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15 In family

Introducing…Eli Christopher! // Thankful Thursday

I’m excited to say that I’ve entered a  new era in my journey with the Lord.

I’ve become a Nana!

My oldest daughter,  Alyssa, and her husband, Anthony, welcomed Eli Christopher to the world on Saturday, April 18th. He is just perfect and my heart is bursting with joy over his life. Call me biased, but have you ever seen a more perfect and beautiful baby?

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I cannot believe that this precious treasure will be a month old already this coming Saturday.

I am grateful to God for Eli’s safe arrival into this world, and for His hand of protection over Alyssa during her pregnancy and labor.

I am thankful for the opportunity to share my gratitude posts on my blog once again. I started, and stopped, and started and stopped again.  If there is one thing I’ve realized walking through various seasons of life, it’s this:  [tweetthis]There is ALWAYS something to be thankful for.[/tweetthis] So I’m going to come here, every week or two and share one, two or several things that I am grateful for. It may be in word or photos, but it will be those things that cause my heart to overflow with gratitude to my Savior.

Marsha's Musings

I’m liking up with Marsha for Thankful Thursday. Won’t you stop over and share one, two or several things you are thankful for? You can read all about this link up here.

 

25 In family

Embracing the Simple Joy of Family

Red polka dots cup on wooden table over wallpaper with snowflakes

Embracing the simple Joy of FAMILY

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. Burton Hillis

I tell my kids ever year, “Christmas is about family.  It’s about being together.  It doesn’t matter what is or isn’t underneath the tree.  What matters most is that we, as a family are all together — healthy, happy and loving Jesus.”

Over the last four years, I’ve said that more often than I am sure my children would like to hear. It’s hard to keep a balance between wanting to give your children the desires of their heart at least once a year, and knowing that all of that doesn’t really matter.  My children are older now (adults, teens and preteens) so it does make it easier.  We were never extravagant in our giving with our children, but years of unemployment have set us back so far that sometimes the offerings are smaller than I’d like them to be.  But someone, we always manage to have something under the tree, smiling faces, laughter and happy hearts.

As my family comes together to focus on the simple joys of Christmas, there are many things we enjoy doing that bring us closer to each other as we build lasting memories.

Annual Tree Hunting

And it is a hunt!  We drive about an hour south to the tree farm and go on a hunt for the perfect tree. We all have an opinion as to what we feel is the perfect one, but in the end, we manage to come into agreement as we cut it down and bring it home.

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Tree decorating, Christmas Movies & Cookies

Every year we decorate our tree while eating freshly baked cookies and watching such Christmas movie as Rudolph the Red Nosed Raindeer, Frosty the Snowman, The Santa Clause and The Grinch.  Over the last couple of years I’ve gotten to sit back and watch my children take charge of the tree, which I love.  I’ve come a long way from the days where everything had to be perfect on the tree. My children do a wonderful job and you won’t find me rearranging anything!

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Christmas Sing-A-Long

On Thanksgiving Day, my daughters and I were driving in the car listening to one of our favorite Christmas CDs by Michalel Buble.  There is something magic that happens with Christmas music.  My heart comes alive, and is filled with joy at not only the lyrics and what they mean, but just the nostalgia surrounding the season.  It’s around this same time that my husband and oldest son sit on the couch side-by-side with their guitars participating in their own, home-made Christmas sing along.

Christmas Shopping

Yes, I did say Christmas shopping.  Oh, it can be stressful at times, but just the joy of going out and purchasing gifts for others (friends, co-workers, my kids for each other) brings me so much joy.  Times are tight and we have had to be creative in our gift giving.  Each year our shopping season starts on Black Friday with a trip to Starbucks and then off to the mall.  Thankfully this year, since the sales started on Thanksgiving eve (which I was not a fan of), there was no one shopping.  No crowds and lots of parking!

Christmas baking

I am not a natural baker, but once a year my youngest daughter, my sister and my mother get together to bake cookies.  We spend an entire day in the kitchen, each taking home 4-5 containers of cookies.  Some of our favorites are:

Hershey’s ROLO Pretzel Delights

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Sandies

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Chocolate-Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies (which as a child I affectionately called “candy cookies”)

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Snickerdoodles

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Traditional Christmas Sugar Cookies

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Nothing brings me more joy than partaking in the consumption of these edible creations.

These are just a few of the simple things my family enjoys doing together at Christmas that bring us joy.  I do miss the times when my children were little and we all participated in Advent devotionals.  With older children, who run on their own schedules, it’s hard to open the Word together. So I make it a point to drop in a “whatcha been reading lately” to spark conversation.

How about you?  What Christmas activities do you do with your family that bring you joy?  I would love for you to share in the comments below.

Come back next Tuesday as I share more on the simple joys Christmas!

37 In family

Life Through The Lens: Celebrating 25 years!

On Tuesday, August 20th, my husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary!

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We didn’t have any big plans, like those we’ve dreamed about, as money is still very tight. (Thankfully, hubby is working now!). But God put it on someone’s heart to bless us financially so that we could go out and have a nice dinner.  A really nice dinner!  So that is what we did on Sunday night.

We went to the Shadowbrook Restaurant in Capitola.

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You can take a garden path down many stairs to the restaurant or opt for the cable car, which is what we do when we visit.

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(photo credit)

It’s a place we visited while we were dating, and the food is very good!  I took advantage and indulged, just a little!

Calamari appetizer

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Filet Mignon with au gratin potatoes (also had steamed veggies on the side)

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And in honor of our anniversary, two small but powerful chocolate truffles for dessert.

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After dinner we drove into downtown Capitola to visit the coffee house we liked to hang out at while we were dating.  Matter of fact, just shortly after we got engaged, we came here, and a violinist serenaded us.  We found out last night that this same violinist still plays on Friday nights, and has been there for 26 years!

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I opted for the iced coconut mocha, and my hubby the caramel milkshake

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On the way home, we drove to Kohls to look at a temporary replacement wedding ring for myself, but they were closed.  Perhaps I’ll share the story of why I am looking for something temporary one of these days.

These last 25 years have seen much joy and some heartache, but I wouldn’t trade it.  God has brought us through some difficult times and we are fully committed to allowing Him to see us through the next 25, and beyond!

Thanks for allowing me to share our date night with you!

21 In family/ Homeschooling

I Survived My First Year Of Homeschooling!

 

 

Well, I survived!

I have received many questions about how I do school, while holding down a full-time job, outside the home four days a week.  It hasn’t been easy, for the most part.  But, I am thankful that we stuck with it and didn’t throw in the towel and give up.  Oh, there were so many moments when I wanted to give up!  I thought I would share with you some of the things that helped me to survive my first year of homeschooling while working full time.

Pray!

I cannot stress enough how important it was for me to invite God into my homeschooling.  I prayed about everything, from curriculum choices, to scheduling, to taking days off.  I prayed for wisdom, strength, grace, patience (which got me into just a little bit of trouble), endurance and more coffee. Yes, I prayed for coffee!  I prayed for my girl, that she would bend, but not break.  I prayed for her heart to come alive to this new journey, for her to fully embrace and accept this as God’s will for her (at least for now, which I am not sure she’s fully convinced yet), and for God to bind us together and deepen our relationship.  Some things improved, some we are still working on.  This is a journey, not a race.

Be myself.

I spent countless hours reading homeschool blogs trying to figure out what it is I was supposed to be doing. I would read until my eyes burned, late into the night.  I would see what methods they used, what curricula they were teaching, what field trips they were taking, etc. In the end, I drove myself crazy!  I realized, albeit late in the game (I could have saved myself so much heartache) that homeschooling does not and will not look the same for every mom. Because of my unique situation as a working mom, things will look much different for me than most homeschooling moms. What is important is that I listen to the Holy Spirit and follow His leading in the day-to-day schooling of my child.  Ultimately, I don’t have to answer to anyone else but Him.

Enjoy some time off.

Yes, there are certain laws about how many hours in a school year a child must do school.  I get that.  But in reality, and in order to save my sanity, breaks were necessary.  This is especially vital when you decide to pull your very hormonal 7th grader out of school, for the first time ever, to school her at home.  Hormones, attitudes and stress levels need room to breath. We went for walks, did some shopping, went to lunch, watched movies and ate chocolate, some days before we ever opened a textbook.  My first priority this school year was the heart of my child.  We still have a lot of work to do.  Breaks allow for necessary breathing room and an opportunity to dig deeper to pull out the gold that I know exists in my child.

Letting go and moving on.

I can tend to be a perfectionist and a control freak.  I’ve come a long way, but there are still parts of me that want to control my daughter’s behavior and performance (like that can be done).  This year, I had to learn to let go and move on.  After the Christmas break, I let go of everything except Math, Science and History and moved on.  I was trying to hang onto things that weren’t working, for the sake of accomplishing something that I determined had to be done.  I was stressed, my daughter was overwhelmed, and nothing was working.  Letting go of the things that were causing the stress allowed us to pour our attention into those things that were necessary and most important.  We can always catch up next year.

Remember my role.

This was by far the hardest for me.  All of my daughter’s life, I’ve been mom. And we all know that with a budding pre-teen, “mom” can be over-bearing.  Add to that “teacher”, well let me just tell you that at times the air in the house was so thick you could taste it. Learning to relate to my daughter as mom AND teacher was a eye opener.  God reminded me that I’ve always been teacher, just not in the light that my daughter was accustomed to. Learning to gain her trust and respect in this area has often been a tug-of-war.  We are still working on our roles.

Forgiveness.

If there is one thing homeschooling has opened my eyes to, it is those areas where I feel I’ve failed as a parent.  As we’ve fought the battle of the wills, struggled through attitude adjustments, wanting our own ways, and the speaking of harsh words form time to time, I’ve realized that there is still a lot of parenting that I must do in order to have a well-adjusted, Christ like child.  I have had to forgive myself for my lack of parenting in certain areas.  We still have a lot of work to do, but over the last few weeks, I’ve seem a glimmer of hope.  God is able to come in and shore up those areas where I am weak.  I have no doubt that next year will be better on both the parenting and teaching fronts.

*     *     *

How about you, my friends?  Are you wrapping up a homeschool year?  If so, what has been your biggest challenge? What has been your greatest joy?  I would love for you to share with me in the comments below.

9 In family

Old School Blogging: {All About Marriage}

Tonight I was too tired to write a deep and reflective post.  I came across this last night on my friend Lisa’s blog and thought this would be fun!  It’s been a long time since I shared anything random with you, and this is an easy way for me to write a post for my April challenge.

Here we go!

How did your husband pop the question?

We had only been dating for about three months (yes, you saw that right, three months). It was Christmas Eve and we snuck away to his apartment to open gifts.  When I walked in there were dim lights, candles, Phil Keaggy playing softly in the background, and several long-stemmed rosses tucked into the Christmas tree. (I found out afterwards that he and his roommate had spent all day preparing the proposal setting.)  After he opened all of my gifts (yes, I spoil a man after three months), he handed me a large teddy bear and a card. The card was one of those with a very long, poetic message and at the bottom he wrote, “Will you marry me?”.  Really girls, I had no clue what just happened.  I seriously thought it was a “will you marry me someday” type of question.  I sort of froze, and he had to direct my eye to the paws of the teddy bear, which was holding the ring box.  So I screamed, cried, jumped up and down and the rest is history!

What are the three most surprising things about married life?

  • People change over the years, or perhaps our circumstances have caused us to change.
  • How your spouse is almost always strong and full of faith, when you are feeling weak and lacking faith.
  • How annoyed I get at the smallest and seemingly unimportant things.

How did you find out you were pregnant for the first time?

It was our third anniversary and I was a few days late.  I had bought a test already, because I had a feeling.  I took the test, came out of the bathroom and exclaimed, “Happy anniversary honey, we’re pregnant!”

How did you choose your first baby’s name?

We had already had two girls’ names picked.  My husband liked one and I liked another.  So, we decided that we would wait until we saw her to give her a name.  My husband choose Rebecca.  I had always pictured a Rebecca as one with fair skin and light hair.  Our first daughter was born with an olive pigment to her skin and a full head of dark hair.  Needless to say, we called her “Alyssa”.

Describe where you see yourself in 10 years from now.

We have weathered quite a storm over the last few years, but I can say that I see myself faithfully standing by the man who has sacrificed everything for his family.  I see us about ready to celebrate #35, watching our children, now as grown adults, married and with their own children perhaps, we will enjoy being Nanna and Pop.  I see ourselves continuing to love on God’s people and perhaps we will have time to do some foreign missions work, which we’ve always wanted to do.

Describe how you find bliss, either with words or with pictures.

I find bliss in so many things. Here are just a few:

reading God’s Word,

a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day,

the dimples in my child’s cheek,

oh and how could I forget an amazing cup of coffee!

I am supposed to “tag” five of my friends, however if you are reading and would like to play along, consider yourself tagged!  You can join by clicking the button below.

*This post is part of a challenge to blog every weekday in the month of April.  You can read more about it here.