Some Sweet Friends and a Little Partying

Earlier tonight, Hubby, the kids and I went to a party that happens almost every year at my dear friend Shawn’s house. I regret that I didn’t get a picture of her on my phone… she got it on hers. If I get it, I’ll post it!

Anyway, she has had a hard year or two, and the fact that she stills throws this amazing (sometimes-annual) tree-trimming party makes me so happy. She is an incredible woman of God and I value any amount of time I can spend with her… which sometimes isn’t a lot, sadly. I lived with her for three months in college, and stayed with her here and there after that, and her family has taken me in as one of their own. I Coincidentally (not really haha), it’s her husband’s company that’s doing our basement reno! But tonight it was wonderful to see her and share a few moments with her and some other friends we love to see. So for your enjoyment, here are a few Christmas party pictures…

IMG_8704.JPG
A photo with the bestie is always necessary.
IMG_8705.JPG
College roomies, hanging out twice in one week! THAT is a Christmas miracle, friends.

 

IMG_8681.JPG
Just your regular attempt to get a four-person selfie. At least the “crazy face” memo wasn’t forgotten by anyone.

 

IMG_8685.JPG
EK had so many cookies. So. Many. Cookies.

 

 

IMG_8675.JPG
Even though you can only see half of EK’s face, everyone is smiling. #totalwin

Hubby busted out a tacky sweatshirt, so I ran over to Goodwill and scored that amazing vest. $3, thank you very much! And the kiddos were all decked out in festive attire, so we decided to get a family photo! You see how well it worked out…

OH! I forgot to ask… how do y’all like the sassy new hair? I had mixed feelings about it – still do, truly. It’s shorter on the one side than it’s ever been, but I like that if I don’t want to go sassy, I just curl the longer side under like I did before, and it’s a little more tame. But I like the sass; who am I kidding?

 

December Is Here!

IMG_8562.JPG

It seems crazy that December is already here. There are already a million things I need and want to do in these next few weeks before the new year arrives.

Our basement renovation has become really real… pardon that weird grammar there, but that’s exactly how I feel! Measurements have been taken, and plans are in the works. We are housing family over Christmas, so things won’t really start till January, but we’re ordering a Unit (one of those storage containers that you can have at your home instead of storing elsewhere) for the next week or so to go ahead and start packing/weeding out/moving things out of the basement. It’s happening!

We’re also gearing up for musical performances, family Christmas parties, and sweet traditions with our kids. I want to take EK to the Old Salem Candle Tea this year, because I think she’s old enough to like it now. I’ve been almost every year with at least a few of my college girlfriends, so I think it’ll be sweet to take my daughter this year. She loves sweets and Christmas music, so I’m hoping it’ll be a win! We’re going to the Tanglewood Festival of Lights on the 12th, on the hayride, just like two years ago! EK loved it then, so I bet she will really love it this year. And our cousins are going, as well as a few other friends, so it’ll be freezing but fun. It’ll be like a birthday celebration for me, since my birthday is the 13th!

I’m almost done Christmas shopping (winning SO MUCH) so that’s a load off my shoulders already… and I’ve got mixed feelings to say that I did a lot of online shopping. I did it before Black Friday and Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday and blah blah… so I can safely say that I avoided crowds in every manner possible. My Christmas cards are ordered and have arrived (make sure I have your address if you want one!) so I’m in the midst of addressing and stuffing those. All that’s left there is to go spend an obscene amount of money on stamps (blegh).

We’ve also got the Advent calendar I painted last year full of the tiny ornaments and Scriptures. I found the wooden calendar at A.C. Moore and just painted it myself. Cute, if I can give myself some credit!

 

IMG_8638.JPG

 

I went to a Salem alumnae holiday party with Lauren and Anne last night, and it was lovely to be out in high heels with the girls for a couple of hours. Yay Salem!

IMG_8653.JPG
This blurry picture is the only one I got, but I love my college roomies!

On Monday night, my sister-in-law Hannah hosted a cookie swap. Best idea ever, by the way, coming from me, a woman who loves cookies! I baked three batches, haha! But the spread was glorious!

 

 

 

IMG_8646.JPG

 

I’ve also started to plan J’s first birthday party! I can’t believe he’s almost one year old. It literally blows my mind that it’s true. I mean, I know he’s big, I know he’s smart, I know he’s developmentally a one year old. But it seems like just weeks ago that we were worried about him not gaining weight (hilarious to me now…) or re-babyproofing because he was starting to crawl. And now he thinks he can walk! Slow down, time!

Anyway, I just wanted to have a “welcome December” or “oh my gosh, it’s already December!” post. What are you plans for the month? Fun holiday traditions? Finishing your shopping? Cleaning and cooking and baking for the masses?

 

 

When He Misses Me

*This post also appeared on MyBigJesus.com *

IMG_8497

The other night, Hubby and I went out to his high school reunion. We got in late, were very tired, and looking forward to being able to sleep in a little bit (my early-rising family is in town and they tend to take the kids when they wake up, allowing for a few minutes of extra sleep in the mornings). However, I wake to cries from my son at 5:22 (yes, exactly that time) and trudge sleepily into his room to see what was the matter.

He was very upset, that much I could tell, but at 11 months, how much can he communicate with me? I just rubbed his back, hummed, and rocked in the chair, hoping he’d calm down and I could lay him down soon. He dozed off a few minutes later, but my attempt to lay him down was futile. Immediately his head popped up and his eyes searched the room for me. Resigned to a little while longer in the rocker instead of my bed, I grabbed my pillow and a few of his little blankets, snuggled down and covered us up as best I could.

As I rocked and hummed and rocked some more, it occurred to me that maybe he just missed me. That probably wasn’t what woke him up initially, but that’s why he wanted to snuggle (he’s usually way too busy for that) and that’s why he wouldn’t let me put him down.

You see, my family (my parents, siblings, grandmother, aunt, uncle and cousin) have all been in town for Thanksgiving. They’ve thrown off the groove (in a good way, I might add!) by changing diapers and giving snuggles and playing and babysitting, instead of the normal routine of just Hubby and me being around. J just felt like he wasn’t getting his normal amount of Mama Time and needed me to himself for a few minutes.

After we had dozed in that chair till about 8:00, my mom came in to make sure we were alright. She hadn’t wanted to disturb what she knew would be the sweetest snuggles I’d get for a while. 11-month-old boys are… indefatigable… and too busy getting into messes to snuggle their moms. Except when they know it’s been too long.

The Anticipation and Longing of Advent

Friends, the short season between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a blessed season of anticipation. Advent is defined as “the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event”. Advent in the sense of the Christian church is defined as “the coming of Christ”. I’d say the two are on par with each other.

Image

As I researched Advent a little more, I discovered that the word is from the Latin word meaning “coming”. Its definition expands to include “the four Sundays preceding Christmas” and “the liturgical season preceding Christmas, approached by some with fasting and prayer”. Other phrases included “expectant waiting”, “preparation for celebration” and the arrival of “something extremely important”. I don’t know about you, but I feel like every single one of those things describing Advent make me even more excited that this is the time of year it is.

I loved all of those, but my favorite word used to describe Advent was the word “longing”. It adds such a personal touch to a widespread idea. To feel a longing for the coming of Christ would be so personal, so intimate, so unique to you. The relationship that it implies is truly beautiful. You wouldn’t long to see someone you don’t know well. You wouldn’t long for time to spend with a person you didn’t get along with. You long to be with cherished loved ones.

It is hard to imagine carrying in your womb the Savior of the world. It’s even tougher to imagine an angel’s appearance and an immaculate conception. But it isn’t hard to think of something truly exciting to be waiting for. We’ve all looked forward to something, waited for something, a person, a moment… Perhaps a walk down the aisle to the one you love. Perhaps the birth of your first child (or your second, or your seventh!). The first day of a new job. The first day of retirement! A lunch date with an old friend. The first time you see a new niece or nephew. We all have an example of a person, event, or thing we’ve been awaiting with anticipation. This anticipation is sweet because we know that what we’re anticipating is even sweeter!

So, for the next four weeks, while we await the celebration of the coming of Jesus, the fulfillment of promises, and the ultimate manifestation of love and faithfulness, I will ponder the feelings of Mary, as she spent nine months in total wonder of the job she’d been given, awaiting the birth of her son, of the Savior of us all. I will be soaking in the excitement that must have been whirring around all who knew the prophecy would be fulfilled. I will be longing for sweet, intimate moments with Jesus, where he can do as he promised, and deliver me from brokenness and sin. What an incredible lover is our Lord, who sacrifices to make us whole! What a blessing it is to worship, adore, and celebrate the birth of a Savior, and to anticipate his coming again!

“Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus”
Charles Wesley

Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.

Running in the Cold

Up until these past couple of weeks, I’ve always thought working out or running in the cold was terrible… hurting lungs, hurting ears, hurting skin… oh yeah, and runny nose. I don’t know why, but I couldn’t do more than 5 minutes of exercise in the cold without these things plaguing me SO MUCH that I quit right then.

However, the last few times I’ve gone out for a run, it’s been chilly, but I haven’t been miserable! Maybe I’m getting used to it, maybe I’m growing up, or maybe I was just dressed appropriately for once. But I really enjoyed my cold work outs all three times! Here’s what I did that I might not normally do:

Layer. I wore my favorite exercise leggings, and one of my Champion sleeveless workout shirts, then added a thin fleece pullover and an ear band. My ears getting cold is the WORST, so the ear band was a necessity, which leads me to…

Head gear. I don’t really like my entire head to be covered (when I get hot I want some of the heat to get out) so I wear a band to cover my ears. Specifically, I’ve been wearing Hubby’s 1994 “turtle fur”. Weird, I know. It’s neon green. At least I won’t get hit by a car?

You don't need to tell me how attractive that head band is.
You don’t need to tell me how attractive that head band is.

Music. I know, I know… most people listen to music when they run. But 1. I have weird ears that HATE headphones, and 2. I’m terrified of being hit by a car that I didn’t hear because my music was too loud in the headphones that I can’t wear. So I used my iPhone armband, and just blasted the music out loud instead of wearing headphones. I guess everyone could hear me coming from a quarter mile away, but eh, who cares?

Chapstick. And. Hand lotion. These things are essentials. I hate gloves, so hand lotion keeps me from getting chapped hands, and lip balm of some sort (I’m digging Rodan & Fields Lip Shield) keeps me from licking my lips and causing cracks and splits.

Blow your nose. I know this isn’t practical for everyone, but I am close enough to my neighborhood Lowe’s to incorporate it into my workout. So I’ve been running there, and I can pop in and blow my nose! That way I don’t have to carry anything with me, or blow snot rockets in people’s front yards. And, while I’m there, sometimes I also do a little bladder emptying as well. You know, because, I’ve given birth twice and I pee a lot. (TMI. Sorry.)

So those are my tips. You might already be doing those things, and if you are, why didn’t you tell me about them?! I know, I should’ve known.

Happy Running!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, one and all!

IMG_8574.JPG
J’s fall outfit from Thanksgiving dinner with Hubby’s family last night. My baby blue eyes ❤

Today, I challenge you to love your family a little extra, hug your friends one more time than you normally would, savor the flavor of your favorite dish, and linger in a moment of celebration. Reach deep down and find things you’re grateful for… even if you don’t have much. Holidays can be tough. Families can be complicated. Budgets can be tight. Expectations and tensions can be high. Sometimes, holiday gatherings can bring out less than the best in us.

But find a few simple things to thank God for today. The laughter of a child. The smile of a grandparent. An encouraging word from a friend. The chance to sit down for a few minutes with a friend. Hey, you might even get a start on your Christmas decorating today! Take the extra sets of hands, and put them to work. If you are the extra set of hands, then do a little work for someone else. Soften your words as you speak them and show some love. Everyone’s Thanksgiving will be a little better. Good luck, safe travels, happy eating, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

 

New Shelves for Joseph!

A few months ago, I bought two old wooden filing cabinets on the cheap from one of my favorite consignment stores here in town. They had been painted white – seemingly a long time ago – and were distressed from use, and I loved that. I pictured some adorable icons or patterns painted on them in bold colors, and cute drawers pulls, and voila! Better, cuter and more unique storage in my son’s room.

((Before I go tooting my own horn here about how great I think they look now that they’re finished, I will say that I brought them home, cleaned them up, and then they sat in my garage for a month. Then I sketched the pictures/patterns, and they sat in the garage for a month. Then I painted a few drawers. Then… you get the idea.))

The first thing that was super helpful was my tip from my friend Lauren about using chalk paint. No sanding or primer necessary. What a time saver! I used Annie Sloan brand, and it was fabulous. Went on like a dream, and two coats later, I had the bold color I wanted.

IMG_8242.JPG

IMG_8241.JPG

Whoever had painted the cabinets white did a very eh job, so when I took off the industrial-looking handles, I had to have Hubby sand around the area to make it smooth. Then I just kept a-painting…

IMG_8240.JPG

A little Annie Sloan wax coat on the outside, a little bit of buffing, and the drawers were all finished!

The insides of the drawers were a little rough, so I wanted to line them. Don’t want those baby clothes and swaddles to get snagged! When I went to Wal-Mart there was nothing really whimsical, so I went with… wood grain? I know. Terrible. But it won’t really be seen.

IMG_8486.JPG

IMG_8487.JPG

One sad point about the Contact drawer liner… it didn’t stick very well to the unfinished wood, so I ended up gluing a little bit underneath it. Extra work, but ah well. Such is to be expected when you start a project like this, right?

IMG_8519.JPG

You can see the outer space theme… and I think they fit well! I actually want to reorder the drawers – Hubby put them in out of order. And we still need to attach the drawer pulls. But I couldn’t wait to put them in there, and couldn’t wait to share the project! However, once I got them on either side of the changing table, it seemed like there was too much extra space. So I swapped the changing table and crib!

IMG_8551.JPG

Much better, right? I like the scale a lot more. And it made the whole room feel bigger right when you walked in. I’m pretty pleased with the effect, and now I’m all ready to finish organizing!

**A big thanks to Hubby for the heavy lifting, to Lauren for helping wax, and to my mom, who helped with the sketching and painting!**

What DIY projects have you done recently? Have you ever refinished or upcycled some old furniture?

The Bibliofile

Book Reviews, Books, Bestsellers, Literary Fiction

motherwellmagdotcom.wordpress.com/

Telling all sides of the parenting story

Mom From The Shire

Trying to Figure Out How to Get Paid to Lay on the Beach...

Just Mummin'

Life as a first time mummy to my darling Joshua.

The Blogging Musician

People, places, guitar, music and a new found passion for writing about them.

cat h. bradley

writer | traveler | food❤️er | yogi | runnin' fool

Don't Do THAT! - mommy

Muddling through this Mom world making memories and sometimes mistakes but loving every moment.