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29 November 2012


On Saturday our family will begin our Advent preparations. Maren and I have had a few talks on the way to preschool about Advent...and preparing our hearts for the celebration of Christ's birth. We'll be using Truth in the Tinsel this year, and we'll decorate the printable ornaments (found here). I'm planning to use the same book next year, and we'll do the more time-intensive ornaments when Maren and Truett are able to work on them together next year. Remember my desire to simplify this year? Well, using the simple printable ornaments fits into our plan. *wink*

Last year Maren and I made an Advent Tree out of toilet paper rolls. You can find the original tutorial here.

Hello, 3-year-old Maren!

Do you have any special Advent plans? I'm looking forward to pausing each day to reflect on the wonder of the season...and to be sure our focus in on Christ, the true miracle of Christmas.

Not the enemy

At some point during my engagement to Brett, someone gave me a valuable piece of advice. I wish I could remember who shared this with me...because it warrants a handwritten thank you note.

Your husband is not your enemy. He is on your team.

As a soon-to-be-brand-new-wife, I didn't realize the significance of this advice until a little later. I knew marriage would be a lot of work, but I didn't realize how easily Brett would become a target...a target to take my frustrations out on, whether merited by him or not. We fought our way through the occasional misunderstanding or personality conflict. But wasn't I surprised to learn how swiftly I began to make Brett pay for other frustrations...annoyance with a coworker? Lash out at Brett later that night. Disappointment with a friend? Brett gets to deal with sulky Kate. My failure at anything? Brett can atone. See where I'm going? Brett was 'safe' to me. I knew he would never go anywhere...and so it became easy to dole out my emotional frustrations on my husband. 
Enter best advice I got while engaged...Brett is not the enemy! He is on my team. It took me a while, but when I finally learned to allow Brett to help me through some of those frustrations, I was amazed by the outpouring of love and support he was able to offer. Ten years later? We still fight. Thankfully, not very often at all. But I do slip up and occasionally lash out at him...sometimes for something completely out of his control. Most of the time, though, I've learned to allow Brett to walk though things with me. And, as it turns out, God did an excellent job of blessing me with a man who would be my perfect teammate.

28 November 2012


Brett and I have almost been married for 10 years. I am infinitely grateful for the lessons we've learned together throughout these years. Some hard lessons, some funny lessons, some lessons it seems as though we continue to 'learn' over and over again.

Here we are way back in 2000. This was almost our first date...Brett's Senior year football banquet at Wheaton. He brought me roses...and won the Most Respected Player award. I barely knew him...but quickly became smitten.

I am hoping to spend some time in the coming weeks reflecting on the lessons we've learned...in preparation for Christmas, and in anticipation of our 10th anniversary coming up on the 22nd of December.

I am thankful for God's patience with us both as we navigate this life together. And, I'm thankful for the amazing leader God's graciously given me and our family in Brett. As this Christmas season approaches, we've chosen to take things a bit more slowly than is typical for us. It's funny, considering how introverted I am, that we often fill our November and December to the brim with comings and goings. Not this year. Brett and I have been learning the value in slowing down a bit...and in choosing intentionally how our days are spent. We decided to forgo the Christmas Choir at our church, something we both genuinely love, in favor of spending Thursday evenings quietly...as a family. We've chosen not to host our usual Christmas party...another tradition we always love, but that often leaves us a bit weary. It's hard, sometimes, to let go of 'good' things in life. But, we're trying to hold tight to the best things right now. Two of those best things happen to be named Truett and Maren...

Seriously...he's got the most amazing lashes...

This kid just loves life.

And one silly 4-year-old...

...my beautiful, creative girl...

Thank you, Lord, for teaching us this lesson right now...before we've missed these best things.

The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue,
to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.

Isaiah 50:4

27 November 2012

Christmas Market 2012

A couple of weeks ago my friend, Shawna, and I put together a fun little open-house-style Christmas Market. We invited 8 friends to join us in selling handmade wares, and enjoyed a day together of selling our goods. I cannot believe these are the only pictures I took...but I was busy!

We cleared most of the bigger furniture out of the first floor of Shawna's home to accomodate tables for the vendors. This was my little space. I sold notecards, fabric covered notebooks, and stitched artwork.

This was Shawna's table...

Shawna also sold these cute purses...

We had a great variety of items...jewelry, stationary, home decor, knit and crocheted items, bath and body products...it was a wonderful day. I even made some money! I think we'll try to make this an annual event. If you've ever thought about venturing into the world of craft shows, this was a great, low-key way to start.

26 November 2012

Christmas Palooza 2012

Cousin Jodi and her family introduced us to the concept of Christmas Palooza, and we've embraced the tradition ever since. We opted out of Black Friday shopping, and enjoyed a day of decking the halls around our house. The kids woke up to our elf, Robert, who delivered a special letter from Santa...an idea I stole borrowed from here. We like the idea of mixing in a little bit of make-believe with the true reason for celebrating...Christ's birth. We enjoyed a special breakfast together and the kids opened their new Christmas pjs. We like to give them their pajamas early so they are able to wear them all throughout the Christmas season. (Again, thanks cousin Jodi for the idea!) They also got a new Christmas movie and book...we're loving our growing Christmas library!

Maren was quick to spot Robert hanging from the light above the table.

I love my Christmas dishes. This year we decided to get them out and use them everyday...not just for parties. I also collect vintage red goblets, and this year I added some miniature ones to my collection so the kids are able to enjoy them, too. (Well, Maren enjoyed hers...Truett still has tendencies to throw things, so he hasn't graduated from a sippy cup quite yet!)

And, a humorous collection of pictures of the children...

Finally...both kids smiling and looking at the camera!

Maren had her shirt stuffed with ornaments...she loved helping me with the trees this year. We have a smaller tree in the family room decorated with Swedish ornaments. We'll also put our handmade ornaments on this tree.

This is the first Christmas with our new-to-us hutch. I loved making it look festive for the season! I'm hoping to share a more complete tour of the holiday decorations sometime soon.

Maren decorated the bottom half of the bigger tree with kid-friendly (aka, non-breakable) ornaments and I put the more fragile ones near the top.

Truett mostly did this...

While the kids and I spiffed up the inside of the house, Brett lined our roof with lights. I love this time of year...the lights, the smells, the music, the celebrations and parties. I'm hoping to share some of my favorite Christmasy 'things' in the coming weeks. For now, I'm off to watch an afternoon installment of Christmas Curious George with the two cutest kids I know.

24 November 2012


Ever since Brett and I got married almost 10 years ago (!) I have looked forward to hosting Thanksgiving. This was the big year! It was a LOT of work, but worth every moment. We were blessed to share our day with lots of family and friends.

Maren loved helping me in the kitchen the days before. She had the great idea to wear her goggles while we chopped onions. Smart kid. My friend, Jaime, spent Wednesday at our house helping me do most of the cooking. It was fun to share some of the work with someone I like so much. :)

We moved some furniture around to accomodate one huge long table. It worked out perfectly, and allowed us all to be in the same area.

Maren cut out and painted 24 of these corn place cards (all by herself!). I love working on things like this with her...she loves having people in our home just as much as Brett and I do, and it's fun to watch her work hard in preparation.

On Thanksgiving morning Brett rescued a couple of tiny mice from one of our window wells. Maren and Truett were very interested by their brief visit. Maren was certain they'd find their parents across the street in the horse pasture.

This turkey was delicious...I found a recipe for  Maple-Cider Brined Turkey with Bourbon-Cider Gravy. The gravy was the best I've ever had...and others said the same. Mmmmm.

Brett did the carving.

Serving the food buffet-style worked great with our big group. (And there's a peak at the finished white cabinets! We're hoping to get hardware soon, and then I'll post about the whole process!)

Pilgrim Abby, Maren and Hannah are such great friends...it was a delight to share Thanksgiving with them!


Truett's favorite? Mashed potatoes.

We had 2 brand new babies...my sweet nephew, Ian...

...and another sort-of nephew, Luke. Precious boys!

Me and Jaime. I love her.

Brett and me...we celebrate our 10th anniversary next month. I can't wait!

Our friends Kyle and Brooke with their daughter, Karis. Kyle and Brooke were dishwashers-extraordinaire! It was fun to have them spend the day with us...and not just because they helped in the kitchen. *wink*

Gigi brought some yummy pie...Maren chose pumpkin!

So thankful for my family. Truett had just woken up from a nap, so he's got sleepy-hair in this picture. We also found out the next day that he had an ear infection. Poor buddy. It's looking like he might be getting tubes pretty soon. Sad.

Truett loves his Papa...and he loves pie and ice-cream!

Mike and Ian.

Robin and Tiffany...we love our Colorado family!

Pastor Ben and Miss Jaime...they might as well be family.

Brett's parents introduced us to a fun new game called Mexican Train Dominoes. It was the perfect ending to a lovely day. Happy Thanksgiving!

...and now Christmas season begins! It's my favorite time of the year. Yay!