December 18, 2010

Our Christmas Cards: The Last 5 Christmases

I feel like I have been neglecting this blog lately but I have been so busy that I am ecstatic when I get to just sit for five minutes.

I am currently on deadline for the next magazine issue (it is very odd to be creating Valentine's Day crafts when Christmas is around the corner) but I wanted to do this quick and fun post on our Christmas cards over the last few years.  

BTW...I covered personal info with the year of that particular 
Christmas card to maintain some privacy. 
Hope you don't mind. :)
(You can also click on the card to see it bigger too.)
 
Our first Christmas card as foster parents to Cati.  
This was actually taken on Thanksgiving that year and Cate was only 3 months old. I don't want to actually type the words but we actually look kinda young in this photo.  What?  Am I AGING?
 
This was also a super fun card because we announced my pregnancy with Ella in this one! 
I was only 7 weeks along and for those of you who have read my infertility story...you know this was huge for me to announce it so early after trying for so many years. But I did it specifically on faith. 

And I laugh every time I look at this because we wore black with a black background and you can't tell which arm belongs to who. Actually, it may have frightened some recipients.  I am laying across the front of my hubby in one direction and he is laying the other way but that is his arm around me.  HAHAHAHA...I am cracking up too much to continue.
The 2008 one is so special because Ella was born that summer and we adopted Cati that November. 
This card was actually their birth/adoption announcement. That is why we started out the card with...Two gifts came early this year..."
This is last year's photo where we asked a random stranger at the beach to take our photo! 
So glad we did because it turned out just how I pictured it but only better! I had been dying to do a beach photo but did not have the money to do a professional shoot.  But if you live in Florida...you gotta have a beach Christmas card at least once. My favorite part is Cati making sand angels.
This year's card!  
But this photo makes me laugh too.  We took a quick pic last weekend right before the ornament exchange party because we all happened to be matching.  Not planned or anything but it came out cute.  My BFF took it for us and I am so glad to have our new house in the background for this year's photo.  Ella was struggling to get out of Daddy's arms and looks none too happy but 3 out of 4 smiles ain't bad, right?  :)

I look back through these cards and think....
"Who knew what was in store for our family?" 

God did. And He has blessed us so much with these babies just as He blessed the world with another tiny baby who I celebrate every day and not just at Christmas...

Jesus Christ.  He was born to be the Savior of the world.  Many of you can attest that a baby changes your life.  I sure can.  But my life changed completely and the most drastically when Jesus came into it and transformed me. Hallelujah!

I pray you know His 
transforming, very real, power and love this Christmas. 

For to us a child is born, 
to us a son is given, 
and the government will be on his shoulders. 
And he will be called 
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  
Isaiah 9:6

Hugs and so much love to every one of you!
Merry Christmas!

December 13, 2010

My Christmasy Home

Is it me or has the entire Christmas season been accelerating at warp speed?  I want it to stop so I can just enjoy it at my leisure. But instead, for the first time in YEARS, I feel the hustle of it all.  Yet I love it so much that I am just trying to enjoy ALL aspects of it and just go with the flow.

And decorating my home for Christmas this year has been more of an evolving process for me because we just bought this house in May.  We are still remodeling the master bath (which has been on hold since my husband lost his job) but we finally got the tile set over the weekend.  Hubby did it with a friend and it looks great!  Baby steps.  Baby steps.

Speaking of babies...MY BABIES...I wanted to thank you all for your amazing feedback from my last post.  I may have been overly sensitive but I really wanted to hear what all of you had to say.  And the comments and emails that spoke directly to my heart were the ones that reminded me that God has not given me a spirit of fear.  I believe it is my job to protect my children but I also believe that God has a plan and a purpose for this blog and for my children.  Nothing happens outside of His will and I believe that if I am praying over this blog, praying over my children...God has already overcome any obstacle. He is our Rescuer, our Tower of Refuge, our Horn of Strength   So thank you from the bottom of my heart.  This blog is not going anywhere and neither are my girls.  At least for now!!

Now back to Christmasy stuff...
 (view from outside my window)
Come on in and peek around.
Don't you just love that?  To peek inside homes to see all their pretty holiday decor?
It is so warm and cozy! 
This year we bought a tree that was a little taller than we needed so we could trim off the bottom to the exact height leaving us a ton of branches.  I was able to make 2 wreaths for the front door (my first time ever making a wreath with live branches). It is not very neat but I kind of like it because it is natural looking.  I left them plain because I liked the look so much.
We love having our tree in front of the window.  Most everyone in the neighborhood does which is SO pretty.  Out house in front of our window does not have cathedral ceilings yet it does within the room. 
Does that make sense?  
I don't know what it is called but there is this drop ceiling as you come in the front door.  But the window was the best place for it and we really love it.
This is the top of my bookshelves right under the apex of the cathedral ceiling.  Most of my decorations have a silver, gold, green, white, major sparkle thing going on.  There is red thrown in here and there but I dig LOTS of sparkle!  I mean...a  lot!
This little baker snowman is parked on my kitchen counter...appropriately next to my kitchen aid mixer.  He makes me smile every time I look at him. I also have a rather large collection of snowmen. Love 'em.
This is my dining room buffet with...surprise...sparkly fruit.  
I even took all the pine cones from my fall decor and glamed them up with glitter.
 The snowflake garland is actually a bunch of crochet ornaments tied together to make a garland.
 That photo over there is of my hubby and I on our first Christmas when we just started dating.  
And he had a mustache. I did not like it.
 He shaved it shortly after and it has never returned.  
I don't feel one bit bad about it. 
Here's a close up. I wish I was not laughing  as hard as I am right now.
It feels wrong somehow.
 My dining room table is decked out with silver and gold.  
A partridge in a pear tree is the centerpiece which I made.  It is so pretty! 
  I don't think that is a partridge but no one would know that, right? 
Here is a better view of it.
 To solve the dilemma of having no mantle above the fireplace, I hung a bunch of garland and put our stockings up with clothespins stamped with our names.

(sorry they are dark and blurry)
 Last night, my BFF (Kelly) and I hosted a Silver and Gold Ornament Exchange with the Pre-K and Kindergarten moms from our children's school.  It was super fun!  We had yummy desserts and coffee.
 We also had a cookie buffet that looked so pretty in glass containers.
All the women were able to take home cookies and my BFF, in her ever present brilliance, came up with idea of using shirt boxes, lined with waxed paper, to take home the cookies.  The closed boxes were then wrapped in silver or gold ribbon.
And in keeping with my adoration for all things sparkly, I came up with an idea to put gold glitter in water and float tea lights in reused glass candle containers.  
It turned out so pretty! Have you seen this before? 
To clean it up, I strained the water through a paper towel so I could catch all the glitter and wiped out the excess in the glasses with a paper towel too.

 I wish I had more photos of these precious women who have become such a blessing and gift to me.  I am so grateful for for each of them.  Those photos all turned out blurry too!
And last but not least I will throw in a random pic of my girls because they looked so cute with their heads together looking at their play computer.  It was a rare moment where they were playing nicely. :)
Plus, I am standing on faith that this blog is a legacy for them.  And even at this moment Ella is standing next to me pointing to this picture exclaiming, 
"That's home! And...and...and...that's my bear!"
Too cute.

Merry Christmas everyone!  
Hope you are enjoying these precious days before Christmas.

Hugs and love to you all!

December 9, 2010

I Almost Deleted This Blog

Honest to goodness!

You know, I started blogging to share funny stories about my girls, share crafts and my love of all things creative, and most importantly...have an outlet to share my love for God.  Before I started blogging I was virtually anonymous.  I remember friends trying to hunt me down from high school to invite me to our 15 year reunion. No one could fine me! But then I was sucked in by the vortex of the webby world and I suddenly found myself on FB and with this here blog.

I was skeptical initially because the safety of my children was everything to me.  I had seen other blogs with cute code names for their kids and husbands, some blogs who did not have any photos on them, etc.  I knew that whatever I put out there would become permanently...out there.  I knew it and I have been incredibly careful. And in all honesty, I just assume that people who visit me here are just like me...somewhat normal. ;) They see photos of my kids and tell me they are beautiful or sweet or funny.  I do the same on other blogs.  This is a wonderful community of people who share their lives publicly.

But when I got spam on a post I wrote about a year ago referencing my girls doing things that no words should be ever written about anyone's children...the rage of a mama lioness began an emotion in me so primal that I was even a little scared about where those emotions took me.  Even now I am carefully choosing my word so that no traffic will be directed towards this blog that is UNWANTED traffic. 

In those moments, as I read those horrific words, I knew that this blog was not worth more than the safety of my children.  And know this.  I am not overreacting.  I know that I could put a spam filter on my blog.  I know that I could have it where I need to give approval for every comment.  That is not it.

My concern lies in the fact that innocent photos of my girls could be a source of evil, psychotic delight for someone and there is nothing I can do about it except remove photos that I innocently wanted to be a legacy for my kids.  This was for them to see what I have written, made, done, etc. To have the ability to go back in time and read words written from me that I would not be able to commit to memory. And this is also for me too.  I have met incredible people along this journey.  I have made wonderful friends.  My word, my first Christmas card this year was from a bloggy friend...thanks sweet Prudy).

But what do you do?  What do I do?  Do I just assume it was icky spam and let it go?  Do I refocus this blog?  I love crafts and I love to write.  But I love my kids more than anything else.  And perhaps I am being overly sensitive but do you blame me? What would you do? I don't feel my girls are in danger but it sickens me to think they could be a source of interest for a VERY WRONG person.

I am just curious about the thoughts you all have.  Again, I realize so much of this is not in my control.  But I guess I was so upset by it that I have really not sorted it out in my own head and wondered what you all think.
I love this blog and I love all of you.  You encourage me, inspire me and amaze me. And I value your opinion.

So please help me by giving me some insight and thoughts.

Thanks friends!

December 8, 2010

Tiny Hands Christmas Ornaments

Just wanted to pop in real quick and show you  these Christmas hand ornaments I made for the girls last year. I was inspired because I love hand and footprints in their memory books...they are so teeny! So I thought it would be so cute to  make them with felt and hang them on the tree.