Monday, December 31, 2012

Colorado Bound!

Yep. That is a screen shot of setting my alarm for tomorrow morning. We leave for Colorado with the kids tomorrow at 6:40. The flight leaves then and doing the math... Yeah. I have to get up at 3:15. And, you'll notice the "repeat" part of the alarm - never. Darned straight.

So excited though! Kids can't wait and we're pretty stoked too. :)

Happy New Year to everyone. It's been a great year and I know 2013 will be too. Bring it on!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas 2012

Another fantastic Christmas in the books! (Well, one more celebration is to come on Thursday after this blizzard passes through and my family can trek out to Indiana.)

Josie's favorite gift? An Angry Birds Game we played all afternoon. Tessa's? Her $4 t-shirt from Walmart. And, they're both using coupons from their Crazy Christmas Coupon Books tonight - blueberry muffins and coke for dinner then popcorn and a movie afterward. :) I just love this age when they can be so satisfied with thoughtful, creative gifts that don't cost very much and all come from stores within 5 miles of our house.

Jack had a blast with whatever he opened today. He particularly loved his train track from Katie and Jason and his car transporter from Amy and Joey. He also got some tools and books too that he really gobbled up. Not to mention, all of the candy in his stocking. That kid was in hog heaven. He was one sticky, sticky boy by noon. :)

Tom and I went to bed around midnight last night after helping Santa, and after I finished Killing Lincoln. (Excellent book - highly recommend!) At 2:30, Tessa came in our bed not feeling well. Never fails - Christmas comes and kids get sick. She coughed and tossed and turned until around 3:30. I got up around 6:30 to shower and wait for signs of Josie. We told them they couldn't leave their rooms until 7 but she didn't wake up until 8! Jack was shortly after.

Started the holiday by decorating gingerbread cookies on Christmas Eve...

Then, took the Christmas Eve photo...

After all were asleep and all gifts were under the tree, I took this photo...

Tom was pretty sure Santa must have landed outside of Josie's room on the metal roof. He was right.

We read the Christmas story on Josie's bed before going downstairs.

Jack wasn't a fan of letting us take a photo of him on the steps before going down.

We let him look over the balcony at all of the presents and he changed his mind.

I don't think we started opening until 8:30 at least and took until noon to finish with everything. First, more pictures...

Finally, the presents! I love Tessa's stance in this one.

This was a good, inexpensive, "big" gift from Santa. They have played with this thing all day long. Best thing is it will hit the trash the first trash day after New Year's.

Stockings were last on the agenda.

The adults have spent the day lounging and cooking leisurely. We made Philly Cheese Steaks for lunch and a turkey breast and twice baked potatoes for dinner. I've been working on an arugami (crocheted) elephant from the book Tom got me. I've really enjoyed my day today after all of the preparation. I only cleaned up once, though we kept it clean throughout the present opening, and the cluttered house is starting to grow on me. I'm sure I'll be over it tomorrow. :)

Now, we're settling in for the Blizzard Warning tomorrow. It should be interesting if this thing comes to fruition. Right now, they're calling for 8-12 inches of snow but I've also seen 10-15 on another network. It's hard to imagine that much snow. I'm thankful it happened this year and not last when we didn't have a garage. And, we have nowhere to go tomorrow, so I just plan on picking up around here, crocheting some more and getting ready for my family on Thursday. Of course, that will be my third full day without leaving the house so I may in fact go crazy. That has to be a record for me - even when I've had babies I have to get out of the house and go somewhere.

Usually, Christmas is the start of a long, boring winter season. But, not this year for us. January brings Colorado and Mexico, February will be Colorado again and then we'll wrap it up in Florida for March. If it weren't for Tom's impending knee surgery, I would really be looking forward to the winter which may be a first. :)

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

This Little Light

We live in a dark and broken world. Very broken. Our pastor talked about this in church this morning and he was able to put words where I could not. His words worked on me throughout the day, but I will not be able to do my thoughts justice. My only hope is to get some reprieve from letting them rumble around in my head over the next week.

Even before the service this morning, the events in Connecticut on Friday have made me more than introspective over the last few days. Perhaps it is because I have a first grader and a kindergardener and I can relate all too closely. I can picture my children huddled in a closet. I can picture their teachers shielding their little bodies. I can picture going to the local church and seeing the other parents, parents of my girls' classmates, learning they will not see their children again. And, I can picture myself as one of those parents.

It has hit me hard.

We are a broken people. We live without God in our schools, without God in our workplace and without God in our government. We are afraid and ashamed to wish people a Merry Christmas or to tell them we will pray for them and their struggles. We see an event like this and point fingers and refuse to admit this is just pure evil and, instead, look for something or someone to blame.

This darkness and brokenness has helped me understand that there is only one light in this world on which we can count. Jesus. Jesus can shine a light in the darkness. A light of hope and peace and love and safety and security. This world cannot give us any of those things. The problem is, that is just where we search for such things.  We look to laws and legislators and law enforcement and money and shelter  and...things. We won't find it there and that hurts and burns us every single time.

The light of Jesus is hard to find. That is because we are the ones that have to carry his light and we are all broken people. We have to be the ones to carry the light of Jesus and let it shine. We need to be the ones to let it shine on our kids and teach them to shine the light in everything they do. We need to shine His light on the broken and the forgotten and downtrodden and the ones wrapped in darkness.

Even in our darkest moments (and there will be many), we need to shine the light of Jesus. My hope is in Jesus and in the light only He can shine on all of the darkness of the world.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Two Weeks with My Two Year Old

Two weeks is a long time. Great things could be done in the span of two weeks. As I mentioned before, our sitter is on a two week trip to the Philippines. Jack and I were on our own to accomplish what we could. Of course, I had all of the best intentions. As I sit here, with only two days before he goes back to the sitter, I can't help but notice the discrepancies in these two lists...

What I Hoped to Accomplish
- Go into work a few mornings early right after getting the kids on the bus and have Tom trade Jack off around 9:30.
- Take Jack to the gym most days while the girls were at school.
- Plan the Christmas Fun Day we're going to have at our house next weekend for a few neighbors.
- Organize my bathroom closet and drawers.
- Organize the piles of paperwork and buy a filing cabinet.
- Finish Christmas Shopping.
- Wrap everything.
- Start applying for auction items for some Rotary events we have in the next few months.
- Organize the laundry room.
- Take in/pick up items for dry cleaning and alterations.
- Organize the craft cupboard in the kitchen.
- Organize the bins in the mudroom.
- Pick up the guest room (AKA Catch All Room) for the guests we're having for the holidays.
- Various other items on my "work" list.

What I Actually Accomplished
- Went to work one morning - with Jack.
- Made it to the gym once - last night. I did fit in a run around the neighborhood with Jack in the stroller but made it short because of the 40 degree weather.
- Took in the dry cleaning and alterations, but only was able to pick up the dry cleaning.
- Organized the pantry (and cleaned the fridge).
- Spent entirely too much time on the Trip Advisor Playa Del Carmen Forums daydreaming about our trip.
- Started and finished my book club book.
- Crocheted.
- Started my addiction to Downton Abbey. I somehow made it through the whole first season during Jack's naps and while Tom was out for an evening.
- Overheard WAY too many Dora's and Diego's.
- Snuggled on the couch every morning with Jack while watching Dora and Diego.
- Had a selection appointment with a customer. And Jack.
- Cleaned up the kitchen 14 times and did all of our laundry twice.

My "Hope" list actually made it on paper, which means I should have actually gotten more done. They're all longer term projects that have been on my list forever (except for Christmas). I really have no motivation to do them so that's why I didn't.

Really, I feel like I've been on vacation for two weeks. Toward the end, I really checked out of any productivity and just started to enjoy my last few days. I have had so much fun having Jack around and with me 24 hours a day. He is just a blast when we're one on one. At the Auditor's Office while I was filing our exemptions for property taxes, he announced the whole room he had a booger. Then, at Rotary this week, he bowed his head very sweetly for the prayer and then raised them, almost as is in praise, at the end. He sure seemed to charm everyone there and everywhere we went.

So, back to work on Monday and it will be a more than full week. End of the year means HOA budgets, tax planning, Christmas events for our homeowners and employees and much more. Not to mention, I'll be spending more time out of the office just around the corner for the holidays.  It will all get done. I am thankful for these two weeks with my two year old. I am also thankful for our sitter coming home. :)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Starbucks to the Rescue!

I stopped for a rare Starbucks today since I had an errand to run in the area. I have been dragging since about 2:30, likely due to the "lets solve all the world's problems" gab session that Tom and I had until midnight last night.

All I could think of when I got my coffee was "Starbucks to the rescue!!!" Said in my very best Diego voice. I have watched, or had running in the background, entirely too many of these episodes in the last few days.

Monday, I go back to work. I think I'm ready for some adult interaction. :)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Book List 2012

This year, I decided to read a book a month. I used to be a huge reader, but have virtually read nothing since having kids. Tom gave me a Kindle for Christmas and so I started the year by reading a book I bought just for my Kindle. I really didn't think I would like it, but I soon became a huge fan. I could start a book on the Kindle, read a little on my phone while waiting in the Kindergarden pick up line and then finish it up on the iPad. I love how it all syncs to all of my devices. I was hooked after that first book and started scouring the library for free books.

I got sucked in to a few Amish series by Beverly Lewis early in the year. Something about a nice, feel good book made the winter go a little faster. Then, I was asked to join a book club with some other moms. That took my reading to another level! Before, I generally read for total pleasure and stuck with murder mysteries and Amish love stories. Now, I get to read one book per month that stretches my comfort zone.

I would love to review each book on here, but that's just not going to happen. Most of these I would recommend although some are tougher to stick with than others. I'm going to try to write a few words about each book here.

Here is my list. I hope to finish one more this year to take me to an even 20. Next year, my goal is two books a month. I know this pales in comparison to what some take on in a year, but for me, it's a good number.

Abrams Daughters Series - Beverly Lewis - Books 1-5 - Easy Reading - Romance/Mystery/Christian

Don't Blink - James Patterson - Typical James Patterson - Mystery

Heritage of Lancaster County Series - Beverly Lewis - The Shunning, The Confession - Easy Reading - Romance/Mystery/Christian

Amish Country Crossroad Series - Beverly Lewis - The Postcard - Easy Reading - Romance/Mystery/Christian

The Paris Wife - Paula McClain - Book Club - Historical Fiction - Chronicles Ernest Hemingway and his first wife in Paris

Unbroken - Laura Hillenbrand - Book Club - Biography of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic athlete and WWII airman who was lost at sea and spent time in a Japanese POW camp - highly recommend 

Three Weeks with My Brother - Nicholas Sparks - Book Club - True Story - Chronicles Nicholas Sparks journey around the world with his brother and retells stories of their childhood - grab your Kleenex

Stay Close - Harlan Coben - Typical Harlan Coben - Mystery/Suspense

The 500 - Matthew Quirk - Mystery/Suspense - slow starter and unremarkable

Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell - Book Club - great book on success and the factors that contribute to highly successful individuals - great book for business AND for moms - highly recommend

A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini - Book Club - Set in Afghanistan - follows Afghani women from 1959 through the present - tough read because of the circumstances however great read to gain perspective into the Afghan culture, history and the application to today's war - highly recommend 

The Book Thief - Markus Zusak - Book Club - follows a little girl in Nazi Germany through WWII - also a tough read but good for historical perspective - not sure I could recommend it, but I'm glad I read it

The Last Cavaliers Series - The Crossing Series - Gilbert Morris - Easy Reading - Historical Christian Fiction - follows a boy as he joins the Confederate Army under Stonewall Jackson - I really enjoyed this one 

Same Kind of Different as Me - Ron Hall & Denver Moore - Book Club - Non-Fiction/Christian - true story of a Louisiana Sharecropper/homeless man and a wealthy art dealer and his wife who formed a friendship - another major tear jerker - I cried my eyes out - highly recommend