A Life Stirred

10 on 10–Candy Cane Version

So, I’m not going to lie.  I really like doing this Ten on Ten thing–taking 10 pictures throughout the day, capturing the beauty in the ordinary.  Generally, it’s so easy to just see the ordinary.  The diaper changes, the meal preps, the dishes, the messes, the tantrums, and on and on.  BUT today I got to focus on the beauty that’s within the ordinary.  So fun!

Also, it didn’t hurt that this day was a little more exciting than most.  I mean, any day that involves a copious amount of cookies and frosting and Mini M&Ms has got to be a pretty beautiful day, right?

This month’s theme was Candy Canes.  It’s subtle, but it’s there.  And I promise I didn’t stage that picture of Claire!

Early morning sister bonding.  (A big thank you goes out to Curious George for making this moment possible.)

Early morning sister bonding. (A big thank you goes out to Curious George for making this moment possible.)

Oh no!  A breakable ornament that we didn't move up high enough.  (Also, how many candy canes do you see?)

Oh no! A breakable ornament that we didn’t move up high enough. (Also, how many candy canes do you see?)

Entertaining herself with sprinkles while we wait for our friends to come.  (And she helped to pre-decorate the floor.)

Entertaining herself with sprinkles while we wait for our friends to come. (And she helped to pre-decorate the floor.)

Oh the chaos!  Actually it wasn't that bad.  The kiddos ate most of the toppings, so not much ended up on the floor.

Oh the chaos! Actually it wasn’t that bad. The kiddos ate most of the toppings, so not much ended up on the floor.

Looking for more Mini M&Ms.  She's a fan.

Looking for more Mini M&Ms. She’s a fan.

Oh, yeah...the baby!  We get some quality time when Big Sister takes a nap.

Oh, yeah…the baby! We get some quality time when Big Sister takes a nap.  Love that smile and love-eyes.

Setting up the pins.

Setting up the pins.

She's got the right idea.  I feel like that's advanced for a 5 month old.

She’s got the right idea. I feel like that’s advanced for a 5 month old.  Too bad it’s not real.

Reading while we wait for Dada to get home.

Reading while we wait for Dada to get home.

Sidenote: After reading this post, I thought I should be in a picture too.

Wearing Baby Sister's hat over her face.  What a goof!

Wearing Baby Sister’s hat over her face. What a goof!

As you can see, it was a good day!

 ten on ten button

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The Christmas Crazies

There’s just something about this month that makes us all want to be festive.  All the time.  Cookies, crafts, ugly sweater parties, Yankee Swaps, TV specials, trees, pageants, light parades, concerts…and on and on and on.

A cookie decorating day from a few years ago.  Christmas crazy alright!

A cookie decorating day from a few years ago. Christmas crazy alright!

And all those things are fun…and not bad in and of themselves.  But we all know that something is missing in our Christmas festivities.  Something is off.  And we feel it.

But what can you do?  How can it change?  How do we get back to the heart of Christmas?!   How do you say “no” to things that are good and enjoyable?  Because there’s nothing wrong with just one more Christmas party.  But when it’s your 12th Christmas party of the month, and it’s only December 6th, it might be good to say no.  Hard.  But good.

And I’m not expert.  (Hope you weren’t expect answers to those rhetorical questions up there.)  In fact, I actually stink at saying no.  But here’s the ironic part of this Christmas season for me….

I’m not overwhelmed.  Not because I have it all figured out, but because I haven’t been asked/invited to many events.  And the ugly part of my heart feels jealous and left-out.  I talk to friends who are stressed out and just can’t add anything else to their days and who are lamenting that they’re so frustrated with the busyness.  And I get jealous.  That 13 year old girl in my mind rears her ugly head and I start to feel like maybe no body likes me.  Why aren’t I overwhelmed with Christmas events?  If I were more popular, I’d have too much on my plate too!!  Ugly, right?

So, even with not much on my plate, my heart is still out of whack.  My focus is still oh-so-wrong this Christmas season.  I’m missing the point too!  Just as much as someone who has completely overloaded their days.

Lord, help me to remember Your son this Christmas.  Teach me to make Him the center of my days and, more importantly, my heart!  And help me to be thankful for the simple schedule I’ve had “forced” upon me.

PS  I read this article a few days ago.  So good.  Inspired me to make a point to do things with my girls.

Hot chocolate and a candy cane after sledding.  Simple.  Fun.  Sticky.

Hot chocolate and a candy cane after sledding. Simple. Fun. Sticky.

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Christmas-y Things

So I took Claire to the doctor’s yesterday.  Her eye was gross and goopy (again).  [Sidenote:  I really think they should give punch cards at the doctor’s.  You know, after 5 appointments, get your 6th visit for free.]  Turns out she has an ear infection…which I was oddly happy about.  Maybe, maybe this explains the crummy sleep thing?  We’ll see in a few days.

With Christmas a mere 21 days away, a here’s-how-we-celebrate-Christmas-and-keep-it-simple-and-about-Jesus post is in order (according to all the mommy blogs I read).  Buuuuut, why reinvent the wheel?  I thought I’d just share some of the things I’ve come across that have sparked my thoughts lately.

A baby under the tree?  Cutest present ever!

A baby under the tree? Cutest present ever!

Let’s start off with a few good blog-y reads:

“Hello from the Nato’s”–Jami blogs about how her family had a very ungrateful attitude at Christmas a few years ago, and it spurred them to do Christmas differently.   This is a great read if you feel like Christmas needs to be different this year!

And also from Jami, a few free Christmas printables.  And who doesn’t love a few free printables.

And then if Jami isn’t radical enough, Jen Hatmaker has you covered.  Her family is doing away with Santa and crazy-gift giving.  But don’t worry, she won’t judge you if you still love Santa.  I’m intrigued by that idea.  We’re not quite at that point, but as she says, it’s “easier to do right the first time rather than try to undo later.”  So maybe we should come up with a plan now while the kiddos are young.

Looking for an advent sermon series?

I really enjoyed Matt Chandler’s 2012 Advent Series.  I’m sure this year’s will be good too.

She Reads Truth is doing a series on Emmanuel.  I’m only 3 days in, but it’s good!

Or maybe you  just want to watch a YouTube video that’ll make you smile?

Then check these out:

Straight No Chaser’s 12 Days of Christmas.  I laugh every.single.time.

And this awesome version of Hallelujah is absolutely worth the three minutes.

Enjoy!

(And feel free to suggest other good blog reads, sermon series, or videos.  I love finding new, festive things!)

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Sleeping Like a Baby

What’s up with that phrase?  Seriously. 

Sleeping like a baby.  I imagine a sweet, snuggly baby, wrapped in a blanket and smelling clean.  I imagine pink, chubby cheeks that just beg to be kissed.  I imagine hours and hours of undisturbed, conked-out sleep.  Sleeping like a baby.  <happy sigh>

Sleeping like a baby.  Yes, like this!

Sleeping like a baby. Yes, like this!

Sleeping like a baby.  I do not imagine half hour catnaps.  I do not imagine lots and lots of crying and squirming (thankyouverymuch, baby gas).  I do not imagine a car seat as the only guaranteed location for any quality sleep.  Sleeping like a baby.  HA!  <tired sigh>

Claire’s been going through a phase.  At least I hope it’s a phase.  I’m pretty sure it’s a phase.  I mean, you don’t often see a high schooler sleeping in their car seat, right?  Right?!!

Time will tell if Claire is the first high school kid to require a car seat for sleep.

Time will tell if Claire is the first high school kid to require a car seat for sleep.  That’ll make for some interesting sleepovers.

Regardless, it’s a rough phase.  I just can’t get Claire to sleep on a convenient schedule.  Joanna was too good to me.  She just kind of fell into a nap schedule.  I really didn’t have to do much.  It’s harder this time.  And I’m tireder. (See?  That’s not even a word.  That’s how tired I am!)  So there’s that.

So in my world lately, there’s been a lot of rocking.  A lot of fighting being rocked.  A lot of eating (on Claire’s part).  A lot of eating on my part too, if I’m honest.  A lot of wondering what I should do about my non-sleeping baby.  A lot of wishing I could just get a break!  A lot of realizing that maybe being a mom means that you don’t get a break.

This week, my world needs more thankfulness.  I need to stop stressing about Claire’s sleep patterns.  She will sleep when she sleeps.  And I’m probably not messing her up for life.  I mean, you don’t often see a 16 year old who needs to be bounced to sleep.  I need to enjoy my girls and their little-ness right now (no-naps and tantrums and all).  I need less gigantic to-do lists, and more in-the-moment-ness.

This week, I need more of the Lord.  I need to look to Him for strength and patience and energy.  I have not been making that a priority lately.  And I think that accounts for so much of my frustration and exhaustion and irritation.  Lord, help me seek You first this week.  In this season of Advent, Lord, give me anticipation for Your coming.

So, here’s hoping my week looks more like this…

A sleeping baby and the Word.  Yes, please.

A sleeping baby and the Word. Yes, please.

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