Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas 2008 Highlights

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We had a fabulous, fun, love-filled, mostly relaxed "Week O' Christmas" and we certainly hope you and your family did, too. I've collected my favorite pictures to share and here are just a few pictures from our travels and celebrations:

We are back at home, enjoying a very relaxed week together as a family and NOT looking forward to getting back to work next week. January and February will be VERY busy months for Scott. Lots of traveling! Look for news about a big decision we will hopefully have to make in the beginning of February.

Before the busy season begins, though, we will kick-off the new year with a short cruise to the Bahamas next week! Can't wait!!!

Come back tomorrow. Hopefully I'll be able to design my New Year's blog before midnight tonight! I may see the ball drop after all...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I have failed...but I'm OK with it!

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Scott and I work very hard to teach Sam that Christmas is about giving to others, not about receiving all your heart desires. It is my intention to never ask Sam what he wants Santa to bring him, but rather to ask him what he would like to give others. It is so important to us that Sam never believes that the world and Christmas revolve around him (even though our world does!) We never want him feeling entitled to anything, but rather thankful and blessed for everything. So we make a conscious effort not to go overboard with Christmas gifts. Each year, we arrange everything we've bought him and then I step back and say "Gosh, we hardly got him anything." And Scott says, "Exactly." and I'm brought back to our goals and away from the credit cards! Don't get me wrong. I could buy him a truckload of fun new toys. But I am pretty sure that God charged me with nurturing his precious angel into an unselfish, thoughtful, empathetic servant who will grow up to care more about others than about how much he has. He will value the memories that we have created as a family, not the goodies we gave him. He will feel like the most loved child in the world not because he has more toys than he can handle, but because we play with him from sunrise to beyond sunset.

That rant out of the way, I have to tell you that I have already failed!

A few weeks ago, Sam's grandmother started asking him about Santa and what he wanted Santa to bring him. Sam had never even heard of Santa before that. We didn't "do Santa" his first two Christmases. So I realized that Scott and I had come to the point in time that we were going to have to talk about and make decisions about Santa. All of a sudden, it became a really big deal to me and the question of whether or not Santa would be visiting our house this year got me thinking. I grew up believing in Santa and he was still visiting my home during my college years. But, with our goals in mind, I wasn't sure if I wanted that for Sam. How could we merge our desire for him to be a giving child with this perfectly wonderful tradition that focuses on receiving. On the other hand, I didn't want to be the one to deprive him of this cultural, commercial rite of passage, either. So, in the end, we decided that we would indeed introduce Sam to Santa this year. (Not what I consider to be my failure.)

And boy, am I glad we did! It has been so much fun watching Sam figure this whole Christmas thing out. He loves decorations and lights! I've been watching him with a teacher's eye. He's hearing so much talk around him about Christmas and Santa and you can just see him putting the pieces together to form this new schema that grows everyday. In the last three days, he has started wishing people "Merry Christmas!"

My failure you ask?

We decided to have Christmas morning at our house on Monday morning, before all of our travels. (I'll blog about our wonderful, special morning later.) A few days before "Christmas" we started really talking about Santa and noticing him all around us. We explained how Santa was watching him and would bring him something special for being such a good boy. And then, because I was so caught up in the excitement, I did it. Before I knew it, I went there. I actually asked Sam what he wanted Santa to bring him. (Gasp!) I know, I shocked myself, too. But, it turned into a sweet (if not crafitily guided) conversation and Sam only asked for one thing. Trains. What luck! That's exactly what Santa was planning on bringing him!

I guess my reason for asking him was to prepare him for waking up the next morning and finding the small pile of loot waiting for him. If we were going to do this Santa thing, then I wanted him to experience the magic of Santa. Plus, we had lots of fun Sunday threatening Sam every time he started acting up, that Santa might not bring him any trains if he wasn't a good boy! At one point, Scott and I looked at each other and he asked "Why haven't we used that all year?" It turns out that Santa makes a good threat! So maybe my failure wasn't so bad...Anyway, I'll try again next year!

Well, that's what's on my mind this morning. And it has been a long morning! I've been up since 3:30, wide awake, wrapping gifts and playing on the computer. I can't believe that this is the first night in a week that Sam has slept all night and now I can't sleep!

Merry Christmas to you all. I hope that your Christmas will be as fun, magical and wonderful as ours was!

Here's a sneak peek at our Christmas morning:

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Made Especially for Mail

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To appreciate this post, you'll have to first click here to read about "Mail."

We have made a Christmas card just for Mail and plan on giving her a little stocking filled with Hershey kisses that say "Thank you!"

What can we say? We love her!

Our "Almost" Christmas Card

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Some of you already know this, but just in case you haven't heard, I took over 800 pictures in search of THE Christmas card picture. I had a few conditions on the picture (ex. needed to be wearing Santa shirt) and I was looking for just the right look to capture Sam. It was unbelievably difficult to get just a few shots to choose from and then to narrow them down. I'm not thrilled with the pictures I finally chose (see post below) but I'm not displeased either. However, I just had to share this picture that I just found. Had I remembered this picture last night when I was designing our card, I may have been sorely tempted...if it wasn't for the nudity! Doggone it! Why do I continue to let Sam run around in a diaper, ruining great photo ops???

Just look at that sweet face! And in front of the tree even!

Here are three more honorable mentions:

No smile.

Plenty of smile. Blurry dog.

Plenty of smile. No Santa shirt.

And three that "missed it by that much":

Even Sam is tired of the camera!

Friday, December 19, 2008

2008 Christmas Card

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Because of all the sickness that has flourished in our household in the past 2 weeks, and because I simply don't have time to address and stamp 85 envelopes, I've decided to share our Christmas card online with as many family and friends as possible. Hopefully, the few cards I plan to mail will be in the mail on Monday and will reach their destinations sometime before New Year's Day! It is my hope that no one is offended by my digital gesture. You all know I love you and I know you'll understand. I know this is probably tacky and unsentimental, but please know that I will aspire to complete my cards in November next year and do better on all accounts.

So, without further ado:

Freakishly Healthy

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As a family, we rarely get sick. We are, in fact, freakishly healthy. That's why the past two weeks have taken their toll on us. Thankfully, and amazingly, Sam has not gotten sick yet, but Scott and I have battled stomach bugs, sinus infections and nasal spray addictions! Please pray that we are healthy for the holidays. I'm praying for strength to get off the couch today. I have got to get my house clean! Oh, and I also have to finish, I mean start, Christmas shopping!

Anyway,we did manage to be well at least one night this past week. We made it over to Dave and Tina's house for an incredible dinner to celebrate a lot of things: Scott's tenure, my passing National Boards, new babies, new pregnancies and good friends. Here are a few pics of Sam taken that evening. If you're interested, you can check out just a few more if you click here:

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Charity Auction

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I've mentioned Jennifer Juniper's blog before. She makes the most beautiful hand-painted frames with quotes written on them. Jennifer is auctioning off her most popular frame to raise money for charity. I've placed my bid! Check it out here and then place your bid on e-bay. There are only two days left to bid. Hurry!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Does absence make the heart grow fonder?

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I cannot tell you how much I have missed blogging! I can't believe how long it has been. Lots of exciting things have happened: our trip to Savannah with Susan and Joe, Thanksgiving, new camera... Yes, lots of things have happened, I just don't have the energy to blog about them! It is 11:41 and I have finally designed and figured out how to install my very first blog background! I was determined not to go to bed tonight until I updated my blog. So, please enjoy! I have fumbled my way through Photoshop just to get it done. While not exactly what I expected once published, it will do for now. Tomorrow, I'll get started on my Valentine's Day background. Maybe I'll have it up sometime in February!

Oh, I do have to tell you about my brand-new, fancy, oh-so-confusing camera! I finally ordered it and I've had it exactly a week today. And guess what, Ryan! I've outdone myself. While trying to get a picture for our Christmas card yesterday, I took 689 pictures in 90 minutes! My personal best! I wish I could say that I got a picture that I can actually use on the card...but, alas, I'm still looking for just the right shot. Anyway, here's a self-portrait of me with my new camera taken in the elevator of the Charleston Place Hotel. Can you tell I am way too excited about it???