Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Gone but not forgotten

I love this time of year.  To me seeing all the Halloween stuff out in stores gets me so excited.  It's not because I like Halloween (I detest it! and we don't have any part in celebrating it).  I get so excited because it means it is time to start decorating for Christmas.  Yes, you read that correctly.  We have already started putting up our outdoor Christmas displays and I've already been listening to some of my favorite Christmas songs.

This time of year also makes me think of my grandpa a lot.  I think of him often anyway, so many things around here remind me of him and bring back memories of him.  I miss him so much.  He LOVED Christmas.  He started this tradition of all these lights so many years ago.  I'm thankful he shared that love with me and my family helps me decorate every year.  I doubt they love it as much as I do but I so appreciate that they at least humor me, there is no way I could ever do it all myself.

One of my favorite moments but also a moment that brings me sadness took place while we were decorating one day the year before he passed away.  I was outside decorating and he was headed to the doctor.  He was so sick.  We knew this was going to be his last Christmas.  We had so much going on that year but it was more important than ever that we got the yard decorated up for him to see one last time.  As he drove by that day, he stopped for a few minutes and admired the yard and all this wonderful life he had built and I saw a tear roll down his face.  He was so proud.  Every time I think of that day, this decorating becomes so much more to me.  It isn't about the lights although they are so beautiful.  It's about the family pulling together to put together something great.  It is about this family that he brought together.

So much of what we do around here is based around family.  Our family is so close and we love to spend time together.  I can't help think how proud he would be of all of us.  He's been gone a few years now but I feel like he is still here sometimes.  His trailer was moved off our property this year (which was so sad, it's been there my whole life).  The things can go away but my memories are as strong as ever.

The other day my sister's friend was asked what it is like to eat dinner with our family (our family of 12-15 and sometimes all 20 of us, eats dinner together daily).  The friend compared our family dinner to the end scene of Duck Dynasty where they are all joined around the table.  I can't help but think how proud my grandpa would be of that comparison.  That is what he always wanted for his family to want to be together.  My grandpa so would have loved that show, he and Phil would be really great friends I think :)

I miss my grandpa so much but I'm so thankful for all the great memories I have of him.  I can't/don't want to imagine what my life would be like if it were not for him taking in my parents all those years ago.  I'm so thankful.  I'm so blessed.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Valentine Game

 I've been working on planning another Parent's Night out for church/daycare.  Every year we do one at Valentine's day and I'm sad to say my games each year are very much the same.  (Thankfully the kids don't seem to care).  So this year I decided it was time to change it up.  Off to Pinterest I went.  I'm still not totally sold on the idea of Pinterest but I've started some is growing on me.  I found this idea for a "Bee Mine" game.  Balloons and paddles...sounds totally fun for 2-5 year olds right?  I thought so too.  Our small kids love balloons anyway but I wanted something a bit different.

First I made the paddles...plates from the dollar tree and usually our dollar tree has the large craft sticks but this time they only had foam ones.  So I had to spend a little extra for them at Wal-mart.  They are holding up pretty well with our test run so I expect I will be able to use them again (Yes Kids, you will see this game again I'm sure.) 
Next I made the bees. 
Then I let the boys try it out.  Excuse my messy house in the background.  Today is cleaning day but this is way more fun right now.
I hope the kids have at church have as much fun as my kids had with this game.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Christmas Traditions

As the season approached and I started thinking about traditions I thought our family didn't have many Christmas traditions...boy was I wrong.  We have a ton.  Yes, I know Christmas is long gone now but I still want to share some of our Christmas traditions with you. 

Our first Christmas tradition started before I was born probably.  I'm not sure of it's exact start.  We actually start this tradition in October/November.  I know you are thinking really?  But yes, we pull out the outside Christmas decorations in October (only lights until closer to Thanksgiving).  This is a tradition my grandpa started and we have carried it on.  Tons of beautiful lights and wooden decorations fill the yard each year.  I will never forget one of the last times my grandpa saw us putting up the lights, the Christmas before he passed away, my dad was taking him to the doctor, he drove him slowly past the yard and as they stopped where I was working I saw tears in my grandpa's eyes.  Tears of pride and joy.  He loved that we carried it on, I can't help but look at any Christmas thing without thinking of him.  Some of our traditions with the lights have passed with him (no one dresses up as Santa anymore, and we don't build a fire and watch cars pass by) but the lights and decorations remain.

Another tradition we have had for many years now is Christmas tree Hunting.  First Saturday of December we pack stuff for sandwiches and load everyone up for our trip.  The farm we get our tree from is about and hour away.  This year 20 family members were able to attend...awesome.  It is so great having such a large family and everyone living close together.  We were probably a site, 2 vans, 2 trucks, and a suburban :)  The day is filled with running through the trees, picking obnoxiously small trees, or obnoxiously large ones until we finally pick the perfect tree and each kid takes their turn at trying to cut it down.  Then we pile all the kids and grand kids in the back of the truck with the tree for the annual family photo :)  So much fun.  Then we finish the evening off with a Christmas parade.

Too small

Way too big!

All the kids and grandkids (minus Jeremy :( )

Advent calendars are another huge tradition for as long as I can remember.  Each kid has a calendar filled with candy that they get one piece of every night.  Every other night they get a small gift to build excitement for Christmas.  Sometimes the gifts are planned to go along with events like on tree decorating night they get a new ornament.  The gifts are inexpensive, usually things we have picked up here and there on clearance.  Love it!

This year I started a new tradition.  Our countdown to Christmas.  See what inspired me to start this new tradition here.  We did so many great things.  We made special snacks, special crafts, told the story of Jesus birth in many ways and spent a lot of great quality time together.  The kids loved it and I loved it as well (although, I can't tell you how excited I was cleaning up our final activity on Dec. 24...24 days in a row doing big activities...that is a lot).  They asked if we could do it again next year...yes we will.

Face the cookie game from our Minute to Win it party 

Nut stacker game also from our Minute to Win it Party
Gingerbread Houses

Birthday Cakes for Jesus
Christmas morning has some traditions of its own, some that drive my husband crazy as they are different from his childhood Christmas' but I'm winning this one :)  Most of the family gathers early in the morning to start presents around 730 or 800.  Everyone has their assigned seats complete with trash bags and buckets to put all your gifts in (with 14 people you have to try to keep some sort of order).  All the kids get to pick a Big Daddy Coke (a bottled coke with a hole poked in the top with an ice pick) or a starbucks frappacino (yum!) and we get started.  The number of gifts are kept equal for all attendees.  All the kids get one present at a time and all open it together (this is what drives the hubby crazy, he says it is too slow), then all the adults get a present a the same time.  I don't want to miss anything so yes, it takes a long time but we enjoy it. 

Notice the bucket complete with trash bag :) 

 Each kid getting a present

 All the family eating Christmas Dinner.

Some traditions have faded over the years.  No one shoots Santa any more (that was my grandpa and great grandpa (they would actually fire the shotgun, come in announce that Santa had been shot so we would not be getting presents this year).  We don't sit across the street with my grandpa instructing my parents on how to hang the lights evenly.  I do miss those but new traditions are being made each year.  I love my family so much!  What kind of traditions does your family have?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Why?  It is a question I've been asking myself a lot lately.  Why is there so much bad stuff happening lately?  Why are there so many hurting people in our world?  Why?  Why?  Why?  I know God has a plan for everything (yes, everything, even horrible stuff...he is going to use that too).  I once heard someone describe life as a puzzle.  Each event in life is like a piece of a giant puzzle (life).  We don't get to see the box, and we don't get all the pieces at once.  Only God knows what that puzzle will look like in the end, but it will always turn out how it is supposed to.  Sometimes the puzzle pieces don't make sense, sometimes we just can't see how they will fit but in the end it will all work out. 

Several years ago when I found myself pregnant again (which we so wanted, he was definitely planned) my excitement quickly changed to guilt as I thought about sharing with my family.  I knew they would be so excited for us but I also knew someone was going to be very sad.   My sister and her husband were trying and wanting a baby so bad.  And here I am having my second baby.  I felt so guilty...why do I get another baby?  Why won't God bless her with a baby?  It is a horrible feeling watching everyone around you have babies and you can't.   I just couldn't see it.  Well, we don't always have to wait until later in life to find out why.  In there situation another child would need them.  One that wouldn't be there's but that would need their love and support.  If God had blessed them with their own child earlier, they might have been too busy for this child that so desperately needed them.  I'm happy to report now that they have their own precious bun in the oven. 

A few years back another tragic thing happened.  My best friend suddenly lost her mom.  A little more than a year later she lost her dad.  She now finds herself raising her brother and sister along with her own little one.  She has lost so much.  Here my guilt comes back.  I don't know why, it isn't my fault I know.  But I feel guilty, I feel guilty that I still get to have my parents.  Sometimes when I'm hanging out with my mom, which I'm blessed to get to do alot I hurt for my friend that will never get those times with her mom again.  When I get frustrated with my dad, I start to feel guilty, why am I frustrated with him?  What wouldn't my friend do to have her dad here one more minute, regardless of how frustrating he might be? 

This week I've heard of another devastating situation with another friend.  In this situation I find myself angry.  Angry at myself, angry for letting a relationship fall through the cracks.  We live in the same town, I have facebook and texting.  Why are we only talking because once again tragedy has struck.  I'm feeling sorry, sorry that I can't change it, I can't help fix it.  And once again I'm feeling guilty.  Guilty that my life seems so good compared to this.  I'm so blessed.  I have a huge family that loves my crazy, abnoxious, sometimes very grumpy self.  My life isn't perfect but I don't need a thing.  I'm hurting for this friend.  I want to help.  All I can do is pray.  Seems like something so insignificant ( I know it isn't, just being real here).  Seems like a cop out to say I'm praying for you.  I really am but can she tell.  Does it give her peace?  Does it take away all her questions?  Does it give her answers?  I doubt it, I know she is full of questions, she is full of hurt.  My heart is broken for her.  Why, God, Why? 

I don't have the answer but I know someone who does.  I don't know how he will work this out for good but I know something good will come from it eventually.  What I do know it that my God is Great!  He will bring my friend through this tragedy.  I'm praying for you my friend.