When It Rains, It pours

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You may have seen in the news or on Facebook (always a reliable source of information) that the Houston area is dealing with record breaking flooding.  Although our home is safe and undamaged, many are not.  Roads are flooded everywhere around us.  This is day 2 of no school for my kids.  Yesterday, we treated it like a snow day up north minus the fun snowman building and hot chocolate.  I pretty much let the girls be lazy with a few extra chores thrown in for good measure.  This was much needed as neither my husband or I got much sleep the night before as we moved the girls downstairs into our room at midnight when the tornado warning was issued.  We hung out in the living room keeping an eye on the storm until the tornado warning had passed.  Things that I only pretend to know about were beeping on and off all over the house!

However today is Day 2 and this mom is faced with the challenge of keeping 2 of her kids busy but quiet while one of my daughters still has a home day of school (she attends an university model school so while her sisters are normally at school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, she does school at home with me).   So while she is taking a math test, I gave work assignments to the others.  They were thrilled.  Not really.  But let’s pretend.  So first thing I did was to text Kim for ideas.  Brilliant Kim said my oldest, who is a phenomenal writer, should write a blog post.  So that’s what I made her do.  And yeah, this does not fall into her most awesome work but hey, she did it!  Ladies and Gentleman….our first guest post….. my 13 year old daughter!

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Moving was never my thing.  I have always hated leaving my cozy home to go to a place where it seemed like aliens lived. It was always stressful, especially when I was younger. Here are some of the highs and lows of moving as a child, and how you can make it so much more fun for your kids.

Things Kids Love

  • The New House- As a kid, I often loved to play hide-and-seek and explore all the crevices of my house and back yard. When you move into the new house, there are so many things to explore.  If your kid is anything like me and loves to explore, you should let them roam for a little bit. It will help run off any steam and stress from the move and forget the the stressful situation moving can be.
  • New People– When my sister was younger, she could literally walk up to anyone and start a conversation about the color of their shoes.  Most kids are very outgoing when they are little, so when they’re surrounded by new people, they’re going to make new friends. It helps best if you go meet your new neighbors and say hi.  There could be some kids that your child hits it off with from the very beginning.

Things Kids Hate

  • Leaving Old Friends– When your kid loves new people, this often isn’t that big of a problem. When I moved, I hated leaving my friends. It’s always been hard for me to make friends, so this is one of the hardest aspects of moving. There is nothing a parent can do directly to help a kid make friends.  Instead, be encouraging to your kid and make them feel good about themselves.  Don’t try to change them so they’ll make friends easier, it’ll just blast right back in your face.
  • New Climate– One of the worst moves I had was when I moved from Indiana to Georgia.  It was a very long drive and I had no idea what to expect.  When I moved, it was steaming. I had never experienced such heat ever before in my life.  Again, parents can’t do anything but be prepared.  Try buying  clothes meant for the climate before you move so you’ll be prepared and won’t have to rush out to the store during a huge heat wave or blizzard.

 

Coming Full Circle

I just had an amazing morning!  I was asked to stop in at the After the Boxes class at my church to share “my story” of coming full circle after a move.  This was so special to me for a few reasons.   Having attended the same class 4 years ago really helped me understand that I was not alone and set me on the path I’m still on today.  Clearly I have a heart for ladies who are in the middle of a move or have just moved.  These are my people and the reason Kim and I started this blog.   And sometimes we need to be reminded why we start projects and sometimes we need to be reminded of a struggle that we overcame.  Both of these reminders came to me this morning.  I heard ladies share their hearts, their struggles and their triumphs this morning.  These ladies were not friends a few months ago.  But they are now.  They are on the same journey of surviving a move.  But they aren’t just surviving, they are learning to flourish.

So what did I share?  I shared a lot.  I shared things that I planned to share but I also shared some details that God just lead me to share.  I’m so thankful that I did.  I need to remember that I too, am a Work In Progress.  Here is the gist of what I said…

I have moved a lot.  I have moved under great circumstances and not so great circumstances.  I have moved to small cities and large cities.  I have moved into bigger houses and smaller houses.  I have moved willingly and not so willingly.  But with each move, I must choose my attitude.  Sure, I panic and get mad.  I may even dig my heels in at first.  However, I always make the decision that I’m going to be “all in” because my family deserves it.  My marriage needs it.  My God is honored by it.  

I can now look back at each place and I see God’s hand at work.  As a planner, I always want things to go my way.  However there is no way I could ever imagine what God had in store for me or my family from place to place.  But his ways are indeed better that our ways.  Each place we have lived, regardless of how long, has been a gift.  New friends and new adventures.  

Are you struggling with a move?  A difficult transition?  I know its tough but you need to choose Joy.  You may not be able to change the circumstances, buy you can change how to respond and how you move forward.  If you are a mom, you better believe your children are watching you and waiting to see how you respond.  Go ahead and choose Joy.  There is a difference between being happy about something and choosing joy.  You are happy as a result of something.  But Joy goes deeper.

Author Susan Miller covers this point beautifully in chapter 16 of her book, After The Boxes Are Unpacked which is what I spoke about in today’s class based on the book.   In fact, Susan has an updated version of her book coming out later this week and is totally worth checking out.  We were laughing in class today about how worn down my book looks so I will definitely be buying the updated copy.

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Susan reminds us that Joy comes from deep and from having a relationship with God.

“Joy…occurs in spite of difficult situations. It is not a feeling; it is a choice. It is not based upon circumstances; it is based upon attitude” (from You Gotta Keep Dancin’ by Tim Hansel). 

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” John 15:11.

I’m praying that you can choose joy today regardless of your circumstances!

angeline3

DIY Crate Shelves

First thing first….what have I been doing?  I did not realize that I have written only one blog post this year!  I swear I have written a dozen or so in my head.  Sorry Kim! She has been doing all the work this year.  Kim wrote last week about one of her favorite DIY projects…her entry way.   I have a three picture frame in my guest bathroom (the one that Kim and I redecorated in her surprise trip to visit a few years ago) that holds pictures of iconic places where I have lived.  I love it!  Definitely an easy and meaningful project that even I could do!

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Louisville Slugger, GE sign in downtown Fort Wayne, the “Big Chicken” in Marietta.

It is my turn to link up to Kelly’s Korner with one of my recent DIY projects.  Although most of my DIY projects involve me looking on pintrest and then my awesome hubby doing the work.  This project was something we had talked about for awhile and he did for me over Christmas.  I collect cookbooks – old cookbooks, new cookbooks, cookbooks from where I have traveled, cookbooks from where I want to travel, and of course cookbooks from where I have lived.  In my current house, I have been storing my cookbooks in our large pantry and one a bookshelf at my desk.   As the collection grew, it was taking over my precious pantry space!  My other issue that this project solved was that I had some small area by my kitchen table that I could not find the right items to decorate.  With the position of the windows, and it being in the corner, I just could not find anything that I was happy to put there.

We tossed around a few different ideas, but what we finally decided on was quick, easy and budget friendly.  We simply bought crates from Home Depot (can be found at Michaels, Hobby Lobby and several other places) and turned them into shelves for my cookbooks.

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My husband lightly sanded the crates and then stained them a natural color.  The color looks a bit yellow but works well as 1) yellow is my favorite color, 2) the color brings out the lighter color in the rattan kitchen chairs against the dark table.

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Trial Run before painting kitchen area.

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Kitchen area after being painted Sherwin Williams Silvermist and before shelves.

Here is the finished project!  I love, love these crate shelves!  Easy and super functional!  I have regained an entire shelf of my pantry back and have filled the awkward corner space with one DIY project!

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An Entry to call Home

Kelly, over at Kelly’s Korner, is back with her “Show us your life” series.  Today is Show us your favorite DIY.  I wanted to share my favorite room in my house currently – my entryway.

I love this project for so many reasons.  Most importantly, it’s the first thing guests see when they enter my home.  I’ve never had a true entryway in any of the houses I have lived in.  They have all been very “open concept” houses.  This one actually had a defined space and I knew exactly what I wanted to do.  Here’s what the entryway looked like when we first moved in.

IMG_0985Just sad, isn’t it?!  I hated that this was what my guests first saw upon entering.  Not very “homey”.  Just looked and felt like temporary living quarters.  Here’s what it looks like now:
entryThis is exactly what I had hoped for and I only spent maybe $150 on the whole thing.  The rug was my largest purchase.  I got it at Target for around $70 on sale.  The console I found online through a Facebook garage sale.  Lady asked for $50.  It was a Broyhill piece of furniture so I knew it was good.  It just needed a facelift.  So I painted it with a dark gray/blue chalk paint.  The lamp was a $5 find online as well.  I painted our entry door to match the look since we have a storm door and the main door stays open quite a bit and, honestly, the old door color was tired and worn.  But my favorite part is the picture gallery on the wall.  It has some special meaning.
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This is everywhere we have lived.  The subway art I made using PicMonkey.  I used all our addresses because each was our home for the time being and each holds special memories.  I made it to fit a 16×20 size print and printed at Costco.  Then I painted a piece of plywood black and used modge podge to attach the photo.  I get so many compliments when people come into my house.  The photos surrounding the subway art represent each city we have lived.  I found the photos online and printed at Costco in various sizes to fit frames I already owned.

As I have said before, it doesn’t take a lot of money to make your house feel like home.  Just takes a little time and imagination.
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Spring is Coming!

For most of you, it’s starting to feel like spring.  Unfortunately for those of us who live near the North Pole, it’s still quite chilly.  But tell that to my son who now sees 30 degrees as adequate weather for wearing shorts.  Crazy Minnesota people!

Anywhoo…to make it feel like spring I’m sharing one of my all time favorite cookie recipes from Two Peas and Their Pod.  I didn’t think I could ever replace the beloved Chocolate Chip cookie as my favorite cookie, but after this, I have changed my mind.  It ranks right up there with my chocolate.  These are sooooo good, it will be hard to have leftovers!  Enjoy a little spring in your kitchen!

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Glazed Lemon Cookies
(courtesy of Two Peas and Their Pod)

INGREDIENTS:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
4-5 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat the oven to 35o degrees F. Line two baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

2. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Whisk and set aside.

3. In a small bowl, add granulated sugar and lemon zest. Rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingers, until fragrant.

4. Beat butter and sugar/lemon mixture together until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth.

5. Slowly beat in flour mixture on low speed until blended. Drop dough by tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Gently flatten dough with the palm of your hand.

6. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until cookies are just set and slightly golden brown. Cool cookies on baking sheet for 2 minutes and transfer to cooking racks. Cool completely.

7. In a medium bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and lemon juice. Dip each cookie top into the lemon glaze. Let cookies sit until icing has set.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Happy Spring folks!
kim4

 

Church Shopping 101

Wow!  Have you ever felt like life keeps passing by faster and faster and you really feel like you can’t keep up?  That’s how Jan and Feb have been for me.  Days keep going by and my “to-do” list keeps growing and current projects keep getting put on the back burner (ummm can we say blog posts?).  How is that possible?!?!  And don’t get me started on my spring cleaning fever.  I’m ready to charge through my house with a trash bag and declutter for my ever-so-precious, trash hoarding, boys.  What is so special about that little piece of plastic they got as a birthday party favor?  I’ll never know.

Ok, on to what I wanted to share with you today.  I feel like one of the hardest things after a move is finding a church.  UGH!  The agony.  Why is it so hard?  I mean it’s one thing when it’s just you and the hubs but it’s a whole other “thing” when it involves children. It’s never the easiest or most fun task and it can down right make you even lonelier (if that’s even possible).   But give yourself some grace and know God will lead you where he wants you – even if that means suffering through some rough Sundays.
Church-ShoppingFirst, I want to emphasize why it is so important to church shop after a move.  As hard as it is, you need that community.  It’s so easy after a move to lay low and start a whole new routine for yourselves like leisure Sunday mornings with coffee and the paper (what’s that like??).  Though the feelings of community won’t be instant, you still need to seek it out and it will eventually come.

Charles Spurgeon once gave a fantastic illustration to this point.  He spoke about two men sitting around a campfire.  They threw a couple of coals aways from the fire and they quickly went out.  Worship is a lot like that campfire.  When Christians are all together worshipping, they burn hot like that fire.  But when one leaves the fire and tries to “worship on their own”, that fire within them can quickly burn out.  Let’s face it, it’s easy to stay home and think you are doing good on your own with God, but in reality we need that community to keep our fire going and our faith strong.
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Finding a church isn’t easy.  But take heart, God will always lead you to the right place.  There may be strange ways in which he does, but He will.  Be patient.  Our first church in KY we found in the phone book (yes…back in the ancient days of phone books).  We picked it because it had a large ad and we noticed there was a campus near our apartment.  HA.  Ended up being a fantastic church where we grew in our early marriage and met wonderful couples to figure out this thing called marriage and family.  In Virginia, we tried several churches (and it wasn’t easy explaining to the kids why their world as they knew it was different every single week).  One was so bad that I seriously used the baby feeding excuse to leave.  HA!  Our most interesting church shopping was definitely in Vegas.  One church actually had smoke coming up from the stage during worship.  LOL.  The church we landed with was one we had heard about through some friends we had in our KY church.  They had served there two years prior to us moving there (God is so clever).  Anyway, I felt so out of my comfort zone when we visited.  We almost didn’t go back.  But my kids liked it there and we decided we weren’t getting much better.  Lol!  Ended up being one of THE BEST teaching churches I’ve been to and I learned so much about God’s word (ironic isn’t it….Vegas and best church experience?).  The music was so good you couldn’t leave without the JOY of the Lord.

There are a few pointers I can give you when church shopping.  One is to never, never compare the new church to what you are familiar with.  It will never live up to your expectations.  There is no such thing as a perfect church.

Another is to try to search near your home.  It’s easy to think you will drive 20 miles every week bc it’s no big deal.  But realistically you will burn out due to the sheer drive.

Lastly, and in my opinion most importantly, I have found that you must visit a church multiple times before deciding to mark it off your list.  With every new church we have been a part of, my first visit was “eh” ok.  There’s not one I fell in love with immediately.  However, after about a month of steady attendance, I could feel and visualize us being a part of that church.  It takes time.  Just like most things in your life, it’s not instant.  Maybe you were lucky enough to know the moment you laid eyes on your now husband that he was “the one”.  But for most of us, it took time.  Time getting to know the other person.  The church is a lot like that.

I’m not saying you have to start your search immediately upon arrival in your new territory.  We have always taken some time for ourselves to feel comfortable and familiarize ourselves with our new surroundings (and find our good clothes among all the boxes and maybe even to pep talk ourselves into the awkward task).  Give yourself a month at the most, but don’t dilly dally too long so that you burn out.  Keep that fire alive and get out there and shop!  Remember, you are on a mission in your new town.  God planted you there for a reason.  Now, seek out to surround yourselves with other believers so that maybe you can get a glimpse of God’s plans for you.
kim4

Remodeling for Resale

I’ve decided I want to be a color consultant.  Seriously.  I think the job would be so fun.  I can’t tell you the number of rooms I have painted in the last 10 years.  Countless.  I’m a bit of a painting fanatic.  Every house we move into I paint almost every room.  Honestly it’s the cheapest way to make my new house my home and I find painting a little therapeutic.  I get this “high” deciding what color to paint what room.  I LOVE and obsess over it.  I also LOVE to figure out ways to make our houses better for resale value.  We have known with each house that it is not our “forever home”.  This perspective really helps when trying to remodel.   We have learned over the years where to spend our money to get the most bang for our buck.  I feel like I could totally buy a house and flip it for a pretty good profit.  If only the money were there for that type of risky investment.  HA!  Back to the point….I hope I can share with you a few tips we have learned along the way.

First up….Paint.  I’m a firm believer that if you like a color and want to live in it – go for it.  JUST REMEMBER – not everyone likes bold color statements so when it comes time to sell, you will more than likely have to repaint if you went with crazy color choices.  The only exception I see to this is kids’ rooms.  Most buyers will look at bedrooms and either be “oh this will work perfect for little Johnny” or they will say “well we will have to repaint”.  Let’s face it, we parents will do anything for our children when it comes to a new house and their rooms.  Other rooms, on the other hand, we aren’t so anxious to repaint.  I’ve never let the color on the wall scare me away from buying a house….but then again, I love to paint.

Second….bathrooms and kitchens.  These rooms are the two most used rooms in the house.  If they are outdated, you will definitely get your monies worth whatever work you do to these rooms.  When we bought our house in Vegas, the bathrooms were outdated and “well-loved”.  We didn’t want to spend a ton of money so we did what we could to update the look.  Here’s our before and after of the master bathroom:
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We basically spent our money on new granite countertops.  The rest were smaller items such as new sink faucets and lighting.  Then my handy husband framed the mirror and I refinished the cabinets.  We didn’t want to spend the money on new cabinets so I used Rustoleum’s Cabinet refinishing kit and I think they turned out so much better than I expected!  We did a similar thing to our kids bathroom.  Here’s the before and after of theirs:
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Those two rooms alone got us WAY more money for the house.

Next up:  Flooring.  Another upgrade we did in Vegas was put new carpet throughout the house.  This was more of a must than a want.  The previous owners had cats and dogs and they had destroyed the carpet.  My opinion on flooring is – if it’s not worn out, don’t waste your money.  Don’t spend your money on changing carpet if it’s not desperately needed.  Now, if you want to change carpet to hardwood – I think it would be a wise investment.  I hated the tile we had in Vegas but really….not worth the cost or effort for resale.

The truth about Basements – If it’s unfinished, think about finishing it.  We did this with our very first house.  We literally doubled our square footage of the house.  Our resale showed it too!  However if you don’t have the funds to take on such a task (or a handy husband like me), don’t make it a priority.  You will still be able to sell the house.

Lighting – it really does make a difference.  I absolutely think you can get more money when changing outdated lighting.  Changing out light fixtures is inexpensive and can really update the house instantly.  Case in point, top fixtures are before and bottom are after:
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Disclosure:  That china cabinet with the doll and stuffy fake flowers IS NOT mine!  LOL!

What about the little things?
In almost every house we have owned, I have wanted to take out sliding glass doors (I can’t seem to get away from them!) and put in french doors.  My hubby has always objected saying it wouldn’t “up” the value of our house for the money spent.  I have to agree.  Not once did I walk in the house and say “well, we aren’t buying this one, there’s no french doors”.  (Obviously since I have had sliding doors in every.single.house.)  I mean sure we could spend the money to do it but it’s not going to get us more for the house when we sell.  You don’t price a house based on types of doors.

Landscaping can certainly enhance the look of the outside of your home.  Is it worth it?  Depends.  First off you want to make your house appealing to come in the door.  So there – yes.  Any more than that, you have to factor in the type of environment.  We spent some money on the landscaping in our Vegas home around the pool (because you are outside a lot in Vegas!).   The backyard was tired and some was unfinished, so we gave it a fresh face.  Angeline spent money a few years ago to put in a pool in their TX home.  Once again, I think they will definitely get their money back there.  Now, if I got the crazy idea to put a pool in my yard here in MN – ummmm yeah that would be a wash.

Our most recent remodel project was this past month.  When we bought this house is MN it had the worst built in in the basement.  Take a look:
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It just screams HONEY OAK!  Now, I will say, that the original built-in was for a smaller tv and it had doors on everything (could you imagine?).  The prior owners “modified” it to fit a bigger tv.  But really….it served no purpose and I hated how all the kids game stuff spilled out everywhere.  And when it came to movie night, all five of us were squooshed in one corner.  Not my idea of fun.  So….we ripped the baby out, patched up the carpet underneath and re-did the drywall behind it.  Here’s the finished product:
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Don’t look too closely, we still need to put up baseboards.  However, I really think it makes the fireplace more of a focal point now.  AND it was a small investment that packs a big punch for resale.  The dated “honey oak” that they love here in MN is minimal now and the room is much more spacious.  Oh and in case you were wondering, I got the media center at Cost Plus World Market (and the best part is all the kids gaming stuff is HIDDEN!)

There’s a lot you can do for little money to improve your home for resale.  Most importantly update with stuff you like and can live with BUT that everyone else will like too.  If you are in your “forever home”, I say congrats and do whatever you want to spend your money on!  But for those of us still waiting on that, let’s be wise with our money and use it to hopefully make more in the long run.  Oh and if anyone out there knows how to become a color consultant, please contact me. My husband doesn’t believe it’s an actual job.

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Word of the Year

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If you are ready or not, it is 2016!  So are you ready?  Do you have a plan this year?  A theme?  Every year, my friend Mary posts on Facebook what her “Word of the Year” will be and requests others to do the same.  Kim and I like to do this too.  Some years are more successful than others.  But we do like to share with each other our words as we like to help keep each other accountable.  Last year I chose “SIMPLIFY” as my word.  In many ways, I think I failed with this word.  However, it really isn’t a pass/fail type of exercise.  I honestly believe that my word was a reminder from God.  I needed to look at each project, time commitment and such and measure it against my goals and his purpose for me.  In January of last year, I had no idea what changes would be coming in 2015 but God certainly did.  Had I not simplified a few things, it could have been so much uglier than it was.  Yes, my life became more busy in some ways as we decided to have the girls in three different schools (co-teaching two days a week at home) and start this blog, but it also allowed me some precious time with my gymnast daughter that I was missing previously.

So what is my word this year?  Drumroll please….

 

RESPONSIVE

 

Say what?  Responsive!  That’s right, I want to be responsive this year.  I want to be a doer of the Word not just a hearer of the Word.  When I feel the Holy Spirit whispering or even screaming at me, I want to be responsive to what I’m being told and shown.  This is definitely an area of my life that needs some work.  As much as I needed to simplify last year, this year, I need to listen and respond.  Have you ever heard something or read a Facebook status and respond with, “I’ll pray for you/her/them/it?”  I know I say it, but I don’t always do it.  It has become a rote answer at times.  But this year,  I’m going to make it my goal to always pray when I say I’m going to pray.  I’m going to be responsive in that area of my life.

Do you have a word for 2016?  I encourage you to take some time and pray about a word for your year.  And if you do, can you leave that word in the comments below with your name?  I will pray for you this year and I mean that.  I’m starting a new prayer journal and you and your word will go in it.  I bet I can get Kim to hold me accountable too!

I’m already praying that you are encouraged in 2016 no matter where you start the year and where you end up in 2016.  Remember that you are never alone!

I’m closing this post with a few verses from James.  Happy New Year!

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James 1:22-25 The Message (MSG)

22-24 Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.

25 But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.

Going Nuts Over Traditions

Kim made some great points in her last post on making family traditions.  Sometimes, traditions only last for a season or two and that is fine.  If you live in Michigan, you might be going out sledding on New Year’s Day.  If you live in Florida, you might be headed to the beach instead.  You just have to be flexible!

As I was thinking through this post, I started thinking about some of our family traditions and realized I may need to offer an apology to my husband.  Looking back, I was rather inflexible on the traditions front at the beginning of our marriage and when our kids were first born.  We discussed how we wanted to do certain things based on what we did as kids, and I’m fairly certain that we adopted everything I wanted from my childhood.  You know, the earth shattering decisions like….Santa/No Santa, wrapped/unwrapped presents under the tree, and opening stockings before or after other gifts.  Some things I bulldozed my way through and others just worked out.  For example, growing up, Steve and his brothers were allowed to open their stocking first thing even before their parents were up on Christmas Morning.  However, I always opened my stocking up last.  For some reason, this was really important for me to keep the same.

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One thing that we did agree on was that we didn’t want to travel on Christmas Day.  We definitely wanted our kids to wake up in their own beds and spend Christmas at home.  We even make everyone wear pjs all day long on Christmas since we don’t plan to leave the house.  My parents divorced when I was a young kid, and I hated being shuttled around on all the holidays.  We would open gifts, have a bit to eat then head off to another place for another gift session and meal.  I appreciate how sensitive Steve was to this area of my life and how he helped me set a new standard for our family.  So as new parents, we told all the grandparents that they were welcome to come to us, but we were not traveling.  I’ll be honest though, we have relented and traveled twice on Christmas day for vacations.  But we did it as a family.

Another tradition that I was inflexible on was what we served for Christmas breakfast.  My mom always made (still does actually) absolutely best scrambled cheesy eggs.  But as our family became a blended family and grew with spouses and nieces and nephews, she had to switch to a baked egg dish so she could prepare it ahead to feed such a large crowd.  I couldn’t wait to make this same egg dish for Steve when we were married.  And so I did make it….year after year.  Finally after being married for at least 12 years, I noticed that Steve didn’t really eat much of it.  So I asked him about it and he admitted that he didn’t like it and never did!  Guess what?  My kids didn’t like it either!  Here I was getting up early to prepare this silly baked egg dish that no one even liked.  We now eat biscuits and sausage gravy every Christmas morning.  My oldest daughter loves biscuits and gravy and requested it once and I’ve been making it every Christmas since.  And if you asked her, she would probably say that its a tradition.  She doesn’t remember the baked egg dish and that’s fine with me.  I learned that its ok to let some traditions go when they don’t work for your family.

You know one thing I love about moving?  Being introduced to new foods that are either regional, or just favorites of new friends.  Each place we have lived, we have had a least one neighbor bring us a traditional yummy  treat each Christmas.  In Louisville, our neighbors made the most delicious pound cake and would deliver it the week before Christmas with their daughters.  In Fort Wayne, my friend Tracey brought us a tin of spiced pecans.  Here in Texas, my friend Stacee brings us homemade snack mix.  Guess what I do?  I now buy Texas grown pecans from the local 4H club and I make Tracey’s spiced pecans to give out.  (crazy side story…Tracey and I became close friends when she moved to Fort Wayne and her childhood friend Jane introduced us.  Kim and I knew Jane from Louisville and consider her one of our dearest friends even though we haven’t lived in the same place for 7 years.  Tracey has since moved to Kanas City and Jane has moved back to Ohio.)

Aren't these personalized tins cute? I plan to order for next year!

Aren’t these personalized tins cute? I plan to order for next year!

So maybe now is a good time to evaluate your traditions.  Are you and your family enjoying your traditions?  Or are you holding on to traditions for the wrong reasons?

Here is the recipe for Tracey’s spiced nuts…Enjoy!

angeline3

 

 

 

Spiced Pecans

★★★★★

Cook 1 hr 30 mins

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 2-3 cups pecans
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. cloves (I use allspice instead)
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg

DIRECTIONS

Beat egg white until frothy. Add the water and pecans. In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar, cinnamon, salt, cloves & nutmeg. Add dry ingredients to egg white & pecans. Stir to coat well. Spoon onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 250 degrees for 1.5 hours. Stir 3 times while baking.

NOTES

I usually triple recipe

Family Traditions

Traditions…..it’s what makes the memories for each and every one of us.  Growing up my family had several traditions.  One that stands out the most to me is one at Christmas time.  Every Christmas, my Mimi would load up my aunt’s car with me and all 7 of my cousins to go Christmas caroling  (2 of my cousins lived in Santa Fe, NM so they didn’t get to regularly participate in this activity).cousins
Aren’t we all cute!  That’s me front and center.  I distinctly remember a station wagon one year with no seatbelts for all of us piled in the back!  That’s how life rolled back in the day. HA!

After we were all loaded up, we would then proceed to each of my Mimi’s friends’ houses and Christmas carol.  Some were widowed, while others just had family that lived far away and they were alone for the holidays.  My Mimi spread cheer to those she loved by simply having her grandchildren sing at their doorstep.  Her desire was to love on her friends.  Simple as that.  And everyone of the recipients enjoyed it!  Now, if you think christmas caroling sounds miserable, there were some perks. Some of these special friends made us goodies each year we went.  We LOVED going to Ms. Green’s house.  Two things I remember from her house – her homemade popcorn balls and her fake fireplace logs.  Sure some years we would complain about having to go but NONE of us wanted to upset Mimi.  Not because she would do something to us but we genuinely did not want to upset her.  And I bet each and every one of us grandkids are so thankful for all the memories Mimi created with us each year.
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These are the kind of memories you and your little family can create if you have moved away from family.  The past few moves, we have lived too far from our families to go home for the holidays.  This forced us to create our own little traditions.  And that’s a good thing!  Most traditions don’t start out planned….they just happen.  For example, one of ours is to let our kids stay in the PJs all day on Christmas.  I certainly didn’t plan that to be a tradition but my kids loved it so much the first year they asked the following year and thus a tradition was born (one of them loved it so much he wrote about it at school for a traditions project – ha!).  Starting traditions within your own family is not only healthy but really creates a sense of “home” to your new surroundings.  And I bet you anything, your kids remember them and cherish them.  My kids can spout off all kinds of memories of things we do as a family to celebrate different holidays.   And look at me – I can still recall times associated with my family and traditions.  Do I miss spending the holidays with family?  Absolutely!….but what we do have as our little family is so special to me and my kids that I wouldn’t change it one bit.  So, please do not sit in sadness if you can’t go home for the holidays…..make your own memories!  You never know…you may like them more!  And no, I don’t make my kids go christmas caroling (although one day when I have grandkids…watch out!).
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