Thursday, December 26, 2013

Grab Anomia

If laughing yourself to tears is your idea of a good time, pick up Anomia {Ah-NO-mee-ah} before your group gathers next. One of those games to begin playing before you get the hang of it and it's simple from there, my 7 y/o was slightly out-paced by the grown ups but the 11 y/o mixed in well.
Can I just mention how grateful I felt going to bed last night? How fortunate to watch healthy (& wide- eyed) children meet a room full of presents on a snowy Christmas morning! Sharing food & laughter with family that share our love for Jesus & each other fills my cup. 

I wish you the merriest week! 

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

Merry Christmas, reader! 

The God who flung the plantes into space and kept them whirling around and around, the God who made the universe with just a word, the one who could do anything at all-was making himself small. And coming a baby.
"But it's too wonderful!" Mary said and felt her heart beating hard. "How can it be true?" 
"Is anything too wonderful for God?" {the angel} Gabriel asked.
Sure enough it was just as the angel had said. Nine months later, Mary was almost ready to have her baby. Now, Mary & Joseph had to take a trip to Bethlehem...but when they reached the little town they found every room was full. Every bed was taken.
And there, in the stable, amongst the chickens and the donkeys and the cows, in the quiet of the night, God gave the world his wonderful gift. 
The baby that would change the world was born
His baby son...
Mary and Joseph named him Jesus, "Emmanuel"-which means "God has come to live with us."
Because, of course, he had.

-from He's Here in the Jesus Storybook Bible 
(the Kindle version is on sale for $1.99 on Amazon)

One of our family's favorite songs for the season: You're Here
This one is beautiful too
"I'll hold you in the beginning. You'll hold me in the end.
Every moment in the middle make my heart your Bethlehem. Be born in me."
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Monday, December 9, 2013

Books for Christmas | Countdown to Christmas with Books

The book countdown is one tradition our kids start talking about as soon as there is any hint of Christmastime in the city.
This year we're going to start our countdown to Christmas a bit later because of some travel plans. I was wrapping up the books I collected from the library this week and wanted to encourage you not to skip it just because we're already in the 2nd week of December.
The 12 days or even 10 days before Christmas would certainly be memorable. I borrow mine from the library. I like to get some of the favorites that they come to anticipate and add a few new ones in the mix. You could certainly buy a couple of books too.
To make it entirely free, I use paper bags from the grocery store. Click here for a more detailed post on this countdown, including wrapping.
The point is: you can make this elaborate or not but chances are, unwrapping a book, laying on bellies under the Christmas tree and reading by its light will be memorable. 
Speaking of books, here are a few I've added to my gift list this year:

Because I'm completely intrigued by the Instagram Feed of the same name:
Because I love lists and the idea of recording life this way: 

Because moms want to leave something, simply:

Because I love piggy-backing off other people's tried & trues:

Because I love my kitchen table & dishwasher crowded:

Because my kids would immediately begin:

Because my son loves a good joke:

 Because I heard a bit on NPR one day & stayed in the parking lot for the whole program with my girls:

Because I love a pretty vignette, and the sophistication of a classic novel (30% off at B&N):

This was my favorite read this year, tragic and it instantly wraps you up, turning pages with hope: 

I ate this book up this summer, it was fascinating and arranged unlike any I've read:

This book is so very entertaining if you haven't read it yet. (I listened to the audio version, by Tina, herself, which I highly recommend)

For my fellow Bible-believers:
This inspirational book changed the way I look at my mundane life. 

This author and pastor has revolutionized the way I understand the Bible and it's most basic principles. My husband & I have spent many hours of this year discussing his podcasts. This book on counterfeit gods or this one on marriage would be worth a read, if following & loving Jesus is your thing. 

I keep meaning to read these books before they come out on film, especially 6 & 7. Have you read them? Pin It

Monday, December 2, 2013

My own Brian McKenzie | Lessons in suggestive gifts

Remember when Annie gets a blender from Brian McKenzie? The man of her dreams becomes, in an instant, a sexist jerk. She calls the wedding off in a fit, throwing herself on her bed in tears and Steve Martin is no longer Father of the Bride. I think I've got one that beats her blender.

We'd been married a few years, long enough for my husband to know that a gift to me, was only as good as the thoughtfulness and effort behind it. Some of his most-treasured gifts cost little (cookbook) and some cost a ton (stage-side seats for Coldplay). Money can't buy thoughtfulness.  Discovering that he'd acquired an AmEx card for the VIP access to a concert that notoriously sells out quickly, and knowing it was entirely his idea was the gift to me. It was sensational even before Chris Martin was within arm's reach.

On this particular Christmas, I'd had a baby 3 months prior and 'operation: lose the baby weight' was in full swing. And by full swing I mean: I started replacing a meal here or there with Slim Fast and resumed my regular gym visits. With a new baby, I wasn't getting much sleep and hormones were raging. I hadn't asked for anything, but I anticipated a gift to commemorate our new baby girl, and our 1st Christmas, complete, as a family of 4.
On Christmas morning, I opened exclusively:
exercise DVDs, a new pair of sneakers, South Beach Diet bars, and Slim Fast.
No, really. It's true.
Get this: he was grinning, proudly with every gift I opened. "See, I pay attention to you!" he said. "That's the kind you like."
I always wanted to be Annie Banks.
And no, I'll never forget our 1st Christmas as a family of 4.
My husband genuinely wasn't suggesting anything, he simply noticed what I was all wrapped up in at the time. Where he & Brian McKenzie went wrong was in this oft' overlooked layer of giving: the perception of the recipient. This is why sometimes cost matters and sometimes it doesn't; why re-gifting works sometimes and fails others. It's in the perception. Ah!

If you really want to win at giving, you can't forget to consider how your gift will be perceived.
Does a practical gift make them swoon or does practicality translate as laziness Does expensive make it valuable or does it make it uncomfortable to accept? Would an experience be more exciting than an item? Does overspending suggest overcompensating or last minute?

Furthermore, sometimes getting what your loved one would be thrilled to receive means spending hard-earned money on something you can't understand, you wouldn't have chosen yourself, and has you shopping where you wouldn't otherwise go. I went into a micro-brewing shop in town and couldn't have felt more out of place if I were in China. The bearded young guy was patient with me, while I wrapped my head around the malt, barley, & hops, oh my!

Resist buying for the thrill of the deal and not the the joy of the person on your list. 
Don't underestimate the power of suggestion that can ruin your well-meaning gift.
Unwrapping a Vitamix blender would have me cheering, but not so for Annie Banks. (was that too direct?) Pin It
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