Christmas traditions are the best! But it is kind of hard to establish your "own" traditions when you're just starting out. Actually, I have never thought about it before until one night at small group we started talking about it. The couple who host our group and the couple who lead it have given us great food for thought and lots of ideas. 

I know AW & I have just been living off the traditions of our families, which is fine because Christmas is partially about being with family, but we decided we'd try to start some of our "own" traditions. 

And I want to share them with you for ideas for your own family, especially if you have a "new family" like we do!

The first "tradition" (can it be an actual tradition if this is the first year we've done it??) was to participate in our church's annual walk-through-nativity. This was such a great experience! We just started attending this August and through our Sunday School class & small group have made friends and gotten to know great people! And this was another way that we got to be a part of ministry and get to know even more great people we probably wouldn't have met otherwise!

Annually our church sets up multiple scenes of the Christmas story and beyond and it lasts for three nights and total there are 4,000-6,000 people that walk through. At the end they are served cookies and hot chocolate and there are live animals. It's free and it's really neat. Also, it is a great way to remember the "reason for the season"...JESUS!

AW and I were Joseph in Mary when they take Jesus to the temple and Simeon gets to see Jesus before he dies just as God had promised him. It was really fun and we got to be with some really sweet families for the evening! 

The only drawback...no live animals were in our scene. The next seen over had a CAMEL!!! Yes! A real, live camel! The two 10-year old boys in our scene were even more bummed than I was about that aspect =)

The next tradition is something that I LOVE! Christmas lights! AW & I cooked a big breakfast dinner last Friday night and then drove around town for 2 HOURS looking at lights! It was wonderful! We then came home and had hot chocolate and watched "White Christmas".

There is a house near where we live, that sits on a big hill and they go all out with the lights...here are some pics from their house (WARNING: I'm obviously NOT a photographer & I do not have a professional camera):

This tree is in the middle of Star Lake and I love it:

This is a lighted nativity that we saw:

Now, this next photo that I am about to show you is very crappy quality BUT it is proof that people should stop making/selling/buying blow-ups! They are SO TACKY!!! AND how much bigger can they possibly get??? Soon the blowups are going to take over Christmas all together...Seriously disturbing:

Now, for the grand finale. There is a house that my BFF's, Stephanie, mom discovered several years ago. She was driving around our younger sisters so they could see some lights and she happened upon this little Christmas gem. I feel guilty laughing at it because they put out the Christmas story scripture in front of this monstrosity so I know that they are reaching out but this thing is really...overwhelming:
Yes, it is a giant angel that is set up on a hill with spot lights...I'm sorry but it creeps me out a little and always gives me a laugh. Don't judge me.

Now that you probably think I'm evil from laughing at this Christmas angel telling the Christmas story let me try to redeem myself by sharing another 1st year "tradition". I found an advent wreath (which was quite a task!) and a man in our small group gave each husband this little book. It has a reading for every night in December to keep our family focused on the true meaning. It's been wonderful to read from this book and the Bible (almost) every night this month:

And this last tradition is another first and I'm not sure how long we'll carry this one on. Decorating a gingerbread house. I'm not sure when I became so Type A (maybe you're laughing) but seriously when something isn't perfect I kind of melt down or give up.

Well, I thought this was going to be great! We bought the kit and I feel fairly crafty and AW is pretty handy so I figured we could handle decorating a house made out of COOKIES for crying out loud...apparantly not!

They get you all excited with the box and even tell you to email in pictures of your house. I'm thinking how fun! Ours is going to look so great...yeah, right.

Here are the pictures on the box, including some "decorating ideas":

Just so you know...these "ideas" are RIDICULOUS! Let me show you a close up:
First of all, who can manipulate icing to look like perfect little icicles?? NO ONE!
Second, they have literally cute a green gumdrop to be berry leaves for the decoration on the roof....GIMME A BREAK!

Here's our roof:
Yes, the peppermints are falling in (we even lost a few) because the stupid roof is sliding off. How nice.

Anyways, after I had a minor major freak out over the fact that it wasn't turning out perfectly it was actually kind of fun. Trust me, the Lord knew what he was doing when he gave me AW because he laughed at my ridiculousness and then reminded me I wasn't being graded and it wasn't the end of the world that it didn't look just like the box.

Here are some happy pictures (post-freakout)....

AW working hard:

Me working hard:

The finished product:
Not so bad but I definitely won't be emailing in a proud picture to this company that sells false dreams of the perfect gingerbread house.

It ended up being fun and we drank more hot chocolate and ended the evening watching "It's a Wonderful Life".

I hope you have fun establishing Christmas traditions for your own family and I hope you have a 


Home for the Holidays

I love Christmas! Love, Love, Love it! But if you're reading this you probably know me & then you know that! It really is the most wonderful time of the year. With Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You" playing on the radio and possessing me to shopping, shopping, shopping to family time and lots of fun parties, Christmas is the best!

Another part of Christmas that I love is decorating our home!

At the church that I work at they had a funeral and some of the flowers got left behind so I took home a vase full:

I just hope they looked a little better for the actual event...so sad.
But I was able to spread the flowers all around our apartment and it really added some cheer:

A few on the mantle...

Some on the coffee table:

Several in the kitchen:

And of course some on the dining room table:

And the best part was after all the flowers died & I threw them away I used the big vase for my Christmas centerpiece:

Which made my Christmas table setting complete:

Here's our mantel before:


And of course the grand finale...THE TREE:



Be Proud, Stand up those Cakes!

So, please forgive my lack of blogging. Currently my life is being consumed by exams! aaaahhhh!!! NO! Not...EXAMS!!!
So, as you can see I am currently delirious.

Not really, they haven't really been so awful. Just the usual time-consuming, stress-inducing exams but I'm optimistic no permanent damage will be done.
So, I have a new craft to share. I must admit though, that once again I stole the idea...but hey, isn't that what good ideas are for? Stealing...umm, I mean borrowing?...Well, either way.

I got the idea from here.

It's a non-traditional cake stand! What fun!

Seriously, it's fun. 

All you have to do is:

1. Find a plate that you like (you can even paint one to use. Hint: World Market has plain white plates for $2-3!)

2. Find something that you like to use as the base. It can literally be anything. You'll see...

3. Use a strong adhesive (Hint: Steel Epoxy is cheap and VERY effective. Additional Hint: It's a little messy)

4. Bake something yummy to put on your new cakestand!

I preferred to use a mason jar that I bought at Hobby Lobby (duh!) that I filled with some pretty, clear beads:

After I attached the plate I baked some yummy chocolate chip pumpkin mini muffins to put on it for my Christmas party:

Here's a pic of the food table with other plates that are not permanently attached to mason jars (I forgot to take the pic pre-party so it's mid-party & as you'll see, some cookies have already been snagged =)

Now, go be creative & make your own!


An Ode to Toilet Paper

This morning in one of my English classes we had the opportunity to write odes.

We were divided up into groups of 3 and assigned to write a sort of satirical ode.

I thought that on this rainy, tornado-ey Monday that you might enjoy this:


"An Ode to Toilet Paper"

My Dear gentle and pure Love
You're soft to the touch and white as a dove

How I long to kee you in a frame
For eventually I will be your bain

Your purpose is low
But I esteem you so

I will redeem your worth
In the branches of the earth

You're my weapon of provocation
On the front lawns of the suburbian nations

The great hill of my enemie's lawn
Will be my shrine to you at the break of dawn

Alas, your purity I've besmeared with dirt
As your purpose has still become pervert

Regardless I will always cherish thee
And at my throne you will always be.

Yes, I just shared that on my blog....it happened...embrace it!


MOTHERHOOD: The Trial Version

This is the face of the trial version of motherhood:
Pretty darn cute, huh?

This is my cousin, Amanda's baby. Baby Will. He is the cutest little thing and the sweetest too. He is so loving and just precious and I just want to eat him up!

Amanda & her hubby got the chance to get away for a few days in Tennessee so AW & I got to keep Baby Will. We had him Tuesday night to Friday night and we had so much fun!

Tuesday night he woke up and was in a strange, new place and wasn't so sure but then AW started reading him stories on our bed and he was quite content:

Artie however, was quite jealous of the new little human that was getting all of our attention:

And although Artie was very jealous, I must say he was quite patient and generally well-behaved. This was a big deal since he is quite mean towards children when we go to the park...yikes!

One aspect I must admit that I was unprepared for was the messiness of a baby. This sounds like common sense that with a baby comes a mess but you really don't think about it (at least I didn't)! The first morning that Baby Will woke up his diaper had leaked and his pj pants were saturated as well as his bed sheet and I didn't realize all of this until AFTER I had laid him in my bed and snuggled and read books....woops....
Also, after breakfast we came into the bedroom to change for the day and he reached in his pants then wiped something brown on my sheets...

Thankfully, it turned out to be the chocolate cheerios we ate at breakfast and not what I suspected it to be, however since I already had urine on my sheets they were going in the washing machine regardless...Nice.

But regardless of the little messes here and there, Baby Will was the best little house guest one could hope to have. Afterall, he didn't even require a full sized bed. We just popped open his little bed & it fit perfectly in a corner of our room:

And his clothes and shoes are so little they didn't take up any room at all. Look how sweet his little bitty baby shoes are:

And he must have really liked his setup because every night he slept all night without waking up and the earliest he ever woke up was 7! He would sleep 8-8.5 hours a night plus a 2-3 hour nap every day! He was great, so great in fact, I think he has AW & I fooled on how easy kids are.

He was always happy to ride in the car:

 And he had so much fun taking a bath:

And every morning he was so sweet & loving (I was taking his picture and he leaned against me & was hugging on me so I snapped a pic):

He was seriously always so happy and always so sweet. One afternoon we were shopping at Hobby Lobby and he kept saying my name, "WaWa" and when I would look at him he would have his arms reached out for a hug. He was so content just running my errands with me.

We did all sorts of fun things! One night we met up with his Mimi & his baby cousin at the Galleria to ride the carousel (although he didn't exactly love that experience), one morning we went to the library for story & music time and on his last afternoon with us we went to the park! AW had the day off so we went to the park for a couple of hours and that was probably the highlight of his stay with us:

This picture he wanted AW to be in it with him. He said " 'mon" to AW & grabbed his hand and scooted over to make room:

See what I mean? SO SWEET!

We read books, watched movies, took naps and played "bootball" (football) which meant one of us would throw, the other would catch and then we'd run through the apartment running "TOUCHDOWN!" while we waited on AW to get home from work.

One night traffic was worse than usual because it took AW a little bit longer to get home and I had two hungry faces looking at me wondering where their dinner was:

But he made it eventually and everyone stuffed their faces with spaghetti (well, Artie had to eat dog food but it was all the same to him).

Overall, it was a great experience having Baby Will stay with us and I would be more than happy to have him stay again! And I must also add that he made the experience of having a baby around seem WAY to easy...not that I'm complaining ;)


What Is Going On?!

Well, because school hasn't been as hectic as I anticipated (WOOHOO!) I decided to go back to my summer job. I'm only working two afternoons a week there but they have been quite telling already.

I work at a church pre-school and I just float to whatever class they need me in. I have to say, I am quite lacking in my hope for our future as humanity.

Despairing statement, I know but here's the thing, last week I was in the room with kids that have just turned three or are about to turn three. It was snack time and most of the kiddos were sitting at the table eating their crackers and cheese string or whatever crusty snacks it was they were eating.

There is one child who had on a pull-up & I was having to help change him. He was sliding down the wall instead of sitting and being patient and I said to him multiple times, "Sit on your bottom. No, not on your knees, on your bottom"...."bottom"..."sit on your BOTTOM"...

When one of the little girls says, "apple bottom jeans"...

I whipped around, "What did you say?" She giggled, "apple bottom jeans"...

I asked her what that meant and she looked at me like I had three heads, "It's a song. You know, apple bottom jeans, boots with the fur..." (She's TWO!!)

That's when another young girl said, "Yeah, it's funny. Apple bottom jeans!"

I asked where they heard it and they said, "in my car"...Parents! Here's the thing, your children are listening!!!

I mean, you really want your two year old quoting this guy???

I chalked this conversation up to a one-time experience, rolled my eyes and went on.

That is until yesterday while I was at work.

This time I was in the young 2's room and some of those babies aren't even 2 yet. One girl who is a young two sweetly asked, "Miss Laura, can we sing a song?"

Of course I was all about it and asked which song she'd like to sing. How dare I expect Mary Had a Little Lamb or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star or even Jesus Loves Me...

"Lady Gaga"

The two year old child requested to sing Lady Gaga!