Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The end

Every time I think about 2008 there are a few things that stand out in my mind. Lessons learned, decisions made, steps taken and relationships that grew. Lots of great memories and certainly some that bring a pang of regret and disappointment.

It's been a year of big decisions for Cale and me. We finally began the adoption process after almost 9 months of waiting. We realized that the Lord was leading us to a new place and so we left what had been our church home for over 5 years. We sent Haven off to preschool one day a week and simultaneously began our home schooling journey with her.

2008 has been a year of growth, both personally and in our marriage. Cale and I have worked through a lot of difficult things in our 6+ years of marriage and this year has been no different. We've made decisions that no one else agreed with and pressed on together, confident that we were following the direction that the Lord gave us. We were reminded oh so frequently just how hard marriage can be. But we also have tasted and seen just how good is, too.

This year has been full of blessings, truly beyond what we could have ever imagined. I haven't said much about it here, but the mom's Bible study that I've been a part of all year has been invaluable. These women have walked alongside me through some hard times and have been a constant encouragement and support. When I think of 2008 I will definitely remember the way the Lord brought this small group of women together. I am so thankful for each of them!

And then there's Haven...she is amazing. Cale and I are constantly in awe of this wonderful little girl. It amazes me to think back on all she's learned this past year and how we have seen her develop and experience endless new things. Her soft little heart, her encouraging words, her grasp of concepts and language, her enthusiasm for pretty much anything and let's not forget her sassy little attitude. The Lord has used this past year to further grow Cale and I as parents and what a refining process that is! We are savoring these closing days of having one child, but can hardly wait til we have 2. If ever a child were made to be an older sibling, it's Haven!

And so it ends. The final hours of 2008 are here and I'm ready to say goodbye. It hasn't been a bad year; it hasn't been a great year. It's just been life; really high highs and terribly low lows and a whole lot of in betweens. But we have always had The Faithful One leading us through, moment-by-moment. He alone carries us into a new year and I can't wait to see it unfold!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas 2008

Christmas morning at our house was great fun this year! Haven was delighted with all her gifts and repeatedly exclaimed, "I always wanted one of these for my own self!"

Her first look at the tree and all the gifts that await us.

One of the gifts I knew she would be very excited about- a carrier for her baby dolls. She is all about being a mommy and taking great care of her babies.

Our budding musician playing both her new "pean-o" and horn (AKA a Saxoflute) at the same time. There is video of this moment, but it's a little hard on the ears so I decided to spare you!

Haven also received a box of dress-up clothes. Her first order of business with the clothes was to "get wedded" to Papa so here she is walking down the aisle. She was adamant that she needed pom-poms to "get wedded". I love this picture because it is such a perfect snapshot of the exuberance and excitement that Haven takes into just about everything she does!

And now it's the Monday after Christmas. We returned home from Nashville last night where we spent the last few days with our family. We spent lots of time hanging out, playing games (we got a new one called Imagniff- really fun!), and trying to keep tabs on 6 kids who were so excited to be together. My sister-in-law took us around the greater Nashville area on Friday to several different thrift stores and we all scored some major deals. We ate a lot of good food prepared by my brothers- both great cooks. They just have quantity issues and make waaay too much of everything.

I'm glad to be home today. We decided to put off returning to normal one more day and Cale took the day off and we went out to breakfast and did some shopping. Tonight will find us ordering pizza, playing High-Ho Cherry-o and watching "Annie" with Haven. Maybe a trip to the library, too, since it is one of Haven's favorite places. I can't think of a better way to end our Christmas celebrating!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas prep

The last few weeks have found us busy in the kitchen. Haven absolutely loves to help me and here she is mixing together some sugar cookie dough.

Here's the face of a happy kitchen helper enjoying the perks.

This morning found us all home together for breakfast and some buttermilk that needed to be used up. So I whipped up a batch of these pancakes and then recalled seeing Rudolph on the Little Nummies site (which is so fun to browse through and get great ideas on making everyday food a little more fun!) Here's my attempt. Haven loved it! She thought it was so silly to eat M&M's for breakfast!

The next few days will find us hanging out with friends, playing, eating, travelling, enjoying our little family and our extended one, too, and celebrating the One who makes it all possible!

Monday, December 22, 2008

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas

During the first 22 Christmases of my life we had exactly one Christmas without at least a few inches of snow on the ground. Christmas was white, period. It was not something I thought much about and certainly took for granted. Then I moved here. Snow is not a given during winter months and is actually more of a rare occurrence then anything else. I find that disheartening. I enjoy the snow. And I long to see a snow covered ground on Christmas morning. We have had exactly zero white Christmases since Cale and I moved here 7 falls ago. (Well, one of them was white, but wouldn't you know it- we weren't here! We were living in Namibia! And it was oh about, 110 degrees there!)

It's not looking likely that there will be any snow on the ground come Christmas morning. But what do those weather people know anyways! I'm still holding out hope (and yes, even praying a small prayer or two) that my dreams will come true. And if they don't, I have mastered the art of delusion regarding this matter. The blinds and curtains will remain closed for the duration and we'll just pretend that the glow from outside is just the sun reflecting off the new fallen (imaginary) snow.

I'm so not kidding.

Here's to hoping for a white Christmas- one way or another!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

She understands more then she knows

The other night we were driving home from a friend's house and I was telling Haven a story about something that happened to her Nana several years ago, before Haven was born. We were trying to explain to her when that was and Haven said, "Oh, um, yeah, I know. That was back when I was still in God's heart."

Cale and I looked at each other and were marvelling over the sweetness of her answer when she interrupted and said, "Oh, no. I mean that was back when I was still in God's belly, right?"

How right she was with the first answer!

Monday, December 15, 2008

BooMama's Christmas Tour of Homes 2008

Welcome! So glad you stopped by for BooMama's Christmas Tour of Homes and arrived here at our happy home! Come on in and check out our tree. We are so happy with our "little" Fraser fir that we found this year. It's full of ornaments from all over the world and tells the story of our family. I love it! A few presents have found their way under the tree, but the wrapping is slow going just yet.

Our nativity and one of my favorite things- perched atop the entertainment armoire.

This is kind of an odd picture but shows off our advent calendar that my mom made. It's very similar to the one that we used growing up and is a treasured part of our Christmas traditions.

The sideboard is home to our Jesse Tree which is a new tradition we started last year. Our stockings are hung on the banister with care. I can't wait til there are four stocking to hang next year!

I have recessed shelving in my kitchen that always houses a variety of objects from vases, pictures to cookbooks and candles. Christmas finds it filled with another nativity, my favorite giant hot cocoa mugs and various Christmas-y odds and ends.

And since we're in the kitchen, how about a recipe? We made these treats this weekend and oh my, they are good!

Sweet Spiced Rosemary Pecans

2 cups pecan halves
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
a few drops hot sauce
1/2 tsp. coarse salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary

Toss everything in bowl to coat well. Bake at 325F for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pale golden and fragrant. Cool completely. Makes about 2 cups. (Recipe courtesy of Dinner with Julie.)

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed seeing our home. I know I love sharing it all the time, but especially at Christmas!
May your home be filled with joy as we celebrate our Savior's birth! Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Just a little off

Tiny little snowflakes are falling out the window and I'm curled up on the couch, with a book, a blanket and a box of kleenex. It's been an off week at our house. I'm more aware today, then ever, that I set the tone for our home and when I'm off my game, we all are. I haven't felt well all week and today the results of that are everywhere I look; a load of laundry in the dryer from Tuesday that I still haven't folded, a dishwasher that needs emptied so another load can go in, floors that need vacuumed and a stack of Christmas projects that Haven and I have yet do. Cale has been unusually swamped with work so like I already said, it's been an off week.

I haven't been so happy to see a Saturday looming in front of me in quite some time. I've got a long list of things I hope to accomplish for the weekend, but for today, for this afternoon, I'm going to watch these little snowflakes trying hard to be classified as "snowing" and enjoy my book.

I know I mentioned this book before, but it's worth repeating! Go here and read Noel Piper's thoughts on "Especially Christmas". Gentle reminders on why we celebrate and helpful ideas on sharing that with our kids.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A poem and a song

I've walked around all day with a heaviness in my heart. I couldn't put my finger on what it was, but I just felt off. It's a rainy day, but certain errands needed to be done and it was one of those days where everything took longer then I thought it should; which it turn causes my patience to become shorter, shorter...short.


I had been dragging my feet all afternoon over the tasks I needed to accomplish and didn't feel much like making an effort to have a quiet time. But I knew I needed to- I always need to! So I did something I haven't done in far too long; poetry and music. I laid down on the couch, turned on my new favorite Christmas music and read some selected poems from "Miracle on 10th Street and Other Christmas Writings" by Madeleine L'Engle. Her writings are like old friends and I read through several short poems before the tears came. I laid there, in the moment; just being.

Being still. Being quiet. Being broken. Being open and available to whatever the Lord had for me.

"O Come, O Come Emmanuel" was the soundtrack for the moment and the tears flowed without me understanding why. And they just kept coming. In those moments, there was a release of things I didn't know I was holding on to and a filling of His peace that I knew I was missing. I've tried so hard to enjoy this celebration of Advent the last week. I've made every effort to be in the moment, not trying to create the perfect one. But today the Lord knew I needed something more. And He met me right where I was at, and let me just be.

"The ordinary so extraordinary"

He came, quietly impossible,

Out of a young girl's womb,

A love as amazingly marvelous

As his bursting from the tomb.

This child was fully human,

This child was wholly God.

The hands of All Love fashioned him

Of mortal flesh and bone and blood,

The ordinary so extraordinary

The stars shook in the sky

As the Lord of all the universe

Was born to live, to love, to die.

He came, quietly impossible:

Nothing will ever be the same:

Jesus, the Light of every heart-

The God we know by Name.

-Madeleine L'Engle-

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Making a list and checking it twice...and crossing everything off it!

Haven attended a Very Veggie Christmas program at a local church this morning. It's a great idea and she had a wonderful time. The church had the kids divided into age appropriate groups and they did crafts, had a puppet show, watched a Veggie Tales Christmas movie, ate lunch and got to "shop" for 2 people at the church store. She came home full of stories of what she'd done, a candy cane ornament to hang on the tree and presents for me and Cale, wrapped up and ready to go under the tree.

The whole idea of the Veggie Tale Christmas is to provide parents time to get some Christmas shopping done and even passed out coupons to parents as they left the building. So we did just that! It had been snowing all day long and provided the perfect backdrop for us to finish up our Christmas shopping. We ventured out to the local outlets and had a good morning shopping and just being together.

After one more stop this evening I am delighted to report that I AM DONE Christmas shopping! Honestly it isn't that great of an accomplishment because we didn't have that many presents to buy, but it still makes me feel good to have everything crossed off my list. I am also happy to say that we have stayed within budget and have made every effort to get thoughtful gifts, not just bought stuff to buy it. Know what I mean? That fills me with peace on earth (well at least my home!) and goodwill toward men!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

O tannenbaum

There are not many things that smell better then a fresh cut Christmas tree. That's how my house smells tonight and it makes me feel cozy and settled and incredibly nostalgic. Actually the nostalgia probably results from the decorating of the tree. You won't find some matchy-matchy "themed" tree at our house. It's a hodge podge of our lives and I can honestly say that I can tell you where each ornament came from. I love it.

I love our big colored lights that so many people think are tacky. I love the star on top that is too heavy to ever stand straight. I love our square tree skirt that (gasp!) Cale designed and my mom and I sewed our first Christmas together. I love the old blue glass ornament with silver stars that once hung on my grandfather's tree. A grandfather I only met through stories my dad told. In my mind I can still see my dad smile when he would pull that ball out of the ornament box and thoughtfully find a place for it on our tree growing up. There was always a great sigh of relief that it had survived another year. Now I'm the one pulling it out and remembering, not one, but two dads who are gone.

I am so glad that Cale and I started collecting Christmas ornaments on our honeymoon and have added to our collection each year when we celebrate our anniversary. So many ornaments, and so many memories...Haven's first Christmas and her little hand print ornament, the peach that graced our tree in Namibia, the cross stitched ornaments my mom made for me growing up, the ornament a thoughtful friend had made for us of our wedding day, the glass and wooden hand painted balls from places all over the world...

I guess our tree does have a theme. It tells a story of our life and the places that we've been and the people that we've loved. Memories that belong just to us; it's the story of us.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Haven's Christmas Program

Haven has been singing "Away in the Manger" since the end of September; that is when they started working on her school's Christmas program. Sunday night we finally got to see her in action with the rest of her classmates at their "Happy Birthday, Jesus!" Program. We weren't sure how Haven would react to being in front of such a large crowd, but she was wonderful! All the students walked in playing their drums to "Little Drummer Boy." Since Haven's class has the youngest kids, she was the last group to walk in, and because she stopped to give Cale a kiss and a high-five on the way, she was the last child up on stage. She ended up front row center! Which meant she was right in front of her music teacher which probably helped her to stay on task. She sang all her songs, made all the motions and smiled on cue. We were so proud of her!
Playing her drum, making an entrance
Smiling during the Parent Photo-Opp that they had scheduled into the program

My two favorites, after the big show!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Whirlwind weekend

The last few days have been a whirlwind! We had a wonderful Thanksgiving day with my family and ate more than our fair share of turkey. In fact, we are still eating it! (Tonight it is morphing into this.) It's always crazy being at my mom's house with 6 kids under 7, with 7 adults as well. This year we threw in a foreign exchange student, too. It was a fun, loud, food-filled day!

Friday morning, my mom, sister-in-law (who is 7 months pregnant) and I were just a few of the crazy people out shopping early. I picked them up at 5am and we were on our way! We have done this together the last few years and it is always so much fun. We went to 6 different stores and stopped for some nourishment and we're still back by 11am. We actually had to stop shopping because the back of my mom's SUV was filled with gifts! We got some amazing deals and made some great memories.

Saturday was probably the highlight of the weekend for me. Growing up my grandpa and his wife used to take our entire family on a sleigh ride at Christmas. By whole family I mean, my grandpa's six kids and spouses and his 10 grandkids. Some of my favorite childhood memories of Christmas are riding around their small western NY town singing Christmas carols and laughing with my cousins.

As our Christmas present to my brothers' and their families, Cale and I arranged a horse drawn sleigh ride for everyone. We found a place that could accommodate all of us and we rode out through the snow filled woods on a beautiful, crisp afternoon. We also rented a small cabin on the property and each of our nieces and nephews got to "drive" the horses as we rode out on the sleigh to the cabin. We brought snacks and hot chocolate and warmed up at the cabin while singing some Christmas songs. It was wonderful and everything I hoped it would be. I think that we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. My seven year old niece gave me a note when we got home thanking us for the gift. She said it was "the awesomest thing I have ever done in my whole life!"

Here's our little family on the sleigh (not that you can tell where we are!). Yes, I look like a dork wearing my sunglasses with my hat, but it was bright out in the woods!

We ended our holiday weekend with a loooong drive home, but we had an important engagement last night: Haven's Christmas Program! More about that tomorrow!