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Thursday, November 29, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

In Alaska, the Christmas season always starts earlier here...
Maybe it's all this snow and the fact our area has been frosted over for two weeks.
..I don't know, what do you think? (wink)

Whatever the reason, we are decked out, feeling merry and bright
.. Even with the lack of actual sunshine that enters the house daily.

Doesn't stop us: we have a happy lamp!
Oh, and it helps if you get outside as often as you can stand.
Like for instance, sledding!!!

There is nothing like sledding in REAL snow!

And thanks to a sweet friend, we now have a treadmill in the garage! This sweet couple saved my sanity! Thank you!
Couple the treadmill with a bike stand for a stationary bike experience and a TRX band and, voila: we have our own little garage gym!
Which is another reason I believe my dog is starting to hate me....
...besides the reindeer antler picture ;)
Here's a picture of my "rave run" set up:
Yes, I think this qualifies for one of the 'happiest' exercising routine you coud ask for.
I am going to try to submit this to Runners World for the rave run feature of the month!
Elyse has her own sweet setup: a castle, an ABC mat, her stationary stroller ;), her swing and a ball to kick around.

This is survival people.
But I am ever grateful for where we are regardless... even if there are some painful days in our deal.
..which brings me to thanksgiving!
We gave thanks this year at a friend's house (she is a great example of a true air force wife as she held our thanksgiving meal at her house despite her husband's unexpected traveling assignment). Everyone who came shared AMAZING food, we all over stuffed our stomach's capacity on a bunch of amazing dishes and turkey turkey, good conversation, football games, a good round of catch phrase and delicious desserts, and enjoyed resting in each other's presence all while the kids ran around like crazies, enjoying the same wonderful blessings us adults thanked God for as we reflected on our year.
Man... How blessed we are.
We have been helping Elyse give thanks too as we made her a thanksgiving tree.
We put our top things to be thankful for on some felt leaves and  Elyse throughout the day will stick them on the tree. When I am near her while she is doing this, I will usually read off what we wrote on there and try to remind her why we are thankful for these things.
But I have to remember we will have to wait a while before all of this comes into understanding for her. I am just so anxious to give her the whole world, I sometimes get ahead of myself!

Here newest thing is the obsession with the hat.
She loves this hat...
so much that she wears it around the house!
Crazy girl!
(and when we are around town, she gets a lot of hand outs of stickers and goodies from cashiers and passerbyers because she is "just the cutest thing I've ever seen... look at that hat!". This kid aint dumb either....)

And it's not Christmas until the Christmas moose comes to town!

 That's right! Our cardboard moose Fred came out because of all the Christmas festivities!
And then he got overwhelmed by the Christmas Elf
(hemm... me)
and fell.
Oh well. His company was enjoyed while it lasted!
Ok, so back to being thankful for a moment....
Andrew and I recalled all of the many blessings we have experienced throughout our year and put them in a little journal, using the two days after thanksgiving to praise God and ask how to use these for his glory.... And as a result of our reflecting, we decided to move forward with our long awaited decision to use some of our financial blessing to buy a needed tool for movie nights for the many shadowy days ahead:
 a television!

I know this sounds crazy, but Andrew and I have never bought a tv in our marriage. We had one given to us from a friend (ok, given but, we paid him... really, we never went shopping for it so it doesn't really count... we kind of just helped get it off his hands.) Well, the monster was so huge, a nightmare to move and a horror to think if it ever fell, it probably would kill someone, that I was more than ready to commit to something else.
So black friday rolled around aaaannnnnd:


 A TV!
Wow. Look at how good it looks in that media center ;)

 Elyse and baby really enjoy it too!
Go Vols!

Cutest cheerleader ever.


Another cool tradition I have considered doing before but have never been prepared enough for is starting the 12 days of Christmas giving.
Its so much fun to open gifts on the day of christmas, but the more i think about it, the more i really believe our family misses the point of Christmas day when there are so many gadgets and things to distract ourselves with...( as if we weren't distracted enough already!).
Thus, we are going to try to do something new: gift giving throughout the Christmas season so we can enjoy more of one another on Christmas day. Christmas is all about Christ and giving. And Christ is also ALL about relationship, which also fits into giving. We really wouldn't give from the same heart as we give with today if we didn't first accept the Greatest gift of all: his life and his work done for us. Then, with that grace, we can give from the same heart and joy he has towards us everyday.
That's how we are to celebrate this giving during Christmas season. But we will easily miss the mark if we just focus on the gifts themselves-- something our family personally are the most prone to doing. With that said, we are going to give the 12 days of Christmas giving a shot!
Here is a picture of days 1-5... days 6-12 are still downstairs awaiting room on the small mantle ;)
For each day, I put a cordinating snowflake on our Christmas tree in the den.
It helps me keep track of what day it is... plus, we haven't decorated it yet so it looks better this way!

Then you go find the gift with the matching number for that day....


You get the idea ;)
There are no rules on how to do it (since this is the first year trying it), but I am shooting for things my family enjoys doing or gifts that tell them I love them and I was thinking of them.
Here are some things we have tried for each day thus far:

1-- partridge in a pear tree: we celebrated with the largest gift of the season (the tv), ate roasted oven baked pears as we celebrated a successful day of installing and setting up the tv, and put up our new star on our new tree (so much new! Thank you Lord!)

2-- turtle doves= date night. We go to the nutcracker every year (another seasonal tradition we hold very dear to our MUST DOs in the Christmas season), and this year we celebrated each other with a dessert date after the show and a "In 25 years..." love box. I read about this gift somewhere, but the main idea is to encourage intimacy with your spouse. For every time you make love, you put a dollar in the box... Then, in 25 years, use the money to fund a trip for the two of you or spend it on your 25th anniversary! It will be neat to see how much our box will have collected by that point ;)

3-- French hens: I wrapped three candles in brown paper and wrote a message in French to him, telling him something along the lines that I owe him a massage in candle light. For elyse, she was given three new books: a favorite from my childhood (the Sweet smells of Christmas), a favorite from Andrews childhood (The Polar Express), and a new one for our collection (The Reason for Christmas). She has requested to read them every night!

4-- calling birds: for this one, we were going to Skype some family members, but the day got pretty crazy (we did get to Skype with them earlier in the week so it wasn't total loss.. And we got to Skype with daddy as traveled! So we did some calling anyways ;) ) Elyse also got to open one of her gifts, which has to do with calling and Andrew got to open Day 5's gift so he could figure out what day 4's gift was-- phew! Confusing huh? He got another fun massage package (this kid loves massages If he had his way, he would get one every night!!! It is filled with more candles, lotion, soothing music and

5-- Golden rings: Elyse received a movie about golden retrievers (dog dogs!!!) and Andrew got a traveling journal, in which we will write encouragement notes and maybe a quick 'I love you' in and hide in a spot where it can be found easily for the other to read in time (like in a suitcase, in a briefcase, backpack, flight suit, etc). It will be fun to see where it shows up... And I actually like this idea better than a creepy elf that sneaks away from the shelf and is confronted by an unexpected and unfortunate soul...ugh! Ekk! So creepy!

6-- Geese a laying: I was a bit confused on what to do for this day, so we made EGGnog ice cream (which was absolutely delicious!!!!!! I need to post the recipe, as it is super easy and so so good!). It was all I could come up with! Haha-- I'd love to hear any idea if anyone has one.

7-- Swans a swimming: tickets to the H2Oasis waterpark in Anchoraage! Elyse and I went there today and she fooled me into thinking she really WAS a swan! All she wanted to do the whole time was dive under the water! She is such a daredevil! It was a joint gift as Andrew has been wanting to go there with her for a long time, so I got them a 10 visit pass ;)

8-- maids a milking: my favorite day... Milk has so many wonderful uses: cookies, lattes, ice cream, yogurt, lattes, cakes, eggnog, cereal, lattes... Did I mention lattes?? Yes. Yes I believe I did... Which is why I bought a gift certificate for Andrew and I to enjoy when together and while he is on the road. It accompanies an ornament too ;) I can't wait to treat elyse to one as she is such a coffee hound!
Oh a girl after my own heart... ;)

9-- ladies dancing: for elyse, I bought ballet slippers and an outfit for her to wear. She will get to wear it after our Christmas tea at the church (unless I can't find anything else for her to wear... Haha! Justttt kidding). You can be creative with this one for your husband... I'm sure he will like whatever you come up with ;)

10-- lords a leaping: a 10 movie Veggie Tale Christmas set that she can watch throughout the season. I'm still working on day 10 for Andrew as we will probably be apart for traveling reasons AGAIN for this one.... hmmm....

11-- pipers piping: I bundled some christmas classics in this one for elyse to enjoy (a movie set and some other sentimental items to add up to 11). And I just got some new cookie cutters so we might have to have a cookie making and decorating day for this.

12-- drummers drumming: 12 glow sticks to play in the bath with and some lollipops to accompany the all day fun!
That's all I have for now. I think this tradition is here to stay. I have really had a lot of fun these last 12 days.... and I look forward to being able to rest a little bit from gift packaging on Christmas day ;)
On to some more elfish fun: cookies!
Yes. Elyse and I are getting a head start on the season and making cookies for all of our friends and neighbors!
Look at this girl go!

A perfect use for the farmhouse bench:

Cookie monster!

And Elyse knows that a good chef ALWAYS tests her treats before handing them out!
She learns from the best ;)
Before I go....
Gingerbread houses!
Made with Rice Krispie treats = a practical gingerbread house making experience for toddlers.

So easy, yet so fun.

Well, that's all I have for now. Going to shoot to turn in early tonight (early as in midnight-- haha!).
Until next posting....
...and until another run:
Be blessed.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

End of October.... Releasing a Monster. For Good.

"Halloween has come and gone"-- Charlie Brown
And considering its now November 8th, we have a LOT to catch up on!
This Halloween was probably the busiest Halloween ever!
I guess that happens once you have kids huh?
...and it doesnt slow down from here....

We jumped from a squadron halloween party to a base wide halloween event (indoor trick or treating) to our own little halloween celebration at home!

And yet, Elyse was still moving around like a crazy girl!
Here was a picture of a birthday dinner celebrating with a friend-- We ordered a sushi boat... and our sushi came in a BOAT!
They weren't kidding when they sushi boat!
 I had no idea....
Man, I missing out!

It's crazy to realize our little mover has gotten so big... unbelievable...

I think she is surprises hersef as she does new things and does them properly, always getting smothered with praises... or gets herself into trouble.
And that is where the monster comes in.
Yes. There is a monster in this posting.
(I know it's November, but humor me here!)
And don't worry:
The king has conquered even this beast.
As Andrew and I have been doing a parenting study with our bible study lately, God has been kind to reveal my own heart to me.
And wow. Its gross.
It isn't just the little pesky sins that people sweep under the rug or try not to let bring them down.
It is anger. Yes, anger.... deep in my heart.
Deep anger runs out of the heart and into hands that want to solve problems with pure force.
Towards my family, towards my pet.
Towards loved ones.
Harmful and hateful force.
A force that, after realizing and restraining, has brought me to my knees in shame and guilt at the mere thought of using force.
Sometimes, the force came in jerks or forceful grabs when rules were being broken or a life was in danger of peril or harm.
Sometimes it came in yells or very unloving ignoring when my little needed attention.
Yet, even as the enemy planned this awful temper and anger to condemn me, God was planning good to come from it.
Good to come from this horrible probem.
"..if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and wil forgive their sins and heal their land."--2 Chron 7:14

What an amazing God we serve.
He not only wants to forgive us.
He wants to heal us.
He wants to change us.
He wants to make our hearts anew...
Make them beautiful.
Speaking of beauty, check out these beautiful snowflakes he lead us to on our walk:

There is such detail to these little lovelies, it amazes me!

She's obviously a natural ;)

On to some Halloween show-n-tell:
Pumpkin carving!
Andrew's is on the left, and mine is on the right.
I like his better
(to make it better, there was a squirrel on the other side-- Rocky and Bullwinkle style !--Thought I got a picture of it, but guess I forgot to)

Our Halloween tradition: treat bags, powdered donuts (baby had the unpowdered version), and apple cider... yum!

And check out this candy we heard featured on Fox News and Parenting magazine:
Unreal: Candy Unjunked.
We got it at Target.
It tastes just like the real deal... except its better for you than the real deal!
Oh, and while Andrew was gone on his trip to California we went to Walmart and bought a sled!
Elyse LOVES her sled!

 ...And Eli just loves everything about winter.

Just up until recently, I have started running in the snow again.
Here is how you do it:
Step 1: You need Yak Traks (I think that's how you spell it). No slipping!
Especially if you are pushing a baby :/

Step 2: Make you child into the Christmas Story child... you know, has so many layers that he/she can hardly move? Yup. That's what I mean.
Step 3: Do your thing: RUN! Try to enjoy it, but just do it fast enough where your dog and your baby don't turn into a block of ice! YIKES!
Anyways, Elyse was rewarded for her patience with my insanity with her own little kitchen set ;)

Ok, so I really made it for her toys to find another home besides my kitchen floor!
And so far, it is working....!
We will see for how long...
It was made completely out of foam, felt and cardboard, and some left over paint from other projects. Best part: it took one day.

Yes, that doesn't give me any hope to keeping it longer than a year, but at least we will have some fun with it while we can.

Too much fun!

 Oh, and here is more cardboard fun: castle complete!
The litte red and white flags were made by a girl in Andrew's squadron.
But isn't this awesome??
We just keep it in the garage now for winter play.

 Elyse approves!

Remember how I told you Andrew went to Cali for a few days??
Well, here is the contrast from his world and mine....

And at the same moment I received the picture, guess who decided to dump a whole thing of sugar over her head?
Little miss mess hersef.
...Oh, how California sounded so good.
But I also had to turn off the phone before I really let bitterness take root! Haha!  
 After the sugar incident, I decided "The heck to it. Let's make a mess!"
So we did. We played with flour and the popcorn mix I made for our trip to Cali...
Did I mention we had been trying all week/weekend long for a flight to meet my friend in Cali and Andrew?
One of the reasons we have not had a typical weekly posting was because I was continually preparing for this trip.
Well, to say the least, it didn't work out.
My friend got sick and Andrew was super super busy.

So we stayed here.
No big.
Elyse and I ended up getting sick anyways! Haha!
But our sweetheart never fails to think about us, even many miles away!
He brought this back from Downtown Disney.
And I couldn't WAIT to put it on her!

The morning Andrew came back, this is what I woke up to.
Elyse was champing it up with her spoon!


Ok, back to the Minnie outfit ;)
(hehe! Can you tell I am a total mouse geek??)
As soon as I could wash that little outfit of hers, I did.
We both put on our Mickey mouse apparel and had a Mouse party!

 Cutest little mouse I have ever seen!

She gave me some model shots too...

This past weekend, my friend threw a Pinterest craft party! It was a blast.
I decided to work on something I had been eyeing for a while (and Andrew had been requesting):
A growth chart.
(the unfinished one on the left is mine, the one on the right is a friend of mine's! Love hers!)

 I hope it turns out the way I had hoped. It just needs a sanding and stain now.
Anyways, back to other happenings...
 One of the OTHER reasons I have been delayed in posting these last two weeks:
Food poisoning.
Yes, bad enough for the hospital food poisoning.

The only ones that didn't get sick was Elyse and Eli.
Praise God!
It all started on Election night and lasted until today.
I'll spare you the gory details, but let's just say it was not anything I wish for people to go through.
Andrew also went to the hospital too, but he ended up being more functional than I.
I'm so thankful too because SOMEONE had to take care of Elyse!
I have never been so nervous about who was going to help us if something happened to both of us!
But God is kind.
So kind to give us a small group who is always reaching out to care for us;
family that prays for us and calls to makes sure we are doing ok;
friends and neighbors that will leave the comfort of their homes to get groceries for us, offer to care for Elyse;
we are so blessed.
And through knocking me out, God also gave me time to think about the life that he calls us to.
One that looks so much different from the world, one that raises a new life for us to follow.
One that tells monsters their time is over,
telling them to leave for good so the Spirit can sweep it out and fill it with good!
What answered prayer for me!
 A desperate prayer was answered in an unpleasant way, but it was the only way I wasn't going anywhere, and God could have me still, hear him out, and healing could come upon this land.... my land.
Even through this bad, God brought much good.
And I am thankful.
Goodbye monsters in October. In my past.
Hello days of thanks, headed my way....