Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Emily's First Christmas

It is hard to believe that Christmas 2007 has come and gone. All the preparations, planning, decorating, shopping have culminated on one day and passed with what seems to be a blink of an eye. Our celebrations were numerous and filled with excitement. Sharing all of the festivities with Emily was filled with joy although I think that at times she was somewhat overwhelmed and not sure of how to react. Of all the things that she has had to absorb the past two days were probably some of the most difficult for her little mind to process. There was just so many stimulating activities. She followed the lead of her brother and sister by quickly learning the art of opening a present and has absolutely loved all of the tasty sweet treats associated with Christmas dining.

Our celebrating began on Christmas Eve with dinner and opening gifts with Mike's family at our condo. We enjoyed steak, potatoes and other yummy dishes and then opened our gifts one by one. Emily wasn't sure exactly what was going on with everyone opening gifts but quickly got the hang of it. She and Grace received a little girls make-up set which they loved. Emily also received a princess tiara and jewelry which she happily shared with her Grandpa who got lots of laughs when he tried them on. Cody received his most wanted gift, Roller Coast Tycoon III and an acoustical guitar. We said goodnight to everyone and after snuggling the kids in their beds (which took a while) I sneaked downstairs to our 4th floor condo which served as Santa's workshop during the past few weeks and brought up all of our Christmas morning gifts to be placed by the tree.

We awoke on Christmas morning to a rainy, balmy Florida day and enjoyed sharing the excitement of seeing the kids discover all of their Christmas morning gifts. Emily and Grace received My Twin Dolls which amazingly look like them and strollers to transport their dolls. Cody received games for his Wii and some lego sets but the favorite toy of all three kids was Emily's Little Tikes Whale Teeter Totter. After all of the gift opening we were hungry for breakfast and were joined by Mike's parents for tasty eggs, grits, bacon and grandmas biscuits. No sooner did we finish breakfast and it was off to my sisters to celebrate with my family.

My sister and brother in law are such gracious hosts and we enjoy a delicious lunch complete with all our family traditional favorites. After we were fully stuffed we enjoyed a time of opening gifts. Of course most of the opening was done by the kids and they all were completely thrilled. Emily loved her new tricycle and Grace enjoy just about everything that she got but she loved the accessories for her doll the most. Cody and my nephew received digital cameras and spent much of the afternoon snapping embarrassing shots of everyone. My brother in law did manage to get them outside for a little bit of football although the ground was rather wet from the rain. No snow here in Florida but hey, I can "dream". We completed the day with an afternoon of sampling desserts and drinking coffee while watching the kids play with their toys and watching some of my favorite movie, You've Got Mail.

After loading the van with all of the goodies we made our 10 minute trip home where I collapsed onto the sofa while Mike took the girls down to the hot tub to "swim" and then after an episode of Green Acres (Grace's favorite show) we bid adieu to yet another Christmas. As I closed my eyes before going to sleep I thought about the day and how thankful I am for my family and how I hope that amidst the craziness of eating and opening gifts and the rushing from house to house that my children were able to absorb the true reason we celebrate. Although small in comparison to all of the other "stuff" that we did to celebrate we did sing Happy Birthday to Jesus before our Christmas breakfast and we read the Christmas Story before we opened gifts on Christmas Day so I pray that these small reminders left an imprint of the hearts of my children of the meaning of why we celebrate Christmas. I pray that you enjoyed memorable celebrations with all the things and people you love.

Emily's First Christmas

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Chatty Girls Gift Exchange

May I begin by saying that today's technology is absolutely amazing. On Sunday evening my online group of girls got together via a telephone conference call and internet and held our first annual Chatty Girls Gift Exchange. We had drawn names and had a secret chatty sister of whom we did not know until we opened the gift on Sunday night. At 8:00 Emily, Grace and I sat in front of our computer and awaited the call to link us to all of our friend throughout the US. After a few technical difficulties we were able to connect but it was a little too late for Emily. With encouragement from her sister she already opened her gift which was from her secret chatty sister, Sara who lives in Oregon. She received a BOZ video and book. She LOVED it. Emily and Grace raced to the playroom and began watching the video while I chatted with the girls listening to them open their gifts. Emily's secret chatty sister was Bekah who lives in Ohio and we gave her puzzles and a CD. After the gifts were opened we all posted our pictures on our yahoo chat group website. Even though we live thousands of miles apart and are in different states throughout the US, it really felt like we were in the same room. As we all said goodnight we were reminded at just how special our group is and how wonderful it is to have such treasured friends. God brought us together and continues to keep us together. Each of us shared the next day about the warm feelings that filled us as we went to bed. I believe that throughout life we are blessed with a few friends that are like sisters. What a gift I have been given in these women and how fortunate we are that these friendships are able to be nutured and grown through todays technological advancements. I pray that each of you reading are fortunate to share a bond of friendship with someone you love. It will truly bring a richness to your life that cannot be captured in words.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Twas 2 Days before Christmas

I just had to post about the day that I have enjoyed with my girls. Well, my joy began yesterday when Cody, Mike and I traveled to Orlando to see a production of The Magician's Nephew. It was a wonderful performance and even more enjoyable was spending the afternoon with my two men. They both were so handsome and I was such a proud mama and wife to be with them. Then today I planned to bake some holiday goodies. For those of you who know me, I absolutely love to cook especially baking so today after church I donned my apron and invited Emily and Grace to help. What a treat it was sharing some recipes that have been given to me by family and dear friends. They were such great helpers and everything turned out delicious. What was so special was that as we were cooking each recipe I was able to tell them about the person who gave it to me. Doris's, snowball cookies, Tanni's chocolate chip cookies, Mee-Mee's peanut butter balls and Aunt Lissa's Mee-Mee's red velvet cake. We also baked pumpkin bread which is a traditional recipe that I have started. Of course I will be cooking some savory dishes tommorow which are my Nana's and my mother in law's cranberry salad and I am hoping to have help with those as well. It was an absolutely delightful afternoon and one that is a dream come true. Before we had children I had dreamed of having daughters to share time in the kitchen with me. I would imagine us doing exactly what we did today. I am a BLESSED woman. I hope that today finds you feeling blessed as well. As I end this post, I am reminded that as I shared a glorious afternoon with my precious daughters we have dear friends who are mourning losses of their father, wife, mother, grandmother and child. Just in the past 2 weeks we have dear friends and family members make their journey's to Heaven and my heart aches for them. May the Lord be near to them and bring them great comfort during what I know is a very sad time.

I now go to take my red velvet cake out of the oven and await a gift exchange between my "chatty girl friends". I have mentioned my online girlfriends before, friends who have become like sisters and like a family we drew names for our little china girls, purchased and mailed our gifts and we will be all opening our gifts while online tonight. It should be a blast. We are hoping to video tape the whole experience and I will try to post a video and well as pictures of my awesome chefs.

Merry Christmas to all!!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Grace's Christmas Party

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Fun at Christmas!

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7 Days Until Christmas

It is now 7 days until Christmas and I have a feeling that this will be my last post until after Christmas. Life is so busy right now with very little time to think. Oh how crazy this time of year can be and yet as I made a quick early evening trip to the pharmacy last night it seemed so peaceful. With all of the lights twinkling around and the soft Christmas music playing over the intercom of the pharmacy it truly seemed that all was calm. However, all was not calm in my mind. It was racing with thoughts of all that is still left to do. No matter how hard I try Christmas always ends up being hectic. I often wonder what my Lord thinks of all of the craziness (mine included). Does it break His heart to see how we celebrate the time in which we are remembering when God became man. I was recalling last night as I drove a very special Christmas. It was 2002 and we loaded our van and traveled to Boone, NC where we had rented a cabin. That particular Christmas was one of my favorites. It was truly peaceful. It snowed and what a beautiful time it was awaking Christmas morning with Mike and our 3 beautiful children to new fallen snow. We spent the day enjoying each other, reading, praying and spending alot of time thinking about the true reason we were celebrating. There was time in that Christmas, time for each other and most of all time for our Lord. It is my desire to slow down a bit during the next few days and make time for that which will make a meaningful Christmas.
I will share a few pictures of some events which have filled our time over the past week or so. Grace's Christmas program, Grace's Christmas party and our night at MGM. All of which were wonderful events and left treasured memories in our hearts. We are off and running to Christmas parties, shopping for the feasting and of course trying to get our Christmas Cards in the mail. Hopefully, you all will receive a card from the Minot's before the end of the year. If not, it will be a New Year Greeting. We will be spending Christmas Eve here at our house with Mike's family and Christmas Day at my sister's house with my family and then my grandparents arrive from Georgia after Christmas for a few days.
I wish for you all a wonderful celebration of Christmas. I pray for myself and all of you that we will have the gift of time. Time to be still and enjoy the peacefulness of Christmas.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

It's Beginning To Look Alot Like Christmas!

The Christmas Season is in FULL swing and our calendar reflects that fact. We are busy busy busy with lots of activities. We finally got our condo decorate which took a while with my two little helpers. Grace absolutely loves Christmas and is so excited to help with the decorations. Emily followed the lead of her big sister with helping as well. It was lots of fun decorating the trees (all three of them) with the girls although it took about 3 times as long as it usually does. Grace decided that she wanted a full size tree in her room this year and guess what color it is......white and pink. She wanted a pink tree but we couldn't find one so she settled for a white one with pink decorations. She decorated it all by herself and did a beautiful job. I am almost finished with my shopping and still working on our Christmas Cards which will probably be New Year Cards this year. Mike and I enjoyed an evening by ourselves on Sunday as we traveled to Epcot to listen to Steven Curtis Chapman read the Christmas Story at the Candlelight Processional. It was glorious and even more delightful to have an evening with Mike all to myself. How wonderful it was to snuggle close to him and listen to the Christmas Story read by one of my most favorite people while listening to beautiful Christmas Carols. Reality hit as we returned home to a busy week. Cody and Grace have one more week of school and we are looking forward to some down time of just enjoying each other. It will be nice to have some quieter moments to enjoy these things that are only around at this time of year and to be able to absorb Christmas through Emily's eyes. As we celebrate her First Christmas we are blessed to be able to share in her joy of experiencing these traditions new and afresh. She has embraced all Christmas and squeals with delight at all of the sights, sounds and smells. What a blessing it is to have her with us and to be able to share Christmas with our newest daughter. Unlike a newborns first Christmas, sharing a 2 1/2 year olds first Christmas is filled with excitement as she is able to express her joy. I thought just this morning that "it just doesn't get better than this" as I awoke to my house filled with the sights of Christmas while my husband read quietly in the family and my 3 beautiful children slept snuggled in their beds.

Oh how I love having the house all lit up at Christmas. I think that mornings are my favorite times. Waking up early before everyone is up and turning on all the lights and sitting in the quietness drinking my coffee and enjoying the serenity of the twinkling lights. With all of the hustle and bustle of what the world says Christmas should be it is nice to enjoy the peacefulness of the mornings.

We have been hustling and bustling for the past couple of weeks with lots of school activities and trying to get the shopping done. We are also preparing for Grace's big Christmas Party on Saturday. She did not get a birthday party this year so I promised her a Christmas Party and she didn't let me forget it. She is so excited to have all of her buddies over for an afternoon of Christmas games and decorating cookies. I just love it that she is such an entertainer....just like her mama. She loves getting things ready for a party although doesn't get as stressed out as her mama does. Maybe I should take notes. Well, I will be sure to post lots of pictures from the party as well as some shots of her recent Christmas program at school. For now I will post a few pics of our trees and our front door.

I hope that you all are enjoying this Christmas time of year.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Trip to the Zoo

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Thanksgiving has come and gone and we are in the middle of preparations for Christmas but I realized that I had not posted a Thanksgiving update. Our Thanksgiving was lots of fun. Cody and Grace for out of school for the entire week of Thanksgiving. It was fun having them home however there was some entertainment required which is hard when one is preparing for Thanksgiving. We did manage to get out to the zoo with my sister early in the week and enjoyed seeing the animals at our local zoo. Of course Emily loved all of the animals as did Grace. Cody on the other hand is not fond of birds and there were lots of them throughout the zoo so he was eager to leave. It was fun to get out and enjoy the beautiful Florida weather as well as spending the day with my sister and my nephews.
Thanksgiving was not a traditional one this year in that we spent the holiday at a local beach front resort. Mike's parents treated our family to a couple of days at the beach. I spent Thanksgiving morning running on the beach and we enjoyed the resort activities with the kids and then ended the day with a Thanksgiving dinner in one of our condos. Cody and Grace LOVED the indoor play area as well as the awesome pool area and gigantic water slide. Emily enjoy a little kiddie area at the pool. Although, I love tradition and enjoy being at home for holiday events this Thanksgiving was one of the least stressful ones that I have had in a very long time.
After stuffing ourselves we made the 15 minute trip home to host my best friend, Lissa and her husband Jay for the evening. What an enjoyable time it was seeing them. Cody, Grace and Emily were so excited to see Aunt Lissa and Mr. Jay and were so sad when they had to leave. Cody kept Jay busy showing him all of his computer roller coaster creations while the girls competed for his attention as well. Grace cozied up to Aunt Lissa after a couple of hours as did Emily. It was a perfect ending to the holiday weekend although our time with them was much too short.
As we gave thanks this year, I realized just how much for which I have to be thankful. God has blessed me beyond my imagination. I love being a child of God and enjoying the benefits of having my Heavenly Father lavish His goodness upon me. I pray that I always maintain an attitude of Thanksgiving throughout the year for what I have been given