A New Year & New Me

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This has got to be my favorite quote of the whole year and for the new year!

This has got to be my favorite quote of the year and for the new year!

“Ya, ya, ya” says the voice in my head.  Why are you titling this “A New Me?”

Why not?  I’ve got so much to do.

My only new year’s resolution: To be more pro-active.

I know people who don’t make resolutions.  I like them.  I like having goals.  I don’t have to use the word “resolution” if I don’t have to, but it’s the only one I am going to follow this year and that is to be prepared and know it’s coming.

I’m ready!  Who’s with me!

Take heart; I have overcome the world.  -John 16:33

Our Christmas Movie Countdown

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Top Ten Christmas Movie CountdownOne of the things our family enjoys are to be able to sit on the couch or the floor and watch good-feeling movies together.  This is especially true at Christmas time. It becomes a chance to not only remember the “true meaning of the season” but have a good reason to cuddle with the kids, talk about values we have that others may not demonstrate on TV, and just veg-out during what can be a relatively stressful time of year for my husband and I.

I don’t look at this list as a rating for these movies by any means.  I look at them as complete entertainment for us as a family to sit around the soft glow of the television as we approach the big day.

Many of the movies are short, so it’s a good 30-minutes before bedtime with some popcorn or hot cocoa.  I hope all the movies are recognizable, but the links will take you to Amazon where you can see the cover of the movie, and hey, purchase it there if you don’t have it in your collection!

Dec. 15th: The Nightmare before Christmas – (A surprisingly big hit with the 4-year to tween age)

Dec. 16th: Home Alone – (Our 8-year old LOVES this movie)

Dec. 17th: It’s a Wonderful Life

Dec. 18th: Santa Claus is Coming to Town*

Dec. 19th: A Christmas Story

Dec. 20th: The Original Grinch

Dec. 21st: Frosty the Snowman*

Dec. 22nd: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer*

Dec. 23rd: Prep and Landing

Dec. 24th: A Charlie Brown Christmas

The asterisk (*) indicates a boxed set that we own and love that includes all three movies together.

The Next-in-line Christmas Movies that didn’t make our Top Ten Countdown (but we watch if we have time):

The Polar Express


The Santa Clause

Any of the Miracle on 34th Street Movies

Any of the ‘A Christmas Carol‘ Movies

Rise of the Guardians

The new Grinch Movie

And just for the tweens, teens and grown-ups of course:

Family Man

Die Hard

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – (It was free on Amazon Prime at the time of this post!)

Planes, Trains and Automobiles – which my husband contributes, although it’s centered around the Thanksgiving Holiday and views as the greatest movie of all time.  Me, not so much.

My personal favorite Christmas movie is Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

There is something about the elf that wants to be a dentist that just makes me happy.

Did I miss anything you love?

Maybe Christmas, perhaps means a little bit more.  ~Dr. Seuss

Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more. ~Dr. Seuss

I had a bad day, but….

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Romans 12:2a

Romans 12:2a

So I had a bad day.

A really bad day.

It started out with an evaluation from work, where I received an overall, “Needs Improvement” evaluation.

After calling my husband and getting a good cry out, I had an hour-long drive to the project I’m working on.  I spent that hour mulling over what to do and in a nutshell, I realized I have to conform.

I hate to conform.

I do not conform.


But I will have to.

I took this verse to heart on my drive.  I will have to conform to the worldly-tasks associated with the things listed in my evaluation, even though it means keeping my mouth shut and I’ve never been good at that.

But they cannot take away my spirit.  They cannot take away my own ‘renewing of my mind’ that the Lord has given me to choose Him over the job.

I prayed for my supervisor and his supervisor (the two responsible for the evaluation).  I prayed for my co-workers.  I thanked God for my husband and his remarkable understanding.  I thanked God the project I am on is going so well, so far.

The rest of the day was spent finding problems – more mistakes I made!  Why today?

This won’t be easy.  My supervisors will be watching how I handle situations.  The Lord always is.  I will work on pleasing Him, because in the end, He’s the only one that matters.

It’s a Major Award!

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I have always wanted to say that…and mean it.

My blog post on Aloe Vera Gel, my favorite self-help website, and my 15-minutes of fame.

My blog post on Aloe Vera Gel, my favorite self-help website, and my 15-minutes of fame.

I won a Kindle.

No, really, I did!  I won a Kindle from Instructables.com.

My mother-in-love gave me the idea to make homemade Aloe Vera Gel from my prolific aloe vera plants and sure enough, the Instructable was featured, featured in the newsletter, and as of the date of this post, had over 21,000 views!


Or should I say “YAY!

It’s only 15-minutes of fame – but it feels good.

I got the shirt too and after losing some recent body fat (that will be another post) it actually fit me.  Double “Yay!”

Here’s the cool Kindle I got.  I can’t wait to use it.  It’s not the kids either, it’s mine, all mine. =D


Countdown to Christmas: Our ‘Halloween Candy’ Advent

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We used Halloween Candy for our Advent Calendar this year!

We used Halloween Candy for our Advent Calendar this year!

I was in the store before December started and saw the little cardboard advent calendars they sell where you open up a square on the page for each day counting down to Christmas.  I didn’t buy the three I needed (one for each child) at the time, and instead I instantly thought of the candy we had sitting in bags in the pantry left-over from Halloween.

Not really knowing how to do this, I thought of the advent calendars I have seen on instructables.com (one of my favorite websites!) and decided to use that candy to Countdown for Christmas.

The result of the above thought process is this calendar.  It takes up quite a bit of space on our table, but the Halloween candy is getting eaten, distributed evenly, and the children always know what day it is.  It’s a visual reminder to my littlest children of how many days are left until Christmas.

I present Our Halloween Candy Advent Calendar.

Halloween Candy used in these cups to eat each day as we countdown to Christmas.

Halloween Candy used in these cups to eat each day as we countdown to Christmas.

MaterialsMaterials I used:

  • Left over Halloween candy
  • Plastic Cups with Lids – We used two packages of Solo Grips to Go cups purchased from Target
  • Scrapbooking number stickers or a sharpie marker

CupsPlace stickers

Place sticker number on cup.

Place sticker number on cup.

I had several left over sheets of scrapbooking alphabet/number stickers from my scrapbooking hey-days.  It took me about thirty (30) minutes to place all the stickers on the cups, and I just started at one and went to twenty-five.

A black sharpie marker would probably have gone faster and would have also sufficed to number the cups.

The cups came in festive red and green cups, and we alternated between the two colors each day as the month progressed.

Fill up the cupsMy children picked out candy for each day, which took a good half-hour, and the 2-year old stopped being interested in filling the cups around cup number 7.

Putting on LidsWe covered the cups with the lids, and considering we did this craft on December 1st, the kids got to eat the candy for day one, something they were very happy about!

Opening up the cup for the dayBetter candy and countdown than just a small chocolate in a cardboard box right?

I think yes.


Remembering Who’s in Charge

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This is how I describe my mother....

This is how I describe my mother….

What an interesting couple days.

My mom has gotten better.

Like, miraculously better.

The catheder placed in her chest that she has been using for dialysis since April caused an infection in her body.  The infection in turn was slowly killing her.

The doctors removed the catheder and cleaned up her new fissula so that she can get her dialysis in her arm.

I quoted Colossians 3:17 today in my facebook update – “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

I also brought up the fact that although I give glory to God for healing her, I ask for forgiveness for my unbelief.

I’m so glad for Jesus.  I know I can’t do this on my own.

The Marilyn Monroe quote sums up my mother from my perspective.  She’s a good woman, and is seriously getting better as she ages. It was (and still is) just not easy to deal with her at her worst.

Maybe there’s another meme in there – comparing my mother to an aging wine.

Our Christmas Countdown – Part 2 (of 2)

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A book by Dean Lambert Smith

A book by Dean Lambert Smith

p1050968I was not raised with traditions.  The closest thing I can think of that came close to be a “tradition” for Christmas when I was growing up was going to my maternal Grandmas house on Christmas Day.  It wasn’t a tradition, more just something we did most years.

My husband, on the other hand, doesn’t recall a Christmas where he DIDN’T go to his maternal Grandparents house on Christmas Day.  When we first got together, I went with him to his grand-parents’ house for Christmas, because again, I didn’t have any real traditions, and this was his way of showing me off to his family.  We have gone to his Grandparents, (now just called Grandma’s house) for Christmas Day ever since.

I get the concept of ‘tradition’ now.

I understand the importance of the being together as a family, and the idea of sitting around a table to talk.

Our list of traditions for Christmas is getting longer and longer as the years go by, but that’s another post.

Today, I will talk about what I THINK is the most important tradition, the Countdown to Christmas that we have with our kiddos.

We read a book nightly starting on December 1st called “The Advent Jesse Tree” by Dean Lambert Smith.

Each one page devotional describes a moment that foretells of Christ’s birth.  The coolest part of this book to me is the symbolism, with each passage and corresponding verse being represented by something.  It’s a way to get to know the bible and the coming of Jesus’ birth, while decorating a Christmas tree with ornaments, something that my children enjoy immensely.

Last years' prepared ornaments for the devotional.

Last years’ prepared ornaments for the devotional.

The prep work for this tradition for me personally begins the year before, while packing the Christmas items away, usually in January.  The first year preparing for this tradition (now over three years ago) was the hardest, as I searched for pre-made ornaments that were described in the daily devotions.

The book has an adult study for each day as well as a children’s study.  There are suggested songs to sing, which we don’t always do, but I have found that my youngest two children respond very well to the singing and learning new songs, especially our daughter.

My daughter opening the daily ornament for the Jesse Tree.

My daughter opening the daily ornament for the Jesse Tree.

The most fun thing for my children is the opening of the little gift during a part of the daily reading.

This is our home made Day 2 ornament, telling the story of the serpent and sin.

This is our home made Day 2 ornament, telling the story of the serpent and sin.

This year may be especially important to me to be around my kiddos, as my mother is in the hospital as I write this post.   I want to keep traditions up.  I want it to be memorable for them as they grow up.



You can buy this book on Amazon: The Advent Jesse Tree on Amazon.
My book review: Five Stars for ease of use, simplicity of the scriptures for both children and adults, and the content.  I enjoy how the author ties every single day with Christ and the meaning of Jesus in each story, even when referencing the old testament and stories that appear to not have Christ directly in them.






Our Christmas Countdown – Part 1

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The Meaning of Christmas - Quote by Carolyn Kennedy

The Meaning of Christmas – Quote by Carolyn Kennedy

Our family celebrates Christmas.  It’s what we do.  We say “Merry Christmas,” teach our children to say Merry Christmas, and include the meaning of Christmas every day in December as the 25th approaches.

Our family is very blessed and for that I am thankful.  Our children get gifts from every family member, and one gift from Santa.

I wasn’t raised on Santa.  My parents claimed to have “never lied to me” which includes NEVER allowing me to believe in Santa.  As a young married wife, when the topic of Santa came up with my husband, I told him that there’s no way I could teach my children about Santa.  “It’s a lie.” I would tell him.  “I don’t want to lie to my children….”

Well, my thought process changed when I had my first child, we call RJ.  Our beloved newborn was still an infant for the first Christmas he spent on this planet and although we did not get him a present from Santa that first Christmas of his life, my thoughts on the whole ‘Santa-thing’ began to change.  Maybe, there was a compromise somewhere for this time of year.

Fast forward two years in RJ’s life.

Our now two year old son, able to communicate very well and learning about the world sees Santa on TV, along the road as we drive by the mall, on billboards, you name it.  My husband, who up to now has completely immersed our son with phrases like “Santa’s going to get you a gift this year,” and asked him “What do you want from Santa?” more times than I could recall, has been the sole source of our child’s Santa experience.  If I got a question about Santa when our child was 2-years old, I would defer the question by telling our only child, “Go ask your father.”  That year, there was no picture with Santa and of course, there was only the one present under the tree from Santa, something picked out by my husband from the approved list of things we were going to get our son anyway.

The following year, when RJ turned three, (coincidently in November) I had dinner with a really good friend who has a boy that is our oldest son’s best friend to this day.  She told me something I will never forget when the topic of Santa came up in our conversation.  She said “think of Santa as part of the lies you tell your child.”

What did I just hear her say?

She went on and told me to think about all the “lies” I’ve told my son up to this point in his life.  I sat there stunned for a minute trying to both process her words and think to myself, “Have I EVER lied to my son?”

The reality of the situation (and I am a realist you know) hit me like a ton of bricks – I have lied to him.

“But it wasn’t harming!” I justified to myself.  (Every kid has to think that vegetables taste good.  Every child who is a fussy eater has been told that sweet and sour pork is a chicken nugget, right?)

Santa can be good too.” An inner voice told me.

My mind was seriously blown.

My mind raced that evening. My parents lied to me too.  Perhaps it was in the sneaky ways they did stuff, trying to protect me from the real things that were going on in our poor-living conditions while I was growing up.  The stuff I found out about as an adult that were “kept from me” when I was a child, were sad things; certainly not joyful and dare I say, magical, but were kept from me to keep me from growing up too fast – something they ended up not being able to do anyway.  Once I grasped that concept, my stubborn insistence on the whole Santa thing relaxed, a little.

“Why not tell my child about Santa,” I kept asking myself.  My one excuse – about NOT-wanting-to-lie to my child – was thrown out the window.

Our celebration at Christmas has come to a compromise; we talk about Santa coming, enjoy watching movies about Santa, elves, and the magic of Christmas, and we countdown to Jesus’ birth as part of our Christmas tradition.  Right now, Santa is real to my children, and I’m okay with that.  It probably won’t be like that much longer.  I can only hope, pray, and teach them that their faith in Jesus will last their lifetime.

Not knowing what the future holds…

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...plans to give you hope and a future.I am a planner.

I love to plan things out from the simple “date night” to the one-year ahead Disney vacation.  (Everybody plans that out a year ahead right?)

I think the unknown just simply scares me.  There, I said it.

My mom went to the hospital today, with the whole diabetic, renal and congestive heart failure literally “typical” problems that all those ailments will cause.  It’s getting close.  It might be a year from now close, but it’s getting close.  All too soon for my “planning.”

I thankfully have the best husband in the world who supports me, and all traditional family crap aside, my father is there for me to take care of my kids and run errands as needed.

I have many issues with both my parents, many of them stemming from my relationship with my mother.  (At least that’s what a therapist told me once.)  But as we (as a family) approach the end of her life, I can’t help but crying and I can’t figure out why.  The only explanation I can think of – is that she is still my mother.

I believe I’ve been given a chance to plan.  She’s not gone yet, and I joked with her in a car ride recently that I don’t think she’s died because the Lord knows I need to have her funeral planned out first.  It really was a joke – but was it?

I am glad for this opportunity.  That much I know and feel.  I’ve still got her, and I have to take advantage of it.  Well, off to the hospital.  It’s going to be a long night.