Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tuesday Ten: The House on Crescent

As I pick up the kids from various activities throughout the week, someone will inevitably ask "Where are we going?" My usual response is "CRAZY!!!" but the kids don't feel like that's funny any more. For about six weeks, when I would say "home" the next question would be "Which one?" We spent a good deal of time back and forth between two houses in the middle of our move. Slowly the question became less common as we headed to the new house more consistently.

I drove past our old house last night to make sure all the trash from our move had been picked up. As I was coming down the hill towards the house (not the way I usually approach it) I had the full frontal view and I was struck with a thought: I lived in that house for longer than I lived in any other house my entire life! Today at 3:30 that house will no longer be ours. It will belong to someone else. I've met her. I think she's a good person and I think she will make our house into her happy home.

Part of me wants to breathe a huge sigh of relief that this is all over, but the reality is that it's only half over because we still need to find a new home to purchase and move into. I'm determined that the next house will be the one my future grandchildren will visit me in!!

Since I'm saying my goodbyes on a Tuesday, I though it appropriate to make a Tuesday Ten list.

1. We first walked into that house as a family of two and a half (I was seven months pregnant with Frances). We left it as a family of five plus one.

2. My brother painted the nursery for me when we first moved in. It was yellow and blue striped. I think he was annoyed with me for all the work it took, but he wouldn't let me help except with the taping because he didn't want me near the fumes.

3. We had a real Christmas tree for our first Christmas. Afterwards we planted it in the back yard. It's over ten feet tall now.

4. There's a dogwood in the front yard that has a circle of dead fish around it. I couldn't bear to flush them with the kids around, so we buried them. The kids also decorated rocks as headstones. I hope they've fertilized the tree well.

5. When the living room was painted, we chose to paint over the brick fireplace. To some people that seems abhorrent, but to those people I say: "The fireplace was already painted "brick" red with white "mortar" painted in between the bricks." Trust me; painting it sage was an improvement!

6. There was one of those old bubble dial thermostats in our bedroom. The previous owner thought that would be a good idea so you didn't have to go as far to turn the heat up if you got cold in the middle of the night. That doesn't actually make sense with how thermostats work, so we had it moved out to the living room. We left the bubble in our room anyway.

7. We had the kids' room, the living room, and the bathroom painted. We "never got around to" painting any other rooms. Our bedroom was still the same gross eggshell color as when we moved in.

8. The interior doors are all about an inch and a half too short. Apparently the house was previously carpeted, but the carpets were trashed by the students who rented the house. The owner ripped them all out to reveal nice hardwood floors, but never replaced the doors. We didn't either.
9. I started this blog nine years ago with a picture of Frances and Henry in front of our Christmas decor. We used to have the tree in the living room, but it later fit better in the living room. And the fireplace was fun to decorate.


10. Crescent Drive was a good house for us. We grew our family there. We had lots of joy and laughter, as well as sorrow and tears. It is now and will forever be a part of our family history. But we are also looking forward to making new memories in a new home.

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Star From Afar

I was given this product in exchange for an honest review. I am so excited to share this with you all today!

I love the Christmas season. There's so much excitement and watchful waiting. Every year we try really hard as a family to make sure that the kids understand the true meaning of Christmas. It isn't just about gifts and cookies and time off from school. We are really getting our minds and hearts ready for the birth of Christ. I'm really proud that my kids have internalized this message and they get very excited about all the traditions we have together.

This year in a new house, our traditions may have to take some adjustments, but the underlying feelings will still be there. I'm also excited to add new things to the mix. One of those new things is our Star From Afar.

Star From Afar is a book and game that helps families understand the true meaning of Christmas. The set includes a book with a rhyming nativity story and a set of nativity figurines. To play the game you begin by reading the book together as a family. Then each day leading up to Christmas, a parent will hide the star somewhere in the house. The kids get to look for the star and then move the Wise Men to be near the star. In our house we've started as far away from the rest of the nativity set as possible and will be moving the star closer each day.

We've done some other hide-and-seek type things with the kids during Christmas, but my favorite part about this one is that I've told the kids that I'm the one moving the star. There's no secrets about it and I don't have to worry about forgetting and "ruining" things for them. There are also no rules about touching the star or the Wise Men figures. In fact, since we have three kids, each of them gets a figurine to take with them on their search for the star.

Each evening (or morning) after I move the star, I place the Wise Men outside their bedroom doors. That's their reminder to go search for the star when they wake up. They were so cute this morning when I knew that the older two had found it but they were waiting for the youngest to locate it before placing their figurines. They even kept their mouths shut when he got excited to be "the first one to find the star." (They did roll their eyes, though!)

The set itself is made of wood and feels very sturdy. Frances commented that they "feel like butter" because they are sanded very smooth to be safe for little hands. All three of my kiddos (6, 9, and 13) were excited about this idea and the game. I like the idea of them searching for the light each morning. What a great way to start the day!

If you'd like to have a set of your own, you can purchase one on the Star From Afar website. You can use the code FOLLOWTHESTAR for 10% off through December 25, but don't wait that long to purchase because you'll want to use this with your kids this Christmas season. In fact, you can try to win your own set right here:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 18, 2016

Where Jesus Slept

This is a sponsored review with affiliate links. I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. I have also used affiliate links here. If you click to order the book, I will receive a small commission.

Christmas this year if going to be strange. It will be in a different house and it will be shortly after what would have been my due date. For that reason, I've done my best to make sure that all our other holiday traditions will remain intact. That includes rearranging my entire storage unit to get out all the Christmas boxes that we buried in the back before we realized this move wasn't going to go as planned.

One of my favorite boxes to unpack is the Christmas book box. My children have mostly outgrown picture books, but when it comes to this holiday tradition, the memories associated with those books far outweighs their "grown-up-ness." Each year I try to add a few more to our collection and this year I was sent one to review that will fit in quite nicely with our collection.

"Where Jesus Slept" is a gentle story set in the cadence of The House that Jack Built. The beautiful pictures help build the story of the greatest gift our world has ever received: Jesus Christ. It starts out with the straw that lines the bed where Jesus slept and builds all the way through the Three Kings and the gifts they brought to the infant Jesus.

Would you like your own copy to share with your family this season? You can buy a copy on Amazon, or you can try to win a copy below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the
Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”
 

Friday, November 11, 2016

When life hands you oranges...

I read a story once of two kids reaching for the last orange in the bowl at the same time. The kids started to protest because they both wanted the orange and it was the last one left. An adult swooped in, sliced the orange in half, and gave each child half of the orange. Both children still protested. As it turns out, one child wanted the peel so he could use the zest to make cookies. The other child wanted the fruit inside in order to make juice. Had there been a chance to talk about things, both children could have been satisfied. The adult in the story, however, didn't take the time to find out what either child actually needed and instead sought to head of a fight by cutting the fruit in half. Now each child is left with half of what they need.

I am guilty of these types of actions in my own home. My justification is always that it's much easier to start the fight before it even begins. However, there have been a number of times that after jumping in to shut down the impending argument, I have found that my kids were only playing, or pretending, or not getting ready to fight at all. In those instances, I could see the confusion on their faces. They were getting yelled at for playing.

Even if my children are getting ready to fight, I recognize that my jumping in to solve the problem will still do more harm than good 95% of the time. People need to learn how to argue; how to negotiate; how to make their voices heard. There will not always be a time when someone else can swoop in and "solve" the problem. And often the problem isn't what outsiders think it is.

I've had a tough week. I think our entire country has. I spent a good deal of Tuesday crying and bemoaning the election results. In many ways, I really do still feel that way. I think our country would have been better served if the results had gone the other way. However, obviously half of our country does not think that.

So now it is time to listen. I know some good, ethical, compassionate people that voted opposite me. I know that they voted for their own reasons. I don't completely understand their reasons, but I know for a fact that they didn't cast their votes in the hopes that people would be hurt. They voted because they believe that Mr. Trump has ideas that will make our country better off.

I am an idealistic person. I believe in the fundamental good of people. I believe in our government and the way it is set up. I believe that someone can get good results from a method completely opposite the one I have chosen. I, personally, am choosing to give Trump the benefit of the doubt, hear him out and trust that we can survive the next four years.

The government controls our laws, but it does not control our hearts. We, the people can still fight for the disenfranchised, lonely, hurting, and oppressed. Our country is founded on liberty and freedom for all and it's up to us to make sure that happens. Just because our fight just got harder, does not mean we give up and throw in the towel. Giving up just lets the other side win.

In life we are often dealt a rotten hand. There is not much point in stomping our feet and throwing a hissy fit. The better option is to look at what we have, reaffirm where we want to go, and forge a new path. When it comes to the unexpected or to change, we have to acknowledge what we have and move forward in the direction we want to go. When life hands you oranges, you have to acknowledge that someone else might use them in a way you weren't expecting and still create something good..

I fully acknowledge the fact that some people voted for Trump because they are misogynistic, xenophobic, homophobic trolls. These people are wrong. No matter which way you present it, this line of thinking does not lead to the betterment of our country. These people are just as idiotic as the people who voted for "your mom" or Harambe the gorilla.

I'm linking up with Kristy at Finding Ninee for Finish the Sentence Friday. The prompt was "When it comes to the unexpected or to change..." You can see all the entries here.
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