The Best Way To Spread Christmas Cheer . . .

Is singing loud for all to hear!

No, this post is not about the movie Elf.

I’m not sure if I qualify as someone who listens to Christmas music early or not.  I suppose some might consider November early, and I do listen to Christmas music before Thanksgiving, but I generally save my favorite Christmas music until the Christmas season is in full swing.

I don’t always start listening to Christmas music early, but once December hits, I really don’t want to listen to regular music.  If I only listen to Christmas music one month or so a year, I want to take full advantage of it!  It actually annoys me a little bit when I’m in  a store the week before Christmas, and they still stubbornly have non-Christmas music on.  Where’s the Christmas spirit?

Anyway, I have a lot of albums in my Christmas collection, and many of them are CD’s we listened to growing up.  It’s amazing how music brings back memories.

Here are some of the albums I have now, plus some of my favorites from growing up that I want to add.

alabama

Alabama’s Christmas CD’s 1 &2

Favorite song: Pretty much the whole first CD, and “Happy Birthday, Jesus” on the second CD.  The first CD is at the top of my favorites list.

1alanjackson

Alan Jackson, Let It Be Christmas

Favorite Song: I love the title track.

1johnnycash

Johnny Cash, The Christmas Spirit

Favorite song: “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day”.

1kennyanddolly

Kenny and Dolly, Once Upon A Christmas

Favorite song: The whole CD just brings back good memories for me, but I suppose I like “With Bells On”

natvitiycd

The Nativity Story Soundtrack

Favorite song: I just love all the music from that movie.

nittygrittydirtband

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Christmas Album

Favorite song:  I love the song “Love Has Brought Him Here”.  One of my all-time favorites.  The whole CD is really good.

toby keith

Toby Keith, Christmas to Christmas

Favorite song: I like this whole CD too, but I really like “Santa, I’m Right Here”, and “What Made The Baby Cry?”.

1stevencc

Steven Curtis Chapman, All I Want For Christmas

Favorite song: The title track.  It makes me cry (literally) every time I hear it.

1todd

Todd Agnew and Friends, Do You See What I See?

Favorite song: I wrote about this CD last year.  I love it because the whole CD is songs from the perspectives of different characters in the Nativity, so it is so focused on the true meaning of Christmas.  I like “Magnifcat” and “In The First Light” best.

1joshgroban

Josh Groban, Noel

Favorite song: I like his rendition of “Silent Night”.  but it’s Josh Groban, so the whole CD is good.

Georgestrait

George Strait, Merry Christmas Strait To You, and Merry Christmas Wherever You Are

Favorite song: “There’s A New Kid In Town,  and “Old Time Christmas”.  Both CD’s have a lot of good memories for me though.

1sawyerbrown

Sawyer Brown, Hallelujah, He Is Born

Favorite Song: “Where Christmas Goes”, but the whole thing is really good, and very Christ-centered.

1kennyrogers

Kenny Roger’s, The Gift

Favorite song: The best song on the CD is “A Soldier’s King”, by far.

1frank

Frank Sinatra, The Christmas Collection

Favorite song: It’s Frank, the whole thing is good.  But I also really like his version of “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day” and “Christmas Memories”.

Okay, I’ll stop there.  I think I’ve covered most of them, though we did have a couple of variety CD’s growing up that had some of my favorite songs, but I couldn’t find them anywhere online.

  Clearly we’re big Christmas music fans in our family!  There are so many great Christmas songs out there, and I have so many good memories of listening to those songs – as we decorated the tree, in the car as we traveled to visit family, on Christmas morning.  Those memories will always be special to me, and the music brings them back.

What are some of your favorite Christmas albums?  I’m always looking for new ones!

 

Note: Images from Amazon.com.

Return To Sender

 

You have to sing that title . . . just saying.

Every year I go to a lot of effort to order my Christmas cards, address 25-50 envelopes, and mail them off to my family and friends.  Why do I go through all that effort?  (1) To show off my handsome husband and baby (just being honest here), and (2) because doesn’t everyone love mail?

But the last couple of years I’ve started to wonder if the recipients of my Christmas cards send out cards themselves or not.  Because even though I send out the aforementioned 25-50 cards, I only ever get about 5-10 cards back.

I always used to think that maybe people these days just aren’t doing good old fashioned Christmas cards anymore, and I think that’s a pity.  Who doesn’t appreciate a Christmas card, I ask you?  People should send them out more.

But this year I keep reading comments from bloggers about how they love coming in with a Christmas card when they get the mail every day during the second half of December – and I’m wondering, maybe it’s not that people don’t send out cards, maybe it’s just that my people don’t?  Either that, or they are ignoring me, but I don’t think they would do that when I send them a card every year.

I’m talking about the people on my Christmas card list in general, not anyone in particular.  You would think I’d get a better percentage back than 20%.  There’s that line about “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”  But in my book that should say “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is sending Christmas cards for all to read(?)”.  I know, not as catchy, but true.

And you should know that if you have sent me a Christmas card in the past, I get excited over every one.  I seriously do.  In fact, I have yet to throw one out, and this is my fourth Christmas as a married lady.  I’m not sure if there is a person who appreciates Christmas cards more than I do (well, there probably is, but I don’t know them).

My grand total for this year is up to 2 cards at the time of this writing.  How sad.  I’m sure more are in the mail as I type, right?

Please tell me I’m not the only one who has a major card sending/card receiving discrepancy.

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I joke and make it sound worse than it is, and it’s true that I’m slightly bummed about not getting more cards, but also please note that I really enjoy sending them out every year, and I’ll continue to do so even if I don’t get a single card back!  I’d be disappointed if that happened, but After all, it is more blessed to give than to receive!

And I will remind myself of that if this year’s numbers continue on their current projection . . .





P.S.  Also note that I would have sent you each a card, but budget and Shutterfly’s card promotion numbers did not allow it this year . . . I know you guys would probably at least send me one back if I were able to send you one!

Also, thank you Melanie for sending me your card, because I wasn't expecting it and it totally made my day!

First Ornaments

 

A couple weekends ago we bought Wyatt his first Christmas ornament.  It makes me smile to see it hanging on our tree!

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And our first family ornament (it will have our name and the year on it as soon as I can buy a black, fine-tip Sharpie).

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I’m so grateful for the blessing of celebrating this Christmas season as a family of three!



Ugly And/Or Crazy Sweaters

Note: Friends, if you were at the party and I cut off your head in some of these pictures, it’s just because I wasn’t sure if you wanted a picture of yourself on my blog.   If you don’t mind, just let me know and I’ll include your lovely faces.  Thanks!

Last Friday Derek and I threw a Crazy Sweater Party!  We had never been to an ugly/crazy sweater party before, and we thought it would be fun to do one this year.  Here is a picture of us with our sweaters:

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Shockingly, neither of us actually won the prize for the worst sweater.

We had dinner and cookies for everyone, and we started out sharing “random facts” about ourselves while we waited for everyone to get here – a lot of the random facts ended up being horrible injury stories or weird medical things, but it made for interesting conversation!

We played a few different games and I think they turned out pretty well.

In the first game, I attached a paper with a Christmas character written on it to each person’s back, and the goal was to figure out who you were by asking others yes or no questions.  The characters I used were:


-Frosty the Snowman (Me)
-Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Derek)
-Santa Claus
-Mrs. Claus
-Mary
-Joseph
-The Abominable Snowman
-The Little Drummer Boy
-The Grinch
-Ebenezer Scrooge
-Tiny Tim
-Buddy the Elf


Everyone figured theirs out!

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Scott and Danae and their sweaters – and yes, that’s our Ralphie in the picture too.  We dressed our dogs up in sweaters for the occasion.

We also played Pictionary with the titles of Christmas songs.  I should have taken pictures of some of the drawings!  The songs ranged from really easy to pretty hard.  These are the ones I used:


-The Chipmunk Song
-I Saw Three Ships
-12 Days Of Christmas
-Hard Candy Christmas
-Deck The Halls
-Jingle Bell Rock
-The Little Drummer Boy
-Silver Bells
-Carol of the Bells
-Sleigh Ride
-Winter Wonderland
-Baby, It’s Cold Outside
-Grown-up Christmas List
-Let It Snow
-I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day
-Away In A Manger
-Santa Baby
-Rockin’ around The Christmas Tree
-Frosty the Snowman
-Santa Claus is Coming To Town
-I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas


I was really impressed with everyone’s drawings!  I wouldn’t even know where to begin with most of those.  Anyway, with a combination of raw talent and pure luck, the girl’s team won!

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Our friends and their cute baby.  Sorry for the pixelating, but I wasn’t sure they wanted a picture of their baby on my site.  Just look at the sweaters.

We also played a game that is kind of like musical chairs, but with no music and more strategy.  Basically everyone draws someone else’s name from a hat (someone else at the party), and the goal is to get four people from your team on the couch.  The person to the left of the empty spot has to call out a name, so you have to figure out everyone’s fake names and remember them to try to get your team members on the couch.  It’s hard to explain, but it was fun.

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My friend, Laura, brought a sweater to the party to announce the gender of their baby (they found out the day before the party) – it’s a boy!  I thought it was a really cute way to announce it to all of us!
Then we voted on the guy and girl with the worst sweaters!  We each gave a little speech to campaign for our sweater. Here are the winning sweaters:

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Jed, Ashley’s husband, won for the worst guy’s sweater! It was pretty ill-fitting, and he sold it well in the speech!

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And my sis won for the worst girl’s sweater!  Really, I don’t think words were even needed to sell that one.

I thought the party turned out pretty well, and it was fun to see everyone and their sweaters!  And I have an ugly sweater just waiting in my closet in case I ever get invited to another sweater party.
Though some people told me it wasn’t that bad – I suppose the ‘80’s are coming back in style.

What sweater would you have voted for?



Lights

 

I’ve seen so many cute pictures of babies with Christmas lights on Pinterest, so I wanted to take a few pictures of Wyatt with some lights!  Here is our little non-professional photo shoot!

Very interested in the lights.

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Then I remembered to turn on the Christmas tree lights.

 

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Just not too sure about this . . .

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Starting to loosen up . . .

 

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There’s that sweet smile!

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Wyatt is fascinated with the Christmas lights!  I have to watch him pretty carefully to make sure he doesn’t pull them off the tree. 

We had fun with our little Christmas light photo shoot!

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P.S. Just learned that Christmas tree lights can contain lead - I hadn't heard that before. So don't worry, I will be washing his little hands whenever he touches them!

Christmas Simplifying

 

I feel so ahead of the game this Christmas.

This is unusual for me.  Usually I’m running behind on something related to Christmas every year.  For goodness sake, I didn’t wrap a single present until Christmas Eve last year.

December usually feels like an out-of-control and crazy month, but I’m feeling so in control this year.

Actually, I would have thought I’d be running more behind this year than ever, because it’s Wyatt’s first Christmas, we’re having a big birthday party for Derek this year, I’m planning a shower for my sister right after the holidays . . . but somehow I’m getting everything done in record time.

I finished my Christmas shopping a week ago.  All of it.  And I have probably 75% of my wrapping done now too.  We did a lovely Christmas photo shoot (photos still coming), the Christmas cards have been sent out, the birthday invites have been sent out, and shower invites are on their way out.  I’ve bought all the ingredients to the Christmas goodies I plan to make.  I bought Wyatt’s first Christmas ornament and our first family-of-three ornament.  We even had time and energy to throw a crazy sweater party in there (recap coming soon). 

The only thing we have left to do is go shopping for stocking stuffers.  I’m loving having everything mostly done, because it’s allowing me to just sit back and enjoy all the gatherings and festivities without rushing around to get everything done beforehand.

I think what has made this year different is (1) I started preparations earlier than usual, and (2) I’m trying to simplify things.  I definitely needed to simplify things this year with all the extra events to be planned, on top of it being the first year I’m doing Christmas preparations with Wyatt to take care of too.

For example, the list of Christmas goodies is less complicated than normal – I’m just making our favorites.

I did more shopping online as well, which took out a lot of the leg work.

And one other way we’re simplifying this year is with regards to wrapping presents.  I bought a big roll of shiny red wrapping paper, and we wrapped all our presents in the same paper.  It seemed like less energy than getting different colors and patterns and trying to find bows and ribbons to match.  Plus I just wanted to do something different.

We did buy different colors of ribbon, and we color-coded each present according to which side of the family it goes to – Derek’s side of the family gets red ribbon, my side gets green ribbon, and our own little family’s gifts are wrapped with gold ribbon. 

The organizer in me loves this, and I think they look good under our tree:

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Now just to keep Wyatt from ripping them apart!  He’s fascinated with the presents, and he’ll crawl up to them and just poke at them with his little fingers.  I keep finding little finger holes and rips in the paper!

In what ways do you simplify the Christmas season craziness?



Ten Months!

Wyatt is ten months old!

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Derek helped me take the pictures this time, and Wyatt was just cracking up!  That’s why he’s looking off to the side in all of these!

This month he’s been practicing his waving more.  His first “wave” was at me while Derek was holding him on 11/13/11, and he’s been getting gradually better at it since.  He still doesn’t do it on request, but when he feels like it he’ll reach his hand up in a little wave or “fist bump”.  It’s so cute. 

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This is an example of him practicing waving – we were attempting to take a picture and he decided to do his reach/wave for Derek.    Ignore the fact that I was not ready for the picture.

He’s also working on clapping (started around 12/3/11) – he’ll touch his hands together in a clap, but without making any noise – then he’ll look at me to see if I noticed and look so proud of himself.

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He’ll also copy me when I clap sometimes, and he copies us when we laugh too, even though he doesn’t know what we’re laughing about. 

He’s getting so playful.  The other day I gave him a bookmark to look at, and he held it at arm’s length looking at it, and then he lifted it a bit and grinned at me from underneath it – I could tell he was so proud of himself for being so tricky, and I think it was the first time he initiated '”peek-a-boo”!  Actually, on the day of his ten-month birthday, he was kind of playing peek-a-boo with me right before we put him to bed – he kept hiding his face, and then looking up at me again to wait for the "peek-a-boo/there-he-is” part.  It was cute!

He is getting so fast at his army crawling.  He still gets up on his hands and knees and rocks back and forth, but when he wants to move he drops to his belly and army crawls.  He knows how to open doors so he can crawl through.

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This month he’s been pulling himself up on his knees to play with things (around 12/7/11).  We lowered his crib this month because we knew it was coming!   He loves our dogs and will try to follow them around the house, but he can’t quite keep up with them.

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He’s getting so big too – he’s in twelve month pants (although they are still baggy around the waist), but he fits in shirts that are anywhere from 6-12 months in size.  He’s just long and skinny.

We started pureed meats recently, and at first he hated it – and I don’t blame him, because we started with ham and gravy and it smelled awful.  He made the funniest face when we gave it to him.  The next time we tried chicken and apples, and he liked that one much better!

He still says “mama” and “dada”, but I’m waiting for the moment that I really know he’s talking to me or Derek when he says it.  He “talks” all the time – he’s a very vocal baby!

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He’s sleeping a little less at night than he used to (12 hours now), and is taking a morning nap in addition to his afternoon nap instead. I’m okay with this.  Our nighttime routine is to give him a bath if he’s due for one, give him a bottle, and feed him some solids.  Sometime during those three things we’ll read him a Bible story, either from an actual Bible or from his storybook Bible.  Then we pray together as a family.  Once all that is done we’ll take him downstairs, change his diaper, lay him down in his crib, play “Where’s Wyatt” a few times (this is a big hit – it cracks him up), and then we get him settled and turn out the light.  He’s so good at knowing when it’s time to sleep.  His bedtime is somewhere between 7:00 and 8:00 PM right now.

He also got his upper left baby tooth this month, and he’s working on the next one now I think!

This past month Wyatt . .

-Gave his first wave.

-Started having to get bundled up for the cold weather.

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-Had his first Thanksgiving.

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-Started clapping (even if he doesn’t do it for the noise yet).

-Saw the Christmas tree for the first time!

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-Went on his first official Christmas shopping trip!

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-Went to his first Christmas parade!

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-Attended his first Christmas party (post coming soon).

He still gives us hugs and kisses, and he’s generally the happiest, sweetest baby I know! 

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My Sweet Wyatt,

You are growing so much, and I kept getting comments this month on how you are starting to look more “grown-up”.  You are losing a bit of your baby-ness.  But at the same time you still love to be held and you love to cuddle with me, and you still have the sweetest little baby laugh.  I’m cherishing every bit of this stage – every bit of the baby that you still are, and every bit of the little boy that you are turning into.  You are my little Treasure, Wyatt-Boy, and I love you so much!

Love,

Mama



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