State of Affairs, December Edition

There were lots and lots of Christmas-related events this month, of course.  We began with our now-annual trip to the local John Deere store to visit Santa and take a sleigh ride.  The girls were still a little apprehensive this year, but ended up having a precious little visit with Santa.  


Other holiday outings included the Christmas parade, the MDO Christmas program, the church Christmas program (both of which the girls participated in), Jeremy's work dinner (complete with Santa, again), a shopping and family evening out at Bridge Street, and various family gatherings.

Elf fun!

Aside from all those things, Jeremy and I:  had our annual shopping date, attended my work Christmas party, attended a surprise birthday dinner for a friend (Happy 30th, Mandy!), hosted a Progressive dinner for the youth from church, saw a movie on Christmas night, and made all manner of small shopping trips throughout the month.

It was quite the whirlwind month, but somehow, I felt much less pressure this year.  I don't feel like we overdid it leading up to Christmas, and there weren't too many obligations keeping us busy.  I officially declare December a success!

Books read: 3
The List--Siobhan Vivian is one of the hot YA authors right now, at least from my observances.  This was my first book of hers, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.  I am reminded for the ten millionth time how thankful I am that I will never have to go to high school again (and how I dread those years for my children...even if they are good years, they are just SO dramatic.)

Alabama Moon--I saw this book in a local bookstore while we were in Mobile in October.  I didn't have any money with me at the time, so I waited and found it at the college library.  Written by an Alabama native, it's the story of a boy raised in the woods, completely removed from civilization (think Doomsday Preppers to the extreme)...which is all fine and good until his father dies, leaving him all alone.  Alabama Moon is a unique adventure story that is great for just about anyone (young teenagers and up).

Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover--Technically, I've been reading on this one awhile and I expect to return to it many times in the future.  Nearly everyone has heard of Dave Ramsey, and with good reason.  I am looking forward to getting started with some of these principles in the new year!

Movies watched: 3
Pitch Perfect--(This is available on DVD now, but it's still relatively new, so I'm including it on my list.)  My sister and I watched this on Christmas Eve, while I buzzed around preparing gifts for the next morning.  It is such a fun movie!  If you like music, Glee, or anything along those lines, definitely see this one.

This is 40--Jeremy, Laura, and I saw this in the theater on Christmas night.  It's a Judd Apatow movie, so true to his style, there is quite a bit of language.  We laughed a lot though.  I enjoy Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd in pretty much anything.

Parental Guidance--Jeremy and I saw this on Saturday night when we got the chance to go on an all-too-rare date.  We both liked this movie very much, and Bette Midler was fantastic.  It's a great movie to watch with family.

I think part of the reason I didn't feel so overwhelmed with Christmas this year is that I laid off a lot of the craft projects I usually spend so much time on.  There were several things I meant to do--tote bags, bookmarks, photo books--but it just didn't happen, and it was totally fine.  I got Christmas cards sent, so I call it a win.

Also, Mama got a new camera for Christmas (well, technically, I got it the day after Christmas), so look out for the onslaught of pictures to come!  I am totally using full AUTO right now, and I haven't even had a chance to play around in the outside light, but I already love it.

Here are a couple of pictures from Jeremy's grandparents this weekend:





And with that, I complete the entire year of these state of affairs posts.  Can you believe it?  I don't know for sure that I will continue to do it next year, but I think I might.  I like having the chance to look back on the month, to find a few things to remember.

2012 was good to us; I look forward to seeing what 2013 holds.  Happy New Year!


Christmas Eve Thoughts

As Jeremy so helpfully pointed out a couple of nights ago, I haven't done all that well with my promise to get back to regular blogging this month.  Like most everyone, we have been busy, busy, busy with holiday preparations and activities.

We accomplished many of the things on the Holiday Bucket List this year, but as usual, there just aren't enough hours in the day to do it all.  I think that's the theme of Christmas this year:  We don't have to do it all.

As I sit here on Christmas Eve afternoon, in my warm house with the tree lights glowing, my children playing with gifts from this morning's celebration, thinking of all the joy that is yet to come over the next two days, I can't help but feel that we already have all we could ever need.  Why worry about that one last gift I meant to buy or that dessert I intended to finally make this year? 

Here's to a fabulous Christmas full of family, friends, food, and the celebration of our Savior's birth.  Indeed, we do have it all.

From our family to yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmas!



Holiday Menu Planning

I don't normally put a whole lot of thought into the meals we eat around the holidays, but this year, Jeremy and I are more interested in food and cooking than ever before.  We are having Christmas morning at our house for the first time this year--a gathering that has always been at my mom's.  I feel like I should contribute a little more than usual in that area, which requires some planning.  And we are having Jeremy's parents and sister over on the Sunday before Christmas, which adds one more meal into the mix.

Here's what I have in mind:

Sunday, December 23:  Christmas with Jeremy's family

Smoked ham (J will do this during the day)
Potato Salad (made by my MIL)
Green Bean Casserole (made by my SIL)
Macaroni and Cheese (Largely for A & M)
Stuffed Eggs
Green Vegetable--maybe asparagus or brussels sprouts?
Chocolate Trifle

Christmas Eve:  Christmas with my Dad 
*If we get together with my Dad at his house, which now seems likely, I'll fix the soup anyway and we will have it for supper.

White Chicken Chili (awesome crockpot recipe I need to share!)
Assorted toppings:  shredded cheese, sour cream, corn chips
A dessert, most likely provided by my stepmom

Christmas Day:  Breakfast/Brunch with my Mom and family

Breakfast casserole (likely one with eggs, so I don't feel like I have to scramble more)
Sausage stars
Biscuits and/or toast
Leftover smoked ham
Warm Strawberry Compote

Have you planned your meals for next week?  Anyone have a great vegetable or baked mac n' cheese recipe to share?

Happy one-week-til-Christmas! 

After the Christmas program at school


State of Affairs, November Edition

{I was shocked to realize just now that I only blogged TWICE in November.  Unacceptable.  I hereby pledge to post at least five times in December!}

Geez, since I obviously didn't have time to blog, you might think we were just busy, busy, busy during November.  Sadly, I can't remember much about the month at all.  Maybe I'll just call it The Lost Month?


Looking at my calendar, I now see that we went to a friend's wedding in Tennessee, attended Grace's 4th birthday party (an artist party, where the girls painted a butterfly on a canvas and they LOVED it), and had our best friends over for a dinner/play date.  We had Thanksgiving at church, which provided meals to over 100 people this year (!!!), and a second impromptu Thanksgiving that night with just the four of us, comprised largely of leftovers.  I had four holidays from work--Veteran's Day and three days for Thanksgiving--and again, I really can't tell you much about those days at all.  Obviously, we were very exciting in November.

Love these kiddos!

My sister did come home for most of Thanksgiving week.  We stayed up far too late, shopped, ate, watched movies, and crossed several items off the Holiday Bucket List.  It was a great visit, and left me looking forward to more time together over Christmas.

Books read:  2
The Leftovers-- It felt like it took me forever to read this book, and judging by the fact that I only read two during the entire month, it did!  I liked it okay, but it took me about half the (considerably sized) book to start caring about the characters at all.  Still, kind of a nice ending.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban-- I'm picking back up with my re-read of Harry Potter.  It's about this point in the story that I start to really be amazed at the huge amount of plot planning that went into these books.  I've heard it said that J.K. Rowling knew the end of the story from the time she created it, and I can definitely see how that would be true.  She had to have had SO MANY details pre-planned for the series to flow as well as it does.  Just amazing...


I went on a clean out & donate spree this month.  I cleaned out the big hall closet, which contains all of my craft supplies, wrapping supplies, spare gift items, and lots of other random junk.  A couple of hours and three donation bags later, it was neat and organized, with lots of space to spare.  

My cousin did a pick up for Salvation Army and we filled the bed of her truck with items to donate.  I even made a quick decision to toss on the armchair we were just moving out of the living room to make room for the Christmas tree.  It needed to go...which means I get to look for a new one in January!  I am feeling very inspired by all this purging, and I'm ready to tackle other areas of the house as soon as I can make some time.

Christmas lights!

We put Christmas lights up outside for the first time ever.  The experience was, as you might imagine, not altogether enjoyable, but I think we have most of the kinks worked out now.  : )

Now we are just looking forward to a December full of holiday goodness!

(And more blogging from me, of course!)