Looking back

Things I wish I’d done in 2009
* Read the Bible, prayed, and meditated on God’s goodness every day
* Worked out 5 times a week
* Handled situations more graciously
* Called my grandparents
* Sent out encouraging notes
* Played with Amber outside more
* Not stress out on Bob about money
Things I did do in 2009
* Got more consistent in my devotions, though I’ve been slacking again and have a looong way to go
* Did workout to my DVDs…at least 5 times, (LoL)
* Fit into my skinny-skinny pants and got down to the skinniest since I got married (woo hoo!!!!)
* Grew and matured through many situations
* Learned to be thankful and happy as a military spouse even if that means not living in Wyoming
* Got pregnant 🙂
* Read Amber lots of books
* Gave myself permission for loads of “me” time
Things I want to do in 2010
* Have a healthy, happy pregnancy ending in a healthy, happy baby
* Really focus on setting a daily devotion time
* Be content and happy with where ever we move
* Catch back up on my personal scrapbooking
And as always…
* Continue to grow and learn and mature
* To become the best Christian, the best wife, the best mother, and the best friend I can possibly be!!!
***Happy New Years!***
(I “blog-lifted” this idea from Roe of Scrap Girls 🙂 )

Over the River and Through the Woods…

To Grandma’s house we went!!!
And thanks to my amazing early Christmas present of a camera from my family back home I was able to capture it!
Amber was a gloriously good girl on both the way down and back. No crying or whining!!! Amazing!
I was able to keep my Pepsi and goldfish in my tummy where they belong thanks to vitamin B6 and Ginger capsules, my two new best friends!!! They kept me from throwing up the whole vacation although I still get pretty fierce nasuea :S Praying it passes soon!!!
On the way we got to see a gorgeous Georgia sunset, and I got to play around with having a macro again, Yey!
Even with being such a good girl Amber was super excited to get out of the car during rest stops. Here’s her happy dance –> 
That night in the motel room she was feeling generous and gave the baby in the mirror some kisses. Her newest thing to do is come up to me and say Wuv You!!! and give me a big hug and smooch. Absolutely melts me!!! 🙂
I figured being in Texas it was only fitting to give her her very first horse ride, she loved it!
I was dreaming of a white Christmas and actually (kinda) got one. It snowed a little bit on Christmas Eve. It was all gone by the evening but I loved seeing the swirling snow in the air once again!
Everyone fell prey to Amber’s charms, even super-techy top secret Army man Uncle Bryan!
Christmas Eve and Christmas were nice relaxing days.
 Amber loved all of it! (P.S. Cutest jammies ever!!!)
Bob wasn’t quite as enthused as we were (hubby hates pics, lol)
The trip home was blessedly uneventful with another gorgeous sunset over the Mississippi River.

Grandma’s Ornaments By Sarah G.

First, I’d like to thank Nicole for asking me to be a guest blogger! My own blog often sits neglected for weeks at a time, but I always enjoy reading Nicole’s, knowing hers will have several delightful new posts each time I sign on.
My husband I decorated our tree the other day, and as I unwrapped each ornament my thoughts wandered to my Grama. She was a woman of grace and love, and her grandchildren were her pride and joy. Grama was always a big part of Christmas for me. I actually only saw her on Christmas a few times, but every year she sent me an ornament to put on the tree. My brother and I would wait excitedly for the package to arrive, and when it did, we’d tear the paper from the little boxes and exclaim happily over our new ornament. She often bought us series. The first series I got were the reindeer from santa’s sleigh doing various things like playing tennis and baseball. Then she started giving me an eskimo and penguin series, which are my favorite. My Grama is no longer with us, but I have 21 beautiful ornaments that are a reminder of her love for me. Every year when I hang them on the tree I get a little misty eyed thinking about her; however, I’m very grateful to have had such a wonderful Grama in my life as long as I did!

America’s Cutest Last-Minute Tax Deduction Contest

A new baby  is the sweetest thing in the world!!! I adored Amber as a newborn and now that I’m pregnant again I just can’t wait for my new little bundle of joy to arrive!!! For all of those parents who got early Christmas presents this year there’s a fun contest to yet sweeten your babies arrival!!!
TurboTax® the nation’s No. 1 rated, best-selling tax preparation software from Intuit Inc. is conducting its third annual nationwide search for America’s Cutest Last-Minute Tax Deduction. The parents of one lucky baby, born in December 2009, will win $5,000.
To enter, parents or legal guardians should submit a photo of their baby born between Dec. 1-31, to http://www.cutesttaxdeduction.com/. The deadline for submissions is January 7, 2010. Judges will select 10 finalists, and America will determine America’s Cutest Last-Minute Tax Deduction and the $5,000 grand prize winner!
Good Luck!

Christmas Is Not Annual for Christians

– By Shara Lawrence-Weiss (owner of Mommy Perks and Personal Child Stories)
Although I grew up in a Christian home (my father was a minister/missionary), I did not come to have a personal relationship with Christ until after my first son was born. It wasn’t until that time that my heart was truly regenerated. I wanted to start fresh, repent of my sins and wrongdoings and grow in the process of sanctification.
Before I became a mother I was a selfish pig. Really. There is no kinder way to put it. I made every decision based on human and worldly wants, desires and wishes. It didn’t matter much to me who I hurt in the process. I suppose if you rang up a few of my past contacts, they’d gladly tell you a story or two – none of which would impress anyone who’s got a heart for the Lord.
The phrase “A sinner saved by Grace” certainly rings true in my life. The apostle Paul explains that a follower of Christ can do as he or she wishes. Why? Because a follower of Christ will WANT to do the Will of God. During my mid twenties I began to understand what that means. My hardened heart softened to the truth of the Gospel and I began to wake up daily, wondering what I could do to help others.
Who needed my help? Was there a child in need? A senior citizen? A single mother or father? What could I do to help them, in the name of Jesus?
“To love Christ is to die to self.” Once that reality hit my heart there was no turning back. I stopped caring about my own needs and wants the way I once had. My own wants were secondary. The needs of others became of greater concern to me and I began to make choices based on that desire. A desire to love others in the same way Christ loved me – without cause or reason or deserving.
It saddens my heart a bit, each year, when I see people promoting Christmas as the “season of giving.” The “season of sharing.” The “season of love and forgiveness.”
Really – as followers of Christ – we are called to behave in this manner not annually but daily. Hourly. Momentarily. After the lights come down and the tree is recycled, the gifts unwrapped and the decorations put away, the Salvation Army tins filled and the homeless shelters helped – what then?
I call my fellow Christian brothers and sisters to consider the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are called to help the needy and the poor, the widows and the elderly, the children and the homeless…every day of the year.
Let us not forget that when the season is over the need for the Gospel of love remains. Whether we give of our time, money or resources, we are to live in a spirit of giving day in and day out. Season by season. Year after year.
Until we are called Home.

Winter ~ Paulina of Mona May I

Hello to all of Nicole’s readers over here are Ramblings! My name is Paulina from over at Mona May I and I want to wish you a Merry Christmas.
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I am a new lover of winter, as I have learned to embrace the colder nights and shorter days with a new-found sense of cherishment.
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I am a new lover of winter because it is a time when it is most important to let life slow down, to give thanks, and curl up with loved ones and friends. A time to be thankful for the warmth of home, food, and the love of family.
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Love love,
Paulina

Favorite Traditions ~ Karen

My name is Karen and I’m the brains behind A Spot of my Own. I’m a military wife, my hubby is in the Army National Guard, and a mommy to identical twin girls. 🙂 My blog is appropriately named, because it’s all mine and no one else can mess with it!!! 😀 I like to write about my girls and products or ideas that I love or find interesting. My blog is fairly new, so I don’t have as much stuff as Nicole does, but some day, maybe I will catch up to her!!! 😉 lol

While Nicole is on vacation, she asked me to write anything related to Christmas. A favorite memory, traditions, a craft, a recipe, pretty pictures you’ve taken, whatever! So I decided to write about some favorite Christmas traditions my family had when I was at home. 🙂

The 1st tradition I remember is when I was little, my mom would fill the stocking after I went to bed. My mom dreaded filling mine, because it had a bell on it and she was afraid it would wake me up while she was trying to fill it!!! 😀 I was so excited to get up in the morning and the first thing I got to open was my stocking. My mom would fill it with chocolates, small toys, etc. 🙂 This is one that I want to start this year for our girls, but I have to get them their own stockings first!! lol

My snow angels

Another tradition is that my mom would buy a special ornament for each year. Some would have my name on it, or the year or it would be one that I really liked or my mom thought I’d like. Then when my siblings came along, she would find one that was unique to them for that year, it was a lot of fun picking out something different for everyone. My mom started it, so by the time we left home, we would have enough ornaments to partly fill our own tree and that they’d also mean something special. I’ve kept this going and have picked something for us and the girls. It’s a lot of fun picking out something unique each year. 🙂

My grandmother has a tradition that I’d like to do. Each year she decorates the tree a different color, like red or blue or white. Like if this year was red, she’d have red ornaments, ribbon, lights, etc but the unique part is that she will put a bird in it. Like a robin or canary or white bird, etc. 🙂

Oh, and my favorite is one that my mom only did for a few years and that’s the 12 days of Christmas. 🙂 It was so exciting to know that I had a small gift that I could open right after dinner!! My mom would get me flavored chapsticks, my fav, candy, hair accessories, personalized items, ornaments, etc. 🙂 I can’t remember, but I think she read Bible verses or short stories from a book and if not, I know they have books for it. 🙂 I really miss not getting to do this one and will start doing it with the girls when they’re old enough to understand. 🙂

Well, I have more, but you will have to become a follower of my blog to find out what they are!! 😉

Silent Night ~ Guest blog from A Listmaker’s Life

While listening to a contemporary version of Silent Night, by Sanctus Real, I was struck by the miracle of that moment so long ago in Bethlehem. Honestly, quite overwhelmed. Yes, there are so many pieces of the story that are remarkable. Yet, this year I am reflecting on “all is calm.” God must have given sweet Mary such amazing peace that evening. From my most recent experience, the birth of a new baby is amazing, exciting, and emotional. Calm? Not particularly. In the midst of that experience, God gave Mary the peace to forget about the “to-do list” of the moment. I love that!
She was not focused on:
~visiting with the shepherds
~spreading the news with the angels
~anticipating all of the visitors
~documenting the experience with words & pictures
~cleaning out the stable
~avoiding the smells and sounds of the animals
~caring for Joseph’s needs
~planning for the activities of the coming days
Instead, she was able to recognize that all that really mattered in that moment was the precious baby, Jesus, that she held in her arms. A miracle! That was her focus. The newborn babe was safe, healthy, fed, and calm. So, Mary rested.
There is a lesson in this for all of us this holiday season…myself included. Especially.
This guest post is shared with you by Katie of A List Maker’s Life.  She has three young children ages 5, 3, and now 1 (That’d be the sweet babe in the picture above – time goes way too quickly!!).  Katie blogs about her adventures in parenting, crafting, cooking, teaching, and learning  – all attempts to:
MMEM
She’d love for you to stop by and visit her blog anytime & in the meantime wishes you a very Calm (and Merry) Christmas!

The One Year Devotions for Preschoolers 2 *Review*

As a Christian, maintaining a daily time where you read your Bible, pray, and focus on God is vitally important. It helps center you and your thoughts and actions throughout the day. As adults, we often forget, or think we’re too busy, or any number of other things. I know I’m often guilty of neglecting the most important part of my day!!
Things come much easier to us if they are a part of our routines, our daily habits. What better way to teach your preschooler the importance of having a daily devotion than having one with them? If you remain consistent you’ll be helping them get in the habit. which will make it that much easier for them when it’s their turn to be busy adults!
The One Year Devotions for Preschoolers 2 has a short devotion for each day of the year with a single Bible verse, a short thought, and a rhyme at the end.
Amber and I both enjoyed looking through this book! Although it is more geared towards the upper range of preschoolers (one devotion was talking about asking for help with spelling a word) Amber loved looking at the whimsical pictures and listening to the Bible verse and rhymes. I plan on using it daily with her as part of her bedtime routine probably starting next year. I love that it takes the principles of God’s word, yet puts them on a level that a preschooler could understand. I would recommend this book for anyone with small children.
A special thanks to the Tyndale Media Center for providing me with a copy of this book to review!

Golden Moon Tea *Review*

You probably remember the teaser I posted not too long ago about how excited I was to get to try out Golden Moon Tea.
I’m pleased to report that I wasn’t disappointed! I decided I wanted to try their Coconut Pouchong tea which was awarded Best Tea at the 2007 World Tea Expo. I figured that must mean it is delicious, right?! It’s one of their unique Oolong teas, which I had never ever heard of before I was introduced to this company.
The tea was nice and mild, which is perfect for my sick tummy right now! It did have a very distinctive flavor though. Very mellow and slightly sweet. You don’t need to add any sweetener to the tea, it tastes that good just naturally! I’m not a big coconut person at all, so I was a little hesitant about how much I’d like it, but the coconut just gave it a wonderful sweet flavoring and wasn’t over powering at all.
Sipping the tea definitely made me feel luxurious. I think that Golden Moon Tea is a wonderful company, and would recommend them to any tea lover or someone wanting to try something new, exotic, and exciting!