Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Out with the old, in with the new!

I think instead of writing a long list of New Year's resolutions this year, the only thing I am going to resolve to do is try to be content - with my physical self and with my life.

I know that's easier said than done, but I think the value I gain from contentment on earth will be far more rewarding that any 10 pound weight loss!

I received the text below in an email that I get every morning from Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church and author of The Purpose Driven Life. I thought it was perfect reading as we ring out the old year and ring in the new.

Lessons in Contentment

by Rick Warren

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. Philippians 4:11 (NIV)
Here are four steps to develop contentment in your life.

1. Stop comparing yourself to others. When you compare your life with someone else’s, the only place it can lead is toward discontentment. There will always be people who appear to be better off than you, but you don't know their real circumstances.

I recall counseling a husband many years ago, and he said he wished his wife could be more like so-and-so, and he named a woman in our congregation. What he didn't know is that the woman was a functioning alcoholic causing incredible heartache and stress for her family and for her husband. That's why the Bible teaches it is unwise to compare (2 Corinthians 10:12).

2. Be grateful for who you are and what you have. Learning to be content requires that you stop any "when and then" thinking. When I am ___________, then I'll be happy.” (You fill in the blank.)

The reason we fall into this trap is that we may actually be content for a little while but it won't last. But, more than likely, someone else or something else will come along and drain the contentment from your life.

But listen, you are unique. God created you to be like nobody else, so why would you want to be anyone else. God is perfect, and you were his perfect choice to be you. Understanding that is a huge step toward being content with your life.

And then look at all the things God has given you. So often we allow what we don't have to so dominate our focus that we forget the many wonderful things we already have, not only material blessing, but far more important things, such as family and friends.

3. Give yourself to others. If you will begin giving yourself to others, sharing what things you do have, sharing your time and your talents, you will find yourself learning to be content. Helping others will give you an appreciation for what you have and who you are, but more importantly, you will find yourself growing content. Why? Because God designed us to serve and share with others, and until we do that, we will feel great discontent.

4. Focus on things with eternal value. The real secret to becoming content is to focus on the things that have eternal value. It may be a familiar teaching to you, but Jesus said we should store up our treasures in heaven, and not on earth where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19-21 NIV).

Think about the things in your life: What will last forever? What will last at least for your lifetime? What will last a few short years, or months, or days? Based on eternal value, what things are most important in your life? Where and with whom should you put your most time and energy?

By re-organizing your life around eternal priorities, you'll find yourself growing in contentment as you live according to God's design and purpose

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas 2008 - A Brief Summary

One 15 hour drive, two kids that caught the stomach virus that was going around, one mom that caught the stomach virus that was going around, 12 inches of snow later and finally we were able to enjoy Christmas Day!

The kids were excited to have a white Christmas and were over their stomach troubles just in time to do some sledding and make a few snow angels before the warmer weather came to start the melting process.

They have enjoyed all of the attention and love from family members they only get to see a few times a year and of course, the presents! They both seemed pleased and thankful for everything they received.

All in all, Christmas 2008 was a success.

Hope yours was wonderful too!

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Closed for the Holiday!

This blog is temporarily closed for the holidays.

I hope this Christmas you all find the peace, joy and love that can only come from knowing Christ.

See you in 2009!

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Of gingerbread and men.

My husband loves, loves, loves gingerbread. Gingerbread men, ginger snaps, loaves. You name it. He loves.

But I could take it or leave it. Although he tells me if I had gingerbread the way his mom used to make it I would be a convert. I'm not so sure.

Since he loves it and I don't, he makes a big batch of gingerbread men every year with the kids.

Everybody together now - "Awwwwwwwwwww! What a wonderful man!"

Back off, people! He's mine!

Anyway, last Sunday Dan and the kids made gingerbread men while I worked on the Christmas cards.

We had the fire going, Christmas music playing in the background and the tree lights shining.

I know that sounds idyllic but don't get me wrong.

The kids bickered, flour flew everywhere, Dan got frustrated with the dough and I lamented that the stamps cost more than the cards.

But to me, it was a perfect afternoon.

Just perfect.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Lights, Hot Chocolate, Marshmallows!

Last Friday evening we heading out to Tanglewood to enjoy the Festival of Lights.

I was hoping Dan would get home by 5:30 so we could be there right at 6:00 when they started letting people in. Unfortunately he didn't get home until after 7:00.

"Don't be upset that I'm late. 30 people got laid off at work today. It's better that I'm home late with a job than home early without one." Those were the words that he greeted me with when he walked in the door.

I said a silent prayer thanking God for Dan's job and we headed out the door.

The lights were as beautiful this year as they were last year and the kids enjoyed all the displays.

There was a lot of traffic and it took a while to get through everything but that didn't matter to the kids because they had one thing on their minds - the red barn!

The red barn is located about three quarters of the way through the lights and serves hot chocolate and has a giant roaster for marshmallows. We didn't stop last year but this year we did.

The hot chocolate was delicious. I don't think it was the Swiss Miss that I normally serve. Note to self - must look into actually making real hot chocolate sometime this winter.

Then we got two skewers of marshmallows and found a place around the roaster.

I think the hot chocolate and the marshmallows will be part of our Tanglewood tradition from now on!

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Miracle Monday

It's Miracle Monday again and instead of sharing a miracle today, I would like to share with you a new website I've found. (It's new to me, anyway!)

It's the Online Bible Study Tools at

Some of the features include an online Bible (29 different versions) that can be easily searched, daily scripture, daily devotions, references and how to read the Bible in a year.

You can also highlight sections of scripture and take and save notes.

I've just gotten started using this new tool and so far I'm really enjoying it.

I still prefer holding an actual Bible in my hands but this website is proving very useful for searching and marking and the devotionals are excellent as well.

Check it out! I think you will find it a useful tool in your daily Bible study.

Do you have a miracle you want to share? It's easy to participate in Miracle Monday. Just post a miracle on your blog and link it back here using Mr. Linky below.

Please mention "A Mom's Life" and my URL in your post. And if you want, you can use the Miracle Monday button in your post as well.

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This edition of Miracle Monday is now closed. Please come back next Monday if you would like to link to a miracle on your blog. If you are looking for other miracles, please check our Miracle Monday archives located on the right sidebar.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Our Gingerbread House.

Last Saturday we spent the afternoon making a gingerbread house.

Every year the Hispanic community at our church does this as a fundraiser.

And every year the same gingerbread loving lady bakes and assembles gingerbread houses, all the candy you could possible need to decorate them AND makes all the icing as well.

We purchased a small house again this year and picked out the six bags of candy we would use to decorate our tiny home.

The kids each decorated gingerbread people (a gingerbread man for Peter and a gingerbread angel for Sarah) while Dan got started on the house.

My sweet husband spent lots of time deciding what to put where while I drank cinnamon coffee and watched.

After the kids decorated their people they decided they wanted to help with the house.

It took a little convincing but my husband finally decided to give in and let the kids "help".

I think when the kids get a little older, we will let them each decorate their own house and Dan will have one of his very own to decorate.

And I'll still probably be sitting around sipping my complimentary coffee.

Three sides of our little masterpiece!

So which looks better, this year's house or last year's house? My husband wants to know.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Christmas Lists and Dear Old Santa

A local MOPS group had Breakfast with Santa this weekend. We enjoyed a nice pancake breakfast and the kids got to talk to a very realistic looking Santa.

And best of all - there were no lines!

In preparation for our visit with Santa (and to give good old Mom some ideas for gifts) I had the kids write out their Christmas lists.

For Peter that basically meant sitting down with the Lego catalog and looking at to try to figure out what he wanted.
(Droid Carrier, Fireboat, Mission 3:Goldhunt, Troll Warrior, Police Car, Clone Battle Pack. And for good measure he threw in a Hess Truck and a set of Dominoes.)

And for Sarah that meant looking around the room and listing off things that she spotted.

(Bracelet, Bell, Globe,Clock and Doll House.)

And if you will remember, she included Clock on her list of things she was thankful for at Thanksgiving. Obviously the clock is in clear view of the kitchen table where both lists were created.

Whenever I ask Sarah what she wants for Christmas she just shrugs and says she doesn't know. So hopefully she will be happy with what Santa decides to bring her.

Peter on the other hand might be a little disappointed because one of the items on his list was sold out at, Toys R Us, and Amazon and another one of the Lego sets on his list isn't even being made any longer.

I was able to find a USED one on Amazon for over $100. I was not about to pay that much for a used toy and I wasn't even sure how I was going to to explain to Peter that it was in a used previously opened box.

The item on his list that he added in black is easily available and at a bargain price of $29.00 but he added it AFTER all of his gifts had been ordered. So I hope he likes the things that Santa picked out for him.

Luckily for me, Santa took the lists from the kids after they sat on his lap and put them in his candy cane basket. There will be no evidence of asked for and not received toys!

Maybe Sarah won't remember that she asked for a clock and maybe Peter won't remember that he asked for a Droid Carrier.

Christmas miracles do happen, don't they?

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Miracle Monday

Happy Miracle Monday!

I'm looking forward to reading about all the wonderful miracles God has performed but first, I'd like to tell you about Kimberly's miracle.

Recently Kimberly was talking on the phone with her mom like she normally does several times a day.

Kimberly was on her cell phone and so was her mother.

In the middle of their conversation, Kimberly heard a strange noise and then silence. When she asked her mom what was wrong, her mom finally responded with, "I've been in a wreck and it's real bad."

And then the line went dead.

Kimberly who lives three hours away from her mom did the only thing that she could do - she prayed and she prayed and she prayed some more!

Finally after an hour of waiting and praying, her mom called and let Kimberly know that she had been in a car accident and the car was totaled but she was fine - not even a scratch! What a wonderful miracle!

You can read all of Kimberly's Miracle Monday post here.

I would like to ask for your prayers this week for Denise. Many of you already know Denise, but if not, please go check out her blog, Shortybear's Place.

Denise is experiencing many health issues. In addition to this, her husband's hours at work have been greatly reduced and he also won't be working for three weeks during Christmas.

But Denise continues to be faithful and constantly praises God through everything.

Denise is a faithful prayer warrior and right now could use our prayers. So please pray for Denise's health and her husband's work situation.


Now it's your turn. It's easy to participate in Miracle Monday. Just post a miracle on your blog and link it back here using Mr. Linky below.

Please mention "A Mom's Life" and my URL in your post. And if you want, you can use the Miracle Monday button in your post as well.

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This edition of Miracle Monday is now closed. Please come back next Monday if you would like to link to a miracle on your blog. If you are looking for other miracles, please check our Miracle Monday archives located on the right sidebar.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Glittery Snowflake Window UnCling

In my never ending attempt to be crafty, I decided that the kids and I should make the glittery snowflake window cling craft from December's Family Fun Magazine.

It seemed simple enough that even I could handle it. You just trace a pattern with fabric paint onto wax paper and let it dry over night and then they are supposed to cling to your windows making them look all snowy and cheery and wintry.

Deciding that even I could handle that, I purchased some glittery fabric paint from Wal-Mart. I think each bottle was $2.97.
I downloaded the snowflake template from Family Fun and I traced the pattern onto wax paper.

And Sarah and I sat down to make glittery window cling snowflakes.

At 4, Sarah lacked the control she needed to follow the lines of the snowflake while squeezing the paint, so hers ended up looking like glittery blobs.

I was pleased with the way mine looked so we left them to dry overnight.

The next morning the kids and I peeled them off the wax paper and hung them on the windows. We were excited that they actually clung like they were supposed to.

We were not excited the next morning when we found that they had all come "unclung" from the windows. And even trying to restick them didn't work for more than a few minutes.

But being the resourceful mother that I am, I hung ornament hangers in them and tried to hang them from my tree. They looked cute but were a little floppy and kept folding into themselves. Not the look I was hoping for.

So if you are looking for an easy snowflake craft for the 4 year old set, this isn't it.

If you are looking for an easy way to make floppy snowflake ornaments that grown ups can do, this is it.

Happy floppy snowflake making!

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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Kindergarten update...

We found out on Tuesday that Peter will not have to switch Kindergarten classes. Both he and his BFF Colton get to stay in their current class.

I was thrilled to learn this. However, Peter's new friend Gilberto is one of the kids that have to move.

When I told Peter the news, he started crying. It was rather pitiful.

Luckily the tears didn't last long and I think he's getting used to the idea of his new buddy not being in his class. He told me yesterday that on Friday he and Gilberto got to play at the Lego table together and then he added in a quiet voice, "at least we got to play there one more time together."

He said that without tears so that's progress.

I'm still praying for the new teacher (she's actually an experienced Kindergarten teacher) and all the kids that have to switch classes but for now, I'm just glad Peter gets to stay where he is!

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Friday, December 5, 2008

The Secret to Moist, Chewy, Delicious Chocolate Chip Cookies

On Tuesday I received the Pampered Chef medium scoop that I ordered and decided that I needed to make some Toll House cookies for my family.

I used to make chocolate chip cookies for Dan quite frequently but once the kids came along my energy level plummeted and along with it went my desire to spend lots of time in the kitchen baking.

So to compensate, I've been "baking" my family cookies with the pre-made Nestle cookie dough.

And while these are okay, there's nothing like eating real made-from-scratch cookie dough.

So while my kids had settled in to watch the Polar Express, I whipped up a batch of original Toll House cookies.

In a flash, I had the dough mixed up and was ducking down behind the cabinets eating large spoonfuls of it.
Sarah kept asking when it would be ready so she could have a lick.
I felt a little nauseous from all the dough I had eaten and decided I better give the kids some before I ate it all.

Then I used my Pampered Chef medium scoop. It was so much easier to use than the normal spoon and finger routine. And look how uniform they look....
And here is the finished product....

And here's the secret for delicious, moist, chewy wonderful chocolate chip cookies....


Take them out of the oven before they look done. It will be hard to do, but trust me. I took these out at 9 minutes and they looked like pancake batter that was just starting to get tiny holes in them.

Leave them on the pan while the next pan of cookies is baking (for 9 minutes) and then when the second batch is done, take the first batch off of the pan. They will have finished baking and will be solid enough to remove from the pan.

And trust me, they will be delicious!

And I should know, because I had chocolate chip cookies for breakfast!

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Crayola, if you are reading this, call me!

I was on the Toys R Us website this morning trying to complete the kid's Christmas shopping.
As I was perusing the "Art" category looking for something Sarah might love, I came across the Crayola Cutter with Sparkle Crafts.

As soon as I saw this product, I laughed out loud.
Check out the extremely fake look of disbelief on the little boy's face.

Check out the creepy look on the little girl's face.

I figured that any product that can elicit looks like these from the child actors must be a horrible product.

Either that or they are horrible actors.

So I checked the online reviews for this product and found out that the majority of the reviewers hate it because it does not work.

Even the actors knew this toy was a bust.

I just wonder how much the actors got paid for those horrible faces? Because my kids would be great at that!

Just look at the shot I snapped a couple of weeks ago when I was trying to take their picture for the Christmas card...

I think we have the fake overly excited look and creepy grin down pat!

Wonder if Crayola needs face models for any other bad products? My kids may have found their calling.

****Edited***** Just found out from BlondeMom Jaime that there is a blog carnival of bad Christmas card out takes being hosted by DesignHer Momma. It's a giveaway so I'm in! Go check her out.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Photo Cards That Actually Say "Merry Christmas"!

Every year it seems harder and harder to find a place with a good selection of photo Christmas cards that actually say "Merry Christmas" as opposed to "Happy Holidays" or "Seasons Greetings".

I want my Christmas cards to say "Merry Christmas"! Is that so wrong? I mean, it is Christmas after all!

So imagine my delight when I came across VistaPrint!

VistaPrint is a great online print shop that has tons and tons of photo Christmas cards to choose from and guess what? There is an excellent selection of cards that actually say "Merry Christmas".

In addition to cards with space for one picture, they also have many cards with space for multiple pictures. But, I had a hard enough time getting one photo I liked of the kids, much less three or four. Maybe next year...

And in addition to a large selection of cards that say Merry Christmas...they are reasonably priced! I got 100 photo cards, envelopes, 140 FREE matching return address labels and shipping for $37.00.

All that and Merry Christmas! Now that, Works for Me!

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Oh Christmas Tree! Oh Christmas Tree!

I love the ornaments on my Christmas tree. They all have special meaning.

We can remember where we got them or why we selected them and we enjoy reminiscing every year while decorating the tree.

But now that the kids are starting to get older, they are coming home from school with ornaments they have made and they want to put them on my tree!

On my beautiful tree!

Last year in preschool Peter made an angel out of a large white paper plate. It's a cute angel, but it's made out of a paper plate.

A large white paper plate.

It stands out like a sore thumb on my tree of colorful glass ornaments and intricate Hallmark designs.

As we were decorating the tree last weekend, Peter spotted this angel at the bottom of the ornament box and hung it front and center, proudly declaring "This is the angel that I made last year in school!"

And I will admit, as he hung this ornament in the most prominent spot on the tree, I cringed a little.

No problem, I thought. I'll just move it when he goes outside to play.

And that's exactly what I did.
As soon as he went outside, I took his ornament and I moved it to the back lower branches of the tree.

Later that evening, Peter came in and said, "Where's my angel ornament?" And after a frantic search he exclaimed, "Hey! Why is my angel way back here at the bottom of the tree?"

So I sighed a little sigh and I told him to place it wherever he wanted it to be.
And that's exactly what he did.

As I told my husband the story later that evening, he gave me a hard time and told me that Christmas is for kids. And then he does what he always does and reminds me that they will be gone soon.

And you know what? As usual, he's right. (There honey! You've got it in writing! You are right - as usual!)
Christmas is for kids. It's all about the kids learning about Jesus. It's all about the kids learning that giving feels good. And it's all about the excitement they have on Christmas morning.

So now, when I look at my tree, I smile.

And I'm pretty sure that every year I am going to place the kid's handmade ornaments front and center to remind me that Christmas is about a little baby - and not about my tree.

Can you spot Peter's angel ornament??

Here's a close-up...

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Monday, December 1, 2008

Miracle Monday

Is it Monday already?

If so, it must be Miracle Monday. Please share a miracle with us today!

It's easy to participate. Just post a miracle on your blog and link it back here using Mr. Linky below.

Please mention "A Mom's Life" and my URL in your post. And if you want, you can use the Miracle Monday button in your post as well.

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This edition of Miracle Monday is now closed. Please come back next Monday if you would like to link to a miracle on your blog. If you are looking for other miracles, please check our Miracle Monday archives located on the right sidebar.