Friday, December 29, 2006

Christmas 2006 in pictures...

Tim with his Coat of Arms book.
Timmy and Savannah at my mom's on Christmas Eve.

Me being the camera lady!

Savannah with her mini-American Girl collection my mom got her.

How is that for Florida Christmas Eve attire?

Timmy with his very favorite Panda!

Savannah with her very favorite Bear and our friend, Levi, in the background.

My sister, Michelle, opening gifts.

Savannah with her Biggest Littlest Pet Shop.

Me with the BIG stocking Timmy got for me.

Sebastian has a new word - "Whoppa"!

How to Succeed as a Small Business Owner Without Losing Your Mind.

My mom with her handmade garden statues brought all the way from St. John.

My sisters-in-laws, Karen and Jennifer, sent me this snowman candle holder. It matches my Christmas plates perfectly! I was so happy to get this! Oh and the Yankee Candles smell wonderful!

Friday Feast

Feast One Hundred & Twenty Four

How do you usually celebrate on New Year's Eve?

This is one of my favorite traditions and I am not even sure why. Before Savannah was born, I am guessing at least 10 years ago, my mom, dad, Tim, me and Timmy would go out to dinner at our favorite Mexican place - Los Mariachis. It is not fancy, it is not even remotely a big deal, but somehow it has become so important to me. I have actually been on the verge of tears this week because I keep thinking this will be our last New Year's Eve at Los Mariachi's. Over the years we have had just our family with my mom or there have been years where we had all of my nieces or my sisters or friends to join us. This year we have invited Timmy's friends and I really hope they join us. The year I still remember the most was 1997. Tim had given me the baby pacifier in my stocking and we were trying to conceive Savannah. I was sitting at dinner next to my dad. There was a little baby girl in a blanket sleeper a table over. I looked at her and I told my dad that NEXT New Year's we would have a baby in a blanket sleeper at our table. I was right about having a baby with us next New Year's, but my dad passed away that May. I guess everytime I am there, I just think about my dad and it makes me feel at home.

Name one thing unexpected that happened to you in 2006.

I guess this is the obvious one - I got laid off. Hmmm... what is a happy unexpected surprise - Oh, we got to go back to St. John and I got to take Savannah to Williamsburg.

Where was your favorite place that you visited in 2006?

Hmmm... my favorite with Tim is Hawksnest Beach on St. John. It was so beautiful. My favorite with Savannah would be Jamestown in VA. I was so lucky and blessed to get to go to both of these places this year.

Main Course
What resolution is your top priority for 2007?

To stay positive! I let doubt creep in at least once a week. I start to panic and I get absolutely terrified of what our next year holds. I am trying to give it to God and just work towards the future.

Using just three words, describe 2006.

Blessed, Exciting, Scary

Thursday, December 28, 2006

I am back... sorta...

I just realized I have not written anything since last Friday. Of course, my first thought is to say how INCREDIBLY busy I am. Actually, I realized that was not entirely true. Some of the time, I have been really, really busy, but a lot of the time I haven't been doing much but hanging out with my hubby. See he has been off of work for almost two weeks. He has been working our turning our laundry room back into a walk in closet and moving the laundry room into the garage. He has been really busy and some of the time I have been helping him. Like today, I helped peel up old tile from that room. Other times - I am just sitting there talking to him. I was also really busy shopping the day after Christmas. You know there are some awesome sales to be found that day. I am trying very hard not to look at all the great on-line sales, but it is pulling me in. I guess it has just been a very busy and hectic last few months. I got to Christmas Eve and was ready to just do NOTHING! And we did do pretty much nothing. We went to church and that was nice. Then we went to my mom's and had wonderful Chinese food. I love having Chinese food on Christmas Eve. After a relaxing evening over there, we came back to finish wrapping gifts and I had to bake one batch of peanut butter blossoms. It has long been our tradition to eat cookies and fudge for breakfast on Christmas morning. We slowly crawled out of bed on Christmas morning to open presents. Timmy was barely awake, but Savannah and Sebastian were more than ready to go. I had to slow Savannah down so I could catch her brothers opening their gifts. If I let her, she would have had all hers done and I would have missed it if I blinked. We decided to do something a little different this year. Timmy really wanted a 30gb Apple IPOD. This was really not in our typical Christmas budget. Tim and I discussed it for quite awhile and decided to go ahead and get him the IPOD and a few key accessories and call it a Christmas, 18th birthday, and graduation gift. I was a little worried he might not like getting all of his gifts in one, but not enough to not do it that way. As it turned out, he was thrilled! He has always been a pretty thankful kid, but he was extremely thankful over this. He sat with me later and told me he really did not expect us to do that for him. I know the material part is not the meaning of Christmas. And that is not what touched me. The fact that we were able to do something for him that he really wanted and he had such gratitude for it just made my Christmas. Savannah and Sebastian really liked their gifts too. Sebastian didn't quite get that he should open his gifts. This was a first for us. Usually, the kids have torn into presents. The older two just like to rip and tear! Not Sebastian. He didn't want to open all of his gifts! I keep saying he is not like my other kids and he once again proved that. His cell phone that records voices was a big hit and he loves his Thomas Flashlight Train. Savannah asked for The Biggest Littlest Pet Shop. She has spent the last few days pretending she is opening a pet shop just like her dad dreams about complete with PANDA BEARS! My mom really loved her garden statues we bought her in St. John. I loved how Timmy got us all gifts and put them in great big stockings. He got me a great assortment of bath stuff from Bath and Body Works. Sweet Pea - my favorite! I got Tim a few books - one on opening a business, one on Aquarium Corals and two on creating your own coat of arms. I got the Coat of Arms books at the homeschool convention on a whim. He has always been interested in them and he loves to draw. I mentioned to his sister, Jessica, that I had got them for him. She said the most profound thing to me. I mean literally it was one of those WOW things. She said that she wanted Tim to create a NEW Coat of Arms for our family. One that did NOT look at the PAST, but looked to the FUTURE. One that this generation of our family and the coming generations of our family could be proud of. One that did not hold all the pain from the past. She said if he did that, she would wear it with pride. I was in awe of her. Of course, some of you have no idea the trials that my husband and his siblings have gone through in their lives. If you did, this would make more sense. Simply put, they have all had a hard road and it is something they all need to look to the future and not the past. So, I gave Tim these books and I wrote him a letter telling him what Jessica said. I can only hope that someday he will do just what she asked him to do. The rest of our Christmas day was very uneventful. We took quite awhile opening everything and eating cookies. I finally popped the turkey in the oven around noon. Oh, about 4-5 hours LATER than I had planned. No problem - we just ate more cookies to hold us over. It was a yucky rainy day that just made us want to sleep. Savannah set her pet shop up in the computer room, Timmy went to see his friend's family, my mom and my sister went home for an afternoon nap, Tim took a nap, and I watched TV all comfy on my couch. We all joined back together for dinner. Timmy had 3 of his friends join us for dinner. That helped to fill the spots of my nieces that didn't get to be here this year. Not that you can replace them, but we still had a lot of young adults around our table. The food was good, the company was great. All in all, a very nice Christmas. Later that night, I did "rock-a-baby" with Sebastian while Savannah sat by me. We sang Silent Night and Joy to the World. A perfect end to celebrate His perfect birthday! I am on my laptop and the pictures are on the other computer. I will get some of them up tomorrow or Saturday, I promise!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Friday Feast (late)

Feast One Hundred & Twenty Three

Appetizer What is one of your Christmas traditions? I have already blogged about the cookies we make - twice! I guess I need to think of something else we always do. We always go to my mom's for Christmas Eve and have Christmas Day at our house. Not really an interesting tradition. OH - I know - the last couple of years we have had a wrapping paper fight on Christmas morning. We don't have snow, so we crumple up the paper and throw it at each other. The kids love it!

Soup Who is the easiest person on your list to buy presents for? Savannah - she is a little girl - how can it not be easy? It is hard not to buy her every little girl thing I would have loved as a child.

Salad What is your favorite Christmas scent? Hmmm... I love the smell of real Christmas trees - but we don't have one. I guess cookies baking would be my favorite smell that I actually have.

Main Course If you could give a fellow blogger a Christmas gift, who would it be and what would you give them? There are two blogs I follow that have children who are ill. One, with baby Addison, I have been reading for a few months. She is doing really well, but I would give her the gift of perfect health. This blog led me to baby Jaymun's Journey. He has had a very scary week and I have sat and prayed for this little boy that I don't even know, but has touched my heart more than he will ever know. These little babies make you look at a job loss, a move and a few of my unknowns and think what have I got to be worried about? So, my gift would be to these fellow bloggers that have shared their trials with us and pray that their babies will be well.

Dessert What's something on your Christmas wish list this year that you need (not just want)? Tires - isn't that just fun? NOT! I guess I could say slippers - I don't really need, need them, but my old ones bit the dust and had to be thrown away.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I stumbled upon this blog tour of homes on BooMama's Blog. If you go there, you can see lots of people's decorated homes. Here my Christmas Grand Tour. It is not a lot - at least not nearly as much as I have put up in the past. I literally have like 4-5 more rubbermaid bins that I haven't even taken out since Sebastian has been born. The first year he was born, he was only 2 months old at Christmas. I was too tired to do that much decorating. The last two years, he has been too INTO EVERYTHING to even think about putting all my things out. I have faith that next year will be the year all my decorations will come out of the boxes and it will seem like a shopping spree since I won't remember most of what I had stored! Enjoy!

This is our ONLY outside decoration. My sister, Michelle, got me this flag a few years ago right after Debi passed away. She was worried about me and remembered I had said I would love to have a flag pole with seasonal flags. One day she arrived at my house with a brand new flag pole and a Christmas flag. I don't know that she knows, but after she left I just cried because it was a small thing that added a little happiness to my day.

This is our tree. It has happy meal toys and beanie baby type stuff on the bottom so Sebastian can undecorate and redecorate and I don't have to lose my mind. There are some of our normal ornaments towards the top. I think it looks pretty good considering a two year old has been into it at least 3 times a day since it has been up.

This is my nativity. My brother gave me the set years ago and then Tim found the handmade barn/manger at a craft fair for me.

My dining table has this snowman table cloth. I have an extra for when I need to set up an extra table. I was quite proud of myself for remembering to buy that for the "just in case" we have more people to celebrate with! I think my mother-in-law gave me the big snowman candle holder, I bought the little one and Savannah made the others.

These are all of out Christmas cards! I think this is the most I have ever received! I love getting Christmas cards especially with letters and pictures! Oh and if you happened to know my house used to be blue - those are the new colors of the walls. You can also see the colors by the tree. The wall is still blue behind my nativity. We have to get that painted!

The stocking are all hung by the AQUARIUM with care... ummm... well... I don't have a chimney! The aquarium doesn't look very pretty in this picture, but it does look better than that. It will soon be coming down to paint the wall behind it and open up the living room for when we put the house up for sale. For now, it is there to hold our stockings!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Bay News 9 Field Trip

Today we got to take a tour of our local 24 hour news network. It was actually pretty interesting and smaller than I thought it would be! I don't know why I envisioned some huge television studio, but I did. We got to tour all of the facilities and meet some of the anchors. I think the most surprising thing I learned was that this particular network uses different cameras then what we normally see on the news. We walked down a hall and on one side was a glass window to the studio with the anchor desk. The anchor is in there alone. The cameras are operated remotely from this room on the otherside of the hall. We could look in on that room through a glass window too. There were all sorts of controls and there was a main one that looked to have a bunch of Playstation gaming controls. That is how they move and operate the camera. This person also controls the music and sound effects. It just seemed strange to not have the camera person in the studio the way we normally see that on tv. If you ever get a chance to do this type of tour, I highly recommend it! It was fun and informative!

Advent activities...

I just realized I didn't put these pictures on here. Last week - I think it was last week - Savannah had a friend stay over. I have had this book by Lisa Whelchel called The ADVENTure of Christmas. I wanted to do some of the things with Savannah and it just was great that her friend was over to join in. We made Christmas Trees out of sugar cones, frosting and mini-m&m's and then we made cinnamon ornaments. I had never done either of these things before and I am happy to say they were EASY! It worked very well! We learned the origin of the Christmas Tree and ornaments. This wonderful book points out how simple holiday traditions are wonderful examples of Christ. For instance, it talks about how if you look at a Christmas tree - you will see that the boughs of the tree extend out like the arms of Jesus. Then it goes on to talk about how the tree points up to heaven. It not only tells you the history of the tree, but gives you a way to tie in what Christmas is all about. We learned that ornaments of long ago were actually wafers of bread hidden in the branches that represented the body of Christ. I really want to do a few more of the activities in this book, but if we don't - reading the book is just a lot of fun too. Oh and Sebastian did have A LOT OF FUN WITH ALL THAT GREEN FROSTING! He was in absolute heaven!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Packages are on their way...

I FINALLY made it to the post office to mail off all my gifts today. I ONLY had 3 boxes of my own to mail because I cheated and mailed my sister's stuff and my nieces stuff in my mom's boxes. I did have those ready to go a couple days ago. It was these last 3 that took me way longer than I thought. Could it be that I had an idea for a homemade gift LAST CHRISTMAS and still procrastinated on making these till the last minute? Yep, that would be why it is Monday before Christmas and I just mailed my packages now. Another thing is that I have always seemed to hand off all my nieces and nephews gifts when we visited or somebody came to visit here. I was scattered this year and even though I had two or three chances to have my box of gifts brought up to SC, I never gave it a thought. But... it is all well now. The boxes are mailed. Most of the cards are mailed - a few still need to go out. Best of all... one of my loyal readers is getting a package and they have NO IDEA it is coming! That is the most fun! I can't wait till it arrives and hopefully brings some Christmas cheer to this person! Now, if the elves will just come and wrap all the other gifts that didn't need to be mailed - did somebody see Tim running from the wrapping paper saying - "Not me! I am not wrapping all that!"?

Friday, December 15, 2006

Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies

I have been making these cookies since I was a kid. I literally do not remember a Christmas that we did not make these cookies. I loved them when I was little and my kids love them now. When I was a kid, I couldn't wait to roll them into balls and roll them in the sugar. I remember unwrapping all the candy kisses with my sisters and brother. It never failed that at some point you would start putting the wrappers in the candy dish and the candy in the wrapper dish and go - duhhh... I got that backwards! I am still using the rickety, barely staying together cookbook my sister made when she was in grade school. I have thought about typing up my own recipe paper, but then it wouldn't feel like "home". I like taking that cookbook out of the drawer and remembering how my mom taught me to bake. This is not a picture of my cookies - I borrowed it from google images. I am going to make some batter tonight and then we will cook some fresh tomorrow for a few gatherings we are going to. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Blossoms

1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 unbeaten egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
hershey kisses

Blend flour, soda, and salt. Cream butter and peanut butter, gradually add sugar, creaming well. Add egg and vanilla. Beat well. Blend in dry ingredients, mix thoroughly. Form into balls using one teaspoon dough for each. Roll balls in sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and place a chocolate kiss on top of each cookie, pressing down firmly so that cookie cracks around the edge. Return cookies to oven and bake for 2 to 5 minutes longer, until golden brown. I always double the batch because these cookies go fast!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Christmas Photo and Letter 2006

I guess it is really that time of the year again. Yes, another year has flown by and you are holding my annual Christmas letter in your hands! I can feel your excitement! You know it is getting harder for me to remember what all has happened through the year as I get older. Good thing I try to journal things throughout the year or I may not have a thing to tell you all. It has been a busy year and yes, I know I say that every year. I am sure waiting for one of those slow years, but I am thinking that won’t be happening anytime soon. So, what have we been up to, you ask? Lots of things. You know I always start with my kids and this year will be no different.
Tim II is a senior this year. Yes, did you hear the angels sing? He is a senior this year! We are almost done with this part of school. We are still trying to decide what will be next for him. Even though my memory fails on things from this current year, I so vividly remember what Tim (my husband) was like when he was 17 going on 18. I was absolutely in love with him even though he really didn’t have much a clue what his future held. I think Tim II is much the same way. I imagine it will take him a little more time to find exactly what his next step will be. For now, he has been working for Chick-Fil-A for over a year. He seems to really like it there and he works pretty hard. I know I don’t want to be the one getting up to work the 6am shift, but he does it without complaint. When he is not at work, he is with his friends. Lots of them! Too many to keep track of on some days. He has his own car and spends about every waking moment running somewhere. Prom will be coming up at the end of March and he has asked a young girl, but the word is out on whether her parents will allow her to attend as of yet. After prom, there will be putting the homeschool yearbook together and then graduation in Orlando with other homeschoolers across the state. I have a feeling it will be a blur over the next 6 months.
Savannah is our busy 8 year old. She is involved with lots of things… a science class with friends, AWANA, choir , brownies, homeschool co-op and then finally soccer. Sounds like a lot, but since school only takes a few hours a day… she does great with it. She has lots of pets to keep her busy. She has been running her very own hamster business this past year. When they have lots of babies, her daddy takes her to a pet store and she sells them for $2 a piece. Let me tell you, some days I think I should start selling hamsters. It is a pretty good deal. I know I have talked about her reading in past letters, but I have to say THIS WAS THE YEAR!!! She had been reading for awhile, but this year it all came together and she is reading like crazy! I am so excited about this! She is loving a lot of the American Girl books. I am so proud of how hard she worked. Now it is so much fun to hear about what she has read on her own. Today she wrote and gave her very first official report for science class. Again, how proud am I? We got to take an amazing trip to Colonial Williamsburg this year. We are studying that period in history and we so lucky to fly up there and visit. We took my mom and my sister too. It was an awesome time! All in all she has lots of fun with her friends that keep her pretty busy. I just wish she would quit growing up so fast.
Sebastian is our one and only two year old! He is so completely adorable and into mischief at every turn. His newest thing is doing something wrong and then running up to me with his arms stretched out and saying “HUG”. Like if he hugs me it will make it all better! I have to admit it does melt my heart and probably does make it a little better for him. Lately he has been a little parrot. He will repeat just about anything you ask him to say. He loves to be outside in the backyard, just digging and getting messy. He is a mommy and daddy’s boy. Sometimes he just wants to sit with me and “rock-a-baby” and other times he wants to sit on the swing outside with his dad. He likes to do “work” with his dad too. I love our “rock-a-baby” time each day. Before he goes down for his nap or bedtime, I sit in the rocking chair and sing him a few songs. He just sits so snuggly with me! This is my favorite part of my day with him. I am so excited to watch him become his own unique person each day.

That brings me to Tim and I. We really have had a great year together. We took a vacation to St. John this summer and had a few special date nights. This past October we celebrated 20 years together. Wow! Where did all that time go? We have had lots going on the past couple months. As some of you know, I was laid off in October. It was quite a shock and threw us off a bit. We have had to make some big decisions pretty quickly. The main one we made was that sending Savannah to school and Sebastian to daycare was absolutely not an option for us. From there, we are not completely sure what is next. We have decided that most likely we will move out of state. Our house value has increased substantially and we can get a lot farther some place else. So, that has us working on the last of our house projects and finishing up. We plan to put it on the market sometime in the spring. At this point we are thinking we will most likely choose to move to SC where Tim’s family lives. We just don’t have anything concrete as of yet. If all goes as we would like, Tim may work on starting the aquatics and exotics pet store he has always dreamed of owning. As I keep saying, we just aren’t sure exactly where this wild ride will take us. We just know that God certainly has a plan for our family and we are going to put it all in His hands. We believe He will figure out a way to provide for our family and keep us in line with keeping our children home. I have to say that I have the most amazing husband. He has been awesome at times when I so needed it. I am so lucky to have him. I have learned so much this year. I started a blog - online journal and through that have been connected to so many wonderful people with their stories to share. So many times I have read something that some person I don’t even know wrote and thought how completely amazing that it added something to my life in some small or not so small way. If you have a computer and want to find my blog - go to . I try to post pictures and updates and lots of silly stories there. As always we love phone calls and emails - keep in touch with us! Please keep us in your prayers. We hope you have a wonderful Christmas and remember to hug tight those that you love.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Lots of Love,
Tim, Kari, Tim II, Savannah and Sebastian
Christmas 2006

More packing and stuff...

This past week I just decided to declare Christmas Break from school. I had originally planned on doing school this week. We really should be doing school this week if we want to be done by May, but other things came up. On Mondays, Savannah has been going to my mom's in the morning to do piano, geography, cooking or crafts with her. This Monday it was more of an afternoon date than morning, so I just decided to give in and call it time for break. I have Christmas packages to get ready to mail, fudge to make, oh and two handmade Christmas presents to make (I am really dragging my feet on those!) I did get all of the packages wrapped, labeled and ready to mail. I did make one batch of fudge, but I still need to make at least 3 more - probably more like 4. Really, though, my mind and work seems to keep going to packing up things. I packed up all of our bedroom knick knacks. Then I tackled my "farm room". This room is our computer room. Tim put shelves up for me years ago that have collected tons of things I like from empty glass bottles to all sorts of cows. It is a VERY FULL room. Five boxes of knick knacks! As I was carrying the boxes out to the shed for storage today I was trying to figure out why I was so stuck on boxing all my stuff up. I mean we aren't really listing our house for sale until late spring probably. I packed the living room, kitchen and dining room stuff because I was painting. It just made sense that if I had to take it down to paint, I may as well pack it. I am not painting the other rooms, but somehow I felt I needed to pack up the things. Obviously, I needed to get rid of some of the clutter to make it show better, but I don't think that is it. It started to dawn on me that maybe by packing and making my house LOOK like we will be moving - that somehow it would really sink in that we WILL be moving. Right now it feels like a whole lot of "ifs" and "whens" and not "absolutes". Timmy came in to the computer room and saw I had packed it. He was visibly sad. It hurts my heart to see him feel that way, but I do understand. Maybe, somehow, if we have a few months of visual cues that will help with the emotional ones. I don't know for sure, but I guess that is why I am packing instead of making fudge. Tim will be off for two weeks at the end of this week. He will be working on our big walk in closet/laundry room construction for a huge part of that time. I think I will start weeding through books and narrowing down what we will take with us. Then I think it will be time to clean out the toy stash - a good time with new toys coming in. I won't be too busy to get myself into the Christmas spirit though. Savannah and I have already been doing some advent activities and I hope to do a few more too. Afterall... it is our last Christmas in this house... we have to make some memories.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Teenage boys are just such funny guys...

This morning, Tim II and his friends were headed over to Busch Gardens in Tampa. Like any good mom of a teenager driving, I reminded him to watch his speed especially over the bridge. Everyone drives fast over that and it is easy to get caught up in it. Not too long after he left, my phone rings. It is him. He tells me to check my email. I am like - why? He says to just check my email and call him back. So, I check my email to find this email with this photo attached. You see his friend, Patrick, has one of those picture phones that you can email a picture - so they sent me a picture of his speedometer going 30 mph! What goofballs they are! It sure gave me a laugh!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

My childhood manger...

When I was a little girl, we had a wooden manger that my mom's father had built. He built it when my mom was young and she bought the nativity pieces from the dime store. They gave it to my grandma. It is not frilly or fancy or even spectacular in any way. Oh how I love this manger. I remember being very small and helping my mom set the pieces up each Christmas. We had one of those console tv's and she put it on the top with that fake snow lining stuff. She would take each piece out with great care and she would tell me the story of how and where the pieces came from. I would hold them in my hands and try to imagine my mom being a young girl and buying them for her mom. I have never met my grandpa, but my mom still gets a sparkle in her eye when she talks about him. After the manger was put up each Christmas, occasionally I would very carefully play with the pieces. I was so careful, but I suspect that I was the one that broke one of the lambs legs off. I asked my mom if I did, but she doesn't remember either. This is where the story gets better... One year, while I was at school, my mom put the manger scene up. I came home and saw it sitting on top of the tv. My heart sank! I went and sat on the stairs and cried quietly. I didn't want her to know I was crying, but the tears just wouldn't stop. My mom eventually found me sitting there and she asked what was wrong. I told her that I had always set the manger up with her and I was so sad it was already up. It was my favorite thing to do each year. My mom hugged me and I cried some more. Then she did the most amazing thing. She went right over to that manger and she carefully wrapped up each and every piece and took it all down. She didn't stop there. She got on her hands and knees and crawled into the crawlspace with the manger. She put it in the way, way back where we stored all of our Christmas decorations. Then she came over to me and told me she was so very sorry she had put it up without me and that I could do it all from start to finish. Now, my mom was always a great mom and still is, but this thing that she did for me was something I have always remembered. My complete sadness had turned to complete happiness over how much my mom loved me. I did crawl all the way back into the crawlspace and carry it all the way out and then we carefully unwrapped the pieces and put them in their places. Complete with the colored light in the back. I am a different mom than my mom was. She always tells me how great I am, but the truth is I wish that I could be that patient with my kids. I wish that I could show that much love as often as she did. I do try and sometimes I succeed, but sometimes I fail miserably. When I walked into my mom's house this past week and saw the manger sitting under her tree, it reminded me of how lucky I was to have her for my mom. God certainly blessed me with her. I love you, mom!

A campfire (okay, porch fire) and s'mores...

I am sure some of you from some parts of the country think it has been pretty darn cold where you are from. Well... we have felt a little bit of that cold air here in Florida too. Friday night brought us weather in the 40's. That feels like absolute winter weather to us. Awhile back, my mom bought Tim one of those round fire pits. Problem was it was round and took up A LOT of space, so we returned it. Oh, I should mention that Tim is a pyro. He loves to make fires, loves to play with the fire, you get the idea. A few weeks back, he decided to make a fire in our grill. We have the old fashioned grill without propane, etc. It is just a grill. At first I thought he was a little odd, but then I thought about s'mores! For the last several weeks anytime we get a cold night, we have had a fire. The kids love to sit on the porch and I either get some alone time in the house for myself or I go out and join them. Either way, it is a win/win situation! Oh and I even figured out exactly what nutritional values are in a s'more and added it as a food grouping to my Sparkpeople. Is that not dedication?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Another plug for

So, this morning I stood on my scale. That isn't the exciting thing - the exciting thing is that it said that I am down 15 lbs - halfway to my goal. How? You really want to know, right? SPARKPEOPLE.COM . That is the secret, well not that it is a secret, but you know what I mean. I started Sparkpeople a little over 3 months ago. I put my weight, height and goals in. My goals were to lose 30 lbs by my 35th birthday in April. I wanted to lose about 1 lb a week. I said I would do some type of cardio 3 times a week and strength training 3 times a week. Then the wonderful Sparkpeople computer figured out how much calories, fat, carbs and protein I should have in a day. It also figured out how many calories I needed to burn in a week. They have all sorts of calorie burning activities in there. For instance, I raked leaves 3 times last week. I could go on the cardio section and type rake leaves - then it told me about how many calories I burned in the 30 minutes I did this. That is the basics of the website. There really are way more things there - articles, message boards, motivational helps. For me, tracking my food, making sure I drink the 64 ounces of water, and trying to do all the exercise seems to be working. Knocking on wood here! Seriously, I don't do all the exercise each week. Some weeks are better than others. I do pretty well with the eating because it gives you the freedom to eat whatever you want. For instance, my kids had a birthdays when I first started. I new I would be eating pizza and cake. I sat down and planned what I could eat that day and stay within the limits. I don't always do that, though. About once a week, I try to let myself eat whatever I want. The funny thing is that Tim and I went out to dinner on Saturday night. When we walked into the place, I saw the pie counter. I told Tim I was going to get some pie for dessert. Then I got done eating and really had lost my want for pie, so I skipped it. Of course, on Thanksgiving I ate a lot of pie! LOL! I still have 15 lbs to go and I don't know how fast that will go, but I am really happy with what I have done so far. If you click the blue link above, it will take you there. I am CLAYTONTK if you sign up. I get sparkpoints - don't really count for anything - just motivation!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth...

Oops, make that ONE front tooth! Here is my lovely son with his chipped tooth. How did he do that, you ask? Playing an "air soft" game. This is some sort of game where you shoot soft pellets at each other - well sorta soft would be more like it. If you get somebody with really good aim or really bad aim depending on how you look at it, then you too could chip your tooth from this game. I am happy to say it is all fixed and looks good as new. I haven't snapped a picture of the fixed tooth, so this will have to do! Oh and please ignore the just jumped out of the shower hair - I am still amazed he let me take this picture!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

This and that...

I thought I would post a quick run-down of stuff. I will post another one later with pictures too. I mentioned that we bid on a house this week. How on Earth did that happen? I was taking my usual walk with Sebastian and I saw a house for sale in our neighborhood. I had my handy cell phone on me, so I called to see what they were asking. She said $209,900. That is a bit low for this area, so I asked her if there was a reason. She said it was a distress sale and had to go very quickly. She said it needed work, but it wasn't horrible. I called Tim and honestly, I was a little down to hear the house would sell so low. We live in a neighborhood that has very few houses go up for sale. Everytime, somebody tries to to appraise our house - they hit a wall because they can't find another 4 bedroom in the neighborhood that has sold within a year. This house is not like mine, but still. That got Tim thinking... maybe we should buy it, fix it and sell it. We knew a house with the exact floorplan has sold this month for $240,000. We decided to go look. Once we looked, we made a list of repairs. With that knowledge, we decided the most we would want to bid was $180,000 because we wanted to be sure we could make a profit. Of course, we knew this was way low, but you never know until you try. The guy didn't say no right away, but he did say no. The realtor told us to hang on because if he didn't get another offer soon, he may come back to us. For right now, we think that is not going to happen and are just moving on with our house stuff. Crazy, huh... go from 2 jobs and 1 house to having 1 job and 2 houses!!! What are we thinking? Other than that, we have been working on more house stuff. Tim has two weeks off at Christmas and we are really hoping to accomplish many of the tasks we have. I have had to take a short break and move onto decorating for Christmas, writing Christmas cards, and getting my stuff ready to mail. Then I guess it will be back to house stuff. Stay tuned for pictures of the teenager with a chipped tooth and more...

Friday, December 01, 2006

A Christmas Meme...

I have been meaning to blog about 3 or 4 things this week... including bidding on a house in our neighborhood when we are going to be selling this house and moving... that will have to wait for another day, a son with a chipped tooth, a craft fair I went to a couple weeks ago and more... I promise I will try to be better. It occurred to me that it is DECEMBER 1st and I have not even gotten my Christmas decorations out of the shed. I am usually so ready to put up my decorations, but - honestly - I think if I could pay an elf to come put my tree up - I would! Okay, so Savannah wouldn't really let me do that. I know, I know... to help me to get in the spirit I am borrowing a Christmas meme I found.

My Christmas Memories

1. Egg nog or hot chocolate? Hot Chocolate - obviously! Seriously, I have never even tried egg nog. It just doesn't sound like something I want to try.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree? Santa wraps EVERYTHING! I mean every tiny little thing down to the tic tacs in the stockings. I love watching my kids tear into gifts and think that really most of the fun is in opening. Sometimes they could care less what is really inside.

3. Colored lights or white? I really like colored for my inside tree. I have gone through phases of liking white and blue lights outside. *Tim rarely puts the lights up outside, though.* My favorite lights are what I had as a kid. We just had one string that hung from the porch roof and they were those kind that are bigger - like night light bulbs. I have seen them on houses here and there and I am always so happy to see them. Someday, maybe we will get some of those.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? Nope - who needs mistletoe to kiss?

5. When do you decorate for Christmas? Usually the weekend after Thanksgiving and sorta keeps going through that whole week. This year we were painting our whole living area the weekend after Thanksgiving. I guess that makes it this weekend that we will be decorating!

6. What is your favorite holiday dish, excluding dessert? It is hard to choose since I can't say peanut butter chocolate kiss cookies and fudge... I really like getting take out Chinese on Christmas Eve. My favorite Christmas meal as a kid was when my mom ordered Pizza Hut on Christmas Eve. She worked in the ER back then and was really tired from her night shift. She has since told me that she felt horrible giving us pizza on Christmas Eve, but she was exhausted. The thing is that when we were kids, we didn't get pizza all that often. I was so excited for the pizza guy to come. My kids, on the other hand, get pizza a couple times a month. That would not really be a thrill, but Chinese food seems a little extra special.

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child? We always did our presents and Santa on Christmas Eve because like I said, my mom usually had to work the night shift. So, my dad would take us four kids out to look at lights. He would do donuts and drive like a nut and we laughed ourselves silly. While we were out, my mom would run next door to our neighbor's and they would bring all the presents over. We knew if the Christmas lights were back on that Santa had come. I STILL remember how excited I was when we would walk in and see all the presents. It was like magic!

8. When and how, did you learn the truth about Santa? I don't remember. I guess I still believe. Seriously, some people talk about being lied to and being crushed - blah, blah, blah - whatever! I absolutely love my Santa memories. Even more I love my memories of sharing Santa with my kids! I can still remember Timmy being outside on the porch doing the Santa Tracker thing and hearing bells. His eyes were so wide open and amazed! It was priceless! Since I am harping on people not liking Santa... it just drives me absolutely wacko when OTHER kids tell my kids there is NO SANTA! Who on Earth put these other kids in charge of this? That never happened when I was a kid that I can remember. I am pretty sure Savannah doesn't believe anymore because she has been told by other kids not to. I will have to stomp on any kids that tell Sebastian! Okay, I won't really do that, but I seriously hope they don't ruin the magic for him.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Yes, we always open my mom's gifts to all of us and any packages that were mailed to us. When I was a kid we did all of our presents on Christmas Eve because my mom usually worked in the ER that night and didn't want to be tired in the morning watching us open gifts.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? It is a hodge podge of this and that. We have some sets of matching ornaments, but mostly they are just the ones we have collected over the years. I did manage to save many of my childhood ornaments. When I had Savannah and started making a definate effort to get the kids their own ornament each year. Before that Timmy has some hit and miss years for ornaments. The thing is that I will be sad to give them their ornaments when they move away. I have even thought of buying two of each one - one for them to take and one for me to keep with my memories.

11. Snow. Love it or hate it? I love to look at it through a big window, snuggled in a blanket, not that I have done that in the past 16 years of living in Florida.

12. Can you ice skate? I have ice skated exactly once. Savannah was 4 and we went to a homeschool Christmas party that was at the rink. She so wanted to do it and I was terribly afraid. I was actually pretty down at the time due to some family stuff and when we got out there to skate... we had the best time. I mean it was wonderful! She is 8 now and I can't believe we haven't done it again. I need to make a date for that this December. What a great reminder!

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? I have two - one from my childhood and one from being an adult. When I was a kid, my favorite gift was a few actually. I think I was about 7 and Santa brought me a doll that was the size of a 6 month old baby. I also got a real umbrella stroller and diaper bag (think 70's style hard flip top diaper bag) stuffed with real baby clothes! I guess my adult favorite is probably my true favorite of them all, though. Tim put a tiny baby pacifier in my stocking the Christmas of 1997. When I reached down and opened it, I just burst into tears! It was his sign that he was ready to have a baby! Words cannot express my shear happiness from seeing a $3 pacifier in my stocking.

14. What is the most important thing about the holidays to you? Well, of course, it is about Jesus. I always showed Timmy that part of it, but I think I have gotten much better with my other two kids. I guess it was something that I needed to grow with before I could fully share all of it with my kids. Aside from that, it is about family. I love being with them, baking, cooking, wrapping, watching silly movies, etc.

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? Oops, I already answered that above. I love what my mom always called Peanut Blossoms. They are those peanut butter cookies with the hershey kiss on top. I don't know why we usually only make them at Christmas. I can eat a ton of them which is why I am stressing because of my Sparkpeople program and I don't want to know how much of what is in those little cookies!

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? I don't know if this is a tradition or not, but I love baking with my kids. I love making tons of cookies and fudge. I could bake and bake some more, except my house would be incredibly a mess and I would be behind on everything. (Side note - I just asked Timmy what he would say my favorite tradition was since I was kinda stumped - he said making peanut butter cookies! LOL!)

17. What tops your tree? A frugal (read cheap) light up star we got at Walmart a few years back that is INCREDIBLY pretty!

18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving? I love giving gifts especially to my kids. My mom is probably the second on who I love to get gifts for. I shop all year round and like trying to find that perfect thing for them.

19. What is your favorite Christmas song? I really like the one called Mary, did you know? Not when Kenny Rogers sings it though... I think it is Kathy Mattea or something like that.

20. Candy canes. Yuck or yum? I like the tiny ones a little bit, but I prefer chocolate any day.