Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It's Coming on Christmas

...they're cutting down trees...love that song. Joni Mitchell, in case you were wondering.

I can think of a hundred things I should be doing right now, but I just did a hundred things.  I am going to sit here and try to blog [I've gotten as far as a title for this post in the last week] unless my little candy cane wakes up from her nap.

How are you doing this Christmas week?  How many days is it now, 4? 5?  I have no idea.  Are you stressed?  Is your kitchen covered in flour?  Do you have mistletoe and presents under the tree?  I can say yes to that last one. 

Christmas is my favorite time of year.  I get antsy at Halloween because I know it's almost time to put up the tree.  I have a zillion Christmas decorations that take me forever to put in just the right spot.  My husband is the master at outdoor light displays.  I know he can't wait for the day we have a much bigger home with all kinds of angles and tight spots to illuminate.  :) 

We love sitting in the living room with nothing but the glow of the tree, sipping hot cocoa and watching our favorite Christmas movies.  I so enjoy baking up all kinds of treats for our friends and family to enjoy.  I also enjoy preparing pans of cinnamon rolls, light catering and desserts for "customers" around town. 

This year is just a liiiiiiiiitle different.
I'm not missing a thing, though.  I didn't put up as many decorations as I usually do, and I'm certainly not doing all of the baking that I have in the past.  It's kind of nice, actually.  Sometimes I feel like parts of Christmas just "aren't the same", but then I have to remind myself that if "things" are what make Christmas special, then I'm missing the message of the manger. 

So what can we do to keep from getting upset or stressed when things aren't going our way during the holidays?  How do we stay focused?  And by focused I do not mean the intense lady in the Target ads, although she is funny.  Between holiday travel, family gatherings, and trying to find that perfect gift we can find ourselves just rushing through this time of year.  Or worse, we actually get so caught up in making merry that we don't necessarily feel stressed but we are just outside of what we should be focused on.  I don't think it's bad to bake cookies and shop, but in my own life and in our family we are starting to shift away from what Christmas has always been.

Many folks are on a soapbox this time of year about keeping Christ in Christmas.  Truly, He is Christmas.  We're the ones who changed, not Him. 

If you are one of those folks who is feeling the yuletide pressure, let me encourage you to just take it easy.  Breathe.  It isn't too late to embrace the advent season.  You don't have to have 8 kinds of cookies baked, and you certainly don't have to spend all your Christmas money on gifts that may end up being returned.  Here's how we've kept it simple: homemade.  We love giving gifts to coworkers, friends, and neighbors who stop by during the season.  Some great ideas are homemade hand scrubs, cookies, pancake mixes, and hot chocolate.  Put something in a jar, tie it with a nice bow and there you go, a great Christmas gift.  I love to give and receive homemade food gifts.  If you're looking for an idea, here's the hot cocoa recipe that I give away each year [which I may or may not have stolen from Alton Brown].

2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup cocoa
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp fine salt
Dash cayenne

Just whisk it all together and package it nicely for your guests.  Add the instructions [1/4 cup mix to each cup of hot milk] on a decorative tag so that they know how to make it.  You should end up with enough for about 20 cups of hot cocoa.  I usually give folks enough for 4 cups. 

I hope this helps.  This is about 10 posts crammed into one.  I've been sleeping instead of blogging.  :)

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Big Weekend for Kathryn

Kathryn is 6 weeks old now!  I just can't believe it.  Although she is cleared to go out and be with the unwashed public, I am still keeping her as sheltered as possible.  However, she got plenty of exposure to people this weekend.  Friday night we had a Christmas party with our small group.  It was so fun, especially with other babies being around and everyone just having a great time. 

On Sunday we did her dedication at church and her grandparents came to visit.  In our denomination, we dedicate our children to the Lord at our churches as a public display of our commitment to raise our children with the opportunity to come to faith in Christ through following Biblical commands of parenting.  We chose a verse for her from 1 Samuel, verses 27-28 [emphasis mine]: For this child [we] prayed, and the Lord answered [our] prayer.  Now we are giving [her] to the Lord, and [she] will belong to the Lord [her] whole life.  It was special that we got to share our dedication service with the Propes family, who were dedicating their third child whom they adopted this year from India.  They have meant a lot to us in our time here in Kentucky, and are such an encouragement on our adoption journey.  Although we had been praying so hard about adoption, the Lord chose to bless us with a biological child.  We know we are still called to adopt and await that time with eager anticipation.

On Sunday night we had a Christmas party for the college students we work with in our church.  It was the first time that I had thrown a party where I just opened up bags of treats and snacks [from Trader Joe's, of course!] rather than making myself crazy trying to cook a hundred things.  It turned out great and I think everyone was full for a long night of studying for exams.  Kathryn's friend Grey also came to the party with his mom and dad.  Grey is Kathryn's first friend.  I can't wait for her to start interacting more with him.  He just had his first birthday last week.

I also have to share this photo of Justin.  He made homemade biscuits on Saturday all by himself, and he is quite proud.  :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

It's a mystery to me.

I love my daughter. 

I know I am so lucky that she sleeps 4-5 hours at night, eats, and then returns to sleep for another 1 or 2 hours.

But I sure do wish she'd take a nap once a day, at least.

All morning she will fuss, eat, play, fight sleep, fuss, etc.  Then Justin comes home for lunch, sings to her and gets her right to sleep.

But as soon as he leaves...those eyes pop right open.

I don't get it.