Monday, December 29, 2014

Cozy Christmas

Merry Christmas from Our Family to Yours

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Here's another Christmas tradition I really enjoy...Christmas Cards.
Fortunately I am gifted in pictures and designing cards (or finding good templates on various sights) and Chris is gifted at writing. So what I do is pleasing to the eye(usually) while what Chris does is interesting to read. As I try to recall December 1997 I started our Christmas letter and then asked Chris to edit it. Basically he rewrote it, rightfully so. That year I would have probably said something like, "In February we moved to Arizona and we have the cutest little kitten named Moxie." See that needs some serious revising.

Below are the two cards I mailed out this year. 

I love our Christmas pictures this year, it was so difficult to decide which one to use.  Thank you Kelli Gleckler at Kelli G Photography

The F word of the Holidays

I'm not going to write about all these things but they all played a part in our Christmas celebration. We had a full house for five days. Wow, there's two more F words.
The Pearsons
The Raabes
My family got here on Christmas Eve right before services at church. Year after year our church pulls off a wonderful service that is both entertaining and filled with the gospel message. Jesus came to save us. He wiped our sin stained heart clean. Amen!

After church we had homemade lasagna that met everyone's special dietary needs and then opened one gift, the jammies. Chris got some Santa boxers but didn't really want me to take his picture and post it. Ha
Christmas PJ tradition
Chris reading the Christmas story before opening gifts
After one year of crazy Christmas travels we decided we would always be home Christmas morning. I would cave on that if were we in some tropical location as a family, hanging by the pool Christmas morning would be really nice! I made Christmas breakfast and then the wrapping paper began to fly. I'm a gift person which means I like getting gifts but really enjoy watching my kids' faces light up when they open the thing they hoped and wished for all month long.
Probably her favorite gift
So excited but it's damaged
Compound Bow
A soccer goal to share
Following present time I was back in the kitchen prepping for other family to arrive. We had 17 people here for a soup lunch and way too many snacks. Yum!

Over the next several days my parents and brother hung out at our house. Finally last night my oldest brother and his wife drove up from KC. It did my heart good to see them and I look forward to May when we see them again. After some much needed downtime today I am ready to go out and have fun with Chris and the girls tomorrow.

In just a few short days we will be celebrating a new year. I know it's a time of resolutions that we seldom carry out. Today I am pondering what things I want to improve. Are there people in my life who are not safe? How can I be an instrument of change and not a victim of circumstances? Do I let the negative impact me or do I shine the light Christ put inside me? Prayerfully looking for the answers to these thoughts.

Happy New Year & A Blessed 2015!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas Trees

Christmas Star
Christmas Trees
Christmas Music
Christmas Movies
Christmas Services
Christmas All Month Long
It's all
My Fav

(that's my attempt at a word design, does it look like a Christmas Tree?)

The day after Thanksgiving I start digging out my cherished Christmas decorations. It is probably my husband's least favorite day, this year he went hunting. Chris doesn't dislike the decorations but he knows I am going to ask him to put the lights on the house, that is most certainly his LEAST favorite duty as a husband but he does it because he loves me. 

This year we have a couple new trees, after 17 years of marriage we needed an upgrade.

TREE #1: A pencil tree that my mother-in-law gave me the year we moved back to Nebraska. Every year I decorate it with red and gold balls, gold starts, white lights and ribbon. It's only 6' tall. The girls call the pencil tree "mom's tree" This year my tree is displayed in the living room.

TREE #2: This is our new pre-lit tree. What an blessing. It was set up in a matter of minutes...I'm in love! I bought it after Christmas 2 years ago at Garden Ridge (which no longer exists) so when I plugged it in for the first time this year I was filled with relief and joy that all the lights worked. This is our "family tree" loaded with ornaments the girls have made over the years and all the ornaments Great Grandma and I have given them. It is so fun each year to watch them reminisce as they are carefully hung on the tree. This tree is 9' feet tall and displayed in the music room which is in the front of the house.

TREES #3, 4, 5 & 6: I don't know if these little trees really count, they don't have lights or decorations but they only go out at Christmas.

TREE #7: A sweet little tree in my kitchen.

TREE #8: Just a simple tree outside on the deck. I had planned on doing a little more decorating out there but it didn't happen. This is a 4' tree.

TREES #9 & 10: Both of these outdoor trees were purchased at Garden Ridge two years ago. I need to find bigger pots to prevent these 5' trees from tipping over when the winter winds swirl through my front porch.

TREE #11: Emma's little 2' pre-lit tree

TREE #12: Olivia's 1' hot pink tree. We couldn't find the skirt this year. I promise that everything in Liv's room does not lean to the east. I guess this is poor photography. ha

TREE #13: Reagan's 2' pre-lit tree.

Until now, I had no idea how many trees I had in the house. Mystery solved. 

(Vicki, show me your trees)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Nutcracker

Once again our home is blessed with a fourth daughter. Gabby dances with Ballet Nebraska which means she travels 2 hours every weekend to spend Friday and Saturday dancing in Omaha. I love it because we get to see our friends more often. With performances this upcoming weekend, Gab is here for technical rehearsals all day Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. This girl works hard! I can't even begin to tell you everything she does that involves dance and performance but she is driven and has high aspirations of a career as a ballerina. The Raabes are proud of you girl. We look forward to watching Gab on stage with the professional company dancers Saturday night, bringing The Nutcracker to the city of Omaha.

Emma and Gabrielle tonight right before bed. Emma was sick earlier this week and Gab is coming down with a cold. I told them, "You both look terrible so let me snap a picture." As you can see, they don't look terrible, they are beautiful both inside and out. 

Christmas Cards Oh My!

Do you do them?
Do you love them?
Do you hate them?
Are they a pain in the butt?

Yes, I do them. 
Yes, I love them. 
Yes they are a pain in the butt! 

There are so many sites that make cards. I spent the last week researching prices. VistaPrint, Shutterfly, TinyPrints, Sams Club, Costco, Walgreens, Target and the list goes on. Be careful they can be very tricky! For instance a site may show that a particular card is $.55 or $.79 each which sounds pretty good unless you want the rounded corners like displayed and that adds $.24 per card but even then in order to get that awesome price of $.55 you have to purchase 200+ photocards. Ok, maybe you have 200 friends, I don't. Well if you look at my facebook "friends" you make think I do but I assure you I do not. So the price goes up to $1.03 per card (depending on how many you want to order) plus the pretty shape and don't forget the shipping is $10. Seriously? Finally you come to terms with the fact that you need to cut down the number of cards you are purchasing which actually increases the price per card and you won't get the scalloped edges. How much are you willing to pay for Christmas cards that almost everyone will throw away? At checkout the site makes you go through a series of 5 pages declining all kinds of cool time saving options. They can print the return label for you, in fact they can address all the envelopes too. (Note to self, now they have the addresses to all my known affiliates. Wow, a conspiracy theorist would have a hayday with that.) What about those cool postage stamps with your families photo on it, just $.24 plus the cost of the stamp. YIKES! 
Here's a little mock up that I did from Tiny Prints. Not bashing them I just want to point out how ridiculous this gets and I know people spend this much and more because I get cards like this.
100 cards with rounded corners = $179
matte cards are no extra charge, glossy and pearl finish is more
white envelopes free, colored are more
liners in the envelope is $14.75 per 25 = $57
coordinating labels 48 for $16 = $32
shipping $9.95
tax $16.43
GRAND TOTAL $294.38 for 100 Christmas cards & envelopes
sorry bad picture
I did find a pretty good deal at Shutterfly  Take a look if you haven't already ordered photocards. This link will earn me $10 if you use it.  :) Today they have 20% off your total order or free shipping. There are promo codes all over the internet. I also had a gift certificate through my Discover rewards so I ended up paying just $9.05 for 50 cards. We send more cards than that so I also ordered some from also. Their designs aren't as nice as some other sites and I'm praying that they are good quality (which is why I upgraded the quality just a tiny bit) but the price is much better. Again, I declined the special shapes, well really almost all the extras until I got to check out and at 1:00 in the morning I got sucked into buying the return labels. By the way, if you receive a card from me and there is a typo remember I ordered them at 1am. With shipping, tax, labels, linen finish, envelopes and whatever else they could list to make it look like I was getting a great deal my cards came out to $.80 each instead of $2.94 a piece. 

There are other options. My fantastic husband would appreciate me much more if I would turn to email/text/facebook Christmas cards. Oh Mr. Love of My Life, I just can't do that. I love photocards! I respect you for keeping our family financially stable but please let me keep my cards. Don't forget the good old fashion paper Christmas cards that you have to open and then you could write a personal message in each one. Wow, that thought is pushing my sentimental button. I do miss the personal touch. Maybe next year.

Whatever you do or don't do with cards at least take the time to tell people near and far Merry Christmas. As Christians this is one of the times each year that others can expect to hear us talk about our Savior. Don't miss your opportunity. Remember few people will turn down an invitation to church at Christmas especially when you follow up with an invitation for dinner at your house or at a favorite local establishment. Love breaks down walls, show the world that Jesus loves each one of us!