The Great License Plate Game

It all started on a long car trip from North Carolina to Indiana.

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Paul challenged the girls to find the license plates of all fifty states. And it became a family project that is probably one of the sweetest collective memories from the last few years.

Of course we found a ton on the trip. I was delighted by how quickly even the little girls could recognize plates that we had seen several times. (I should add that just a month or so earlier Paul had helped the girls memorize all fifty states. So it was easy to keep track of what we had already seen and still needed.)

We all were so in tune to license plates for months! Every trip to the store or anywhere the girls were pointing out states. It’s amazing how many are around all the time if you just look.

Confession: sometimes we would drive around parking lots looking for plates.

On two occasions we found new ones we needed at a mall about an hour from our house. I can’t even explain how excited we all would get when we found a new state. The rules were just that one of us had to see it with our own eyes. And it had to actually be on a car, not like on the wall at Cracker Barrel.

So around October we had narrowed it down to North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Hawaii. And pickins’ were slim. We were all sure that Hawaii would be the last one we’d find.

Owen’s due date came and went.

We even got my mom in on the excitement, but still nothing.

October 31. We had realized the night before that we needed to go buy candy. Around 11 that morning I began having contractions and by lunch around 2 or so, we were pretty sure this would be the day. (for the baby) So we stopped at our grocery store about five minutes from our house, and on the way back to the car…we saw a North Dakota!! In the parking lot! Of our grocery store! Five minutes from our house!

It was unbelievable! Such a sweet little blessing in the midst of another big blessing! (Owen)

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We were over the moon excited and incredulous. Only three more to go!

Some weeks after that, I was invited to a little Christmas party at a friend’s house and left Owen home with a sitter for the first time since Paul had a late appointment. Hating to be away from him, I kept my phone close just in case I was needed. We were eating dinner at this gorgeous table when a text came through – I tried to check it discreetly but gasped out loud when I read the message: Paul had found South Dakota!!!

That was fun trying to explain why that was so exciting.

So Vermont and Hawaii remained.

I mean, we should see a Vermont. It’s not like we’re on the other side of the country from it or anything.

We totally gave up on Hawaii. I hatched this scheme to buy one online and give it to Hope for Christmas.

So in early December we were out shopping for Christmas decorations, and by a miscommunication on my part we ended up at a shopping center we are not normally at. Between taking six kids (including a newborn) up and down the aisles of Michaels, and Mommy who has trouble making her mind up, we were all fine, but borderline cranky.

After getting in the car Paul started to wind through the parking lot, you know, just in case. And I saw it.

My arm shot out and grabbed him, “I just saw Hawaii! Go back, go back!”

He was unsure, “What? No you didn’t.”

But I knew I had seen it. “I did! I did! Go back! It had a rainbow on it!”

He circled back around and sure enough we all saw it. Hawaii!!

Evening made. Month made. Holiday season made. Year made.

We had found Hawaii!!!

And we were all together when it happened!

The parking space next to it was open so Paul pulled in and we got out and stared at it and took pictures with it like crazy people.

We literally talked about it the whole way home, replaying how it all happened and how crazy it was that we were even there, and how we all felt when we saw it. And that we were all together when it happened.

I guess you’d have to understand how long we’d been looking and how sure we were that we would never actually find it. It still makes me smile just thinking about it.

So…Vermont.

We contemplated getting in the car and heading north until we found one. (It’s okay at this point for you to be absolutely certain that we are nuts). But we had come this far and just had to have that last one. We had even looked it up online to be sure we knew what we were looking for. Apparently, Vermont has one style of license plate so that was good.

Christmas came and went.

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On one of those awkward post-Christmas days when you’re not quite sure what to do, we decided to take all the kids for a hike. We were almost out of our neighborhood when a little red car pulled in. Paul noticed the sign on the front of the car and whipped around to check when it passed us.

It was a Vermont.

He pulled in someone’s driveway and turned around action movie- style. The poor little red car, we followed it ’til it parked in a driveway only a street over from ours. Paul parked on the road and jumped out. (I think they were a little perplexed, to say the least.)

He explained our great license plate game and how all we needed was Vermont and they were our Vermont! The man was really good-humored and let us take a picture with the plate and the girls. They had just arrived from Vermont to visit the grandkids. We wished each other well and went on our way.

“Can you believe it?” We kept asking each other. We found Vermont! In our neighborhood.

A better ending to such a hunt could not have been scripted.

We were so excited that we decided to celebrate with milkshakes after our hike.

We went to Sonic. And they were out of ice cream. Are you kidding me? You’re Sonic. #youhaveonejob

But just forget that part because it didn’t matter.

Our excitement could not be dampened. We had found all fifty states.

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Yay for family. Yay for hunts. Yay for memories we will never forget.

New Year’s questions for your kids {2016}

I have a confession to make.

I never actually asked my kids the New Year’s questions last year.

(And we still had a great year)

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But it is my favorite holiday, and I really want to do it this year. Here’s my brainstorm of things to ask them about.

  1. What is your favorite memory from 2015?
  2. Who is your favorite friend that you played with (other than your family)? Why?
  3. What is your favorite thing about having a brother?
  4. What do you think are the things that you really have a hard time loving more than God?
  5. What is one thing you worry about?
  6. What is something fun that you would like to learn about this year?
  7. What is something important you would like to learn about this year?
  8. What is something you would like to do more with Daddy and Mommy this year?

I think that’s all for now. It may take a couple of days to sit down with the girls and ask all of these. Let me know if you try it!

Happy New Year!

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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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! 

New Year’s questions for my kids {2015}

Last year I made a list of questions that I asked my girls on New Year’s Day. Their answers surprised me!

I didn’t have chance to do that on January 1 this year – didn’t even have the list made – but it’s not too late! I decided to make a brand new list just to keep things fresh. ; )

Here are twelve questions to ask your kids at the beginning of the year:

1. What was your favorite thing that happened last year?

2. What was the saddest thing that happened last year?

3. Where was your favorite place you visited?

4. Where is somewhere you would like to visit this year?

5. What did you most appreciate about your family last year? How could you communicate that?

6. What did you learn from the Bible last year?

7. Are there any specific sins that God convicted you about?

8. How do you think you could grow in your love for God this year?

9. Are there any things that keep you from loving God? any things that you find easier to love than God?

10. What did you most appreciate about your church?

11. What could you do to love your church family more this year?

12.What would you like to learn this year?

Zoe can wait a couple more years. = )
Zoe can wait a couple more years. = )

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This is just a place to start! I’ll probably vary it depending on the age of who I’m asking. Let me know if you try it!

What would you add to this list?

*Happy New Year!