Thursday, December 30, 2010

I'm Excited!

I've been thinking a bunch about 2010 and reflecting on the year it was...But I've also been thinking about 2011 and I must say: I'm excited!

I'm excited about 2 special gifts I am getting ANY DAY for 2 of my favorite girls (that aren't mine)!!!! but that is all I can say right now because they might be reading.

I'm excited about watching THE GIRL and THE TWINKIE BOY play basketball (it is both of their first time playing an organized team sport)

I'm excited about the couples retreat!

I'm excited about doing Shay's Blog Pondering Scripture Thing.

I'm excited about Randy and I competing in a BIGGEST LOSER competition with his family.

I'm excited about our kids eating healthier.  Thank you Randy for leading this!  You are awesomeness!

I'm excited about making our final car payment! Hello money!

I'm excited about going camping!!!!  IN WASHINGTON DC!!!!  In my in-laws very awesome camper!

I'm excited about seeing THE BOYS Odyssey of the Mind Team present their solution they've been working on.

I'm excited about The Annual Stewart Family Beach Trip.

I'm excited about going to Look Up Lodge and might even try the zip line this time.....I'm trying to be brave!

I'm excited about hand making gifts for people.

I'm excited to see what God has in store for this year.  I'm excited to see His plan unfold AND see some unknowns become known. 

I Don't Like Change....But I Do Like New!
Happy Almost New Year to You!

Monday, December 27, 2010


Change seems to be the theme of my life these days.  I must be frank and tell you: I pretty much HATE change.  I am very happy with stability, sameness, ordinary, uneventful, steady life....and yet my world is changing.....and changing on many fronts and in many unsettling ways.  I honestly feel it all a bit (or more) disorienting.

If you follow my blog you probably have heard of many or most of these changes....but in case you don't here is a recap:
1.  Our churches long time, much loved pastor is "retiring" after 23ish years.
2.  Our churches AWESOME youth minister and his AWESOME wife are "leaving" to be missionaries in another country.
3.  My parents moved from my childhood home to a new house.
4.  My BOY is about to be a teenager....and this seems to me to be a whole new ball of yarn.???!!!
5.  My GIRL is changing curriculum from a "regular" reading program to a "special and INTENSE" reading program for children with dyslexia.
6.  My TWINKIE BOY is not improving  at a pace I like with his apraxia (a speech disorder closely related to dyslexia....ugh) so I am changing to some alternate methods of therapy in addition to his speech therapy.
7.  My lifestyle habits....eating and exercising....are continuing to change.  I was doing very well and have gone through a bit of a slump as of November and am once again trying to recommit.

CHANGES ABOUND.....I think changes can be good....but still.....they are just so different.
I guess my main issue with change is they open me up to much unknown......What if I don't like the new pastor? What if my parents house never feels homey? What if the youth minister isn't mature enough? What if THE BOY makes bad choices? What if THE GIRL doesn't learn to read? What if THE TWINKIE BOY is never able to speak clearly? What if I never lose weight and get healthy?......what if, what if, what if....

Psalm 25:3
"No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame"

I think it also is just work.....getting to know new people, trusting new people, being vulnerable with new people.  Most people would probably think I'm outgoing.....but I'm really just loud.  I actually am very hard to get to know.  I trust slowly and open up even more slowly.  I genuinely like people and am interested in people but I am also exhausted by people and slow to trust and truly KNOW people.  When I invest in a relationship it maters A LOT to me.  So all these new important people that will be coming into my life and my families lives....scares me!
Also I kind of am in the groove with parenting little people.  I've been doing it for a while now and things are going fairly smoothly....but teenagers....the stakes are going up....WAY UP. 
MY BOY is an awesome kid.....but he is a kid.  All the sudden he is asserting himself and changing and growing AS HE SHOULD.....but now mistakes (like spilling his milk because he wasn't paying attention) can turn into tragedy (like wreaking his car because he wasn't paying attention).  AND bad choices (like calling his sister a mean name) can turn into life altering becoming much more real to me!

Psalm 56:3-4
When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?

I feel so divided....between meeting the needs of so many people, including my own health and spiritual and personal needs.  I've got one shot.  I so want to give it all.  I want to leave it all on the table.  I want to hold nothing back.  I want to give it my best....and yet.  I feel so unable and ill-equipped.  I feel life speeding by and wonder if I can keep up.  So much changing and so fast!

Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

I always get this way at the end of a year as a new year approaches.  I do like fresh beginnings.  New crayons (with nice sharp points).  New play-doh with that fresh smell.  New books (that I can promptly break the spine of :)

Praise God that HE NEVER CHANGES (Hebrews 13:8) He is the same yesterday, today, and forever!  I need some sameness (and saneness :)

It is freeing to know that I don't have to be perfect or do perfect (because I can't) and that He does provide enough grace to cover over a multitude of sins and mistakes: for me, for you, for my children and yours! 
So as this year closes out and I reflect on the year behind and the year to come I'd say it's been a year of change....but it has been a good year.  I look forward to a NEW year and can't wait to see what God has planned for me and my little family in 2011.  I have a feeling it will involve CHANGE :)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Is Christmas Over?

I can't believe Christmas has passed for another year.  Wow!  So much planning, celebrating, cooking, buying, cleaning, preparing.....and it's over????!!!!

We had a great Christmas! 

Round 1
We talked a lot.  Laughed a lot....(about Randy's younger brother's childhood love of caricature drawings!)  Dreamed a little......(over how in shape we were going to get this year-a girl can dream!)  It was wonderful spending yesterday with Randy's family.  We went to "Aunt Rhonda's" around 1:00 and ended up staying until close to 7:00.  We played a twisted version of Dirty Santa (but with nice gifts not gag gifts) and several twists.  It was a hoot. 

Except to THE BABY and TL (the youngest family members) who did not understand why everyone kept taking their gifts! was a VERY fun time.  We of course ate a delicious meal and the best part was getting to visit.  We got to enjoy Randy's brother Ryan and his family who we don't get to see nearly enough (they are living in Texas). We shared many laughs as we recalled memories from the years past.

Then Grammy and Pepa came over and watched the kiddos open their gifts from Grammy and Pepa.  THE BOY was thrilled to get a cell phone. 

He also got some new ammo for his BB gun.  Twinkie Boy got a cool Imaginex  space set and an army dress up set, which he LOVED because he always plays dress up with the girls and complains there are no boy dress up clothes!  THE BABY got a Barbie toy electric guitar she has been eyeing for some time (her cousin had one at the beach this summer and she loved it) and some blocks (that is the one thing she asked for for Christmas).  THE TWINKIE GIRL got a craft set that she could make a cute wooden heart mirror.  She made it this afternoon and it turned out very cute.  She also got a Polly Pocket doll set.  THE GIRL got a craft set similar to TWINKIE GIRLS but hers was a flower in a pot.  She also made hers today and it turned out just adorable.  AND she got a wireless purple mouse that she can use to play solitaire on mommy's old broken computer....which she was THRILLED about. 

Whew....and that is just from Grammy and Pepa
This is why I buy my kids nothing except necessities throughout the year......

ROUND 3.....
Last night Randy and I stayed up late getting ready for Christmas and I was cooking for our breakfast with my family,,,it was quiet and nice and ended up being a late night.  THE BOY set his alarm for 6:00 this morning and woke up his brother and sisters and they all came rushing down to wake us up!  After the kids opened their gifts and stockings from us this morning we got cleaned up and got ready for Nanny and Pa and Aunt Stacy to come over.....

ROUND 4......
We had a BIG yummy breakfast and then MORE GIFT'S!

THE BOY's favorite gift has to be his electric guitar and amp from Nanny and Pa.  He has already broken a string!  He has played it all day.  I guess tomorrow he'll learn how to change the sting on an electric guitar!  I'm so glad he enjoys music and is really learning to play.  All the kids really enjoyed their gifts....surprise, surprise!
I wish so much I could post pictures......but in true Kim camera broke at the most inopportune time!  It just died.  So Mom and Randy got pictures.....but I don't know how to post those words will have to suffice for now.
It was nice to visit with mom and dad and Stacy and just enjoy them.  It was sad to me that my grandparents weren't able to celebrate with us this year.  They are getting old (they are all in their late 80's) and didn't feel up to it....:(  It was also sad not having Matt and Holly and their sweet kids here but I guess we have to share with her family!  We got them for Thanksgiving this year so it's only fair that they get them for Christmas.  However the Crabtree crew was definitely missed!

It was a day filled with family, food, gifts, laughs, memories, and love.  I am ready for bed!
Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010

An English Tea!

One of my most favorite times of the Season took place Saxapaw, NC!  I never even knew this little nook in NC existed....until about 4 years ago when I met Emma!
Emma is THE Hostess with the Mostess!  She is one of the Co-op Moms!  She has a daughter in high school, a son in middle school, and a son in preschool.  Who my TWINKIE GIRL insists is her boyfriend!  She drives about 45 minutes every week to participate in our co-op AND hosts a tea party each December for the Co-op moms. 
You should hear her talk!  She was a ballerina AND went to boarding school.....I wouldn't be surprised at all if it turns out she's a real princess! 

This lady knows how to host a tea!

She has a BIG table that fits all 13 of us!


She is working hard at teaching us to be proper!  We learned today it is proper to start with the savory food and then eat the sweets on the second course!

You would not believe the amount of China and tea pots Mrs. Emma has!  It is beautiful.
Emma has an eye for details when it comes to decorations:

She even decorates her husband's deer for the occasion!

She really has the gift of hospitality!
This is one of the absolute highlights of my year.
This year almost all of us made it to the tea.  We were missing our precious Emiko!  She was roughing it in the Caribbean with her husband-so don't feel too bad for her!

Now I'd like to take a moment and introduce you to a few of my friends:

This is Lisa.  She has 4 kids. 2 are in collage  and 2 are still at Co-op.  She is one of the Co-op founders and she is AMAZING.  Mrs. Lisa teaches a lot of the high school science classes.  She came bearing gifts for all!

This is Loreen (on the left with HER BABY....MY BABIES BUDDY) she is Mom to 3 sweet girls and 1 great boy.  Her kids ages are comparable to my younger kids.  She is one of the newer mom's to Co-op and is our Middle and Elementary School Spanish Teacher.  AND Mrs. Marci.  She has 2 boys and a girl.  Her kids are in middle school and high school.  She has been in the co-op many years (7 maybe?)  She is a dear friend.  She was my Co-op hookup!  For that I will be forever grateful!

This is Mrs. Pattye.  She has 2 great kids.  Her son is in elementary and her daughter is in middle school.  Mrs. Pattye is teaching Science to the elementary kids and the middle school kids this year.  She is on year 2 of Co-op and I am sooooo glad that she has become a part!  What a wonderful addition!

Here is Mrs. Tracy.  She is the newest addition to Co-op.  She is momto7!  Her children range from grown to about age 7.  She is one busy lady.  BUT so down to earth and laid back.  I am enjoying getting to know her and she was the catalyst behind the cookie exchange we did this year!

This is Linda.  Linda has 5 kids.  Her oldest is in college and she has 2 in high school.  1 in middle school. and 1 in elementary.  She is the (I got that from Rae :)  She is so neat. I really like her.  She too is one of the Co-op founders.  In her free time she teaches piano lessons too!  She was very happy that I took her picture!  She teaches elementary science and usually does a Bible Class and pretty much will help out wherever she is needed.  A TEAM PLAYER.  Her husband is THE BOY's guitar teacher and her youngest daughter is one of THE GIRLS BEST FRIENDS.  LOVE THIS FAMILY!!!

This is Amy.  She is the 3rd and final of the Co-op founders.  She has 4 children.  2 of whom are off at college.  She also has 2 highschoolers.  She is AMAZING and BUSY!  She teaches high school Spanish and high school English classes.  She is a graduate from Duke University!  (pretty impressive!)  I really like Amy and I don't get to see her much because we are different ends of the spectrum...but I always look forward to seeing her at the tea.

NOW I don't have pictures of all the Ladies so I only got to introduce a few....but hopefully by the end of the Co-op year I can introduce you to all my Co-op Girls.  These are some of the most wonderful ladies I know.  I treasure each of them.  And they are the reason I enjoy our Christmas Tea so much.

So where are all our kids?

They are there too....We just ban them from the tea room!  The older girls chat and visit and help out with the younguns!

The younger kids destroy Emma's basement and run wild in the backyard.

The older boys were there too.  I just didn't get a picture because they were out in the woods shooting each other with air soft guns and when they finished that they ran past the woods to a field and played football.  THOSE BOYS were a smelly, muddy, smiling mess by the end of the day!

We made it back to our neck of the woods and unloaded the van and opened all our goodies and called it a day!  Not only do I get a yummy tea/lunch prepared and served on beautiful China, and to hang out with some of the most precious people this side of heaven,  and thanks to Tracy a freezer full of cookies!  I even got presents!

 Two are better than one,
   because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
   one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
   and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
   But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
   two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

I think of these verses from Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 when I think of our Co-op.  We work together.  These ladies really labor with me in educating my children.  They really help.  They really care.  They really come to my aid.  I LOVE each of them and thank the Lord he has brought us together.

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Well Christmas is in full swing at our house.  School is over for the year!!!! HIP HIP HOORAY!!!!
and we have been enjoying the hustle and bustle that seems inevitable this time of year.
The focus this week:

A dear friend, Bev, gave me a very simple recipe for making Rudolph Cookies.  They are so cute and the kids loved making them.

I have not tasted these....but the kids have devoured them!  Randy did taste them and said there were too many flavors for his palate.  It was definitely a FUN project.  The kids did all the work and enjoyed the fruit of their labor!

Then.....I started baking

Mexican Wedding Cakes (which are cookies not cakes)

.....144 cookies........ for a Cookie Exchange with my Co-op Ladies!
I didn't get any pictures of the cookies.....But I will give you the recipe....and they are GOOD and EASY!

Makes about 48
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped almonds or pecans
1/4 teaspoon salt
powdered sugar
Pre-heat oven to 325 F. In a large bowl combine 1/2 cup powdered sugar, butter and vanilla. Blend well. Stir in flour, nuts and salt until dough holds together. Shape into 1-inch balls. Place inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 15-20 minutes until set but not brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheets. Cool slightly and roll in powdered sugar. Cool completely and re-roll in powdered sugar.

Now they are all packaged and ready to load on my sleigh....errr Minivan and deliver!

Now the next picture serves two purposes....
1. to show what a goof ball the baby can be ....she was being so funny dancing around the kitchen
2. to show how messy my kitchen got during this process.....powdered sugar everywhere.  Note I said they were easy to make....not neat!

You may wonder what the rascals were up to while I was baking.....The BOY was testing out his bike on the ice and thought it was very fun to crash it while riding as fast as he could and then slamming on brakes and burning into the concrete....doesn't sound fun to me....but I'll take his word for it.  He came in bright red....from the cold. I tried to capture it....but again the picture doesn't do justice to the true color.  HE WAS COLD.

and the little ones were watching a Mickey Mouse Christmas movie....and I happened in with my camera and caught this sweet moment with THE GIRL and THE BABY!  Love to see my kids love each other.

We have been focusing a lot on cookies this week and enjoying the ice and fun Christmas movies....BUT we are also trying to focus on the TRUE meaning of Christmas....It is easy for it to get lost in the excitement of presents, bows, cookies, parties, and activities.....

So....I asked my kids....Out of the mouth of Babes....Why do we celebrate Christmas....
Twinkie Girl.....She said, "It's really about Jesus' Birth and about giving." 
Twinkie Boy....said, "Jesus' Birthday!"
The Baby Says...."Jesus' Birthday!  Cause Jesus is the Savior that was in Mary's Tummy.  So we celebrate God's birthday!"
THE GIRL says....."cause it's Jesus' birthday"
THE BOY says...."cause it's Jesus' birthday and he is the Savior of the world." least they KNOW if we can just keep the focus on the main thing.  Nothing is wrong with cookies and fun but boy oh boy...I don't want them to miss the REAL their hearts....I want the knowledge to not just be in their heads....but in their hearts.
Perhaps it my Twinkie Girl asks me how to spell Barbie Doll and yo-yo (I guess she's working on a Christmas list....a little late for that my love!)  The BABY is telling THE Dog it's almost time for Jesus to be born :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I like Christmas Traditions and one of the traditions we have is to make Christmas ornaments each year with our cousins.  We have done this for the last 3 years.  When we started the little ones were it was really mostly THE BOY, THE GIRL, Holly, and I making ornaments....
Holly's baby wasn't even born.  Her LITTLE BOY and my BABY were only infants when we began.  Her oldest son was 2 and THE TWINKIES were about 1 1/2!  I don't know what we were thinking that year! Both Holly and I like to make memories and create family traditions.....
Needless to say....Last year was better and this year....was even better!

THE GIRL really likes doing crafts and is very artistic!

THE BABY did a great job....but she did tire out and ended up having to spend some time upstairs composing herself after an ornament meltdown.

Holly's BOY did a fantastic job and both her boys really enjoyed making the ornaments. 

We always love getting together with the cousins.  They played, made a mess, made ornaments, fussed a little, whined a little, cleaned up, ate lunch, and just had some good ole fun!  We are so blessed to have our sweet, sweet cousins nearby!

These are the finished projects.....a wreath
a Candy Cane!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Our Sunday Afternoon!

Jason and Chawity!!!!

Sweet Charity has been a blessing to my kids.  We are going to miss her so much!  She and Jason came over this afternoon to spend a little time with the kids before they left.  What a wonderful gift!  She even brought a gingerbread house to build with the kids.

Yummy Candy!

Jackson liked his first job!  Pounding the icing!

They could hardly wait for the construction to be done and to get on with the decorating!

Let the fun begin!

Charity was so patient and sweet!

The kids were thrilled with their creation!

It was harder then we thought!

Here's the masterpiece!

Charity even brought Candy Cane Treats for the kids!

It was a yummy, sticky, fun afternoon!

and Jackson is in LOVE!

Thank you Jason and Charity!  You are the BEST!

PS We did go upstairs where the boys had been hanging out playing video games....we weren't gone long....

We came back downstairs.....and OH NO!  CRASH....our house had come crumbling down!  We may not be the best builders ever....but we sure did have fun!

We will miss you guys!  WE LOVE YOU!  Thanks for letting us be a part of your lives.  We will always treasure you both!