Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas from Mauneyland!

From our house to yours, may joy and peace fill you this holiday season and last you the whole year through.  Merry Christmas!

Photo Card
View the entire collection of cards.

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

(Luke 2:11-14 NIV)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holiday Baking Looks Like This...

... When you have two kids under two.

And no, those are not chocolate.

Aren't you glad I'm not giving away bundles of cookies as gifts this year?

(Thankfully I did get a couple of "non-Cajun" batches done after my original baking FAIL.  At least Santa will get something!)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Deck the Halls

Our house in Small Town, Illinois was always the best at Christmastime.  It was the perfect home for tall trees, lights on the Victorian style porch, and boughs of holly everywhere.  Cozy and perfect with two fireplaces and an incredible foyer to light up... remember?  Yes, it was the perfect holiday home.

As I decorated our small cozy living room this year, however, I realized that even though I miss that house, my heart is definitely here in this home.  And twinkle lights always make things a little lovelier, don't you think?  But the reason I love it the most can be represented by this photo right here:

FOUR stockings this year... how can one be so blessed?  And the gift we are most thankful for this year can of course be represented by the new addition to our mantle: 

My mom has given a new hand-made stocking to every new grandbaby that has come along in this family (along with three sons-in-law) so of course Miss Lilly was no exception!  We have plenty to be thankful for this year.

As for the rest of the house?  There's really not much space to decorate, but we did what we could to make it look festive:
Even the kitchen got a little festive... the bottles are always there, and I stuffed lights in them.  This might just stay this way all year!

I do the tall vase of ornaments on the mantle every year (my sister Mindy's idea) and it's always my favorite thing.

Our tree.  Sadly some of our strands of lights went out after we put it up.  Don't you just hate that?

I've started displaying our Christmas cards on our gallery wall in the dining room.  It's nice to be able to see all of those familiar faces of people we love everyday.

As for the front of the house?  We'll spare you the photo.  Let's just say that it was priority # 452 on the list of things to do this year, so yours truly "hung" the outdoor lights.  It may or may not be the saddest display of outdoor illumination I have ever seen.  Oh well, at least we have something!

Through it all, I just remind myself that this time of year is not about the lights or the decor or the gifts under the tree.  It's about spending time with loved ones, celebrating the birth of our Savior, and the feeling of hope we have for the year ahead.  Perfect holiday house or cozy rental home, I am loving this time of year and all that it means.  As long as I have those people around me who have stockings on our mantle, I am one blessed and joyful girl... Merry Christmas to me!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Jolly Old St. Nick???

Well, at least he was old.  One out of two ain't bad.

I can't really blame Jake for this reaction... and... I secretly kind of wanted a crying Santa photo (if not this year then just eventually), so this worked out beautifully.  Sorry, kids.

But when you compare to last year you'll see Jolly Santa = Happy Jake.

Coincidence?  I think not.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Having a child stirs up all kinds of childhood memories and favorites that have long been forgotten.  These memories are still there, somewhere deep within our brains, and all it takes is for one little thing to trigger them to come back.  For me, one thing has led to another here lately and I have thoroughly enjoyed these small reminders of way back when.  But let me back up... here's how it all started:

Three weeks after Lilly was born, my sisters had a "Welcome Lilly" shower and invited family and friends.  While I was opening gifts, I came across one with no tag.  "Who is this from?" I asked to which my Aunt Karen responded, "It's from Kim."  I must have looked confused because she reiterated, "It's from you, Kim."  I still did not understand what was going on, but I opened the bag and upon removing some tissue paper I got the biggest smile on my face.  Here is what I pulled out first:

Believe it or not, these were my CareBear toys from my childhood!  Many of our toys got passed down to my cousins Hillary and Erin who are a few years younger, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that they'd still be around!  I kept digging around and felt another familiar object.  Before I even pulled it out I exclaimed, "You have got to be kidding me!"  It was none other than the CareBear Cloud car, a little yellowed, but still in working condition:

But that wasn't all.  At the bottom of the bag was a bigger item, and until I saw it I had forgotten that it even existed.  A collector like me would of course have a carrying case to house my bears, right?  Hands down this was the best gift of the day... toys that Lilly will someday play with not knowing the true value of where they came from.

And yes, those are 2 of the CareBear cousins mixed in! 
For some reason these old beloved bears really stirred up something within me... or maybe it could be attributed to the millions of times we've viewed Toy Story 3 here lately.  You see, I was a kid who truly loved my toys.  I was the kid who (like Andy in the movie) believed with everything in me that my toys had feelings and interacted when I was not around.  Getting rid of a toy was impossibly hard, as I felt like I was saying goodbye to an old friend and even worse, hurting its feelings.  I can even remember saying my bedtime prayers and after listing the members of my family for God to bless, I would list all my stuffed animals by name.  I could play for hours upon hours by myself and never get bored, even prompting my mom to come flying up the stairs when she'd hear my Little People character me shouting, "Mommy, Mommy!" due to some Little People emergency.  I would argue that there was no need to clean up my room because I "wasn't finished with the story yet."  Yes, I was that kid.  So when I saw these bears, I had visions of my old room growing up and all of these "forgotten" toys.  And then, I found myself on eBay.

OH. MY. GOODNESS.  If you ever want a trip down memory lane, eBay is the place to go!  Little People were by far my favorite when I was little so I found myself searching "vintage Little People."  Go ahead, try it!  Before my eyes everything came back all at once!  The barn (which we still have), the camping set, the ferris wheel with attached record player, the school bus, even the Sesame Street playhouse was there (and selling for a whopping $495)!  Main Street was even there, which was the item that I always wanted and never got!  Just by looking through it all I could feel the innocence of those days come back to me, when I didn't have a care in the world and could escape to these fantastic, imaginary places whenever I wanted to.  I had no idea that just seeing pictures of it all could do that.

And then I got even crazier.  As wonderful as these things from my childhood were, it made me start thinking about the simple pleasures of childhood such as bike riding and Saturday morning cartoons.  I thought of my favorite childhood shows and before I knew it, I was Googling "Dumbo's Circus," "Welcome to Pooh's Corner," and "Mickey's Mousekersize."  And thanks to the good Americans that held onto their VHS tapes and have too much time on their hands, YouTube provided me with a little glimpse into that part of the past as well.  I have to be honest, it's all much hokier than I remember (since it was probably AMAZING technology at the time that made all this happen!) but it was all so familiar and comforting to see.  For a moment, I was five years old, sitting in our wood-paneled family room in Louisiana, enjoying some entertainment in my ET pajamas.  Yep, the good ol' days.  Check some of this stuff out for yourself:

  • Dumbo's Circus
  • Pooh's Corner
  • Sadly I could not find any footage of the old-school Mickey Mousekersize show, but I did enjoy seeing a few familiar faces on the New Mickey Mouse Club... that's fun to look up, too!

Sometimes I watch Jake sit and play with his toys and can't help but smile to myself.  He can be all alone in a room and he is completely content pushing his trains along or driving his modern-day Little People cars around.  He jibber-jabbers and choo-choo's all the while, and even holds his Buzz and Woody dolls close to his mouth and shares secrets with them.  I'm not saying that I had the world's biggest imagination as a child, but I do feel proud to know that he gets a lot of that from me.  My heart swells to think that over the next few years he, too, will escape to wondrous places and make new friends in these worlds.  He'll create stories with plot twists that only a child can think up, no matter how ridiculous they may be.  And over the years as I find what toys are his favorite, I will make sure to pack them in a box and put them in a most special place, ensuring that he'll be just as surprised as I was to rediscover them.  I am so thankful to my aunt for holding onto such a precious treasure.  She probably just thought that she was passing down an old favorite toy, but she has given me so much more than that.  I was reminded that sometimes we need to throw our worries out the window and just look at the world through those innocent eyes again because if we don't, we just might miss something magical.

And in case you're wondering, used CareBear figurines sell for about $5 to $8 a pop on eBay these days.  But don't worry, mine will never be for sale!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Baby's First Christmas

Check out the Baby's First Christmas ornament on our tree!

Oh wait... does that say 1981?  

Maybe I will have a Mini-Me afterall.  It's only fair since Josh already has one of his own!

Then again, Jake started out looking like me, too, so only time will tell!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Turkey Day done RIGHT!

Thanksgiving is a holiday all about gathering the family together, stuffing your faces, and then falling asleep from being so full... or so I thought!  Little did I know that in Josh's family, the day is jam packed with activity from start to finish.  This year we decided to head to North Carolina and spend the holiday at his mom's house, and I have to say that it might just become our tradition.  Don't get me wrong... my family throws a fabulous Thanksgiving and my mom can whip up a meal with the best of them, but his family traditions surrounding this day were all new and exciting for me and the kids.  Many things are the same as they are staples of the day: cooking, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, football, the annual nap, and of course the food!  But this year's agenda included all of this PLUS a hay ride (complete with Christmas carols, cider, and a champagne toast) and a bonfire (with s'mores of course!).  Being the holiday freak that I am, I was in heaven!  Although I don't have pictures of everything (the hayride hilarity is on my mother-in-law's camera... I'll have to get those!), here are some good ones from our trip east:

Jake loved riding on the tractor with "Grandy"!  

Uncle Sam and his niece, Skye.  Sam spent the entire weekend with one of the two babies in his arms. 

Food preparation was definitely a group effort... there is no such thing as too many cooks in the kitchen here!

 Did I mention that there were NINE dessert choices?  Just one more reason to love my momma-in-law!

Uncle Jay and Uncle Ben... I believe this was taken during a debate about proper deviled egg filling procedures.

Lilly literally slept ALL. DAY. LONG.  Too much excitement I guess!

The weather was nice enough that we could eat outside on the back porch.  It was a perfect fall day!

Poor Jakie didn't feel good all day.  We came home only to find out that our kiddo had a touch of pink eye and an ear infection, but he was pretty miserable for the last half of our trip.

Lilly sleeping.  AGAIN.  But she loves her Aunt Ginny (Skye's mama). 

The boys and the babes.  So sweet!

Naptime is SO much better with someone to cuddle with.  Jake was extra cuddly since he wasn't feeling well! 

Uncle Josh's favorite niece!  Oh how I love her!

Trading secrets.... they're best friends already!

On Friday we hiked around the property... again, we could not have asked for better weather!

Jake has mastered the art of tackling.  It's good when it's me or Daddy... not so good when it's another child.  Whoops!

Hugs for mommy and baby sister (who loves the Moby wrap now that I finally figured out how to use it!). Oh how I love my sweet babies!

The neighbors have horses that we visited daily... again, I was in heaven!

A back porch + a swing bed + 60 degree weather + a blanket + Lilly cuddles =

Poor guy was all tuckered out from all the fun, but still managed a half-smile for the camera. 

We had such a great time and we were definitely sad to pack up the car and head back on Saturday.  Driving home through the mountains gave us the perfect opportunity though to stop and find a tree.  I grew up with a fake tree and have only had a real one since Josh and I got married.  In Illinois, there are places to chop down your own tree everywhere, so I am spoiled and will not have it any other way now!  No trees from a tent for this gal!  The stop was a welcome time to stretch our legs and enjoy the fresh mountain air for a bit.  Plus, the tree we found is pretty perfect (and made it all the way back to Kentucky in one piece)!

 I love old barns... this one was perfect.

Isn't she a beaut?

And the views!  It was worth a stop just for the scenery! 

We still had about 5 hours ahead of us with the tree on our car... thanks to these guys, the tree stayed in place! 

As a family, we definitely needed and cherished the time off to spend together... a little down time if you will.  Here lately we've been running around like crazy and it was a nice break to reconnect and recharge.  And as I celebrated the holiday, I certainly reflected on our life's many blessings.  It's not perfect by any means, but I am overwhelmed with gratitude when I think of where my life has taken me at this point.  I am thankful for so many things... for a husband who loves me unconditionally even though there are plenty of things that drive him crazy.... for an active, goofball of a son who can literally drive me to tears and have me laughing hysterically in a matter of seconds... for a beautiful, healthy baby girl who wants to be cuddled all the time... for parents who have been married for 40 years now and would drop everything they are doing if we called and told them we needed them... to live so close to my sisters and their families now and for all the time we get to spend together... for in-laws that have taken me in as one of their own... for more friends than a gal could ask for... and most importantly, for knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am loved and saved by grace by Jesus Christ, despite the fact that I do not even come close to deserving it, even on my best day.  My list could go on and on, so it is sad that sometimes I forget these things and have to be reminded.  I hope that in the coming year I take more time to just sit still for a moment and really cherish and enjoy these blessings and to be thankful each and every day.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

November Recap

November was another month that went by WAY too quickly (as is my maternity leave) and so I apologize that once again I am recapping the month in one post.  That seems to be happening a lot these days.  Brace yourself for photo overload:

November in Mauneyland was spent...

Meeting cousin Skye for the first time

Testing all of the new baby gear (for safety of course)

Teaching sister how to use said baby gear

Cuddling our "squishy" newborn (who gets less squishy by the day, much to my dismay!)

 Chowing down on turkey (separate post on Thanksgiving to come... and yes, I really mean it this time!)

Turning 2 months old... make her stop already!
Lilly has grown to be 23 1/4 inches (75th percentile) and weighed in at a whopping 12 lbs., 10 oz. (95th percentile... we grow big babies apparently)

Playing outside in the unseasonably warm weather here (yay!) 

Picking out the perfect Christmas tree

And decorating it of course... photos of the big reveal to come soon!

Those were the highlights and all the in between time has been spent staying incredibly busy getting things ready for the launch of TurningPoint!  Our "preview" service is only three weeks away on Christmas Eve and our official launch is on February 12th... it will be here before we know it whether we're ready or not!  And hopefully, despite the busyness of getting the church ready and the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I'll be a little bit better at keeping up with the blog this month!  It certainly is my favorite time of year!