Giveaway winner!

We have a winner for our Christmas in July giveaway!!

Congratulations to Liz!! (you’ll hear from me soon) = )

Even if you didn’t win I encourage you to get Prepare Him Room for yourself. I’m finally starting to memorize many of the songs and they are such a blessing to my thinking as I go throughout the day.

If you missed the challenge, we made lists of all the people we needed to buy Christmas presents for, trying to be ready long before the holidays hit.

Now that we have out lists let’s start brainstorming about what those people might like! Keep an eye out when you’re out and about and try to buy at least a couple of things in the next month.

We’ll check back on our progress in August!

Thanks so much to all who entered the giveaway and shared how you prepare ahead of time for the holidays. For those of you like me – this is our year!!

Talk to you soon,

Christie

Christmas in July – is your list ready?

Hi everyone! If you didn’t catch the last Christmas in July post, we’re working on having presents bought and ready before the crazy holiday season hits.

Apparently a lot of you are way ahead of me in this – high five! Just kidding I’m jealous. = )

The challenge was first to have a list made of everyone you plan to shop for. Next we’ll work on keeping our eyes open while we’re out, and picking up things little by little. But we’ll talk about that when we announce the winner of the giveaway.

Giveaway? Yes, I’m giving away my new favorite Christmas music Prepare Him Room. Those of you who have already commented that you have your list are entered for sure. I will announce the winner this Wednesday, so anyone else who has their list ready and let’s me know will be entered as well – yay!!

Thanks for all the fun comments and ideas you all have shared – I’m really inspired!

Talk to you soon!

Christie

Christmas in July – a challenge and giveaway!

You know it; I know it; We all know it; we should start Christmas shopping earlier than we do.

Every year by that fifth trip out my husband and I are saying to each other, “You know, if we just bought a few presents here and there throughout the year….”

But we never do.

Somewhere I read the phrase, “Wrapped and done by December 1.”

Sounds rather dreamy.

I will admit that I do love the hustle and bustle of being out during the season; but! there are always last minute gifts or parties that seem to come up which would satiate said desire for hustle and bustle. Or you could always try to make Christmas cookies with five children.

Wait; stop...don't make fun of our tree.
Wait; stop…don’t make fun of our tree.

So here’s my idea: let’s first make a list of everyone we usually buy for, brainstorm and keep an eye out for that perfect present for them, and buy them little by little -one or two things a paycheck- from now ’til December. And actually do it.

What do you think?

I even have an incentive for us!

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Prepare Him Room from Sovereign Grace Music was our absolute favorite Christmas CD last year. (And as is my usual custom to enjoy some lovely Christmas music to combat the heat ofJuly, we have pulled it out and are enjoying it again!)

As a musician, how hard is it to find fresh, fluff-free Christmas music?

**Pretty hard!**

These songs are gospel-centered, theologically driven, and stylistically diverse. You’ll love them.

And…cue infomercial music… whoever has their list of people they need to buy Christmas presents for by this Friday is entered to win either a CD or a download of Prepare Him Room!

All you have to do is make a list.

Come back on Friday, comment here or on facebook that you made your list (spare us the details), and you have a chance to win my new favorite Christmas music.

Happy list-making! And Merry Christmas (in July). = )

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The summer bucket list continues

Summer is glorious. For me it’s not about long days, fancy vacations, or a long-list of must-do activities with your kids. It’s just about watching them when they don’t know you are, looking in their eyes more attentively as they explain their ideas to you, saying yes when they ask to build a fort, and having a few minutes to post about it while they’re on the front porch eating pretzels and drinking water.

Not sure why I call this a bucket list? I’m recording the small, unexpected happy moments of summer – as they happen. You can read more here.

4. Completely unplanned, we took a bicycle-pulled “carriage” from our parking lot to a baseball game. The girls faces were priceless!

5. Painting. There’s been a lot of this going on. The messy table that doesn’t have to be cleaned up at night, the intent faces while working, and the excitement to show Daddy their “masterpieces” all make this mama’s heart happy.

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6. Holding Mckayla on my lap, rocking her and talking with her for no reason at all. One word for ya, margin.

7. This morning Sophia and I stayed long after breakfast to do the puzzles and games on the back of the cereal box.

8. Searching for Fourth of July breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas on Pinterest. (also with Sophia) We actually picked a few easy ones and bought the stuff, too. And made an extra trip to Walmart for skewers, cupcake liners and special plates and napkins. These things don’t happen during the school year.

9. Watch the little girls hold up five fingers as they oh-so-excitedly tell us that our tomato plant now has four tomatoes. = )

10. Get soaking wet from a sudden rain in the middle of an afternoon Bible club. Hear the child who was scared of the rain say, instead of complaining – “I’m thankful our car has a top on it!” once we were all in the car.

11. Sit on the front porch with Paul listening to the crickets after the girls had gone to bed.

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How’s your summer going? Believe it or not, this is a kind of crazy, hectic summer for us. Writing these things down helps me to find the joy and the space in the little moments instead of being overwhelmed by all that is going on. Let me know if you try it!

The lovely transition from baby food to solids

My sweet little Zoe finally has a few teeth! Okay, one official one and one so close I’m sure it’s already useful. = )

For several months she has been eating cheerios, crackers, and scrambled eggs, as well as gnawing on big chunks of apples or vegetables. Her main source of food though was baby food (which I decided to go back to good, old store bought baby food with her and we both loved that just fine).

Now we’re working on that lovely transition where solids will become her main source of nutrition.

Cheerios in milk, blueberries, banana chunks... and coffee and water to keep mama going.
Cheerios in milk, blueberries, banana chunks… and coffee and water to keep mama going.

Baby food, solids, teaching kids to feed themselves and use utensils – these are all my very least favorite stages of parenting.

So in the spirit of trying to be thoughtful and proactive regarding this transition I’m going to write down carefully everything I feed her for a week. Or try.

It’s posted on the refrigerator to help me remember. = )

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Why am I doing this?

I find it tricky to know if you’ve fed them enough. A baby food container is easy to measure. You had your fruit, your vegetable, you’re done. Usually in less than ten minutes.

But when it’s some cheerios, some blueberries, some cooked carrots, etc., I sort of lose track. And there’s the fact that it takes approximately four times as long. Or at least it did when I measured it out for breakfast and lunch today. One reason for the length of time is that I’m still actually feeding it to her. I’ve found there to be a huge benefit to your baby opening their mouth when you present something on a spoon or a fork, so I’m sticking to that method as another way to make sure she gets enough. When I put things on her tray she picks them up to eat, but doesn’t always stay interested long enough for a proper portion.

Hopefully all this will make sure she stays nice and chubby through this ten-eighteen month period that has always proved a little difficult for me.

So far, so good. Not even too bad on the neatness end.

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But spaghetti’s for dinner. = )

Summer bucket list

Today is our first official summer weekday – school is over!

I’ve decided to keep track of all the special things we get to do – things that seem elusive in the pace of homeschooling life.

So this is really a bucket list in reverse. Cherishing those sweet, small, unexpected moments as they come.

Yesterday started my inspiration.

1. Worked on a puzzle with Hope. Everyone else was either napping or otherwise occupied – it was wonderful!

2. Played Candyland with Mckayla and Sophia. Two whole games! How long has it been since we’ve done that?

This morning.

3. Watching Mckayla “read” Mayweigh for Ducklings to Zoe. (also known as Make Way for Ducklings to the non-three years olds of the world.) Zoe was more interested in the cereal Gracie was pouring, but it was incredibly sweet nonetheless.

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15 things I love about my mom

Many of you don’t know my mom, and likely never will. She’s a quiet lady – one that I think many don’t know too well. But I was thinking last night about all the reasons I love her – so in no particular order I’m going to list some thoughts about why I love her so much.

1. I love the way my mom tries so hard (and in so many ways!) to make her hair straight, even though it has incredible and adorable natural curl. All without ever taking herself too seriously.

2. I love the way her face lights up when she sees her grandchildren.

3. I love the way my mom makes lists and keeps herself organized with oodles of post-its and notebooks.

4. I love that my mom can answer any tax question known to man or will find out for you within hours of your asking. I also love that she will get her feathers up -in a sweet, quiet way- if she doesn’t think how it all ended up for you is quite fair.

5. I love that my mom put up with a goat, dog, birds, cats, owls and who knows what other kind of pets while we were growing up so we could enjoy them.

6. I love that what I remember of my mom from my kid years is not someone who hated housework and just wanted a break from us kids, but a woman who cheerfully fulfilled her responsibilities and genuinely wanted to be with us in whatever we were doing.

7. I love that my mom loved hearing my sister and I play the piano and told us that quite often. My girls are taking piano now and #1, Mom, you were an amazing woman, and #2, I know that the influence of your positive attitude helps me to appreciate the “music” they make for the treasure that it is.

8. I love that my mom loved our teenage years.

9. I love my mom for being the best “driver’s ed” teacher ever. EVER!

10. I love that my mom was a college cheerleader; even though many don’t see that side of her anymore she still has that same fun and spunk with those she’s closest to.

11. I love when my mom tells me about a new outfit or “look” she likes and how she’s trying it out.

12. I love that my mom is so cold-natured that she wears boots about 10 months out of the year, despite living in Florida. This may be a slight exaggeration, give or take two weeks. = )

13. I love that my mom was never too anxious for us to be in bed that she wouldn’t take time to pray with us.

14. I love that my mom was so honest with me about how hard labor is before I gave birth for the first time.

15. I love my mom for being an encourager. She is the one that no matter what I tell her about what’s going on in life, she thinks it’s great. “Mom, we’re about xyz days behind in homeschooling.” “You are doing so great! I don’t know how you do it.” “Mom, we bought a house.” “That’s the best thing you could have ever done.” “Mom, look at these pillow covers I made.” “Oh, they’re beautiful!” “Mom, we’re having another baby.” “Oh, that’s so exciting!” “Mom, it’s been a rough day of potty training and no one is taking naps like they’re supposed to.” “It’s okay, it will get better!” I love telling her about what’s going on and I love that the reaction will always be something positive and encouraging. I want to be that person for my girls when they’re grown.

"Grammie" in her happy place.
“Grammie” in her happy place.

Mom, I love you. This list feels so insufficient for all the love you’ve shown to us, and for all the things that I love about you. You are a gift from God to my life; chosen to be the one that would bring me to the point of being a wife myself and then graciously letting me go into the new life that God had made for me. I’m so thankful for your love and your friendship. Miss you!