INSERT ALTERNATIVE TEXT FOR YOUR HEADER IMAGE HERE

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thankful

As I've laid in bed every night this week (unable to sleep), my mind is racing with two different thoughts. (1) how different this time of year is than last year and (2) how much I have to be thankful for. This Christmas season was much less stressful than previous years, but even still I somehow managed to make it through without taking time to really reflect on how many blessings I have in my life.

Last year we were a family of 3. Last year Becky had just finished up her cancer treatments, but was still feeling the effects of that 8 month ordeal. Brian was just beginning his teaching career and only had a one-semester contract. The list could go on and on. We were certainly blessed last year, but when I think of all this year has held for us, I am in awe of God's provision and especially His blessings on our family. He has been so good to us, and so many times we don't remember to thank Him for the big things much less the small, day-to-day things. I am grateful this year for a husband who works hard to provide for us; who is loving and patient; is a great dad (and good in the kitchen!). I am grateful for Camden who almost 5 years ago made me a mother and who is growing up to be a wonderful boy. I am grateful for the little girl who has so captured my heart and who has made me into a better mother. I am grateful for my extended family, who are healthy and whole and who love the Lord. I am grateful for friends, new and old (including my sisters), who make my life better. I am grateful to be able to stay at home with Camden and Rory, something I never thought would be possible. And most of all I'm thankful for my God, who is the same and who is good when it's good and when it's hard.

I don't know why we think we have to wait until a holiday to spend time reflecting on our lives, but for some reason we do. So if you haven't yet this holiday season, make sure to take a few minutes before the new year.

New Year's Eve

I am thoroughly enjoying having this extra week with Brian home and a free schedule. It's times like these that having a teacher for a husband is GREAT.

Our Tuesday started off with a couple of firsts. Camden got up at 5:00 a.m. and threw up (with the exception of baby gagging - he's never just thrown up). Now I'm sure he didn't feel good right at that moment, but the not feeling good quickly moved into TOTALLY faking it because he didn't want to go shopping (see below). Now how does a 5 year old know how to do this. Believe me - his lying/faking it face is not very good and I was on to him immediately. He discovered that being sick and having to stay in bed isn't very fun and surprise, surprise felt quite a bit better when offered pancakes. Not sure where the 5:00 a.m. vomiting came from, but he was perfectly fine the rest of the day.

After the fake sickness drama, our day consisted of a Target run, a trip to the downtown library (yes, we live exciting lives), and lunch at Which Wich (my favorite sandwich shop) using a gift card I received from a friend at work when I left this past February (no idea why it took me so long to use it!). There were amazing deals at Target, which is why I've avoided all stores this holiday season in an effort to avoid spending money. We did pick up a birthday gift for a party we've got this weekend, a $3 dress for Rory and a few various Christmas items that were 75% off.


We ended our day with a Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred DVD (
and a piece of pie) so I am feeling quite sore this morning. Rory is so funny - while we were doing the workout, she picked up my weights. For obvious reasons, we didn't let her play with them. She disappeared for a minutes, then came back carrying a cucumber and a hotdog from her kitchen set. She used them for the rest of the workout as her weights. So funny!

Brian is baking bread (don't ask), the kids are happily creating with Play-Doh, and I'm scrapping so we're taking it easy and don't have much planned until game night and supper at church this evening. Well, taking it easy until we pop in the Jillian Michaels DVD again here in a minute.

Happy New Year!


Holly Designs: Christmas Magic

Credits here

Monday, December 29, 2008

Monday

Things are back to normal around here: I can't sleep, Rory and Camden aren't getting along, and we're headed to the grocery store on a Monday morning. It's only 8:22, and the kids are driving each other (and me) crazy and I'm losing what little patience I have. Brian is spending the day hunting/working with his dad so it's just the 3 of us. I've promised them a trip to McDonald's Playland if they cooperate. We'll see how that bribe works.

Some funny things about the kids.

Camden:

1. He said something funny Saturday morning and I laughed at him. He glared at me and said, "don't even think about putting that on your blog." I'm pretty sure he didn't know there was a blog (or what it was) until our church friends started talking to him about pictures and stories they've seen and read.
2. He came up to me yesterday with a card he had drawn for me and said, "I just wanted to give this to you because you're the best mommy. Thanks for loving me and taking care of me and being so good to me and adopting me." Awwwwwww.
3. He is TERRIFIED of The Dark Knight DVD cover my brother Matt accidentally left at our house. He would not even walk over to the end table to pick up a toy.


Rory:

1. When I call her a name ("my little love muffin" was yesterday's choice), she says, "no, mommy, Wory."
2. She is so independent these days. For instance, last night at church she insisted on carrying the diaper bag, despite the fact she could hardly walk with it. And she carried it all the way up to the church, then from the church to the nursery (which is in a different building).
3. We eat our meals, then sit and watch her eat. For the first couple of months home she shoveled food in as fast as it would go. She has SIGNIFICANTLY slowed down in the last couple of weeks - it takes her forever to finish a meal. And don't even try to hurry her along or actually take the plate away when you think she's through. If the plate isn't empty, she's NOT through.

Kasia Designs: A Life Inspired

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Brace Yourself

Lots of pictures!

How the week began: gloves for The Hulk and Batman

Our Christmas week weather

Xavier and Aunt Melissa

Opening one gift on Christmas Eve

Grandma reading the book my Grandma Elledge wrote and my mom illustrated

Christmas Eve at bedtime:
You have no idea how many of these we took just to get them
looking in the same direction.


Stocking time

Camden LOVED the Rubik's cube in his stocking

Xavier enjoying my chocolate pie

Every once in a while Rory only wants Camden to hold her

The whole group

Brian Lewis Family

William in his cute hat

Rory right before opening gifts

Opening her very first Christmas present

Camden's favorite present: a "light saver"
(also known as a light saber)


William and Xavier: the new black Power Rangers

Screaming when Camden tried to "help" her open a present

A fun hat from Aunt Jessica

A new kitchen for Rory (and Camden)

Oh, there's one for Rory too!

Who taught him to stand that way?

The aftermath

Rory and Aunt "Betty"

Guitar Hero is pretty popular around here, even with mom

That should be enough family pics to last you a lifetime! :)

We had a wonderful time with our family, and it was extra nice to not have to travel this year although I felt bad for everyone else who did travel! Camden, William, and Xavier had a fabulous time playing together with only a minimum of arguing/fighting. William and Xavier were quite sad to leave "Camden's house." Camden certainly enjoyed having boys to play with - they played Cars and Super Hero's all week, and he didn't have to play dolls at all! :)

Rory pretty much stayed out of the way and just watched the excitement. I think she was a bit overwhelmed by all the people and activity. Her personality did not shine much at all - she was just quiet. She did get the hang of opening up presents for her very first Christmas celebration and was VERY particular about it. (a) She wanted no help at all. And I do mean AT ALL. (b) Everything must be off the package - tape included. We handed presents out one at a time and opened them up one at a time, but she was so slow that by the end, she still had a pile to go but we were all finished.

The kids were definitely spoiled this year and have a enough fun things to keep them busy for a very long time. Brian and I ended up with a very generous Christmas as well. Not only did we buy a KitchenAid with some unexpected Christmas money from family, we were able to buy a little camera/video camera that Brian has been wanting and we're still able to put away Brian's work bonus into savings. I also managed to somehow come away with Photoshop Elements 7.0, which I have been coveting.

We spent Saturday getting the house back in shape and then relaxing the rest of the day.
the kids spent the day just running from one end of the house to the other. I think they enjoyed having their space back. Brian even managed to stay up with me while we watched The Dark Knight and waited for the storm to come through. The weather here has been C.R.A.Z.Y. Breaking cold records one weekend and then upper 70's the next with alot of rain and some thunderstorms thrown in.

I guess that about sums up Christmas 2008. I couldn't have asked for a better holiday with family. I hope yours was just as good!

I'm having trouble . . .

. . . deciding which picture is cutest. Sometimes they smile at the same time and my heart melts.


Rory's new fake smile

You don't want to know what bodily function they were laughing at here

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Whew!

Our last bit of company left this morning, and I am wiped out! We had a wonderful week of Christmas festivities, but I feel too tired to even begin to recap. We spent a couple of hours this morning trying to make the house look decent again, but have pretty much vegged out the rest of the day. If you want Brian's list of top 10 events and bottom 10 events you can read them here. I'll be back Monday with the holiday pics.

In the meantime, here are a few pages I scrapped last week before the whirlwind began.


Kasia Designs: October Afternoon

Dani Mogstad: Woodland Winter

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Busy, busy, busy

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Birthday Cupcake for Jesus

I'm moving slow this morning. I could not sleep last night, then woke up with a sinus headache. We've been busy doing last-minute cleaning, taping the kids for a little Christmas video (tune in Christmas Day), making a last batch of cake balls, etc. I think I need some heavy-duty coffee. Unfortunately, there is no Starbucks in this blink-and-you'll-miss-it town. :)

We bought something yesterday that I never imagined (a) wanting and (b) actually buying: a Kitchenaid Mixer! I might eventually turn into a domestic queen and make my mom happy one of these days! I can't wait to pull out the pie recipe tomorrow and I know Becky is going to be happy when she starts making pizza dough and homemade bread this week!


We had our annual birthday cake (or cupcake in this case) for Jesus last night, and the kids loved it. Along these same lines, I read a post by Shaun Groves yesterday that was pretty amazing. I read his blog occasionally and he has some very interesting and though-provoking ideas. This one on Christmas describes exactly how I would like for our Christmas to be, but I'm not sure I'm courageous enough to put it into practice. Brian and I are going to definitely think long and hard about next year, though. If you head over to read it, I'll just warn you that it is not going to be in line with popular opinion. While you're there, you might as well check out his ideas on simplifying your life: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4. I'll definitely admit that I have not put into practice many of the simplify ideas, but it's something that really made me think and made me want to change some areas of our life.

On a lighter note, how about something fun? Go here and press the play button to see our Country Christmas Elf Family.


Monday, December 22, 2008

A new blog

Not me - I can only keep with this one, but Brian has decided to join the blogging world. You can read his first post here. I have a feeling he's a bit more philosophical than I am. :)

We had a really nice weekend. Our trip to Patti's was lots of fun, and the food was seriously good! Micah, Becky, and the boys made it in Saturday evening and within 5 minutes had rooted out any and every Batman and Lightning McQueen toy Camden owns. They had tons of fun playing together, and I can see this Christmas is going to be full of boyish laughs, screams, and high-energy romps through the house! Rory was a little less impressed and pretty much sat on our laps and watched them play. We'll see how long it takes her to jump in.

Our children's Christmas program was last night, and just as I suspected, Camden was the loudest one there! He seems shy in person, but put him in front of a crowd and there's no hesitation. He told us last night after the program that he was just trying to make sure the person in the back row could hear him (and I'm pretty sure they could!).

Third time's a charm, and I'm finally meeting my friend for lunch today. Brian is going to take the kids and hit up any and every store that might have Kitchenaid mixers on sale. I'm really hoping he finds one so we can have it before all the Christmas cooking begins Wednesday.


Camden at the program

You can bet I'm going to be dressing these kids back up sometime this week so I can take pictures. As you can see, this photo shoot didn't go so well.

In their holiday finery

Not a happy camper

Finally coaxed a little fake smile from her

Kasia Designs: The Sweetest Thing

Friday, December 19, 2008

Pray for Christian

I was going to include this in my normal post, but then decided it deserved it's own post. Our friend Christian, who is 16 and has a rare form of leukemia, is very sick with kidney stones. He is also nearing the end of his chemo treatments and is facing a critical time as they prepare for his bone marrow transplant. Here is his latest post. Please pray fervently for him and his family (and feel free to leave him a little note on his website if you'd like).

No more school!

All you cold weather people out there - don't hate me. It's 64 degrees right now (at 7:00 in the morning). Of course, we also haven't seen the sun shine in probably 2 weeks, but it is warm (and raining yet again). It's also December 19, and 64 degrees just seems wrong.

Every single present and stocking stuffer is wrapped and under the tree or ready to be put in stockings with the exception of one small stocking gift for Rory that is still in a UPS truck somewhere. It took well over an hour with both Brian and I furiously wrapping. It's good to have it done. My floor is covered in glitter from wrapping paper, bows, and tissue paper!

Brian only has school until 10:45 today, and he is quite excited at the prospect of 2 weeks with no 4th graders. We're having dinner at his parent's house tonight. Tomorrow they are watching the kids, and we're going to Patti's Settlement with a church group. Micah and Becky arrive late tomorrow afternoon and then the fun begins. I have an (unfortunate) feeling that my children are going to act their age. Camden won't want the "babies" to "break" his toys. Rory just won't anyone to touch her things (she can be QUITE possessive!). Hopefully, they'll surprise us all and play together like four little angels so that Becky and I can get some scrapping in!


Here's Camden all dressed up in his grown-up outfit that Brian's mom bought him.
Does he look handsome (and much too old) or what!

Amanda Rockwell: Jingle

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Framed pics

I think these turned out well (they look much better in person). They're going to take up a massive amount of wall space, but that's all right because it's pretty much all I had planned for this room anyway. The pictures aren't the best, but you get the idea. The frames and matte color are the exact same for all 4 pictures.


So frustrated

I am feeling so frustrated with this whole sleep thing with Rory. (Aren't you excited to now be getting day-by-day updates?) She's now moved past the crying and into a pure 2-year-old tantrum rage. This happened for over an hour at naptime yesterday, again for over an hour at bedtime last night and then again at 5:00 this morning. I just don't know what to do. To be honest, it pretty much ruins my day. It is torture to listen to your child cry for 3-4 hours a day (much less listen to them scream cause they're mad!). The good news is that except for all the crazy bedtime stuff, she seems perfectly fine during the day.

Well, besides all the crying and screaming yesterday, I had a great time with my friends and their little ones at our party. I am so happy to have them as friends, and it has been really wonderful to get together once a week. I consider the holidays officially launched: there were gifts, Christmas cookies, and lots of food.

We went Christmas caroling last night with the church group and Camden had tons of fun. We were only slightly embarrassed when he announced, "this yard smells like a barn" at one house. Rory wasn't really thrilled with all of the getting in and out of the carseat and singing. At one point she told me, "no, mama, no, mama, my do" when we were singing. Translation: Stop singing so everyone can hear me.

Today we're going to get out of the house! Our Korean scroll and Angela Crutcher pictures are framed and ready to pick up. Hopefully we made good framing choices and they'll look great. I'm also going to go browse the mall and make a library run to renew my card.

I think tonight is the marathon present-wrapping session. It always takes so much longer than you expect, but it's kinda fun.


Jaime Young: Wild

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Brunch recipe

I told Mayme on the phone yesterday morning that it felt like vacation to have Brian at home helping with the kids while I got alot done. Yeah, that "vacation" feeling didn't last so long. After 4 batches of cookies, 4 loads of laundry, and countless other household chores, I was exhausted by the time we got the kids in bed last night. I still didn't get everything done that I wanted, but I did get quite a bit finished up. We were going to tackle wrapping presents after the kids went to bed (since underneath the tree is pretty empty right now), but I decided to just skip it. We'll mess with it tomorrow. Oh, and I did not get to go meet my friend for lunch - we decided not to risk driving on the roads so I was very disappointed.

Rory cried for over an hour last night so maybe the nightlight was just a fluke. Who knows!

My friends are coming over this morning for a Christmas brunch. I made a really great brunch casserole that you mix up the night before, then bake the next morning. It would be a great recipe to use for Christmas morning since all you have to do is pop it in the oven. It makes a pretty full 9x13 pan, so I just halved the recipe for this morning.

Overnight Brunch Eggs

4 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 lb. sausage
12 eggs
1 cup milk
2 Tbs flour

Toss cheese and flour together and then layer
on bottom of ungreased 9x13 pan.
Beat eggs and milk together.
Brown sausage and drain.
Add sausage on top of cheese, then
pour egg/milk mixture over sausage.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Bake 40-45 minutes (or until set) at 375 degrees

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Success!

Despite the fact that it was 58 degrees when I got up yesterday at 6:00 a.m., it was 24 degrees when we went to bed last night and combine that with a little bit of rain and wet roads means that Brian was out of school at 12:45 yesterday and has a snow day today!

We grocery shopped after naptime yesterday, and I should have known better. Not only is it the week before Christmas, but ice was in the forecast. Tennessee is one of those southern states that freaks out at the thought of winter weather, and Wal-Mart was like a war zone. We managed to get everything on our (long) list, and came home to a cozy house with Christmas music and Christmas baking. I baked 2 batches of gingersnaps (Brian's favorite) and mixed up Russian tea cakes. Brian was a domestic king last night and helped me not only bake, but clean up as well.

Rory cried less than 10 minutes last night at bedtime (and she's still asleep at 7:00 a.m.)! You have no idea how excited I am about that. We bought a night light and moved a fan into her room for the noise factor, and maybe that was all we needed to do. Our next plan was for me to stay in her room with her, and I'm hopeful that maybe I won't need to do that now.

Since I've got a daddy babysitter today, I get to go meet my friend Tina for lunch ALONE! We're also planning to do some more baking, and I need to get the house ready for our Wednesday group tomorrow. It's going to be a good day.


Zoe Pearn: Persimmon

Monday, December 15, 2008

More Rainy Days

We had to cancel our playdate with Joy, Ellis, and Sumner this morning because of Rory's cold - I just don't want to pass it on to anyone or for Rory to get worse. I was so looking forward to seeing them again, and Camden most definitely needs to burn off some energy. All these rainy days are tough on a 5-year old, and it's supposed to rain every day this week.

Brian has volunteered to either go grocery shopping with me tonight or to watch the kids and let me go by myself. Since I'm buying for Christmas, that will be so helpful - I'm pretty sure I'll have a very full cart.

I'm boring today with pretty much no cute stories or pictures. I guess I could tell you that Rory cried again last night for almost 2 hours and then woke up MUCH too early this morning and refused to go back asleep until I got her up and she slept on my shoulder. I need serious help with this sleep thing, especially since we have lots of company coming next week.


Holliewood Studios: Krafty Kringle

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Our Weekend

We have had a great weekend. Friday night we decided Camden might be old enough to watch Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe so we had pizza and popcorn and family movie night. He absolutely LOVED it (and it was nice for us not to have to watch Cars or 101 Dalmatians yet again), although if I would have remembered how intense some of the scenes were, we probably would have waited a while longer, but he seems to have no side effects of watching a scary move. Rory loved Aslan since lions are her favorite animal these days - she has good sound effects for a lion.

Saturday we braved the crazy mall to try to finish Christmas shopping and had much success. I'm usually finished shopping by this point in the season so I have no idea if the sales were extra good or if this is how it always is, but there were definitely some good deals. We also packaged up and mailed out some family gifts and most of the Christmas cards. I ran out of stamps so I still have a few to send out and 3 more small packages.

When we got home, Rory was running a little fever. She stuck pretty close to my lap last night and took an hour and a half to calm down and go to sleep. This is becoming a serious habit at this point, and the past two nights I've done all the wrong things as a mother in an effort to figure out what will work. I need to find a solution and then be consistent with it instead of trying multiple things every night. This morning she woke up all snotty and coughing and still running a little fever so we camped out on the couch while Brian and Camden headed off to church. The Tylenol must have kicked in, though, because she's off and running with her dolls at the moment while wearing her butterfly antennae from her Halloween costume.

This is my new favorite scrapbook page. I worked on it forever, but am really happy with how it turned out.