Thursday, December 29, 2016

Our Pennsylvania Christmas

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I can't believe Christmas has come and gone! What a stressful yet wonderful time it ended up being for us. Lots to be thankful for...

On Christmas Eve morning, like 3am, my son reached out to us that he needed help and that he wanted to go to rehab. By 6am we were at BWI airport in Baltimore and by 7am he was on his way to Florida escorted by Savanna to a very good rehab and transformation center. What a trooper and real invested sister Savanna has been. She flew there and back within hours to make sure he made it safely to where a person from the rehab met up with them in the airport. We were so thankful and by 5pm we were all in church singing and praising God! As much as we thought and prayed about things in the weeks leading up to all of this, we couldn't have planned it better if we had tried, God had his own plan and it was perfect!
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I love using these cute selfies.
Christmas Eve after church we went to Jessica's and Brian's house to do secret Santa and order our traditional Chinese dinner that we always have. Everyone was exhausted so we headed home early and got things ready for the next day. 

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Santa Came!!!
We had brunch and presents at 9:30 Christmas morning. We usually do egg casserole, french toast bake, fruit, pumpkin roll and bread but this year we changed it up. We had egg casserole, cranberry bread, and a big thing of pastries bought at Panera bread. It was delicious and everyone enjoyed everything while opening gifts.

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Our first year doing matching PJ's
When our kids were young we decided that we would open our gifts one at a time so we could enjoy watching each other open theirs and know their reaction and what one another got. It has worked out great, but now with the family growing it takes hours to do so it wasn't until early afternoon that we were done opening our gifts. Jaxson was at such a great age and was so excited for everything.

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Jessica and Brian

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Another new Soccer Jersey!

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Jaxson love Thomas and trains!

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Pop Pop explaining to Jaxson what he got
After all the gifts were opened we all got ready for the day and reunited again at 5 for dinner and appetizers. My sister in law and her mom from Minnesota came for dinner. We had quite a feast and had even more to be thankful for. As the day came to a close I reflected on how much things have changed over the years. My parents were always the ones hosting the holidays and now its us. It seems so long ago but at the same time like just yesterday that our kids ran around my parents house squealing at the gifts they had received, now its our kids having families of their own. My son, was always the one that forever was smiling and laughing and the most thankful of the bunch. Who would have known that years later he would not be spending Christmas with us....Life has a way of making you appreciate everything and everyone because you just don't know what is around the corner.

Its those special memories I have of what seemed like those perfect days that make me the mom, wife and person that I am. I have turned into my mom and us my parents providing special memories for my kids and their kids. I realize we can only do so much to provide and protect our children and the rest is up to them and to God. 

I would love to hear how your Christmas went!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The weekend before Christmas

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The last weekend before Christmas is already behind us. As usual it flew by! The good news is that my shopping is officially DONE and the wrapping is almost done.

Saturday we went to a breakfast with Santa in Maryland with my niece and her kids. Jaxson had a ball and loved the firetruck I think more than Santa. He is still unsure of the whole Santa thing although made sure to tell him he wanted toys and a candy cane for Xmas!

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Sunday was my Birthday and it was awesome! I love being born around Christmas! Its my favorite time of year and then throw my birthday in to make it even better.  It started with Church in the morning which was so special as a couple who had lost their 17 year old son 2 months ago gave their testimony of faith. Then we ventured home reflecting on what we had just heard. The rest of the afternoon I took full advantage that it was my birthday and took a 2 hour nap and just relaxed oh and did no laundry or cleaning at all! 

That evening the entire family went out to dinner at my favorite place, which happens to be where Jessica and Brian had their wedding and reception. They were all decked out for the holidays, it was just perfect!

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Its funny how when I was younger birthdays were all about presents, now they are all about being together with my family. Here's a poem I wrote to thank everyone for coming...

Twas the weekend before Christmas and all the house
 the family was stirring and even a mouse.
The gifts were placed under the tree with such care 
to help celebrate mom with her big 80's hair.
Out of dinner there arose such a clatter
there was Santa serving up dinner as though nothing was the matter
The family how merry they all did seem
and mom with her teeth giving one big gleam
I am thankful for much but my family the most
then I pulled out a glass and made a huge toast
Thank You to all who make my life complete
now pick up your forks 
so we can finally eat!
The birthday cake followed and then the goodbyes
I truly am blessed and have tears in my eyes.
I love you so much and always will
now excuse me while I take my anxiety pill.
As you drove down the road and clear out of sight, 
I hope you heard me when I said
thank you all,
and to all a goodnight!!!
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Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Christmas Spirit

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What is the Christmas spirit? What does it really mean? To me it means togetherness with family and or loved ones. Giving rather than receiving and enjoying the feeling you get when they open a gift they love. Its the feeling of standing in church on Christmas Eve singing Silent Night and celebrating the birth of our Lord and savior.

When I think about Christmas when I was a child I don't immediately think of the gifts, rather I think of the joy I felt in my heart as my siblings were all together laughing and enjoying one another's company. More family would arrive and bring their laughter and smiles, then later friends would come for coffee and dessert. The joy that filled the house was so comforting.

Last Christmastime my daughter Jessica had surgery on her ankle. It ended up being a much bigger surgery then expected and she wasn't able to come home until Christmas Eve. She was still in a great deal of pain, feeling sad and completely exhausted. As her husband wheeled her out to the car a lady approached them crying and holding a large jar of money. She handed it to Jessica and said Merry Christmas. 

Jessica was surprised and overwhelmed.  Why did this lady choose her to give this special gift to.She said it was like a angel had given it to her. She decided that this Christmas Eve she will pay it forward and hopefully make someone else feel special this year. 
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This gift was more than just a jar full of money. It was a reminder of love and caring in a time of pain and feeling dejected. Somehow this woman saw Jessica and just knew....that is what The Christmas Spirit is all about! See a need and try to help, give without receiving and LOVE!  

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

This and That

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Does anyone else feel like December is flying by? I always try to cherish this time of year and it always goes way to fast! Yesterday was my daughter, Savanna's23rd birthday which seems crazy in itself! We celebrated last night with dinner, and ice cream cake. Since she was very little she has loved Carvel ice cream cake and always has the snowman one for her birthday. I have tried to break the tradition for something new but she won't have it as she is our traditionalist. lol

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The card she received from my other daughter was a bit naughty but very funny! The game, Speak Out, was hilarious and a great game for a family. I find it so hard to believe that I now have FIVE grown kids!!!

My Christmas shopping is now 95 percent done! Jessica and I are heading to Maryland tomorrow to our old stomping grounds to finish...I hope. Can't wait to say that I am finally done! 

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Ugly Christmas Sweater Party

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What is the craze with Ugly Christmas sweaters? Fifteen years ago I was wearing these sweaters thinking they were just beautiful and having no idea that years later they would be the laughing stock of  parties and even win prizes for the ugliest! 

This year I wanted to find Mitchell, Jim and I the Ugliest sweaters.  Mitchell really wants to win at the ugliest sweater party. I made mine and Mitchell made his. Jim tried to get away with wearing a Pajama shirt that was kind of Christmasy as he is NOT a sweater kind of guy despite me trying to make him one for 30+ years!!! I managed to talk him into wearing a sweatshirt one just for several hours...LOL.

The party was at Jessica and Brian's Saturday night. She had about 20 people and lots of food, drinks, games and a gift exchange. Mitchell won the prize for the best sweater for the guys and I won for the girls. There were so many great sweaters we all should have won! In the gift exchange I got these awesome mugs which are perfect for me since I like to start my day with a HUGE cup of coffee! Come to find out it was the gift that Taylor brought. I also won several other games so I ended up coming home with quite a stash of gifts! The night was a blast and we look forward to next years party!

Sunday we went to church then came home and decorated the Christmas tree. Of course Jaxson was here to help and of course we had to take an adorable picture of him. He is such a cutie! Today he started his first day at a real daycare which is the first time since he was born...

Finally, the tree is done! Now on to the wrapping and finishing the shopping! Hope you had a great weekend too!

Friday, December 9, 2016

A tree farm trip to remember!

Happy Friday Everyone!
I sit here on this frigid December 9th morning in front of my fireplace enjoying the silence and beauty of this holiday season. I am reflecting on this past week and what the weekend holds. Yesterday was my last day of watching Jaxson. As you know I have been watching him for about a month now while he was between daycare's. I will miss my little helper and special decorator as he has loved to help me decorate the house for Christmas although it takes me 3 times as long! LOL I finally have all decorating done that I am doing this year with the exception of our tree which I am going to get today. Since we have lived here we have been getting the tree from the same place, which all proceeds go to the food bank. They have great trees and great prices and super nice vets working to help you find the perfect tree. I am a bit of a challenge for them,(I need a perfect tree) so I see them running when I pull up!

One of my favorite memories of getting a tree was in 1995. We were expecting a lot of snow over the weekend and Jim was working late that Friday. I decided I would haul all four kids out to a new tree farm I had heard about and cut ours down to beat the snow. We had always made it a family thing but this year I would surprise Jim and have it all done when he got home from work. Really, how hard could it be right!!!??? WRONG!

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When the kids all got home, we hopped in the van and off we went. The kids were 2, 4, 5 and 7! As I drove to the farm, I kept thinking of the movies and pictures where the family goes out to the farm and cuts down their tree in the cold snowy weather and how many family memories we would be making. By the time we got there the temps were in the teens and it was starting to get dark so I grabbed the saw and we started our journey out to where the Frazier furs were, which I had always had before. Oh well no big deal. As soon as the kids were out of the car the reality of this trip began. I didn't remember one of the kids boots so I had to carry a four year old on my hip as there was 6 inches of snow on the ground. The winds were crazy and getting crazier and then it started to snow. By that time the two year old was crying and cold then everyone else followed suit including me! I was running around frantically with two kids on my hips and two hardly walking behind. In pure desperation I just picked a tree and started sawing and sawing and sawing. This always looked so easy when Jim did it but it wasn't easy at all! I swear it took me forever to saw it down and by that point everyone was miserable. This great idea of mine had turned into a nightmare! Anyway, somehow while holding two kids I dragged the tree to the barn that by this time was closed!!!!! WHAT!!??? I had no rope or anyway to get the tree on the roof so I drove up the driveway where the people lived and luckily the man came out and helped me get in on the roof and tied down. Two hours after we had arrived at the farm we got home. I have never been so glad to be home in my entire life! 

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This wasn't the actual tree but I promise it wasn't much better than this! LOL

The next day Jim put the tree up only to find it wasn't a Frazier fur and was very skinny and  full of holes which is unlike my trees normally!! I didn't care, it was a tree...needless to say, I have never cut my own tree down again!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

It's December...YIKES!

I can't believe its already December 8th ! Before you know it it will be Christmas. I am almost done shopping, or at least I would like to think so!!! It would be so much easier if there was an endless supply of money...LOL!  I honestly think it would be easier if the holiday wasn't so rushed. Thirty years ago people didn't even start decorating yet let alone have all shopping done! It just stresses me out and its only one week into December!

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I started pulling some of my decorations out but am waiting for the weekend to do most of it. I always put my decorations up first then the tree. I am hoping to have it all done by the weekend. I have a lot of help this year being that Jaxson is here everyday until next week. LOL!

Next week I will be trying to finish it all up because Jaxson will be starting his new daycare and Jim will be away for a couple days. I don't know what it is but I seem to get more done when hes not around?!

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This past week has been a tough one for our family so if you don't mind saying a prayer our family could sure use some. When they say that addiction effects the entire family they are NOT kidding. Honestly just when you think things are looking up, they decide to crash and burn as I now refer to it. I am trying to stay positive, upbeat and strong for the rest of the family, but my heart is not doing so well...Prayers Please!!!

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This year God we could really use another Christmas miracle, please if its not to much!!!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Our Christmas Miracle

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I have always loved this time of year, it's still magical to me even at the age of 48. I don't know what exactly it is but it's the Best feeling in the world.

Maybe it's the wonderful memories that come flooding back to me as I recall Christmas's past. I love listening to all my favorite carols while shopping or decorating. The feel of the crisp cool air while running from store to store to find that special something for someone. I love the feeling of finding it and looking forward to seeing loved ones be surprised when they open it.

Three years ago in the mist of the holiday season our world was rocked. Ten days before Christmas our 15 year old was flown to Hopkins hospital with a life threatening complication to her very complex intestinal issues that landed her in the PICU for over a week! It was there and then that the real magic and meaning of Christmas took shape for us!

I remember being a passenger in the front of the helicopter and looking down to see all the Christmas lights as time stood still. It was so we got to the hospital she was taken directly to the intensive care unit where we were told she had less than a 50 percent chance of survival. Within hours we had thousands of people praying for our little girl. The night was critical as we stood by her bedside in disbelief of the situation. I prayed so hard for a miracle and that this infection that had set in would be gone.

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By morning she was looking better and by later that evening her temperature was down and her kidney function was almost back to normal. The next morning at rounds the doctors were enamored at how she had progressed. The head doctor said he had never seen a child with this complication recover so quickly and efficiently in his 32 years as a surgeon! He went on to say that "this child has an angel that is taking good care of her and that this is truly one for the books and a genuine Christmas miracle!" Seven days after the admission, we headed home with a new appreciation for life.

God is good and miracles DO happen!