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1st Annual Christmas Cookie Exchange Luncheon

I hosted my first Christmas Cookie Exchange party!  It was so much fun!!  I invited ladies from work.  It was a small gathering, but it was perfect.  I didn't have the ladies tell me what cookies they would bring to ensure there were no duplicates, but it worked out because no one brought the same cookies.


I made White Chocolate Peppermint cookies.  I found the recipe here: http://www.galonamission.com/peppermint-white-chocolate-chip-cookies/.
The cookies were yummy and festive.


I made Lasagna, salad, garlic bread, hot chocolate and apple cider.  It was a simple lunch, but yummy.  Afterwards, we test tasted the cookies.  All yummy!  I was planning on saving them for Christmas, but not sure if they will make it that long...


The kids were so good!  They played with block and Legos.  They let us ladies have girl time.  Oh and that little guy Caleb, he's a tall one!  He had his 2 year doctor's appointment this morning. He's 36 inches tall.


Here we are with our cookies.  Thank you ladies for a wonderful afternoon.


I made these Christmas card holders for the ladies as party gifts.  They loved them.  They are like the one I made for myself.

Christmas is next week!  I can't believe how quickly it has come upon me.  I'm ready!!
Blessings,
Beth

I Crafted!

I wish I had been the person who had won the Mega Millions today!  It would have helped if I had bought a ticket...

One day into my Christmas vacation I had the inspiration to craft and I did!  I wanted something cute to display Christmas cards.  In our old home, I taped cards to a wall in the hallway.  Not the coolest, but it worked.

I googled Christmas card holders and I found this on Pinterest at http://www.pinterest.com/pin/199002877258086181/


This is my version.


I love how it looks.  I have it hanging in the kitchen.  I might need to redo the ribbons.  They might need to be longer.  Plus I didn't realize that I had bought two ribbons that are wired (that's what happens when you shop with a 2 and a 3 year old).  As you can see they sort of curl up.  I am debating whether to leave it as is or replace them.  I went to Michael's today.  Their selection of Christmas ribbon is minimal.  It's the 70% to 50% off all their Christmas stuff!

So I am completely done Christmas shopping.  Now I need to stay out of the stores!  

I am enjoying being with the kids.  Although, there is some adjustment for them and me being together all day.  I know you working moms know what I'm talking about.

Shopping can be hard with both kids in tow.  So this is what I did this morning and it was smooth sailing at Target...


Thank God for Icees!  Not a peep of fussiness.

Blessings!
Beth

Getting Ready!!

It's that time of the year where things get really crazy! I can feel the stress all in my shoulders and neck. I am trying really hard to enjoy the season. I am now on my three week Christmas vacation (I'm smiling from ear to ear)! Those were some crazy last two weeks! I thought I was done with my Christmas shopping, but there were those last minute gift exchanges, potlucks, etc for work and Grace's school.

Now that I am on vacation, I can focus on getting ready for Christmas. We finally put up the Christmas tree last weekend. It took me two days from the time we got it on Saturday morning to the time we finished decorating it Sunday night.
This is the biggest tree we have ever bought. I didn't think we'd have enough ornaments to fill it, but like the feeding of the five thousand, there was enough ornaments.
The kids love the tree. Grace is enthralled with the tree, the lights and the ornaments. We don't have a fancy designer tree. We decorate our tree with ornaments we have collected over the years. It's a homey and family oriented tree.

My challenge to myself this Christmas season is to stop worrying about the planning of it all, the gifts to buy and the money to do all of this with and to focus on Jesus. Our pastor this weekend challenged us to focus more on Jesus' birth and gave us suggestions on what we could to to achieve this. I have decided that I am going to spend time reading the accounts of Jesus' birth in the Gospel of Matthew and Luke.

I am also going to spend time with the kids reading Advent stories. I am already competing with Santa! Grace is being exposed to Santa at preschool and comes home talking about it. When I try to talk about Jesus and him being why we celebrate Christmas, she wants to talk about Santa. Ahhh, so it begins!

I have nothing against Santa, but good is nothing compared to the best. What I mean, Santa is a good concept, but it has nothing to do with nor does it measure up with the fact that Jesus, God himself, was born so that we can be saved from our sin and have eternal relationship with God. That beats the pants off Santa!

So I leave you with this...
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.
Luke 1-21

Blessings!
Beth

Christmas Fun

It's that time of the year for Christmas programs!  Last year, we attended our first one.  Grace was in a Christmas program with Independence  Christian School where she attended daycare.  It was so cute and I was so emotional!
This is her second program.  It was not as intricate as last years. This year she attends Rainbow Preschool.  They sang a couple of songs, were read a book and then Santa made an appearance.  Grace loved it!  And of course, I was emotional!
In the morning, Grace stated that we had to get ready for school because Santa was going to be very sad if she wasn't there.  Ahh, the mind of a three year old.
Santa brought gifts for the kids.  He called them up one by one and handed them the gifts.  This is Grace's first picture with Santa. 
Ms. Walker and Mrs. Price, Grace's preschool teachers
Grace loves preschool and she has been learning a lot!  I am very grateful for these ladies who teach my child and who love on her so much!
Blessings,
Beth

And just like that, He's 2!

Caleb turns two tomorrow.  I was going to have a monster themed party at home, but last minute decided to have it at Chuck E Cheese.  I was running out of time and feeling really stressed about having to put on a party at home, so we made the decision to move it.  It was the best decision! 


The Birthday Boy!  He has so much fun!!  He stayed up till 9:30pm...the latest he has ever been up and he didn't fuss at all.
My little guy and princess
Family picture right before cake time.
Caleb had so much fun with the rides.
I didn't get to use the party decorations I had already made, but the kids had a blast!  I didn't have to do anything!  Just show up and have fun.  I think this is the way I will have parties for the kids for now on.
I had two monster poster boards with cutouts for the kids to take pictures with.  These were made by the Art club at Nogales high school where I work.

The kids had a blast taking pictures with them.

Monster cupcakes.  This was my first time using the icing tip for making hair.  It came out okay.  Probably should have practiced before making the cupcakes.  The package that I bought for the decorations, invitations, ets came from an Etsy seller named ItsAllAboutKidz.
 

Cute cake! The mother of one of my friends made this cake. And it was just a delicious as it was cute.

It blessed my heart to see how much fun he and Grace were having. Caleb is such a sweet heart and really active! He's loves giving us hugs and kisses. It's really sweet to see him giving them to Grace. I pray they will grow up to be very close. And I pray that Caleb will grow to be a man of God full of love and compassion. Happy Birthday my sweet boy.
Blessings,
Beth

Happy Birthday Grace!

My baby girl is 3 today!  Three years!  Such a short time, but a huge milestone in my baby's life.  She will officially start preschool next month.  And my little doll is changing so fast.  She is confident, playful, cheerful, outgoing, and very strong willed.  She is very verbal and not afraid to say what she feels or tell you what she wants...much like her momma.  I couldn't imagine life without her.  The Lord bless you my little sweetheart!

Dora centerpieces with chocolate bars and pinwheels. Very fun to make.


This was fun to make.  I found clipart of Swiper.  Cut it out and make the sign using my Cricut.


This past Saturday, we celebrated Grace's birthday with a Dora the Explorer party.  We had a blast.  I made the Backpacks favor bags.  The bags had the backpack straps on the back.  I included the Map in each bag.  When opened, the map had a scavenger hunt.  The kids were instructed to find their party favors before Swiper swiped them.


The first stop on the scavenger hunt was Tico's house.  I used the kids playhouse with a picture of Tico taped to it.  There were ziploc baggies with goodies taped all around and in it.  There was supposed to be lots of balloons too, but I ran out of time and didn't get a chance to blow up the balloons.


Stop two was Star Forest.  I made stars of five different colors and taped candy to the back of each one.  The kids were to find a star of each color.


Last stop was Tickle Island.  Kids were to rescue Boots.  There were baggies with more goodies hidden in the sand.


 Grace blowing the candles on her cake.


I love my babies!  Caleb had a great time too.


Blessings,
Beth

Summer Vacation!

I have been on summer vacation for a week now and it has taken that long for me to finally feel rested.  Thank God the kids love to sleep, because I have needed the rest.
What's on tap for this summer?  Moving!  I am in the middle of packing and boy is it tiring.  It's always amazes me how many boxes it takes.  And this time around we are hiring movers.  We are getting too old to lug around heavy furniture and boxes!  I am sure packing and unpacking will take up much of my vacation time.  And planning Grace's 3rd birthday.
  
I can't believe my baby will be three next month!  She is a fireball that one!  So much personality and has a strong will, which is getting stronger and stronger by the minute.  She challenges me to stay patient.  There are times when she pushes my buttons and boy is it hard to stay even keel.  I have been reading articles and blogs from other moms about keeping cool and not yelling.  One minute she is super sweet and cuddly then the next she's throwing tantrums and yelling "NO."  Ah, the life a soon to be three year old!  This too will pass.


We celebrated Grace's promotion ceremony from pre-preschool to preschool on June 7th.  I was such a silly mommy and actually cried!  She was so cute and so excited to receive her certificate.  We are really going to miss the preschool program at Independence Christian School.  It's such a great place and all the staff really love the Lord.  Grace has flourished there.


We had a  really fun Father's Day.  Went out and did some shopping for daddy and had a yummy lunch. And the kids cooperated all day long!  Here's to the best daddy I can imagine for my kids!

I just finished my 10th year as a school counselor.  It really is a privilege to serve in this capacity.  I felt a calling from the Lord to become a school counselor and I followed it.  And now that I have been one for a decade, I am coming to the point where I need to assess it.  How do I keep the passion alive and cynicism far far away?  It's a demanding job, but I love the impact I get to make on high school student's lives.  The best part is those cool moments in my office when I can see I am making a difference and of course, every year when we walk the Seniors down to the stadium for graduation is a great achievement not just for the students, but for us counselors as well.


Well, I will keep you all posted as I figure it out, but I have a feeling it's a process.  In the meanwhile, I also get to spend my summer vacation with these darlings.


Blessings,
Beth

Celebrate Jonas's Day!


Happy Birthday to my very wonderful and amazing husband, Jonas! He is such a great father and partner. God sure did bless me with him.


A very long time ago, I made a very long list of all the things I wanted in a husband...to the tune of about 48 things. Jonas met all, but 1. The one thing he didn't meet was that I wanted a really good dancer...well he's a good dancer at dancing the white man shuffle! :-) But that little thing is nothing in comparison to all the ways this man blesses me!

Happy Birthday Jonas!!

Love,
Beth

He is Risen!

Happy Easter!  
I am especially thankful this day that the Lord defeated death and rose again that we may have peace, love, joy, and eternal life.  He paid the ultimate price that we would have victory over death.
It's been a rough year since my dad died last June.  I have felt overwhelmed, sad, depressed, and tired a lot.  Feeling like life was so tough that it was all I could do to hang in there.  
But Jesus' knew all this would happen and this Easter I am reminded that His love and power is greater than any burden I carry.  Furthermore, if I am willing, He will take this burden from me and carry it Himself.  I serve a mighty and all loving God!

And He said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life.  The one who believes in me will live, even though they die and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.  Do you believe this?"
John 11:25-26

Blessed Resurrection Day!
Beth

Easter Fun!

It has been a crazy last few weeks!  Work has been stressful and super busy.  And we have all been sick.  I am looking forward to Spring and no more virus going around!!
Tonight after the kids went to bed, I set aside some time to craft.  I made 12 of these Easter cards.  It felt so good to craft.  It's been way too long!


I was inspired to make these from the gallery section of Papertrey ink.  The inspiration came from a card made from their  Easter stamp set.  I don't own the set, so I made due with my Cricut cartridges.  I created the saying in Word and printed it on construction paper.  What I love most about these cards is that I made them with existing supplies.  I didn't buy a single thing!  :-)


We took the kids to an Easter Egg hunt this past Saturday.  Our church hosted it at a local park.  Along with the egg hunt, they had lots of fun activities.  The kids had a blast!


 Caleb is non-stop!  He doesn't walk...he runs. All the time!  He is so cute!!!  This was his first Easter Egg hunt.


 He was content with just a few eggs.  He didn't make it past the first few eggs.



Grace was the Easter Egg hunt professional!  She knew exactly what to do and she want for it.  She was so excited!


Daddy kept good watch over her, but he didn't need to help her much.


Here she is checking out her stash and quite a stash she had!  She had her basket filled to the brim with eggs.  At one point she stood up and jumped up and down yelling, "Yeah!"


As we get closer to Easter, I pray you find peace in His presence as we thank Jesus for his sacrifice on the cross.  That you would find release and joy in his defeat over death and his glorious resurrection.
Blessings,
Beth

Our Little Star

Four months away from turning three, but it seems more like 13!  Grace not only looks older than 2 1/2 years old, she is beginning to act way beyond her years as well.
She loves performing!  And we love it.  Here is are three videos I took of her hamming it up.  This first video is especially cute as she counts in Spanish and then ends it with a celebration mini dance.  I didn't teach her this, but I think this means I better start teaching her Spanish.
video
She loves singing!  This is a song that she learned at preschool about greeting people.  "hello, how are you, hello, how are you..."  And there's a part about shaking your hand too.  Her preschool teaches them new concepts by song.  I love her preschool and Caleb will be joining her next school year.
video
This was especially cute after a hard evening with her testing me a  lot.  I was putting her to bed a bit earlier and was annoyed with her.  As I was putting away her clothes, she grabbed a book, sat on the floor, and started singing this song.  It melted my heart.  Again, I love her preschool!
video
Off to to tend to a sick little girl.  And a feisty toddler boy!  These kids are giving me a run for my money!!
Blessings,
Beth

Dora Hair Bow

I hope I am finally coming out of my crafting and scrapbooking slump.  It's been a while now that I have not had any motivation or energy to do either.  I have a scapbook layout on my table waiting for me to finish it. It's been sitting there for over a month now!
I finally made something off a pin I saved on Pinterest.  It's directions on how to make a hair bow. See directions here: http://www.twentythreeohone.com/2011/04/hair-bow.html.  This blogger made it  sound so easy to make these bows that I decided to give it a try.  Here's my bow.


Grace absolutely loves Dora.  And she loves this bow.  It fits perfectly on her head and it's a great size too.  It wasn't too hard to make the bow following the directions.



My sweet little model.  I had to bribe her with a Popsicle.  She stayed put long enough for me to get pictures of her with the hair bow.  It helps that she has inherited her daddy's gorgeous hair.


Of course I had a lot of extra ribbon and of course I made extra bows!  I have four of them for sale on my Etsy store here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/123948769/dora-hair-bow.  I have decided to give them away instead.  I am giving them away off of my Facebook page.
Blessings!
Beth

Copic Marker Storage Box

My very own Copic Marker Storage box!  I was so excited to make one for myself.  I saw it for the first time from a girl on a facebook group called "We's Crafty."  She got the directions from this blog, Davine Designs by Terri.  It didn't take long to figure out how to put it together once I got Jonas on it.  I couldn't visualize it because the directions were not very good and the supply list was a bit inaccurate.  But thankfully, Jonas had extra supplies and the know how to help me put this together.  I love it!  And there is room for lots more makers!!

The box is going to hold up to 361 markers!  In my mind's eye, I pictured that I had a lot of markers.  Once I put my markers in the box, I soon saw that I didn't.  My supply of makers actually look quite pathetic in the box.  Guess I have to go out and buy more...
If you want to make your own, you will need more washer and bolts than the directions specify.  About 16 of the large washers, 16 of the small washers and 16 bolts.  I couldn't find the nylon lag bolts nor the nylon couplings.  So the assembly doesn't look as polished as the original one, but I don't care.  I still love it and it stores my markers nicely.  I have organized them based on the Copic Marker Hand Color Chart.  Makes it easy to see what I have and categories them by color family.  That will make it easier for blending.
  
Poor baby Caleb has been sick with a severe sinus infection.  He finally seems to be on the mend. It's been a tough last month for him.  He got pink eye and then from there he developed a cold that turned into this sinus infection.  The doctor gave us antibiotics for him and that has finally been helping him get better.  That and lots of prayer.

Grace is doing great.  Such a strong willed toddler.  She is 2 1/2 years old going on 13.  She makes us laugh and smile and then she makes us want to scream!  It's definitely fun.
Blessings,
Beth
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