Monday, December 22, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sharing a Memory, Sharing my Heart

Night at the Nativity
Written by Kristen Hutchinson, December 2006

Last night, we had the opportunity to portray Mary, Joseph, Jesus, and an angel as a family. I must say that the anticipation was somewhat stressful for me. The baby was a bit fussy throughout the day, and my four year old needed me, too. When nap time rolled around, I was ready! However, it just didn't seem like a nap would come for the baby. I sleepily kept thinking while I rocked her, "maybe God is preparing her for her role tonight. It will be good for her to sleep then." Thankfully, rest did come for awhile.


When we awoke, my anxiousness was at a new level. How would the night go? A two month old playing Jesus is a lot more unpredictable than a baby doll Jesus. And a four year old, well she would just stand right there with us, dressed as an angel or shepherd, right? Our time slot was for an hour and a half. Could we do it? What if the baby was fussy the whole time? I doubtfully assured myself that it would be okay. Then, Daddy walked in from work, and the mad dash began. Get fed. Get dressed. Get there.


Once we arrived, I quickly surveyed the area. People already gathering, waiting for the 'cast' to get in place. Animals, lots of them. We quickly got into costume and wandered around taking it all in for a few minutes before we had to take our spot. I wrapped the baby up and tried to get her to sleep as I walked around looking at all of the animals. I didn't go in the pen. These were big animals...well, only donkeys, goats and their babies. But, my baby around dirty animals, I don't think so. Our four year old had quite the opposite reaction. She immediately loved on nearly every animal there! Okay, let her get it out of her system before she has to go be a good little angel.


Time to take our places. The weather was warm enough, but the hay, animals, dust, dirt...the smell...no place for my baby, I thought. Then, there was the manger filled with hay. Our four year old kept excitedly shouting, "Put her in the manger!" I kept saying, "No. She's fine with me." That manger was no place to lay my baby down. It didn't seem very comfy like all the things she lays on at home. However, I reluctantly agreed. People lined up and came in and had their pictures with us.


And there she laid. The perfect little person to pretend to be baby Jesus. It was truly precious, but it didn't last the whole time. The animals came in and went straight for the manger. I, being the protective mother, scooped the baby up. I didn't want them thinking she was food. A manger. A food trough. The animals' home. How strange it felt to have our precious baby there.


Was this how it might have been? Did Mary and Joseph feel discouraged that this was the best they had for their baby that night long ago? And He was no ordinary baby. He was a king, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Messiah, the Redeemer, Wonderful Counselor, the Prince of Peace, Immanuel... God with us! And He was laid in a manger! The dust, the dirt, the smell. All for us. Our dirt. Our smell. Our sin. What a night! And what a night for our family, too.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Crafty Turkeys



We try to make these cute turkeys every year. They were so simple to make, and everyone got in on the fun! They are made by tracing each person's hands and feet. (Click here for directions to make your very own turkey.)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fall Fun

Here are some pictures from our recent fall fun! Happy Fall, yall!
The girls and the Pumpkin Patch

Matching dresses.



Brandon and the Libby carving the pumpkins. Clara holding her nose and saying
"Stinky puhkin."


Smellin good with the cucumber-melon candle inside!

Libby the cat and Clara the dog.


Farm Day Butterfly


Clara's butterfly

Libby feeding a little donkey.



Clara playing in the corn.


Wednesday nights and precious things

It was a Wednesday night several weeks ago. The night before payday. Most people know the pinch. As we got in the car to leave church, I asked Brandon if he had any cash in his wallet. As I was rummaging through the ashtray for change, I mentioned that it would be a good thing to pick up a loaf of Bread and some fruit on the way home. (Sure we had some other food at the house, but I felt like having bread and fruit would get the girls and I through the next day before we went to the store on Thursday night. There are only so many things our kids will eat!) We quickly strode through Wal-mart and picked up our few items. After paying for them, we had some money leftover, which Libby made note of. As Libby and I were walking hand in hand back to our car, she looked to me and said something that I hope will stay with me forever. In her precious six year-old way, she said, "We should give some of our money to the poor people. After all, we are rich...aren't we, Mommy?" My first thought was to snicker and tell her that we are the poor people...didn't you notice us digging for change in the car?!? However, I know the truth. I know we are blessed much more than we can comprehend. I know that we have all that we need. I know that we are His. I know. So, after my emotions gathered and words could be uttered, I said, "Absolutely! We are rich!"



It was a Wednesday night two weeks ago. As we walked toward our car after church, a somewhat disheveled man stopped us on the sidewalk to ask if our church was the place he could get a meal. Brandon and I began loading the girls in the car while we told him about the times that our church does serve free meals to those who need it. He said he was really hungry and wondered if we were sure there wasn't a place he could get a bowl of grits, anything. Brandon told him about the Waterfront Rescue Mission several blocks away. It was dark already, and he would have to walk several blocks to find food anywhere...even if he had money. (He never asked for money, and we have decided to not give out money.) So, I spoke up and explained to him that if he would remain there, we would drive to pick him up some dinner and bring it right back. McDonald's seemed our closest option. Libby and I went in to pick up some food for him. I chose cheeseburgers, and she insisted on dessert. (There is something humbling about a child choosing to give ice cream to a hungry homeless man. Big heart, big compassion, perhaps a glimpse of what love really is.) So, burgers and ice cream in hand, Brandon drove back to the church to deliver dinner. I was wondering if the man would even be there, or had he gone on to find someone who would actually give him money? Yet, there he sat. He gratefully took the small bag, and asked Brandon to pray with him. Then, he began to pray, and thank God for us! Brandon prayed for him and talked with him before getting back in the car. I could hear everything that they said, and I just sat in my seat with my heart in my throat. Hearing someone so needy praise God is a humbling experience, and hearing my husband pray with him and for him was one of the most precious things. The man called himself Billy that night, but only God knows who he really is. All we knew is that God told us to feed him that night, and that ice cream sundaes are for homeless people, too.





There is a lot of learning in life. It is precious what can be learned from a six year-old.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Death to Baby (doll)

Disclaimer: We really do watch our children...as difficult as that might be to believe based on my recent posts!

I couldn't resist sharing this video of what I found Clara doing yesterday. And yes, this is the 2nd baby doll to head to the trashcan this week! (It's a good thing they're a staple item at Wal-mart.) Oh, and Clara's hair do...that would be thanks to the bottle of hand soap sitting on the sink. :-)


video

Unclean! Unclean!

NASB
Lev 13:45
45 "As for the leper who has the infection, his clothes shall be torn, and the hair of his head shall be uncovered, and he shall cover his mustache and cry, 'Unclean! Unclean!'

-
behold, there was a man covered with leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean."
Luke 5:12 (NASB)


13 And He stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." And immediately the leprosy left him.
Luke 5:13 (NASB)


And there he was, crying out as he neared Jesus, "Unclean! Unclean!" This leper. This unclean person. No one can touch him. (It was good that he was following the rules by yelling this so that everyone would know not to get near him.) Then, can you believe? He just falls on his face in front of Jesus, and with pure faith and humility asks Jesus for healing...if it is His will. He has come before the King of Kings, and he's yelling how unworthy he is to even be in his presence...can you hear it, "Unclean! Unclean!"? He wasn't considered worthy to be in anybody's presence. Can you see him...head covered, clothes torn... Yet, here he is, before the Alpha and Omega... And then, Jesus does the unthinkable... He reaches out His hand...and touches the man...who is COVERED with leprosy. And immediately, the man was healed.

I can't help but be blessed by this account. To realize that I, too, am a sinner...whose heart screams, "Unclean! Unclean!" in the presence of the Almighty... And yet, Jesus... He is my cover and my healer and the One who touched me, the same One who touched him... the leper so many years ago. Oh people, that we would realize what living and breathing is all about.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

When All You Can Do Is Laugh

Brandon left yesterday afternoon to go on an overnight campout with the RA's from church. He'll be home sometime today, but in the meantime, let me tell you all about MY adventures while he's been gone.

Last night, the girls and I baked homemade pizza (Brandon made and froze the crust last week.) Then, we snacked while watching the movie Fishtales. While the girl bonding time was quite fun, the movie was, well, NOT. It's not something I would've normally let Libby watch because of the content, but besides that...who in their right mind wants to endure a low-budget, poor acting, poor storyline, and just plain WEIRD movie that you actually had to pay to see? (Only $1 thanks to Redbox.) Bedtime was here before I knew it. We read some books, sang some songs, said our prayers, and hugged and kissed goodnight. I especially loved checking on them just before I went to bed. (Brandon usually does this.) Watching your children sleep is probably one of the best things in life. I got myself ready for bed and noticed that Brandon had put the new tube of toothpaste out. We weren't out of the other tube, but how nice of him to take that one with him and remember to put out the new one for me. I enjoyed staying up reading for a little bit longer.

Clara was up at 6:30 this morning. That should have been my clue right there. I quietly got her out of her bed and tried, to no avail, not to disturb Libby. So, needless to say, we were up and making breakfast by 7:00am. (Why doesn't anyone program children to sleep in on the days they are SUPPOSED to?!?) Thankfully, they each wanted cereal, which allowed me to spend time making Applesauce Bread for my breakfast while they ate theirs. (The house smelled soooo good while it baked.) Of course, when it was ready, we each sat down to have a piece. It was Bunny's 1 month birthday today, too. So, it fit quite nicely to call it cake and have her a little party. (Bunny is Libby's creation from Build-A-Bear. Libby shares her wonderfully with Clara, and she also has 2 hearts because they both put one in her while making her.)

With breakfast and 2nd breakfast over, it was time to prepare dinner. I, being so inspired by wonderful friends, actually menu planned for 2 weeks recently. I don't do much of the cooking because Brandon loves too, and I just don't like making the mess so much. Those little facts are important because had I realized that he wouldn't be here today, I wouldn't have planned to make Beef Stew today that had to cook for 8 hours...meaning... I would have to cook it. (I didn't really mind because I'm really looking forward to eating it!) So, get the meat out, season it, brown it, put it in the crockpot. And:

Major interruption 1: Clara shatters her new tea set all over the place by shaking it out of a bag and onto the floor at rapid arm swing, tea set slinging pace. STOP all other activities to secure barefoot children, sweep, and vacuum.

Back to cooking. Libby is now helping wash potatoes and carrots. She is having fun and taking her time. I continue to collect the other ingredients and take my time reading the recipe to make sure I'm getting it right. (It was a new recipe, after all.) I notice that Clara is quiet, and I assume she is just playing. I ask Libby to get me 2 onions from the pantry. And:

Major interruption 2:

Clara emerges. She is covered in toothpaste. My new tube of toothpaste. She is holding it in her hands, and my first thought is to laugh and grab the camera! How cute, right? Well, on my way to the camera, I had to jump over a large toothpaste covered patch in the carpet...and next to it...a baby doll covered in more toothpaste. (I am really overjoyed that we splurged and bought the LARGE tube this time!) Oh well, laugh. It really was funny. So, I made Clara come and sit next to her masterpiece for her picture. Then, it was off to the bath for her. The baby doll didn't fare so well...it was more like farewell...as in, it's a good thing we have like 5 because this one is going in the trash! Just before taking Clara to the bath, I took the remaining tube of toothpaste to my sink and noticed her other masterpiece...all over my bathroom cabinets and tile...complete with precious little toothpaste footprints. And, yes, they did trail all the way across my bedroom carpet. How else would she have gotten to the baby doll? After her bath, I just closed my door so I could get the stew finished and cooking.

So, the stew is cooking, I've scrubbed the carpet, cabinet, and tile. I've cleaned up all the dishes from all our morning fun. And, I've given myself the privilege of sharing my joyous morning with you all. The house currently looks like a tornado has come through it, but all I feel like I've done is clean...sweep, vacuum, bathe child, wash dishes, scrub carpet, wipe some cabinets and tile. It seems there should be something to show for all my hard work, but all I currently have is a home filled with toys that smells like toothpaste despite all the other good things it could smell like since I've been cooking. These are moments when all you can do is laugh, and be thankful that you have precious children to make messes, a home to clean up, food to cook, and a half-full tube of toothpaste.

If only you could see the three dimensional glops and smell the fantastic minty scent!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Clara's 2!

Here are some pictures from Clara's 2nd B'day events. We had a lot of fun! To celebrate, her friends came over on Friday to sing her favorite songs and read her favorite books. They danced and sang and then, danced and sang some more...it was too cute! For cake, each child decorated a twinkie to look like a "bus" because Clara loves the song "Wheels on the Bus". Later, Grammy and Pa came over to help celebrate and brought some presents, too! On Sunday, her actual b'day, she wore her "I'm 2!" tag to church. It was fun to see the adults and children all wishing her "Happy Birthday!" The 4 of us celebrated here at home and enjoyed our sweet Clara. We thank God for giving her to us!



Clara's "cake"

"No hands!" (see the video of Clara in previous post 'Swinging with Daddy')


"Yum."

Here is Clara showing off her $2.



Monday, October 6, 2008

A Rite of Passage

Our first born just lost her first tooth. We've been anticipating it for days, and we've each had our share of turns pulling on it. Tonight was the night! Libby is a child in a pure state of wonderment and delight. I, the mother, am amazed at the feelings the tooth brought about in me. In the very instant of pulling her tooth, it seemed like the last 6 years of her life flashed before me. That tooth came to us when she was 10 months old...a time that seems so different, so long ago. A time when it seemed like she was forever a baby. Now, I'm quickly reminded how fast those 6 years have gone, and I catch a glimsp of how the next 6 will be here before we know it. Our baby, growing up.

It is a simple thing...a first lost tooth, but there are so many warm memories and joyful emotions that surround it. Brandon and I both spent time thanking God for who He's made Libby to be and asking that He continue to grow her in love for Him.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

7 Things...

I've been tagged by Shana to make a list of 7 things people may not know about me. So, here goes:

1) I can do a split. Yep. Dunno why. Defies logic, I'm sure.

2) My hair looks like a big afro if I brush out my curls. This, you should see.

3) Bologna with grape jelly on white bread is one of my favorite things in all the world to eat. (NOT something I have done in a LONG time or plan on doing any time too soon.)

4) I pick my lips A LOT...and I can't remember a time in life when I didn't have this bad habbit.

5) I HATE tea! Really...it is like what I imagine swallowing river water would be like.

6) I have a hard time finishing things... um... #7??? I just might be the queen of unfinished projects.

7) I love dancing.

I tag Melonie

Friday, October 3, 2008

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Week 12

There are 12 weeks until Christmas. So, there are 11 more weeks beginning Oct. 5th for us all to get our shopping done, stockings hung, and cookies baked! For me, that means 11 more weeks to make my goal weight of 130 lbs. I know you are all just sitting on the edge of your seat with excitement over this...you know I am...NOT. This week has presented some challenges for me mentally. I usually weigh on Mondays for my official weigh in, but I generally weigh everyday. (You don't have to tell me that I shouldn't do that...Brandon says it enough for all of you.)

After losing so much weight previously, I still expect big numbers each week. Right now, I am settling for tenths of pounds! However, the mental trip is so different. (For all the readers that have been thin most of your life, please feel free to leave comments assuring me how difficult a 1 lb loss is!) In spite of a few moments of mental defeat and physical pain from an old exercise injury, I am pressing on. My diet has been good, and I've allowed myself 2 "dry" carbs...a 6 inch turkey Subway and a bowl of dry oats with skim milk and dried cranberries. (I crave dry oats with fruit and skim milk.)

As great as dieting and exercising is, I can assure you there have been much better things in life this week that are worthy of blogging about...but this is good for me to post about because I know that I have a small audience of acountability...who, of course, could care less about a number I weigh as long as I am healthy. (Love to you all!) So, without further ado:

Week 12 Stats:

Height: 4 ft 11 in (if you know of a way to grow taller, please comment)
Weight: 141 lbs (2 lb loss!)
Pant size: a looser 12p

Thursday, September 25, 2008

O Blog, my blog!

How I've missed blogging! I am so surpised to see that 3 weeks have come and gone since my last post. Where should this update begin? (I apologize for the random thoughts that are about to spew forth!)

For me, the last 3 weeks have been going really great. For starters, I am FINALLY back into a good Bible study through CBS. We are going through the book of Luke. Although, I never eagerly get into a group study, I always look back on them with good thoughts. It helps me spend time in God's word. That, in itself, is a feat! I do wish that I could say that I am disciplined to have good study each day, but brace yourself, I don't. Good to get that out! :-) I am excited about Luke and my weekly meeting with other sisters in Christ. I signed up for this because of the children's programs that Libby and Clara get to attend, too. They have age appropriate Bible study, and it is a great program! They each have children in their classes that we see at church or our other homeschooling group. So nice for them to build those relationships!

Homeschooling has been going wonderfully! I love it, and both girls are doing well with it. Libby seems to be such an easy and quick learner. She respects us as her teachers. While the daily responsiblity falls mostly to me, Brandon has been teaching her some lessons, too. He really enjoys it. I've always thought he is a wonderful Bible teacher to kids...why shouldn't he be good at reading and math, too? A child's mind is an amazing thing, and it is fascinating to watch it grow. I give all the glory to God.

Okay, here is where I open a big can of worms for me. The major thing that has been consuming my time and energy (literally) for the past 3 weeks has been weightloss. UGH. Well, so maybe not a can of worms...more like a window to my soul or something...but worms seems more appropriate considering the subject, don't you think? I ran across an article from Weight Watcher's (I don't do this program, but am sure it is one of the best.) It mentioned setting a goal of losing 10% of your body weight. Turns out, that's about all I have left to meet my first goal...drum roll... 130 lbs. I set that goal in Jan. 2007. So, I read the article, got all my mental ducks in a row and got to it! I decided that pounds off would be the best Christmas and birthday present (which is a few days after Christmas). The downfall... I'm the only person that can give myself that. Then, I got even crazier and started thinking that maybe, just maybe, I could even be a size 8 in '08. Get it?? It would just be nice to make that 130 goal before Jan. 1. (A quick recap for those who may not know...I weighed 230 in Oct. 2006 when I delievered Clara. No, that was not baby weight. I have been at 200 lbs most of my adult life...well, just all my life probably.)

So, I've been exercising 4 times a week at least and banning all dry carbs (pasta, bread, rice, flour) and of course, sugar from my diet. This works for me, and I'm so thankful to find something that does. I am going to post my stats, and I hope to blog about this more often. In the meantime, if you don't hear from me for another 3 weeks, just assume I've blown away b/c my hard work is paying off!! :-)

Stats:

height: 4 ft 11 in
weight: 143 lbs (muscle weighs more than fat, ya know! Laugh.)
pant size: a loose 12p

Libby and I in my size 22 jeans.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Free Chicken!

Yesterday, Chick-fil-A was offering free chicken strips to anyone wearing team logos...like your favorite football team. Brandon has been talking about going since he saw the advertisement. Well, after a rainy day thanks to Gustav, we were not thinking of heading out. We spent the day picking up and organizing the house some...to no avail, I think. Then, late in the afternoon, Brandon reminds me of the free chicken day. We could only think of 2 clothing items we owned with a team on them...a slighty too big MS State t-shirt of Libby's and a MS State sweatshirt of Brandon's. We knew these things were hiding away in closets. So, just as he was planning to just take her with him, I remembered that I had an old Notre Dame sweatshirt (why?). Then, I was thinking of something to put Clara in and remembered that someone gave her a little FL State cheer outfit. So, with kids dressed and Brandon and I burning up in sweatshirts, we headed to Chick-fil-A...both of them! (Yeah, we have 2 in our city.) It was fun gathering our free chicken from around town! I also learned that Notre Dame is not in the NFL...rather, they are a university..."Just like your shirt says, Kristen", Brandon made sure to point out. Needless to say, it was yumminess with some fun, and there were pleny of leftovers for lunch today. Thanks Chick-fil-A!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Beautiful weather, a DQ Dilly Bar, and a few good country songs

Today has been such a fun day! Today, I am excited about being a "Teacher Mommy". We had orientation for Libby's tutor group this morning. I was a little nervous as to how we would fit into this group of homeschoolers. However, after getting out of the van, all my concerns just melted away. There was a precious family walking alongside ours whose little boy (1 of 7 children) didn't have any shoes. The mother began to explain that surely in all of the getting ready, the shoes had been forgotten and there were no "extras" floating around in her car. (YES! They even keep shoes in their car, too!) We fit in just fine...needless to say...at least we had shoes on...for this week, anyway! :-) I was so excited to be around other homeschooling families! Libby's teacher/tutor is so nice, and I look forward to what this year will bring.

After orientation, we went to the park to play with some friends of ours. Other than it being REALLY hot, we all had a blast! The kids played in the spray park most of the time. Next, I took the girls to DQ for lunch and a treat. It was fun to eat out with them by myself. Libby is getting to be so grown up at times, and she is such a big help. There were a few good songs that came on the radio while we were there. Something about "Waiting on Her" and "I saw God today". I really like both of them, and they make you reflect on some of the best things in life...your family and your faith. When we finished our food, we each got a Dilly Bar. I wasn't sure how it would turn out...2 kids, 1 adult, chocolate ice cream bars...the possibilities are endless. Seeing the pure delight spread across their faces made it all worth it. Somewhere between the chocolate and ice cream smiles, Clara says, "Soap!" Yes, indeed...we were gonna need some soap! It was a beautiful day.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Kindergarten and a Cottontail!

Our first day of homeschool went great! Libby and Clara were both wonderful as we got our lessons done. Libby admitted to me that homeschool was MUCH more fun than she expected. She was so glad that she got to have some free time and t.v. time. I was very pleased with how everything went, too.

While Libby was playing, she put together some "food" on a tray for me. She brought it to me while I was working in my lesson book. I kinda didn't want the interruption, and I was halfway listening to her explain what everything was. My ears perked up when she said, "This is your Diet Coke." Wow! Thank you Libby, my favorite! Then, she says, "And this is the Cottontail! I'm just like Sandra Lee!" Roll on the floor, you guys!!! Laugh! Okay, well let me explain...Sandra Lee is host of a TV show on Food Network. She always makes a cocktail at the end of her show. Now, Libby's daddy is a Baptist minister...so, bartending is not the pretend play you want your child spending too much time on!!! :-) Hysterical. It was very funny to me. Maybe I looked like I needed a Cottontail!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Thankful

Just wanted to post a little praise to my Heavenly Father... I am so thankful that He has helped me to stay rested after coming home from vacation. (Trust me, I was beyond stressed out before we went.) I am thankful to Him for the motivation to get to the Y for workouts and for the encouragement I receive while there. (The older people are just so cute and sweet or either completely funny.) I am thankful for all the people helping to get the church preschool and children's area back in order...it's going to ROCK! I am thankful that He is with me and that I have all that I need.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Rest

Woo hoo! I think we had our first real family vacation. Well, real enough for us anyway. We managed to escape "normal" life for a few days and spend some time in a nearby beachside resort. (Don't let the glamorous description fool you.) Let's just say this place was PERFECT for us Beverly Hillbillies. I even discovered what I am now calling a perfect day. Time spent on a porch swing while blowing bubbles with your children can be a soothing balm. The cherry-vanilla ice cream was quite soothing, too! It was great to getaway.

We got back into town and immediately dug into planning Libby's Narnia party. (Oh, if only there had been plates, cups and napkins of the Narnia theme!) There were swords, sheilds and daggers to be made...games and decorations to come up with...food to be bought. Whew. Of course, we got it all together for the big day, and God blessed us with a wonderful celebration of Libby's 6th birthday.

I am so thankful for the rest we had, Libby's birthday, and the days ahead. Life is about to change as we plunge into homeschooling next week. I am excited about it all!