Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Remembering 2008

Oh my goodness, where does the time go? It seems like yesterday I was sitting here wondering when my baby would be born, and today I was filling out invitations for his 1-year birthday party!

2008 has been a wonderful year for our family. I spent the first 8 days of the year hugely pregnant, and the 9th day of the year was the day the Lord gave us Quinn! (I think that was the longest day of the year, as I labored for over 12 hours...and still had a c-section.)

January was a sleepless month, as you can imagine. I cherish in my heart the memories of sitting with this precious tiny baby, holding him in my arms, and not ever wanting to put him down.

February and March I spent loving on my little boy while on maternity leave.

April and May were spent finishing up the school year.

June, July, and August were wonderful months, spent watching Quinn learn to sit up, crawl, and eat "real food".

September and October seemed to blur by, as I dealt with a new school year, a very active, crawling baby, and Buddy's job got very busy.

November was spent being Thankful for a wonderful year.

December is now in its last hours, but another month filled with memories of watching Quinn take his first steps...yes, at 11 months!

I can hardly believe that 2009 will be here in just a little bit. I pray that the Lord will continue to bless our family as we strive to follow His plans for us. I pray that you and your family will be blessed in 2009, as well!

Our First Family Christmas

I have always loved Christmas. The special songs at church, the beautiful decorations, and the fun times spent with family at all the different events. This year had all those things, but it did have one new thing....Quinn!! It was so special to see Christmas in his eyes. At 11 and a half months, he may not understand all that is going on, but he is able to have fun. Next year, I'm sure, will be even better.

I thought I would share a few memories from this Christmas.

This is a picture of me with the Moravian Star we got my FIL for Christmas present. Unfortunately it was too large to take with us, so I took this picture to show him his present.

This next picture is of the Christmas tree at my cousin's house. We have a tradition every year of spending Christmas Eve at their house. We have a huge dinner with my grandmother's brothers, sisters, their kids, their grand-kids, and for some, their great-grand kids. This would be 65 people total, although not everyone can come each year. The majority of these people live in my hometown in SC, but some live out of state and can't always be there. Each family brings a dish and we exchange presents for kids under age 12. As a cousin, it's always a sad time when you "age out" and can no longer get presents, but it's fun watching the babies open theirs.

This next picture is what Quinn saw on Christmas morning when he woke up. The pile by the couch is what Mom and Dad and Santa brought.

Here is Quinn on Christmas morning, enjoying some milk. Check out those special Christmas Jammies!

Here is Quinn playing with some of his new toys. The activity table is from Santa, and the rest from Mommy and Daddy!

Here is my father in law cooking up a Christmas breakfast of French toast, Sausage, and other yummies.

And here is Quinn eating it! We had a great Christmas and hope you all did too!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hodge Family December Newsletter

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. I will be posting pictures of Quinn's first Christmas soon.

I posted a while back about my friends, the Hodge family, who are becoming missionaries. I will be posting regularly on this family as I get their monthly newsletters. This is exciting for me, as I have known missionaries before, I've never known people in the beginning phase of missions work.

I just received their newsletter for December 2008. They have had their commissioning service and have finished up their time at my home church. They will be leaving in January for 8 weeks of orientation in Virginia. They have been packing and crating personal items that they want to take with them to Argentina. Due to many people's generosity, they have been able to purchase a brand new washer/dryer set to take with them to Argentina as well! That is a blessing.

They do have a few items for prayer.
1. Pray that they receive all their needed paperwork before leaving for orientation.
2. Pray for a smooth transition to the orientation training.
3. Pray for their kids to have a healthy adjustment to this new life.
4. Pray for the other missionary families going through the same trainings as them.
5. Pray for people to continue to give to the Lottie Moon Offering for Foreign Missions. All the money from this special offering provided by the Southern Baptist Convention goes directly to foreign missionaries.

I know Michael and Amanda are thankful for your prayers.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas!

This will be my last post for a few days while I celebrate the Christmas season with my family! We are so looking forward to Quinn's first Christmas, as we teach him the real reason we celebrate this day. While it will be fun watching him play with wrapping paper and boxes (while the toys sit off to the know how babies are), I hope he grows to know that this is really the time we celebrate the birth of our Savior.

I use this blog to tell the story of our family.

I want to leave you with the story of our Savior.

Luke 2: 1-14

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. This census first took place when Cirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be taxed, everyone into his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be taxed with Mary, his espoused wife, who was great with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night. And behold an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were greatly afraid.

Then the angel said to them "Do not be afraid, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is CHRIST THE LORD!! And this shall be a sign unto you: You will find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the Heavenly host, praising GOD and saying "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill toward men."

I pray that you also know the true reason for this season is our Lord, Jesus.
May you and your family have a Merry Christmas!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Christmas Gift

Today Buddy, Quinn and I did all our Christmas shopping.

Yes, you heard me correctly. We did ALL the shopping. TODAY.

(Yes, I know we waited to the last minute. But we scored some major deals!!)

Shopping today reminded me of last year when we did all the shopping on a Saturday afternoon. It was cold, and I was 9 months pregnant. (So technically, Quinn was with us that day too.) Usually I do all the shopping myself, but last year, Buddy insisted on going with me. He was convinced I would go into labor in the middle of the Christmas crowds.

I remember we went to several stores and then several stores at the mall. Then before heading to some other places, we decided to stop for lunch. We went to a particular restaurant because I had a craving for their potato soup. We were sitting at a booth fairly close to the front door, so we got to see anyone who came in or left the restaurant.

We talked and laughed as we realized this would be our last Christmas as just "the two of us". You see, we have shared Christmases since 1997, the year we started dating, and this would be the last one before the baby came. We had a wonderful lunch and it was nice to rest, since I was hugely pregnant and knew we had more stores to shop at. We finished our lunch and told the waitress we were ready for the check.

She came back a few minutes later and told us we were free to leave whenever we were ready. "But we need to pay our check first", we told her. She smiled brightly and said, "Oh, don't worry about that. Your bill has been paid. Another customer, who wishes to be anonymous, paid for your bill!"

We left the restaurant that day with the biggest smiles on our faces! I thought things like this only happened in movies. It's never happened to me before. It ranks up there as one of my most memorable gifts.

We never found out who did this for us, and I'm sure we never will. All I know is that these people were still in the restaurant when we found out. Did they have any idea how much this gesture would mean to us? Did they know that exactly one year later we would still look back on that day with such good feelings? What was it about us that made whoever it was decide that they should buy our lunch? I can only hope that the look of surprise on our faces filled them with as much joy as their thoughtfulness filled us.

Here's a look at our family picture for this year, and you can also get a peek at two of the best gifts God has blessed me wonderful husband, and my beautiful son.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The HoneyBaked Ham Surprise

Today was a C-R-A-Z-Y day. When you're a teacher, the longest week of the fall semester is the week before Christmas break. The kids are all excited and full of energy. Thanks to the off and on rain we've had for a couple of weeks combined with no sunshine, our school's playground is a soggy mess. So we haven't been able to go out for recess like we usually do. On top of which, today was our class party. (The Monkey Munch was a hit, by the way...)

I was pooped when I got home and not really in the mood to cook. I pulled in the driveway and checked the mail as usual. When I looked up from the mailbox, I noticed a big package sitting by the front door. What could this be?

I brought Quinn and all our stuff inside, let the dog out and went to get the mystery package. All of our relatives live out of town, and we are going to see the majority of them next week. I couldn't imagine who would be sending us something.

So you can imagine my surprise when I saw the words HONEY BAKED HAM on the side of the box!!!! Apparently, one of the sub-contractors that Buddy worked with on his latest project at work sent him the ham as a "thank you / Merry Christmas" gift. A 7 pound ham, to be exact!

Is there any doubt in your mind what we ate for supper tonight?

And yes, Pam, I am saving the ham bone for soup later this winter. (Aren't you proud??)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Making Monkey Munch

Ok, Ok, so I haven't posted in over a week. Sorry but I've been busy. For a quick re-cap, after Buddy's work party, I spent last week in several meetings at school, planning and organizing the fire station Christmas party ( a catered meal for 100+ people) and trying to get through this week of school. The kids have gone Christmas Crazy, but of course I remember those days too.

So tonight I made Monkey Munch for my class. We are having our "winter holiday party" tomorrow. (Don't get me started...that's for another post).

I already hear you asking, "What in the world is Monkey Munch?"

I first heard about Monkey Munch on an episode of Jon and Kate plus Eight. This show is about a young married Christian couple who have been blessed with twin girls and sextuplets (3 girls and 3 boys). Yes that's 8 kids! Monkey Munch is a treat that Kate, the mom, often mentions on the show as something her kids like to eat. There's even an episode showing her and the 3 little girls making Monkey Munch. (New episodes are on Monday nights at 9pm on TLC, but you can see re-runs on there all the time.) **No, I do not earn commission for plugging this show** :-)

Basically you take a box of your favorite Chex cereal and pour it in a large bowl.
In another smaller bowl, take 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1/2 cup of peanut butter (creamy for me), and 1/4 cup of margarine. Melt this in the microwave for about 1 minute and stir. Zap it 30 more seconds and stir until smooth. Then pour this over the cereal and stir until all the pieces are coated.

(I had to do this part in two batches.) Pour half the cereal into a gallon size ziploc bag. Take a cup of powdered sugar and pour it over the cereal. Close the bag and shake until all the pieces are coated. Pour out onto wax paper and let it dry. Repeat this with the rest of the cereal. You will need another cup of powdered sugar.

Then put it in an air-tight container and keep in the refrigerator. If it lasts that long. Trust me, this will go fast.

I hope my students enjoy it tomorrow. I had a lot of fun making it.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

All dressed up with somewhere to go

Last night was the Christmas party for Buddy's office. His company has offices in several of the major cities here, and they host one large party for everyone. It is always held at a local country club and it is our one night of the year to get fancy. (Unless of course someone gets married or something.). Last year's party I was 9 months pregnant and did not have as much fun.

There is always a time to mingle as everyone arrives. Then they serve dinner in the large ball room. This year's meal was a salad of spinach leaves and a dark almost purplish leaf (not sure what it is called) with mandarin oranges, pecans, crumbled feta cheese, and a vinaigrette style dressing. The main course was braised short ribs, au gratin potatoes and a vegetable medley. The dessert was sliced strawberries in a white creamy dressing, sitting in a paper-thin caramel flavored shell. (Sorry--but I don't know the official "food network" words for describing food.)

After dinner there is a band that plays instrumental jazz while we eat dessert, and then dance music for later. They always do a set of "beach music": The Drifters, Chairman of the Board, etc. They also do your typical party-dance-songs, as well as a few slower numbers.

We always have a fun time at this event. A big THANK YOU to my parents who came up to play with Quinn so Mommy and Daddy could go out.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Hodge Family

I've recently found out that a family at the church I grew up in are in the process of becoming missionaries in Argentina!

Michael and Amanda Hodge are a young couple who joined my church (First Baptist of Gowensville) while I was in college. They came originally to be the youth pastor. I had already "aged" out of the youth group when they came, but I was amazed at how many great things the youth began doing. The two of them really made an impact on the young people at this church.

Several years ago Michael became the Associate Educational Pastor and started getting more involved in missions work. He and Amanda have gone through several stages of interviews and meetings and have been appointed as missionaries. Tomorrow (Sunday, December 7th) they are being commissioned during a special service. Then they will head to Virginia for a few months of orientation, and then they will go to Costa Rica for about a year to become fluent in the Spanish language. After that they will head to Argentina!

Please pray for Michael and Amanda, as well as their two children, Alexis and Jarrett, as they begin to follow God's plan for their life.

Please also pray for the pastoral staff at First Baptist Church of Gowensville as they search for the right person to take Michael's place on the church staff.

To follow the Hodge family on their journey, or if you want to read the background of how they decided to become missionaries, or if you want to see what all they've had to do to get to this point, click here.

Picture credit...The Hodge Family blog

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree....These ornaments mean so much to me!

When I was growing up, my parents and I always decorated our Christmas tree on the 2nd Saturday in December, after going to a pick-it-yourself-and-cut-it-down tree lot. We found it hard to believe that people would decorate any earlier for Christmas.

Fast-forward to 1997...the year I met my husband. His family always decorated the Saturday after Thanksgiving. He couldn't believe that people would wait and decorate so late.

Fast-forward to 2008...I now decorate my tree the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I still find it hard to believe that some people were decorated for Christmas BEFORE Thanksgiving. If you are one of those people, I still like you, but I can't decorate that early.

Anyways, I said all that to say tree is up and decorated. It is a 7 and a half foot, pre-lit tree, with 3 strands of extra white lights. Love me some all white lights. I wanted to share with all of you my tree and some ornaments that mean a lot to me. Quinn is too little to make me any hand-made ornaments this year, but I'm sure next year I'll be posting about that. :-) Right Beth?

Ok. Here is my tree. The tree skirt was made by my husband's great-grandmother.

The first ornament I want to share is this one. We had it made while on our honeymoon in 2003. We went to the Poconos and there was a shop there that was all Christmas stuff. I love snowmen, so this was just perfect.

Ok, this next one is for fun. My in-laws have this ornament too, and got one for us after we got married. It is the Christmas Pickle. It is a German tradition. You hide the Christmas Pickle on the tree. The first child to find the pickle gets a small prize.

This next picture shows 3 ornaments at once. The one with the mouse was given to me by my parents the Christmas after I declared my major in college to be Elementary Education. The ornament on the left, the clear one, is actually an icicle. We got these at the Poconos Christmas shop too. There are about 20 of them scattered all over the tree. They catch the light and look so pretty. The gold one on the right is part of a set of 4 that we got for our first Christmas when we didn't have any ornaments of our own.

The next one I bought a few years ago. I love the Celtic look of this cross. Buddy and I both have Irish background in our families and we thought this one represented not only our earthly heritage, but also our Heavenly Reward...the true meaning of CHRISTmas.

The final ornament I want to share is this one. It is a firefighter snowman, only the snowman is made out of ice blocks, and not snowballs. Can you see the fire hose he is holding? The bottom of it is a bell. We got this one after we joined the fire department to represent a new time in our life. He is one of several fire related ornaments.

So this is our tree for 2008. Hope you enjoyed the pictures. I wish I could show all the ornaments, but that would take all day. Each one is special in its own way. I can't wait to start collecting ornaments for Quinn so when he is my age, he can look back and remember all the fun times.

Do you have favorite ornaments? I would love to hear about them, or read a post on your blog. Merry Christmas!