Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

We spent Christmas Eve and Day at my parents house with my whole family there. We had such a nice time! We had lots and lots and lots (and lots) of great food and goodies. One of the memories that stands out in my mind of Christmas as a kid was food. My mom was a teacher and always baked, so we always had wonderful treats in ample amounts available to us both days. And my mom and dad never said "NO!" to whatever we wanted to eat. I try and carry on the same tradition, until my 3 year old has eaten about 45 Kisses, 23 cookies, and 4 pounds of sugar. Then, I say no. :-) Oh, and my daughter swallowed a penny on Christmas Eve. We are hoping it makes its reemergence sometime today.

My mom's mantle was so pretty this year! Her entire house was pretty this year, who am I kidding???

I know this picture is sideways, but this was my childhood stocking. The woman who made this when I was little misspelled my name and this is the stocking I had until adulthood. I guess I was always destined to be Gina. Those who know that story should bust out laughing.

We played Yahtzee (I lost.)

We did some coloring

We did some Rock Band

Some of us danced and used the phone to call our agents.

We relaxed

We played in a box

The girls had a tea party with Gigi (or, root beer party, I guess)

We played a fun game Leslie brought (I lost)

We opened presents...

We smiled alot

We spent time with family

And our Barbies got a place to live!

Such a great Christmas season, now on to New Years! Thank you to both sides of my family who made this year so special for the kiddos. And thank you, God, for sending your son to us, the ultimate gift of sacrifice and love.

Christmas in San Antonio

We drove down to San Antonio this past weekend to celebrate Christmas with Jason's family. It's always an adventure being down there with 7 kids (not down there, really, just anywhere!) but it was fun. There is never a shortage of stuff for the kids to do, considering they are so busy playing. I don't think one kid said, "we're bored!"

We played a game of Indiana ball? Not sure if that's the real name. But it was fun. I think Robert and Jason just made it up - but it was a nice way to spend an hour or two!!

We opened presents...

And wee went to the cowboy church where Scotty is on staff. I do love the music at this church.

Trying to get a picture with 7 kids looking at you is nearly impossible!!

AND we got the ultimate selfie. 12 people all at once! Good job Scotty!
We had such a nice time and were so glad to spend time with family we don't see often!!

Monday, December 23, 2013


I try hard not to allow stuff to get to me, not to allow myself to feel defeated. But today, today it was hard. I am not writing for encouraging words or for hope my words help someone else. I am writing for myself, just to write.
Today, I felt like I had failed so many people in my life. Not because of any one thing, just because. I feel like my attempts at making people happy are feeble and misplaced. I feel like I have tried to do everything and ended up doing nothing. I feel like I said yes to things I wanted to say no to and no to things I wanted to say yes to. I feel like I offended others, either with my words are actions. I feel like I've failed my kids with my bad attitude. In general, I just feel like a failure.
I don't always have it all figured out. I don't always do things the best way or even a good way. I don't always say the right thing, ask the right thing, have the right opinion, have the right attitude, do the right thing, or expect the right things. Sometimes, I fail people I love who expect more out of me than what I can give or what my heart allows me to give. Sometimes, I don't always pick the right gift or communicate the best. Sometimes, I have life figured out. Somedays, I don't. More often than not, I don't.
What I need to figure out is how, around Christmas especially, not to allow my plate to get too full, my budgets to be too big, my expectations of a perfect holiday spoil the holiday that actually happens. I need to figure out how to say "no" to my kids without feeling like I am ruining their Christmas. I need to figure out how to make everyone I know feel special by giving of my time without making other people feel like I am not. I need to feel like in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, that I still take time for myself and stop and enjoy a few free, unscheduled minutes of my very own, that allow me to reflect and remember what this holiday is supposed to be about. I need to figure out how to not feel like everyone is so disappointed in me and what I did or didn't do that I should or shouldn't have done. I don't know how to do all of this, but I need to learn.
Today, that's just how I feel. Defeated. Perhaps I just need a good night sleep. Or maybe, it will help someone else who is feeling the exact same way right now to know they aren't alone.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

My Take On Phil

What's amazing to me is that just in a 24 hour period, we've gone from hearing the article, sharing the article in all social media, Phil gets banned, and articles and blog posts have been written and rewritten, and people are already fed up with hearing about it. I am not sure if our forefathers would be proud of this free and instanteous exchange of information, but man, it's amazing how fast it is.
I thought I would write some thoughts about this because as with most things, I see it a little differently than most people do. I generally like to argue the other point a lot and sometimes, it gets me in trouble. I really feel like this is a good opportunity to look at things from a different, more logical perspective than one stemming from emotion. Emotion can get you into trouble pretty fast.
Before I will continue, let me say this. The one thing I know about Christians, and I am one, is that they are going to look at this situation as an "attack on our beliefs," an "unfair ban on speaking our minds," and "religious persecution." I really feel like, in this particular instance, it is not the case. Do I think it was a bit ridiculous and a premature decision on A&E's part to ban him from his own show? Yes. I think that had they let it go, and done nothing, everything would have been fine. But we are dealing with a corporate entity, out for their own financial well-being. Not only are they having to answer to another community of people, but don't kid yourselves into thinking that the very second they read those words in that article, they weren't seeing dollar signs from the firestorm they knew this would cause, and the viewership points they would get by what would happen when the first episode aired without him and what the family would say about it. They saw an opportunity to create drama, and boy, did they. Having said that, I will say this: I don't think their reaction had anything to do with a Christian's belief of homosexuality being sin. I think it had everything to do with what he said and how he worded it.
I really like the show Duck Dynasty and I like the people on it. I think that these people are in a unique position to share the Gospel on a large scale, an audience that most people would never have in their lifetime. I think they don't shy away from saying what they believe. I think they don't keep their Christianity a secret and being a Christian viewer of reality shows, I could see how many in their position have tried and failed to be reality stars who keep their Christian beliefs, yet somehow become changed by fame, fortune, and peer pressure from the networks. However, as Spiderman teaches us, "With great power comes great responsibility." As Christians, we should know, since Paul told us, we are held to a higher standard and are scrutinized more than any other group (as it should be). Being a Christian and following God's plan isn't always easy. In fact, sometimes, it's downright hard and unfair. So, we shouldn't be surprised when people are more upset and outraged at not-so-nice things that come out of our mouths. In fact, we should expect it, and act as such.
That being said...does that mean that we shy away or dilute what the Bible says so everyone can be happy with it? No. The Bible says what the Bible says. We believe in the Bible, so we believe what it says to be truth. If we stick to saying what the Bible says, people can't have a problem with the things that come out of our mouth. They can have a problem with the Bible, but not us. The issue a lot of times is that we mess that whole thing up by giving our personal opinion. This is what Phil did. He didn't just stop with a simple Biblical answer, he began to give his opinion (and I think, a somewhat vulgar opinion for a Christian believer) of why he thought homosexuality is wrong. You know, it's not necessary to add to what the Bible says. The Bible can speak for itself. We feel the need to either justify or go the extra mile for God, but the simple truth can sometimes be just as powerful. Another thing we tend to do as Christians, is allow the Bible to support our already messed up opinions, especially when what we think and what the Bible says is the same. "I think homosexuality is disgusting (insert all of what Phil said here), and I can tell people that because the Bible says it's wrong." Yes, you CAN tell people that. It doesn't mean you should.
As Americans, do we have the right to our opinions? Of course. But we are Christians FIRST, Americans second. Just because we have the right to say whatever we want doesn't mean we always need to. It doesn't mean it's always smart. And most importantly...
In fact, sometimes, our opinions, NOT the Bible, but our opinions, turn people away from the word of God. I don't think if he'd just said, "I believe homosexuality is a sin because the Bible says so and I believe in the Bible" and then moved on to a different topic, that any of this would have been spread like this. I think people already figured he thought that. But he didn't. He kept going and it's what he went on to say that caused his ban. Not his Christian beliefs.
Unfortunately, what he ultimately did, is tarnish his name by making himself look unchristian and judgmental. And just like that, he is no longer respected as a Bible believing man, he will always be looked at negatively by those very people he created the show and try and save. It's the bigger picture, you see? The bigger religious picture. If our goal is to save people for Christ, and to preach the Biblical truth with love, empathy, and open arms, then he failed, not A&E. Not because he was sharing the truth, but because he allowed his own views and opinions to skew the message he is trying to share.
I just thought I'd go on record of saying that. Agree with me or not. Feel free to comment, as long as no disrespectful and vulgar language is used.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Silly Face Pictures

I am not really sure if she is just tired of taking pictures or if she just likes to be silly, but lately Avery loves to make faces at the camera. Case in point, recently, when I tried to get her to take pictures with me.
Take One
Take Two

Take Three

Take Four

And if you are wondering, no, I didn't get her to smile normally.
Even Jordan was a little silly...

But he came around. And this might be one of my most favorite pictures of them.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Avery's Christmas Program!

Words can't even begin to describe how cool it is to watch a little child perform in front of an audience, even if it's not yours. But when it IS yours, it is just amazing!! I can't believe Avery is old enough to even be in a program at all - just amazing.
Well, my daughter is truly a ham and so this performance could have gone one of two ways - she could have been scared and not participated as soon as she saw all of those eyes staring at her, OR, she could have eaten up the experience like melting ice cream.
After watching, it was obviously the latter.
She began waving, no just at us, but everyone, as she was walking in front of the church to her seat, as if to say, "Thank you for coming to watch ME sing!!" This was before they even got on stage to sing. On stage, she smiled and waved. She did motions, not always on time, but she did them. It was the sweetest thing I've ever seen. (Maybe she'll grow up and get married on a stage in a theater like her mommy did.)
"J!" to the "O!" to the "Y!"

Of course, Gigi and Pops had to come and got such a kick out of the whole thing.

Silly girl.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Being the Bad Guy (AKA, The Mom)

Jason and I have had one recurring argument for our almost four years of marriage, and it's probably the only one we ever have regularly. When I married him, I knew he was a fun loving dad and a fun loving guy. Let's be honest here - most of our husbands, who are good dads, are fun loving guys, right? They are all pretty much 13 year olds at heart (with certain things), no matter how old they get. Don't get me wrong, this is a great quality of his because he will play and roughhouse and I really don't like to, he is always in a good mood when I have, um, fluctuations. I can't fault him for a lot of things, but this is one thing that always seems to put a hitch in my giddy-up.
They call me the fun-ruiner in my house. Seriously. That's my nickname. Not only am I a mother, but I am also a stepmother, responsible for another woman's children. So, I am not just cautious, I am super cautious of anything that could prove to be dangerous in the slightest. Ever since the first Christmas, when Jason let a 4 year old and a 7 year old ride their scooters over blocks of ice, I should have known, as I screamed for them to STOP! and they looked at me with faces of disappointment and bewilderment, that my role in my family would be the "safe" one and Jason's would be the "fun" one.
This weekend, I wouldn't let the kids out of the house hardly at all. They hated being stuck in the house. As their dad said, "Look that hill, wouldn't it be fun to sled down!" and they got super-excited and got their hopes up, I said, "look at those people who can barely walk, adults, who are falling on their rumps. Oh, and it's 22 degrees. And oh Jordan, you just got over pneumonia, so no, we will not be sledding down that Hill of Death." Or, when Jason knocked icicles off the bushes for them to lick like popsicles, and I had to come along and say, "By the way, these small kids are walking on sheets of ice, not paying attention, and they are holding spears in their mouth. Won't that be awesome if I take them back to their moms with a sharp icicle jabbed through the back of their throat." Or, when I have to be the one to ask them, "Kids, where are your socks?" or "Sophia, your jeans are soaked to the bone, you need to change" or "Yes, Jordan, I know you are 11 and you don't want to wear a hat or thick shirt in subzero temperatures because you are 'hot' and it doesn't look cool but I don't care because I love you too much to send you to the hospital today for frostbite."
Where is their father in all of this? Sledding down the hill himself on the back of a Tupperware lid, not wearing enough clothes himself, unaware he is 34 and not a teenager, who I also have to remind "you will be sore tomorrow, probably not a good idea to take a 10th turn! (Although, if he's sore, that's his own fault, so I really don't care if he gets sick or injured, he is old enough to know better.)
I get so tired of having to be the bad guy, the nagger, the cautious one, the safety police, the fun-ruiner, the one who says no, and the one who makes them do all of the things they don't want to do. I get mad at Jason sometimes because he doesn't notice things that I notice. And it's especially bad when you are the stepmom, because no matter what I do, I am the fun-ruiner and he isn't, even if he actually is.
I am sure all moms feel like this and it's supposed to be this way. But sometimes, I would just like to have fun with kids without thinking of safety or health, but I don't think that's something I will be able to do, as long as they are too young to make their own decisions about a lot of things in their life.
The funny part is - in my personal life outside of being a mom, and before I was a mom, I was anything but a "fun-ruiner." I was the fun starter, the fun-haver, the life of the party. I was the social center of a group, the outspoken one who wasn't afraid of any social situation. My three kids will never ever know that about me, not in the way my friends and family have. They will never know me in that way and sometimes, it just kills me that in one area of my life, I am so fun and in another, I am fun's kryptonite Not always, but a lot. I have to be sometimes. It's a hard line to walk, for sure.
Anyone else feel like this sometimes?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Christmas Tour and Nacho Libre (huh?)

To start off our Christmas tour, I thought I would share this one picture of my husband dressed up for Avery's birthday party. Unfortunately, this look didn't last long, the moustache wouldn't stick very well. I am just glad I have documented evidence that Nacho Libre came to her birthday party.
And now for the Christmas tour!! I usually don't believe in decorating before Thanksgiving, but I did this year. We were out of town for Thanksgiving, which meant I wouldn't be able to decorate until the 1st of December, and honestly, that's just not enough time. So I decorated early!!
This grouping of 3 trees is in our den, our large family area that has our fireplace and tall, 18 foot ceilings. I was going to buy a very tall tree this year, but just couldn't seem to part with $600. :-)
This wreath was one of Cindy Tamplins, she made the angels. It goes well on our fireplace. The only thing this fireplace is missing is a mantle; it's very thick lava rock, I don't even know how someone would add a mantle at this point. But I love it.

We have a bit of a Christmas lodge-y feel at our house this year.

This is my stuff I set from the tea. That white TV stand was given to me by a friend who has gifted us a lot of furniture over the years, and it now holds dishes and chargers.

How'd this munchkin get in here?

These are just five of the 14 Santas my mom and her friends have made over the years for Cindy's Tea.

This is my little baking buddy. She's cute.

I love this light but can't seem to ever get a good picture of it.

That runner was made for me by my mom-in-law and the rest of the pieces were given to be my mom . I love that table.

Our tree is pretty simple this year, no ribbon or special d├ęcor. The kids decorated this tree all by themselves, and all of the ornaments are pretty much sentimental or heirlooms.

This was one of my Christmas gifts last year.

There's that munchkin again!!