Yes, this is my husband's favorite Christmas movie (mine is A Christmas Story). This year we lived our very own version of the iconic movie. Unfortunately, it was real life and we didn't make the money the actors did in the original.
Not good when it happens to you!
It started innocently enough. We traveled four hours from the mountains of VA to visit our families in NC on Christmas Day. When we left we knew there was a chance for snow in NC (which very rarely gets more than a dusting) so we loaded up the kid's snow attire. About two hours into our trip I look at my husband and ask, "Did you pack the kids coats?" Yep, heading to NC for one of the coldest weekends so far and we left their coats sitting in the foyer. We had their snow boots, hats and gloves, but no coats. So, we formulated a plan for borrowing coats once we arrived and continued on with our trip. Crisis averted.
We arrive in NC and celebrate Christmas with my in-laws Saturday night. We had a great time watching the kids tear into their presents and eating great food! Fast forward to about 5:00 a.m. We are all asleep and hear a big "THUD" around this time. I think my husband put one of our kids in the bed with him (we had to sleep in separate room with the kids) and they fell out of the bed. When I got up to check I noticed his grandmother in the kitchen so I assumed she had made the noise and went back to bed. We all wake up a few hours later. My husband comes into the bedroom and says, "A huge tree branch fell on my car!"
During the night it had started snowing and the "THUD" we heard at 5 a.m. was the branch falling on our car due to the weight of the snow! It caused LOTS of damage but fortunately it was still safe to drive, no towing required. To put this into a little perspective, we've had this car for less than a year and my husband takes very good care of it. So, to say he was a little upset is an understatement. Let's just say my assurances of, "that's why we have insurance," did not help.
We were also supposed to travel into town to celebrate Christmas with my mom and sister and have dinner. But, thanks to the snow, we couldn't get out and missed an awesome dinner at my moms.
That evening I started feeling a little nauseated. Yep, you guessed it. Around 11 that night I was hit with a wonderful stomach bug that kept me up all night throwing up. I finally, stopped around 5 the next morning and got a little sleep. About an hour after waking up, the power at the house we were staying in goes out. Thankfully, the roads were better so we packed up (in our PJs) and headed to my mom's for hot showers and gifts. I felt rotten the entire day so I did not get to enjoy the leftovers from the night before.
Needless to say, we were ready to go home early. On our way home we stopped to get gas only to find out that we couldn't get the door to the gas knob open thanks to a nice dent from the tree branch. We went to the local dealership and they had pity on us and fixed it quickly to we could fill up and get home.
We finally made it home and it never felt so good!
My husband has a beautiful voice and would sing "Joseph's Song" each Christmas. The Christmas I was pregnant with Alex was the last Christmas he sang it. He got choked up that year because he could relate to Joseph's love for the son he raised. He didn't think he could ever make it through the whole song again. Read the lyrics and you will understand why.
Son of our love...
Chorus 1 How could it be this baby in my arms
Sleeping now, so peacefully
The Son of God, the angel said
How could it be
Lord I know He's not my own
Not of my flesh, not of my bone
Still Father let this baby be
The son of my loveChorus 2 Father show me where I fit into this plan of yours
How can a man be father to the Son of God
Lord for all my life I've been a simple carpenter
How can I raise a king, How can I raise a king
He looks so small, His face and hands so fair
And when He cries the sun just seems to disappear
But when He laughs it shines again
How could it be
- Michael Card
I started thinking about how the meaning of Christmas has changed for me over the years. As a young child it's all about the gifts and the anticipation of what Santa will bring. For me, it was also what my Aunt Dixie would get us. She didn't have children of her own so she always spoiled my sister, me and my cousin at Christmas. She always gave us the best stuff! Of course, baby Jesus' birthday was also thrown in there.
As I entered my 'tweens and teenage years I understood more of the special birth of Jesus and the true meaning of the Holiday but gifts were still a huge part of the celebration. In my early twenties, the meaning was still the same and the Holiday became a little bit of a hassle because now I was an adult and couldn't just add my name to my mom's on the family gifts. I actually had to go out and figure out what to get everyone.
Then I got married and we had our son. Personally, I have tried to put myself in Mary 's shoes. How unreal to know that you were pregnant with the son of God. How would you even begin to tell your soon-to-be husband? How scared she must have been! Today being pregnant without being married isn't such a big deal, but she could have been dragged into the streets and stoned to death! Then her realization later on that he would have to die to fulfill God's plan. I get choked up thinking about it! God had to have been with both of them for such a miraculous thing to occur.
On the flip side, our kids are in the presents stage! They are so excited! It is great to see the joy in their eyes and their innocence. My son always wants to put money in the kettles, "To help the kids who don't get presents." It is fun to see them so excited and grateful. My son is very good about saying "thank you!" over and over again. We are still throwing in a little bit of Jesus here and there but I am realistic of what will stick at their ages.
A few days ago my son asked, "Mom, what do you want for Christmas?" My answer, "For you and your sister to be happy." It wasn't the dutiful mommy answer. It really is what I want for Christmas. To see the surprised, happy looks on Alex and Brooklyn's faces on Christmas morning will be more than enough for me. Seeing their little happy faces all year long also does the trick too!
How has the meaning Christmas changed over the years for you?
My son is four and this is the second year he really understands the Santa deal. This is the first year we have pulled the Santa card to assist with good behavior, "you know who's watching you?"
This year Santa has had great timing in assisting us with that little hat trick. Right after Thanksgiving we were in the toy section of Wal-Mart trying to get an idea of what kind of toys he might want from Santa. Of course, our son gets fussy and doesn't want to leave the toys. So my husband said, "Santa is watching, you better be good!"
Santa at Kroger
As soon as we walked out of the toy aisle, who should be standing there but Santa! We both looked at our son and said, "See, we told you." Then we looked at each other like, "Wow, that was great!"
About a week later we were the mall eating lunch in the food court when our son said, "Hey look! It's Santa!" My husband looked and saw what appeared to be a homeless man w/ a white beard and a suitcase sitting on a bench and told our son it wasn't Santa. About fifteen minutes later when we walked by Santa's chair our son said, "See, I told you it was Santa!" Sure enough, the man we saw on the bench was now dressed in a Santa suit listening to what little kids wanted for Chistmas. Again we told our son, "You never know where he may be."
Being the paranoid parents we are, we have also told him that Santa could show up anywhere, but if he showed up in his room at night to get mommy and daddy! ;)
Today, my husband went by Koger for some items I had forgotten earlier. He came home with a picture on his phone for our son. It was Santa in front of the deli counter! My husband told him Santa was watching out for the boys and girls at the grocery store to make sure they were behaving and buying cookies for the elves. He! He!
So, our son is very aware that Santa (and Jesus) are watching everything he does. We'll see how long this works. Next year we may move on to the Elf on a shelf. Anything to make our lives a little easier during the craziness of the Holidays. It does kind of creep me out that it moves around the house. I'm afraid they will think their toys will come to life ;)
Fortunately, I don't have any shopping left to do and my tutu rush has ended. I plan to enjoy the next week and finally make a visit with the kids to see Santa so they can give him their list.
Since our son was born we have sent out picture cards at Christmas. These are usually pictures I take right after Thanksgiving, upload to my favorite one hour photo site, choose one of their designs and I'm done.
This year things were a little harder. I picked out very cute outfits for my little ones. My oldest, Alex has always been pretty easy to handle, eager to make mommy happy. Pictures with him have been pretty easy. Last year was Brooklyn's first Christmas. She wasn't able to crawl or walk yet so things went pretty smoothly.
Then, enter the Christmas picture fiasco of 2010!
First, it was cold so I needed to do this quickly. Fortunately, there is nice open field next to our house with a few hay bales hanging out so I thought this would be a great spot. So I drag the kids out, stand them together and immediately Brooklyn begins walking toward me. I ask her to stop, she keeps walking. Big brother is following behind her because I told him to put his hands on her shoulders and keep them there, "no matter what." Little sister is getting mad because he won't let go. I kept trying unsuccessfully to get them to stand together. Both were walking around taking in the great outdoors. I tried bringing out a chair. What made me think she would sit in it?
Then a low flying airplane decided to fly by taking it's sweet time. Then a helicopter (thanks to living next to a hospital with a trauma center). After those disctractions, I got what I thought was a good picture but quickly noticed both of their noses were running thanks to the cold. Finally I realized if I made silly faces (duh!) they would laugh and look at me. So I was able to get a few quick decent shots. I hope I have a job by Christmas next year so I can happily pay a professional to have the headache. They still look cute enough to eat and I will not delete any of the "bad" pictures becuase they still captured a great "mommy" moment.
So I am a proud tag along! What is a tag along? It is someone who tagged along to church with a friend, relative or caring neighbor. Gowing up, my parents didn't attend church regularly. We went off and on when I was small but never on a regular basis. My parents didn't grow up going to church so they were trying their best to instill some sort of religion and the importance of church to my sister and me.
When I was about 9 years old my best friend Daina and her mother invited me to go to church. They were trying to find one they liked and looking back her mother probably thought bringing me along would make it easier for her daughter. It's always easier when you a have a friend! Well, they liked the church and kept going and kept inviting me along. I eventually became involved in Sunday School, and Sunday and Wednesday night activities. I often came with Daina but my parents also dropped me off and picked me up whenever I wanted to go.
I found a second family at this church (some actually turned out to be distant aunts and uncles) they took me in and showed interest in my life outside of church. I enjoyed being in plays, attending camp and hanging out with the great friends I made there.
I became a Christian at 12 and continued on the path of trying to live my life the way God wanted me to. I faced the same issues as everyone through high school but church, my family and my friends helped keep me on the right path. When my Dad died suddenly when I was 19 it was my pastor, his wife and the members there that helped organize and conduct the service. They visited and called to make sure my family was okay.
Once in college I stopped attending church regularly. I was away from home and wanted to have fun.
I found my way back shortly after college. Married a man who was a former cop turned minister and now help raise our family while we serve our church.
Some people think it's too much trouble to ask the little girl next door or a child's friend if she wants to go to Vacation Bible School, a church social gathering or just to Sunday School. I am an example of what that simple act can do. I serve my church with my husband and am raising two children to know God's love so they will not need to be a tag along. I don't think Daina or her mom realize the impact of their act. We lost contact years ago. Maybe one day I can pass it forward.
This morning my husband, the preacher (literally), will head out to our church to help host a Community Christmas Party for our area. Sounds like fun, and it is fun, but the reason for the party is to host less fortunate families and pass out boxes of food and small gifts for their children. Last year they passed out 200 boxes. This year it will be 300 with over 500 people attending the breakfast and children's service. I am glad we are able to help, sad that we need to and the need is growing.
I don't get to help out during the actual event since I have two small ones of my own that I would spend my time chasing anyway. I did help out with set up and publicizing the event. While helping him out he said that last year the toys they passed out in the boxes were the only presents the children received. Sad, he said, because they weren't much. Now, we don't go crazy and I know Christmas is definitely more than gifts but just imagine the look on a child's face if Santa doesn't visit their house.
Our church runs a food pantry twice a week and the Community Christmas Party is an extension of this ministry. The food pantry is no small undertaking with a room full of food, paperwork to be filled out and the involvement of the USDA and local food banks. Many days their are people waiting for it to open to get the one bag of food per month they are allowed.
All of us usually feel a need to help some population, children, animals, the hungry and/or homeless. Get your kids involved! Help them pick out toys for needy children or food to drop off at the food bank. There are lots of ways you can help while teaching your children valuable lessons.
I love making custom tutus! Some of my custom requests have become permanent fixtures in my shop because I loved they way the turned out so much! Here are a couple of my latest. A Virginia Tech Hokie tutu and a purple and lavender tutu.
Stay at home mom (SAHM) in case you didn't know ;)
So, I have been a SAHM for a little over a year. I didn't think I would survive the first month but now I'm in a groove and am enjoying it. I am actively looking for a full-time job as are A LOT of other folks in the Roanoke Valley area. I do need to go back to work if we want to do things like, buy a house, send our kids to college, pay for unexpected expenses. I am also a member of the worst career field, public relations. We are always the first to go and the last to come back.
Anyway, I've learned a lot in my year at home with Alex and Brooklyn. I've been able to compare it to being a working mom since I went back to work when Alex (now 4) was 12 weeks old and worked until Brooklyn was 6 months old (now 19 months).
1. As stated earlier the first month or two is the hardest!
2. Pray that it doesn't snow or you will be stuck in the house for 2 wks straight.
3. Pray for patience all the time.
4. The PBS show "Word World" can teach your child their letters. B can recognize most of her letters already ;)
5. Kids eat 24/7 and quickly learn the word snack.
6. Put at least one kid in a program of some type a couple of days a week for your own sanity.
7. Run all your errands when you only have one kid, so much easier!
8. Cooking is possible if you have the time.
9. Mommy can: take a nap, read a book, clean, watch TV, email, start an online business during nap time.
10. Naps for the kids MUST happen!
11. I am WAY busier now then when I actually had a job! Not a myth, I'm telling you it's fact!
12. I think at least once a week, "How in the world did all this get done when i worked?"
13. I love the park and taking my kids to play in the creek!
14. I do miss my lunch hour.
17. I thank God for the little things a lot more.
15. My brain is turning to mush.
16. My children do funny stuff ALL the time!
I am so grateful for having this time with my family!