Monday, December 19, 2011

Breakfast with Santa

I am friends with some really creative moms, and one of them just happens to have an uncle-in-law who plays a wonderful Santa!  We got the kids together for "breakfast with Santa" with lots of kiddos in their Christmas PJs, yummy food and an appearance by the big man himself!
Before he arrived, the kids were really excited, but they were so good, eating their breakfast and wondering what would happen next.  They read Christmas books and played together for awhile.

We took them outside in the backyard for a little while so that Santa could come down the chimney ;) and when we came back in, there he was!  He had a gift for each child, and the kiddos handled it with the typical age-appropriate responses.
Miss Madeleine did just fine - no screaming, but she wasn't anxious to cuddle with Santa either.  She was just fine being held by Mommy.  I love her expression!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A few of my favorite things...

This Christmas season has been filled with such joy! At 10 days 'til Christmas I can't believe how it has flown. Last Christmas I enjoyed being at home but I was in the newborn fog. This Christmas I feel that our little family has been an active participant in the Advent season. So, a few of my favorite things about Christmas at our house, and some specific to this Christmas in particular...

Having some help with the outside lights:
The way our vintage house looks with vintage lights:
No really...all our lights are hand-me-downs from family and many Christmases past. Each year I think I am going to have to go buy new ones since we inevitably lose a strand or two each Christmas season, but I feel like they did a loaves and fishes number this year.

Handprint Christmas crafts - so treasured by this Mama!
My kitchen at Christmas time - a festive place to bake while all of the Christmas cards watch me from the fridge door. Ha.
Help with inside lights...
Our tree - I added some embellishments to our Walmart star from our first Christmas together as well as some swanky gold ribbon, but I always want to have colored lights. Aside from just being pretty and festive, I feel like colored lights give a tree a certain whimsy and humility - both welcoming qualities to handmade ornaments. :) I have so many memories as a little girl lying on my back under our tree reading books. I hope Madeleine creates similar memories on our window seat (in need of some Christmas throw pillows, no?)
This is my favorite ornament from my childhood. It is from 1979 (my mom's before my parents even were married?) and it always hung on the Deily family tree. It is made out of styrofoam and it is "two turtle doves." One of the doves is missing its head (a cat casualty I'm sure) and I think that dove was entirely missing for awhile. I remember finding the body and being so excited to stick it back on the ornament. Slightly macabre? Anyway, when I was a little, little girl I loved the ornament because the doves' nest is made of some fluffy yellow material and I would very gently touch it to feel how soft it was. I can't imagine why my parents were so willing let it find a new home on our tree. :)
Matterhorn is the Winter version of Fiji. It smells like the Swiss alps, and I can imagine I am well...in the Swiss Alps at Christmas, a la 2004.
Madeleine's growing nativity knowledge - I was thrilled the other day when I just happened to ask her, "Where's baby Jesus?" and she brought him to me. I hadn't drilled her on it at all (like we've been drilling her on "sic 'em bears!" recently - she's almost got it!) but I had talked about the manger scene with her a few times, all the characters and the star...I was shocked she knew which one baby Jesus was. That's all I need for Christmas - really. Now, as excited as she is about baby Jesus, she was not as excited to take a picture with our friend David who was one of the three kings in our Christmas show at church. Between her being up past her bedtime, the crowded atrium at church and David's scary make-up, she was not amused.
Classical Christmas Pandora Station - Bah humbug to Pandora taking away the "folk Christmas" station I so enjoyed last year. This year we have both Indie Christmas and Classical Christmas (among others) but Folk is nowhere to be found. Ah well. Classical has been lovely. You can keep your Mariah Carey (Ally) or other pop hits. (I messed up typing "hits" and the letters were in a different order...oops...kinda true though. :oP) Around Christmas time, my music snobbery goes up a notch. Being in choir most of my life, and a madrigal (medievel/renaissance) choir all through high school exposed me to some beautiful, deep and OLD Christmas music.  I also really enjoy Celtic arrangements. So, while I enjoy the occasional "Frosty" or "Let it Snow" I prefer songs like "Lo, how a Rose e'er Blooming," "Still, Still, Still," "In the Bleak Midwinter," "I Saw Three Ships," "The Holly and the Ivy," "Il Est Ne, Le Divin Enfant (He is Born, the Divine Christ Child,)" "Ding Dong Merrily on High" et. al. and some preferably in Latin or French.  :)  Proof of my madrigal days - we had a "feast" each Christmas where we set up the school cafeteria like a king's banquet hall lit with candles, etc. People would also pay us to come sing at parties. :)  True story.
And, last, but certainly not least - babies in footies and babies who get over their king fright at the Christmas show to play peek-a-boo on the car ride home. :)
Tune in next time for Christmas festivities...another favorite but a separate post entirely.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Our life Bible study class Inside Out has a monthly "Tot Time" when moms and kiddos can get together and do something together.  The obvious choice for December was a Happy Birthday Jesus party.  It was at the Saxes', and the kids really enjoyed it!  There was time to play and time to make ornaments...
And there was time to eat some Chick-fil-A nuggets and fruit for lunch (Madeleine and Laurel seem very serious about their lunch time.) There was story time with Ms. Emily, and then the singing and the cake of course!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Advent Jesse Tree

I love adding a new tradition to our family's Christmas celebration. A couple other ladies and I decided to plan an Advent Jesse Tree ornament swap in order to bring this book into all of our homes. I am so thrilled with how it turned out.

A little background:  The Advent Jesse Tree is a devotional book that traces God's plan for redemption and the lineage of Christ from creation all the way to the birth of Christ.  It has parallel lessons each day - a kid version and an adult version.  I think it is such a logical, historical and interesting way to celebrate Advent.  The book has a symbol to correspond with each day's Bible story, and they encourage you to have ornaments to hang on a small tree as a part of each day's lesson.

Rather than make all 25 days myself, I started recruiting women in our Sunday School class to do this together.  It was way more cost-effective (and way more fun to see what everyone came up with!) to build these collections together.  We began sign-ups in September and I hosted our swap the Sunday before Thanksgiving.

I had Day 1 (the earth) and Day 19 (a silhouette of Bethlehem) and these are the ornaments I came up with:

I think I spent a total of $10 on all of my ornaments. The day of the swap was so much fun. We had the list of which day each person had, and then everyone put their ornaments on my dining room table.
I was blown away by how creative these girls got with their ornaments!  I got such a wonderful assortment, and they all did such a great job.  Caroline and her husband CARVED their slingshots out of plywood.  Susan took on the "stump with a fresh shoot or leaf coming out of it" by using a cinnamon stick, a fake leaf and floral tape to make a perfect symbol for day 13.  Bethany's interpretation of a "lion and a lamb" for day 14 was great - a double-sided ornament.  Jen's day 25 baby Jesus made of king cake babies and home-made mangers...priceless.  I could go on and on, they were all so wonderful, and I know this set will be a treasure in our home for years to come!
I love having our little tree at the kitchen table. It goes perfectly on the placemat Erin made for our table at the HFBC Women's Christmas Banquet.
Madeleine has enjoyed it too!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Tacky Christmas Sweaters!

For our very first Inside Out Christmas Party, we did the old favorite - tacky Christmas sweaters!! I borrowed a vest of my mom's and Cason borrowed his dad's sweater (ha!) And if you couldn't tell by his magic eye-esque look, it is a football game. I think. Anyway, it was a fun evening hosted by the Bishops with yummy catered Mexican food. We loved seeing everyone's outfits, from the thrifted finds to the homemade creations!
I think I got sweater envy from Annette's top - not only was it a Christmas sweater, but it was LONDON-themed! My my.
After dinner, things got rowdy with some tissue paper crowns and an intense game of fishbowl - boys versus girls, naturally.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Little moments

What a sweet season it has been with Madeleine. Now that I am not doing month-to-month updates (loved 'em but goodness, that was a lot of work!) I want to write down a few things before I forget the magic of this time.
I have been truly blessed with this little girl, no longer a baby, she is growing so much every day! Her personality continues to develop into all the unique and beautiful attributes that God has given her. I know this is just the beginning of getting to know her, and I can't believe it! We were at Lowes the other day (yes, again, buying some fuses for our Christmas lights - I felt so...electrical) and I just looked at this smiling little girl waving to everyone she could see. It was all I could do to keep from tearing up right there in front of the ceiling fans. In that moment I told God, "Lord, if you take her tomorrow we will have already been blessed too much." I meant it. If we are never blessed with another child, we will have been blessed too much.
Sure, I have the days where she pulls the ornaments off the tree or poops in the bathtub. I have the days when cutting teeth make her fussy, and she pulls her shoes and socks off several times. She is still a toddler, but, oh what a special toddler! I love seeing God's fingerprints all over her little life and what a blessing she already is to so many.
One thing I am elated about: she is starting to cuddle. Not a lot, and she has to be really tired, but I'll take it. Anyone that knows Madeleine knows she is much too busy to cuddle, ever since she was a newborn. Just...not a cuddler, despite being very affectionate, if that makes any sense. Tonight I went into her room, as I do a lot of nights, to put a blanket over her. She must've been sleeping lightly because she woke up. I tried to scurry out, but it was too late. She was up and fussing, so I went in, got her and lambie and sat in the glider with her. Not only did she cuddle, she fell asleep! I could've sat there for hours. Cason came to check on us, and I said "Go get the camera!!"

I love that last one. That's when she changed positions, and I thought we'd woken her up - Cason caught my expression! Here are a few things about our Madeleine that I never, ever want to forget.

  • She is fearless.  We were setting up Christmas lights when our neighbors' German shepherd puppy came bounding across the street.  He ran straight to Madeleine and started licking all over her face.  She stood there and giggled the whole time.  He ran away and she chased him until he came back for more kisses.
  • She is friendly.  I alluded to this earlier.  She loves running errands and charming everyone she comes in contact with.  I had a woman in the stamp aisle of Hobby Lobby talking to her and telling me how she is waiting for grandchildren.  I had a checker at HEB tell me how big she is, and how she has been watching her grow up.  She waves and smiles at everyone, and I love that I have a little icebreaker that helps me talk to more people when I am out and about.
  • She is flexible.  She continues to adapt to whatever her crazy parents want to do.  Two nights in a hotel room with her parents and grandparents in Waco?  Sure.  Two nights in Plano and two nights in Denton for Thanksgiving?  No problem.  Miss a morning nap because we are seeing family?  Oh well, no major meltdown.  
  • She is funny.  She loves to laugh and make us laugh.  She has a favorite game with an owl pillow that Ms. Emily made her for her birthday.  She will hold it up in front of our faces while we say "whoooo - whoooo" behind it.  When she is ready, she will pull it down (modified peek-a-boo?) and just giggle that it is her parents behind the mask making those sounds. When she is feelin especially silly or excited, she will walk around waving both hands, saying "whoa whoa whoa whao!" with a big smile.  
  • She will do lots of performing - growling, smacking her lips, pointing to her tongue, ear, hand, bellybutton, various objects in the room, types of food etc. on command.  "Madeleine, where's your tongue?"  She's great at following verbal directions and responding to things we say, even though she can't verbalize a ton yet.  "Madeleine, go get lambie!"  "Madeleine, there are cheerios on your table if you want them." "Madeleine, where's Nana?  Where's Pop?" (points)
  • She typically takes a morning nap and an afternoon nap, each about an hour and a half long.  She sleeps from about 8:30p-7:30a.  She does something I call a "fake wake" around 6:30 or 6:45 where she wakes up fussy for about five minutes but goes back to sleep for about one more cycle.
  • Patience is not a virtue she has yet - especially when it comes to us getting her milk out and pouring it into a cup.  I wonder when it will click with her that we are, in fact, preparing it for her. Oooo that girl can whine about her food.  When she sees food she wants or is especially excited about, she says "MMMMMMMMMM!!!" emphatically and enthusiastically.  
  • For the past 6 weeks she has loved green beans.  Loves them.  You'd think they were french fries.  This works out great because we had bags and bags in our freezer from my grandparents' garden we just hadn't gotten around to eating yet.   We've made our way through all the bags.  I know this is a phase as well (I'm already sensing some tastes changing) but I have been giving her as many as she will eat.  She also loves bananas.  She knows where the pictures of bananas are in all of her books, and I have to hide the bananas on our counter under a towel, or she will want one whenever she goes in the kitchen: "Ah-na-na!  Ah-na-na!"
Thank you, Lord, for blessing our family with this sweet girl.  We are so, so grateful for her.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

2011 Thankfulness

I've seen lots of Facebook posts and blogs of all these people disciplined enough to post 30 days of thankfulness - way to go, guys, but I just don't have the time or discipline to keep up with all that. I have so much to be thankful for - it's overwhelming, and I could go way back in time and share specific things I have been blessed with throughout my life, but I decided to focus on five things I am thankful for specifically in 2011.
ESL - It is a sweet, sweet thing to feel like you are serving exactly where the Lord has called you in a season. I had been praying about this for awhile, and I wanted to use some of my time at home to serve in a ministry somewhere outside our Sunday School class. Houston's First Baptist has an amazing ministry through their Faith Center in Spring Branch. Benevolence, a clothes closet and food pantry, ESL classes and more - it is quite an operation. There are hundreds of ESL students that benefit from this ministry. My class is comprised of anywhere from 6-15 adults depending on the week, and I am so proud of them and their willingness to learn. I love spending time with them, and while it isn't always easy to get us there on Thursdays, it is always worth it.
Inside Out - In March we left our previous Sunday School class Veritas and began a new class called Inside Out. Cason and I had been deeply ingrained in that community as he'd served as a teacher for a couple years, and I had various roles as well. The Lord blessed our class and we were growing and growing. It was time to multiply. Our friends the Saxes were going to be the directors, and we signed on as the teacher couple. A few other couples from Veritas signed on and off we went. It was really hard, but looking back at the last eight months, we have seen God's faithfulness over and over, and I couldn't be happier with where we are. It's so neat to see another "flavor" of young marrieds as the Lord has already galvanized this group and given it a unique identity.
My new role - Being a stay-at-home mom has had its ups and downs, but I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity to be with Madeleine day in and day out as she changes so quickly. After three and a half years of a relatively easy marriage, Cason and I have had to work harder in our new roles as parents and really understanding where each person is coming from as well as taking time to really connect with one another.
Family in town - Many of our family is not in town, but I am so grateful for those who are - six different family households. This allows us to see many family members much more frequently. Madeleine and Granna days are every Tuesday - this is great for them because they get time to play, and it is great for me because I get to run errands or hide in the study and get some work done. Also, I am thrilled that Julianne moved back to Houston after graduating from Baylor. She has a wonderful marketing job downtown and swanky townhome in Montrose. It's so great to have a sister close by! We are working on Liz as she has a Chevron internship in Houston this coming summer, so...hooray for Deilys, Barnhills and Gajdicas all being in Houston!
Accountability - My sweet accountability group has been so dear to me this year - Jodie, Ally and Brandi are lights in my life that bring me joy, challenge me and encourage me in my walk with the Lord. I need to get a picture of just the four of us, but until I do, an Olive Garden logo will have to suffice - that's where we spend a few hours every other Tuesday night. :)