Fa La La La La La La La La

I have been scurrying around here the last few days. Friday evening, I was able to finish most of my shopping. Alone. In. A. Store. I mean there were other people there, but no one that I was related to or that I had to try to keep in a cart. :) It was truly a Christmas miracle!

Saturday morning, we headed out in the snow storm to finish the remaining shopping I needed to do and to go Home Depot to purchase the flooring for my kitchen. Rumor has it our contractor may install it while we are traveling. Fingers crossed! I managed to get most of the gifts wrapped and under the tree. And for the most part, The Little Man left them alone. Amazing.

Sunday we went to church, DH worked out in the mudroom, hanging the last of the drywall. I frantically put the final touches on the gifts and worked on cleaning up around here. Because in light of all the frantic Christmas related scurrying, the house was closing in with the piles and heaps. And the piles.

Sunday evening, we had a very traditional holiday meal of Chinese take out and opened our gifts. Since we always travel over Christmas, DH and I have always opened our gifts the Sunday prior to Christmas. And I guess it is now becoming our family tradition. It was such a sweet time for our family. The Little Man was nearly oblivious to the activity around him. Princess Pigtails was honing her gift opening skills and it pleased her that she was able to open her brother's gifts as well. Apparently, by opening his gifts as well, she felt she could claim his toys as hers. Hmm. This could come in handy...hmm.

I pray that you all have a fantastic and meaningful Christmas. May Christ be in all your celebrations and grant you a sense of Peace. We will be traveling over the holidays. So excited to see our family and catch up. Princess Pigtails will be exhausted from the cousin extravaganza! It will be so fun. I will try to check in sometime next week. Blessings!
8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ[a] the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told."

Luke 2:8-16, NIV


A Little Progress

I am so done already with the cold. It was -24 yesterday morning. That is just wrong. However, I will say, it's weather like this that reminds me of how blessed we are to be able to provide a warm house for our family. And thankful for the remote starter on my truck.

Remember this? We have progress! The contractors were here yesterday. There is no longer a giant, gaping hole in my kitchen ceiling. Merry Christmas to me! The Taper will be here today and maybe, fingers crossed, he will be done with the whole thing tomorrow.

Did you check out some of the great home tours going on right now? Some pretty remarkable homes. I spent some time the other night clicking through some tours. Thank you to those that stopped by here are looked around. But good grief. After looking through some of those homes, I came to three conclusions:
1. My house looks like a Charlie Brown tree in comparison to most of those homes.
2. My kids must be more "ornery" (to use my Grandma's favorite expression) than others, because there is no way 75% of those decorations would survive here. And The Little Man is only 9 months. I fear the destruction that will occur in coming years!
3. Decorating to that extent would require loads and loads of trips to the attic and back with totes. I despise that part of decking the halls. And I am lazy.

There is one tour that I keep thinking about however. One entry way that caused my mouth to drop and my mind to fixate on it. I can. not. get over this entry way. Oh. MY. Word. I seriously spent like 10 minutes just staring at that garland, trying to take in every last detail.

Take a moment or two to relax today. Give yourself a time out from the preparations to enjoy the season. And really, you should swing through a few of the over 600 homes on BooMama's tour of homes for some inspiration and distraction.

Blessings to you all!


The Halls Are Somewhat Decked

Christmas is right around the corner and I thought it might be fun to participate in BooMama's Christmas Tour of Homes. ***Edited to add that I realized Julia at Hooked on Houses and Rhoda at Southern Hospitality are also hosting Tours.
Welcome! Let me introduce you to your hostess for the tour, Princess Pigtails:
Mama says the best place to start is with our tree:This is the big tree in our living room. Mama says maybe some day we'll be able to put ornaments on the bottom part of the tree! But not anytime soon since my brother is in to everything!

Here is the built in hutch in our dining room:
Mama made one of Nester's "Ragamuffin" garlands to hang our Christmas cards from:
Mama said that it might be hard to see in the picture and she's not sure she likes it there. It's hanging on our front door that opens up onto the front porch. I think it is fun to be able to see all the cards while I am coming down the stairs.

So here is the wreath Mama hung on the stairs landing:
It is right beside my favorite window in the whole house. I like to stand at the window and watch what is going on outside! Especially when Daddy is plowing snow or when our friend, Farmer Wayne is loading or unloading his grain wagons! Or to await the arrival of visitors!

And here is my room:
This year Mama surprised me and put a tree in my room while I was at school! I make sure that my mama plugs it in right away when I wake up in the morning and she lets me go to sleep with it on! The ornaments are my very own. Mama says that most of them are from my Godparents (they give me a ornament every year) and my first Christmas.

Oh! Did you hear that? Mama says she has some cookies ready for us:Let's grab a cookie. And maybe if we ask nicely Mama will make us some hot chocolate!

Thank you for stopping by! Have a very Merry Christmas! And make sure you go back to BooMama's blog, Julia's and Rhoda's to tour some more houses!


She Gets It, She Really Gets It

My sweet friend Jill and I were talking the other day about "growing up" church and having parents that set the excellent example of living out faith in community. I suppose that it could be argued that it was expected of my dad. But my mom has always been involved and engaged in the congregations that my father has served and likewise, the presence of my brother and I was not optional in our family. When you are a teenager, either you embrace it or rebel. I chose to embrace it.
As an adult, and particularly as a parent, I have found it be important to be involved in a faith community for so many reasons. When we moved out here the first thing we did was begin to search for a church home. We are nurturing faith in our children and doing our best to live our faith authentically.
As Princess Pigtails is getting older, we have begun teaching her about giving of our resources--primarily our financial resources. One of the main principles that we have been working with her on is all that we have belongs to God. I know that may seem lofty and to be more than a three year old can reasonably internalize. However she gets it. In fact she just took up an offering in our living room.
PP: Okay, Mama, put this money in the basket when I hand it you. (Hands me a plate from her tea set.)
Me: Alright.
PP: Mama, it's not our money. It's God's money. Put God's money right here in the basket.
Me: Why do we put God's money in the basket?
PP: So that we put God's money in the basket because God's money needs to have enough money to help people who don't have enough. (Really the only editing I did was to eliminate a couple of "ands" and a few more "becauses".)

On a side note, we went to get our tree on Saturday and to see Santa. As frequently happens on a car trip, Princess Pigtails was serenading us from the backseat. The songs are some times known to us and often times nonsensical tunes or a combination of two or ten songs. Thus her rendition of "Zaccheus" on Saturday. Does anyone else remember this song from Sunday School?
Zaccheus was a wee little man
And a wee little man was he.
He climbed up in a sycamore tree
For the Lord he wanted to see.
And as the Savior passed that way
He looked up in the tree.
And he said, "Zaccheus you come down.
For I'm going to your house today."

Princess Pigtails version:
Santa was a wee little man
And a wee little man was he.
He climbed up in a sycamore tree
For the Lord he wanted to see.
And as the Savior passed that way,
He looked up in the tree.
And he said, "Santa! You come down.
For I'm going to your house today."

Ah, my girl. Love that Little Bug.


Works for Me Wednesday--Activity Bag

Last winter as preparations were made for the arrival of The Little Man, I was naturally concerned about Princess Pigtails. One of my main concerns was how to entertain a 2 1/2 year old during the sweet times that I would be feeding the baby. My friend Sheri, suggested that I put together an activity bag for her. Brilliant. Why didn't I think of that??
The activity bag consisted of several new books, Magic Pen coloring books, a couple of easy puzzles from the dollar bins, a magnet board, etc. The one rule was that the bag and items contained there in, could only be out when I was feeding the baby. Once done, the bag had to be put away until the next time. She loved it. It kept her occupied and entertained without the television involved. It was fabulous. And it Work(ed) for Me.

For more great tips, head on over to Rocks in My Dryer.


A Christmas Meme

I am having trouble focusing these days, so I thought I would try a little Christmas meme that I ran across to focus some of my energy. Feel free to play along!

Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Occasionally gift bags. But especially for Christmas--wrapping paper and lots of ribbon. I actually love to wrap gifts and love to indulge in real ribbon but the last couple of years I have been so scattered and in a hurry that I simply haven't taken the time with the wrapping...

Real or Artificial tree?
Both. I have a couple of the smaller artificial trees and we always have a real tree in the living room.

When do you put up the tree?
The real tree usually goes up the first weekend of December. Ideally the other trees and decorations go up right after Thanksgiving, but now with kids the process is slower.

Favorite Christmas gift received as a child?
Probably my roller skates or the purple "boom box".

Hardest person to buy for? My hubby.

Easiest person to buy for? The kids.

Do you have a nativity scene? Of course. Two, actually and the Fisher Price Little People one for the kiddos. Too cute.

Mail or email Christmas cards? For sure...MAILED! I love getting cards and pictures and especially the goofy little letters that brag up the family. I love Christmas mail!

Worst Christmas gift you ever received? GI Joe Walkie Talkies. Actually, that year I got a CD player, which was a great gift, but my mom in all her efforts to keep things secretive, didn't put the tags on the "big" gifts for my brother and I.

Favorite Christmas Movie? I really love all the Christmas movies and specials but if I have to pick a few as favorites they would be: White Christmas, Christmas Vacation, Charlie Brown's Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

When do you start shopping for Christmas? Usually some time mid November.

Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I plead the 5th.

Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? My mom's sugar cookies.

Lights on the tree? Are they optional?

Favorite Christmas song? "Oh, Holy Night" or "Mary, Did You Know?"

Travel at Christmas or stay home? Always travel. Our family is all elsewhere.

Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? YaSureYaBetchaYa.

Angel on the tree top or a star? Angel

Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas morning after some coffee and the reading of the Christmas story.

Most annoying thing about this time of the year? The preoccupation with details that are inconsequential and short tempers that detract from the Real Reason of the season.

Favorite ornament theme or color? Red and snow flakes.

Favorite for Christmas dinner? Growing up we always had cheese burgers on Christmas Eve. Since my father's a pastor, the meal always had to be something quick that could be put together after or between Christmas Eve services.

How about you? What are your favorite Christmas traditions?


Turkey, Stars and Garlands

Another Thanksgiving is in the books. We had a fabulous weekend. We hosted. We used the good dishes for the first time in eight years. It was awesome. Don't know what kind of occasion I've been waiting for, but this was a good one. Thanksgiving and the celebration of my parents' 37th anniversary.
Now, I'm in the midst of dragging out the totes of Christmas. I love having a well decorated home for the holidays. But am I the only one that hates the multiple trips to the attic to haul boxes? We will get our tree next weekend and I would like to have the rest of the house ready so that the tree is the final touch. So, I must push on. Ugh.
I have holiday crafts to finish. Here's a little glimpse of what I've been working on:
Item #1:Item #2:Item #3:

These stars are my favorite of the things I've been working on. I got the idea from Sherry over at Creations from My Heart. (Thanks, Sherry.) I had so much fun making the two I have done, that I bought supplies to do another two. Can't wait to get started.

Finally, (and I don't have a picture of the two I have done) I've been making some of Nester's ragamuffin garlands with a holiday theme. Here's a sample picture from Nester's website:
I just think her garlands are absolutely adorable. I made a couple this fall as valances for Princess Pigtails' windows. I had so much fun I decided that the garlands would make a great touch for the holiday decor. I'm thinking you could add ring hooks and display Christmas cards?

My brain is just swimming with ideas and to-do's. How about you?

Happy decorating!