Sunday, December 30, 2012

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas Day!

I'm finally getting around to blogging about Christmas Day festivities.  I wanted to do it justice and not just make it into a photo dump, so it took a few days to get some time.

First of all, I have to say that Caleb is totally "getting" the real meaning of Christmas this year.  He was constantly reminding us that it was the celebration of Jesus' birth (and then adding that Jesus wasn't really born on this day and that the 3 wise men weren't really at the nativity scene because they didn't meet him until  he was a toddler....thanks to his youth pastor daddy!).  He loved buying and giving gifts to a family in need and prays for them often.  It's awesome to see that he "gets" it!

Caleb was also SO thrilled to have bought Matt and I presents this year with his own money at Santa's Secret Shop at school.  They were a complete secret and were wrapped at school and placed under the tree.  Despite his attempts to get us to open them early, we managed to hold him out until Christmas morning.  That sweet boy ran to the tree and gave us both our presents before he opened a single one of his own!

I got a lovely heart necklace with a "real" diamond in it!  He was so excited about it!  Sadly, the chain broke the day after Christmas, but I found the pendant and put it on another chain.  Crisis averted!

Matt got a Maryland water bottle so that he could use it while he was cutting the grass.  :)

Caleb made Abby (with a little help from me) a Hello Kitty plate at The Pottery Patch.  She's not quite ready to eat off of it yet, but she'll get there! 

Abby got Caleb a set of early reader Star Wars books.  Does she know her brother, or what? :)

One of Abby's favorite gives was a Hello Kitty Tervis Tumbler.  She's started drinking her "meal juice" (a high calorie Pediasure Sidekick drink that we use to help her swallow her food) out of it and seems to like it.  

Her other favorite gifts were a Hello Kitty sleeping bag, which she wanted to stay in, and her Cozy Cottage playhouse.  She's had lots of fun running in and out of her house, playing with her doll Joy in there, and using the "appliances."  I haven't gotten a good picture of it yet!

I'm not sure why I didn't get a picture of Caleb's favorite gift, but he got a (toy) bow and arrow set that he absolutely loves!  It has suction cups and he has strict orders to never aim it at a person!  So far, he has been really good about it.

As I mentioned before, Caleb also received the original Star Wars trilogy--a big hit!  His "big" gift is a trip to Medieval Times today.  He has wanted to go for a long time, and I know he's just going to love it!   I loved giving Caleb an "experience" as his big gift, because we really don't need a lot of stuff.  Plus, it will make for some great memories!  I'm sure we will have many pictures to share of our adventure!  We got him this knight set to go along with the gift.  

Matt and I gave each other iPhones for our birthdays and Christmas, and I thoroughly enjoy my gift every day!  :)

Later on, we went to my parents' house to open gifts there.  

Abby got an easel, which was a big hit with both girls!  It's chalk on one side and dry erase on the other.  I especially like that it is a tabletop easel that folds up easily and can be stored in the corner.  Yippee!

Amy and Bruce got a doormat that is quite appropriate for their family.  Their Boxer, Penny, can't keep her tongue in her mouth!

Speaking of Penny, she's the one with the (you guessed it!) huge tongue.  Heidi is the one on the bottom and Bert is the one standing over her.  They are both my parents' dogs.  

Here's Berty feeling kind of sad that he can't join in on the fun.  He loves kids!  (We did let them out after the present opening was done!)

Owen was quite happy with his Madden 13 Wii game!

Anna waited so patiently to open her the beginning, at least!

Caleb got 2 Lego sets from The Lord of the Rings series, which thrilled him to no end!  He didn't think he was getting any Legos, so he was pretty excited.

A highlight gift for us was a 2 burner griddle to replace the one we've had since we got married that was very warped!  This one is really nice and big.  I can't wait to use it!  We also got some gift cards for our favorite restaurants and stores--score!

My mom wanted to read a winter story to everyone, but electronics won out for the older kids.  Anna and Abby are the only ones who prefer old fashioned books to e-readers and video games! 

It was a wonderful Christmas!  I hope that you also had a wonderful Christmas with family.  

Ours is continuing tomorrow as we celebrate with Matt's family.  If all goes well, this will be the first time we have all celebrated Christmas together!  The last time we were all together for Christmas, Grammy and Pop had 3 less grandkids!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday Funny Face

The funniest part is that this silly monkey was just standing in the middle of the room making this face.  I grabbed the camera and caught this before she even realized anyone had noticed.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Eve Program Pictures

As promised, here are a few pictures from our Christmas Eve service.  

Abby was a pretty cute little mouse, if I do say so myself!

Caleb was an awfully handsome shepherd!

Anna got up on stage with the group and immediately ran across the stage.  Amy had to chase her and bring her back.  Turns out, she listens to her Sunday school teacher better than her mom!  :)

Abby's headband kept falling down.  Darn glasses!

Caleb was supposed to be sleeping in the field with his "flock."

His little sheep likes to sleep on it's shepherd's neck, apparently...

He did a great job singing!

Sadly, we got no pictures of Abby's epic fall into the poinsettias.  Matt didn't even realize that she had done it!  Oh well...that's one for my memory!  :)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Just the Beginning...

Caleb got the original Star Wars Trilogy for Christmas.  (I scored it from a thrift store for super cheap after eyeing it on Ebay but was reluctant to pay their crazy prices!)  

No, he has never seen a single bit of any of the Star Wars movies...but he is quite an expert, isn't he?!

That all changed tonight when he began watching the original Star Wars.  We didn't quite finish it tonight, but he was in light saber heaven!

And he enjoyed a nice cup of hot chocolate during the movie in his new Star Wars Tervis Tumbler. :)

How Do You Spell Hero?

My sweet little guy is the Hero of the Week on the Hero blog by Mommies of Miracles.  He was so excited when I read it to him.  The organization also sent him a special yellow "Hero" ribbon that he thinks is pretty cool!  This kid deserves this and so much more.  He is SUCH a great big brother to Abby!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Just as Crazy!

Yep, the Christmas Eve service was just as crazy as a thought it would be, topped off by Abby losing her balance and falling off of the steps of the stage onto a bed of poinsettias.  Whoever is late picking up their poinsettias is going to get some smushed ones!  Oops.  She was fine though, and it gave everyone a little did Anna running to the back of the stage almost as soon as she got up there, requiring Amy to have to chase her down!

Caleb was really good and it was pretty cute when the shepherds (what Caleb was) were all lying down in their fields with their "flock" of sheep.  Caleb put his little sheep on the back of his neck so that it stuck out higher than everybody else.  :)  He did a great job singing "The First Noel" and "Silent Night."  Abby didn't really participate in any of the singing, but she was a pretty cute little mouse!  Stay tuned for pictures.  For now, this momma is ready for bed and looking forward to two sweet little faces when they open up their presents tomorrow!!  :)

Merry Christmas Eve!

Enjoy this awesome Christmas flash mob (I totally want to be part of one before I die, by the way!!) while we head to a children's Christmas service that is sure to be entertaining if yesterday's rehearsal is any indication!  :)  Let's just say that at one point during their time on stage, Abby stuck her leg up in Anna's face.  With Abby's foot in front of her eyes, Anna kept fussing, "Dop it, Abby!  Dop it!!!!" and Abby just cackled away with the hilarity of it all!  Other times, they were taking turns running off of the stage as their frantic mothers took turns trying to catch them.  Oh my...

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Survey

I stole this from my friend Karen.  Thanks for sharing!  :)

1. What makes CHRISTmas such a special holiday for you and your family?

I really love how cheery everyone and everything is.  I love the decorations, I like the "Merry Christmas" greetings in the grocery store, I love Christmas music!  How can you not smile?!  I also really love our family tradition of adopting a family.  We all go together to buy presents for each member of the family, and it is such a special time.  Caleb is old enough now to really get into it too, and it has really taught him a lot about generosity.

2. Were you told the truth about Santa Claus by your parents or did you find out another way? you plan on lying to your kids (if you have them or plan on having them)? Oh yes…I went there. 

I found out when I was 4.  I heard a noise and snuck out to see my parents putting presents out.  Strangely, it never really bothered me.   I didn't have a big, "Santa isn't real?!" meltdown or anything.  I don't think they ever even knew I saw them!  

Ohhhh, this is a bit of a touchy subject for me.  Yes, we do Santa...but Caleb knows that the entire reason for Christmas is Jesus and that we give gifts to remind us of the gift God gave to the world.  Santa is harmless fun.  Why not let your kids enjoy a little Christmas magic for a few years?!  (For the record, it really bothers me when parents encourage their kids to tell the "truth" about Santa.  It's fine if you don't do Santa, but you don't need to ruin it for everybody else...or chastise because I allow my kid to believe in Santa.)

3. Real tree or Fake tree? 

I would love to have a real tree, but fake ones are so much easier.  We have a fake tree that is pre-lit.  It blinks in random patterns and sometimes parts don't light up at all, but it was free.  I keep saying we're going to get a new one!
4. Do you open presents on Christmas morning, Christmas Eve or both? 

The kids open one present (of our choosing) on Christmas Eve.  Everything else is done Christmas morning.  Santa doesn't wrap gifts--he doesn't have time for that!  Mom and Dad wrap! :)  
5. What is your favorite Christmas movie to watch? Favorite Christmas song to sing or listen to? ( I know…technically two questions) 

I love The Polar Express as a cartoon, but I also really, really love A Christmas Story because it just cracks me up!  My favorite Christmas songs are "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear," and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Fotos

Caught these two little gems the other night during the usual evening tickle time.  

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Abby's Boyfriend

Abby has a boyfriend.

It's our Abby-sized snowman decoration, and she absolutely loves him.

She feeds him, carries him around the house, dances with him, and gives him high fives and fist bumps.  Yesterday, I caught her trying to wash his hands in the bathroom after he went potty.  They look at the Christmas cards together multiple times a day.

A few days ago, Abby insisted that Snowman go upstairs with her when I went up to fold laundry.  I told her that if she wanted him upstairs, she would have to bring him.

Oh yes, she did.

I'm not sure how I feel about this, but Abby also loves to plant big fat kisses right on his snowman lips.  Matt's pretty concerned about this, but Abby is definitely the initiator at this point.  We're keeping a close eye on Snowman and have had a few talks with Abby about public displays of affection!

Monday, December 17, 2012

There Are No Words

I have opened up a new blog post with the intent to write several times over the last few days.  After I stare at a blank screen for a while, I shut it again without writing anything.

There are no words.

On Friday, December 14th, my little world changed.  I used to think December 14th was a fabulous day because it was my birthday.  Now, and forever more, I will shed tears on that day in remembrance of those 20 sweet little faces and the 6 teachers who died trying to protect them.

I pray that the last thoughts of those 20 beautiful children were of the love of their families.

It seemed like an eternity until Caleb's bus came that afternoon, but when it did I grabbed him and burst into tears.  I savored every minute with both of my kids this weekend, knowing that parents in Connecticut would give anything to be able to play with theirs again.

What has this tragedy taught me?  To love deeper, to always, always hug my kids goodbye, not to be stingy with "I love you," to let my students know how much they mean to me, and to thank God for every day.

What has it taught you?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

picture issues

I have heard from a few different people that my pictures aren't showing up.  I'm not sure why, but I can see them fine.  If you are one of the ones who can't see the pictures, explain what is happening a little more because I can't fix problems I can't see.  I don't know what to do!

If you want to print the Bob Evans flyer and are unable to see it bigger, right click the original picture and save it.  Then insert the picture into a Word document and enlarge it.  I know that's kind of a pain, but it is the best way I can think to tell you to print it.

I'm sorry!  I'm working on it!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Joy Runners Fundraiser

If you are local, the Joy Runners are holding a fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Baltimore as part of the Red Shoe Shuffle. All you have to do is print this flyer and take it with you when you eat at Bob Evans in Prince Frederick on this Su
nday, December 16th from 4-9 p.m. Bob Evans will donate 15% to our team!!

You MUST have the flyer in order for the portion of the check to be donated to our team, so make sure you print it out. 

And as always, I would love to have some more people join our team!  You can do that by clicking the Red Shoe Shuffle link above and choosing "The Joy Runners" as your team when you register. If you are unable to walk with us but would like to show your support, please consider donating to our team.  

If you are a local blogger, please share this post (and the flyer!) to spread the word!  Share it on Facebook too!

Thanks so much for helping us raise funds for The House That Love Built!

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Go Dale Thomas!!!!

Dale....a former youth of ours from when we were a newly married couple serving at our first church.  He' a word...special.   :)

He has made me shake my head in resignation more times than I count.  He's the one person in a large crowd of people to stand up every single time during "God Bless the USA."  I've been forced to experience various bodily functions on multiple occasions.  And, I'm not proud to say that I had to confiscate finger rockets from him after he shot them at me during a national youth conference.

Turns out, he was quite disappointed that I did not write a blog post about his potty accomplishments like I did about Abby the other day.  He feels that his efforts should be celebrated just as much as hers.  So...

Way to go, Dale!!!!!!

I am SO proud of the way you have gone "potty" for the last 21 years.  Although it has been a looooooong time coming, you have finally mastered the fine art of flushing the toilet, and I am so proud of you.  I'm sure your family is happy too.

You get a gold star on your chart for your hard work, Dale.  

Although I cannot physically do the "Potty Song" with you, grab Jen's hands, jump up and down, and in a sing-song voice, chant, "You went on the potty!  You went on the potty!  You went on the potty!  Wooooooo!"  

In all seriousness, Dale has become quite a responsible young adult whom we are very proud to call a friend.  His goal is to be a chaplain in the Air Force, and he will be such a support and encouragement to those men and women.  Love you, Dale!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Emergency Bulletin!!!

Alert!  Alert!

I have a special announcement to make!  Abby went on the potty for the first time today!!!!

We haven't officially started potty training yet, but we do put her on the potty before bath time.  She likes the idea of it, but she's never actually gone...until tonight!

I think we cheered sufficiently loudly enough that Abby realized that she had done something good.  :)

I plan to start over Christmas break when I'll be home for consecutive days and hopefully able to establish some kind of a routine.  Because we'll be in Baltimore this summer for the feeding program, I need her to be fairly potty-trained by then so that the therapists can just remind her to go during the times I'm not able to to be with her.

But for now, I'm just celebrating over the first potty time!!


Is she not




(It's a good thing, because I'm pretty sure that sweet face has gotten her out of trouble more than once!) :)

Friday, December 7, 2012

20 Random Things About Me

I saw this on another blog and thought it might be kind of fun.  I'm going to try to focus on things you might not already know about me...unless you are part of my family!

1.  I love pulpy orange juice.  My husband does not, so I rarely get it.  But when I do, it is pure deliciousness!

2.  I decided back in high school that if I had a little girl, her name would be Abigail.

3.  My name was going to be Ginny, but the girl down the street was born first and her parents named her Jenny.

4.  I have been a vegetarian for 19 years.  When I was 12, I read some research on animal testing that my sister was doing for a college paper, decided I wasn't going to eat meat, and have never looked back.

5.  My favorite chores are cleaning bathrooms and folding laundry.  My least favorite chore is vacuuming.

6.  I resisted wearing capris for a very long time when they first became popular.  I have no idea why.

7.  I absolutely hate wearing tennis shoes with shorts (or capris).  I just cannot do it.

8.  I have a slight obsession with symmetry.  My family may say I'm a bit OCD.

9.  As an example of #8, I compulsively separate any colored candies (M&Ms, Skittles, etc.) and only eat even numbers of the same color at one time.  Ie: 2 reds, 4 blues, etc.  I am well aware that I just made all of you raise your eyebrows and whisper, weirdo.

10.  My middle name, Beth, is after Beth in The Little Women.  That's where my sister, Amy, got her name too.

11.  The very first musical I performed in was "Charlotte's Web" in 3rd grade.  I was Wilbur.

12.  During that musical, I sang a song, "I Can Talk."  My mom stood in the back of the auditorium with a huge sparkle and shine sign to remind me to smile and use personality.  I can still picture her waving it with big smiles.  She'll never live it down.

13.  My sister had little tiny presents in her doll house.  I unwrapped them all in a moment of weakness because I wanted to see what the presents were.  (I was sadly disappointed to find that they were just little blocks of wood.)

14.  I have never broken or sprained a bone.

15.  My favorite musical is Rent, and I'm not afraid to say it...although I'm sure I'll get a few gasps over a pastor's wife loving a musical like that!  There is so much more to that show than what is on the surface.  Jonathan Larson was a musical genius who died way too early.

16.  My guilty TV pleasure is "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo."  It is so redneck that it's hysterical.  My sister is appalled at my choice of television.

17.  In 9th grade, I wrote and published several poems about greyhound dog racing.  I have a bazillion copies of Greyhound Tales to prove it!

18.  As part of an Outward Bound program I was required to go on as a Resident Assistant in college, I lived for 8 days on a 30 feet-long sailboat with 14 other people.  Our arms were the motor when the wind was gone, and we slept on the oars at night.  8 days of no showers, no deodorant, a bucket for a toilet, washing our bowls out in Bay water...they called it "building character."  While I am pretty proud of myself for getting through it, I am quite happy to never do it again.

19.  I was Punky Brewster for Halloween 3 years in a row.  She was my favorite TV character.

20.  I have 4 of the original American Girls:  Kirsten, Samantha, Molly, and Felicity.  As soon as Abby is old enough to take care of them, I'm going to give them to her.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Anna and Abby

In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed. 
Khalil Gibran 

Today, I'm thankful for the friendship these two share.  At just 10 weeks apart, they are two peas in a pod and the best of friends.  They are also double trouble!!

Because Anna's birthday is in August, she will go to school a year ahead of Abby.  Despite this, I hope and pray that they stay as close as they are now.  It is so sweet to watch them together.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Monday, December 3, 2012

Happy Birthday, Nina!

You're the best!  We love you!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

What am I up to?

I'm in full party-planning mode for Caleb.  With Christmas coming and all of the commitments that go with it, I want to have everything done so that I don't have to stress myself out over the break.  

Guess what kind of party we're having?!

Star Wars.  The boy is obsessed with movies he has never seen.

I did the invitations all in one night.  My inspiration came from this on Etsy, but I made some changes and added more details.  The "sword" part isn't really pointed like the person did on Etsy, so I made it  more rounded.  I also hand-decorated the hilt so that each one is unique.

The hilt is actually the invitation.  When you open it up, it says, 
"Six ago in a galaxy far, far away, Caleb was born.  It is now time for him to fulfill his destiny and become a Jedi knight.  Join us for Jedi training and birthday fun."

The party itself will actually be Jedi training.  The kids will all be getting their very own pool-noodle-turned-light sabers, and they'll do a variety of exercises and sparring techniques with it.  

A real Jedi will be leading the training.  A real Jedi!

Caleb is SO excited.  I cannot even tell you how much he talks about this.  

For me...I'm not real into Star Wars, but this is a pretty easy party, as far as planning goes.  Matt's in charge of all of the training stuff, so I don't have to do anything!  Give 'em a light saber and let 'em have at it!  :)

Let's hope it doesn't get too chaotic....oy.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Festival of Trees

 Our local Festival of Trees is a tradition in our family.  We always get the kids dressed up and get some great pictures in front of the many trees.  Plus, the kids like looking at all of the decorations.

This tree is for my uncle.  It was a Lab Tree, complete with a Labrador angel.  They aren't quite as heavenly as Boxers, but... :)

This entire tree was decorated with waterway maps.  It was so cool!!  The garlands were made with tightly rolled paper, and all of the creative cut-paper ornaments were maps too.  It was my favorite "fun" decorated tree. 

This was the sweet little tree in remembrance of a little baby boy who just passed away suddenly.  He is part of a well-known family in our county, and my heart just breaks for them.

Waiting for those great pictures of beautifully dressed children??  Well, you'll have to keep waiting, because this is what Abby did:

So Caleb started getting hamming it up a bit!

(This was the strangest tree ever...)

We had to get pictures of the Joy tree!  (That's also where the header picture came from!)

I always get great pictures in front of the poinsettias....

...but not this year.

To his credit, Caleb was SO great!  Look at those smiles!