Saturday, December 13, 2014

Santa!!!! I know him!!

So last year was the first year that we went to see Santa and nobody cried which is really exciting, and this is the first year that it feels like Leeland actually understands this whole "Santa thing."  We even rehearsed before we left the house-- we were going to go see Santa and he was going to tell Santa, "I want a Lego car transporter for Christmas."  Sweet!  This Momma feels like she is SO on top of things this year, because the Lego car transporter is already tucked away in the closet.  In his own closet by the way, but of course he has no idea.  Thank the Lord that he didn't change his mind in the last month since I bought it.

He also added that he wanted to tell Santa about "the greatest present ever" which of course is JESUS, and I may have melted a little when he mentioned that.  We always knew that we wanted to play Santa with our kids-- both Daniel and I grew up knowing and believing in Santa, but when so many people in Christian homes, don't do Santa, I'm not going to lie, I questioned myself a little bit and felt a little guilty at first for playing along.

I love the magic that Santa brings, and the joy that it brings to the boys, but I didn't love the condemnation I was reading all over the internet.  With all of that said, I think that we have found a great balance.  We keep our focus on Jesus reading Bible stories throughout advent with our Jesse tree, and we remind each other that the fun of presents at Christmas is a blessing to us and reminder that Jesus is the greatest present we could ever get. (Plus, Christmas aside, our kids get Jesus year round, every single day... just because the big man in the red suit comes in for a month in December doesn't take away from the life in Christ that we live 365.)   I will add that Santa in our house is a grace filled Santa, he understands that sometimes we are naughty and sometimes we are nice, and he still freely gives grace and presents to all..... didn't necessarily set out to chase that rabbit trail, but those are my 2 cents on the whole Santa thing.

Without further ado, here is Santa himself.....

He rode in with lights and sirens as the boys literally jumped up and down filled with excitement.  It was hard to get a picture actually because they were blurs.  Thrilled about the fire truck, and also thrilled about Santa.

They chose to sit together with Santa which was super cute, and thankfully Santa had enough leg room for both.  What do people do when they have 3 kids?  Ha!  Leeland told Santa that he wanted a Lego car transporter just like he had rehearsed at home all morning, and Hayden told Santa that he wanted crackers.  Yup, crackers!  Maybe I can return the Lego junior fire set back to the store and pick him up some Saltines?  Kidding.  I won't do that because I know he will be thrilled with the Legos, but it did seem a little odd.  Maybe some animal crackers in his stocking will be a nice touch.
And after chatting with Santa and posing for a few photos, they each got to pick out a little toy from Santa.  They both chose Hot Wheels race cars of some sort.  Surprisingly Santa had some that we don't already own and they were thrilled.  I mean, we probably only have a few hundred Hot Wheels.

Less than 2 weeks away from the big day friends-- I hope that you all are enjoying the excitement and the magic in the Season as well.  But also remembering that Jesus is the greatest present of all!

Monday, December 8, 2014

30 Days of Thanksgiving Days 21-30

You can find days 1-10 over here and days 11-20 right here.... and then I have two confessions.  Number one... I'm only about 8 days late posting this.  I'm not really sure how we have gotten to December 8th already?  I honestly can't remember what I spent the last week doing, and while I have been counting down to Christmas since July, I'm kind of in shock that we are only like 2 weeks away now.  Confession number 2, you'll find at the end....

Day 21- 

Day 22-

Day 23- (from Hayden of course)

Day 24-

Day 25-

..... 25?  25?  Bueller?  Bueller?

Yea, so confession number 2, we didn't finish.  ((sigh))  I tried so hard to be on top of it, but then we just got lost in the season.  Giving myself some grace this year,  because regardless of whether we got to 30 or not, regardless of whether this post was published on December 1st or December 8th, the point of thankfulness still came across to my little fellows and that's the whole point anyway.  I pray that each year as we enter this busy and chaotic season surrounded by Santa and presents, that they take away what really matters-- that they are loved and blessed by God.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Santa, and I LOVE presents, but Jesus is the best present we could ever have!

Hopefully I won't let 3 weeks pass again before my next post, I hope that you all are finding time to sit back and enjoy the season amongst the busyness.  Until next time friends, sending lots of love your way!  

Friday, November 21, 2014

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Days 11-20

If you missed days 1-10 of our Thanksgiving tradition and are curious, you can find them right over here. We're continuing on with our thankful leaf for each day.... I think the boys are starting to run out of things to say, and so many days I feel like they just look around the room and just say whatever they see.  We will continue on though!

Day 11-

Day 12-

Day 13-

Day 14- (their cousin)

Day 15-

Day 16-

Day 17-

Day 18-

Day 19-

Day 20-

.... To be continued :)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Soup Season

Well, if there was anyone in denial that the cold is coming.... you can't deny any longer!  In typical North Carolina fashion, the weather couldn't make up it's mind for a few weeks there, and we all suffered runny noses and congestion from it, but the chill is in the air now!  In fact, I've heard a few folks say that they saw snow flakes last night.  

Something about the cold that makes me crave comfort foods like soup-- I'm sure a lot of it is because it's hot and keeps me warm, but it's just comforting.  And added bonus, is that many soup recipes have minimal or cheap ingredients, so they are fabulous for stretching the grocery budget!!  

So in celebration of soup season, I wanted to share some of our favorite soup recipes!  (And since Daniel is a chili guy, maybe I'll share some chili recipes soon too.)

First up, chicken noodle soup!  A classic, and it's one of the soup recipes that the boys have no qualms about eating.  At least this week-- in typical preschooler fashion, they could hate it next week, but for now, they don't mind chicken noodle soup.  And the super awesome thing about this particular chicken noodle soup recipe is that it's a crock pot one! That means that I can chop up veggies in the morning, hibernate all day, and have warm delicious soup by evening.  Easy peasy! Here is the recipe link at "Inspired Dreamer".  It says the wine is optional, I have had it both ways and I say DO IT!  Add the wine, it adds really good flavor.  Also, on the occasion that I don't have rosemary, I sub with just a little bit of thyme and it's just as good.  Try this one, I dare you!

Next is a recent discovery, and I mean by recent that I made it for the first time a couple of weeks ago and we loved it so much that we made it again the next week.  Potato soup!  Now, when most think of potato soup, they think of Outback Steakhouse and think potato chunks with cheese and bacon.... now while that version of potato soup is also super yummy, this one is different.  This potato soup is blended and creamy and has bold onion and garlic flavors.  It is ridiculously easy to make, and a bag of potatoes is cheap, cheap, cheap!  You might want to make this garlic potato soup tonight.  And check out other recipes from the Pistachio Project too!  So far we have not been disappointed by recipes found there.  (In fact, another favorite that I don't have a picture of is the french onion soup by Pistachio Project!)

Last up is another crock pot recipe (although it actually has a stovetop version as well), it's this Tomato Basil Parmesean Soup from 365 Days of Slow Cooking.  It's a lovely twist on the classic tomato soup-- so creamy!!  And a perfect balance of tomatoes and parmesan cheese.  So pair this one with a grilled cheese or some garlic bread and dip away my friends. 

Hope you try one or all of these and hope that you enjoy them as much as we do.  Stay warm and cozy friends!

P.S.  My crazy Christmas self couldn't let this post go without "just putting it out there".... 40 days until Christmas!!  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

20 Years....

20 years.... it just doesn't seem possible that 20 years ago I lost my Mother.  How does the time fly by so fast?  And on top of that, how have 20 years gone by and it still feel so fresh, and there's so much my mind has yet to sort out.

Losing a parent is NEVER, never, NEVER ever easy, so don't misinterpret what I'm saying here, but losing a parent as a young child is incredibly difficult.  A young child (I was just a couple months shy of my 8th birthday) doesn't comprehend that death is long term.  When I think back to that morning that I was told that she had passed, while I don't remember a lot, I DO remember a lot of people crying, a lot of people hugging on me, and just simply standing there trying to figure it all out and thinking that I should be crying.  I don't know that I understood what death was-- how could I?  Did I even have any experience to compare it to?  But I think about people who are older, people who lose a parent in their teens for example, they know the years that lay ahead.  They know that person won't be there for high school graduation, or wedding, or babies being born... etc.

It wasn't until my later years that I felt like I could truly grieve because I finally understood what death meant.  And by then, no one else was talking about it.  I SO craved for someone to just sit with me and talk about her-- tell me all they remembered, tell me what she was like, explain to me more about her diagnosis, how she handled being sick for so long... I was so little, my memories of her are so few, and no one was talking.  Don't get me wrong, everyone carries those memories, and everyone who knew her, misses her dearly, but when I needed to talk, it felt like everyone was done talking.

So, 20 years.... 20 years gone by and still so many emotions well up inside.

It wasn't until Leeland was born that I first understood a Mother's love for her children.  It wasn't until I knew that deep love that I have for both of my children, that I broke for my Mom even more.  To think about how she felt facing death and leaving the children that she loved so much.  To think about how my little boys would feel losing me.  It broke me.

Sometimes I question what healing is.  As the years have gone by and more milestones pass-- I graduated high school, got married, graduated college, birthed two children.... as these major life events come and go, I still feel that pit that she isn't here.  I don't know that the pit ever goes away? And now as a Mom myself, I have that fear that one day my kids will have that pit too.  I'm not afraid of death-- I have a strong confidence of what will happen to me once I die, and I know that I will be ok, BUT, having carried a pit with me now for 20 years, a longing for my Mom, I am afraid of my children carrying it one day too.

So 20 years.... 20 years have gone by without her.

July 13, 1960 - November 5, 1994

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” -Revelation 21:4

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Halloween Festivities

A little late to post about our Halloween-- of course you already know from our post about our orchard tradition that the boys chose to dress up as Charlie Brown and Snoopy this year.

Aside from the orchard, we keep Halloween pretty simple.  We carved pumpkins a couple days before Halloween, which of course is always fun considering our boys are still too young to wield sharp knives.  So the boys decided what they wanted on the pumpkin, helped clean out the pumpkin a little bit, and then Daniel and I sat carving away.  Leeland decided this year that he wanted a Lego man pumpkin, and Hayden followed suit, so Daniel and I made a friendly competition out of who could carve the pumpkin best.... of course that was up until, mine looked pretty terrible and I no longer wanted my name attached to it.  Point 1 for Daniel!  He is much better with a knife than I.

The ladies LOVED the pumpkin seeds and insides.
Then for Halloween night in years past, we have done church trunk or treats and gone to friends houses, but this year, our schedule was packed with work for both of us, getting dinner and getting Daniel to work that night, so we opted for low key and trick or treated around our neighborhood.  This was the boys first time doing door to door trick or treating and they really liked it.  We kept it small, and just did a small portion of our neighborhood and that worked perfect for their age-- they were getting cold and they were ready to head home to actually eat some candy.

Then, I was totally shocked and incredibly thrilled to discover that the boys enjoy GIVING out candy more than they liked the trick or treating.  Like I said, in years past we've done the trunk or treat thing so I haven't bought candy to even give out-- I just usually turn off our porch light because we aren't there... BUT this year, we went around the block and came back, the boys ate a few pieces of candy and I told them that now it was our turn to look for trick or treaters.

They were thrilled!  When those first trick or treaters came to the door, the boys were bouncing around, welcoming them, telling them all happy halloween and thank you for trick or treating.  It was adorable!  And they were SO generous with the candy that we almost ran out.  Leeland was even offering to give trick or treaters HIS candy.  It really warmed this Momma's heart to see!

Hope you all had a safe and Happy Halloween!  It's really hard to believe that it's November!  Even this self proclaimed crazy Christmas lady is in shock that we are only 50 days away from Christmas now!

Monday, November 3, 2014

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Days 1-10

I feel like I blinked and it was November!  Anyone else feel the same way??  Continuing with our thankfulness tradition again this year-- writing one thing a day that we are thankful for onto a cut out leaf and hanging it up for the 30 days of November.  It's so fun to see the things that Leeland (and Hayden) come up with!  Here are days 1-10.  (And I know my leaves look rough! Ha!)

Day 1-

Day 2-

Day 3-

Day 4-

Day 5-

Day 6-

Day 7-

Day 8-

Day 9-

Day 10- 

..... 20 more days to come! 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

First 10k!

How I managed to run 2 half marathons before ever running a 10k race, I'm not sure.  Apparently I don't think chronologically.  So I have had TONS of 5k's under my belt, a 5 mile race, 2 half marathons, and now finally a 10k.

I woke up early, EARLY this morning to the most perfect weather for my race-- cold, rainy, dark, cold, windy, cold.... did I say it was cold?  Regardless of the incredibly crummy weather, I rolled out of bed, and got on the road, and I am so happy that I did!  The race went surprisingly well and I discovered that there are some positives to running a race in the crummy weather....

1.  Cold rainy gross weather is a most excellent motivator to finish the race as quickly as possible.  Yes, hurry up and get done so you can get warm.  And if you are a coffee junkie like me, just keep your mind on that delicious hot coffee drink that you are going to treat yourself to when the race is over.

2.  Half the racers don't show up giving you a better chance to "win."  So while I LOVE running and I've been doing it for quite a long time, I've never claimed to be a fast racer.  So no, I did not win... but I had better odds today!  And I'm proud at how far I have come-- everyday is a new chance to get a personal best.  I was shooting to run the race in an hour given the conditions.  I did terribly at training for it, so I honestly thought that unless some serious race day adrenaline kicked in, I was never going to be under an hour.  BUT,   I finished in 57:14 minutes, and placed SECOND in my division!!  (71st place overall out of 144-- there were some FAST people out there!)

3. When your entire body is cold and numb, you don't feel the pain.  Truth! My feet and toes were numb, so they weren't sore at all!  Also when I got to the finish line to be greeted by my love, I began to talk and discovered that my chin and face were numb.  The words coming out of my mouth were followed up with a string of drool as if I had some sort of dental work. Ha!  Did I say that it was cold outside?  Yea, it was cold. 

So while the conditions were less than ideal, it was a really great first 10k!  I'd definitely do it all over again.  I see many more 10k's (and other races) in my future!