Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: A Year in Review...

Well, its New Year's Eve... The end of the year... 2011 has been a busy one. Christine starting First Steps therapy shortly before her first birthday. We had our road trip to New Mexico over spring break. Joe getting additional therapies outside of his developmental preschool. Putting our house on the market... unsuccessfully. Nate starting first grade and playing Upward football in the fall. And a hundred other small things in between. No huge milestones necessarily... but a lot of little ones. I mean, look how much my kiddos have grown!

Even thought things are often difficult... we are incredibly blessed. God is good, all the time. We're so thankful for His protection and provision. We are eager to see what He has in store for us in the year to come.
Thank you for following our journey. God bless and keep you!

No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven. - Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT)

"You crowned the year with Your bounty and goodness…" - Psalm 65:11 (Amplified Bible)

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take." - Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven..." - Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV)

**linking to Embrace the Camera

Thursday, December 29, 2011


Poopy fingers were becoming a daily problem here. Joe has taken a liking to putting his hands down his pants (and diaper). Its not easy to find onesies in a size 5T... So we had to improvise. I bought bed corner straps at Walmart (almost identical to these I found on Amazon). We attach this strap to Joe's shirt in the front and back (between his legs) to keep his shirt tucked in and his hands out of his diapers... so far so good! We have yet to have any poopy fingers since we implemented this system! Yeah!

Joe has developed a jealous streak. I thought that we would have trouble right after Christine was born but he seemed unaffected by her presence until the past couple of months. Now he throws a fit if I sit to nurse her, or anything. There have been a few times that I have resorted to sitting on the stairs to nurse Christine because Joe wouldn't stop grabbing and pinching both Christine and I while she was feeding. Its been very draining. I have run out of energy and patience.

Joe has been taking some good steps lately, literally. With proper support he is actually taking some steps. It has been so encouraging to see this happening. Milestones are few and far between with Joe so this is a really big deal for us. We're discussing the possibility of getting him a new walker that would hopefully encourage him to initiate more reciprocal motion with his legs instead of trying to scoot around two footed. Whenever that happens then we will then be able to adjust his old walker to fit Christine and start working on walking with her.

Coming up after the new year Joe's school schedule will be changing... I had him transferred back to the AM developmental preschool class. I am really hoping that he'll go back to what we were doing last year: school, lunch, nap... because non-napping Joe has not been a good thing around here. He has been irritable and whiny. Even though I'm not looking forward to having to get him up early to be on the bus, I think ultimately its going to be better for our family schedule. Also, I have been talking with his PT (outside of school) about getting him into OT and possibly Speech at that office as well. So hopefully all these changes will go smoothly.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Recap

We were blessed with several wonderful Christmas gatherings this year. It was a busy Christmas weekend but full of fun and family. Friday we had my family over to our house for a yummy menu of lasagna, spinach alfredo, and bruschetta.

We read the Christmas story from the book of Luke before opening our presents together. Christine got this awesome zebra that she loves! Nate and my nephew had a blast playing in the paper. And Joe was just excited to have everyone there. Isaac and Nate had a couple of good games of chess. Then Isaac played with my sister's boyfriend and let him win. I think. ;-)
The only thing missing from the day was my sister who moved to Georgia this year. sigh... its our first Christmas apart. It was weird to not have her there to share the day with us.

Saturday was Christmas Eve which is always spent at my Grandma's house with all our family on my dad's side. He is #8 of ten kids so needless to say its a full house! As usual I'm negligent in taking pictures at this particular event. But it was a special time as always.

Christmas day we had the rare pleasure to stay home and just do Christmas on our own. No running to anyone else's house, or having guests. Just us. Relaxing together. It was a blessing. I made us a yummy brunch of casserole and cinnamon rolls.

Then we enjoyed sharing our gifts with one another... have I mentioned lately how cute my kids are? Nate loved the hats I got him. He is always playing "Spy" games and now he has hats to go with his disguises... and a special pad to write his spy notes on.

The day after Christmas we shared dinner with my inlaws and were again overwhelmed by their generosity. The kids got a lot of fun toys. They love spending time with their cousins too. Here is a pix of Nate and his cousin showing off their toothless grins.
Christine had such fun playing with Grandma's beads.
And here we are... hopefully we'll get a better group shot in the spring at our family photo session. ;-)

Anyway, that about wraps up our Christmas season... I'm ready to tackle the New Year! ;-)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas to YOU!

The sounds of Christmas songs
Echoes through my mind
And brings much joy to my heart
As I sing those happy rhymes
But so much more than that
I think of God's great gift
Of sending Jesus Christ a babe
To heal and to forgive
So as we sing with joyful hearts
Let's think of Jesus Christ
And how He came that first Christmas
To give to us new life

© By M.S.Lowndes

Normally I write a yearly update letter to accompany our Christmas cards and pictures. But this year I combined all three into one. What better way to cut costs and time? So here it is, our 2011 Christmas card/pix/letter. I pray that everyone has a wonderful Christmas season and year to come! God Bless You!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Dolphin Tale DVD winner!

My family and I enjoyed this movie over the weekend. While the grown up boys did poke fun at it a little bit... the rest of us thought it was a delightful family film. I'm eager to announce that the winner of the Dolphin Tale DVD giveaway from Alcon is:
Thanks to all who entered! Hoping to have more fun giveaways to come!

Oh yeah, and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

War Horse

Looking for a good movie to see over the holiday weekend? Check out the new Steven Spielberg movie War Horse:

Steven Spielberg’s WAR HORSE has been nominated as a
Best Film by the
Golden Globes. It is being hailed by Time Magazine as “the perfect Christmas
gift.” Focus on the Family calls it “a powerful film”

This would be a great film for families with teenagers. It opens in theaters everywhere on Christmas day. If you see it let me know what you think!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Stocking TaDa!

This year I made it my mission to make new stockings for our family. We've had generic fluffy store bought ones that are nice but I really wanted to make some that could be family treasures. So I scoured the internet, mostly on Pinterest, and found lots of stocking ideas and tutorials. Eventually I was able to narrow them down to what I wanted. Sort of. ;-)

Purple Panda's Striped Stocking tutorial

Diary of Quilter's Easy Stocking tutorial

inspiration stocking pix on Flickr

and then for the two tutorials that I actually used:

Pattern Patti's A Dotty Stocking tutorial

Mommy For Reals' Quilted Stocking tutorial
- I had intended on embroidering our names like in Mommy For Reals' tutorial but in my head I was thinking I could do that later... not so much. So, now I'm looking at methods to put our names on them. Any suggestions?

So... primarily I used Pattern Patti's tute, but clearly I did the topsy turvy quilted stripes on one side and the polka dot monogram on the other. I now wish I had gotten coordinating solid fabric to do the monograms but not sure there is anything to be done about it now. Anyway, even though there are a couple of things that I would do differently I am still totally proud of them and can't wait to hang them up for the rest of the Christmas season and for many more years to come.

Linking up to these awesome blogs:

Motivate me Monday @ Keeping It Simple

Making Monday Marvelous @ C.R.A.F.T.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

How do you $pend Christmas?

Recently my husband shared with me how his coworker was saying how she didn't know how she was going to afford all the many things her kids were picking out for Christmas... she felt an obligation to buy them all of these things because that's what you do at Christmas, right? My husband reminded her that there is no reason to spend outside of their means to meet a socially imposed Christmas quota. She was empowered by his words and set a reasonable Christmas budget for her family.

Its interesting to see and hear about how different families celebrate Christmas. I have noticed a stark contrast between my own family and my husband's. My family keeps it fairly frugal while my mother-in-law spends more on our three kids than my husband and I do on Christmas as a whole. According to a Gallup Poll from October 2011 the average US spending on Christmas will be something like $700…. but the truth is in the numbers….
  • 25% around $1000
  • 25% $500 to $999
  • 30% $100 to $499
  • 14% Unsure
  • 6% Less than $100
Even with the economy being rough we are still spending ridiculous amounts of money on unimportant, frivolous trinkets and toys. I mean, would Christmas cease to be Christmas if we didn't spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on gifts that will be played with or worn for a short time and then end up in the Goodwill bin? What if we could spend less and enjoy the Christmas season more?

I don't know about you but my house is cluttered enough now. There are very few things that we truly need. We are already blessed. My kids don't need to get brand new toys from a dozen different family members. I would much rather take that money and use it for something important, and meaningful. Every year I try to talk my husband into skipping gifts and using that money toward a family trip where we will build our relationships and make memories.

[AC] Promo 2011 from Advent Conspiracy on Vimeo.

How does that video make you feel? It made me feel remorseful for our relatively modest Christmas spending. How much do we waste on the unimportant? What could you do to make your family's Christmas more meaningful and less about stuff? Here are a few resources to give you some ideas: - How to Budget Holiday Spending
MoneySavingMom's Clutter-free Christmas series
Focus on The Family - Meaningful Christmas
Get Rich Slowly - A DIY Christmas
My Simpler Life - Ideas for a Less Expensive, More Meaningful Christmas - Top 5 Christmas Charities

Ultimately this is the only thing that matters during the Christmas season and all year long:
“God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (GALATIANS 4:5).

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dolphin Tale DVD giveaway!!

I'm excited to be hosting a great giveaway from Alcon! And truthfully, my son is stoked about it too! They have sent me a DVD of the family film: Dolphin Tale (to be released on DVD on December 20th)

Swimming free, a young dolphin is caught in a crab trap, severely damaging her tail. She is rescued and transported to the Clearwater Marine Hospital, where she is named Winter. But her fight for survival has just begun. Losing her tail may cost Winter her life. It will take the expertise of a dedicated marine biologist, the ingenuity of a brilliant prosthetics doctor, and the unwavering devotion of a young boy to bring about a groundbreaking miracle—a miracle that might not only save Winter but could also help thousands of people around the world. The real Winter, who plays herself in “
Dolphin Tale,” today serves as a symbol of courage and hope to millions of people—especially those facing their own physical challenges—who have been touched by her remarkable story of recovery and rehabilitation.

"This year's best family film!"
- Gorman Woodfin, CBN Television

“Truly Inspiring.”
- Pete Hammond, BoxOffice Magazine

Now for the best part!! Alcon has sending me a copy of the Dolphin Tale dvd for me to giveaway! So... if you want to be entered to win this adorable family film please comment on this post with your email address (mandatory for giveaway entry). For extra entries you can 1) be a follower of Wani's World 2) like Dolphin Tale on facebook - if you do the extra entries please leave additional comments telling me you have done them. The giveaway will be open until 12/24/11 and then I will post the winner!
**Giveaway is open to US residents only.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Craft Inspiration!

I love Christmas crafts! There are so many great projects to be done this time of year! Here are a few of my favorite links to fun holiday crafts - the first three are to projects that I actually have done... the other two are ones that would love to do but haven't gotten around to doing yet!