Goodbye 2009, Hello Bright New Year

In some ways a lot has happened this year, and in some ways it seems like not much has changed. I’m not sure why that is. A lot of big things happened this year, but they were scattered among periods of just regular, everyday living – I think it has actually turned out to be just the right amount of change for one year. Things can’t ever just stand still, they are always changing – at least they shouldn’t stand still. Nothing good can come from just standing still. But when the change comes in bite-size pieces and is framed by everyday life it’s so much easier to handle.

January - Regular Living Month

1. I really started to get into blogging.

2. We started watching our first full season of American Idol. Hard to believe I just started watching it last January, huh? I tell you, I’m about three years behind the rest of the country when it comes to this stuff.

3. I applied for more jobs, trying to get away from the temporary agency.

4. Made new blogging friends.

February – Big Change Month

1. I got a job at a rural dental office for Wednesdays only. Still couldn’t quit the temporary agency.

2. Derek and I took a lovely Valentine’s Day getaway trip.

3. More new blogging friends.

March – Big Change Month

1. Got a new job for Mondays and Thursdays! This was really confidence-boosting for me, because it was my first “real” job in my field. The rural office that hired me basically just called me back and said I was hired because they were desperate, so I didn’t feel very accomplished getting that job, but I had to beat out several other applicants for this job, so it made me feel good!

2. Lots of new blogging friends! I think I reached ten followers or something this month – I felt pretty good.

3. Started reading Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs, which was very helpful and improved our communication in our marriage. Read my take on the book in my posts "Please, Stop the Craziness! (To Be Continued . . .)", "C.H.A.I.R.S. - Advice For Wives", and "Rewards For Obedience".

April – Regular Living Month

1. Easter! I splurged and bought an Easter outfit, one of my first real outfits that I purchased after the whole unemployment thing of the previous Autumn.

May – Regular Living Month

1. I bought a hibiscus plant. Pretty adventurous for me, since I tend to kill plants.

2. I bought a teacup.

3. Took another short trip with Derek because he had to go to a training for work.

4. E-mailed my representatives about healthcare reform, which I still think will be disastrous, but the democrats in Congress and the Senate don’t seem to care what the majority of America thinks about this issue.

5. Reached one hundred posts on this blog, and made my list of one hundred things to do before I die! We will be revisiting this soon . . .

June – Big Change Month

1. My birthday! Derek planned an amazing birthday surprise for me.

2. Had my wisdom teeth extracted. Fun, fun.

3. Started to panic about losing weight for our one year anniversary – I wanted to weigh close to the same weight as the day we got married. Got the Shred DVD, and I loved it.

4. Painted my bathroom an actual color. This is a big deal for me.

July – Big Change Month

1. Our one year wedding anniversary! Derek made me this beautiful jewelry box, and I made him a card deck book. It was a lovely day. Except for the dog and cake incident.

2. Experienced the Honeymoon blues. I had a bit of a hard time thinking how one year ago exactly we were in Hawaii.

3. I won my first giveaway! Pretty exciting stuff. Thanks Kara – you introduced me to the world of blog giveaways!

4. Learned about the possible abortive effects of the birth control pill. Did a lot of panicked research and spent a lot of time in prayer. Conlcuded that I had to go off of the pill, and did it. One of the most stressful times of the year.

5. Started charting.

6. Derek and I started studying the book of Ephesians together.

August – Big Change/Regular Living Month

1. Went on vacation to Washington DC and North Carolina! We had a wonderful trip. Read about it in my posts "Scary Bugs, Wet Air, and Subtle Colors - My Description of the East Coast", "Surreal, Inspiring, and A Killer For Your Feet - My Description of Washington DC Thus Far", "We're Back! Vacation Recap Part One", and "Museums, Museums, and More Museums! Vacation Recap Part Two"

2. Started painting again. See my painting blog.

3. Went on a weekend trip to the state fair with my family, and we had a wonderful time!

4. The Lord opened my eyes to my own sinfulness and pride, once again. Still working on it, with His help.

September – Regular Living Month

1. Derek started playing hockey again!

2. Started knitting again.

3. Wrote my first guest blog post at Bound To Books! I wrote it on The Screwtape Letters.

4. It snowed. Our earliest snow in a while.

October – Regular Living Month

1. Broke my camera, and had to buy a new one. But the new one take panoramic pictures.

Camera Tragedy

2. Went on a trip to visit my friend Hazel with my sister.

3. Derek and I paid off the last of our debt (except the house)!

4. We got Harvey! Affectionately (with a touch of annoyance) labeled “that dog”. He’s so cute.

November – Regular Living Month

1. Started to pick up extra days at work, which helped pay for Christmas.

2. Did my first blog giveaway.

3. Thanksgiving of course!

4. Met with another young married couple about starting a young married Bible study group. I just started talking with one of my married friends about how we didn’t know any other married couples, and the idea was born! I’ll keep you posted on how it goes – we’re starting in January.

December – Big Change Month

1. Had an incident at the rural dental office, and ended up quitting my job. This is news to you all, isn’t it? I didn’t really want to blog about it. Long story, and I’d rather not get into details, but my former boss lied to me repeatedly and was pretty rotten about the whole thing. I had actually been thinking about quitting since June, so I’m not sad about it at all, but December was a really stressful month. I cried a lot, just because of the stress.

2. Went to my first work Christmas party with my other job! It was fun. My boss at the Monday/Thursday job is really a good boss, and I really like that office. I’m so thankful the Lord gave me that job.

3. Lots of Christmas shopping.

4. Started going to Saturday night service at a church in town, and we’ve been enjoying it. We’re still going to our other church on Sundays too.

5. Harvey started chewing things.

6. Finishing up the books I’m currently reading before the new year arrives.

7. Derek’s birthday!

8. Christmas and New Year celebrations!

See what I mean? A lot has happened, but not really. It was just a nice, exciting-but-not-too-stressful year.

At the same time I feel like I’ve grown a lot, and the Lord has shown me so much about myself and my flaws – which is a wonderful thing, because how am I to ever change for the better if the Lord doesn’t show me the worst in myself? I pray that He’ll continue to convict me and show me how to walk in a way that is worthy of the calling I have received. I want to continue walking with Him - the worst thing would be to just stand still.

The Lord has also shown me how wonderful my husband is, and He has used Derek to humble me and draw me closer to Jesus this year. The longer I’m married to Derek, the more difficult it is to imagine living without him. Everyday that passes with my husband by my side leaves me more in awe of God’s grace - that He would choose to bless me with a man like that! Just one more way that God’s love for me becomes ever more apparent.

The Lord Jesus has been our help through the stressful times and trials, and He’s been there smiling as we experienced all the joys of the little things in life this year. And I know He’ll continue to be there, because even though nothing stays the same in this world, He’s the one thing that never changes.

Praying that you all will send 2009 off with joyful celebration and greet 2010 with prayerful anticipation! May the Lord bless 2010 for each of you, and may you never be found standing still.


2009 Movies

Derek and I are movie buffs. That's one of the things that we like to do together - go to the movies. At the same time we're rather picky about the movies that we go to see - we won't see just anything. We actually like kid's movies best most of the time, but we enjoy action too. And I like a good, clean chick flick. So here's my take on some of the movies that we saw in 2009.

On The "To Buy" List:

Up - Probably my new favorite Pixar film - I loved it! It was sweet and funny. Derek liked it a lot too - this is probably our number one movie of the year.

Race to Witch Mountain - Good, clean movie. If you like aliens and suspense (which I do), you would like this one. I wouldn't let young kids see it though, because it's a little tense in places.

Julie and Julia - I really liked it! A little profanity and crude language, but the story was cute. I like cooking and blogging, and this movie combined both of those things. I also that Meryl Streep did a great job as Julia Child, and I like Amy Adams, so it was up there on the list for me. See my review "Julie and Julia".

Fireproof - I know this came out last year, but we bought it this year, and it's a great movie, so it's making the list anyway. Great for a date night, and a marriage builder. See my review "Fireproof Review (And Derek Got A Job!)".

Transformers 2 - We love Transformers. Not for kids, some profanity and other stuff. They are good pro-military movies though, and we appreciate that. I'm sure we'll be buying this one.

Marley and Me - This came out last year, but my sister and I saw it this year. I liked it a lot, but it made me want to cry. Not a kid's movie. But it really makes me appreciate my dogs, and it keeps me from getting too mad at Harvey when he chews things up. See my review "Just Lovin' On My Dogs".

Liked It; Might Buy It, Might Not:

Star Trek - I'm a borderline Trekkie, so I liked it. There was one line in the movie, a joke about bestiality, that I did not appreciate, and one suggested sex scene. Those things mar it and keep it from being a great movie.

Terminator 4 - Probably one of the best of the Terminators, in my opinion, but if you didn't like the other ones you wouldn't like this one.

Night at the Museum 2 - Liked it a lot, and we'll probably buy it, but maybe a little too much Egyptian spirituality stuff. But very funny - we'll probably buy it.

G-force - Just a cute kid movie. We liked it pretty well.

Eh, Could Take It Or Leave It:

X-Men Origins: Wolverine - Definitely a guy movie, but I liked it alright. It's a continuation of the other X-men movies, which we have, so we might get it.

GI Joe - Really, really, a guy's movie. Lots of action, but I didn't like the girl at all. I don't care if she was under the influence of some weird technical thing, she did some pretty bad stuff. And at the end he just pretended she didn't do anything, and oh, how unfair that she's in jail now. Derek liked it (he's a guy, after all), but as a girl, it was just alright.

Inkheart - I kind of liked it, but it was pretty scary. Once again, not for kids.

Didn't Like Them:

A Christmas Carol - Now, this one was okay, but it is definitely not for kids. They added a lot of gruesome, scary things that I thought were completely unnecessary, so it kind of ruined it for me. Just okay, and it was cool to watch it in 3D, but not our favorite version of A Christmas Carol.

The Tale of Despereaux - This came out late last year, but we saw it in 2009. Didn't like it at all. The morals were pretty messed up - basically everyone kept doing everyone else wrong, then they summed it up at the end by saying that all their actions were just a natural reaction of being hurt themselves. Totally excused and passed the blame for all the wrongs committed in the movie - I wouldn't let my kids see it.

The Box - The premise is that a woman receives a box with a button - if she pushes the button she'll get a million dollars, but someone in the world will die.

I thought this movie would be along the lines of Signs or The Village or the Joker in The Dark Knight, where it was some maniac criminal or aliens playing a sick game with humans, but in the end they would catch them or kill them.

Not that way at all. It was actually very spiritual and bizarre, and they never did say who was giving out the boxes - but from a Christians perspective it seemed demonic. I was wishing I had done a little more research on it, and Derek and I were both wishing we had just left the theater when it started getting weird.

I kept thinking they'd figure it all out in the end, and that's why we stayed. But the end does not justify it at all - in fact the end makes the entire movie even more dark, demonic-feeling, and depressing. We should have just left the theater.

Lesson learned - if you feel funny about the way the movie is going, it's probably the Holy Spirit telling you it's not right, and you should just leave.

Movies I Didn't See, But I'd Like To:

The Blind Side - Heard it was really good, and I really want to see it.

The Princess and the Frog - In the true spirit of the old Disney animated films - I've got to see this one!

Alvin and the Chipmunks 2 - We love Alvin and the Chipmunks! Derek and I are both excited to go see this one - we're thinking we might see it on New Year's Day.

Amelia - About Amelia Earhart. I might like to see it - I like historical movies like that.

Time Traveler's Wife - I'm rather intrigued, but I don't know if it's clean or not. I have to do more research.

Surrogates - Derek saw it with my mom and grandma. Again, I'm kind of intrigued, but I don't know how it will be. They did say it promoted marriage, which is always good to see.

So there's my list. By our movie experiences this year, we learned that we mostly like kid's movies, if it's just rated PG-13 for violence we'll probably like it, if we aren't liking the direction of the movie just get a refund, and Plugged In Online movie reviews are usually right on when it comes to PG-13 movies, and their reviews are always thorough, though I disagree with them sometimes on the kid's movies.


Opening Christmas Presents

Here's a video of my dogs opening their gifts on Christmas morning! Just to make you smile.

Ralphie is pretty good at unwrapping, Quincy just sits and waits until we unwrap it for her, and Harvey is still trying to figure out what's going on!

Please pardon my dog-talk. I know, I'm just getting them all riled up (especially Ralphie), but it's cute.

Opening Christmas Presents from Callie on Vimeo.

Our three dogs opening Christmas presents!


Christmas Picture Overload

Last week was extremely busy for us! Here's a little recap through pictures.

On the 23rd we went to my uncle's 30th birthday party at a castle. It was a formal party and I had a lot of fun getting all dressed up with Derek.

The party was a murder mystery dinner party - Santa Claus had been murdered, and I was one of the suspects, Ebony Sutherland. My character was an animal rights activist - that was rather hard for me to act out, but four people thought I was the culprit in the end. I actually didn't do it though - it was my mother. We had a really fun time!

I would have taken more pictures of the castle, but the tour guide yelled at me - however, in my defense, nobody said not to take pictures, and there were no signs. Just saying . . .

On Christmas Eve Derek and I went to a candlelight service. It was a pretty big church and it was a sight when all the candles were lit. The symbolism of it really hit me - how we're a candle shining for the Lord and how when we share the good news of Jesus's death and resurrection (the gospel message) someone else's candle can be lit when they believe - and look at the great cloud of witnesses that sharing with one person can lead to! I thought it was really neat.

Afterward we went and had Christmas Eve dinner at Derek's mom's house - she made prime rib and all the trimmings, and it was delicious! We got our niece a few books and a stuffed animal - one of the books lights up and plays "Oh Little Town Of Bethlehem", and she really liked it. She carried it around the rest of the night and opened it so the music could play - her parents will probably get sick of that song before long! I took a bunch of pictures of our niece opening her presents - she's so cute!

On Christmas Eve night Derek and I enjoyed our customary glasses of sparkling cider by the light of the Christmas tree.

On Christmas morning Derek and I opened gifts here. Derek got me a few pairs of earrings, a calendar, a necklace, shimmery perfume powder, these cute boots, various stocking stuffers (hat and glove set, headbands, gum, candy) and (drumroll, please) an IPod Nano! I loved all my gifts, and I'm pretty excited about the IPod - I'm always several years behind when it comes to technology, but he got me the newest one that can record videos and everything, so I feel pretty technologically savvy! I got most of my music on it now, and I can't wait to subscribe to some podcasts! You thought my listening to talk radio was out of control before . . .

I got Derek a chess game for XBox, a guitar book and CD (he's learning to play), various stocking stuffers (Country CD, coffee mug, candy, a little Hot Wheels car for fun, etc.), metal brain teasers, tape measures, a router (he's into woodworking) and router bits.

I think there's some other stuff that we got each other, but I can't remember right now. We also got a couple together gifts, like games and movies, that we opened together.

We got the dogs some presents - they get so excited to open them. It's cute. I'll post a video later this week.

Later in the day we went to spend some time with my family. Then they took off to get my sister's boyfriend from the airport, and we spent the rest of the evening at home. The next day we went to my parent's again and open gifts with all my siblings. We played games the rest of the afternoon, had a nice turkey/ham dinner, then watched Star Trek. It was a nice time.

I got some really nice stuff from Derek's family and my side of the family, but I won't list those here for the sake of space.

This month was Derek's birthday - here's a little recap.

The first thing we did was go sledding with my family. I injured my tailbone after Derek and I hit a rock on the sledding hill. It hurts to bend over.

After sledding we were off to Three Margarita's with family for dinner. Then we all came back here and had cake and presents. Wrapped in non-Christmas paper, by the way, because just because a person's birthday is near Christmas does not mean they don't deserve birthday wrapping paper. Any of you who have husbands with birthdays in December know of what I speak. This is me presenting Derek with his birthday-paper-wrapped present.

I also made him a chocolate birthday cake - double layers! My first double layered cake ever - I was very proud.

I got Derek some cowboy boots (and a couple other things) for his birthday and he seems to like them! I assured him they were appropriate for work, so he's planning on wearing them today.

Happy Birthday Derek! I love you so much - I can't imagine living without you. You are strong, intelligent, hard-working, and a wonderful Christian man - I don't deserve you. You're the love of my life, and I can't wait to see what this next year together brings!

That was our week in a nutshell! Sorry for the picture overload, but this is as much for the benefit of my memories as it is for the sake of this blog.

And it is my blog, isn't it? What am I apologizing for!

I grin as I write - you all know I'm teasing . . .


Guide Us To Thy Perfect Light

This Christmas season I've been paying a lot of attention to the stars.

It seems like the nights sky is especially glorious this year. The stars seem especially bright - when I get home from work it's usually dark, and we've had a lot of clear nights - I look up and the sheer multitude of stars has just amazed me. And the other morning on my way to work I saw four shooting stars.

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." Psalm 19:1

I'm not sure why the skies seem to have my attention this Christmas, but it brings to my mind the star that led the Magi to Bethlehem. Where did that start come from, I wonder? Was it the result of two or three stars joining together, or did the Lord create it just for that purpose?

And where did it go? Did the star die, or did the two or three stars that made it just go their separate ways?

Did it appear right when Christ was born? And how long did it shine?

I think I'll have to ask Jesus when I get Home.

What a wondrous way for the Lord to make His coming known, even to heathen wise men in foreign lands! "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." Romans 1:20

The Lord is so creative, and how great is His power that even while he was in human form, waiting in Mary's womb for the day of His birth, He was also making sure Caesar ordered a census, sending the angels to bring the good tidings to the shepherds, and setting the star in the sky so that Mary and Joseph were not the only ones who knew of His coming! He is mighty indeed that He continued to control the universe, even while He stepped down from His throne and became a baby in order to save us.

To think that our sovereign God, the Creator of everything, humbled Himself to be born as a human baby in the humblest of places. Hardly a birthplace worthy of the King of Kings, and though His birthplace was unworthy of Him, the darkness of our world was even more undeserving of such a light!

The sacrifice it took for Him to take human form - and the even greater sacrifice for which He came, to give Himself as payment for our sins - if we think about it, the thought should blow our minds. What kind of grace He must have! It's unfathomable.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for Your sacrifice! You could have left us in darkness, and it would have been just and right - but You chose to show us mercy and grace by giving Yourself! May we walk in a way that is worthy of that mercy and grace! A way that is worthy of the calling we have received (Ephesians 4:1). Amen.

May your Christmas be blessed, my friends, and I pray that each of you may turn your faces to His glorious light as we celebrate His coming this Christmas season!


Christmas Decor - My House

So how are the Christmas preparations coming along?

I'm hopelessly behind (and it's getting a little late to get all caught up). I have had time to make a few cookies, a couple different kinds of fudge, peanut butter balls, and chocolate covered pretzels. One of the pretzels looked like a heart, and I gave it to Derek.

See, isn't it cute?

I thought I'd do a quick post to show you our house all decked out for Christmas! Here's a video (I love that video setting on our digital camera):

Christmas Decorations from Callie on Vimeo.

A little video tour of our Christmas decorations!

Well, the next few days are going to be filled with a Christmas mystery dinner at a castle, a candlelight Christmas Eve service, time spent with our families, a flurry of last-minute wrapping and baking, a second Christmas on the day after Christmas Day with my brother and sister's boyfriend present (they can't be there on the actual day), and probably some sledding on the Sunday after Christmas. So yes, tomorrow's Christmas post will probably be the last one for a few days.

Enjoy all those Christmas activities, and don't forget to take the time to remember our Savior, the reason we celebrate!


Chewed Cable And Recipe

You'll never guess why our TV wasn't working.

The cable for the satellite runs along the outside of our house, and about six inches of it shows on the corner of our porch.

I was wondering why Harvey spent so much time on the porch.

That's right, he chewed the cable almost in half. No wonder it wasn't working.

Thankfully we had bought some sort of protection plan without knowing it, so the satellite company replaced the wire at no extra charge.

This is getting a little ridiculous, no? That sidebar list is coming soon.

I got a few things baked last Friday, but not nearly as much as I wanted to. Derek and I had a great weekend seeing extended family for Christmas - I'll tell you about it as soon as I have time to write a real post! It was a great weekend, but there was no time to get caught up n baking, so I'm planning on doing more tomorrow.

I'm just going to end this post by sharing the recipe of one of my favorite Christmas cookies - Snowdrop cookies! Because of their white appearance my husband fondly refers to them as Snowman droppings, but they are fabulous and pretty easy to make, so if you have a chance this week, give them a try!

Here's the recipe:

Snowdrop Cookies

2 egg whites
¾ tsp. cream of tartar
¾ c. sugar
1 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F. Take out the oven racks and place foil over them before heating. Leave racks out of oven. Beat egg whites with hand mixer until foamy. Add cream of tartar; beat until stiff. Slowly beat in sugar; beat until stiff. Add chocolate chips. Place by teaspoon on foil-covered racks and put racks in oven. Turn oven OFF. Leave overnight.


The Dog And My Freezing Toes

The laptop is currently out of commission!

No, it didn't crash on me (thank goodness). Actually, you know that dog? The one we decided to get in October that has brought the dog count up to three? He's in his chewing stage. It's ridiculous how much stuff he has chewed up. And the funny thing is, it's all my stuff.

Funny. Such a fluid word. It can mean strange, interesting, puzzling, or it's literal meaning. I'm not using it in the literal sense.

I really do love Harvey. Don't think I don't. And I actually should thank him, because he's giving me blogging material. Look for a "Things Harvey Has Chewed Up" list in the sidebar, coming soon.

He chewed up the power adapter for my laptop. And the laptop battery only lasts so long. We're hoping to get another cord soon.

In the meantime, I have to blog in our cold unfinished basement, because that's where the other computer is. At least we have another computer. But from now until we get a new power adapter, you can all picture the posts on this blog being written by poor little me in several layers, possibly a winter coat depending on the weather outside, and big warm socks. I may even resort to shoes.

I can just picture myself getting bundled up, pulling on my winter coat and boots, and Derek asking me where I'm going. "Don't worry Babe, I'm just getting ready to blog". Yeah, it's pathetic.

In other news, the satellite guy is coming over sometime this morning to fix our TV. Yep, the satellite upstairs is broken too. So if I want to watch TV, I also have to do it in the cold, unfinished basement. Adding a scarf around my neck and grabbing a couple blankets, "Don't worry Babe, I'm just going to watch some TV." Even more pathetic.

Here's the list of things to do today:

1. Write a couple blog posts, until I get too cold to do any more.

2. Bake ginger cookies, chocolate cherry cookies, little loaves of flavored bread for gifts, make two different kinds of fudge, work on chocolate covered pretzels.

3. Wrap Christmas presents! It's terrible how long it's taking me to accomplish that one thing.

4. Work on reading my books. I have a couple more that I'm determined to finish before the new year!

5. Get ready to go out, because Derek is taking me for a shopping/coffee trip tonight.

And that's it for now, though I have no doubt there will be more on the list by the end of today. It's kind of a fun list though, because some of those things have to do with Christmas - and Christmas chores are always kind of fun, right?

By the way, head over to Be Jolly, By Golly to read my post on Christmas traditions.


December Photo Scavenger Hunt

Jessica over at Called To Serve is having another Photo Scavenger Hunt! So here is my entry for December. Head on over there and check out the other contestants, then vote for me! *smile*

Edit: Jessica should have the voting up soon, so keep checking!

Deck the Halls





Reason for the Season

Photographers Choice


Candy Canes, Parades, and Scheherazade

Derek and I had a wonderful time this past weekend! I had been feeling pretty down, because it's already the middle of December and I didn't feel like we had been able to do anything for Christmas. I hadn't got to enjoy the Christmas season at all! So Derek and I decided to do some Christmas-y stuff to get in the spirit.

On Saturday we went to a parade in the small town where I work.

We got there early and walked along the street to where the parade would be - then Derek spotted a candy and ice cream shop. Of course we had to go in. We both have impossibly sweet teeth.

I decided on getting an old-fashioned candy cane, and Derek got two Irish creme truffles. We took our treats to the edge of the street and waited for the parade to start.

It was just a little home-town parade. The local fire department was in it, the dog shelter, the Cub Scouts and Brownies. An old Jeep sported a sign that said "Support Our Troops" and Santa rode around on a motorcycle with one of those little passenger carts on the side - filled with toys, of course.

My favorite part was probably the high-bike riders. You know those old-fashioned bicycles with the large front wheels? There were three of them in the parade, and Derek and I were pretty impressed. How do they even get up on those things?

After the parade we walked around the streets and looked in a few little shops. Then we sat down and watched a cute puppet show in a traveling puppet cart that was on the corner of the street where I work. Little kids were enthralled (and I admit it - I was too) and babies were laughing at the show.

We had a wonderful time.

We spent the rest of the day shopping, having lunch at Arby's, then driving home, wrapping presents, and watching The Nativity Story with Christmas lights twinkling in the background - doesn't get much better than that.

At the last minute on Saturday night, we decided we were going to go to hear a symphony orchestra Christmas concert the next day. I have always wanted to hear a symphony orchestra! You'll remember my random, excitement-generated post on Saturday night.

Well, after an unsuccessful attempt at going to church the next morning (our church is in park that often gets hit with bad weather - it was snowing and once we got to church we decided not to stay because we were afraid they'd close the pass), we headed down that afternoon to the orchestra.

I tried to get someone else to take a picture of us there, but of course my camera battery chose that moment to die. So all I have are those self-photos where you hold the camera out and hope it's aiming the right way. Oh well.

One thing we noticed was that the older generation far outnumbered us younger people. It's kind of sad, because it seems like that type of music is a dying art form. So many young people these days have no appreciation for real musical composition and talent.

And I don't know why, because the symphony was wonderful!

They started with a piece called Scheherezade, Op. 35 by Nikolai Rimski-Korsakov, then after intermission they played Christmas carols. I was glad that they did both - the first piece gave me the real symphony experience, and the Christmas selections during the second half were so enjoyable because I knew them.

Their version of "Sleigh Ride" was perfect! It sounded just like it does on the radio - only better because it was live.

During the Christmas portion of the concert they also had two guest singers, both of whom have performed in operas. My, their voices were amazing! So not only did we get to hear the symphony orchestra, but we also recieved a taste of the opera!

It was a wonderful evening, and it helped to assure me that I wasn't missing out on Christmas this year. This weekend was just what I needed to help me forget about all the work stress and busy-ness, and just refocus on Christmas and why we celebrate it.

Christmas time is wonderful not because of parades and concerts and shopping and lights! Those are part of the celebration, but the only thing we really need to celebrate Christmas is the correct state of our hearts.

I didn't need to do all of that stuff to get in the Christmas spirit - I just needed the time to de-stress, get away from the normal routine, and think about the Christmas season and everything it means - the parade and orchestra just came along with that re-focusing process this time.

Christmas is wonderful because it's the season we celebrate Christ's birth - His sacrifice in coming to live in our fallen world, His love that led Him to die on the cross for us, and the hope of His resurrection and swift return!

I just needed to slow down and enjoy the season to refocus my attention on Him this December - He's why we celebrate in the first place, after all!


Gift Idea - VS Secret Garden Eau de Toilette

Well, I was going to post for the December Photo Scavenger Hunt over at Jessica's blog today, but the deadline has been moved to Wednesday. And I can't let you all see my pictures before then, because then the competition might go out and take pictures that are better than mine! So I have to wait for Wednesday. Be looking for the photos then, and then go vote for me! Anyway . . .

It's been a fabulous weekend, and I have alot to tell you all about, but it's late at night, and I must get to bed. I have to wake up at five for work, after all.

So to tide you all over (I know you all aren't just sitting out there waiting for me to post, but I'm going to pretend that you are), I just found a fabulous Christmas present for any girls on your list.

Not that you need any more ideas for what to buy the ladies on your list, because girls are easy to shop for. I'm sure all your girl-gifts are bought already. It's those guys that take some thought, no?

But I'm going to tell you about it anyway. Maybe somebody's birthday is coming up or something.

Somehow I ended up with two Victoria Secret gift cards for ten dollars each. They were giving them away in November. Well, I have to use them before December 24th, and Derek said I could buy some body spray or something with them.

So I went to Victoria Secret with my gift cards in hand to see what I could find. I was specificaly looking for perfume, because Derek told that was safe to buy, and also because I'm pretty much out of my other perfume. And the scents I really want are on the list I gave my mom, so I needed something to last me until I can get the ones on my list.

Here's what I found:

Secret Garden Eau de Toilette. Which I think is a fancy term for perfume. Actually the literal translation is "Water of Toilet", but "toilette" means anything to do with washing, cleaning, dressing, etc. So yes, it means perfume. There's a little French lesson for you. I don't speak French, but it's amazing what you can find out with the Google translator.

Believe it or not I had never checked out the Secret Garden collection at Victoria Secret before.

I would like to point out that this is not body spray, which seems to disappear within a half hour when I use it. This is actual perfume, and it last for a while - probably a couple hours. Which is pretty amazing when you consider the price. $9.50 for one fluid ounce. A good deal for perfume if you ask me! I'm pretty excited - an affordable filler perfume for when I need it.

And they smell really good. I love floral scents, personally, so these are perfect! The two I got where Amber Romance and Secret Charm. I think Amber Romance is a great evening perfume, and Secret Charm is fabulous for the day. Amber Romance has Black Cherry, Creme Anglaise, and Sandalwood scents, and Secret Charm has Honeysuckle, Gala Apple, and Stephanotis scents. I'm sighing in contentment as I write.

You can find these in the beauty section of Victoria Secret. A great idea for Christmas or birthdays or whatever - and what girl doesn't love perfume? I'm sure she's out there somewhere - I haven't met her, but I'm sure even she needs perfume sometimes. Just saying.

Happy Shopping, and Happy Monday!


Images from

Can't Wait 'Til Tomorrow!

I'm so excited! You know why?

Derek and I are going to here a symphony orchestra tomorrow! It's a Christmas concert. It's so exciting!

I've always wanted to go to a symphony orchestra performance - in fact, it's on my list of "One Hundred Things to Do Before I Die".

We're getting to do all sorts of fun Christmas stuff this weekend - don't worry, I'll write more about it this upcoming week. And I'll take pictures. Lots of pictures.

Just wanted to tell you all how excited I am!

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