Christmas Cold

Did Christmas make anyone else sick?! I consider myself a healthy person, but then I stray from routine, stay up a little later, and bam I’m in bed with a box of tissues. Oh well.

I had a very merry Christmas. My husband and I spent Christmas Eve with my side of the family, and then we drove to Nevada that night to spend Christmas with Danny’s parents, his sister and her husband, and our baby nephew Elijah. The time we have together is extremely valuable, because we don’t get to see each other as often as we would like.

Here’s a picture of the lovely bunch!

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Now that we all have Instagram, we get to share glimpses of our lives with those we love. However, as we all know, pictures never tell the full story, which is why the good Lord made captions. Just kidding. I think this is something we are all aware of by now, but what does that mean? How does that translate?

On Christmas Eve, I was at church and ran into one of my friend’s mom. She shared with me that this was the first Christmas all her children were married. Her home would be empty for the first time. However, she said this with a smile, because all of them would return to celebrate Christmas at her house.

I was immediately taken back to the year my brother got married to Rachel. I was twelve. They wed in October, and I can clearly visualize him coming home one day to collect his Christmas ornaments to take to his new apartment to put on his own tree. One that didn’t include me. I can’t express how hurtful that day was. I was still a kid, and I think that was the first time I realized my Christmases, my life, would look very different from then on.

As I was telling this story to my friend’s mom, she asked, “Is that the only sibling you have?”

Without even thinking, I said, “No. I have a sister, but she’s never lived with me. So, she’s didn’t have ornaments on our tree.”

As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I wished I could take them back. As if somehow, that would make them less true.

But I was immediately comforted by her response, “I understand; we have a blended family too.”

Truly, my family is blended so well that I don’t even remember we have different parents most of the time, but then I run into those small moments that remind me that I do. Christmas is a magical time, but it’s also a season that heightens our expectations and emotions. As friends post pictures of their Christmases, we can start to believe all sorts of different things.

This Christmas, I’m grateful for the family God gave me. He has blessed us through love, marriage, and even divorce. How great that I serve a God who “works all things together for the good of those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose” – Romans 8:28.

Now that Christmas (Blogmas) is over, I’m not totally sure where this blog is headed, but stay tuned. I’ll be brainstorming the next couple of days and deciding which days of the week I’ll be posting.

Thank you to all of my readers! I so appreciate your encouragement and support.

xoxo

Blogmas Day 20: Christmas Plates

We were registering for our wedding, and I wanted Christmas plates. But, the plates were going to cost approx. $300, and Danny said that they weren’t practical.

His comment irked me, because I typically don’t spend money. So, in my mind, that means when I do ask for something pricey, I should automatically get it. Ha, this opinion seems a lot more logical when it’s just inside my head.

So, I didn’t register for the too expensive plates. However, the following year (Our second Christmas), Danny said we could hunt for more affordable Christmas plates, and we found some!

I actually like them better than the $300 plates.

However, a similar incident occurred just recently. As already stated in a previous blog post, I’m not a natural gift giver. Therefore, when I think of a good gift idea, you better believe I’m going for it.

This gift idea was for my father-in-law, and I got the same remark from my husband, “Is that practical?”

To which I responded, “Does a gift need to practical?”

After thinking about my question, my husband reasoned that his dad already has all he needs. So, if we stumble upon something that simply rouses a dear memory, there is value in that thing.

It’s so funny to write these scenarios out. In those moments, I felt right, and he felt right. That’s all an argument is—two people feeling right.

 

Blogmas Day 18: What I watched and didn’t watch…

Guys, it is the 18th day of Blogmas!
We are so close to the end!

Yesterday, A Christmas Story Live! was broadcasted on Fox. This television program was inspired by the popular film.

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My husband and I intended to watch it, except I didn’t realize it was a three-hour long production.

This is going to sound bad, but I must mentally prepare myself for movies that last longer than two hours. Whenever a movie is longer than that, I typically think there are some scenes that could have been shortened or taken out. However, that is not always the case. I love The Sound of Music and The Dark Knight, and I never complain about their lengths.

Also, I’ve somehow never seen A Christmas Story. I mean, it’s on every year, but it always serves as the background noise. I’ve never sat down and watched it from the beginning to the end. So, I wasn’t sure that I should watch the live version before watching the original. Thoughts?

Instead, my hubby and I watched Elf, which was an obviously great decision. Then, we watched What If with Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan. I LOVE THIS MOVIE, AND I WANT YOU ALL TO WATCH IT NOW.

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It is about two people, Wallace and Chantry, who meet at a party. After hitting it off, Chantry gives Wallace her phone number while simultaneously mentioning that she has a boyfriend. They agree to be just friends, but things get complicated.

And that’s all I’m going to tell you! Now go watch it on Amazon Prime and be sure to report back and let me know what you think!

Also, did any of you watch A Christmas Story Live? I have it recorded. Should I bite the bullet?

Blogmas Day 17: Games for the Fam this Holiday Season

Happy Blogmas Day 17! I’m going to step outside of my norm and do something a little different today. We’ll see how it goes!

I don’t normally play board games, because the instructions are too complicated or the game has one too many rules.

But, I married a guy who loves games, and it does give our family something to do together.

Therefore, this post is for the non-gamer like me, who thinks Sorry and Uno are where it’s at. Maybe you can choose one of these games to play with your family this holiday season. 🙂

  1. Wits & Wagers: Party Edition

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Players: 4+
Ages: 8+

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This is a trivia game, and every question will be answered with a number.

Here are sample questions & answers:

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The great thing about these trivia questions is that it is rare that anyone knows the exact answer (or number). So, it’s anyone’s game. Also, it is not about guessing the right (or closest) answer, but about betting on the right answer (which may not be the answer you provided).

This is a quick game, approx. 30 min and that might even include two rounds (another reason why I like it).

2. Dicecapades

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Players: 2-6
Ages: 12+

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Basically, this game is about playing with as many dice as you can.

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This game consists of three categories, Actionland, Thinkingtown, and Triviaville. Here are examples of each.

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I like this game, because it’s simple, it occasionally gets you out of your seat, and it has a little something for everyone.

The only downfall of this game is that, if small children are anywhere in a 30 mile radius, some of those dice will go missing.

3. Loaded Questions: The Classic Game of ‘Who Said What’

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Players: 4-6
Ages: Teen-Adult
(I have played with my nieces and nephew while they were in elementary school, and they had no problems answering the game’s questions.)

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During each player’s turn, he or she will read a question that corresponds to the space he or she has landed on.

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These questions are broken into four categories, Hypotheticals, Anything Goes, No-Brainers, and Personals.

After reading the question aloud, the other players will write down their answers in secret. The player will then have to guess who wrote each answer.

I love this game, because it sparks conversation and many times the answers will surprise you! Do you really know who you live with?

This game can be long. The last time I played with my family it took 2 1/2 hours to complete, but the time honestly flies. Plus, you can always take a brief intermission to eat some pie!

4. Monopoly Empire

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If you hate Monopoly like me, this game is for you! If you love Monopoly like my husband, this game is also for you!

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This game only takes 30 minutes at the most!

It is pretty similar to the original Monopoly, except instead of trying to be the last one standing, you win by being the first person to build your tower. You build your tower by buying properties. Notice, the properties’ sizes depend on how expensive they are. This game also involves a great deal of luck. You might get a “chance” card that changes everything. 😉

5. Coup

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Players: 2-6
Ages: 13+

This is a game of deception. Unless, you’re not a good liar like me, and you just tell the truth the whole time, but I’ve won that way too!

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Each player is given two character cards and a cheat sheet, which explains the action and counteraction specific to each character. This is so handy for people like me! No way to get lost.

The point of this game is to kill everyone (either by assassination or a coup).

Each player keeps their characters secret, which means they can pretend to be characters they aren’t (as long as they don’t get caught!).

Coup reminds me of the game Mafia. However, unlike Mafia, there are no teams. It’s every man for himself.

 

Those are my five suggestions, folks! Let me know if you have played any of the games mentioned or if you have found one you’d like to try!

xoxo

 

 

 

 

Blogmas Day 16: Immanuel; God with us

“‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.’” Matthew 1:23

 

My maternal grandma passed away in July 2014.

Her name is Jennie. One of the reasons my family does not have a long list of Christmas traditions is because traditions weren’t important to her. She didn’t follow rules; she made them. All she cared about was that her family was together. She called us her people, and she was and is our matriarch.

Her home was the first built on her street. That’s where we gathered, underneath the loquat tree, eating watermelon and fresh bread from the San Antonio Bakery. Her laugh. How I miss it.

There are so many stories surrounding her to tell, but I have several cousins who can tell them better, using her voice. Frankly, there are some I just want to keep to myself.

Toward the end, her health declined, but her fiery spirit never faltered. She never stopped loving life, no matter how hard it got. There were so many scares, so many times the doctors told us to prepare ourselves for the worst, and then she’d get better and come home. Typical, so typical for her to even defy mortality.

Nonetheless, the day would come, and even though none of us were ready to say goodbye, she was. I don’t know how we all fit in that one room, beside her hospital bed, but we were all there. She spoke to each of us and told us to drink water.

The morning she died, as my brother and I were preparing to head to the hospital, we had worship music playing on Pandora, and the song “I’ll Fly Away” came on. I remember we just looked at each other and knew the Lord was preparing us for her flight.

That time in the hospital, I believe it was only two to three days, there were numerous tears, but there was also so much laughter. I remember thinking, what does everyone think of us? We are so loud next to this dying woman, but we got it from her.

However, when she told us she was ready, the room grew still. She closed her eyes and resolved as a morendo.

We called the nurse, and his name was Emmanuel.

My mom asked, “Sir, do you know what your name means?”

He answered, “Yes.”

There will be dark days, days of loss and grief. However, Christmas reminds me that God desires to have an intimate relationship with each of us. Where would I be without God’s presence in my life? I yearn for His company. It is something I both want and need.

Whenever I feel alone, I remember His promise: God with us.

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“I’ll Fly Away”

Some bright morning when this life is over
I’ll fly away
To that home on Gods celestial shore
I’ll fly away

I’ll fly away, oh glory
I’ll fly away in the morning
When I die hallelujah by and by
I’ll fly away

When the shadows of this life have gone
I’ll fly away
Like a bird from these prison walls I’ll fly
I’ll fly away

I’ll fly away, oh glory
I’ll fly away in the morning
When I die hallelujah by and by
I’ll fly away

Oh how glad and happy when we meet
I’ll fly away
No more cold iron shackles on my feet
I’ll fly away

I’ll fly away oh glory
I’ll fly away in the morning
When I die hallelujah by and by
I’ll fly away

I’ll fly away oh glory
I’ll fly away in the morning
When I die hallelujah by and by
I’ll fly away

Just a few more weary days and then
I’ll fly away
To a land where joys will never end
I’ll fly away

I’ll fly away oh glory
I’ll fly away in the morning
When I die hallelujah by and by
I’ll fly away
I’ll fly away

 

 

Blogmas Day 14: A Poem

It is day 14 of Blogmas! I am sharing another poem.

I hope you all are getting that shopping done and having a merry time!

 

Does He Know

She walks in the
City snowed with
Warm light, smeared on
Wet pavement.

She peers beyond her
Taunting reflection to
Behold children caper and tug
On mothers’ and fathers’
Sleeves as they wait to greet
Santa. She wonders.

Does he know her
Christmas wish?

Blogmas Day 13: Christmas Time is Here…

Happiness and cheer!

It’s a wrap folks, I have COMPLETED my third semester in graduate school.

WHAT A RELIEF!

Yesterday, I was working on my 15 page seminar paper (15-25 but we all know that means 15). After writing 14 pages, I took a break by having dinner with my hubby and some close friends at a Chinese restaurant called Red Ginger. As we were driving to the restaurant, I kept telling my husband, “I’m almost done. I’m almost done.” I couldn’t contain my excitement. It didn’t matter which direction the conversation leaned, I always came back to the thought of reaching the finish line.

It’s hard to look forward to Christmas when you have finals to study for and papers to write. So, if you are a student and are not out of school yet, stay strong! You can do it! And if you are not a student but you know one, give that person a big hug. He or she needs it.

By the way, the restaurant’s napkins were folded to form Christmas trees! Snatch this idea up!

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xoxo

Blogmas Day 12: Oh Christmas Tree

Happy Blogmas Day 12?

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I just went to water my Christmas tree, and it fell over. I’m pretty sure the inner part of the stand detached. Luckily, the wall was there to catch it, and no ornaments were hurt in the making of this movie…er blogpost.

But, when life gives you lemons, get a bonsai tree!

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Have any Christmas mishaps occurred at your house already?

Blogmas Day 11: Christmas gifts for her or birthday gifts for me?

Happy Blogmas Day 11! We are almost halfway!

When I first googled Blogmas, I instantly came across several lists that supplied Blogmas post ideas.

The most popular idea dealt with gift giving: gifts for her, gifts for him, etc. I immediately chuckled, because I do not classify myself as a gift giver, and I certainly didn’t have any pro tips to offer on the subject.

In fact, I find Christmas stressful, because it is all about finding the perfect gifts for those you love, and it doesn’t help that I’m a procrastinator. Maybe I could be a successful gift giver if I gave myself ample time.

But if you read my Blogmas Day 9, you know I recently had a birthday. After receiving so many amazing gifts, I now feel confident that I can help myself and assist my fellow bloggers who share my struggle.

Before, I steal my friends’ great ideas. I’d just like to say that gifts aren’t everything. Although I appreciate the gifts I received, I value the friendships behind the gifts so much more. So, don’t worry if you can’t afford much or anything at all. Just remember to love a little tighter; I’m sure that’ll be more than enough.

Now, let us begin!

1. Books?

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First, I’ll begin with the book on the left. If you’ve read my very first post, you already know that Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech is my favorite book of all time. However, I have not read ANY of her other works. Although, it has been on my to do list for a long time.
I think this is a good gift, because it acknowledges what I already love, but it also pushes me to explore new things.

The book on the right, The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, is a classic. The cover is aesthetically pleasing, and it has beautiful pictures inside.

But more than that, these books remind me of why I bonded with this friend in the first place. It was our love of books that drew us closer. So, think back. What was it that sparked your love and friendship?

2. Experiences

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(FYI, AMC is a movie theater)

Don’t give me a thing; give me something to do.

Whenever I’m asked, what do you want for your birthday/Christmas, I rarely have an answer. I’m not a shopper, so I don’t even know what’s out there. But, I’m always down for a night out. Homework usually keeps this student inside. So, I appreciate the incentive to get out of the house. Like yesterday, I got to enjoy Disneyland.

3. Personalized You

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Warning: If you’re an amateur like me, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend buying someone a piece of jewelry. We all have different tastes and styles. So, unless you really know what that person likes, I might steer clear. However, the friend who bought me this necklace is the best gift giver I know, and she did not disappoint with this gem.

I particularly value this piece, because it is personalized.

I love trees. My love for trees was actually inspired by Sharon Creech’s Walk Two Moons. Oh look, we segued back to my favorite book. My favorite Bible verses also typically involve trees.

For example, Jeremiah 17:7, 8 reads, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.”

Isn’t that powerful? I love it, and I love trees.

4. Tastes and Smells

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I’m definitely a foodie, and I am stoked to try the honey and jam. The wreath is real, and it smells DELIGHTFUL. The candle also has a gentle almond scent, and who isn’t ready to cozy up with some hot cocoa.
I like these gifts, because they activate the senses, and they are also true to this time of year. Winter will be over before we know it, so I’m happy to receive presents that help me stop and sniff the season.

Even though, I’m not advising you all to go out and buy exactly what I’ve shared, I hope something on this list inspires you!

Blogmas Day 5: I Almost Bought a Fake Christmas Tree

Typically, I am resistant to new trends. This was the case when artificial trees became popular while I was in grade school. To say the least, I was not on board, and I made sure my mom did not bring one home.

Over the years, I’d hold the same conviction that there was simply no comparison. An artificial tree didn’t have that prickly scent.  It didn’t cause arguments between mom and dad when it wouldn’t fit inside the stand or when it stubbornly leaned to one side. An artificial tree didn’t have a bald spot that needed to strategically face the wall. There were no needles to sweep, and no lights to get tangled in. Sure, the mess and imperfections were avoided, but that’s half the fun.

However, this past Black Friday, I was out shopping with my mom and mother-in-law, and I came across a row of artificial Christmas trees. They were marked down, and I had a coupon. Nowadays, I am a poor, married college student, and we don’t pass those deals up. Suddenly, an artificial tree didn’t sound so bad, and now I know they aren’t. Not just because they are more economical, but because memories will be made regardless.

The only reason I didn’t buy an artificial tree was because I knew I wouldn’t spend Christmas Day with both sets of our parents (mine and my husband’s). However, everyone was in town for Thanksgiving, so I thought it would be extra special for all of us to visit a Christmas tree farm and cut down our very own tree.

Let me tell you, this was my first time at a Christmas tree farm, and it was MAGICAL. They had free coffee and popcorn. There was a stand with hand painted ornaments. The only thing that compromised this rustic and whimsical experience was the weather. It was hot. I was wearing a tank top and flip flops, and it was not cute. Next year, I’m hoping it will be cool enough to break out the plaid and some boots.

What are your thoughts on the different types of Christmas trees? What did you grow up with? What do you have now?