Tuesday, December 30, 2014

"Cannon Baaaalll!"


Remember when we were eight years old and could spend the whole day in the pool?  The mom's would soak their feet at the edge and talk while we practiced jumping in or diving for those bright colored diving sticks.  I learned to do handstands in between underwater tea parties and games of Marco Polo. Our mom's would have to threaten to get us out of the pool to eat lunch and then torture us by making us wait 30 minutes before getting back in, "or else you'll get a cramp and drown".

Remember that one boy?  He'd taunt us with endless splashing, enjoying the squeals and screams as we covered our faces.  Finally he'd get out of the pool and we'd go back to our giggling and games.  Then you'd hear it.  Running feet.  Mom's calling out to "walk before you slip and fall!".  And then the yell, "cannon baaaalll!", as he plunged into the pool, arms wrapped around his knees, bottom first.  We'd gasp and quickly move away from the tsunami.  The moms would scold as they scurried away from the edge, grabbing towels or hovering over food and babies.  The splash disrupted the entire pool, reaching as far as the picnic table.

2014 was a canon ball.  I was enjoying my time in the pool and the warmth of the sun.  There were celebrations and parties; the Grand Canyon and Utah and Colorado; family and friends and good food.  Calm waters.

The tsunami of 2014 disrupted my pool party and left me kicking and flailing, trying to regain my footing.  Gasping and struggling for air, I was in over my head.  The waves seemed to keep coming, shoving me to and fro.  I couldn't find which way was up and I did not know what to do.  Spent.  Weary.  I was clinging only to what seemed to be a worn thread of a promise: "God is always good and you are never alone".

And then one morning, the sun came up.

Have you ever seen the sunrise after a storm?  After a night of howling wind, pounding thunder, and pulling covers over your head, the morning wakes to stillness.  The earth is mushy; branches and washed up debris litter the ground.  But look up.  Always. Look. Up.  The sky is beautifully painted a mixture of oranges and pinks, promising the arrival of the sun.  Calm. The dark clouds are gone.  You close your eyes.  Birds are singing.  A gentle breeze kisses your face.  Inhale.  The ground smells fresh, ready for new growth.  It smells like hope.  You smile because you are still standing.  There is some rebuilding to do; things may never look the same - they are not supposed to.  It's a new beginning. 

We can't focus on the hurts and mistakes and failures that are behind us. We can only fall forward until suddenly we discover we are running again.  I couldn't be happier to leave 2014 behind.  The waters have washed away the old and the new is coming.  And it is going to be good.
 "...But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us."

Monday, December 22, 2014

All Things Christmas

Hi there.

It feels like it's been ages since I've talked to you!  How have you been?  How are we only a few days away from Christmas?!  I sincerely hope all is well and that you are enjoying the Season.  I also hope that you have been able to slow and really soak in the glorious beauty of why we are celebrating!

I have been good.  Really.  I feel that I am ready to walk into what the future holds for our family.  It is going to be a great future.  I am amazed at how God takes our mess and brings joy and blessing and beauty from it.  He is something.  I love Him!

It feels awkward just launching into a blog post that's all seriousness after all this time, so I thought I'd share something light about some of the things I'm loving right now. Warning: lots of pictures!

First off!  Christmas decorating! 

A day spent rearranging furniture and shopping my home for a new look is a lovely one!  Did I ever tell you that I used to take interior design courses?  Yeah.  I just never finished.  Sadness.  I had/have so much to learn.  This book to the rescue:

The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith has so many great pictures and reminders that it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful!  But I'm getting side-tracked.  Back to Christmas decorating!  

I had the most fun with the entry. I added a wintery ribbon to a spring wreath and found the perfect spot for our Jesse Tree!

I hung this branch above the TV. 


At first it seemed kind of silly, but now I think it will stay there for a while.  It's from a tree out back and has been sitting in a corner begging for a purpose all year!  I strung a pom garland from last Christmas and hung adorable gold and white gift tags I found in the dollar section at Target. Love it!

This star was a last moment purchase for $8 bucks at Marshall's. 


It was folded up and I had no idea how enormous it was or how much I was going to like it. So worth it!

The lighting makes the right sight of this photo dark, but ...


... the light streaming in through the window is so lovely!  I love mornings!

I got the idea for this paper wreath from The Nester's blog (Myquillyn Smith) last year:

I found an old Christmas song book at Goodwill and hot glued the pages into cones and then glued them around a round foam floral form (I'm sure you could use cardboard). The burlap flower was just a final touch I added this year. Total cost: about $5!

Music!  One must listen to Christmas music while decorating!  I love the classics - Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole.  My playlist also includes Michael Buble, Josh Groban and Il Divo.  I also love Zooey Deschanel's "A Very She and Him Christmas."

Books!  Here's what I'm reading:

Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers was on my last reading list.  I am reading it again with Celine.  She doesn't love to read, but doesn't mind taking turns reading aloud.  Whatever it takes!   

The Greatest Gift Advent Devotional by Ann Voskamp has been exactly what this girl has needed during this busy season.  

Celine and I just finished reading Let's All Be Brave by Annie Downs.  I love Annie!  I want to hang out with her and be her friend! 

I also started reading the One-Year chronological Bible.  I know, it's a little late in the year and I'm catching the end of the story, but it's kinda the best part! 

Hot drinks!  We all know I love coffee.  It will always be my first love, but these are also favorites:

Abuelita hot chocolate.  It is so chocolate-ee and cinnamon-ee and perfect!  Something about melting chocolate chunks in hot milk on the stove feels so homey!  Heehee!  I don't know if I can add any more "ee's"! 

Wassail is a yummy cider drink and it makes the house smell so delicious!

Speaking of hot drinks: Alas it is cold season. So far I have managed to stay healthy, but Scotty is home resting as I type this, so I've started drinking Emergen-C twice a day. I also take a mixture of cinnamon and local honey (1 tablespoon of honey and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon) - a spoonful 2-3 times a day. 

Hot tea with lemon and honey is so comforting this time of year and so soothing on a sore throat!

What are your cold remedies?

Making Stuff!  I got the idea for this wreath from the book I mentioned above, The Nesting Place. It's made of plastic spoons!  So easy!  Here's a link to The Nester's blog with the instructions.

This picture frame was a Pinterest project. I painted over the glass of an old picture frame with chalkboard paint and searched Pinterest for what I wanted to write on it.  

I also love making this simmering potpourri, using oranges and apples. You can also use cranberries instead of apples. Slice them and toss in a pot with 2 cinnamon sticks and a few whole cloves. Cover with water and simmer on the stove, adding more water as it evaporates. I've used the same mixture for 2-3 days.   

Products I've discovered!  Well, not invented discovered because I'm not that smart, but found discovered!

I found these Mrs. Meyers Clean Day soy candles on an end cap in the holiday section at Target.  I bought one for all of my friends for Christmas this year.  Shh!  Don't tell!  Celine loves the green one (Iowa Pine), but my favorite is the orange (Orange Clove).  The pink one is cranberry scented. 

Okay, so maybe I've been hiding under a rock and you all know about these already, but have you tried Jamberry nail wraps?  I love them!  Scotty's cousin sent me a sample and it was so easy to put on and lasted for two weeks!  I rarely paint my nails because it chips off so quickly.  I'm thinking this is going to solve all of my problems! Well, probably not all of them, but at least my nails will be cute!

Here are a few pictures of some more of my favorite Christmas-ee things:

I knew the Star Wars guys would be bell-ringing at WalMart, so I took my nephew to put some money in the pot and see some cool characters.

He was in awe of Darth Vador.  He's a pretty cool kid because the sand guy is his uncle.  Connections.

I love going to the Christmas parade with my sisters and plus I have an awesome niece and nephew that I like to watch for. 

The Nutcracker has been a part of our family since Celine was three years old.  We never miss it!

This is the second year for our Jesse tree.  I am so loving this new tradition. 

Spending time with my people is my all time year-round favorite!
At Disney on Ice

A walk with the family

Game night

IHOP with my girl

Getting picture updates of this adorable guy

Hanging out with my love

I know I've done a lot of rambling, but we've had a lot of catching up to do!  I would love to hear from you!  Tell me about some of your Christmas favorites!

Wishing you and your family a lovely Christmas!