"…And she smiles at the future." ~Proverbs 31:25

Posts tagged ‘blessed’

Christmas bucket list

Last Christmas, two sad things happened.

First, I realized too late (read: after school let out) that I hadn’t taken our toddler to see Santa Claus. I know, I know…she didn’t really know the difference. But I did. There are only a few short years to be able to take a child to sit on Santa’s lap, and I missed one of them. {Sniff}

Second, I realized AFTER Christmas was over that we’d never taken the time to go out looking at Christmas lights with the kids. Yes, we saw them as we drove to other places. But when I was a kid, one thing we ALWAYS did was set aside a special night to drive around…JUST to look at lights.

The holiday season between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day is always packed so full of motion and activity that it’s easy to let the things that are important to us—the special family moments, the cherished traditions—get squeezed out. So, this year, to keep that from happening, I decided to create a Christmas Bucket List!

We’ve done most of the items on the list and still have a couple of days left to do the rest. Hopefully this will jog your memory in case there’s something you wanted to do and forgot about. (It’s not too late!)

Amy’s Christmas Bucket List

1. Listen to Christmas music. CHECK (many times over!)

2. Decorate the house and yard, and put up lights outside. CHECK

We even put ornaments on all our bushes and trees this year! They make me happy every time I pull into the driveway.

3. Go look at Christmas lights together. CHECK

(Although, I think we’re going to have to go again, now that my friend, Chelli, found this cute printable—a checklist of things for the kids to try to spot.)

4. Make and drink LOTS of hot chocolate. CHECK

We even got special cups so we could take some with us while looking at lights. So fun!

5. Do plenty of Christmas crafts and school projects. CHECK

6. Watch Christmas movies. CHECK

7. Make “Reindeer Food.” CHECK

No, this wasn’t really for the reindeer. Can you guess when we ate it? (Hint: See #6.) You can get the recipe here. Warning: Don’t plan on leftovers…

8. Make Reindeer FEED. (This one IS for the reindeer.)

We haven’t gotten to this one yet, but as long as it’s ready by Christmas Eve night, we’re good.

9. Eat tamales. CHECK

(We’ll do this again on Christmas Day, but we were blessed already by a sweet friend who knows our love of tamales and showed up at our house with stacks of them!)

10. Count down to the big day. CHECK

Of course, this one is ongoing throughout the month.

We actually have four different countdowns going, including this cute one Remi’s been working on:

You can get the free printable here. (Thanks to my friend April for sharing her find!)

11. Sing Christmas songs. CHECK

Remi’s been singing, “We wish it was merry Christmas…” (No, she doesn’t mean to change the words; she thinks that’s how it goes.) The boys were able to go caroling with our church youth group. Addy sings all the time, and has been playing lots of holiday tunes on the piano, too. I love to hear my kids sing!

12. Make cookies together. CHECK

We’ve made them several times at home as a family…

…and the kids from Addy’s Bible class made about a gazillion cookies for our elders, deacons, and ministers. Aren’t they pretty?

13. Decorate the tree. CHECK

(You can read about our tree mishap here.)

14. Read Christmas books. CHECK

(But we still need to read my favorite, The Polar Express.)

15. Make ornaments. CHECK

16. Make homemade Christmas cards. CHECK

Our kids, along with the kiddos in one of their homeschool groups, made cards for a number of local Christian friends who are going through hard times. We hope the cards will brighten their day and remind them that someone is thinking of them at Christmas.

17. Mail cards to out-of-town friends.

Yes, this was on my list. But sadly, for the second (or third?) year in a row, it just didn’t get done. (To our faraway friends who are reading this: Merry Christmas! We really are thankful for you…even if you don’t have the mail to prove it.)

18. Make paper snowflakes. CHECK

I think Addy was already working on hers December 1st! I had hoped to laminate some and hang them from our trees outside—I think it was Troy’s idea, actually—but that didn’t happen. (Maybe next year?) Never fear, though. A quick glance around Addy’s room reveals that she was definitely working on her end of the project.

DSC_1845b

(I love how she just taped them right onto her existing wall hangings.)

19. Attend holiday parties. CHECK

20. Go visit Santa Claus. CHECK

21. Write a letter to Santa.

We haven’t done this one yet, either. But, I do still plan to let our newly-four-year-old daughter dictate her letter for me. Should be interesting…

22. Enjoy Elf on a Shelf. CHECK

This was our first year to do this, and it’s been so much fun for ALL of us! We named our elf Zanzibar, and the big kids love helping us find interesting places for him to appear each morning. Remi loves looking for him as soon as she wakes up each day. I’m thankful for the friends who gifted us with our little elf!

23. Make a family hand wreath.

This is another item from my list that just hasn’t gotten done. I wanted to trace each of our hands and put them all together in a wreath with the year on the back so we would always have a record of what size our hands were this year. With four kids ranging in age from four to seventeen, we have quite a variety of sizes! And, they change quickly.

24. Make a hand-and-foot reindeer. CHECK

Addison did this when she was younger, and I was anxious for Remington to make one, too. So, even if we don’t get the wreath done, we still have a record of the youngest child’s hand and foot size this year. Oh, and the nose is her thumbprint, so we have a record of that, too.

25. Make homemade gifts. CHECK

We did LOTS of different handmade gifts this year, as always, for friends, family members, and neighbors.  The kids love to make and give, and it’s always a good reminder for me that the best thing we can do for others is to give of ourselves.

26. Make gifts for our church elders and their wives.

I seem to get to this later and later each year. I hate that, because our elders are amazing, sacrificial men, and they need to know how much we appreciate them. (But I think this year they’ll be getting “Happy New Year!” gifts from our family instead.)

27. Make gingerbread men.

Here’s another one we haven’t managed to cross off our list yet. But, even if we have to do it after the holidays are over, I still really want to enjoy this activity with my kiddos.

28. Make gingerbread houses. CHECK

While the gingerbread men may not be crafted yet, their houses are ready and waiting for them. Or, they were…until they got eaten…

Addy's gingerbread house

Addy’s gingerbread house

Remi's gingerbread "princess palast" with patio

Remi’s gingerbread “princess palast” with patio

29. Visit the sick and/or elderly. CHECK

Last year we did more of this between Christmas and New Year’s, but we’ve already gotten a head start this year by visiting our sweet, senior citizen neighbors. We really want our kids to understand that it’s not all about them and what they receive. (And thankfully, I think they get it!) We hope these visits bless those we go to see; we know for sure they bless our family.

30. You decide!

What is missing from my list? Do you have a favorite activity on your own holiday list that hasn’t been mentioned here? What should #30 be? Please leave me a comment telling me what you’d add.

So, do you have a Christmas bucket list, too? If so, how’s it going? Several of the things on my list don’t have to be confined to this particular time of year. Make a plan to do the things you deem most important for your family, and start checking them off your list! (And remember to add #30 to mine.)

Thanks for stopping by.

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She’s making her list

I am a list maker. I make so many lists that I really should keep a list of all my lists. I’m guessing it started back when I was a child, and probably at Christmastime. After all, what child doesn’t love to make a wish list for Santa? But several days ago I found a different kind of list stuck to our refrigerator:

"Addy's Christmas list of things to make"

“Addy’s Christmas list of things to make”

You see, our daughter, Addison, is also a list maker. But I love that hers is not a list of things she hopes to receive, but things she hopes to make and give.

When my husband and I found the list, we talked about how cute it was. (I especially love the homemade pen holder!) But evidently she took her plans very seriously, because this morning I found all these under the tree:

All are homemade by Addy, and she even made some of the packaging herself:

I love that she spent so much time creating gifts for others. But this isn’t something new.  Every year it seems that more than half the gifts under our tree are from Addy. (And in a family of six, “more than half” is a lot of presents!)

I am constantly learning from this sweet girl, who lives out Acts 20:35:

“…..and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”

Thanks for stopping by!

 

That’s what I call a fortune

In dressing for a funeral this morning, I donned a strand of pearls. My ten-year-old daughter looked at me, surprised, and asked, “Are those real?”

I laughed. “Umm…no.”

“Oh, right,” she said. “If those were real they’d cost a fortune.”

I laughed again and replied, “And I don’t have a fortune.”

It took each of us just a fraction of a second to realize the fallacy in that statement. Because the truth is, I do have a fortune.

I have a faithful, Christian husband whom I love and respect.

He is an amazing daddy to these four precious kiddos:

I adore each of them, and feel incredibly blessed to be able to spend my days learning right alongside them.

I have parents who love me and taught me to love God.

I have friends I enjoy and friends I miss.

I lived in a country so great that men have been willing to give their lives for her.

I have plenty to eat, plenty to wear, and plenty to keep me busy.

I have more books than I can read and more happy memories than anyone deserves to have.

I have opportunities to serve and teach, and the ability and desire to learn.

I have role models whom I look up to.

I have a healthy body and a healthy family.

More important than any of these, I have the hope and expectation of eternal salvation because Jesus loved me enough to give His life for me.

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.  (II Corinthians 8:9)

So yes, I have a fortune!

My life isn’t perfect, but I’ve been given so much to treasure.

How about you? Have you thought today about all you have to be thankful for? Your list may be different from mine, but I’m betting you can list off plenty of your own treasures.

While you’re at it, why not share a few of them here? I’d like to know: What makes you rich?

Thanks for stopping by!

I am thankful

Something about autumn and harvest time encourages me to  dwell on all the things I’m thankful for.

Today, I am thankful that we’ve had two days in a row that were beautiful and sunny (which we’re used to) and cool enough to keep the windows open ALL day (which we’re definitely NOT used to).

Today I enjoyed pulling out the ingredients to make hot chocolate (with milk, of course, and marshmallows) and drinking my first cup of the season…and I was thankful for all the small things in life that bring such big happiness.

Today I am thankful that I’m blessed to be home with my babies…

…and that we are in the position to be able to take off right in the middle of the day to go visit the pumpkin patch, just because it’s  beautiful outside.

Today I am thankful that we had the whole place to ourselves, which meant great photo ops and plenty of room to run around.

Today I am thankful for my sweet family, and the many ways they bless my life every day.

Today I am thankful for all of you who take time in your busy day to read my blog. I know your time is precious and I appreciate you.

Their final picks

And you know what? I think it would be so encouraging to hear what you’re thankful for today, too.  So please, leave me a comment below, even if you never have before. (It’s easy!)

Thanks for stopping by!

When you have a toddler

Life isn’t always easy when there’s a toddler in the house. For starters, there are the messes–and I’m talking about the kinds of messes you could never have imagined. But oh, they are real…

Notice the oatmeal. Notice the wall beside her. Notice her expression of pure pride.

When you have a toddler, you have to always be sure to watch where you step.

Oh, were y'all gonna use these stairs for something else? 'Cause my children are sleeping.

When you have a toddler, you are constantly having to find creative ways to help her comprehend reality without completely dashing her childhood dreams.

She stood expectantly on the driveway with the net raised, calling sweetly, "Bird, come to me!"

When you have a toddler, she wants to do everything you do…

(although willingness far outweighs ability at this point)

…only she always ends up going a bit overboard.

When you have a toddler around, you note with chagrin that her “helpfulness” often turns out to be not very helpful after all.

You would NOT have wanted to eat dinner at our house tonight. Seriously. This was just the tip of the iceberg.

When you have a toddler in the house, you have to buy all kinds of special, child-sized equipment so that she will feel a part of all the rest of the family is involved in.

No, life isn’t easy when you have a toddler in the house.

But…

There are some really wonderful things about having a toddler in the house, as well.

When you have a toddler around, you always have someone who looks up to you.

Adoration in progress

It’s kind of nice to have a little someone who wants to imitate your every move.

Doin' it like a real mom does...only a little less hip to work with

In fact, it kind of makes you want to do your best at every single thing you do, since you know those little eyes are going to be watching you.

When you have a toddler around, everyday experiences seem new and fun as you see them through her eyes.

And perhaps best of all? When you have a toddler in the house, you always have a reason to play!  You have a built-in excuse to drop what you’re doing and go dance around in the backyard sprinkler.

You always have bubbles on hand. You always have snacks available. You always have a reason to stop at the playground. You even have a built-in excuse to enter the play area at Chick-fil-A, no matter how old you are. (After all, someone has to supervise the toddler, right?)

Lately, I’ve been noticing that some unnamed persons have been taking advantage of this excuse to play. For example, although our toddler really does love to squish Play-Doh…

…I seriously doubt those chubby little hands created this:

(Although it wouldn't shock me if she tried to EAT it)

And, while we’re at it, how do those magnets I put on the BOTTOM of the refrigerator door keep ending up at the very TOP? Can my two-year-old really be held responsible for this?

So I guess we’re all taking advantage of the fact that, yes, having a toddler in the house is not always easy, but it is almost always a great deal of fun.

{Thank you, Lord, for letting us experience this again.}

We are blessed.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thankful for messy rewards

When I came across this scrapbook page with a several-years-old picture, I was struck by the fact that everything in my journaling–except for the number of kids!–still holds true today. Our life is still crazy-chaotic. And I still feel so very blessed. I would not trade this privilege for anything!

(Journaling is typed below the page for those of you who don’t want to squint.) And yes, they’re sitting in chairs on TOP of the picnic table. (Why did I let them do that?)

I "threw" everything together on the page to reflect our crazy, messy life.

Journaling reads:

Right now, my life revolves around taking care of you three.

It’s the job God gave me, and I wouldn’t choose any other way.

The days are filled with messes, noise, laughter, learning, playing, chaos, reading, singing, dancing, teaching, pretending, praying, and hugs.

The house is never clean and there’s not much peace and quiet…but love and laughter are even better!

I love my life! I am blessed…

Did you notice that little sticker with the word ‘JOY’ at the top of the clipboard accent? How fitting is it that I overlooked it the first few times I looked at the page?  It’s not always easy to see JOY in the day-to-dayness of a chaotic life. But it is always there somewhere, ready to be found IF we are searching for it.

It also struck me that the words on the arrow sticker–‘it doesn’t get better than this’–turned out not to be true after all. Because here we are, six years later, having been blessed with another little one, which just means we now have even more noise/mess/chaos. And I love it.

But I’ll also be the first to admit, it isn’t always easy. (Actually, is it EVER easy?) So, if you are feeling overwhelmed today by the insanity that life with little ones can bring, please remember Psalm 127:3 with me…

“Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward.

Let’s thank Him for the chaos this reward brings–noise and mess and all. It won’t last nearly long enough.

Thanks for stopping by!

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