Thursday, December 31, 2015


Christmas Day we barely left our pajamas. It was a slower paced day, celebrating Jesus' birth, talking to family, and playing with new toys. Santa brought a camping tent to two very unsuspecting children. I put new sleeping bags from Granddaddy and a lantern inside. Joe added strings of white Christmas lights around the outside. They loved it.

...And didn't want to come out!

Hannah, received American Girl matching doll/girl outfits. Joseph received boy things like a crane truck, a bolt-action toy rifle...and a standing broom/dustpan combo. {Remember, last year was the stick vacuum and wet floor sign. Yep, he's still into cleaning supplies.} They both got Aladdin pajamas honoring our NYC trip and seeing the musical on Broadway, and mini Christopher Radko nutcracker ornaments.

I decreased the amount of presents the kids opened this year. Joe and I gave them each four, then they gave one to each other. Hannah gave Joseph a nice snow globe and he gave her an American Girl chair that attaches to the table so her doll, Maddalena, can sit with us.

Hannah and Joseph are funny about their gifts. They relish each one and, in the case of Joseph, wants to take each item out and play with it before moving on. The present-opening process went on for a while, even with the fewer number.

I had presents wrapped and under both big trees and used paper I bought through the kids' school fundraiser or at TJ Maxx. As usual, I have a theme or color scheme I go with. :)

We had eggs and cinnamon rolls for breakfast, singing and blowing out a birthday candle for baby Jesus, then we gave Mollie her presents.

Joseph picked out a treat/bone and Hannah picked out a new collar. They both helped me wrap the gifts and were very excited to open them with Mollie, and give her the new bed.

A few gifts my hubby gave me: a leather bag, arrowhead necklace and a shirt from my favorite show, Fixer Upper. He did very well.

It was a wonderful morning, playing with toys and just being together...of course with Christmas music or movies playing all the while.

Joe was happy about his haul, receiving race-related gifts among a few smaller things. His favorite present might have been the yo-yo I put in his stocking. He can still do a pretty darn good job playing with it, too. Good stuff!

We cuddled on the sofa and watched "The Nativity Story". This was the first time the children have seen it, and while we had to answer lots of questions, they liked it, and I think it really made an impact.

Meme came in the afternoon and spent the night with us. She brought American Girl surprises to the delighted little girl and a police motorcycle (also from the aunts and uncles) among other things to the very excited little boy.

We FaceTimed Uncle Ben and Aunt Katie, and Uncle Will Will, Aunt Crystal and Stella. It was entertaining trying to show them what was going on as well as show them each other.

Joseph got a full police uniform with hat and helmet, including a belt and whistle. He has a few guns, so he was all set, and ready to pull someone over!

Maddalena and Mollie, resting in their new beds:

The aftermath:

...Of course the bikes aren't gifts, but fixtures in our living room. I spy a compost pail - and super excited about it (no more stinky containers).

The day after Christmas, Joseph was up early, eager to ride his motorcycle.

He's making sure everyone is following the rules!

Gran Gran and Poppy came bearing gifts and spent the afternoon with us before heading back to Savannah. Among our gifts, the kids received new shoes (Hannah ecstatic about her new saddle oxfords!), Joe got the super-nice Garmin watch he'd been wanting, and I got a few things from my wish list. We gave them a WIFI photo frame with the new technology where I can share pictures to the frame from my computer at home. They don't have to do anything, which was the point. I wanted to make it easy for them and they loved it.

The next morning, Hannah wore her Christmas dress from last year to church, which was my dress when I was about her age. How sweet and precious she is to me...

After lunch, as I packed and got us ready to leave town, Joseph was back out patrolling the yard.

It was a busy but wonderful couple of days. I'll be back to post about our trip to St. Simons. We got back last night and today has been full - catching up, cleaning up, and doing a bunch of laundry. We are laying low this NYE and heading to bed!

the week of christmas

But first, Merry Christmas from the Bucks!

We hope you and yours have had a wonderful Christmas and are still enjoying the holidays. Since my last post, we have gone to parties, spent time with family, played, celebrated, gone out of town, cuddled and watched movies, and slept in (well, I have). So here's to catching up on this last day of 2015, starting with Christmas week...

The Sunday before Christmas was packed full. We attended a party following church, our friends' the Bibb's Nip, Nibble and Nog. It's pretty much all of our friends with children - young and old - and is a really good time. The hosts, Deana and Ken, are dear friends of ours and their house is lovely (and very old). Deana is also in my small group, so we've gotten pretty close over the years.

At 3 o'clock, Hannah and I went to a mother-daughter tea. It was hosted by the cute twins pictured below, Anne Marie and Emerson, and their little cousin (and good friend Brannen's daughter), Pierce - wearing the white bow below.

Hannah and I have gone the last three years and we always have a great time, sipping tea (and lemonade) and eating super-yummy sweets. This was the first year that Hannah's age wasn't the youngest, so several of my friends who have younger girls were there. My daughter was also excited to be wearing a Christmas dress she picked out with Meme several months ago.

Hannah wanted to take a picture of the mommies, as I was trying to get a group of little ones together.

Afterwards, we swung by the house to pick up the boys and headed to see a local church's live nativity. We all enjoyed that, and the snacks and playground following. ;)

That night, Joe and I attended a big annual Christmas party here. It is hosted by a church member but the attendees are a mix of all ages. We had a nice time and enjoyed catching up with friends sans kids. It was an exciting and fun, yet exhausting day.

On Monday, we prepared and cleaned the house, ran errands, and distributed candy canes - leaving them hanging on doorknobs and running away. Hannah and Joseph love to do this sort of thing, and I love the lessons it teaches them.

We hosted my Thursday morning girls small group get-together that night. Everyone brought appetizers and an ornament to swap. We all put in money to provide the local food pantry with a bunch of peanut butter, as protein is something food banks love to receive and usually need this time of year. The peanut butter jars were stacked high in a pyramid so everyone could see what we did together.

That's six of us. There are two more, Rebecca and Meg, who weren't able to come.

Tuesday was my 35th birthday. 35...sounds like a big number, but that doesn't bother me. I received calls and texts and Facebook messages, cards and gifts. Joe took me out to my favorite restaurant in nearby Milledgeville, Aubri Lane's. Our sweet friends, Benjie and Jennifer joined us. {My Dad and brother, Will, are in competition to see who can buy the best "Merry Birthday" card.}

It was a good day and I've had a pretty great year. Looking forward to see what the next year has in store!

While Wednesday was pretty low-key at home, we did join Joe's staff for lunch and run errands. These two little elves and Santa dog are my helpers....

On Christmas Eve we delivered groceries to some of the DFACS foster families. I try to find ways to help and do for others, especially around Christmas, and I love how my babies are eager to do the same. It really puts the focus on where it should be - loving and giving the way Jesus taught us to.

Our church's candlelight service is one of my favorites. I love the music, the festive clothes on all the children, hearing the Christmas story read, and the candlelit singing of "Silent Night" at the end. Seeing both of my babies with their candles, watching the glow and mesmerized by how beautiful the church looks is priceless. I have to take a mental picture...

This year's service was the best ever. While the weather was terrible with thunderstorms threatening the peace-filled night, my heart was full to the brim listening to my husband and baby girl singing their first duet during the gathering music.

"Go Tell It On The Mountain" is one of our favorites and we sing it often when we tuck Hannah and Joseph in. Hannah knows every bit by heart, and Joseph can almost sing it by himself.

I tried to hold my phone still so I could video, all along my eyes filling up with tears. Hannah's voice was so sweet and she sounded so good, all bias aside. If you listen closely, you can hear Joseph talking about his sister...proud little brother he was!

We went to a Christmas Eve get-together after church, as we have done every year since living in Sandersville. Other than last year when someone else hosted it, we've gone to our friends' Helen and Charles' house. They have a beautiful home, and it is always a fun way to end the night, enjoying delicious food and surrounded by friends.

It was a late, and rainy, night. Our babies were excited to head home, put out cookies and milk for Santa, and go to bed. They were asleep just about as soon as their little heads hit their pillows. Joe and I were up a little while longer, making preparations for the next morning!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

HE deserves my best

Earlier, as I started to update the blog, I began to write what's below. But then I got caught up in trying to catch up on all we have had going on, and it became a lengthy post with pictures and I decided they just didn't go together.

But, I didn't want to leave this part out, as that's how it all started in my head (and in my heart), so here goes...

This morning I read a devotional about Anna from Luke 2. (The widowed prophetess at the temple when Mary and Joseph brought the infant Jesus.) I have to admit I've never really stopped to appreciate her part of the story and unpack what those few verses about her mean.

The prayer at the end of the devotional definitely hit me hard, resonating in my soul: 
...You deserve more than the few crumbs that fall from my too-full calendar. You deserve my best. A heart of worship, night and day. A willingness to add fasting and more prayer time to my life. Please teach me to be still, to wait, to listen and always to give thanks. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

More than the crumbs that fall from my too-full calendar... Wow. Yep, I have definitely been guilty of that.

We are in the midst of Christmas-season busyness in our family. The last week (plus), we've had things going on every night...and during the day some, with school activities and parties. It has been a lot of fun, but also a lot of late nights and tired babies. Throw work and regular to-dos into the mix and Momma and Daddy have been tired, too!

I am also quite sure I've never had as many behavior problems with my children as I have over the last month. I understand that they are excited, getting less sleep, and likely feel the stress that also rears its ugly head this time of year...but still. They have been bickering, whining, and having melt-downs much more than is typical. 

Hannah and Joseph generally get along pretty well. They are close in age (19 months) and usually play well together. They are best friends. But even best friends have their moments. And I do not have the patience or gentleness that is required to handle squabble after squabble. I find myself wanting to pour a glass of wine and escape to a long peaceful bath. Or shut them in their rooms and grab a book. Or leave them in the house fighting over toys, while I run off somewhere. 

Hopefully, now that school is out, and I feel less pressed trying to tackle super-long to-do lists, things can be more peaceful. Hopefully! 

I read this recently and loved it so much that I scribbled it onto a piece of paper that I look at several times a day... 
Perfect peace isn't dependent on circumstances.
It comes from a steadfast, trusting heart.
Let's start this Christmas season by intentionally growing our steadfastness
by focusing our trust on God who is faithful.
The resulting peace will point to the savior we're celebrating.

I know we are past the starting point of the Christmas season, but the truth held in those words is vital - to my sanity and to my peace - that every day I find it helpful. Just taking time to be intentional and focusing my thoughts on Jesus, the reason for this season, changes everything. 

God deserves more than the crumbs from my too-full calendar. He deserves my wholehearted devotion. Yours, too. Right now during Advent, let's take time for Jesus!

{Cute shirt is from Meme; photo this morning by Hannah.}