Read My Apple Tree Story here.



Monday, December 13, 2010

Reindeer Food and Candy Cane Legend

I am doing Ella's class Christmas party tomorrow, and I have been struggling to find the perfect thing to incorporate the real meaning of Christmas, as they are old enough to understand so much more now. However, everything I have found has been over their level of thinking or understanding.

I finally found the perfect version of the Candy Cane Legend and I feel it is just right for little ones ...

I will pass out Candy Canes (found box for $1 at CVS)

(Turn it upside down) J is for Jesus, who was born on Christmas day. (Turn it upright) What does it remind you of? Who was the first to find out about Jesus’ birth? (After hearing their answers) The shepherds in the field watching their flocks at night were the first to hear the angels. This represents the shepherd’s crook that they used to herd sheep.

It was made hard to symbolize the Solid Rock, the foundation of the church and firmness of the promises of God.

Do you see the stripes? The Bible says, “By his stripes we are healed."

See the red stripe? Before he died on the cross, Jesus was whipped. He bled terribly. The red reminds us of His suffering and the blood He shed for us. Red also reminds us how much He loves us. What is the color of the hearts we send on Valentines Day? Red!

See the white stripe? The white is there because we often do bad things leaving us “dirty” inside. Christians believe when Jesus died, He took on Himself the punishment for our bad things. This leaves us “clean”, white inside.

So when you eat your candy canes this Christmas remember J is for Jesus, and Jesus is what Christmas is all about.

In years to come the candy became known only as a candy cane – a meaningless decoration. But the meaning is still there for those who know. I pray that this symbol will again be used to witness TO THE WONDER OF JESUS AND HIS GREAT LOVE that came down at Christmas.



I am also going to let them make some Reindeer Food, something festive and fun for them to take home. A friend made this suggestion that made perfect sense -- several recipes call for glitter. Glitter can harm the squirrels and birds if eaten, so here is a simple recipe to use: combine oats, white sugar and colored sugar.

Attach this cute poem:

Sprinkle on the lawn at night

The moon will make it sparkle bright
As Santa's reindeer fly and roam
This will guide them to your home.

 
Enjoy some fun activities with your family. They don't have to be elaborate. Here are 2 very simple ideas. Make some memories and start some wonderful family traditions that will last a lifetime.

I love that Jason's Dad every Christmas reads to all the Grandchildren (and us) the Christmas Story straight out of the Bible in the Book of Luke.

What are some of your family Christmas traditions?

Friday, December 10, 2010

How old are you Jesus??

Last night, as I was lying in bed with Ella, she said to me, "Mommy, I am ready to say my prayers." She looked up and this is exactly what she said ... "Jesus, I hope you have a really good birthday on Christmas Day. I'm not sure how old you will be, but I hope you get some good cupcakes."

 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth
Luke 1:14


Enjoy this glorious season celebrating His birth.
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Notes on Notes

Being Thankful ... I truly am ... however I am awful about thanking others in the proper manner -- writing a Thank-You Note!

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Colossians 3:15

I have great intentions, and appreciate all the wonderful things people do for me and my family, but I'm ASHAMED to say it's so hard for me to find the time and take the time to sit and write a heart-felt thank-you note. I put it off, and that's just bad. It truly is. And I know it.

At our MOPS meeting yesterday, we had a lovely speaker, Mrs. Carolyn Jones talk to us about the importance of taking the time to write notes. It was exactly the reminder I needed. Afterall, I was taught to write notes, and I do understand how important they are and how much they mean to people.

She reminded me how much cards mean to people, whether it is a very close friend, or even a stranger. I remember the feeling of outreach and love when we brought our children into the world, when my mom was battling cancer, when we grieved the death of my grandparents, when I celebrate my birthday, and even on a regular day just because. Cards and notes mean so much. She reminded me that if you don't reach out to someone, then they will never know you thought of them. She told us that when she and her husband lost their baby late in her pregnancy, she was hurt by the number of people that never even mentioned it. And if it's because you aren't sure what to say, just say, "I'm sorry and I love you."



I thought I would share with you a little of what she shared with us. Maybe it will help make note-writing just a little easier for you.

Note Starters for Being Thankful:
Thank you for making us feel so welcome.
Thank you for including us.
As always, the best part of the evening was simply being together.
You both certainly share the gift of hospitality.
The company was perfect; we renewed old acquaintances and met some new friends.
Mike joins me in thanking you and Tom for your generosity and kindness.
Thank you for thinking of us in such a kind way.
Where do I begin to thank you for all you have done to make this time of our lives extraordinary?
As always, we treasure your friendship.
Thank you for the precious gifts of memories and time.

Note Starters for Difficult Times:
In a difficult situation, you emerge with grace.
We admire  your courage and honesty in these challenging times and pray that God's peace will lift you and encourage you each day.
May God's grace continue to hold and sustain each of you.
Our family grieves the loss in yours, and we send our love and prayers.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you in this time of grief and loss.


Another friend suggested an idea that I really liked, as a mom of 2 young children. She lets her 2 year old color on a piece of his stationery and then at the bottom she writes, "______ says he loves his truck you gave him for Christmas. Thank you!"

I am going to make much more of an effort to send cards to people and thank you notes throughout next year, as I have been reminded of the importance once again, and how much it truly can brighten someone's day.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Great Thanksgiving!

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We started off with a birthday celebration for my mom on Wednesday. All the girls (and my brother joined us) took her to Sea Captains House for lunch where we enjoyed their famous She Crab Soup and then headed over to my grandparents house for cake. Then after the babies rested, my parents and my brother's family came over to our house for more cake and presents.



Thursday morning we woke up, and scurried out the door to my dad's family farm in the country to spend Thanksgiving day. My Dad and Uncle fried the best turkey and we all enjoyed a day outside in the fresh air. Ella and Wilson were SO happy.

















From there we headed to Jason's hometown and spent 3 nights with his family. It's hard traveling with a baby, but we managed to have a very enjoyable weekend together. Everyone was happy and healthy!

We left mid-morning Sunday. We always go pick out our Christmas tree the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I will honestly share with you that we are still living out of our suitcases, as I just haven't gotten around to unpacking and putting things in their place yet! I hate that feeling, but that's how it is right now.

We are excited to make many Christmas memories in our new (well, old) -- and hopefully final -- home.
Merry Christmas to you and enjoy this special time with your families. Remember that very FIRST Christmas.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Our Church's Altar

Almost exactly 4 years ago we had our sweet daughter Baptized. Conincidentally I was asked to write the cover of "The Steeple," our weekly church bulletin. It happened to be printed on the very day that we gave our child over to God, promising to pray for her, alongside my incredible church family, and to raise her to love our Lord, knowing that she belongs to HIM.

This is what I wrote ...

Have you ever thought about our church’s altar? Many incredible events take place here. The altar at First United Methodist Church holds a very special place in my heart. It is where my roots lie. Thirty years ago, my parents were married here. As infants, my brother and I were baptized here. I received my first Bible, was confirmed into this church as a sixth-grader, and sang in the children’s choir at this altar. I have spent many Sundays praying, confessing my faith, asking for forgiveness, and spending time with the Lord here at our altar. It is a very safe and comfortable place for me. Three and a half years ago, my husband, Jason, and I walked down the same aisle to be united in marriage together, and soon my brother will as well. Now, as we prepare to have our first child baptized at that same very special place, I am reminded of how meaningful First Church is to me.

1 Samuel 1:27 reads, “For this child I have prayed.” My daughter is such a blessing to us and she was prayed for since I was just a little girl at my church’s altar. Once we learned of our exciting news of becoming parents, I continued to pray not only for a safe delivery of a healthy baby, but also for our child to have a deep yearning to follow Jesus. To have her baptized at such a special place where so many amazing and meaningful events took place for me is truly a gift. Baptism is one of God’s many gifts to us, and my church is such a gift to me and my family.

It is only through God’s love and grace that I am able to stand at our church’s altar and receive His love, and what a perfect place to do it, with the ones I love, at First United Methodist Church.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Some of My Favorite Local Homes ...

Thought you would enjoy seeing some of these beautiful homes and yards in my hometown ...





As for me and my house, we will
serve the Lord.
Joshua 24:15

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Give Thanks With a Grateful Heart

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life," writes Melody Beattie. "It turns what we have into enough, and more. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."

Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.
1 Chronicles 16:8

 
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


Thanksgiving is a day to stop and be reminded of all the blessings God has bestowed on us this year. It is a time to get together with our family and friends, and it is a time to get together with God.
We will pray over our delicious meal. We will share what we are thankful for. But let's also remember WHO we are thankful to.

I am so abundantly blessed. God is so good.
Happy Thanksgiving to you from our family!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Christmas Card 2010 Decision

After lots of searching and thinking, I think I have decided to use Shutterfly to order my Christmas Cards. I wanted to go the simple route this year, and I found a simple fold-over card that is perfect ... and with the insane amount of cards I want to order, this card is fairly inexpensive, compared to some of the others I considered.

My deciding factor were the following savings -- so I wanted to share with you so you, too, can take advantage of this great opportunity!

Online at shutterfly.com, they are offering 30% off until November 22.
There is also a Free Shipping Code (SHIP30) on order of $30+
I received a catalog in the mail that says "Save $10" when using the special offer code.
I then checked on my Ebates page to see if there are any further offers. I will combine as many codes as I can, but even if I can't use any of these, I will still get an additional 8% cashback of my total order!!!

These are the Ebates coupons going on now, but for only 2 more days, I think ...
·         20% off Photo Books at Shutterfly (Exp. 11/22/2010) Plus 8.0% Cash Back!
·         Save up to 30% off Photo Cards and Stationary at Shutterfly (Exp. 11/22/2010) Plus 8.0% Cash Back!
·         20% off Address Labels, Gift Tags, Stationery Notepads & Calling Cards at Shutterfly (Exp. 11/22/2010) Plus 8.0% Cash Back!
·         20% off Calendars at Shutterfly (Exp. 11/22/2010) Plus 8.0% Cash Back!
·         30% off Photo Books at Shutterfly (Exp. 11/22/2010) Plus 8.0% Cash Back!
·         Free Shipping on $30+ order at Shutterfly. Code SHIP30 (Exp. 11/22/2010) Plus 8.0% Cash Back!
·         Turn Facebook photos in to a Shutterfly Photo book! (Exp. 12/31/2010) Plus 8.0% Cash Back!
Sign up for Ebates HERE (it's free and no strings attached!) and earn cashback on many, many online purchases plus take advantage of discounts and coupons!


I don't want to give my Christmas Card Photo away, however I will share a few of my favorites from our awesome photographer. Just got these back this week. My sister-in-law and brother organized a family photo shoot that we did at my parents' beach house a few weeks ago. It was very windy and bright, but we were able to get a nice selection of shots. Here is a taste of the fun we had ...







Thursday, November 18, 2010

Doodle Bugs Paper Online Show


I am SO excited about doing this online show! Check out these adorable products HERE and get some Christmas shopping done the easy way!

Photobucket
Click to see full size image
Click to see full size image
Click to see full size image
Click to see full size image

Show now until November 28th!
Enter in my name "britton" in the coupon/voucher box during checkout.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Christmas Cards Link

I am in the process of deciding on the photo to use for our Christmas Card. I am ALMOST there ... choosing between 3 photos. Do I use the posed one, picture perfect, of everyone smiling directly at the camera, or the adorable candid one, which I LOVE, however you can't see the children's faces well??? One of our family of 4, or one of just the children???

I wanted to share with you a few websites that I like to use, but in return I would love your input on others, as I still have not found the perfect card I would like to use! Please HELP ME (and hopefully others) with some reputable online companies!!!

Christmas Card Websites:

http://www.tinyprints.com/

http://www.shutterfly.com/

http://www.invitationbox.com/

http://www.finestationery.com/

http://www.polkadotdesign.com/

You can link up below, or just leave me a comment ...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

FRIDAY (well, Saturday) FAVORITES!

Okay, so this post is a few hours late, but I really want to continue with my Friday Favorites from now throughout the year. I always find such help from other parental reviews on products, and rely on those comments when searching for toys, especially, for my children. I hope that my "Friday Favorites" will help relieve your stress level just a tad and allow you to focus more on the important aspects of this glorious holiday season.

The first product is one we gave my daughter for her 4th birthday. She LOVES being just like her daddy carrying around her very
own Blackberry. It's by Leap Frog, is very educational, and is the perfect size for keeping her entertained at restaurants and in the car.



Another item that makes a perfect gift for a child of ALL ages are the Veggie Tales DVD series.

They are great ways to introduce God's love for us on a child's level, however I always take away an important lesson from them as well. There are many different ones to choose from. We even buy the Veggie Tales Fruit Snacks from the grocery to go a long with them!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

PURE JOY ...

video

Wilson and his GREAT-Granddaddy (whom he was named after)
Don't forget to pause my Music Playlist (scroll down to bottom of page) before viewing this video.

If ever I'm feeling down, this instantly makes everything okay! It certainly puts life into perspective for me.
Please enjoy PURE JOY.

Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of JOY. Then it was said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them."
Psalm 126:2

Monday, November 8, 2010

When Our Hearts Ache, So Does God's

I picked Ella up from (pre)school today, started asking how her day was, and then she immediately burst into tears, sobbing a true sob, and told me how she wasn't invited to ____'s birthday party. She had told Ella today that she was having a Hannah Montana (didn't know that 4 yr olds watched this!!) party and that she wouldn't like it because Ella likes the Princesses. She was so hurt. But it was a different kind of hurt. One that I have yet to experience with her.

Oh how my heart ached.

Of course all of this was happening while I was driving. I could not comfort my child. What happened next will be something I will remember probably forever, as any parent would.

Ella still sobbing, reached out to Wilson, said "Hold my hand buddy" and as he reached his hand to hers and held the whole way home, I couldn't help but turn my own tears into a smile.

As I was talking Ella through all of this, trying my best to keep things on a positive note, Ella kindly says to me, "Momma, we'll have to make sure to invite ____ to my birthday next year."

God surely was present, and I saw it in so many ways, and on so many levels today. I know that I cannot keep my children in bubbles, as much as I would like to. I have to push through these tough parenting moments and I know now, more than ever, the importance of giving my children to God, to His care and keeping. When our hearts ache, so does HIS.

The way that Ella and Wilson "took care" of each other, even on this simple level, is a moment I will treasure forever. That kind of love is similar to God's love for us. It is so unconditional ... so pure ... so real.

Our God is such a loving God and He is doing amazing, incredible things in our lives. When we go to Him, willing and eager to experience His amazing power and His indescribable love, He will do immeasurable more than we could ever imagine. His love for us is that much -- that abundant. When we give our lives and our childrens lives to God, He will bless us. He knows our needs. He knows the desires of our hearts.

Friday, November 5, 2010

FRIDAY FAVORITES!

I'm sorry I have neglected Friday Favorites the past few weeks. As Christmas is so quickly approaching, my plan is to share some of our favorite toys/products from now until Christmas in hopes that it may help you just a little with your shopping. I feel so overwhelmed when going to a toy store with SO many options and products to choose from. I find that other trustworthy parental reviews help tremendously in making my decisions and in simplifying things, so ... I hope to share some of our PERSONAL favorites to help make your shopping just a tad bit less confusing this year!

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Learning Workbench

Recommeded Age - 6 months - 3 yrs
Wilson LOVES this toy (at 13 months now)
I love how long it entertains him and it is also very educational! A gift from Wilson's cousin(s) and they always pick the best gifts to give, and this time was no different!




Another product that is perfect in so many ways for children of almost ALL ages are the CRAYOLA COLOR WONDER products. We discovered these when Ella was probably 18 months old. And she STILL loves them (at 4 yrs of age)! They are GREAT to keep in the car, as they are a lifesaver in restaurants. They make no mess ... the markers only work on the Color Wonder Paper. Crayola makes them in every character your child loves, and also plain paper notebooks for your child to be creative on his/her own.

Sorry the images are blurry.
You can buy these products pretty much anywhere from Target, Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, even CVS. However, I saw where Oriental Trading (love that company) is now selling many of the Color Wonder products, and as all their pricing is, inexpensive compared to many other retailers. And if you use your Ebates to order, you receive an additional 4% cashback on all purchases with free shipping of $49 or more. Just an idea if you have other online purchases to make. Sometimes online shopping is so much easier, especially for busy moms with little ones always in tote!

A reminder to sign-up for getting PAID to shop online here ... and remember that I only recommend products/companies that I PERSONALLY know are reputable and trustworthy! My last Ebates check was for almost $70 just for signing in before purchasing!
http://www.shareasale.com/u.cfm?d=82480&m=27397&u=447388

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