Monday, December 31, 2007

Good-bye 2007...You Were a Good Year!

I think it's appropriate for today to take a look back at some of my favorite memories of 2007. That's not an easy task because there were many!

If you know me, you know that I love nature. I especially love wildlife. I was beyond thrilled when I got to see some marine wildlife while in San Diego in February. I went on a whale watching tour and it was magnificent. I saw lots of California gray whales, some porpoise, and sea lions. Here are some whale photos (courtesy of the amazing ship photographer who befriended me and gave me a photo cd he made)!

Maybe even more amazing than seeing whales was the fact that I navigated my way from our hotel down to the harbor on
the trolley system all by myself.

And of course there was seeing MY bear! You can read about that here. I have to say that was without a doubt my most thrilling moment in 2007!

Then there were the elk...

And the golden aspen...

And trips to Evergreen, Grand Lake, Estes Park, Steamboat Springs, and an anniversary trip to Divide, CO. And many beautiful hikes with John, my family, and good friends.

And camping with great friends! So, so fun!! Abbey had s'mores for the first time.

And baseball games...

We had tickets for the only *rained out* game of the entire Rockies season which may have been the biggest disappointment of the year. Especially since they made it to the World Series for the first time in frachise history. Argh!

(Having a snack while waiting for them to "call" the game, which explains the picture below.)

We've also enjoyed seeing our family quite a bit this year which has been such a blessing! The kids spent two weeks at their grandparents' house this summer. It was a gift to all of us...grandparents, children, and to me and John!

I've also loved making new friend and reconnecting with old friends through this world-o-blog! It's been a good year!

I pray that 2008 will be filled with more memories and more reminders of the way that God sees and cares for us. Blessings to you!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Looking at 2008

Last year on New Year's Eve, we got together with our small group from church. Towards the end of the evening, we shifted from fun mode into serious mode and took some time to share our goals for 2007. Honestly, I hadn't given it much thought prior to that, and I don't even remember what I shared. I'm sure it was something off the cuff that sounded good at the time. I don't want to approach 2008 with the same flippancy, so I've been thinking and praying about goals for 2008. Here's what I've come up with.

Physical Goal: I want to climb Pikes Peak. It's a lofty goal, I know, and my friends that I walked/hiked with during the fall months (before it got really cold) sorta kinda talked and joked about it, but I WANT to do this and I think I can. Of course, I'll have to get in better shape before I can do that, so the treadmill is about to become my new BFF.
So, R and C...are you guys in??? C'mon. It would be so much more fun to do it with you guys. And I can guarantee you we'd never run out of things to laugh or talk about!!!

Spiritual Goal: When my kids were smaller, I was really intentional about getting away for spiritual rejuvenation. Even if it was just for a few hours or for a day, I knew I needed it and I asked John for that time, which he was always gracious to give me. I still need it, but haven't been intentional about asking for it or taking it. My goal for 2008 is to take one day a month and get away with God. It might mean that I take a hike by myself for an hour or two and just pray/listen. It might mean that I find a rock at Garden of the Gods and sit with my journal for the afternoon. It might mean that I hang out under a tree at the park with my Bible, or reserve the prayer room at Glen Eyrie. Don't know. I do know that it is vital that I make this happen. I've talked this over with John and he's super supportive. And I'm super thankful.

Creative Goal: More and more, I'm feeling the need to be creative. I've always enjoyed scrapbooking, but lately, it's felt more burdensome than fun. I'm thinking of learning to knit or quilt or tackling a sewing project (remember my placemats?). I know is that creativity is good for my heart, and I also know that I must make time and space for myself to do this.

I'm hopeful I can work towards these three goals with some sort of consistency. I think it is important to share them so that I can be somewhat accountable. It's one thing to say that I want to climb Pikes Peak, yet it's another thing altogether to actually do it.

What about you guys...want to share your goals for 2008?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Well, we've certainly been enjoying a lot of family togetherness this week. John has been off all week and we've done a lot of nothing. Probably because we've had quite a bit of snow, and when it's snowing, I just want to stay inside and read and play games and watch movies and bake cookies. Except that I have no desire to do any more baking or eating these days! Been doing WAY too much of that.

We all have a touch of cabin fever though, so tomorrow we're going to get out for awhile and let the kids spend the gift cards they received for Christmas. Speaking of Christmas, ours was lovely. And it was white too!

Here's a few pictures for you.

Every year John takes a picture of me with the kids after church on Christmas Eve. We can usually get a good one if we promise they can take a crazy one too. Lucky you...

Will was thrilled with the 2 games he got for his Nintendo DS.

Abbey loved her Hannah Montana doll, can't you tell? Oh, and Santa did in fact bring her a real make-up kit, much to the chagrin of her mother. You should see some of the clown faces "looks" she's created.

Sarah loved her easel from Santa. It's a white board on one side, a chalkboard on the other, and has a roll of paper for drawing/painting/etc. Very cool, and very Sarah.

Well, friends, that's it for now. I'm exhausted from all the "nothing" we've been doing lately.

Hope your Christmas was merry and blessed!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

My apologies if you're on our Christmas list and haven't received our card and letter. I'm a bit behind in getting them mailed this year. It's coming your way soon...I promise!

Merry Christmas from our home to yours.


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Meme

My friend, Joanne, did this meme last week and I thought it looked fun! You're welcome to play along too if you'd like!

Colored lights or white lights? I like white better, but we've used colored in the past because John prefers colored lights on our tree!

Real tree or fake tree? Always fake...we have allergy issues.

What is your least favorite thing about the holidays? Stress and the extra pounds I tend to put on from eating all that yummy food.

What is the one thing that you would like to see under the tree this year? A Fernando Ortega cd.

What is your favorite thing to do/build in the snow? Sledding at Toboggan Hill. Or tubing at Winter Park.

What is your favorite holiday drink? Spiced tea.

What is your favorite holiday smell? Cinnamon. Or Christmas trees. Or both.

Who is your favorite reindeer? Probably Rudolph.

What is your Christmas Eve ritual? We usually go to church, eat a snack supper, sprinkle reindeer food, leave cookies for Santa, read the Christmas story from the book of Luke, and read the Night Before Christmas, stack everyone's gifts in individual piles and put our stockings close to our gifts, then tuck the kids in bed. John and I usually wrap some last minute stuff then spend some time together on the sofa either talking or watching one of our favorite movies.

Are you a Friday after Thanksgiving shopper? Not anymore.

What is your favorite holiday food? Spritz cookies, chex mix, and sausage balls.

How did you find out that Santa wasn't real? What? He's not real??

Who do you want to be under the mistletoe with? John!

Have you bought all your presents yet? Yes, but I've still got a lot of wrapping to do.

Do you spend Christmas with a lot of family? Sometimes. This year it's just the five of us, though we'll be joining some friends from church for lunch on Christmas Day.

Do you still make snowmen and snow angels? Of course!

Do you still have snow ball fights? Absolutely.

What's your favorite Christmas movie? I like the ones that make me laugh like A Christmas Story or National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. John and I try to watch Auntie Mame with Rosalind Russell every year, and it's not really a Christmas movie, but it's one of our favorite Christmas traditions.

What do you plan to do for New Year's Eve? Don't know yet. Hopefully something fun!

What's the most expensive thing you've ever gotten for Christmas? A Coach bag.

How early do you wake up on Christmas morning? Depends on what time the kids wake us up...usually 6ish.

What do you usually get in your stocking? Small from the kids and other things they've made, and one year I got a ticket to a Captivating Retreat (oops, that might actually be the most expensive thing I've ever received.)

What is your favorite religious Christmas carol? Hark the Herald Angels Sing.

What is your favorite non-religious Christmas song? It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

How long do you leave up your Christmas decorations? Not long...I like to take them down the day after Christmas. I know, I'm a Grinch.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Oh, The Weather Outside is Frightful

This morning it was sunny and almost 40 degrees. Then the front blew in and now it looks like this...

The snow is piling up quickly out there. I'm so thankful everyone, including John, is home and warm and safe! I think we're going make something yummy for dinner and watch a movie later. I *heart* Fridays!

Catching Up...

I know, I know, I've been so slack in posting this week. So let me attempt to bring you up to speed on some of what is going on around here.

Shopping...I'm 99% finished. I'm heading to our local mass merchandiser this morning to pick up 4 more things. And if I could find the roll of tape that I bought last week, I'd do some wrapping today. Does tape disappear at your house too? Someone has "lost" at least 4 rolls lately. That drives me crazy.

School...our kids finish up today. I'm SO glad. I'm looking forward to taking a break from the hurry-scurry of weekday mornings and from packing lunches. And until yesterday I was looking forward to a break from homework. John and I were pretty frustrated that both Will and Sarah have a "Holiday Homework" project. What kind of teacher gives homework over Christmas break? Arghh!

Me...thankfully my hand was only bruised, but now I'm suffering from some kind of sinus/sore throat junk. I was so sad I had to miss out on coffee/chai yesterday with Holly and Joanne. But I didn't feel much like moving, much less talking.

John...he's going to preach at our church on Sunday, and again on Christmas Eve. One of our pastors had emergency surgery this week and so they asked John if he'd like to fill in. He's excited about it, and I love that I'll get to hear my favorite preacher two days in a row.

Will...has had a chance to make a little money this week (he's saving for a Wii). Our neighbors asked him to watch their chickens while they're away. Yep, I said chickens and thank goodess they don't have a rooster! He has to feed/water them and let them out during the day, and put them back in their coop at night. In addition to getting paid, he's been bringing home the 3 eggs they lay each day. Fun! My kids love quiche, so we used some of the eggs he'd collected and made two for dinner on Monday and Will told me it was the best he'd ever eaten. He was very proud.

Jack...well, he's a dog and we love him so much! I was talking to my mother-in-law on the phone yesterday and discovered Jack in the bathtub eating my Mary Kay face soap. Yuck. Much to laugh at these days. We had a white elephant gift exchange at Bunco the other night and I won this lovely ensemble for Jack. It's his lumberjack look. We haven't tried it on him because the kids want to put it in his stocking. I'm sure he'll just love it.

Friends...can I just say that I have THE BEST friends. I love all of them and I've been greatly blessed by them this week. Holly brought me some chicken noodle soup yesterday because she knew I wasn't feeling well, and my friends, Debbie and Renee, both sent me the sweetest emails. I am so blessed to have made such good friends in the short time we've lived here.

Oops, I just looked at the time and I've got to get going. I'll leave you with this fun photo. It was taken as I was leaving our church's Advent retreat last week. I LOVE seeing wildlife, and I love it when I get to be so close. I want to tell you more about that retreat later.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Alive and Well, Just Busy

I'm still here...the last several days have been filled with church stuff, school stuff, scout stuff, Christmas stuff, and plenty of other stuff that has kept me on the go. All of that makes me very thankful for an entire day at home today! I have much to share, but I cannot type well at the moment. I went to start my van a few minutes before taking the kids to school this morning and as I was walking back inside, I hit my hand on the garage stair railing. I have a lovely purple knot across my knuckes, and I'm hoping and praying it's only bruised. Ouch! At least it's my left hand because I still have Christmas cards to address!

Friday, December 14, 2007

I still haven't bought one single Christmas gift, but I'm going to remedy that situation tonight. Will is going home after school with his best little bud, and I'm taking the girls to their friends' house, and John and I are going to meet each other for a quick bowl of soup at Panera, then tackle our shopping list! It might be a fun date if it weren't 14 degrees outside, with wind chills in the single digits. Brrrrr. Oh, and did I mention it's snowing?? It's a bitterly cold day, and the temps will start falling soon. We considered not going, but we both want to finish up this task, so we're going to brave the cold and wrap things up!
Hopefully after tonight, I'll have one less thing on my to-do list!

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

If you've procrastinated like me...

...and haven't ordered your Christmas cards, let me introduce you to a fabulous place to order them from!

My friend, Chele, owns Digital Album Studio, a digital design company, and she is one talented lady. She's designed dozens of different Christmas cards and her work is beautiful. She helped me get our cards ordered this morning, and I am so pleased with what she created!

You can order cards, panels, or even let her create a custom design for you and use it to print your own cards or photos. The good news is that there is still time if you hurry! So, go check out Digital Album Studio. You might even recognize a face or two!

A different Christmas

I think that John and I both had a sense earlier this fall that this Christmas was going to be different for us. It is shaping up to be different in so many ways...

I haven't bought one single Christmas gift...yet.

I haven't ordered my Christmas cards...yet.

It is December 12, and I've baked only 2 batches of Christmas cookies.

By most standards, including my own, I'm WAY behind on Christmas, but you know what? I actually feel sane for the first time I can remember in a very long line of Christmas seasons. I'm not stressed about anything, and it feels very, very good. I've slowed down, let a lot of things slide, and have enjoyed the little things a lot more as a result.

I plan to order my Christmas cards this week, and I'll get them mailed sometime this month. It may be Christmas Eve, but they'll get mailed.

I intend to do some Christmas shopping later this week, and the good thing is that my list has been carefully thought out and prayed over.

And when the kids get out of school next week, I'm planning to let them spend some time in the kitchen with me, baking all of our favorite holiday treats.

It will all get done.

The big surprise for me in all of my "unpreparedness" is how uncluttered my life feels right now. We've been lighting our Advent wreath each evening at dinner, eating by candlelight, reading scripture, singing, and talking about the Nativity story with our children. Normally, in all the hustle and bustle of shopping and running here and running there, doing this and doing that, it's hard for me to really be still and focus on the birth of Jesus and what this season is all about. I always want to, and my intentions are good, but last year, just a few days before Christmas, I remember sitting in the sanctuary of the church where Abbey's preschool was presenting their Christmas program, and realizing it was the first time all season that I had allowed myself to be still and quiet enough to really hear from God. So sad.

Thing have felt really different this year, and maybe that's what John and I were sensing. The focus around here HAS been on the "reason for the season", and not how many things I need to check off of my to-do list for today. We've simplified and re-focused, and I feel very centered and very much at peace. It's a good place to be, and the only thing I'm sad about is that it has taken me so long to find this place of quiet rest.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Snow Day!!

Schools here were closed today because we got some more snow last night! I *love* snow days. The kids and I have essentially had a four-day weekend because I let them skip school yesterday to go to the North Pole.

We've had a great day. Very low key and very cozy. John worked from home which was great! I was thankful he didn't have to drive in to work this morning because the roads were slick and things were a mess. We tried our best to leave him alone so he could work...but goodness, it's so much fun for the kids when dad is home!

The girls baked and decorated some cookies this afternoon. Jack snuck more than his fair share of unbaked cookies too. Arghh.

When John got his work stuff finished up, we all bundled up and headed to Toboggan Hill for some sledding fun. It was 20 degrees and still snowing, so we didn't stay too long, but we had a blast!

I would love another snow day tomorrow, but I think the roads are in okay shape and everything will re-open. That's okay though...I haven't started Christmas shopping and I really need to take advantage of my kid-free mornings from now until Christmas break!

So Much Fun!

Yesterday, I let the kids play hooky from school and we went on our annual trip to the North Pole, a mini amusement park outside of Colorado Springs. Oh my goodness...we had SO much fun!!!

We went last year with some good friends, and they were up for going with us again this year! We discovered last year that it is very worthwhile to go to on a weekday. There were maybe 40 people in the entire park all day yesterday. We walked right into Santa's house to see him and have the kids' picture made...absolutely NO line and no waiting! Same thing with the rides. The kids rode every single ride in the park and all they had to do was walk up to the gate and go in. Most of the time they were the only ones on the ride, and the ride operators let them ride as many times as they wanted...over and over and over!

Abbey has grown a lot since last year, but there were still some rides she had to have an adult ride with her. That would be me. I had a ball! My favorite part was hearing her squeal with delight. She loved every minute of it!

Temps were in the 30s, so we bundled up (layers and layers and layers) and packed our lunch and some hot cocoa and it really wasn't too bad (it was much colder last year!) It was only really cold when the wind was blowing in the late afternoon. The North Pole is open in the summer, but I think it's totally worth it to brave the cold and go in December! It's the stuff memories are made of.

Here are some fun pictures from our North Pole adventure!

Photos with Santa! Isn't that a great Santa? I had them take individuals too, and they turned out great! Abbey told Santa she wanted real make-up. This is the third year in a row she's asked Santa for this. I think he'll probably cave and get it for her. Sarah told him she wanted the Disney fairies, and Will told Santa he'd like a legos set.

Sarah, on Rudolph, leading the pack.

This ride is called the Candy Cane Coaster. To my credit, I rode every ride but this one. I was trying so hard to get a picture of Abbey's face because she was LOVING the thrill of this ride.

These pendulum rides scare me to death. Will and his friend rode it 4 times in a row, and would have continued if I'd let them. I rode it once, and only because Abbey had to have an adult with her, and she was not about to sit this one out.

I conquered my fear of heights (temporarily) and rode the chair lift with the girls. Love this photo of our boots!

There are llamas in the park, and also Swedish deer. The Swedish deer look a lot like caribou. K & J loved feeding the llamas, but my kids wouldn't go anywhere near them!!

This is what the parking lot looked like when we were leaving. It looked almost like this when we arrived yesterday morning, and THAT is the reason we skip school to go. One guy told us that over the weekend there were over 500 visitors. Ugh.

Abbey might not like this photo one day, but I love it! My kids fell asleep f-a-s-t last night. They were totally wiped out by all that fun!

Monday, December 10, 2007


I can't remember exactly what I was doing yesterday afternoon when John called me and told me to turn on the television. There had been a shooting at a church down the road from us.

My hands were shaking as I turned on the t.v. and searched for info. This kind of thing shouldn't be happening. We live in the United States--not Afghanistan or Israel.

Scary. Scarier still when I realized that both of the girls' teachers and some other friends of ours are members of this church. I started praying, and the pray without ceasing verse has new meaning for me now.

I was later able to talk to their teachers--they and their families are fine--and they gave me updates on other friends. No one we know was affected (thank God), but others have been affected, so please continue to pray for them. For the victim(s) and their families, and for those who witnessed such a horrific scene. My heart is still so heavy this morning.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

From the "Jack" Files

Not quite two weeks ago, Jack the Beagle joined our family. Our kids LOVE him. John and I think he's pretty great too. I think Jack is finally getting used to us and to his new home and to the constant attention from the kids. Here are some of the more memorable of our adventures with him so far...

Yesterday morning, Sarah walked in the kitchen with a funny look on her face. She told me that Jack woke her up. He walked into her room, jumped up on her bed, and started licking her face. Yep, I'd say Jack likes her! She was trying to act like being awakened by her dog was the worst thing EVER, but we knew she secretly loved it.

We've had a very wintry weekend. It's been snowing off and on since Friday evening. We've discovered that Jack LOVES the snow. At one point, John was outside with him and the falling snowflakes were huge. Jack was happily jumping up trying to catch them with his tongue. Just like a kid! So fun.

Last week the kids wanted to take Jack for a walk around the block when they got home from school. I hooked Jack's leash to his collar, gave the kids my cell phone and instructions to stay together, and sent them off. A few minutes later, I hear Sarah screaming outside in the garage before she bursts into the back door in tears. Apparently, Jack was "lingering" on their walk (checking out his new neighborhood, I'm sure) and they were pulling him, and they pulled his collar off, and he bolted! OH NO! Thankfully he didn't get too far, we found him in the cul-de-sac down the street, and thankfully, our neighborhood requires us to have fences, so essentially, we were able to corner Jack. I got his collar and leash back on and we made it home safely! I must admit for a few minutes I was very worried that we might not see him again! Now when we walk him, we make sure his collar is tight enough it can't slip off. And when I give the kids my cell phone, I make sure to show them how to call home and not my voice mail. oops.

One night this week, one of our neighbors anonymously rang our doorbell and left a little surprise package on our doorstep with instructions for us to repeat the good deed the following evening. (Have I ever told you that we have the BEST neighbors?) So, the following day, the kids and I made some snowball cookies to share with our neighbors. Of course we made some extra for us to enjoy since they're one of our holiday favorites! Friday evening after dinner, John and I were cleaning up the kitchen, the kids were munching on the last of the cookies, and there was ONE left for John. All of the sudden there was a loud calamity. Jack managed to pull the cookie container off of the table and he gobbled up that cookie LICKETY-SPLIT! Oh my goodness. So funny. So much for saving it for dad.

Since Jack joined our family, there has been much laughter, much petting, much licking and tail-wagging, and much loving going on around here. Who knew that a dog could be so much fun?!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Ornaments Part III

This is the last ornament post, I promise! I'll save some for next year. It HAS been a good way to jump start that scrapbook project I want to make someday, though, so thank you for bearing with me!

These two ornaments are among my most favorite. They came as a set and were given to me by my good friend and next-door-neighbor in Arkadelphia. Her son was close in age to Will and Sarah, and he was over playing one day, and two-year-old Sarah put her blanket on her head (like Mary), picked up her baby doll (Jesus) and said, "Hey, P, you wanna be Jofus?" My friend and I cracked up (and of course I took a picture). They were so adorable. Watching the Charlie Brown Christmas special is one of our family traditions during the Christmas season. I love the end of the show when Linus recites the passage from Luke 2 about Jesus' birth and tells Charlie Brown THAT is what Christmas is all about--the birth of our Savior. That makes this ornament all the more special to me!

John and I took a trip to Mississippi one spring and visited Oxford, Vicksburg, and Natchez. We didn't have children at the time (found out we were expecting Will about 2 months later!) and we enjoyed touring some antebellum homes and staying in some beautiful B&B's. We bought this ornament in Natchez as a trip souvenir.

John brought this duck ornament back from a science trip he took to Memphis, TN as a senior at OBU. It's from the Peabody Hotel there. The Peabody is famous for the ducks that march through the lobby each day on a red carpet. Fun!

My mom gave me this ornament in 1990, the year we got married. It's a bride made from a wooden clothespin. My kids know that I'm the only one who gets to hang this ornament on our tree each year. It's very precious to me.

My nana made this ornament for me in 1977. One of my most favorite childhood memories was spending Friday nights at my nana's house. We'd usually go to Long John Silvers for dinner, then go back to her house and make cookies or do some kind of art project. She loved making things with clay, and this ornament is one of her creations. I love that her initials are engraved on the back along with the date in her handwriting. I was extremely close to my nana. I treasure all of the things I have that belonged to her or that she made for me.

The Christmas before we were married, John bought a miniature Christmas tree for his apartment, and I went with him one afternoon to buy some stuff to decorate it. We bought four blue and white porcelain ornaments at Dillard's in Park Plaza mall. We thought they were beautiful then, and they are still some of our favorites!

The cowboy boots! We have so many western-themed ornaments. I probably have enough to decorate an entire tree with them. I think these are so fun, and the spurs are actually pretty sharp!

This Razorback ornament is O-L-D! See, it has the (very) old Razorback logo. I know that John and I have been hanging it on our own Christmas tree for 17 years, and there is no telling how many years it hung on my family tree before it became mine. I *always* try to hang it in the very front of our tree! Woo pig sooie!

Jemima Puddleduck represents the year that Will was born. I love Beatrix Potter stuff, and this ornament is adorable. The kids and I watched the movie Miss Potter one weekend when John was out of town. If you haven't seen it, it is a great family movie. We loved it, and it made me love and appreciate her books and art even more!

This one is for Jenn! See...I have one too! Again, a gift from my nana in 1976. You can't see it but my name is engraved on the front, and the year is engraved on the back.

My children receive an ornament (or two) from each of their grandmothers every year. I try to write the year somewhere on it before it gets packed away and I forget. I hope when they get married one day to be able to give them all of their ornaments (as my mom and John's mom did for us) so that they will be able to unwrap them and let their Christmas tree tell it's own unique story.