Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Christmas Miracle

I have to admit, I don’t always have the best attitude when it comes to Christmas.  As a child, it was always excitement.  The holiday was all about getting gifts.  What from my list would actually show up under the tree?  Then, I had kids of my own, and it became special again for new reasons.  For a few years.  I was excited to see Christmas through their eyes, to relive the magic that had long since dimmed for myself.  But, after a while, that too faded.

This year, I wanted to feel different than the last few years.  I wanted to feel like a child again, counting down the days, getting more and more excited as time passed.  I wanted Christmas to be more than just a day, but more like an experience in my heart.  I prayed that God would open my eyes anew to the season.  That I would understand more in depth exactly what it was I was celebrating, and also, what I wasn’t. 

Here is what He has shown me:

When Jesus was born the whole world changed.  As Mary gazed down at her brand new baby boy, she wasn’t looking at just any baby, she was looking at God Himself.  A God who, out of His great and perfect love for His people, and never wanting to be separated from a single one of us, left Heaven.  He got down off of His throne, put on flesh, and came into our dirty, sin filled, world as a baby.  A helpless baby.  A baby that was going to have to depend on a human to care for him.  To keep him safe and meet all of his needs.  The God of the universe, capable of all things, now incapable of caring for himself.  Our holy and perfect God, free of all sin,  now cared for by a human,  and in a world, both totally infected with sin.  Mary and Joseph looked down upon their child, and gazed into the eyes of God in the flesh. 

That is a miracle!  No one had seen God face to face like this before.  Moses had seen God’s shadow and goodness pass by him, and Isaiah fell face down unable to stand much less look at God when he entered God’s throne room in a dream. But here, Mary and Joseph stare into the eyes of their newborn son, and look straight into the eyes of God.  And this, this very thing, the fact that He is here, Emmanuel, God with us, changes everything!  It’s a miracle.

The birth of Jesus places God in our world.  Living in our conditions.  Tempted by the same temptations as we are.  He is with us, living, breathing, working, serving, loving.  And this was just the beginning.  

Many other miracles happen at the time of this miraculous birth.  There were shepherds who were visited by an angel of God, telling them that their king, savior, and messiah had been born. 

“8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,
    and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.”
Luke 2:8-20

Then the heavenly hosts declare the birth of Jesus.

“Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men[a] from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, 2 “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose,[b] and we have come to worship him.”...And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! 11 They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:1-2, 9b-11.

A star so bright and big that it catches the attention of wise men in a distant land.  Men who studied the heavens seeking to gain an understanding of events on earth.  This new star, so bright and beautiful, suggested to them the birth of a new and great king.  So, these wise men pack up and plan their pilgrimage to seek out this new king and pay tribute.  Both the shepherds and the wise men have the same response when they set their eyes upon Jesus.  Worship and praise.  

Instead of trying to comprehend intellectually an angel visiting them, a bright star that just appears in the night sky, or how in the world (let alone why) God would come to earth in flesh, they all just fall to their knees in humble worship, and praise God.  They knew they were looking face to face with a mysterious miracle.  And for these men, it changes everything.

And it changes everything for me too.

Previous to that day, we (humanity) were trapped.  Sin kept us stuck.  We were stuck trying to earn our way to God. We had to follow very strict laws in order to be considered righteous.  Inevitably, the laws would be broken.  Then there were more laws telling us how to deal with the broken laws.  If we did all the right things, stayed away from all the wrong things, and followed all the rules we could be considered righteous.  This righteousness would lead to eternal life with God.   Here’s the deal: I can’t live a perfect life.  Heck! I can’t live a perfect day.  I just can’t do it.  Can you feel the weight of this on your shoulders? Does it feel hopeless? 

But then...a baby came...a mysterious miracle.

One day, I’m stuck, hopeless, and giving up.  The next day, I have hope.

Everything has changed.

Christmas is just the beginning, and that is what I am celebrating.  It’s about a miracle.  It’s not about celebrating gifts, menus, people, or decorations.  I am celebrating something so much bigger.   I am celebrating the day in which the whole world changed.  It’s a moment in history that drew a dividing line in the sand.  The world was one way, and then it was all changed the next day.  The moment a teenage virgin, gave birth in a dirty stable, because there was no room for her or her baby anywhere else, our world changed. 

Life may be complicated, but God’s solution to life’s complications is to send us a baby who is unlike any other baby who has ever been born: God himself in human form, taking on our flesh, experiencing life from our perspective, so that we are no longer alone.  He is forever Emmanuel, God with us,  And in his company we can cope with whatever life hands us.  Because he shares in our humanity, we can experience His divinity forever. 

And how should I respond?  The same way that the shepherds and wise men responded.  On my knees, in humble worship and praise.  I respond with a surrendered life to my God who lives with us.  I respond with thankfulness that I worship a God who loves and longs for me to the extent of living in my world, and in my brokeness, so I could be with Him forever.  A thankfulness because I have a God who knows sin and was tempted in the same way I am each day, yet was without sin so He could bridge the gap between me and Himself.  And because of that bridged gap, I can respond in obedience to His call on my life and to His Word.  I am thankful for this day that both hope and love were born.   And I worship Him because this was His plan all along.

"1 In the beginning the Word already existed.
    The Word was with God,
    and the Word was God.
2 He existed in the beginning with God.
3 God created everything through him,
    and nothing was created except through him.
4 The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.
5 The light shines in the darkness,
  and the darkness can never extinguish it
14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son."
(John 1:1-5, 14)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Next Time, We'll Sit a Few Rows Further Back

This weekend, besides recovering from the Flu, we headed out to our city's performance of The Nutcracker.  It was the first time the kids had been to a ballet.  As the show began, I wondered when they would ask when the dialogue would begin.  I was worried when they realized they were going to have to interpret what was happening on their own, they would quickly check out.  However, they were very still and attentive through out the show.  Paying very close attention to all that happened.

Very close attention.

During the final scenes, the main male dancer had some solo dances as well as a dance with the Dew Drop Fairy (I believe that's who it was?).   We were only four rows back, so our seats gave us a very unobstructed view of the entire show.  At one point, I noticed The Little Man leaning over to The Hubs and whispering something.  The Hubs quickly shot me a look, and I could tell he was swallowing back a laugh.  I had a feeling that I knew what was said, but wanted to wait to laugh talk about it later, with just The Hubs and I.

I didn't need to wait too long:

me: (On the ride home from the show) Did you guys like the show?
kids: YES!  That was really fun!
d: I loved seeing my friend there!  She did such a good job.  I know she saw me watching her. We locked eyes like seven times!
d: That guy at the end? his tights were really tight, right?
me: (Stifling back a laugh) Um, I guess.  I mean that's what tights look like, right?
d:  I know but it was like, put a skirt on that dude!  I mean, it was getting awkward.

The whole family roared with laughter at this point.  There was no holding back.  The rest of the way home, many jokes were made about men in tights.

Later, after we put the kids to bed, The Hubs told me that The Little Man had leaned over to tell him that he knew that the ballet dancer was a boy ballet dancer because, "He could just tell."

I'm still laughing.

So much for trying to add culture to our lives for refinement.

Oh well, we had a fun time as a family, and that's all that matters, right?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Some Stuff I Haven't Posted About Yet...

As we are at almost the half way point of December...GULP...I thought I should catch up on what's been goin' down:

I've been to some holiday plays and performances:
Here's The Little Man in a Thanksgiving performance

 We've done some super fun advent activities.  Favorites so far: Singing Christmas Carols together, an engraving art project, filling our Hope House stockings, tending to our growing grass, providing a treat to someone we've never given a treat to before, and hiding dollar bills as unexpected gifts at the Dollar Store.

I've put some silly kids to bed:

The Girl has had food poisoning...FUN!

My parents celebrated 40 years of marriage.

 I've gotten almost all of my Christmas shopping done, and I paid my kids $3 to stuff, seal, stamp, and send my Christmas cards.

The kids started Jiu Jitsu and L-O-V-E it.  I don't know why we didn't start earlier.
The Girl dragging her partner to safety

The Little Man practicing his new moves

 We've tried to make the new winter fashions look good:

We've learned so much about the heart and plans of God through His word and our advent devotionals.

The Hubs and I learned how important it is to have the complete address of a location where we were trying to get a couple's massage at.  Just missing one number can take you to a risky part of town!

We've started Basketball season.

We've looked into a different set of doctors for Scott.  Now the insurance battles can really begin!

The Little Man begins to battle Influenza B, and the rest of the family is praying we somehow will avoid it.
Awaiting the rapid flu test results.  Poor, miserable, dude!
If anything, December is consistent.  Consistently busy.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Oh, Advent, I Hear You Knocking. Please Come In.

After spending so much time focusing on things I'm thankful for, it seems only natural to transition into the Advent season.   I have been looking forward to this time for weeks, actually. 

Not sure what has been going on with me these last few years.  I keep blaming it on the weather, or our schedule, life circumstances, or a myriad of other things.  The truth is, I just haven't been able to get into the Christmas spirit until right up to the day of, or sometimes not until after.  Last year's advent was awesome.  I loved it.  However, I didn't connect the Advent to the celebration of birth of our Savior in my heart.  There was still something missing.  The heart was there, the activities were certainly not missing, the prayer before, during, and after was definitely present, but the connection to Christmas was kind of missing.

This year, we are trying something different, yet similar.  I wanted to try to remedy some of the disconnect from last year yet keep the activities, prayer, and heart.  So, this year we will follow a devotional as well as have service oriented activities.  Also, sometimes, we will be doing things that connect us as a family, as well as with the heart of God.  Some people might say these activities are "filling up our own cups".  Those people would be me, so I'm OK with that.  And that is exactly what we are doing.  Activities that refresh and renew so we are more excited and able to give and serve with a heart full of love.

So, this year, we are following Ann Voskamp's Jesse Tree Devotional.  I got it here, for free last year.  I love the idea of starting our journey in the Old Testament and rediscovering or maybe even seeing for the first time, how this baby in the manger, Jesus, was the plan all along.  I have been able to use some of her activities, as well as integrate some of our own, to match the heart of the devotional each day.  Just like last year, I'm not too concerned with photographing each and every day, nor getting to the blog each day to document.  It's just too overwhelming, and, if I'm honest, it sucks the joy out of the time I have with my family when I am too focused on documenting things "just so". 

Here's what we'll be up to this year:
November 29
Plant grass seeds for kindness.  Every time you do something kind, plant another seed.  On December 25th we’ll cut our grass and use it as straw for Jesus’s manger.
November 30
Write a letter to a friend.
December 1
Sing Christmas Carols together as a family. 
December 2
Go to the $1 store.  Hide dollar bills as an unexpected gift for someone to find.
December 3
Bring treats to someone you’ve never given treats to before.
December 4
Smile all day.  Look for 3 opportunities to make 3 different people laugh.
December 5
Write down 10 different ways that God has provided for you today.  Put your paper underneath our Jesse Tree.
December 6
Tape money and a note to vending machines/candy machines.
December 7
Leave a small gift along with our tip for our waitress or waiter.
December 8
Art Project: Engrave your names on the palms of His hands.
December 9
Fill up Hope House Stockings.
December 10
Collect carts and put them away in a parking lot.
December 11
Play with someone new at recess.
December 12
Put Christmas goodies in the mailbox for our mail person.
December 13
Light a candle and pray for family members who don’t know Jesus.
December 14
Put together a care package for a special family.
December 15
Encourage a friend.  Go to the Nutcracker at and watch a friend perform!
December 16
Pass out care packages to homeless people.
December 17
Give a treat and a special note of thanks and appreciation for your teacher.
December 18
Put together a care package for a special family.
December 19
Go through your toy room and donate your toys to a toy charity.
December 20
Surprise someone in our house with a special gift or service.
December 21
Repentance.  Turn on your lights on the Christmas tree in your room.  Spend some time with Jesus repenting.  Thank Him from turning your heart from darkness to light.
December 22
Take 10!  Spend 5 minutes in prayer and quiet with God.  Spend another 5 minutes doing something with someone else, giving them all of your attention.
December 23
Go on a carriage ride in the mountains.  Enjoy hot cocoa and time with your family!
December 24
No matter what the weather is today, go for a walk with your family and sing at least one Christmas carol.
December 25
Cut the grass that you have grown and make a soft place for Jesus in the manger.  Invite Christ into our home and to stay here all year long.

My prayer this year is that I (and my family) would draw nearer and nearer to the heart of God each and every day.  I want to anticipate, with the excitement of a child, each day as we get closer and closer to the day we celebrate the the birth of my Savior and King.  I want to barely be able to sleep at night on Christmas Eve because my heart is so full of joy and love it might burst.  I want to see this Christmas season with a fresh new set of eyes.  A set of eyes that doesn't care what the temperature is out side, or that isn't frenzied by enormous to-do lists.  Instead, I want my eyes to be firmly set upon the face of Jesus, my Lord, King, and Savior who came down from His heavenly throne, put on flesh, lived in our polluted world, and became"God with us".  So we could be with Him forever.

Just like He had always planned.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Thankfulness in All Things

As I wrap up this month of thankfulness, I'm feeling a bit sentimental.  Is that the right word for it?  Nostalgic maybe?  I don't know.  I'm feeling very reflective like I want to look back at how things were, where we've gone, but instead of longing for the way things were, I want to sit in a place of thankfulness for the way things are.

It was about this time, two years ago, that our lives slowly began unraveling.  The Hubs began experiencing some medical issues that, at the time, we were blowing off.  There was always something else to blame the symptoms on.   Too much work, not enough sleep, a stressful work environment, and on and on and on.  By January, the wheels had fallen off the cart, and we were in deep. 

I've already told most of the story last year, so I won't spend time there now.  Instead, I want to work through the other stuff.  The part after the wheels came off.  The part where we started to catch our breath, surveyed the damage, and took steps forward.  Yes, there were some steps back.  There still are.  This is a life long journey, no doubt, but it's the steps forward that I want to sit in.

As I spend the day (and if I'm honest, I've been reflecting on my thankfulness with this situation for a few weeks now) reflecting on what I'm thankful for, I am most thankful for this journey.

Listen, I'm not saying I want this to happen again.  Like we had/are having a grand time.  We didn't/aren't.  I wouldn't wish this on anyone.  However, there is beauty in the ashes, and life in the dust.

I'm thankful for a deepening in faith that I could never have reached without having to trust and follow God with each breath given to me.  I suppose He would have lead me there eventually, but I got a crash course, and am thankful I didn't have to wait my whole life to know Him the way I know Him now. 

I'm so thankful for His faithfulness and love I have experienced as He slowly picked me back up and put me back together again.  I had read about it before, I had heard other people talk about how it had worked in there lives, but now I have experienced it. 

While I spent a long time sad, and yes, angry, at the type of marriage that this illness had left me with, I'm now thankful.  Is my marriage anything like what I imagined or even dare hoped it to be?  No. It's better.  It's stronger, more open, more honest, and more centered on Christ than I ever could have dreamed of.  Which is funny.  There were many times I thought we couldn't make it one more step, let alone a lifetime together.  Now we share a bond.  A bond I share with no other human being.  While the bond may be ugly, He makes all things beautiful.  He has used something that was meant for harm, and brought us goodness. (Gen 50:20).  He has carefully and intentionally re-shaped our hearts for one another in a way that is much deeper and stronger than ever before.

And I can say the same thing for my kids, and their relationship with their father.

And while I'm talking about shaping hearts, I am also thankful for the way He has used this journey to soften our hearts and open our eyes to other people and opportunities we would have surely passed by, otherwise.  I'm so thankful for those people and opportunities.  They are forever imprinted upon my heart. 

While this turn of events in our lives has proven to be more of a life long journey, instead of a slight interruption, I am now excited to see where God will be taking us.  I'm so thankful that I can place all my trust in Him who makes ALL things work together for our good. (Rom 8:28)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Little Gift to Myself

Tonight, I made the final decision, and made all the arrangements.  I decided to give myself and The Girl a gift. 

A math Tutor.

I always thought I would wait until I no longer understood what the kids were doing in math before I did the whole tutor thing.  But then, the other night when sister's boyfriend came over, I realized there was no need to wait.

And instantly the stress lifted.

I am breathing easier knowing that I don't have to commit  an hour plus, four nights a week, going through her math work with her.  And, on these two nights per week, I am looking forward to: no tears, less frustration, and most importantly MORE LEARNING.

The Girl is looking forward to getting better grades, more consistently, in math.  Also, she thinks this will cut down the amount of time she spends on homework each night.

It's a win win.

And I am thankful.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Where I am Weak He is Strong

Tonight, as I prepare to head over to a local juvenile detention facility, I am reminded of God's faithfulness, and I am thankful.

Every month, on the fourth Wednesday, I head over to this facility and lead a Bible study for the girls that are there.  No, I don't have a heart for teenage girls, let alone juvenile delinquent girls, but He does.  No, I don't relate to or understand their broken lives, but He does.  No, I don't have a natural gift of knowing what the girls need to hear and then delivering that message in gentleness and love.  I don't have to because He does.

I felt God asking me to serve Him about a year and a half ago.  I didn't know how or where or who, but just that I needed to go.  This opportunity came along, so I took it.  As imperfect as it was for me, I took it. 

I'm so thankful for this imperfect opportunity I have each month.  Each time I go over to this jail, not only are my eyes opened to a whole different world than the one I live in, my eyes and heart are open to Him.  He faithfully meets me there each and every month.  He faithfully give me the words to speak, and the love I need to share with these girls each time.  He faithfully shows me that it isn't about me at all.  It's all about Him.  It's His love, His words, and His passion for these girls.  I'm only asked to be obedient to His call.  He does all the rest.

And then in His goodness He somehow sees fit to bless me.

Teaching Bible Study at a juvenile detention facility has blessed me more than I can explain, and I am thankful.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

You're Hired!

Today, we had my sister and her boyfriend over for dinner.  While their company was fabulous, I appreciated something else a little more.

See, my sister's boyfriend is a high school math teacher.  So, when The Girl finished her math homework right at the same time as I was preparing dinner, he jumped right in. 

He and The Girl sat down and worked through each problem one by one.  There were no tears, no screaming talking loudly, and there was actually extra learning going on because there was no refusing to listen to old, crazy, mom.  It was amazing.

I am so thankful for the peaceful evening we could all enjoy because of his helping hand.

Oh, and yes, he's hired!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Faithful Father

Today, I sent both of my babies to school with heavy, sad, anxious hearts.  Both had different reasons, however both involved friendships.  My kids are both peacekeepers and people-pleasers.  It's just in their nature.  They want all to be happy around them, even at the expense of themselves.

Knowing they both had issues they needed to face today, we spent some time in prayer the night before.  Prayers for strength and courage. Prayers for changed hearts.  Prayers that somehow, someway, things would be different this time, and prayers that we would be able to visibly see Him at work.

Both kids came home from school yesterday happy.  They both proclaimed that their prayers were answered.  Friendships restored, friendships unaffected, and grace extended.

While the troubles my kids were struggling with were small to me, and in the scope of life, they were big to them.

I'm so thankful for a Father who knows what we need when we need it.  He has no shortage of supply.  Out of His great love for us, He bestows great gifts to us.  Whether our need is big or small, He loves to give, and shows Himself faithful to us and our needs each and everyday. 

I'm so thankful for the way God showed Himself to my kids today.  What a priceless gift!

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Belly laughs.  There is nothing better.

Almost every Sunday, we watch America's Funniest Home videos together. Today, as we sat and watched, I sat on my computer to catch up with this here blawg-o-mine. 

I had to stop and soak in the belly laughs from the couch across the room.  The kids were dying of laughter as video after video of silly dog tricks, people falling, people hitting their heads, and yes, the infamous crotch shots. 

Today, I'm thankful for laughter.  I love to laugh and completely enjoy taking in other people's joy and laughter as well. 

Especially when it's coming from my sweeties.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Today, we celebrated Thanksgiving. 


This time the entire fam headed over to my mom's house to celebrate with my side of the family.

We were the last to arrive, and we walked into a home full of 20 people. 


We were numbers 21-24.

Holy smokes.

It's no secret that I love a more intimate affair.

However,  how special is it that we have so many family members that choose to spend the day together?  Also, my ninety-five year old grandfather was there.  Ninety-five. 

Aunts, uncles, cousins, and even in-laws altogether. 

Laughing, talking, eating, celebrating, encouraging, and loving.

Today, I'm thankful for my extended family.  I am so thankful that we all keep in touch, and we all get along.  These days, that is rare and precious.

Friday, November 23, 2012


I am a creature of habit.  I L-O-V-E traditions.  I can't get enough of the anticipation of doing the same things as a family year after year.  While they are the same things, they change.  Because we have changed.  So while it may seem repetitive, there's always something new to be discovered year after year.

One of my favorite traditions happens on the Friday after Thanksgiving.  After a small bit of time doing some Black Friday shopping, we spend the day ushering in Christmas.  Christmas decorating, Christmas music, and Christmas movies are on the menu for the day.  At the end of the day, we all snuggle in bed and watch Polar Express while sipping hot cocoa.  Since the kids are not normally allowed in our bed (I have issues with sharing my clean sheets with anyone other than The Hubs, and I've accepted that I'm totally weird), they find snuggling in our bed to be a bigger treat than the hot cocoa.

This year I wasn't feeling it.  Thanksgiving came a bit early this year, right?  Also, it's been super warm this year.  Whatever it is, I can't wrap my brain around the fact that in a few short weeks we will be celebrating Christmas.  (Do I say this every year?  I think so.  Weird.)

So, I declared we were going to put off Polar Express night for another night.  I thought my kids were going to have a heart attack.  Seriously.  You would have thought I was canceling Christmas all together. 

Today, I am thankful for kids who love tradition as much as I do because, even though they no longer fit our bed, it was super sweet to usher in this season, together, as a family. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Turkey Day

Today is the day that the "Month of Thanks" was started for,  Thanksgiving day.   The kids and I headed over to the In-laws to enjoy turkey, potatoes, veggies, and let's get real, appetizers and desserts.  It was a small intimate affair, which is perfect in my opinion. 

After our feast was consumed, and thanksgivings for the year shared, The Hubs walked in after almost a full week away in Germany. 

So thankful to see his wonderful face again.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sisters and Photoshoots

Since The Hubs is away in Germany for business, I have had to be creative with childcare for the last few days.  Many people in my family have stepped up to the plate, and today, my sister was one of those people.

I'm thankful that I was able to go to Bible Study Fellowship today because my sister gave up her morning to sit with my kids.  It's so nice to have someone else understand how important it is to go to Bible study each week, and then support you in making it happen.

Later, my sweeties gave me a wonderful fall photoshoot for the mere price of a movie in my room and a cup of hot cocoa. 

Done and done.

Here's the fruits of our labor:

So thankful for these memories.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Little Things are Big Things

Today, I am thankful for what I think of each day as "The Little Things".  Things like a dishwasher, a clothes washer and dryer, a vacuum, clean water, heat, a refrigerator and freezer, an ice maker, computers, and I'm sure a whole host of other modern day, first world conveniences that I take for grated each day.

I think about people living without running water in their homes, traveling miles each day, carrying their water home in jugs (most of the time it's not even clean water), and yet I flip on my faucet without so much of a thought.  I never have to consider what it would be like to turn the handle on the faucet/flush a toilet, and have nothing happen.  Not only that, I've never think twice about if the water coming out of said faucet is safe for me or my family to drink.

Taking that a step further, while some people in the world ration their daily water, clean or unclean as it may be, I don't think twice as clean water runs through my dishwasher and clothes washer, cleaning my dishes and clothing.  The same clean water gushes through my sprinkler system to water my grass in the summer time so that my home can have "curb appeal".

Choosing one day to be thankful for these "little things" seems too small, and not even remotely close to enough.  I should be more thankful each day for these "little things" because in the majority of the world, my "little things" are "big, life-changing things".  

Monday, November 19, 2012

Full Circle

When I had The Girl, almost ten years ago, I joined a group called MOPs.  It stands for Mothers Of Pre-schoolers.  The idea behind this group is to create a place where moms can drop off their children, in a childcare environment, and then join other moms who are in the same stage of life.  We would hear speakers share with us about stuff like diffusing sibling rivalry and how to get your home organized.  We would also encourage one another, ask each other questions about mom type things, and just enjoy some conversation without our kids needing our attention.

This organization is also Christ centered, and there was always a Christ-focused topic of conversation.  At the time I joined, I was not a "Christian".  I knew all about God, Jesus, and the whole church thing.  I had even been baptized when I was twelve, by my own choice.  However, in the years that followed, I stopped seeking out God and what he wanted in my life.  I lived my own life and did what I wanted when I wanted.

Then I had this baby.  And she rocked. My. World. 

Many things changed for me, and most importantly, my heart changed.

Through a testimony shared at a MOPs meeting, I met Jesus again.  Somehow, I was able to see Him in a whole new way.  He was different than the Jesus I remembered from Sunday school.  I gave my life over to Him that year, and have never looked back.

Fast forward almost a decade (gulp, I still can't get over that), and Christ has completely transformed my life.  I am a whole new person.  He has blessed me with so much.  One of His most beautiful gifts to me has been photography.  Knowing how much photographs speak to my heart, He has given me this gift to take images of my children, that speak so deeply to my heart, and keep them forever.  And, He lets me do it for other families as well. 


A couple of weeks ago, someone contacted me on my business's Facebook page.  They were from MOPs, and they were wondering if I could speak to a group of teen moms about photography.  They were hoping for something that would help these girls, who could not afford to have custom portraiture taken of their kids/families, take better pictures of their kids.  To be able to capture their own memories of this precious time in their lives.

I didn't even have to think twice about it.

As I drove in to the church's parking lot, I reflected upon this wonderful gift.

First, God drew me to MOPs which renewed my relationship with Him, completely changing my life, and the life of my family.  Then, He gives me this beautiful gift of photography, which blesses me and others so much.  And now, I get the chance to share, with a group of girls, at a MOPs gathering, this gift He has given to me, in the same place He found me.

It's too much for my heart to handle. 

He is the giver of all good and perfect gifts, and His plans for my life are far better than anything I could ever imagine. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

My Boy

Yesterday was all about The Girl, and now I get to brag all over my Little Man.

How thankful am I for this little boy? Oh, let me tell you the ways.

This kid is so funny.  I love the way he makes me laugh when he's not even trying to be funny. 
D: Hey buddy, you have a bat in your cave (I guess this is the way they tell each other they have a booger hanging out of their nose)
P: Oh! I do? (Grabs a Kleenex and shoves it up his nostril).
D: No not that cave, the other one.
P: Oh.  OUCH!  That guy is sharp.  WOW!  That hurts.  Man, I think this bat's got some sharp teeth!

Dying. Of. Laughter.

He's also a big encourager.  He always encourages people in whatever they are doing. 
D: Mom, when I was dancing on stage, did I look stupid?
me: No, I thought you looked great.
P: Ya, sister.  You know, you are a really good dancer.
D: I am?
P: Ya, like really good.  I mean, you're not as good as me because I can break dance, but you're still pretty good.
D: I wasn't supposed to break dance.
P: Oh.  Well then, you are awesome.

Again.  Dying.

He's also super thoughtful.  His heart for others is pretty huge.
P: Mom, since dad is in Germany, I think we should record the Bronco game for him.
me: That's a great idea.
P: Yea, I can just imagine how happy he'll be when he gets home and sees that we were thinking about him and did that for him.  It's going to be great.

Heart. Melted.

And that was just the things he said today.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The White Queen Reigns!

Today, I am thankful for my girl.   I still can't believe God chose me to be her mom.  What a precious gift she is to me. 

Before becoming a mom, I never knew I could love the way I do.  So powerfully, so completely, so unconditionally. 

It's so wild to watch someone so attached to your heart walk around outside of your body.  Making choices,  doing their own thing, becoming their own person.  And, as they get older, they make those choices and do their own thing without you. 

It's astonishing to sit back and watch your babies grow up and become their own people.  It's was amazing when she was two, and she started getting her own little attitude personality, and it's still amazing to me as she reaches almost ten. 

Just a few years ago, we were struggling to find something that was "her thing".  Something she enjoyed doing.  She didn't even have to be good at it, I just wanted to see her enjoying herself and doing something that she felt confident doing.  We had tried all kinds of sports.  Cheer leading, dance, and gymnastics were even thrown in the mix.  But after a few months, it was the same story over and over.  "I don't like this",  "I'm not good at ______ like ______is",  "I feel stupid when I try ______".  And then she would beg to quit. 

Then she tried out for a play in our town.  She got a very small part, but she loved every second of it.  After that, she tried out for the school play.  She didn't get a speaking roll for that play, but surprisingly, after initial disappointment, she loved being apart of the production.  She kept saying how fun everything was, how she loved trying new things,  and how she was always learning something new.  

In theater, she is always happy with what she is doing, and always wants to go back again.  She is always looking forward to what the next show will be. 

This year, she got one of the three main rolls in the school's production of "Through the Looking Glass".  She was the White Queen!  This was the roll she wanted from the first time she read through the script.

Today, I got to see my baby girl doing her "thing" and it was amazing.  To watch her perform, and see her joy and confidence in what she was doing, made my mama heart swell with pride.  I sat watching her, dumbfounded, at how awesome she was.  My normally quiet, introverted, submissive girl was on stage, in front of a gymnasium full of adults, and she was on fire!   She never missed a beat. 

I'm so thankful for this sweet little girl, and who she's becoming.

Here are some pics from this weekend:

So beautiful and grown up looking here:

"You know what they say about curiosity."
 She had a very small solo in the song "Jabberwocky".

My shy girl, getting her groove on during the song "Responsibilities".

The final song:
 And she takes a bow:

Doesn't she just glow?


So. Incredibly. Thankful.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Never Thought I Would Be So Thankful for Needles

This morning I woke up, for the first time in two months, without shoulder pain.  Right around the beginning of September, I hurt my shoulder doing hot yoga.  I have no idea how it happened, or when, I just know I hurt the next day. 

And everyday after that. 

I thought if I gave it some time with no activity, it would heal. 

That never happened.

Yesterday, I mentioned to my acupuncturist that my shoulder had been bothering me for about two months.  With a couple of needles, placed in strategic areas, and some heat, bada-boom bada-bing, I'm all new again!

I'm so thankful that I didn't need to get a cortisol shot like my last "shoulder incident".  Those things are evil.  I'm even more thankful to be pain free, and I'm already thinking about all of the different ways I can re-injure myself things I can do again, all of which I've missed so much.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Hubs Does It Again!

Today, I am so thankful for The Hubs.  As I was getting ready to come to grips with the idea that I was going to have to stop fixing dinner, get out of my jammies and back into normal clothing, and then leave my warm house to pick up The Girl from her last theater practice, he jumped in and saved the day.

Hubs: What do you have going on tonight?
me: Well, I have to go get dressed so I can leave here and pick up The Girl.
Hubs: I have to run by the post office.  Do you want me to pick her up so you can stay here in your jammies?

Gee.  Let me think about that for about half a second.  Yup.  That sounds like a brilliant plan.

I stayed, cooked dinner, and most importantly kept my cozy jammies on the whole time.

So thankful!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It's Like I'm Goldi-Locks

Wednesday mornings are my mornings to enjoy Bible Study Fellowship (BSF).  I love spending time chatting with other women about all that we have learned the previous week about God and His Word, and how that is changing them and the people they share life with.   I also love to study and to learn, and this study digs deep.

The group of women that meet on Wednesday mornings numbers in the 400's.  Give or take a few.  And many of us have small children (not yet in full-time school).  So, our particular BSF group also provides childcare.  The childcare teachers are amazing.  This is no drop-off, your kids run wild for two hours, hope no one dies affair.  The kids get to learn all about God's Word, have a craft, sing songs, practice sitting still for quiet time, they learn how to pray, and many other things in the two and a half hours they are there.  I know, not just because The Little Man was part of this program for three years, but because we are often recruited to volunteer.

Not going to lie, as thankful as I am for this program, this is not my favorite thing to do.  No, Ma'am it isn't.  While I'm always amazed at how well things are run, and how loving each of the teachers are, I would prefer to just watch behind some glass...or something. You know, like when you go to a zoo.

Today, was one of those days for me.  I was a childcare volunteer in the toddlers room.  These kids are between the ages of one and two.

Do you know how long it's been since my kids where that age?  Long enough for me to forget completely how to interact for longer than five minutes with these little ones.  Yes, some of my friends have small children, but no, I don't take them from their moms and hang out with them one on one for two plus hours.

Childcare is not an innate thing for me.

I just see tears, buggers, slobber, and can only smell poopy diapers (despite people telling me they smell so sweet).  Honestly, looking back on my life, I'm not sure how I even survived my own children's toddler years.  It was the grace of God alone that got me through that time.  Don't get me wrong, I love me a sweet infant, and I am totally digging this school age phase we are in, but from about 15 months through four years of age, you've totally lost me.   You know what's weird?  I don't remember feeling this way at all when my kids were little.  I think I even remember loving that they were so small and cute, and I never wanted them to grow up.

Today, I am thankful that they have indeed grown up.  I am so thankful to have a seven and almost ten year old.  They talk to me (and sometimes they aren't even sassy!), laugh with me, share their feelings, wipe their own noses (and butts!), clean up after themselves (even if the threat of no TV has to hover so close they can practically reach out and touch it), and they are just plain cool, sweet, and fun.  I recognize I am in a pretty sweet spot right now.  Even though I might have to deal with heavy heart issues (at times), they aren't too little, and they aren't too big.  They're juuuussst right.

I am thankful for this stage of life.

My "babies" coming home from a long day at school.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Many Hands Makes the Workload Light

Today, I got an early morning call.  It was the school.  They needed subs in a bad way.  Remembering how refreshed I was the day before, I figured I had some energy to spare. 

However, when I saw the time, I quickly realized I was VERY short on time.  If I was to get ready (hello, hair that hasn't been washed in a few days!), pack lunches, and make breakfasts for everyone, I needed to be up and at 'em about 40 minutes earlier.

That's when I enlisted the help of The Hubs.  Expecting some grumbling, I was surprised to see him jump into action.  He packed lunches, got snacks put together, everyone had water bottles, and breakfast.  We can't forget breakfast!  Not sure if we all got our teeth brushed, but we did have our hair brushed, and I had mints in my purse (I did brush my teeth, not sure about the kids, though).

Bada boom!  Bada bing!  I was out the door only a few minutes behind, and the kids were right on time. 

All thanks to The Hubs!

Today, I am so grateful for my sweet, hardworking Hubs.  Not only did he totally save my rear end today, he had such a great attitude about helping.  He is such a great example to me for not allowing our circumstances dictate our moods.  He is a selfless servant. 

I am so thankful to call him mine!

Monday, November 12, 2012

My Cup Runneth Over

"After plodding uphill for many weeks, you are now traipsing through lush meadows drenched in warm sunshine.  I want you to enjoy to the full this time of ease and refreshment.  I delight in providing for you.  Sometimes My children hesitate to receive My good gifts with open hands.  Feelings of false guilt creep in, telling them they don't deserve to be so richly blessed.  This is nonsense-thinking, because no one deserves anything from Me.  My kingdom is not about earning and deserving; it's about believing and receiving." Psalm 23:5; John 3:16; Luke 11:9-10; Romans 8:32
-Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

After many weeks of running, rushing, and squeezing in, these words were nourishment for my soul.  I had a day (today) laying before me with nothing on my calendar except for some sweet girlfriend time later that evening. 

How could it be?

Surely, I was missing something.

Something would come up, right?

Then I started to feel guilty as I thought about having a day to myself.  In front of the computer.  With no important projects.  No where to be, and nothing to squeeze in.

Then my Heavenly Father whispered to me through His Word, like He does every morning before I get out of bed.   He's so faithful. 

Receive and enjoy.  No guilt.  No earning. 

"When you receive my blessings with a grateful heart, I rejoice.  My pleasure in giving and your pleasure in receiving flow together in joyous harmony."

While, it may be early,  I am so thankful for my time, each morning, to spend sitting at the feet of my good and faithful Shepherd.  He blesses me so richly.  Today, He led me beside quiet waters and restored my soul.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Snowy Family Weekend

All day, Saturday, the weather was changing.  Cloudy, windy, cold, sunny, rainy, snowy, sunny, windy, and on and on all day.  We saw all of it. The forecast called for a snowy and cold day, so snow, cold, and wind were not too surprising.  The clearing skies and sunshine were welcomed and a fun break.

That evening, however, the skies grew very dark and low again.  As we headed out for an evening with friends, I thought I heard thunder.  That couldn't possibly be right? However, as we drove off into the lightly falling snow, we saw it.  A large lightening bolt.  And then, yup, very loud thunder.  I have heard of "Thunder Snow" before, but I'm not so sure I've been in it before.  It's kind of weird.  But then, it got even more strange.  Hail.  Heavy, pea size, hail.  So it was snowing, hailing, and there was lightening and thunder.  

While this was all very strange to me, I sat there thinking about how awesome and powerful our God is.  Each lightening bolt left me awestruck.  I was so thankful to be a witness to His power and strength.  He makes His own rules and there is no thwarting Him.
Some left over hail mixed with snow.
Tonight, we had the perfect family night.  I'm so thankful for my sweet babies kids who still love to spend time with us.  The Little Man, asked earlier in the day if we could play a game later tonight.  When I told him that this sounded like a fun idea, he kept saying to whomever would listen, "Well, we are having a fun family game night, tonight." We ended up playing Qwirkle and then topping the chilly evening off with breakfast for dinner.


I'm so abundantly blessed with these sweet people God has placed in my life that I get to call my family. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

He Is Beauty

Have I blogged too much about how I've been enjoying the Fall weather and colors?  Well, sorry.  Today was no different.  Tomorrow, there is a forecast for snow.  So, today I tried to go outside, as much as I could, to soak in the wonderful weather before it changes.

In our front yard, we planted a new tree about three years ago.  The tree previous to this one was the type that had green foliage and flowers in the early spring, and then turned purple for the remaining spring and summer.  The flowers were glorious.  They filled our neighborhood with a fragrance that was perfection.  However, once the leaves turned to purple, after the blooms faded, there was no more color change for this tree.  The leaves simply fell off in the fall.  That was it.  That tree died, and so we planted a new one.  Our new tree blooms in the spring (although the fragrance isn't as sweet), and changes colors in the fall.  This fall, in particular, the tree was radiant.  It is yellow in the center and red on the outer edges.  It looks like a glowing ember.

I smile each time I see this tree.  I have always adored trees that change color in this multi-color way in the fall.  They are my favorite.  However, I knew that the tree we picked out as a replacement, would not do this.  It is supposed to simply turn red.  (Which is gorgeous, by the way, especially in a state where all the native trees turn yellow.)  So, when I see this tree, I smile because I know that this tree doesn't have to look this way.  But it does.  Why?  I believe it's God's sweet gift to me this year.  For whatever reason, and certainly not because I deserve it, He has chosen to bless me in this special way this year.

Our devotional, that we study as a family, reminded us just a few days ago that God is in all things beautiful.   When I look outside, drive up to my home, or sit on the porch, and gaze upon this tree, I am thankful to be given this reminder that I have a God who loves me so much He chooses to give me beauty to look at each day.

"Worship me in the beauty of holiness.  All true beauty reflects some of who I am."
 -Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Each Day Is New

Yesterday, I had the worst neck, shoulder, and back pain.  I felt like I was hit by a truck when I rolled over to get out of bed.  As the day progressed, it continued to get worse.  The sources: A hot yoga class combined with an injury on the opposite shoulder, leading to overcompensation on the other side.

Yada, yada, yada.  I HURT.

This morning, I woke up a new woman.  While I could still feel the remnants of lingering pain, I could turn my neck to the left almost all the way.  By the way I was feeling yesterday, I was certain today was going to be a rude continuation of the same.  But! Today was a new day.

So thankful for heating pads, ibuprofen, and no more pain!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Reflective Thankfulness

Yesterday, the kids' school was in session.  Unlike  all of the other schools in the rest of the state, apparently.  I also subbed all day in the first grade.  At first, I was a little bitter.

OK, I was grumpy.

But then, I remembered how nice it is to have work.  No, it's not a full time or even a part time job, but it's work.  Also, I got to work with The Little Man's teachers.  I was reminded how thankful I am for them.  So nice, so caring, so committed.

The day went rather smoothly, and I was thankful that my prayers for the day, which were prayed in the wee morning hours, were answered. 

Later I got to sit down with this sweetie:
We met up with a friend and her mom. I was thankful for the time this friend and her mom committed to meeting with us to work out some differences that we had recently encountered. I remembered some past relationships that didn't work out in the same way.  I was thankful for the opportunity to work on the relationship, and not give up.

The Day After...

Today is the day after the presidential election.

So.  Thankful. It's. Over.

I was excited to  turn on the TV, have a day when my telephone didn't ring (Hello, RNC, I'm talking to you!  Thanks for calling me 3 times a day for the last few weeks.  Boy, your persistence really made me want to register for your party...*ahem*), and a day when I could go back to actually liking my "friends" on Facebook.

Well, two of the three happened.

People are crazy.  On both sides.

The end.

I'm thankful that no matter who is the president of our country, Jesus is King.  God is sovereign and unchanging.  He is faithful, trustworthy, and good, and I can put my hope in Him all day long.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Chatting Over Coffee

If I had a picture of a Starbucks cup and a cute friend, I'd insert that here. 

I don't. 

I was too busy catching up with life, laughing, and engaging in girlfriend conversation to take a picture.  It's so nice to have good friends.  Friends who listen, who know without explanation, and who understand. 

Today, I'm thankful for friendship.

Monday, November 5, 2012

I Heart Cheeseburgers

This past weekend was glorious.  Not only did we get to set the clocks back an hour (YAY, extra sleep!  BOO, sunset at 4:30), but we were completely without plans.  This meant a lazy Saturday morning, followed by delicious afternoon, and then another lazy evening.  Sunday brought me to The Girl's Sunday School class as a teacher, some church, and then, you guessed it, another lazy afternoon.

It was bliss.

For Saturday's delicious afternoon, I got all crazy and thought it would be fun to try out this burger joint I'd heard whisperings about.  I love a good cheeseburger, yes I do!  However, I have found that I am pretty particular with my cheeseburger choices.  I mean, if I am going to commit to consuming an entire week's worth of calories in one sitting, it better satisfy.   For me, cheeseburger satisfaction equals spicy, gooey, and unique.

So, we hit up Crave, and I knew from the menu I perused before we were sat, that I would be in love.  The burger choices ranged from very plain (typical cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion), to very unusual including burgers that were smeared with peanut butter and jalapenos, burgers with Krispy Kreme doughnuts as the buns, and the one I picked which was topped with fried cream cheese, jalepenos, avocados, and chipotle mayo (it was supposed to taste like a jalepeno popper and a burger collision). 

It was D-E-V-I-N-E. 

The end.

No, I didn't eat the whole thing.  I had to make a choice between the whole burger or part of the burger and some sweet potato fries.

In my world that's a no-brainer.

Can I be super shallow and be thankful for a cheeseburger?

No?  OK, then I will say that I am super thankful to have a family that loves searching for a great cheeseburger.  Seriously.  Both kids just started liking cheeseburgers this year.  I know.  There are no words.  Instead of trying to understand their crazy palates, I will just say, I am thankful for their change of heart and their deep desire to find the best burger.  It's so nice to have partners in crime.

I have no picture for Sunday.  If you are sad about this, just imagine: Me, The Hubs, the kids, my sister, and her boyfriend all in our jammies/cozies.  We are sitting in front of the TV/ laying on the floor/lounging at the kitchen table.  We are doing NOTHING but just enjoying each other's company.

That is something to be thankful for.

Friday, November 2, 2012


Thankful to be apart of a group of women committed to praying over our kids, their school, and the staff.  I've been blessed with great friends, encouragement,  and opportunity to grow through His word and prayer because of this group.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Month of Thanks-Revisited

Last year, I spent the whole month of November blogging about things I was thankful for.  It proved to be much more eye-opening and heart transforming than what I thought it could be.  Turns out, when you think upon those things which are "Excellent and worthy of praise"  peace, trust, and joy fill your heart.  Crazy.

I have carried this with me through out the year, and have looked forward to making a concentrated effort not only to put this into practice again, but to also write about it.  Something about putting things down on paper (or in blog land, whatever) seems to really solidify things in my head as well as connect those learned things to my heart.

All that to say:  "It's BAAACK!"  All month, (God willing) I will be blogging about things in which I am thankful for.  In addition, I have made a small change.  I will also be trying to stretch my creativity by trying to Instagram it as well.  Hey, it worked for me this summer.  What can it hurt?  The kids are participating in "A Month of Thanks" as well.  They are filling out one leaf each night at dinner with one thing they were thankful for for that day. The leaves are then getting strung out garland style.  My hope is at the end of the month, and right before we start Advent season, we can look back at how blessed and loved we are.  With this reflection in mind, we can go into Advent season full and ready to give and love because we have been so abundantly provided for and loved first. 

So with that in mind, we have Day 1:

I am thankful for the bike ride I got to take today.  While on the path I was fully aware of the beauty that God gives us through Autumn.  I tried to soak in as much of the colors and mild weather as I could, knowing it would be over soon.

Later, I hit up the grocery store and I was thankful for not only the abundance of food we have in this country, but the variety. 
At any given time, I can go to this grocery store, either by foot or by car, and pick up anything my heart (and stomach) desires.  I do not have to worry about a shortage, or even if things are in season (as long as I want to pay the price for out of season produce).  It's there waiting for me each day.

How very blessed we are.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Not So Spooky Night

This Halloween was a little different.  There wasn't as much build up or excitement.  I just wasn't that into it.  I can't say the kids were too hyped about it either.  At first this had no impact on me, then as the day got closer, I began to feel sad.  I was sad that maybe we were growing out of this holiday.  Not sure what caused this funk, but I'm blaming it on a few things.

First, the kids are a little bit older.  While free candy will draw even adults out to trick-or-treat (yes.  We had a mom come to our door.  With her child, but also with her own bag.  Weird.), getting all dressed up and tromping through the neighborhood sounded exhausting for some reason.  The novelty is definitely wearing off.  Secondly, we skipped the churches annual Fall Festival for the first time in the seven or eight years that we've been going to this church.  I had a photo session scheduled for that night, so we decided to skip the annual tradition this year.  Third, we didn't have costumes figured out.  The Little Man picked his costume out the year before at the Halloween clearance sale.  Somehow, that made me forget all about getting The Girl a costume.  Needless to say, she wouldn't have had a costume had it not been for school.  They were allowed to wear their costumes to school today for Halloween, and then had a little parade with some trunk or treating at the end of the day.  Well, there was no way she was going to miss that!  So at 7:00 the last night, we rushed to pick some supplies up for a costume.  So, you see, I'm just not into Halloween this year.

I did finally get my act together, and I'm glad I did.  As usual, the kids had a great time at school and trick-or-treating.  Here are some pics:

Some Instagram goodness of the kids carving pumpkins a couple of nights ago:
This year we let The Girl carve her own pumpkin.  She did great!
 My sweet girl as Missy Franklin in the school parade:

My boy as Jengo Fet...at least that's how I think you spell it.  It's a character from Star Wars:

Here they are the night before:

Missy Franklin showing off her medal:

This is Missy's "Seriously, I'm about to take the block" look.  It cracks me up:

Some Jengo Fett:
Can you tell The Little Man grew more than we had expected in the last year since we bought the costume?

He was so mad at me for making him take pictures before he could go trick-or-treating.  Can you tell?

Here, The Hubs, snuck up behind me and was trying to force a smile.  Can't you just hear him saying, "Come on, DAD!  Stop being so silly!"

So, not too spooky of a night.  Lots of candy and lots of smiles.  I'm so glad I got out of my funk, just in time!