesday: Assemble green bean casserole for baking on Thursday. Make cranberry sauce.

Thursday: Turkey and Gravy, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin rolls (I can't wait to try these!)

Our guests will probably be bringing dessert, so I'm off the hook on that one! :)

So, what will you be doing and what's on your menu?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Biggest Loser: I'm So Excited

Okay, I love each new season of TBL, but it always takes me a while to get into it. I have to get to know the contestants before I really care. Well, get to know them as much as the editors of the show want me to that is!

In the first few weeks, I thought the brown team looked so sweet and I was rooting for them. Over the course of the last few weeks, I'm totally down on brown! I cannot stand their bad attitudes and the fact that they have said they are only there to win the money! Ugh. They just don't get it and nothing about their "game play" and attitudes are making me like them.

That's why I was sooooooooo thrilled about Amy C's decision last week. I've been very excited to see this week to see the "aftermath" or "Vicky's revenge" shall we call it?

So, I'm sort of live-blogging here. A recap after each commercial break.

1. Oh Vicky get over yourself! You are not the only one who knows how to play this game. Amy has a better brain than you do because she figured out how to debunk your plan and you didn't even see it coming! Best part is, Amy didn't do it out of evil intentions, she saw an opportunity and took it. You're going down girl! And I've been down on Heba for a long time. So, as much as I love Bob, Amy is the ONLY blue team member I still want in this game. She's a sweetie!

COMMERCIAL BREAK

2. I love the 80s! But I don't think I could have ever put those outfits on! Bob was hysterical! I'm still laughing.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

3. Allison makes a great 80s girl! What a dumb challenge. I don't care to see Ed's abs through his cut-up T-shirt. I love Coleen too, though I think they should have teamed up against Vicky! Hee. Hee.

COMMERCIAL BREAK.

4. Yeah, Michelle won! I love her too. I still think it was a dumb challenge though. Alright, gotta go get me a snack. Why does watching fat people work out make me want to eat? That's sick and twisted sister. (I told you I love the 80s!)

COMMERCIAL BREAK. GETTING ME SOME SNACKAGE. (How cruel is that to have so many McDonald's commercials? And by the way, double cheeseburgers used to be on the dollar menu, so 1.29, not a good deal. Thanks alot McD's. Don't ask me why I know that.)

5. I would love to take a spin class, just not with Jillian. :) I love Michelle, but I'm tired of her crying and hearing about her issues with her Mom. Don't even get me started on Jillian's advice-giving again.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

6. I want to be in a medium shirt in 9 weeks. You go Coleen! Amy, you are sweet. That was a nice apology. Vicky took it better than I thought she would. I need some produce bags. I already have all those snacks Bob, they just don't taste as good as chocolate! :0)

COMMERCIAL BREAK I've got a few minutes. I guess you want to know what my snack was. Oooh, I want to see Four Christmases. I'm a sucker for Christmas movies and Reese Witherspoon movies. Maybe I should start calling for babysitters. Snack, um, it was a bowl of Raisin Nut Bran. Not the M&Ms and Cherry Coke of choice, but I've officially given up soda. Oh yes I have, and I'm actually not even crabby about it. Well, I'm allowing myself one a week, which is a ginormous improvement from one a day or two a day.

7. Do we really have to wear the 80s clothes all week? That can't be comfortable workout attire. I like Ed, too bad he's married to Heba, because I don't want her to win any money. I wish they didn't make the girls wear sports bras to the weigh-ins. Seriously.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

8. Wooohooooo, Vicky gets the penalty! Go Michelle, that was a gooooooood choice! Awesome weight loss too, 8 pounds? Sweeeeeet! Oh yeah, 8 pounds for Mommy-dearest too! Good job Ed. Aww, shocker, another commercial break.

COMMERCIAL BREAK (This is becoming the longest post ever!) Rosie, give it up. We don't care to see you on TV anymore. You did yourself in with your bad attitude and in-your-face liberalism. Oh, we're back. Off my Rosie soapbox.

9. Aw shucks, Heba didn't do as well. Crap, only 3 for Coleen. She made Jillian cry. Cool. I'm getting nervous for Amy. Come on more than 5! Ohhhhh baby, 8 pounds! Yipppeeee! I'm excited too Amy! Yeah, Bob is happy too! Deep down, I don't think he likes Vicky either. ;) More than 6 pounds. Come on 5. Yep. Commercial Break.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

10. Yippeeeeeeeeeeeeee, only 6 pounds. :) That's the way, uh huh,uh huh, I like it, uh huh, uh huh. 2 children and 60 hours a week, that's your rebuttle? Pu-lease! I sure hope she goes home, I don't think I can take another episode with her.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

11. Two votes Vicky. Two votes Coleen. Of course. Go Amy, take her out! No, Amy, No!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You just dug your own grave! The blue team will vote you out as soon as they have an opportunity! Coleen looks a little bit like Reese Witherspoon now. Anyone else think that?

Got to turn the TV off before I get sucked into Law & Order. Making myself go to bed early to get up and workout with Jillian, via DVD that is.

DISCLAIMER: I'm usually not this cruel or bitter. I just like to talk smack in competitive situations. :) It's all in the spirit of reality TV.

Swagbucks


Search & Win


I was just reading MamaHenClucks post yesterday about how she has all of her Christmas shopping done. Oh.yes.she.does. I admire her. I've been planning to do that for the last few years now because I cannot stand crowded stores. I'd rather shop at midnight than share the aisles with ten other carts and their pushers. Yes, I am an introvert. :)

Anyway, my favorite store is amazon.com. LOVE IT! So, I was very intrigued when I saw this post this morning. I had two thoughts.

1. I could do this because I could use me some amazon.com gift cards AND earn them for doing something that I already do (searching the internet and SHOPPING FROM HOME!)

2. I could do this so that MoneySavingMom gets my referral points because I think she deserves it with all the help she gives us frugal-learners every day!

We've had an interesting year financially this year with the whole career change and move. As a result, we will be having a very small Christmas budget (if any) this year. I don't expect to get a ton of gift cards this way, but every little bit could help! It's worth a shot!

I went ahead and signed up. It was super easy. I downloaded the toolbar too so that every time I search online it will automatically earn me points. If you are interested in this, you can go here and sign up or click the bar at the top of this post. Happy searching and shopping! Well, to those of you who aren't already DONE with your shopping that is!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Good Gifts from a GRAND God!

"What's in the box?"

You didn't really think I would answer you that easy did you? How 'bout a little back-story? It'll be so much more exciting that way.

To start off with, did you know that God sends gifts via USPS? Well, He does, in fact. How do I know? Because I got one! Intrigued yet?

Do you remember the post about what I pray? Well, I've got a whole bunch of people and things I've been praying about since July and I've seen many prayers answered. There were a few things on that list that might seem kind of selfish. I'll admit it. I thought they were pretty selfish too.

However, I know that God wants to give us good gifts. I know that He cares intimately for each and every one of us. I know that He already knows what is on our hearts, but He wants to hear it too. It's just part of the conversation I have with Him.

So, the thing in the box is a gift from Him, an answered prayer. Now that we've narrowed it down to something on that list, I think maybe we're going to have to take the story back further.

I haven't had a camera for 7 years. Okay, minus the BlackBerry phone that takes pics that is. We've had 4 children in that time and borrowed a camera for each and every birth. I've longed to take pics of my children and often felt guilty for not taking them. The only pictures I have of my children are ones other people have taken and given to me. Sad huh?

So, I really wanted to get a camera. I researched and found exactly the one I wanted to get. A Canon Digital Rebel. I started saving my money.

Then, God told us to sell everything we had, including our house and most of our belongings. He told us to move in with our in-laws. He told my husband to quit his job. He told us to wait on Him and He would show us where to go. I must admit, I felt rather well-connected to Abraham and Sarah.

Nearly 18 months later, we had enough money for one month's expenses left. We had hardly any money coming in. Almost every dime had been spent, including the money for the camera. Then, God did it. He showed us where to go. We've been here since February and are still blown away at just how much He has provided the details. How much He intimately cares for our needs. And sometimes our wants.

I still had a strong desire for a camera. I was missing documenting precious moments with our children. So, I started to pray for one. Often times, my prayer went something like this...

"God, I know that there are far more important things to pray for and far more important needs to fill. If it is not too selfish a prayer, I pray that you will provide a camera for our family." Ever prayed a prayer like that? Ever thought, He COULD answer it, but SHOULD he?

I kept praying nonetheless, I mean He knows my heart anyway. Why not express it directly to Him?

If you've been reading my blog, you've seen me apologize for the crummy pics from my phone and yearn for the day when I would have a camera to take better pics. Right?

Someone else read my blog too. I got an email from a blog-friend who wanted to know why I didn't have a camera. Just so happens she had a camera she wasn't using. When she read my post about the camera, she just felt like she NEEDED to give me that camera. She couldn't explain it.

So, she stepped out of her comfort zone. She asked the awkward questions. She did the hard part. She offered to GIVE me her camera because she wanted to and because God was telling her to.

My heart skipped a beat when I read her email. The camera she wanted to give to me? A Canon Digital Rebel. The exact camera I had been dreaming about.

Oh, friends. God cares about the details. He cares about our desires. He wants to make us smile. He wants to show us just how much He intimately loves us. He wants to give us good gifts.

I shudder to think of the times when I have thought that maybe God was asking me to give something away and I didn't. Because it was too awkward. Because I was just sure I did not hear Him right. No more. Thank you blog-friend for listening to God. Thank you for giving our family such a wonderful gift. Thank you for being a vessel in which God used to teach me about His love. His provision. His delighting in His children.

So, what's in the box? A Canon Digital Rebel. A good gift from a GRAND God. Thank you God! You are worthy to be praised.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Have you ever been prodded by Him to give a gift? Did you do it? Have you ever received a gift that blew you away at how much God really does care for you? Share it in the comments. I love a good God Story!

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Fall Blessing

Okay, so this was sort of at the top of what you wanted to hear. Thanks so much for helping me with my writer's block. Maybe the floodgates have opened? I'll be getting the other nine posts up in the next few weeks. I'm going with your advice and doing Fall, Good Gift, Thanksgiving, and December. The rest will just follow up after those are done. Aren't you just downright intrigued with my ambiguity? Fascinating.

Alright, A Fall Blessing. Here you have it. I believe I have mentioned before that fall is my absolute favorite time of year? Well, in case I haven't, it is. (Um, tied with Christmas maybe?) Okay, so fall is my favorite SEASON. Yes, it is.

Because fall is my favorite season, I have always dreamed of having a beautiful tree in my front yard. You know, the ones that stand out when you drive down a street and make you want to pull over and stare at it for a while, marveling at God's awesome handiwork? That kind of tree.

Our first house had no trees in the yard because it was a new house in a brand new subdivision, the kind where they tear down everything considered nature into a big flat piece of land, build as many houses as possible, and then attempt to plant a few new baby trees that will take years to grow in an effort to make you feel like you don't live in a subdivision. Yep, that kind. So obviously, no trees.

We sold that house and lived with family for awhile as we were waiting for God to show us where to go. This past February He showed us where to go and we started house hunting. In February. I kept telling my husband that I wished we were house hunting in the fall so I could see what color the trees would be. Because I had always dreamed of having a beautiful tree in my front yard, you know the staring kind. Bright yellowish orange. So beautiful you can't help but look at it. Clearly I am not a botanist or I might have been able to at least guess based on the type of tree in the yard, maybe? Is that possible? Any botanists out there?

Anywho, we had a total of two weeks to house hunt. In February. There were only two houses for sale in our price range that met our criteria at least a little bit. We bought one. There's not much we like about it. Other than a small mortgage payment to fit within our budget, shelter from storms, and a yard to play in. There's not much to like about it.

Sounds whiny doesn't it? Sounds ungrateful doesn't it? That's what I was thinking.

Then God showed me this. The trees in my front yard.


They're totally staring trees. And they are right out my front window. I sort of want to go ask the neighbors what color those trees used to be. Ugly brown? Never had color until this year?

See, I believe God made those trees bright yellowish-orange, gotta-stop-and-look-at-them, beautiful just for ME! I believe that those trees are God's reminder to me that this house is exactly the house He wanted to give me. This house is exactly what I NEED. This house is a gift from Him. I live in a house given to me by God. Suddenly there is much less to complain about. How about you? Has God given you any fall blessings this season to remind you of His provision and His handiwork? Oh, I hope so. It just downright make me smile.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What do You Want To Hear?

I sat down with the computer. I wrote about all the things I want to tell you. I didn't like how it turned out. I erased it. I was too tired to try again. I looked at the clock. I closed the computer. I went to bed.

That happened about six nights in a row.

Now it's been over a week since I posted.

I still don't feel like writing.

Have you ever been there before? You have so many things to post about that you don't know where to start?

So you start by catching up on reading all the other blogs and then realize that their lives are so much more interesting than what you were going to write about.

Yep. Still haven't written anything worthwhile have I?

Here's what I'm gonna do. I have ten things to write about. Here's the list. You pick what you want me to write about. We'll do one at a time. What do you want to hear about first?

1. Good Gifts from a GRAND God.
2. A Fall Blessing.
3. Thanksgiving Fun?
4. December, Planned and Purposeful.
5. Blogging: To Be or Not To Be, That Is The Question.
6. A Month of Meals?
7. No Other Gods.
8. It Was a Media Party! Do Try This At Home!
9. For Such A Time As This?
10. Biggest Loser. Down on Brown. Need I Say More?

Let me hear it. What's up first?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

No Other Gods-Week Seven

I'm sitting here on a BEAUTIFUL fall Saturday morning. I just had a cup of coffee and a fantastic apple cinnamon muffin (fresh from a local bakery from a friend). We've been outside for a short game of family soccer. The girls are coloring here at the table, well two of them anyway. The other has thrown all her crayons on the floor and is currently "hopping" on them. Life is good. It's easy to trust God this morning.

This past week was stage change week at the church. My husband didn't get home before 2:00 a.m. a single night and was even out until 4:30 a.m. one night. I haven't seen my husband for most of the week. The girls allergies are in full-swing. I was having some health problems of my own this week. We were exhausted. It wasn't so easy to trust God this week.

Isn't it amazing what a little perspective will do? One day trusting God is difficult because things aren't going my way. The next day, trust comes easy because things are going my way (except for the "crayon hopping"). Now, I'm definitely not saying that trust should be based on our circumstances. It shouldn't. Trust is something I've been wrestling with God over for the last seven years, so this week's study was tugging at me tremendously!
It's so cool to open my Bible study and read and study about Jonah, Paul, Abraham, Sarah, and others and see just how much my present-day life relates to their Bible-times lives. I've been angry like Jonah. I've been frustrated like Paul. I've been confused like Abraham. I've been unbelieving like Sarah. I've been obedient. I've been disobedient. I can look back at all the things in their lives and in my life and see without a shadow of a doubt the overwhelming power of God in my life. I can see His compassion, His grace, His unfailing love, His strength in my weakness, His power over all circumstances, His trustworthiness, His faithfulness, His protection; all in times of hardship and in times of tranquility.

I sure hope that this week in scripture gave you some new perspective too. I hope that you related to these stories as much as I did. I wish we could sit down with a cup of coffee and talk through the things we learned. I've so enjoyed sharing with you ladies and can't believe we are almost done. I've chosen lots of questions this week that might allow us to share some of our life experiences with each other. Remember, you don't have to answer them all!

Alright, grab a cup of coffee or tea or whatever you like and let's have ourselves a little "chat" over our questions. Love you ladies!

1. Can you think of a time when God asked you to turn from something but wasn't specific as to what He wanted you to move toward? (Page 148)

2. What was your definition of legalism on page 150? How did you tie Matthew 23:25-26 into your definition?

3. Can you think of a time in your life when God used something that was intended for harm to bring about good? (Page 154)

4. Do you agree that surrender is about the will and trust is about the heart? Why or why not?
About our get-together, I think we were all in unison to bring our favorite brunch food and that we should include the pumpkin muffins. Anyone ready to try the pumpkin muffins? I can't wait to see you all Saturday! I'll be emailing you directions and specifics. Have a good last week in this study!