November 30, 2009
November 29, 2009
After the parade, Evy was all smiles and laughs. I'm so excited that we'll live in a small town and that we'll be able to make this parade a tradition. It just makes me feel warm inside :)
November 26, 2009
When I was growing up, we never lived in the same city as either set of grandparents, so I associate the holidays with traveling. We would see my dad's parents in the summers and occasionally at Christmas, but most Christmases were spent in Northwest Arkansas visiting my mom's parents, my Nana and Poppy.
Our Christmas celebration actually started in early November, because we'd all go to Branson, Missouri for a few days to see the Andy Williams Christmas Show and see all of the holiday decorations. It was so festive and super fun. Andy used to have all the children in the audience come onstage, and we have really cute pictures from that. I still get all warm inside when I hear his Christmas album, because I associate it with going every year to usher in the holidays. I love Branson. Everything about it.
After Branson, we celebrated Thanksgiving and then made plans to go to Fayetteville for Christmas. But before we headed out of town, Santa always came to my house early, because he knew we were going to out of town on Christmas. It never mattered, and I always felt extra special that I could tell my friends: "Santa is coming early to visit us. He knows our schedule." (Type A to the max---I loved that Santa knew our schedule.)
We'd leave out the milk and cookies (such a small thing, but so magical to see the crumbs and empty glass in the morning). And then the next morning we'd walk into the den/living room, and the four of us would each have a designated spot where our gifts from Santa were displayed (not wrapped, if you're wondering). That was the chaotic, fun, exclamatory, and exciting time of the morning. Then, we'd open our wrapped gifts from our family in a more orderly fashion. It was wonderful. Everything about it.
Then, usually the next day, we'd pack up and head to Arkansas. I remember reading or listening to Christmas music in the car, and enjoying the time to just be alone with my thoughts and enjoy one or two of my new Christmas gifts. We'd snuggle with blankets and it was so much fun.
We'd arrive at my granparents' and it was so beautifully decorated for Christmas. I remember a bell garland on the mantle that would play Christmas songs, the winter village set up on a table, the small white, twinkling tree in the formal living room, and the grand finale, which was the big, bright tree set up in the sunroom (it's such a pretty room). It was so tall....it reached up to the vaulted ceilings. Usually there was Christmas music playing in the music system that was all through the house. It was magical---everything about it.
There would be iced Christmas cookies from the famous Rick's Bakery. They're still my favorite Christmas cookies of all time. FYI: This is where the Duggars got their 25th anniversary wedding cake and Joy's birthday party cake. I'm soooo connected to them it's ridiculous. Seriously.
When we were younger, our family would act out the nativity scene. Let's just say it has provided hugely entertaining home video moments for us. Even after we were too old to act it out, we always had a time of family worship to really stop and think about the spiritual significance of Christmas. It was so special.
At some point in the visit, we would go to downtown Fayetteville to see Lights of the Ozarks. I'm pretty sure my siblings will kill me for putting these pictures from 2005 up, but I couldn't resist!
Yes, that's me acting ridiculous in front of a Cinderella's Coach look-alike. You shouldn't be surprised.
Now that I'm married, Kurt and I make it a priority to see both sides of the family each holiday. We just alternate which family gets the "priority days" each year (if that makes sense). The Lancaster Christmas is so enjoyable, because it's a "country Christmas." Not in a derrogatory way---it's just in a beautiful rural setting, Mrs. Pam has the house decorated so cozily, and there's tons of great food! We also play games and usually watch old home videos. I'm so happy I married into this family!
In recent years my family (as in my parents and siblings) began hosting Christmas, and it's just as special. We're older and that brings a new dynamic to it. My favorite part is watching people open the gifts I picked for them. I work so hard to find the perfect thing, so seeing their reactions is a huge payoff. Even though we don't travel to my grandparents' house anymore, I'm learning that Christmas really is about who you're with---although I don't think I could ever do a "destination" Christmas! Home--and family--is where my heart is.
That's Christmas to me. It's funny, because I think once you have a family of your own, you're kind of in limbo because you want to hold onto the past and the way things were, but you also want to start your own traditions. Here are some that Kurt and I want to implement as a family:
- Ordering goodies like Peppermint Bark, Hot Chocolate, and Mint Patties from Williams Sonoma. Once a year deliciousness.
- Celebrate Advent leading up to Christmas.
- Decorate the house as a family, with Christmas music, movies, and goodies.
- Have a special holiday breakfast one morning.
- Read holiday classics off and on throughout the season in the evenings.
- Volunteer to help the less fortunate in some way.
- Sponsor an Angel Tree child.
- Bring out the Elf on the Shelf.
- Host one or two holiday parties at our home. I want to entertain more!
- Have a Cookie Baking Day.
- Driving around in our pajamas looking at Christmas lights.
- Have my dad read the Christmas story to our family after a holiday dinner together.
I love Christmases: past, present, and future. Everything about them!
November 25, 2009
It's so hard for me to believe that the holidays are here. In some ways, it's surreal because last year I was pregnant at this time, and it was so hard for me to fathom being a mother and experiencing the holidays in a new way.
It's so wonderful.
I am so blessed beyond measure. It sounds so trite to say that, and the words aren't adequate, but God has been so good and faithful to Kurt, myself, and our families. It's just incomprehensible to me.
Here are some things that I'm thankful for this year.
- If you read this blog at all, it should go without saying that I'm thankful for Jesus. The Christ, the Master, the Giver. The Healer. The Sustainer. My Lord.
- I'm thankful for my God-given, beyond-perfect-for-me husband. Kurt is diligent in his work, faithful to me, and such a joy in my life. Having someone that I can confide in, cry to, love on, and dream with is my dream come true.
- I'm thankful that I am able to live my dream of staying home full time with my daughter and keep our home. I've known of comments that have been made about me (by a reader of this blog) that are derrogatory in that regard, and I have to say that I only pity them, because they clearly don't understand what a joy this is. This is what I'm called to do with my life, and to say I love it is a tremendous understatement!
- I'm thankful for the blog world. I was telling my friends the other day that it's a world unto itself, and unless you're in it, you don't get it. I love the interaction, the fact that you're able to be a self-published author of sorts, and that in an instant you are connecting with people you would never have known otherwise. I'm proud of the fact that I blog, and I'm so thankful that I took the step to create my own little piece of the blog world back in October of 2007.
- I'm thankful for music. It transcends every emotion possible, transports you to where you want to go, and can change your life. That's powerful.
- I'm thankful for the opportunity that we have been given to live in the same city as my parents, and to not be any further away from Kurt's parents. I never dreamed in a million years that I would be given this by God. He is unbelievably gracious.
- I am thankful for my family. Again, words fail, but those relationships are sacred to me. I would die for any member of my family, and I do not say that lightly. They get me. I adore them.
- I'm thankful for the gift of friendship this year. I am the kind of person that desires only a few close, deep friends and not tons of shallow acquaintances. I love meeting people, don't get me wrong, but when it comes to investing my time--I can only give that to friends I really hold dear. I think you know who you are, and I want you to know that I love you, my dear friends.
- I think most importantly this year, I'm thankful for the gift of motherhood. There's so much meaning behind that sentence! On February 9th, at 4:12 pm, my life was changed immeasurably for the better. I am a different person, in the best sense. I've always been kind of a deep thinker, and I was always able to find the deeper meaning in things, but now.....I can't help but see so much more significance in life. The task, calling, and responsibility of raising a child is something that puts a weight on your soul. It's not a bad weight, per se, it's just always there. There's no "off" switch. And that's a good thing, because all of a sudden you're responsible for something other than yourself. Your duty is to, at the very least, keep this little, innocent, amazing being alive. And especially if you're a Believer, you know your duty is to help form this little soul and steer it in the direction of Christ. There's nothing light about it. It's serious business, but God was so wonderful to design parenting in such a way that as you're steering this little soul, you're steering your own soul as well. I've never been closer to the Lord than right now. He's never seemed more real to me. And that is the most important thing to be thankful for this year.
I need to add that I'm thankful for you. Compared to the "big blogs" I don't have that many followers (and that's NOT important), but it's amazing to me that so many of you take an interest in what happens in my family's life. I know that not everyone who reads leaves a comment, and that's okay. But somehow, putting my thoughts out to the collective group of "Internets," as BooMama calls you, is so therapeutic. I'm so blessed by your reading my blog, and I'm blessed to read yours. I might not be able to comment or diligently follow every single one, but know that I've looked at all of them and stopped by. Leave a comment for me and say hello sometime if you haven't before. :)
I'm praying that you have a wonderful time of celebrating God's goodness.
"They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness." Psalm 145:7
This has been one of those days.
-Evy and I both slept late because she decided to wake up at 3:00 am. Just for fun.
-Woke up after totally forgetting that the plumber was supposed to come this morning between 10 and 12. Jumped in the shower and called Kurt to check in about it. This call was made at 11:45.
-At 12 noon, Kurt calls back and says that Mr. Plumber is on the way.
-Said Plumber arrives at 12:30, and I am due to have lunch with Carrie and SD. Grrr.
-I'll go ahead and give you the happy ending of the Plumber story: one big, huge, hefty bill. Because we had a stupid leak in a pipe in our front yard that was getting our neighbor's lawn wet. I'm so glad we will be able to bless Mr. Plumber with some money right at Christmastime. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
-While at lunch, a random, weird, totally nosy lady has the most bizarre interaction with us ever. Some quotes:
- (To me): "Does your baby know sign language? Because my grandbaby does. She can sign whatever she wants."
- (Also to me): "My grandbaby is your daughter's age and is already potty trained. My stepdaughter learned her cues and just puts her on the potty and she goes." (Sidenote: I do believe it's the mother being potty trained in that situation. What good does it do if the child can't even WALK, let alone get on a toilet and maneauver the thing?)
- (To Carrie): "You must be the health nut. Were those peas your little girl was eating? Was that her snack or her lunch?"
- (To SD): "And your little one is still in her carrier, so she isn't big enough to do anything yet except cry and smile, etc. etc."
- (To all of us): "So are all of these girls going to be in school together?" [Pause] "Or are you going to homeschool?"
-Went to mail a canvas and then to Michael's to buy 10 canvases. Count 'em.
-Came home and basically painted all afternoon and evening. For hours.
-Kurt was a huge help with Evy, as he always is. But when we tried to put her down as usual at 9, she just kept rolling onto her stomach and couldn't get settled. We tried everything. Motrin, rocking, singing, walking, video for a few minutes, rubbing the gums, feeling for fever.....
-Finally, I rocked her to sleep at 11:00 pm.
-And now I'm typing this.
So......yeah. It was one of those days.
November 23, 2009
I posted this on my artistry website, but I wanted to make sure you saw it even if you don't follow me on that blog.
Christmas is very quickly approaching, and I've been painting a lot lately! In order to make sure that you get your canvases in time and I get some free time during the holidays, I'm asking that all Christmas orders be made no later than Monday, December 7th. Please only place an order right now if you're needing it by Christmas or for a Christmas gift.
Thank you for understanding, and I so appreciate your business. It means so much to me that you would want to give a piece of my art to someone, or have it in your home. I'm really honored by that!
Happy Thanksgiving this week!
November 22, 2009
You might be wondering about Evy's dress. That's another fabulous creation from my sweet mother in law! Can you believe how talented she is!? She cut out pieces from a cute paisley fabric to make the turkey feathers. I am so, so thankful and blessed (and Evy is too!) to have such a talented "Mia." This is her Thanksgiving ensemble, and I just think it's adorable!
Happy Thanksgiving Week!
November 20, 2009
I was able to go paint at Easley Amused with my dear friends Carrie and Sarah Denley (or SD, as I affectionately call her). We had a wonderful time of conversation and creative outlet-ing. I love these girls!
My sweet mother and father in law came to visit recently, and it was so nice to see them! I have been sick (up and down) for about 3 weeks now, and so it was a big help. Mia helped with everything, and Randad worked on refinishing my great grandmother's sewing table (that I keep in my foyer).
Mrs. Pam was so sweet and kept Evy while Kurt and I had a date. We ate at Beagle Bagel Cafe (one of my very favorites!). We went to the new location (this is the second location in town). So cute!
After lunch, we went and saw Disney's "A Christmas Carol" in 3D. It was stunning! We both just loved it. I was able to fly through the streets of 18th century London during Christmastime, which to me equals perfection! I highly, highly recommend this film. Parts of it are kind of spooky/scary, so it's not for super young children, but it's just dazzling.
While Mrs. Pam was in town, she offered to buy us a "big girl" carseat for Evy as her Christmas present. What a blessing! Evy hates car trips, and I think part of the reason is because she just wants to sit up and not recline so much in her infant seat. So I did my research and we ended up getting the Britax Boulevard carseat. So far, we've loved it! And, as you can see, it seems to have passed the initial testing from a very tough little critic:
Hopefully our holiday travels will go more smoothly this way. I'm not counting on a miracle, but it sure would help!
Today I had a BLAST going to Handworks Market here in town. It's smaller than Mistletoe Marketplace, and everything is handmade, which makes it extra special to me. It was low-stress and stroller friendly, which is just what we needed! Of course I went with the other two amigas, Carrie and SD. I got some really cute things. One was a frame from my friend Demetria's booth. She sells handmade distressed frames, and they are just adorable! Take a look at Plain Jane Frames.
Speaking of an adorable little darling, I do have news as of today: Evy officially has a TOOTH!!!!! It's not even the one I was expecting. It's one of the center teeth on the bottom. I felt something kind of sharp and jagged in her mouth, and sure enough---there it was! So adorable.
I love the holiday season. It's so full of food, fun, family and friends. Isn't the Lord good to give us a season like this?
It might not seem like a huge deal to some people, but this was such a big thing for me. Just being able to ask questions of a tried and true Disney expert who wrote my favorite guidebook was awesome!
November 19, 2009
Yes, I will be going with a group of friends to the midnight show of NEW MOON! Even though I'm a night owl, this is way out of character for me. I never saw a movie at a theater this late before in my life. But when the group was getting tickets, I couldn't say no! It's so weird, because I read the whole Twilight series when I was pregnant and saw the first movie, and I remember my friend Suzanne saying to me, "I don't care what you have to do---you're getting a babysitter or something and we're going to see New Moon in November!" It was so hard for me to comprehend having a nine month old. Well, here we are! Evy and Kurt will have some good quality time (well...actually they'll both be in bed), and I'll get to indulge in a ridiculous love of mine, the Twilight Saga. I truly love this series. I know it's controversial for a Christian to like it, but I have my reasons and my arguments for why I don't think it's inappropriate. Now, witchcraft and wizardry is a different story. But vampires (in the sense that they're written about in Twilight) aren't real; it's fantasy. It's not like I would let my ten year old read it (the themes are better understood by adults), but I don't think it's evil. If you haven't read the series, I won't spoil it for you, but I will say that I also admire the boundaries in the physical relationship between Edward and Bella. It's refreshing and gives me even more respect for the series.
So that's what I'll be doing tonight....giving myself time to enjoy something I love!
P.S. In case you're curious, I'm on Team Edward. I totally understand Bella and Jacob's relationship, but I've gotta go with Edward for the long-term romance (and because he's a vampire, it's REALLY long term. Ha!).
November 18, 2009
First of all, you might remember that I designed my sweet friend Emily's blog header. Well, I had to update it. Know why? Because she's expecting TWINS!
Is that not precious? Two little beebees. Congratulations, Emily and Mark! The Schmitz babies should arrive around early June.
I'm in the process of helping to plan my super blogging/friend in real life Kristal's holiday baby shower. Remember I showed you the invitation that I designed? She's 30 weeks and has done a very good job of chronicaling her pregnancy. And she hasn't gained hardly any weight and looks uber stylish in the process. I'm taking notes for next time....
And I am very pleased, excited, proud, and all-around thrilled to announce that today Kurt's twin brother and his wife Jennifer found out that their sweet baby is a little BOY! Yes, we will welcome our first nephew, Joshua William Lancaster, in mid-April.I mentioned recently that our sweet friend Jennilee took our Christmas card pictures for us. I officially ordered the Christmas cards TODAY, which is one of my favorite things to do. Love it. I won't give the reveal yet, but here is one from the session:
Well, that about sums it up for now. I have more catching up to do later, so stay tuned :)
November 16, 2009
Two gay (by their own admission), liberal, and Democrat-voting bloggers who are huge supporters of Hillary Clinton (?!) wrote a very telling blog post about former President George and Laura Bush.
Two articles are important to read.
This post was written on January 20th, when President Bush left office. It helps to read this first.
And this post was written recently on November 10th.
I don't agree with every single thing written, but these are two very good articles. I wrote before about the liberal media bias, and these two men really pleasantly surprised me. In fact, I was kind of shocked at what I was reading.
Some time ago, after a certain post that I wrote, I felt that I had really offended some readers, and offered an apology. It was not an apology for my beliefs or convictions, but for the way it was said. A reader of this blog then sarcastically "congratulated" me for being true to my Republican self and immediately doing damage control and apologizing. She was basically insenuating that I was quick to recount what I said and didn't know what I stood for.
It's called being gracious and admitting when there's some degree of fault on your part. And these two men were so gracious in this post about the Bushes. Admitting faults and having a respectful dialogue would get us so much further in discussions and debates. Now don't get me wrong; there are times that we need to be passionate for what we believe in, but it's like our Christian walk. I fully acknowledge that the Gospel WILL offend people at times, and we should never compromise the message. We can be righteous as can be and even have good, pious intentions, but if it's presented in a pushy, tactless way, no one will be won for Christ.
So, in that same vein, I'm grateful to these two Chicago bloggers. They didn't gain my agreement with their beliefs, thoughts, or political swayings, but they gained my respect. And isn't that sometimes the more important thing?
November 15, 2009
Isn't this a great picture of her?
I only wish I could pull off this hair.
This is my favorite Katie look.
I took a picture in to a stylist one time and had them copy her hair. It actually turned pretty well, now that I think about it. I do believe it's time to take in my Katie portfolio to some lucky stylist, who then needs to transform me into her. Hee hee.
Of course I have to post the wedding picture. Stunning.
So.....that was the longest tangent I've ever typed.
Anyway, I was watching First Daughter. This was pre-Tom, obviously. But I really like this movie, and I love (LOVE!) the Christmas scene towards the end of the movie. It's a Christmas party, and the White House is decorated, and a men's chorus sings "The Way You Look Tonight," and there's elegant dancing.
And the dress. Oh, the dress.
This picture DOES NOT do it justice (I couldn't find better pictures). It's a beautiful color, and the design is just so unique and stunning. You have the watch the movie. Even if you skip to the end....this scene is just perfect. It combines so many wonderful things.
Katie Holmes, I love you.
Is anyone else LOVING that holiday programming is coming on television?
November 13, 2009
You can read the post here.
Thank you for featuring Evy's room!
November 11, 2009
In honor of this day, here is a recent picture of me, my mom, Evy and Kurt meeting a sweet, sweet man who served our country, Mr. Bill Barnes. You can read the story in this post.
O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!