31 December 2011

Goodbye 2011!

Another year has come and gone . . . as the saying goes, "Where does the time go?"

I think that time is a very static element, one that is often hard to wrap one's mind around. Minutes can seem so short, hours can seem so long, and days sometimes even longer, and yet the years fly by in the twinkling of an eye. The days are filled with sameness and the years are filled with change.

As one day rolls into another, I try more and more to cherish the time that I have with my family, especially my children. Even though sometimes it is hard changing diapers on three children all day and trying (and always miserably failing) to keep up with the house and the constant (it seems) food preparation and keep my sanity, this truly is a season in life. One I'm sure in which I'll look back upon and say "Wow! That went by so fast!"

Already Daphne is almost five months, Sophie will be turning three years old in a few short months and Edward will be two! I can see the change in them as they grow. Sophie has recently gotten so tall; in fact I just noticed she has outgrown her shoes again. She is also talking in more and more sentences. Edward is climbing and doing more and more problem solving (those two combined usually don't have good consequences), and is talking and saying more and more words. Daphne is more and more alert and eager to be in on the play with her brother and sister. She is always eager to respond with a smile and is a baby who knows what she wants (which is not to nap by herself, lol.)

With three little ones so close in age (currently still three under three years old), it can be hard to find a few quiet moments with Mike. Life definitely is not the same when you have children. Sometimes I look back on our relationship when we were childless and it seems so far away. Mike is a wonderfully supportive husband for whom I am so grateful. He is great with the children, although there are of course things we don't always agree upon. When I think about Mike as a husband, he is always supportive of me and I am so grateful that I can turn to him for advice about this or that. And I love our little intellectual conversations. Mike's intelligence is constantly blowing my mind. I know the Lord has great things in store for him.

2011 was a very interesting year. I started the year very depressed, was healed of that depression at Restoration Ministries in Nebraska (a HUGE thank you to Ruth and Paul for allowing us to go!) and just as I started to get a handle on life being pregnant with a two toddlers, life threw us a curve ball. My body did not want to keep Daphne and I went into labor at 27 weeks. I was put on modified bed rest, but who can rest when you have to take care of two toddlers all day? I was hospitalized at 31 weeks for pre-term labor and by God's grace and mercy, I did not deliver Daphne early. I was put on bed rest full time. Mike's amazing supervisor's and Captain sent Mike home to take care of things at home while I was confined to bed. He did an amazing job stepping up into the role of full time caregiver, including taking care of the house. The ladies with PWOC and the Meal Ministry team at our church Desert Springs provided meals during those months and we were so incredibly blessed by their generosity.

I delivered my beautiful and precious Daphne on Aug 6th, at 39 weeks, again only by the grace and Mercy of the Lord.

Life since then has been typical life with a newborn - sleep deprived and trying to find the new routine for life. Ruth, my MIL, stayed with us the first two weeks of Daphne's life and she was an amazing saving grace. I am so thankful for her help.

We have settled into the new routine fairly well. In the mornings we have a lovely time reading stories together and singing songs. I try to get some housework done, but the constant hopping over the gate (although Mike switched the baby gates so there is no more hopping! The one in the kitchen has a gate in it!), it is hard to get things accomplished.

I love seeing the relationships between my children blossom and grow. Sophie and Edward are very close, and Edward and Daphne are developing a little bond between them. Edward is ever the doting brother, most of the time very tender and gentle. Sophie is a little ball of energy and passion and I love watching her play and seeing what she is thinking about. I love that they are happy children; I feel as though we are doing something right as parents.

I am looking forward to the new year and seeing what it will bring. Life is good, although sometimes a bit hectic. The Lord is always there to give me the strength that I need and I am so grateful to Him for all He has done and for who He is. I have found my relationship with Him growing more and more this year. There are times when I feel He is far away, but that is usually because I haven't been faithful in my Bible reading. The Lord really used the time I was on bed rest to grow closer to Him. We all have different paths in life to follow, set by the Lord, but He is with us every step of the way. Even when we think He has abandoned us to the darkness and trials of life, He is there. I can see His hand in everything in my life and I am so grateful. I haven't always been able to honestly say that I long for His coming, but now that has changed. Even though I love my life here on Earth, I do long for His coming and to see Him and worship Him in person. How awesome that will be! :)

Happy New Year everyone! :D

30 December 2011

Christmas Card 2011

Merry Christmas from all of us!
Photo Card
View the entire collection of cards.

28 December 2011

The Magic Room discussions

Hi everyone,

There's a great discussion of The Magic Room by Jeffrey Zaslow going on over at BlogHer for the next few weeks. Head on over here to check it out! Head over here to see my review of the book, which will be coming to stores in early 2012! :D

27 December 2011

Christmas 2011

Christmas this year was really wonderful; we had a really great Christmas!
Sophie (2 yrs old), Daphne (4 mo old) and Edward (21 mo) - I couldn't get a pic with all them looking at the camera and smiling at the same time, so looking at Daddy will have to do :)

 Mike and I decided to open presents on Christmas Eve morning since we had church on Christmas Day. We didn't want to skip church, and we have a hard enough time getting to church on time without throwing in opening presents into the mix, so opening presents on Christmas Eve it was. :)

  Now the kids are still young enough that they don't have the excited anticipation build up to Christmas morning, and thus there was no being up at 6am and racing down the stairs to dive into the presents. So we had a leisurely breakfast of cinnamon rolls first, then I got the kids all dressed in their Christmas outfits that my dear friend April sent from Oklahoma. And we took some pictures . ..
 Sophie actually opened most of her presents herself this year, although she did need some help. I tried to get her to give up her "uh-oh" (pacifier) to open presents, but she wouldn't have any of that without a melt down, so I let her keep it. She had a lot of fun going from one present to the next and saying "ooh". She wanted to play with her new toys as soon as she opened her gift and we had to keep reminding her to open her other presents. :)
   . . . and then we got into the presents!
 Daphne is the child that we had to keep from opening the presents early, so she was all set to dig in on Christmas morning. We put her in her bumbo seat because she's can't quite sit up on her own yet, and boy did she go at it! She kept reaching as far as her little arms could to get to presents, or paper and had so much fun. What a little joy she is! Daphne's very serious and focused on getting into this gift . . .
 It is so fun doing Christmas with kids! Watching them open, or in our case, attempt to open, their presents and see what they got. Taking pictures of all the festivities! (And my camera is working again - yay!!)
  Edward (notice he removed his pants already??) opened his first present, which was two board books, one of which was "Good Night Moon". "Good Night Moon" is Edward's absolutely most favorite book. Ever. He calls it his "Night Night" book, and he says it with a soft voice that is just full of affection - it's so sweet. He used to have this book, and he took that book everywhere. To bed. Playing. In the car. At the table. Everywhere. Well, it was loved to pieces. Literally. It couldn't even be taped back together. So I had to throw it away. Sad, sad day. So when he saw his "Night Night" book, he immediately sat down in the corner by the other presents and started reading it. He read it over and over and over again, quietly saying "Night Night" as he loving touched each page. All other presents were forgotten for the time being.
 Edward got up to give Daphne some kisses - they are so sweet together.

  My PWOC Secret Sister got Sophie, Edward and Daphne a lot of presents. I was actually stunned when a friend came by with a box of gifts for the kids. I thought I was going to cry when I saw what she had done - what an amazing woman and friend she is! I can't wait to find out who she is . . . They each got some really nice clothes, and Edward got a remote controlled car! He was pretty wowed by it.
 Sophie got a baby doll, complete with bottles, pacifier, and diaper. She loves it! As soon as I got the baby doll out of the package, she wanted to give her baby doll a bottle, so she asked her baby doll: "Do you want some juice?" Apparently, the baby doll did indeed want some juice. A little while later she asked me to nurse the baby doll, lol. When she discovered that she could take off the baby doll's diaper, she did, and she quietly gasped "Oh, gosh!" in a whispered voice. (Apparently I say this when the kids, especially Daphne, have a really poopie diaper. The things your kids repeat!) She loves to carry her baby doll around, and puts her baby doll in the high chair for all of our meals. It's so sweet to see her being a little mother!

 Daphne got this really neat toy that plays music when you pull on its' cord. I put in on her swing and she figured it out super fast. So now she is always pulling on the cord and playing music when she's in her swing. In the pic above, she was really tired out from opening all the presents.

This picture (above) is later in the day after I had to change her outfit. She is such a smiley, happy baby. I love it! :D

We went to the Christmas Eve service at church, which was really good. The opening video was awesome! I'll have to find a link to it somewhere . . . I served in the Infant room for the first service at 4pm and then I went to the 6pm service. Mike and I had a break down in communication, so he ended up bringing the kids to the 4pm service late and then took them home for dinner.

Sunday morning we got up as usual and went to church. Pastor Ryan had a great message on Psalm 24 that really answered some questions for me. For dinner we went to our good friends Tammi and Dave's for dinner. They have five children, and their youngest, Bitty, is 3 and she and Sophie are really good friends. Mike and I had a great time over at their house hanging out with everyone. Lindsey put on a really good presentation of the Nativity with her PlayMobile nativity figures. Tammi, Eli and Emily and I played Catch Phrase, which was a lot of fun.

And of course, it has to be said that Jesus is absolutely the reason for the season. I am so incredibly grateful that He loves us so much that He chose to come down to earth in the form of an infant child and take on our sins and fulfill God's plan - to take our place and die on the cross. And then rise again, defeating death. Christmas is such a special time of year because it is a reminder of the awe-inspiring grace and wonder that God came down from Heaven, to earth, to dwell with us, and took on human form. And that form was a tiny baby. An infant. Completely helpless. Totally dependent upon a human mother. So amazing. Wow . . .I look at my children and I think that Jesus went through all of that, so that He could know what we humans go through day to day. Jesus is just so awesome! :D 

Merry Christmas everyone!

22 December 2011

We Got a Tree!

We finally got a tree! :D I am so excited! I wrote earlier about how we hadn't gotten a Christmas Tree, and I was a bit down and what having a Christmas Tree meant to me. Well, Mike didn't read that post, but I had talked to him about it, so he got me a beautiful (artificial) tree for Christmas! Yay!

 We went to Hobby Lobby on Friday night with all the kids to pick out a tree, since they were discounted 50%. It was nice to have an outing with the whole family. :)

Pickings were pretty slim, as most of the trees had sold out. We did get a beautiful 7.5 foot Arizona slim pine for a great price though. In the top pick, Mike is putting the tree together. We did this after the kids had gone to bed.
 It was kind of romantic, listening to Christmas carols, drinking egg nog and "sprucing" up the tree. Daphne, of course, joined us. She really loves to be worn, and I am once again so grateful for my baby wrap!
 Here is the tree part way through the decoration process on Saturday morning.
 After breakfast was over, we put on more Christmas carols, got out the box of Christmas decorations and started decorating the tree together as a family. I decided to put Daphne in the bumbo seat by the tree so that she could watch what was going on. I was going to be doing a lot of bending down into the decoration box, so I didn't want to wear her this time.
 Edward really enjoying digging into the decoration box too when he wasn't removing ornaments from the tree. :)
 Sophie understood the whole process of putting ornaments on the tree almost immediately and she went right to work. She's quite efficient. And completely adorable!
 Here's Mike and Edward (I know, I know, we haven't dressed him yet) decorating the tree together. I love how Edward would watch Mike put an ornament on so that he could copy him. He really loves to do everything that his daddy does.

 I think this picture of Edward really captures the wonder of Christmas - I just love it! This is Edward's first Christmas tree, so it's a real treat to watch him take everything in.
I also put up our stockings, although we moved them to a different spot a few hours later after Edward pulled one down and the stocking holder, which is quite solid and heavy, fell on his foot and bruised it. If my parents are reading, do you recognize the stocking in the middle??

I'll have to get a picture of our tree all lit up. The tree has white lights on it, which is new for me. Mike wanted to get white lights and I thought it would be pretty in our living room. Since the tree has lights on it, I also thought we could use the colored strands of lights that we have at home to decorate the windows and the stair banister, which I did. So we have both. I love it!

The kids have actually been fairly good with the tree and presents that are under the tree. They have removed a few ornaments, but after some discipline, I think they know not to do that. Same with presents, except for Daphne, who is too young to discipline. Plus it was just so cute the way she was tearing into a present from her bumbo chair earlier this afternoon. Who would have thought a four month old could unwrap a present? Not me!

As far as other Christmas traditions, we have watched the Muppets Christmas Carol (yes, that is one of my Christmas traditions!), and I am reading Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. I did make some mint chocolate chip cookies for Mike, but they turned out to be more like mint chocolate chip rocks . . . I am hoping to make some gingerbread cookies or a gingerbread house with the kids and Mike before the week of Christmas is over . . .

Other Christmas traditions that we didn't do this year, but I would like to start doing: (well, I guess that doesn't make them traditions, but anyway . . . ), counting down the days to Christmas with an advent calendar, maybe celebrating Hannukah, going caroling, making cookies for the neighbors, making a Christmas ornament with each of the kids, decorating cookies with the kids, participating in the Christmas shoebox drive with a box from each child, making Christmas cards, getting a family Christmas picture taken in front of our tree, making a special Christmas bread (I'm going to do that on Christmas Eve for breakfast on Christmas morning this year) and I just heard about this thing called a Jesse Tree from my friend Abby that sounds really neat. I want to learn more about it. And of course reading the Christmas story from Matthew and Luke in the Bible. :) Did I miss anything for making a tradition with the family? I know I sound pretty ambitious . . .

So what Christmas traditions do you celebrate? What do you with your family ever year? :)

Merry Christmas everyone!

Let it Snow!

Right now, as I type, it is snowing like crazy outside. And by crazy, I mean that we have winds sustained over 30 mph with gusts over 40 mph . . . with "possible blizzard conditions".

It's supposed to be like this all night . . .

It is definitely cold outside!

I'll have to take pics in the morning and post them.

Stay warm out there!

Faithful Blogging Prompt: Prayer

This is something new for me: I am linking up with Faithful Bloggers today. What is Faithful Bloggers? Well, it's an online community of Christian bloggers that I found today, and they post topics to encourage readers, well really writers, to blog.

So the prompt I am writing about is: How do you incorporate prayer into your everyday life?

I try to take the verse in I Thessalonians literally that says "Pray without ceasing." Of course, I fail miserably at this. Who can pray all the time? However, I do try to pray silently in my head throughout the day.

What's my secret? I try to use things I want to complain about to initiate prayer. For example, if I think about how much I don't particularly like winter, I'll pray to thank the Lord for a warm house to have shelter in, warm clothes to wear, especially for the kids, and so on.

I also try to have a running conversation, if you will, with the Lord. Just talk to Him throughout the day. I try to give praise for this or that in my life, express my gratitude, share with Him my sorrows, thank Him for my children (this is easy when they're being precious and adorable and hard when they're being naughty or whiny), tell Him my fears and wishes, pray for friends who come to mind and so on. Yes, sometimes I complain. And tell Him that that I'm upset with so and so and hurt by so and so. That's the beauty of prayer: there isn't a formula that you have to follow. You just share your heart with the Lord.

I'm not trying to make myself sound like I have it all together spiritually, because I definitely don't. There are days when I don't pray. Those days are usually not very good for me.

The thing is, Jesus is not just my Lord and Savior, He is my Comforter, my Rock, my constant source of support (and boy do I need a lot of support!) and my friend. If Daphne, who is now 4 months old, is crying and I can't comfort her immediately because I'm in the middle of changing someone else's diaper or cooking a meal, I ask the Lord to provide her comfort until I can tend to her needs. Not kidding.

I just need Him so much. And He loved me enough to create me, to save me, to die for my sins. He knows that I fail so much in what I do: He knows that I am human. And He knows what that is like first-hand too. His mercies truly are new every morning and He knows that I need that.

In essence, I guess prayer to me is similar to talking to my husband - of course I want to participate in conversations with Him (and my husband too!).  Because of love. Is prayer hard? Sometimes. Have I always prayed like this? No. Can anyone pray like this? Absolutely! Just start talking - He is listening and He is always, always there. He will never leave you nor forsake you.

So how do you incorporate prayer into your everyday life?

The Magic Room by Jeffrey Zaslow

Hey there - it's an update! Head on over to the Magic Room at BlogHer and check out our discussions! :D
I'm linking up to the BlogHer book club to review The Magic Room by Jeffrey Zaslow! Head on over for lots of fun discussions of the book and its' author! We start on 28 December 2011! :) (I'll update with links on Wednesday, 28December. So come back and see me then!) :)

Every wedding day has a story that leads up to it: some are traditional, some have tragic elements, others are inspiring. Each is unique to the two people who are joining their lives together in holy matrimony.

Before the wedding, the bride needs to find something to wear: the perfect wedding dress. In Jeffrey Zaslow's book, The Magic Room, Zaslow travels to Becker's Bridal in Fowler, Michigan, a generations of family owned bridal shop in a small town. It is there at Becker's that brides journey to find the perfect dress, standing in "the magic room", each bringing her own story with her.

The "magic room" is a special room at Becker's Bridal, made just for the bride. In a former bank vault, surrounded by walls lined with mirrors, stands a pedestal upon which a woman can stand transformed into a glowing bride.

Brides like Erika,who has taken a vow of purity with her Marine fiance, and Danielle, whose mother wasn't able to be with her after passing away unexpectedly at the age of thirty-three, stand in the Magic Room and reflect upon their journeys that led them to this magical point. Zaslow shares their stories poignantly, making you laugh and cry and leaving you feeling as if you know these women personally and wishing that you could continue to follow their lives as their stories unfold into the future.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book as part of BlogHer review program.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

21 December 2011

Beef Stew in a Whole Wheat Bread Bowl

It's time for the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop again! I'm linking up with Premeditated Leftovers; click on the link and hop over and join us for some fabulous recipes! :)

This week, I'm going to write about homemade beef stew in a whole wheat bread bowl. Beef stew, the thick kind with tons of carrots and potatoes, is one of my favorite soups/stews.

I think my favorite memory associated with this meal is one day when I was a young teenager, my Dad took my brother and me to Richmond (when we used to live in Virginia) to an outdoor ice rink. It was great fun, skating around in the snow next to the James River. Afterward, we went to my Grandmother's house, and she had made beef stew and biscuits (always from scratch), and after being out in the cold skating for a few hours, it was quite possibly the best meal I've ever had! Sadly, I don't have her recipe, and she is no longer with us.

Since then, I've tried to recreate that meal, but usually not with success. However, the last time I made this, the week of Thanksgiving, I think I came the closest I've ever come. Yay!

Beef Stew in a Whole Wheat Bread Bowl

For the bread bowls, please visit Naturally Ella. She has other fantastic recipes too!

For the beef stew:
3/4-1 pound beef, cubed - I used leftover roast beef from when I made some in my crockpot the day before. You can also use stew beef.
beef stock - about 3-4 cups. I used the leftover stock from when I made roast in the crockpot
potatoes - about 4 medium, peeled or unpeeled, cubed
1/2 onion, sauteed - optional. There was onion in my roast, so I used some of that.
carrots - about 5, peeled and chopped. I really love carrots, so I actually use a lot more.
parsnip - 2-3, peeled, chopped. Optional. They don't sell parsnip at the commissary here, so I didn't add any.
Corn starch - 4-8 tablespoons
Salt and pepper

Put it together:
Place the beef in a large pot. Add the beef stock and heat on medium high.
When the water is close to boiling, add the potatoes and carrots and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low for simmering.
Add the cornstarch, one tablespoon at a time and stir thoroughly. You have added enough cornstarch when the gravy is moderately thick. Season with salt and pepper.
Simmer on low one to two hours.
Serve in a warm bread bowl, or over biscuits, or by itself. :)
Great for a cold winter day, especially if you've gone ice skating.

14 December 2011

Thoughts on Psalm 116

My dear friend Maiden, who PCS'd from Kirtland almost a year ago, recently came up with an idea for us to help keep in touch and encourage one another. She suggested that we text a verse that spoke to us and a tip every day to each other.

I have to say that I really love, and appreciate, and feel blessed by, this idea of hers. She is such an encouragement! I hope that I am an encouragement to her as well.

She is also giving me accountability in my quiet time, which I really need. This wasn't part of the spoken deal, but for me, it is an added benefit. :)

And then there are days like today where the Lord just really speaks to me through His Word and I am in such awe at what He has to say to me.

"I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; 
he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live."

There are so many times in my life where I know that the Lord has heard me when I cried out to Him. Whether it was to comfort a crying child, heal a wound (physical or emotional), prayer for comfort for a friend, for deliverance - and so much more - He heard me.

I remember back when I was super depressed in my first trimester in my pregnancy with Daphne.

"The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came upon me;
I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
"Oh Lord, save me!""

And He did. Boy did He. Not only from the depression that had enveloped me, but long before that time, when I was 23, He saved me with His Saving Grace. His perfect gift of Salvation through His death on the cross. He Saved me, not because of what I had done, but because of His great mercy. He loved me so much that He took my sin upon Himself, and cleansed me white as snow.

"The Lord is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
The Lord protects the simplehearted;
when I was in great need, he saved me."

What an awesome reminder of what the Lord has done! And not just for me, but each of you, my dear readers. For everyone in the whole world. Mind-boggling, isn't it?

"Be at rest once more, O my soul,
for the Lord has been good to you.
For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the Lord
in the land of the living."

What a great blessing, to be here on earth. To be given life! Not just life here on earth though, but eternal life in Heaven, sitting at the feet of Jesus, our precious Lord and Savior.

"I believed; therefore I said
"I am greatly afflicted."
And in my dismay I said,
"All men are liars.""

Anyone else been there? Like everyone you ever knew, let alone loved, let you down? Of course they did, they are humans, just like me, just like you. The Lord does not let us down though - His love and mercy and faithfulness are forever.

"How can I repay the Lord
for all his goodness to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord.
I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people."

Those verses are surely my prayer - how can I repay the Lord for what He has done for me? In truth, I can't. But I can serve the Lord my whole life - lifting up His glorious name and giving Him the glory for all He has done in my life.

"Precious in the sight of the Lord
is the death of his saints.
O Lord, truly I am your servant;
I am your servant, the son of your maidservant;
you have freed me from my chains."

Hallelujah! And what joy it is to be free, free indeed!

"I will sacrifice a thank offering to you
and call on the name of the Lord.
I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people,
in the courts of the house of hte Lord - 
in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord."
Psalm 116 (in italics)

And so let it be as I have written - that I will fulfill my vow to the Lord in the presence of His people and serve Him.

"Thank you Lord so much for all that you have done in my life. Please use me to minister to others and to love others. In Jesus name, Amen."

12 December 2011

SD Holiday Party

This past Friday the Space Development and Test Directorate (SD for short) had their Christmas Party (not holiday party) at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Albuquerque.

It was a really great time. The Booster Club did a really job with everything and the whole thing was really well done. Mike even enjoyed himself.

Mike and I

There was childcare on sight, which was really nice too. So all the kids came with us!

The hotel was all decorated for Christmas too! Unfortunately, this was the only tree that I got a picture of . .. it was a really pretty tree though!

It's pretty neat to go to squadron, or in this case, directorate, functions because you get to hear things about your spouses' work that they don't tell you about because it's the everyday norm to them. Hearing about this satellite or that, or this rocket launch or that, is really cool to me. I am so proud of Mike and all that he helps to accomplish through his work. And hearing that his work is directly affecting how things are going over in the war is really neat. It's really rewarding to know that your husband is making a difference in the world, and that in a way, you are too, because you support him. Even though Mike hasn't deployed yet, there is something to holding down the home front with the day to day inertia of activity.

Our friend Karen, Mike's former supervisor's wife.
 Dinner was really good! There was a wonderful salad, chicken and mashed potatoes with greens. In the middle of every table was a gingerbread kit and each table had to compete with the other tables to build the most creative gingerbread house. The only rule was it had to be legal. :) There are a lot of really smart and creative people in the SD!

Our gingerbread house came complete with lemon radar dish and paper tissue rocket! You could just feel the intelligence and creativity juices flowing in the room.

Shawn icing the gingerbread house. Apparently he has experience in cake decorating . . . he did a really great job.

Mike and Shawn working on the gingerbread house.

The finished product complete with lemon radar dish and paper rocket. I thought it was really good. :)
 Mike was also asked to give the Invocation to the dinner, which I thought was quite an honor. From what I heard, a chaplain wasn't available to come out, and Mike is known for his faith around the squadron, so they asked him to give the opening prayer. Mike said a really beautiful prayer and I was just so proud of him, not just for the prayer, but for openly standing up for his faith in the eyes of the entire Directorate (we're called a Directorate because we're smaller than a wing, but that would be closest equivalent).

There were lots of prizes given out throughout the night, and Mike actually won a box of Christmas wine glasses. He was also given a bottle of wine as a gift for giving the invocation, so it was a nice pairing. :) And we had a chance to have our picture taken as well, which was pretty neat.

Because there was childcare on sight, I was actually able to enjoy the whole party without being attached, figuratively and physically, to a child (not that I don't love nursing Daphne, I do, and I do love my children), but having a break is nice. When we dropped the kids off, I fed Daphne and then left her with the capable child care providers. They had my phone number, and Mikes, and a friend of ours, in case they needed to reach us if she got hungry again. But she didn't. She actually slept the entire night. It was actually the longest that Daphne and I had ever been apart - the longest before that was about 20 or 30 minutes two weeks previous when I went to WalMart without her. By apart I mean not in hearing distance or holding her. I think we did okay. :)

I did go to check on the kids once, and poor Edward was not doing well at all. It was after 2100 and he was just melting. The meltdown continued until today actually . . . Sophie did pretty well though. When we got home and got her dressed for bed, we saw that she had on one of Daphne's diapers though. Backwards. We got quite a laugh out of that. There were several "tween" girls there who no doubt wanted to help out . . . I was told that Daphne was actually the best kid out of all the kids there . . . and to think I was the most worried about how she would do . . . It puts a mother's mind at ease knowing that her infant is secure.

The whole night was really nice and a lot of fun. It was nice to have some time with Mike that wasn't interrupted. Santa and his Elf were pretty funny and the party was just really great. We didn't stay for the dancing though, we left right when that started, since by then it was about 2200. I have to say that I did not notice anyone intoxicated, which was a nice change from the 3rd Herd Christmas parties. There was an open bar, but no one was noticeably drunk. A very nice change indeed.

Next year Mike and I want to stay for the dancing. :)

11 December 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Thanksgiving has come and gone, but now I have a chance to write about it. :)

Dad hadn't met Daphne yet, so it was really neat for him to be able to meet his newest granddaughter. He was in Africa on a mission trip when she was being born, so he wasn't able to come out then. Then he had to save up some more leave since he used all his leave while he was in Africa (he was there for about 2.5 weeks). 

Thanksgiving really is my favorite holiday. I love the cooking, the eating, the getting together with family (if you are able to) and good friends. The reflection on all that we are thankful for. I love that there is a holiday set aside to remember all that you have, all that you have been given and to be thankful for it. We should be thankful every day, but it's so great that being thankful has its' own holiday. :) And marketing has a hard time capitalizing on it - that's nice too. :)

Thanksgiving was pretty good this year. It was a bit busy, but nice. My Dad and stepmom, Karen, were able to come out to visit from Florida and it was really wonderful having them visit. :) I wish I had gotten more pictures, but I didn't. :(

I had some really great conversations with Dad. He has read the Bible many, many times and teaches occasional classes, and he just has so much wisdom and insight on the Lord's teaching to share. I really enjoyed listening and learning from what he had to say.

We ended up not going anywhere (I had wanted to take them to the Botanical Gardens, but illness kept us from going. Maybe next time.) It was nice to just have Dad around though and the kids really loving have their GrandDad there to give them hugs and tickle them (they love to be tickled!).

I know Dad thoroughly enjoyed seeing them. He says that looking at Sophie is like going back in time to when I was a little girl. It's really sweet.

I did do a Thanksgiving turkey. The Air Force Sergeant's Association actually gave us (and a lot of other enlisted military families) a free thanksgiving dinner - complete with a turkey, stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce and gravy. I am very grateful to them for providing that for us! :)

My Dad helped me cook the turkey. Cooking turkeys is one thing that I am absolutely not good at, at all. I either grossly underestimate the cooking time or it turns out dry or something. Dad has quite a bit of experience cooking turkeys, so it was really nice that he was able to help me out. :)

I made homemade cranberry sauce and cranberry pumpkin muffins the day before. I also made greenbean casserole, deviled eggs and homemade stuffing this year. I think this was the first year for homemade stuffing for me - it didn't turn out like I would have liked. Thankfully Stove Top is an expert at stuffing, so we had that as well.

All of the food. I even cleared off the counter!! :D That, in and of itself, is a small miracle!

I invited over my good friend Sierra for dinner, and she made her famous (I call them famous anyway) fantastic mashed potatoes, homemade rolls, deviled eggs (you can never have too many deviled eggs!), blackberry pie, pumpkin pie and a chocolate bar dessert. All of it was so yummy!

Sierra of course brought her family (Ryan and the kids: William and Alanna) and her brother was in town for Thanksgiving as well, so she brought him. Her brother's name is also Mike, so it was really funny asking "Mike" what dessert he wanted and getting two answers! :)

Daphne (3 months), Mike, Dad and Ryan.

It was a really nice Thanksgiving and I was so glad to be able to see Dad and Karen. It was nice to have a little help with the kids too, I admit it. :)

Dad, Karen, Ryan, Will, Sierra, Mike, Mike.

Mike, Mike, Karen, Dad, Sophie, Edward, Ryan

Karen and Daphne (3 mo)