Monday, December 31, 2012

The best photo moments of 2012

For the last two years, I've scrambled like a madwoman to go back and do last minute blog-catch-up on missed events before the end of the year review post.  I loved doing it, but it was super time consuming.  This year, there is just NO WAY.  I'm gonna have to cut myself some slack and just wrap this year up on the ole blog and hope for more consistency next year.

That said, I'm going to do my Year-End post a little differently.  I may or may not go back through each month and try to do a wrap up.  I've done a few, but running out of steam.  For now, I think I'll just end 2012 with my favorite picture (or two) from each month.  Enjoy!

A picture from Cbug's birthday donut outing

February was one of the hardest months of the entire year.  This picture sums up the month pretty perfectly, and therefore is my fave!

And even though I hated the idea of posting a picture of my belly hanging out.  I love every single morsel of what this picture represents to me for 2012!  I wrote more about it in my post about the 1/2 marathon I ran in my seventh month of pregnancy.

This picture from a random trip to the park is one of my favorites because it was an afternoon that I MADE myself take a break, waddle myself to the park, turn my phone off and just slow down to enjoy my babies.  I'm so thankful for that memory. 

Our precious Little Bear joined our family.  And from the beginning, was such A BOY- not appreciating ONE.BIT this sweet moment between his parents.  I love this photo!
And we also celebrated my brother's wedding earlier that same month. The rehearsal dinner yielded this favorite EVER picture of the the only two girls in our family.  Love my precious princess!

When our biggest boy turned six, he took nerf wars to a new level with his improved arsenal.  I love his face in this picture.  I do NOT love how old it makes him look.

And as Little Bear was welcomed to our home, he quickly secured his status as MOST.PATIENT.BABY.EVER.

We packed up to leave our home of 8 years and as we closed the doors for the last time, we took one last front porch picture.  AND Little Bear made sure we didn't take this memorable moment too seriously when he "marked" his brother. 

Also in June our princess turned 3.  She tolerated quite well that we were "homeless" during her big day and I love this precious picture of her blue-icing-teeth from her celebration at Grammy's.

If seeing our entire family dressed in cow "costumes" just to get free food won't make you smile, I'm certain that a certain baby who turned 3 months old in July can help ya out!

I always love first day of school pictures, but this year's were especially sweet thanks to these fun printables from "I should be mopping the floor" and because they were on our NEW front porch.  Libby's sassy pose (self-titled her "Princess pose") only adds to the enjoyment!

FINALLY, a picture of all 7.  We are so thankful that we get to enjoy our nephews and niece in our home one weekend each month.  During their September visit, we finally captured all seven of these little loves looking (generally) toward the camera and nearly all of them smiling.  This is a treasure!

We continued a great tradition with  some fun-friend-photographers at the pumpkin patch and this year went "off the beaten path" to a random church patch.  It was PERFECT- few people, few distractions and FANTASTIC PICTURES.

But maybe my favorite picture of the ENTIRE year...
Our last minute, yet super fun, Halloween costumes.

It counts as one pic if I photo shop them together, right?  It was super hard to narrow down to just these three from our AMAZING photo shoot with "The Three".  LOVE these crazy kiddos and so thankful for the way these pictures captured them.

As part of our daily activities for "Counting down to Christmas" we went to story time at GW lodge with some fun friends.  AND MIRACULOUSLY at half-past-bedtime, my children all acted like they like each other and smiled for the camera.

Which is a feat they far surpassed during this little Christmas eve photo shoot.  I think I'll start telling them "All I want for Christmas is this..."
Every.Single. Year.

2012 was a doozy for our little family in lots of ways.  But along the way there were these pictures, and behind them the stories that we'll always treasure.
 For those of you following along on this crazy ride with us...
I don't know whether this year was one you'd love to ground-hog-day over and over and over.  Or one you hope to pack away and forget.  But regardless, I sincerely hope your 2012 was filled with so many picture moments that it was hard to narrow down to 12 (ish).  And I pray that these are the moments you'll choose to remember!


Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve with Joseph

We don’t know much about Joseph.
At least I don’t.
I know he was a carpenter.
But I can’t think of one other thing I know about him other than-
His son was Jesus.
Yet, this Christmas I find myself thinking about him and his role in THE story.

The story of a baby.
A baby King.
A baby King that was born in a manger inside of a stable, because his parents had traveled for miles and miles to a city that was too full for them.
A baby King, both God and man.
Who would save the world.

I’m always amazed when I think about the humble beginnings of our Lord and Savior. It doesn’t get more meager than spending your first hours in an animal feeding trough. It is amazingly incomprehensible that He was completely GOD as he nursed, as he cried, as he had his diaper changed. And He would grow up to save the world. He was worshipped from the beginning yet in the beginning, he was completely reliant on his parents.

His parents, Mary and Joseph.

I’m always amazed when I think about the delivery Mary endured. She found out from an angel that she had conceived a baby without ever having slept with her fiancĂ©. She faced certain ostracization and there would always be those who wouldn’t believe her, or believe in Him. And THEN she got on a donkey. A DONKEY at 9 months pregnant. She endured the ride and then lay down in a bed of hay to deliver her child. A child she knew would grow to be Lord, Savior, KING. Knowing he was completely GOD, she would nurse him, rock him when he cried, change his diaper. And she would worship Him from the very beginning, while he was still completely reliant on his parents.

His parents, Mary AND JOSEPH.

But to be honest, I haven’t ever really been amazed by Joseph. Maybe never even really considered him. A carpenter. A carpenter who knew that his son was completely God as he lead the unborn child’s mother on a donkey, as he watched his new wife nurse him, as he rocked him when he cried, maybe even when he changed his diaper. And he would worship him from the very beginning. Worship him knowing that this baby, though not his blood, was entrusted to him, to his ancestors, to all of those that had come before him.

And this Christmas I find myself thinking about that carpenter. A carpenter to whom I’ve never really given much thought. And it turns out, he’s kinda significant to the King’s presence in this world. Because in the gospel of Matthew, the lineage of Christ comes through Joseph and his father and his fathers’ father. From David, down through a baby king. A baby king that was his son, but not his. Not by blood or conception. I’ve heard about the significance of those in the lineage of Christ, the imperfect people who paved a perfect path for a savior to enter the world. But I’ve never considered that the heritage of Christ, in Matthew at least, comes through Joseph.

And for Christmas, that means a lot. Because in many ways, Joseph CHOSE to be the father of Jesus. By faith he married a pregnant virgin. By faith he led a donkey to Bethlehem. By faith, he took on the role of protecting the King before he could take care of himself. He fled more than once to find a safe place for the tiny King when Herod hunted him. And when the pre-teen king went missing, he scoured the roads and towns to find him.

His blood was not in the boy, but the boy was his son. His sweet tiny adopted son. Who would save the world!

I cannot imagine the faith that took. The faith to take on that role, explained to you by an angel, knowing it would not make sense to much of the rest of the world. The faith to marry a woman and commit with her to raise the Lord they would worship. To be so determined to spend every once of your being protecting this King. No matter what.

And I wonder. What in the WORLD did Joseph’s parents think? How did he explain to them- THIS is what I was made to do. This is what I’ll be remembered for. And that is what I know about Joseph. He WAS the father of Christ. He chose to be the Daddy to a baby that needed to be protected, like no other baby ever was.

And because of that choice, and because of the lineage in the gospel Matthew, I also know something about Joseph’s father and his father’s father and those that came before him. They created a legacy of faith that would ultimately give one man the strength to accept the responsibility of adopting and protecting the Son of God.

This Christmas Eve, I find myself praying for a legacy like Joseph’s father. And Joseph’s father’s father. Oh sweet Lord, give us strength. Strength to encourage and teach our children in a way that will allow each of them to do what they were made to do.

The best gift I could give them this Christmas is that they, like Joseph, would know...really KNOW...Christ. 
No matter what the world thinks, no matter how crazy it might seem, no matter how much it might cost them. I hope they see that kind of faith from us, and I hope they experience it for themselves.  Most of all, just like Joseph learned from those before him, help us create in them a faith that could believe this story.

The story of a baby.
A baby King.
A baby King born to a virgin.
A baby King ADOPTED BY A CARPENTER, who would protect him while He grew.
A baby King, both God and man.
Who would save the world.

Oh, Lord, help them believe.  No matter what the cost, no matter where the journey takes them, no matter what the world tells them.  Help them believe in Christmas!


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

the December Funk

I've been in a funk this December.

You might could even call me a Scrooge.
We did our "Christmas countdown" with the kids (which they loved- more soon), but I was often pretty half-hearted.
Our tree was barely up.  I stopped at which point my hands and arms were significantly scratched up from fluffing and my 4-year-old critic questioned the "grey stuff" I was putting all over the tree (some call it silver ribbon). And there it sits.

There were no other decorations to speak of.  In fact (and I can't believe I am about to admit this),  as of the 10th of December, I still had 6 adorably monogrammed pumpkins on my front porch.
And until the very last minute, I'd purchased very few gifts (and those few were thanks to the convenience of my dear friend, Amazon).

I seem to get this way at about this same point post-baby-birth.  I don't know exactly why.  Its kinda like a delayed onset of post-partum funk.  Maybe its that I'm pulling up out of "survival mode" just in time to try to figure out how we're going to include this precious baby, who is becoming more and more like a person, into our everyday life.  And I'm just sleeeepppppyyy  zzzzzzzzzz.  When adding Christmas to that, my Christmas tradition list has just turned into a Christmas to-do list.  Only I never make it past my normal to-do list of laundry, dishes, etc with enough energy to start on the Christmas to-dos.

But this year there was really more to it.  I had trouble reconciling in my heart the hurt I see around me with the joy my family experiences at Christmas.  I don't think that's the way it is supposed to be.  I don't think being aware of hurt should keep me from enjoying my blessings.  It should just spur me to look for ways to share them, but i just found my self distracted.

Because of my Christmas "funk", this idea (by the super thoughtful Sarah), the idea of "Neighborly Blessingmas Revolution of 2012," was a huge blessing for me.  The idea that something small for me might make a huge difference for others.  Maybe a huge difference in the way my children perceive neighbors and a huge difference in the way my neighbors perceive us.  Trust me, they might need some perspective help.  (Reference above, re: our December pumpkins and add this fact: we rarely rake leaves from the neighborhoods two biggest leaf-dropping trees). 

The idea was easy- work together to bless our neighborhoods.  To take time during Christmas, during advent, to share the J-O-Y!  I love it.  Its definitely a new favorite tradition for us.  The kids loved baking and they LOVED delivering. And for a bit, this ole Scrooge had some Christmas spirit. Isn't that how it usually works- blessed by what you do for others?  That's what I want my kids to know about Christmas.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Bad Idea...Gone Good

Taking family pictures right after school, may have been one of the worst ideas I've ever had as a mom.

  Seriously.  Why would I think that the "bewitching hours" of 4-6 that are always a little rough around our house, would suddenly become the perfect time to ask my FOUR children to cooperate with photographers?  Ya'll it was bad.  My adorable blonds were C-R-A-Z-Y. 

And, I'm not just saying this in a make-you-feel-better-about-your-children kind of way, either.  I was seriously sweating from children hanging on me, running circles around where they were supposed to be posed, looking the opposite direction of the smile target, etc.  

And then there was the time we thought it would be a good idea to cross OVER a creek on a narrow bridge (without sides/handles) with our four children in tow and momma in heels, oh and pause in the middle for a photo shoot.  Seriously. 

Which is why, I'm pretty sure these pictures have been significantly altered.  
AND on that note:

What you should NOT do:
IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS compare your family to this picture perfect one.  These ARE JUST PICTURES.  You would need video to see the real story. 

What you should do: 
IMMEDIATELY contact The THREE and beg them to perform similar miracles at YOUR next photo shoot.  If you, too, would like to portray your children as happy, smiling, peaceful and compliant (even at 5:30 on a school night) all means, CALL THEM.

 This picture, on the otherhand, is not rigged.  Cropped, maybe, but not rigged.  I really do love him absolutely this much.  I just so appreciate them capturing it (with the slobber on my shirt that tells the real story about what was happening moments before...and after).

Thank you, thank you, thank you, The Three for capturing this season for our family so beautifully.