Category Archives: Advent

Crawling to Christmas…..

Joining Kelly and her posse for a wrapup, because I’m waiting on a tow truck for the kiddo’s truck, so hey…..why not?

Advent is so relaxing.  said no one ever.  I don’t know about you but THE.  STRUGGLE.  IS.  REAL.  It’s so hard to reallllllly stop and slow down and focus when there is LIFE all around us getting in the way, isn’t it?  I’m on a podcast ROLL (greg and jennifer, girlfriends, among women)  and I am so completely affirmed in this universal feeling, but also in the constant pressure to make the perfect memories and traditions.  It can be completely overwhelming and overshadowing.  That said, while our Advent has been far from “PERFECT”, it has been pretty good for us.  Let’s get to it and see a few reasons why:

  1.  Band concerts.  6 years running.  Our last Middle School Christmas concert and I’m not sad.  Truly.  Bad mom?  Whatever.  Let’s be honest, beginning and intermediate middle school band are painful.  I love my kids but it is rough.  Although, it does make you appreciate advanced band.  Which leads me to this video of our 8th grader’s piccolo solo.  The piccolo she picked up TWO DAYS before her solo!!!  All those concerts?  Worth it.

2. And then, sometimes you have a little insomnia during Advent.  3 a.m. brain wake up call.  Pray, toss, turn all the things over in your head and finally cry “Uncle” and get up at 3:45.  Truth be told…..not entirely awful.  Coffee.  Peaceful.  Quiet.  Daily readings by the Christmas tree.  Did my retreat readings in preparation for our Wednesday night meeting.  And ready for spin class at 5:15 a.m. ON TIME.  Peaceful.  Productive.  But would really like that not to be happening on a regular basis.  You feel me?  I mean 3 a.m.?!?!?  #forthebirds

3.  Another concert.  Did I already post this somewhere?  Not sure.  I think insta…But it was lovely.  Our boy performing with the Floriday Symphony Youth Orchestra, opera singer, choir and ballet performing Nutcracker dances.  And outside.  THAT was a really good one.  Truly beautiful and time to just sit in this season.

4.  Some traditions stick.  Advent candle.  Lit several times this Advent, multiple weeks.  Even with the entire family at the table.  HUGE win there.  And peanut butter balls.  Every year.  If nothing else.  Always!!  This year a quadrupled batch, rolled 90% by our oldest daughter and her boyfriend.  (yes, I said boyfriend.  let’s move on, shall we?)  Another win, because while tasty, they are hugely time consuming and tiring….so happy to pass that off.  I did finish the final 10% while they watched Jim Carey’s “Grinch”.    And because they were rolling, I was able to whip out 3 other kinds of cookies, so roughly a gagillion dozen cookies last Saturday.  #happyneighbors  #happyfamily

5.  Last night EVERY SINGLE SOLITARY PERSON IN THE HOUSE WAS GONE. (mostly, the oldest kid was trying to fix his truck which wouldn’t start, so I left him alone–so mostly alone)    AND the Hubby (who very graciously drove our son to Orlando for his rehearsal and home because he’s had multiple rehearsals, performances and FINALS.  perhaps not our best parenting decision to allow this in hindsight.  for future reference, we must keep this in the memory. )  What’s a mama to do?  I’ll tell you.  Wrap ALL the presents.  This is pretty much the first time in parenting history this has not taken place on Christmas Eve, so I don’t really even know what’s going on here.

6.  What else did I do whilst having the house to myself?  Got all the Christmas cards ready to go (while I watched Bridget Jones baby.  Don’t judge.  I laughed and it was good.)  We skipped this tradition last year—breaking our 20+year streak.  And we lived.  And so did everyone else.  weird.  This year, the picture is totally casual, not dressy, a quick snap from everyone at Thanksgiving and I am A-OK with that.  This weekend we will throw a letter together for a few peeps and BOOM.  Done.  Maybe this weekend we will finally put the ornaments on the tree.  Who knows????  right now I just need to make the grocery list and figure out what dessert I am making for a Christmas party tonight.  AFTER the church Christmas play….but I digress

7.  In closing.  When your 13 yo takes a break from a melt down English project to “pet the dog for a few minutes” to recover her brain, this happens.  And  you know………….you probably feel it, too.  So take that rest when needed, life will go on and your brain, heart and sanity will thank you!

sleeper

Sliding into the end.

Monday morning and I am heading into work (after  I drop a boy off at the dentist).  It’s been a fabulous Christmas so far…even with Thanksgiving falling so late (I am not  fan of losing an entire week of Christmas shopping and prep).  In spite of the shortened Advent season, it’s been a great Christmas so far.  I’m sure that it is by the grace of God that I recognized my limitations and cut back on a few things (baking, killing myself saying yes to events that needed a “no” for our family’s sanity).  With that freedom came a weekend trip to Tallahassee to stay with my nephews, attending a surprise birthday party mid-week for a friend, Adoration and reconciliation, regular spin classes with the Hubs and a nice Christmas Eve at my step-dad’s with family.  One of the more relaxed holiday seasons that I can remember.  Definitely turned our focus to the birth of Christ….shoot, we even managed light the Advent candles pretty regularly!!!  I’m calling it a win!

This week we will enjoy another short work week (which I could SO  get used to), ringing in the New Year, planning ahead for 2015 and prepping for a trip for the boys and I to see my mom in Pennsylvania.  I’ll mentally prep for my annual break-up with food and reunion with a healthier lifestyle—fully supported by the Hubs AND financially motivated by work–it might just work this year!  I’ll continue with the great purge of 2015, which I started yesterday in the coat/game closet and shoe area in the garage.  Blog regularly and master this new laptop (I hope).

Enjoy the week and all the goodness the Christmas brings!

 

Looking back, looking ahead and looking around

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January.  Ordinary time.  Fresh off the heels of an awesome (although shorter) Christmas and Advent season.  A season that we decorate our house to the brim in celebration of a sweet baby who came to save us from ourselves.  He came to an unwed couple, on a long and dusty journey in a stinky animal shelter.  Yep, he nailed our lives right on the head.  Imperfect people on a journey surrounded by a world of stinky temptations.  He tops it off with the most magnificent light, guiding us straight to HIM, accompanied by wisdom, preparation and love.  What a way to start the year!

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From Thanksgiving to Epiphany, it’s a month+ long party and celebration!

And so, this morning, as I drink my coffee and enjoy my quiet time, I plan the day and week ahead and pause to look back on last year’s “Resolutions” and to ponder the year ahead.  I’m joining in a link up of 2014 with a lovely group of ladies and see that we ALL want a fresh outlook for 2014, each trying to be a  better person one day at a time.   I’ve joined in at In Honor of Design, however, they are all linked and you can get to a multitude of fantastic sites from there!

Looking back:

  • Losing weight.  Wellllllll, I’ve stayed pretty steady in the actual numbers department, however, I have definitely made a much more focused and consistent effort in actually working out this past year AND healthier dishes, snacks, etc.  I’m certain it comes down to portion size and/or stress eating, so always room for improvement.  I feel good though, so I’ll just keep on keepin’ on!
  • More Joy-filled and focused.  Hmmm.  I’m going to say that I  am honestly so task-oriented that the JOY gets lost in the day-to-day.  The fact that I am working on it is a good one, the fact that I am less that consistent is yet another area to just keep plugging along, one day at a time.
  • Use and learn my real camera more often.  Fail.  Flat out.  Although…..I have recently started pinning photo tutorials and joined a photo website (free) with a bajillion tutorials and areas to join in and have work evaluated in a constructive criticism manner.  This might just be the year…..

It would seem 2013 was a big fat failure in the resolutions department OR it would seem that it is what it is….life…not always perfect and just taking each day as it comes and try to do a little better the next time.  It’s precious time wasted to moan and complain about all the imperfect moments that I wish I woulda/coulda/shoulda done differently.  It’s taken me 43 years to figure THAT out and a daily work in progress.

Looking ahead:

My word for this year will be “Be Present”.  Okay, that’s two words, but it’s my blog and that’s what I am picking.  Rather than changing all these individual things and ideas and re-working the wheel and all, I just want to be present in whatever I am doing.  Chilling the Eff out on multi-tasking when I am with my family and friends.  If I’m making dinner, I’ll make dinner—not make dinner, start laundry, change clothes and pack lunch for the next day.  If I’m talking to my kids or husband, to stay put and talk, not talk and and half-listen while I putter around taking care of a million small details at the same time.  It’s going to be hard.  No joke.  Honestly, I’m going to have to take a couple of days to really think about what I can do to re-train my brain to just SLOW. DOWN.

Looking around:

There it is, though.  Now that I am done blogging this out, I can get dinner going…THEN get ready for work.  Because TONIGHT we have a game to watch, folks.  It’s going to be a great one!

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For more inspiration on 2014, go check out IHOD and the multitudes and get ready 2014….here I am!

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7 Christmas QTs

Linking up at Jen’s Blog today so that she has some reading material while she is under the weather.  Moms really aren’t allowed to get sick, so I am always baffled when we do.  Baffled.

Hoping Christmas was lovely for you and if not perfect, hopefully you found some moments to hold tight to….like I did.  Ours was a great Christmas, however, for the first time in our family, I felt a shift.  The shift of teens in the house and only 1 of 4 still blessedly smitten with Santa, the Elf and the whole shabang.  It was subtle, but it was there.  Compound “the shift” with having done our family dinner with the in-laws on Christmas Eve and grandparents and step-dad having come and gone after breakfast, mom and sis out of town, and zero plans for anything EXCEPT relaxing and enjoying the day……I was in a constant state of post-Advent Zombie-ness (if there is such a thing).  Aimless.  Lost.   Shuffling.  A month of bustling and scurrying to and fro to a sudden halt……what does one DO with that?  I mean, WTH?!?!?  Clearly a 2014 goal needs to be getting comfortable with relaxation and learning to embrace that idea.  Anyhoo, it WAS lovely…Advent was wonderful and we are so very blessed to be together and loved and healthy and happy; there is nothing to complain about, because it’s ALL good.

Traditiona Pioneer Woman cinnamon rolls for breakfast.  So flippin' delish!

Traditional Pioneer Woman cinnamon rolls for breakfast. So flippin’ delish!

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Our tree. Pre-present carnage. Simply the best morning light, I’m not sure what I will do after our tree is down….it’s an essential part of my morning coffee and Daily Readings.

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The Hubs on video, videoing me taking a picture of him.

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This kid. 16 and questioning everything, BUT….he opted for Midnight Mass with his brother and I versus 11 a.m. Christmas Mass with Dad and the girls. MM wore us all out. He and the cat caught a few winks after presents. Smart kid.

zebra

Next year she will be in Middle school. THIS year she put Zebra cakes on her list for Santa and he came through. That will never happen again. 10 is an awesome age, is it not?

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Headbanz. Christmas games and camaraderie. Love these moments.

dinner

When I don’t have anyone coming for dinner, I don’t focus. I misread the brisket times and well…..Christmas dinner was scrambled eggs and toast and PIE! Christmas dinner was served on the 26th and a total winner. Worth the wait. We’ll call it a win, even though it was a day late!

That wraps it up for today.  As usual, I am going to be rushing to get out the door in time for work, so enjoy the day!!  P.S.  for those of you without cable, may I suggest Chromecast?  The Hubs got it figured out yesterday and SO.  COOL.

Blessings!!

When you’re up waaaaaaaay too early

Up Early

Hubby is the early riser.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a morning person for certain, but he’s Mr. Up and at ’em and wants to chat and discuss and GO.  His body clock is pretty regular at o’dark hundred, even when he wants to sleep in.  THIS  morning however, I was up with him.  Let’s call it 4 a.m. because that’s when I finally looked at the clock.  After tossing, turning, chatting, concentrating on breathing, yada, yada, yada…we both got up.  4:30.  A.M.  What the?????

So what DO people do when they are up at ridiculously early hours?  Here’s a little peek-a-boo:

Drink coffee.  Lots.  Gingerbread coffee…in…the…house!!!

Daily Readings.  Advent Devotional (thanks, Ali).  Git my head and heart on straight!

Skim news.  While the rest of the country prepares to be frozen out in the super near future, I’m completely irritated that not only is our A/C ON, but part of the reason we woke up was because it was too hot.  We had to turn on the ceiling fan.  For.  The.  Love.

Check Facebook.  There are a few birthdays happening and catching up on pictures.  #photostalker

Read blogs.  This one from Momastery was particulary good.

Pinterest.  Adding this clean eating fudge  (thanks, Shan!) AND these not AT ALL clean eating Egg nog cookies (thanks, Lisa!) for our work party next week.

Pricing freezers for the garage.  YESSSSSSS!!!!  (Woo hoo, Amanda!)

Next up….

Oatmeal.

More coffee.

Pay bills.

Plan meals for week and grocery list.

Plan our Happy Birthday, Jesus party with my grandparents.  This whole shorter Advent season is the pits.  Someone put Thanksgiving back where it belongs, OK?  Thanks!

Sometimes, it takes LOTS of prayer

Life isn’t always pretty or easy or fun.  Life in a big family can just get plain crazy.  Sometimes it all comes to a head at once.  This is where I find God truly has a sense of humor.  He knows I’m easily agitated by prolonged chaos, noise and things generally going in opposition to MY plan; so He gave us 4 children so that I can work on that.  Repeatedly.

This Sunday, the first day of Advent I trekked it Mass with the kiddos (Hubby was working at went to vigil Mass Saturday) and they just took turns fraying my nerves with bickering, 16yo crisis of faith moments, etc etc.  By the time we sat in the pew all I could do was pull out my devotional and start pounding the prayers.  Any.  And.  Every.  Prayer. I.  Could.  Find.  All before the opening song.  Good times, I tell you.  Then I found this one that I never noticed before and I thought I’d share:

Father, 

Sometimes the family gets me down.

The children are noisy and bills pile up.

Relatives and friends make demands of my time and attention. 

I try to keep first things first and create and atmosphere where Your name is honored.  Your word observed.

But I get tired and a hard edge creeps into my voice.  Help me to cope with the daily strains of living in a family.

Help me to sustain a climate in which my partner can grow in Your love, to encourage my children to develop fully the talent You have given them and to make of my family the community of your love the Your Son came to bring.

Amen. 

I don’t know.  It spoke to me.  It worked for me.  The bickering stopped.  The 16 yo came around.  By the “sign of peace” all was restored and the day went on and we began the process of decorating and cookie making and I just shook my head at God and wondered how He does it, why I am worthy and so grateful He does.

Merry Christmas and all that comes with it!!

Santa and Mrs. Claus making a pre-run/last warning call on behavior...

Santa and Mrs. Claus making a pre-run/last warning call on behavior…

Wishing you a Merry and wonderful Christmas.  Winter white (Mid-ish West and Northeast) or rainy and dodging tornadoes (Southeast) or just lovely and balmy (our neck o’ the woods), may your day be lovely.

My Christmas present to you:

In your downtown and sugar induced coma I have some GREAT links to keep you busy and up your screen time….aaaaaaaafter you have sufficiently spent Quality time with the fam,K?  K.

First, you can check out all the Christmas decorations with Katie @ NFP and me.  I love checking out other people’s homes and decorations, super fun and done in my jammies.

Best PG view....with a "white" top it's just not really "general public" kind of viewing...ya know?

Best PG view….with a “white” top it’s just not really “general public” kind of viewing…ya know?

Second, you can check out all the Christmas fashion you can stand and then some with the lovely and very preggo (and ridiculously tiny) Grace @ Camp Patton, also done in the PJs if you’d like….

My 'fit....super similar to Sunday

My ‘fit….super similar to Sunday, ‘scuse the look…this was 1a.m….Mama’s done.

Except for the super awesome necklace my sis gave me last year....jelly??

Except for the super awesome necklace my sis gave me last year….jelly??

Orrrrrr, you can read MY recap…because it’s my blog, right?  😉

Christmas Eve:  Work until 3.  Quick “last minute stocking socks” and caffeine stop.  6 o’clock Mass with the family.

Making our way...like herding cats.

Making our way…like herding cats.

Then off to the brother’s casa to feed the grumbly in the tumbly….

Papa and the clown-boy

Papa and the clown-boy

Papa and almost as tall as him boy....

Papa and almost as tall as him boy….

Popop and his girls

Popop and his girls

Pensive and handsome in his new jacket...

Pensive and handsome in his new jacket…

 

Dinner @ brother’s with extended family.  Or is it dessert with a side of dinner?

My sugar jumps just looking at them again....is there such a thing as too much chocolate?  A question to ponder...

My sugar jumps just looking at them again….is there such a thing as too much chocolate? A question to ponder…

Back home to get kids set up for their annual “campout in brother’s room” and a movie and Christmas Eve present (new pillows and 3 new Christmas movies….I was told they had enough PJs….the usual gift!) and then back for Midnight Mass with our French horn player.

Midnight Mass roundup

Midnight Mass roundup

Stockings filled, Presents out. Bed @ 2 a.m.

Pretty....for a few short hours

Pretty….for a few short hours

Girl loves this "hamster vest"...

Girl loves this “hamster vest”…

 

Christmas Day:  Up at 6:30 a.m. with LOTS of coffee and present time and cinnamon buns, visit from the grands and walk around the ‘hood.  Now it’s chill time and then on to the In-laws for lunch.  I am officially breaking up with food (again) after today and if the weather keeps up I’m thinking a bonus walk around the ‘hood. Or some more Dance4….because I just whooped my girl at Rock Lobster…Please….years o’ practice…Mama don’t play.   Or a nap.  BCuz I am LOVE, LOVE, LOVING these cozy jams…

Can you feel the cozy awesomeNESS?!?!  Huh, can ya, can ya???

Can you feel the cozy awesomeNESS?!?! Huh, can ya, can ya???

 

Blessings abundant to you all!!  And be careful and don’t break your leg…like my Mom did last night.  Surgery today or tomorrow…keep those prayers comin’ ya’ll!!