Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Big Day Is HERE!

In less than twelve hours, I will be leaving for the airport to pick up my BFF, her baby boy, and her sister/my friend! :) I'm super psyched!

It seemed to take FOREVER for today to get here, but of course when it finally did it now feels like it's too soon. I have a flury of stuff to get done in the next few hours - a quick shopping run, some presents to wrap, my room to finish getting shipshape - but I just wanted to do a quick post since I'm not sure how much posting will get done while she's here. I'll be having too much fun!

Here's a funny story before I go: We got more snow Saturday AND Sunday, so when I woke up to go to work on Monday I was a bit nervous about getting out and driving in the snow. I knew our road would be covered, but I figured the main roads would be mostly clear. No such luck! I was driving down the road with some soothing music on to calm me, clutching at the steering wheel nervously and praying frequently. I turned down the road to Chris's house and hit a particularly nasty stretch of ice-covered road. I said out loud, "Dear God, please don't let me die!!!"

Precisely after I uttered these words, the song "If I Die Young" came over the speakers.

All I can say is, it wasn't EXACTLY the sign from the universe that I was hoping for. :)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Recap

I hope everyone had a merry Christmas, because I sure did! It was a very non-stressful, relaxing time of fun with family.

I had so much fun this year watching the kids open their gifts - I've officially grown up now, I guess. :) I did get some pretty amazing gifts, though - season 2 of Sanctuary, a gorgeous star necklace (love my star jewelery!), a stack of crochet magazines, and this very special gift from my sister, Elizabeth.

Any guesses? My grandmother saw it wrapped up and guessed toiletry case, but it's even more special that that!

It's a crochet hook case! I've been needing one sooo badly... I had a little plastic one that I've outgrown with my many hooks, and I was actually looking for one on Etsy last week, but couldn't find one in a style or print I liked. I love this one!
Now on to the gifts I GAVE! I've wanted to blog about these for a long time but couldn't!
I found some African Red Rooibus tea - Anna feels called to the mission field in Tanzania and loves all things African. After the chaos of gift-giving had died down somewhat, we brewed a big pot to try. The verdict is that this tea is not for everyone - it has an earthy, slightly astringenty taste to it with a lot of different flavor notes. I personally love it (and luckily so does Anna!). I'll probably run to the store to pick myself up a box this week.
I also got her a "scenes from Africa" calendar and a charm bracelet with African charms (lions, giraffes, hippoes, etc), and something for her treehouse -

A fan and a light! It was pretty hot out in the woods this year, even for Anna. :) This fan runs on two AA batteries and attaches via carabiner OR magnetic plate. I'm looking forward to seeing her use it!
I spend almost as much time picking our Christmas cards for everybody as I do gifts. I love finding everybody the perfect card that expresses just what I want to say!

So when I found this card for Anna, I knew it had to come home with me. :)

I knew I wanted to get Mom a firepit this year, but after doing some research, I declared it out of my price range. Lo and behold, on Black Friday they had this one on a terrific sale and I ended up paying a fraction of the original price.

Since Mom just got a gazebo this year, I'm pretty sure it's gonna get put to a lot of use! Right now it's holding a bunch of tealights in the living room. :)

My father is impossible to shop for. As a family, we got him a GPS this year, but I wanted something personal, too. We were standing outside last month at AnnMarie Gardens and I noticed that his hat had holes in it! He defended his fashion choice saying that it was the only thing that kept his ears warm. I bought some wool yarn and modified a pattern to make an extra-long cabled cap (so that he could fold more of it over around his ears). He put it on Christmas morning and immediately said, "OOH, this is WARM!" :) Anna promptly declared he couldn't wear it until he threw out the holey one. :)

I got Maggie several seasons of The Pretender, and the last season of Gilligan's Island, and this mug. :) She loves her bees! Last year we found her a bee pendant, and for her birthday last year I found her a bee wallet.

We have never been much of a gaming family - we had a family rule after getting our very first gaming platform, a Wii, that all games that came into the house had to be primary movement-based (i.e. no crashing on the couch with a controller). However, since Ruth's asthma has confined her to the house so much this last year, we decided to break the rule a bit and get her some games that she could enjoy when she couldn't be outdoors.
I have to say, it kills me a little to see everyone looking so "glazed" lol! Give me my Wii Fit anyday!
After spending a lovely time at home, we headed over to Chris's house for our celebration with my mom's family.
We have babies in the family this year! Little Kat enjoyed cuddling with Granddad! AND she arrived wearing the cap and bootie set I made her - made my day! Isn't she the cutest little Christmas elf here?

Abigail was far too busy playing with her Christmas presents to care that we were here much, lol. She got barbies for Christmas and spent lots of time dressing and undressing them, and playing with their hair. :)

Isn't she adorable?!?! :) Of course I may be a little biased.

Leslie, Kat's mommy, and Cecelia, grandma to little Zoe, got down on the floor so the two cousins could get to know one another better. :)

So cute!

Zoe seemed to like the cap and bootie set I made her for Christmas... Isn't she adorable?
We had a lovely Boxing Day today... The snow started yesterday afternoon and was still going strong this morning. I think we got about five inches, though the last time I went out was several hours before it stopped for good. No way were we going out in that! :) So I got my Christmas wish - a Boxing Day spent at home with the family. We had a totally great time playing together all day, in the snow, with new board/card games, watching television, and just hanging out. Anna got out her sewing implements and cut out a new quilt, and I pulled out a hook and some yarn and my new crochet mags. Very cozy. :)
It's back to work for me tomorrow - I'm glad! I missed my baby! :) And I know we'll have so much fun playing with all her new toys tomorrow. The only thing I'm a little stressed about it getting there in the snow. Two friends of mine have had accidents in the last few weeks, and my best friend was sharing with me today how they began to go to church only to turn around and go back home (they have snow, too!). Hopefully the roads will be pretty cleared and all will be well!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Love came down at Christmas
Love all lovely, Love Divine;
Love was born at Christmas;
Star and angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead
Love incarnate, Love divine
Worship we our Jesus -
But wherewish our sacred sign?

Love shall be our token!
Love shall be yours and Love be mine.
Love to God and to all men
Love for plea and gift and sign...

Love came down at Christmas.

"... God is love." - 1 John 4:8

Friday, December 24, 2010

Almost There!

I can't believe it's already Christmas Eve! In one way it seemed to take FOREVER to get here, and in another way I'm like, wait, it's Christmas Eve TODAY?!

I tried to run some last-minute errands yesterday, and the lines were so long and ridiculous that I ended up not getting to most of them and I swore I wouldn't be going out today at all, except for the Christmas Eve service at church and a party at a friend's house afterward. But of course this morning the rest of my family had errands to run so I went ahead and went into town with them. It wasn't bad at all - the lines were actually so short I was shocked. I guess everybody got their Christmas shopping done yesterday!

I'm waiting for Anna to get home so we can go pick up my fav pair of boots from the cobbler where they went to be reheeled, then I'm looking forward to relaxing for the rest of the afternoon - possibly even taking a nap! :)

I hope everyone has a lovely Christmas Eve with loved ones. Here's my gift to you - two holiday songs, one so beautiful it'll break your heart, and one so hilariously funny that it'll break your funny bone. :)

Merry Christmas To All... And To All, A Good Night (Already!) :)

This year we were invited to a close friend of mine's house to celebrate Christmas Eve. I've been anticipating it all week. :) After a rather tedious candlelight service at church, my family and some other good friends all headed over to the P's house for some fun!

(Okay, little humorous sidenote here: right before the service started, I was sitting in the pew in front of a guyfriend who had also been invited to the party. He leaned over to look at my program, saw the size of it - over twenty things!!! - and said, essentially, "Holy cow! This is going to take forever!" "I know," I commiserated. "And we've got a PARTY to get to! What were they thinking?!?" "Well," he reflected, "I guess if you don't get invited to parties, you're not in any rush to get home." :))

I. Had. A. Blast. This is seriously the most fun I've had in a long time! All my favorite people were there in one place, the food was INCREDIBLE (I had some Hungarian Goulash that transported me right back to being small and eating stuffed peppers in my grandfather's kitchen - so good!), everyone was fun to talk to. But I did remember to take a break from all the fun and catch some of these memories on film.
My mentor Mrs. P, myself, and Ms H, who has five boys who correspond in age with the five girls in our family. We grew up considering each other our "brothers" and "sisters" and they're still really special guys to me, even though the youngest is now taller than I am in my tallest high heels. :) And of course Mrs. P is my mentor and rock and the single biggest influence God has used to help straighten out my life over the last few years. :)

Me and Faith! I can never take good one-armed photos - you know, the kind where you hug someone with one arm and hold the camera with the other, and guesstimate how it's going to look when you take the picture and turn it over? I asked her to demonstrate, but having watched her do it, I think it's an innate skill. Time to get one of those cams that have dual screens.

And of course we spent plenty of time laughing! My sister Maggie, my friend and conspirator :) Hannah, sisters Lizzie and Anna and my Mom and I (taking the photo) hung out in the dining room for awhile swapping stories and laughing. This is us in one of our more sober moments. :)

Merry Christmas Eve! I hope everyone has a wonderful time celebrating with friends, family, and loved ones, and that you're as blessed as I have been this season!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Truth In Song

I've been especially blessed by the music of Christmas this year. Especially since I had a little "blue" episode right after Thanksgiving that lasted for a few weeks, one of the things that really soothed my soul during this time was the beautiful truth in the music that was always around me - even in secular arenas! (Btw, I'm feeling much better now, thanks. :)). To me, this is one of God's inside jokes - that the secular world, which denies him, obliviously proclaims His truth loudly during the Christmas season. I mean, seriously, how often do you find someone like Clay Aiken proclaiming "Joy to the world - the Lord is come! Let Earth receive her King!" :)

I think because we hear/sing these Christmas carols so often, their meaning and beauty sometimes gets lost, but I've really been focusing on the lyrics lately. I can definitely appreciate the beautiful imagery I find there!

For instance - from "Silent Night" -

Silent night, holy night. Son of God, love's pure light!

Radiant beams from Thy holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace.

Jesus, Lord at Thy birth! Jesus, Lord at Thy birth!

Or this one (Angels From The Realms of Glory):

Angels from the realms of glory, wing your flight o'er all the Earth!

Ye who sang creation's story, now proclaim Messiah's birth!

Come and worship! Come and worship! Worship Christ the newborn King!

I've rediscovered a love for "Hark The Herald Angels Sing". In fact, I think each line of this song is so incredible powerful that I'm going to incude all four verses, even though I KNOW most of you will skip over them, thinking, "I know the words to Hark the Herald Angels Sing". (Read them anyway - you might not know them as well as you think!)


Hark! the herald angels sing - "Glory to the newborn king!"

Peace of earth, and mercy mild! God and sinners reconciled!

Joyful, all ye nations rise! Join the triumph of the skies!

With angelic host, proclaim: Christ is born in Bethlehem!

Hark! The herald angels sing: "Glory to the newborn king"!


Christ by highest heav'n adored! Christ, the everlasting Lord!

Late in time, behold him come, offspring of the Virgin's womb.

Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see - Hail the Incarnate Deity!

Pleased, as man, with men to dwell - Jesus, our Immanuel!

Hark, the herald angels sing: "Glory to the newborn king!"


Mild, he lays his glory by, born that man no more may die!

Born to raise the sons of Earth, born to give them second birth!

Light and Life to all He brings, risen with healing in his wings.

Hail the Son of Righteousness! Hail the heavn' born Prince of Peace!

Hark, the herald angels sing: "Glory to the newborn king!"


Come, desire of nations, come! Fix us in thy humble home!

Rise, the woman's Conquering Seed! Bruise in us the serpent's head!

Adam's likeness now efface - stamp Thine image in it's place!

Second Adam, from above, reinstate us in thy love!

Hark, the herald angels sing - "Glory to the newborn king!"

I actually got teary just typing the words. They take my breath away. HARK, people! We have gotten the news that CHRIST is come! He has come to reconcile us to a God whom we were previously unable to know as a merciful, loving Father because of our sin! Now we have the ability to be seen SPOTLESS, BLAMELESS, JUSTIFIED as CHILDREN of this holy God!

This news should certainly bring "Joy To The World!"

Joy to the world! The Lord is come! Let Earth receive her King!

Let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing!

And heaven and nature sing! And heaven, and heaven and nature sing!

Joy to the Earth! The Savior reigns! Let men their songs employ!

While fields and flood, rocks, hills, and plains repeat the sounding joy!

Repeat the sounding joy! Repeat, repeat the sounding joy!

No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground!

He comes to make His blessings known, far as the Curse is found

Far as the curse is found, far as, far as the curse is found!

He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove

The glories of His righteousness, and wonder of His love,

And wonder of His love, and wonder - wonder! - of His love!

And finally, one last favorite:

Break forth, O beauteous heavenly light! And usher in the morning!

Ye shepherds, shrink not with afright, but heed the angel's warning:

"This Child, now weak in infancy, our confidence and joy shall be!

The power of Satan breaking! Our peace eternal making!"

If you're feeling overwhelmed lately, I'd encourage you to scoop up some of your fav Christmas CD's, get a hot cup of tea, and meditate on the beautiful scriptural truths in our Christmas carols. We forget what Christmas is about - it's really NOT about loving your neighbor as yourself, sharing the love of Christ, or the other neat little pat sayings we mindlessly say around this time of year. All of those are good things that will naturally result from Christmas Day, but the real theme of Christmas is personal redemption - Christ has come, and as a result I have been redeemed. God has fulfilled his promises! The chains of sin in my life are broken, my peace is established (oh, this one is so precious to me! Peace!), He has come to bless and establish IN MY LIFE!

If that doesn't put everything in perspective for you, I don't know what will. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010


When Abby and I got back to the house from our "exposition" (lol), her daddy was already home (working on all that pesky end-of-the-year paperwork that comes with running a business). Abby crashed in her crib shortly afterwards, and Chris gave me the rest of the afternoon off. I came home to discover that everyone was working busily on all their handcrafted Christmas gifts.

Now, I've made handcrafted Christmas gifts before, and I know personally that they're a gift of love - the love I must feel to be crazy enough to attempt to make something homemade, and the love ther giftee shows by accepting said homemade present with grace. :) And someday I do hope to do a mostly, if not entirely handmade Christmas. I did make one handmade gift this year - a crocheted wool hat for my dad which turned out PERFECTLY and of which I am very proud. :) But this year I didn't even attempt the stress which is handcrafting gifts. Maybe next year. :)

I did feel a little "left out in the cold" when it came to the flurry of activity around me, though, so I decided today would be the perfect day to do some holiday baking. I made five recipes - fruit and nut drops, chocolate-covered coconut buttons, almond bark, spiced nuts, and fruit squares. Everything but the fruit squares turned out beautifully - the fruit squares might still, but I didn't realize the recipe called for refrigerating them overnight, so the jury is still out. I have to say, they smell delicious!

One big plate of goodies is going to my mechanic/car dealer, who sold me my truck several years back and have kept it humming along ever since. I love these guys - they do good work, keep the prices low, and treat me nicely. :) Also, my truck needs to go in the shop next week and I want them to have really positive feelings towards me. :) I divided up some for my guyfriends, and what's left is going to Chris and Natalie.

I promise I will hunt down all the recipes I used, plus pictures - took them already, but they're on my phone in the other room and I'm too lazy to go get them, lol, now that my sugar rush is fading - hopefully tomorrow afternoon or evening.

Tomorrow I have TWO kiddies to play with - my Abster, of course, and her little cousin, Nate, who needs a sitter for the day. I have no idea how this is going to play out, but I think it's going to be fun! :) I have a craft all ready for them, plus there's always our favorite activities of coloring, play-doh, reading, and singing.

Abby was talking up a storm today - she's now using full sentences and adds new words to her vocab every day. Today we picked up Maggie and did some errands and she told me very clearly that she wanted to go "shopping at Target." Why I don't know, but that's where she wanted to go! :) Then she said she wanted to go to the pet store and see Nemo and Dory, the mice, the kitties , and the turtles. When we got there they had a pack of ferrets where the chinchilla normally is, and she looked at me very puzzled and said as clearly as could be, "Where the chinchilla?" To illustrate how far and fast she's come in the last few weeks, just two weeks ago we went to the pet store and she wanted to go see the chinchilla, which she conveyed by emphatically patting her chin (yes, it took me a little while to figure it out, too!).

I LOVELOVELOVE that she can communicate with me now about her wants and desires, and what strikes her as funny, or worries her, or makes her sad... but with this new ability is also coming some teaching about what's polite to say and what's not. She seems to get this concept, she'll sometimes say something and then ask, "Nice?" to see what I think. When I do need to make some input, it's usually pretty mild. I'll usually say, "That's not very polite, Abby," and she'll nod and say, "Oh, SOWEE!" and then wait to see what I think would be a better way of expressing herself. I totally love it.

Last week she got into the habit for a few days of saying "Stop that!" to me. Very loudly. In public. With the perfect inflections of an adult scolding a child. The first few times it happened, I chalked it up to her learning to assert her wishes, and told her several times that it would be more polite to say "Stop that please." The same day we were out in town, and she was in the shopping cart, and she suddenly decided that she didn't like me pushing the shopping cart (i.e. touching it). She waited until we were in a crowd of mommies and then said rather loudly "STOP THAT!!!... please." Of course everyone immediately turned to see what I was doing to the poor kid, so I quickly hurried us away. :)

The one we're working on this week is "No thank you." She has the "No!" part down pat (lol) but she's actually doing really well on the rest. Today we asked her several times if she wanted something - a bite of tortilla, more milk, a crayon - and she responded "NO!" as if we'd asked her if she'd like to be dangled by her toes. The first two times I told her, "That's not very polite - can you say 'no thank you'?" and she repeated quickly, "No, thank you." The last time, I just said "Can you please be polite?" and she quickly responded "No thank you!" Success. :)

Here's a rather neat blog post (not mine) talking about kids acquiring language and learning to use it. Which, to be honest, probably won't interest anyone except parents and nannies. :)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

More Christmas

Tonight was the final performance of our church's Christmas cantata - thank the Lord! :) It was fun and it was good but it did seem to take up a ton of time. I'm glad I did it but I'm also glad that all the commitments are up for me until after Christmas. No stressing until next year! :)

If I didn't mention it before, I was in charge of a small children's choir and got to do a tiny bit of directing the kid actors when the regular director had an allergy attack one rehearsal.

Most of the kids - in this scene, they're supposed to be the children's choir in the play, who are driving the pastor (in the play) crazy. Surprisingly, the thing we worked on most was actually getting the kids to be rambunctious enough! They certainly didn't have any trouble behind the scenes, but on stage was a different story.

Joseph begs the Innkeeper for help, while Mary groans in the background. :)
Most of my college friends made it home this week, so it was great to be able to sit around and catch up after the service. Normally I'm stressed out on Sunday nights because my goal is to get home and get ready for the coming week, get a good night's sleep, etc, but tonight I just decided to roll with it. I can nap tomorrow when Abby does, if I need to, and I have a short work week, and a long weekend where I can catch up on sleep, and if I am a little sleep deprived tomorrow, it won't kill me. :)

It's A Marshmallow World In The Winter

It's Sunday, which is weigh-in day. I've been maintaining since the 5th, just due to a lot of depression/anxiety, stuff going on, etc. I'd changed my goal from "losing" to "maintaining" and have been pretty successful. This is a very short-term goal - I am determined to maintain and not gain until January 5th, when my best friend goes back to Alabama, then I'm back to work. It's just that the last few weeks have been terrible, and I didn't have the energy to plan like I should have been. I'm excited that I have not slidden back into my old eating habits, though. :) In fact, this week I lost .6 of a pound, so that was confirmation to me that I'm on the right track.

I'm so psyched about this being Christmas week! Eeee! All my gifts are wrapped and bought and TODAY I get to start the process of delivering them (to my church friends, because this is the last Sunday before Christmas except for the Christmas Eve service, and I don't want to have to stress over them that night). I can't wait - I love gift-giving! And I got some especially good ones this year!

Of course, the faster that Christmas comes, the faster it is over, and the faster my bestie and my favorite little boy will be here, too. :) I'm so lucky this year because I'll really have two Christmases - one with my family, and one when she gets here and we get to exchange gifts. I've already told her that part of the gifts is that I'll ship them back to Alabama once they've been opened. :) The practical thing would have been to ship them to her and let her and Khy open them on Christmas Day at their house, but I'm selfish and I couldn't resist getting to watch them open them themselves.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

First Snow Day of the Year!

Today was the day - we got the first snow day of the season! Although we had TONS of snow last winter, I don't think Abby remembered any of it. It started snowing when we were driving home from gymnastics (which got cancelled due to the threat of snow, lol) and when we got home she went straight to the window.
"What?" she kept asking. "It's SNOW!" I kept telling her.
At one point she looked at me soberly.
"Scary?" she asked. I laughed. "No, it's FUN!" At this news, she brightened up considerably and told me, "OUT!"
I dressed her in all the winter-weather paraphernalia that I could find and we went outside. Abigail was pretty impressed with the snow. She got out all her beach toys and played for about forty minutes while I threw some firewood in the back of my truck to help keep me from getting stuck on the way home.

Finally she came over and looked up at me.
"I FWEEZING!" she told me emphatically. I cracked up, but I told her it was time to go inside.
"No!" she told me immediately, and tried to run back out into the snow. I caught her and told her that we were both cold and we needed to go back inside to warm up. She got a little teary, so I told her, "The snow will still be here when you come back!"
She brightened up visibly. "Hmm?"
"Yes, Abby, the snow isn't going away any time soon."
With this knowledge, she let me herd her back inside. :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Danger of Comparing Yourself To Other People

So recently I stumbled across the blog I Saw Your Nanny. Initially I was a bit put off by it, as the first post that flashed up was a "tattletale sighting" and those kind of things I find really ridiculous, sort of like the idea of nanny-cams. I mean, seriously, you're leaving your beloved child in the company of a person for hours each day, but you apparently trust the person so little that you're spying on them? Riiight... Maybe it's just me, but this seems NUTS! And kind of unneccesary. I mean, especially with small children, it will be obvious really soon if your nanny is mistreating your child - the baby won't want to come to them, won't get excited about their presence, etc. Anyway. That's kind of a side-rant.

Well, once I surfed a little longer and realized that ISYN has tons more to it than nanny-tattling (lol), I got hooked and became a follower. It's neat to get to see stories of other gals who spend their days pretty much the same way I do, since I have no friends who are nannies and all my nanny friends are online.

Now, the bad thing about comparing yourself to other folks, obviously, is that there's a danger of becoming dissatisfied with your own position in life - but in this case, folks, it definitely worked in the opposite way!!! I was almost shocked as I read some of the stories on this blog. Parents who are AWOL without any contact... nannies who have to keep begging and pleading for their paycheck week after week... parents who trust their nannies so little they stalk them... I'm actually sort of amazed! I would have thought that the majority of "nanny horror stories" would be from parents who were displeased with the way their kids were being cared for - because, let's face it, parenting and childcare are sensitive issues and people are obviously and rightfully opinionated about how their kids are raised.

Anyway, it made me extremely thankful for the place I'm in. Not only do I have a beautiful, smart, funny, happy little "shadow" to spend my days with - and I can HONESTLY say that "spending time with Abigail" is at the top of my list of things that make me happy, I hate long weekends and love it on the rare occasions when mommy and daddy find themselves needing a sitter on the weekends - but I have a great relationship with her parents (i.e. my bosses). In fact, when I think back on this year, I actually am doubly-thankful because not only have Chris and Natalie been amazing, they've gone above and beyond and blessed me in ways I never expected. Natalie rearranged her work schedule so that I could continue to teach English at my church; Chris used to greet me at the door on Monday with a recitation of yummy foods they'd stocked the fridge with, always reminding me that anything I wanted, they'd be glad to get; I've never had to worry about getting my paycheck - in fact, a couple of times Natalie has paid me early because there was a CHANCE of snow, or because Abby MIGHT be getting sick, and she didn't want me to have to wait for it. One special thing that sticks out in my memory is that when I left to spend a week with my best friend this summer, Natalie presented me with a gorgeous necklace as a gift, and explained that she wanted me to have a special piece of jewelery to wear if Robin and I went out while we were together (we did, I did, and now whenever I see or wear that necklace I have doubly warm feelings about it - not only the happy memories I made while wearing it, but the warmth of their kindness to me!).

I should be used to it by now, as it's happened multiple times in my life, but it's always amazing to look around and see that God has arranged your life perfectly, down to the last detail. I can't think of a better way to spend my days!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

"The Deaf Will Hear..."

In the last few years, our church has had the opportunity to start a deaf ministry. We have several deaf members attending, and the number of people who have learned to sign in order to translate for them is steadily increasing! Off the top of my head, I can think of at least five women who regularly participate in translating some part of the service, whether it be announcements, music, or the message, and I know that there are others who sit with the deaf and participate in their worship, even if they are not translating.

I'm kind of mesmerized by the activity in the deaf section... I often get so caught up in watching that I forget to pay attention to whatever is going on, lol. One of the things I think is so beautiful about the language is the sheer beauty of the signs and the way that this language really involves the whole body of the worshipper.

I've long had a yearning to take my camera and capture some of this beauty, but I was a little shy about approaching the signers for fear that I'd make them feel "watched." Last week at cantata rehearsal, I was sitting near one of our youngest translators, Jenna, and I made some mention of someday wanting to photograph the signing. She told me that her mom had just been lamenting the fact that she didn't have any pictures of her signing, and I eagerly offered to fix it!

Jenna was the perfect subject. :) She completely ignored me, which was awesome, so I got to circle and shoot without feeling like I was in her way.

The pictures are a bit grainy because of the stage lighting and whatnot, but I did manage to get a few nice shots. I'm hoping to do this again in better lighting conditions, especially now that I have a feel for the "flow" of the two songs she's translating.

I forgot to write down which signs she's doing... hopefully when she looks these over she can tell me!

Love List

Maggie and I headed up to the mall for our weekly sister date this week. I wanted to go because my fav pair of boots need to be reheeled, and I'm desperate to be able to wear them again with the cold temps we've been experiencing. Once we'd dropped them off and received assurances from the hispanic cobbler that "[I] will be very, very happy with them!" :) we headed over to the food court for dinner, then took a leisurely stroll around the mall to see the sights. My Christmas shopping is all done, so it was nice to get to walk around without feeling pressure to hit so many stores in search of gifts. :)

We ended up at the jewelery section of one of my fav stores, Forever 21. It's hilarious that this is my fav store in the mall, because I don't think I could fit into any of the clothes there (at least, not yet)! :) But this place has the greatest jewelery - very unique stuff, stuff that looks like it was collected from around the world and brought back, and probably has a story to tell. It's inexpensive, so I don't mind picking up a few pieces whenever something catches my eye. And I always get compliments on their jewelery when I wear it. In fact, that night I was wearing my large owl pendant that I'd bought from them, and I'd been getting compliments on it all day - from the mommies at gymnastics, from the lady at the counter who took my dinner order, from random strangers on the street who stopped to tell me how much they liked it. :) Jewelery like that is priceless, folks! I love how a unique piece of jewelery attracts people - not neccesarily compliments, but just draws in people who have a similar eye or style, that you might not bump into otherwise. :)

There's pretty much every style of jewelery at Forever 21, from the softly sentimental...

To the holiday festive!

And if it weren't for the rhinestones, the little guy below would definitely have come home with me!!!

I loved this piece, love the layered chains and the big dragonfly pendant.

And have I mentioned I've been wanting a fish pendant for ages now? Well, I have! I especially like this dangly one, but they had several styles.

Of course, I'll admit it... the real draw for me is that Forever 21 has a seemingly unendless supply of owl necklaces. See?

The one above was in the store, and I came thisclose to bringing it home with me... I love it to pieces!

Speaking of owls, I was in Target yesterday and found this little guy! Isn't he cute?

I went through my purse this week and threw out a ton of old cosmetics... one of the victims was my hand cream. :( I needed a good replacement, so while we were at the mall, I ducked into Bath and Body Works and picked up a tube of the True Blue Cashmere Hand Cream on sale. Nice stuff! The ONLY bad thing I have to say about it is that it smells just like a freshly baked sugar cookie, and makes me hungry. :)

One last thing - a year ago this week I quit my job in retail to have a couple weeks off with the family before I began working as Abigail's nanny. I was glancing through the blog posts from that week and I thought y'all might enjoy comparing my life lately to my life a year ago. I have to say I think it's a big improvement! I'd sort of forgotten how miserable I was! Anyway, feel free to check it out - Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Angst, In General

There has been a lot of angst in my life over the last few weeks. I'm trying to keep a sense of humor, here, but mostly I wish it would just go away and let me celebrate my holidays in peace. :) Between family drama, holiday commitments, unexpected change, and the death of a family friend, I guess I can't really say I'm surprised to find myself feeling a bit "blue", but I sure wish I could go back to my pre-Thanksgiving holiday "high". Oh, well. I am choosing to have faith that if I do all my positive steps - good coping, etc - it will all start to pay off soon!

My Weight Watchers has suffered from angst, too, lol. Last week they changed over from their "Points" program to the new and oh-so-smugly-named "PointsPLUS" program (because who could resist a PLUS?!) and took away all the tools that have been helping me do so well. Not only did all the points values of my fav foods change - and not dependably or predictably, either, some went up, some went down, some didn't change at all - but they made all their online tools Flash based, which means that I can't track my food at work since the computer there doesn't have Flash. Very frustrating! I am trying to use a paper and pencil method at work, then put it all in the computer at night, but I sure miss my tools. :( And I sure miss knowing the plan inside and out and being able to look at a nutrition label and guesstimate points. I suppose that all this will come back eventually, but for now - I sure hate you, Weight Watchers!!!

However, despite my hatred of the new system, and despite a week of crazy eating - which included a few days of yoyoing between "This is too hard, I can't do this!" and "Yes, I can, by golly!" - I lost half a pound. Not what I wanted to lose, and I actually think this is a gain, since I'm pretty sure I was lower in the middle of the week - but I'll take it.

Sounds crazy, but I'm so glad this weekend is OVER and my brand new week is about to begin.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My Favorite Christmas Traditions

Everyone has their own Christmas traditions that they look forward to. I've enjoyed over the last several years creating my own, as well as participating in the family traditions. And, of course I look forward to the day when I have my own family to create traditions with!

But here, in no particular order, are all the traditions I currently have going:

1) Putting up the Christmas tree. This typically occurs on the Friday after Thanksgiving, but ALWAYS on the weekend following Thanksgiving.

2) Going to Bubba Knott's Farm to see the Christmas lights!

3) Black Friday shopping.

4) Playing the Veggie Tales "A Very Veggie Christmas" CD :) - I play this over and over again, I love it so. :) I haven't played it with Abby yet, but I look forward to it!

5) Going to the store to buy Christmas cards and picking out just the right card for everyone (this year it took more than three trips, but I'm almost done!)

6) Making and decorating sugar cookies... and then ignoring them, because our sugar cookies always taste like sawdust. :)

7) A trip to the mall. I'm not really sure why this is still a tradition - I guess it stems from the fact that ten years ago the only place to Christmas shop in our town was pretty much Wal-Mart. Now our area is all developed, but we still make at least one pilgrimage to the mall a few towns over to eat at the food court, go to the bookstore, and see the Christmas displays.

8) Going to Starbucks for a holiday latte - I don't really love Starbucks, but I do love to go in and get a good holiday latte. This year I loved the eggnog latte - right up until I found out the points values! Lol. My holiday lattes were short-lived this year.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Giving Thanks In A BIG Way...

... for a 2 pound loss this week - even though it WAS Thanksgiving. This is even more amazing because I only tracked half the days this week - I didn't track Thanksgiving day or anything past that. However, I did NOT throw caution to the wind, lol. I ate until I was full, made good choices, etc, I just didn't formally document any of this. In the past this has been a disaster for me, but apparently I got some good practice in this week!

That means I'm only 1.6 pounds away from my NEW YEAR'S GOAL, which was 20 pounds lost.

I'll definitely be hitting that this week, barring unforeseen disaster, just because I know how my body fluctuates by now and I know that next week I'll probably see a bigger loss that this week. So, super exciting. I would love to see 25 pounds lost by the time my bestie gets here in late December, but we'll see. :)

Even more exciting to me, though, than the weight loss (and it's pretty exciting!) is that I realized this week I have a rudimentary idea of how food affects my body, and how to feed my body not just to satisfy my mouth but really to nourish the whole me. For instance, at one point this week I came back to the house absolutely starving. We'd gone black Friday shopping, I'd been up since 1:30, it was now 7, I was exhausted, had gotten less than 3 hours of sleep in the last 48 hours, and I wanted to eat EVERYTHING. Somewhere in the middle of this haze I realized very clearly, "My body wants carbs to burn for fast energy." I had a small serving of stuffing (I was about to go back to bed, so while I realize this wasn't the best thing in the world, lol, it worked) and then I realized, "If I had some protein with this, it would make me feel so much better later" so I had a piece of turkey and I fell into bed for a few hours and - guess what? - I was right! The combo did reset my brain so I didn't have the "eat everything in sight" syndrome all day. :)

I went shopping this afternoon to look for a few pieces of clothing that I badly need. None of my clothes fit quite right anymore; I can make some of them work, but more and more everything is starting to look dowdy/baggy/ridiculous and this, more than anything, more than gaining back that pound a few weeks ago, is demoralizing to me. And it's been frustrating because it seems like I can't quite fit into anything exactly right; everything one full size down is a bit snug, everything my old size is too big.

Well, apparently that last two pounds was all that stood behind me and the next size down. I found three skirts I loved (only got two, though) and a drapey cardigan that I can use. I'm still having a terrible time finding tops to fit, since my tummy area seems the least resistant to change, so I can't wear anything too fitted, but anything too baggy looks crazy on my shoulders and arms. Oh, well. At least I found skirts! This is super exciting because one of my fav skirts and a big wardrobe staple for me hit the dust today. I tried it on, it slid off my body. No amount of cinching, layering underneath, whatever will make it work anymore. :( I picked up a black denim skirt today to replace it - still hunting for a non-denim shorter, knee-length skirt, but in the meantime this will do. I also found a decent replacement for my favorite denim skirt, until I can get it altered. :)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Picture Recap, and a Giveaway!

Remember the bootie and cap set I made for my new cousin, Kathryn?

Well, I was blessed at Thanksgiving to get to see her wearing it in person, AND her mama graciously gave me this photo of little Kat modeling it. :)

As you can probably tell, Kat has a little bit of growing to do in the noggin area before it fits perfectly... I resized the pattern from a 6-12 month pattern and clearly didn't make it small enough. Oh well! The good thing about babies is that they grow fast, and in the meantime, she doesn't seem to mind.
Last Sunday we stuffed our ham! For those of you who are not lucky enough to live in St. Mary's, stuffed ham is our regional dish. :) It actually has its roots in Africa, where natives would preserve meat with greens and spices to keep in the heat. When slaves were brought to Southern Maryland, they brought the recipe with them and adapted it to their new land. Google it for more info, but in short, stuffed ham involves tons of kale and cabbage, onion, spice, and fun. We were lucky enough to have friends from church join us!

Alexa, Dad, and I were in charge of processing the kale, cabbage, and onions. We had two food processors set up with me in the middle, trimming kale and cabbage to be minced.

Dad, deboning our ham.
Once stuffed, the ham is rolled up tightly, tied with twine, and wrapped in cheesecloth.

It sometimes requires two people - or more! :)
Thanksgiving was stressful for me this year. I love the holidays, I love being with family, and for me the holidays are a time to set aside the pettiness that we get caught up in. Unfortunately, not everyone shares this opinion, lol, and so our Thanksgiving this year was more about conflict and tension that giving thanks. :( I got lots of practice in using all the new coping techniques I've been learning in class. And that's about the best thing I can say about it.

My mom chose to celebrate Thanksgiving with friends from church instead of her family this year, so our morning was pretty much spent getting our Thanksgiving dinner ready.

In the midst of this, the cat decided to be needy and kept meowing at the door until Maggie relented and went out to hold him. :)

Such a bad cat!
We had an absolutely stunning, Normal Rockwell-esque bird this year. Even I was impressed, and normally I could really care less for turkey. I guess this is part of my tastes changing, because somehow this year I can't get enough.

I didn't get any pictures once our guests arrived, because I was having absolutely too much fun! We had a lady from church and the same family that we stuffed hams with over, and we spent all afternoon regaling each other with funny stories and tall tales. :)

Around 5, Maggie and I headed over to my grandfather's house to celebrate with my mom's family. There is nothing like being with family... as soon as we arrived, all my stress melted away and it suddenly started to feel like a true Thanksgiving. :) I am so grateful for my family - my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. It was especially fun to get to see the two new family additions, Kat and Zoe. :)

My Abster was there, also, but spent too much time running around shrieking in delight to be photographed. :)All in all, I am thankful for the holiday, and thankful that it's over and it'll be a year before I have to stress about it again. :)

Now - on to the giveaway...

I am not a huge crafter, but I got a chance to sit down today and make some holiday gift tags, something I've been putting off but couldn't procrastinate on any longer, seeing as the pile of wrapped gifts in my room is growing and I'm anxious to label them before I forget which gift goes to whom. :) I got all my tags made, and even got a chance to make a set of twelve tags, which I am giving away to a reader! :)

This is a set of twelve tags: four large, four medium, and four small. All are red cardstock with stamped or punched vellum overlay, tied with green ribbon.
The small tags.
The medium tags.

The large tags.
I will say the camera makes them look orangish, whereas they really are true red. Aren't they cute?

Close-up of one of the large tags.
If you'd like me to send them to YOU :), here's what you do:
1) Leave me a comment for one entry.
2) Become a follower for an additional entry.
3) Blog, tweet, or mention this giveaway in your Facebook status for additional entries (be sure to leave me the url of your blog/twitter in your comment).
I will randomly select a winner on December 4th! :)

I hope y'all are well into your Christmas celebrations by now, and that you're feeling the blessings of the season!