It's another "get real" day here on the blog.  Another post where I tell you who I really am.  Good stuff.

For most of my life, I've tried to be all things to all people.  I try to blend in, go with the flow and be a part of the crowd.  But I think that sometimes I'm so eager to please that I lose myself.  Things feel "normal" for a while until I suddenly catch a glimpse of who I really am.  And then I get a crazy yearning for some self-exploration.  A little "me" time to decipher just what it is that I really like, what I really think, where I'm really most comfortable.

When I was younger and my friends were 'goth,' I painted my nails black and wore funky fishnets. 
I exerted a TON of effort on my schoolwork because I thought academia was the be-all end-all and I had to be smart like everyone else.
My sporty friends know I do yoga, my posh friends see me in trendy boots and makeup, and for my nerdy friends I wear lots of woot shirts.
I learned all about classic rock for my husband, read all the "Shopaholic" books for my inlaws, and have seen just about every tv show/movie about space that there is. 
And it's not to say that I don't enjoy these things.  Because I find joy and value in all of them.  (Well, maybe not so much the black nails and fishnets...).  They bring me closer to the people that I care about (and come on, Big Bang Theory is pretty stinkin' hilarious).  They force me to broaden my horizons.  But if I'm really, truly honest with myself, THIS is who I am:

* I order nachos when everyone else ordered salad.
* I crank up Christian Alternative music and drum on the steering wheel when I'm alone in my van.
* I have a walk-in-closet stuffed with clothes, but only wear 1/3 of them because I don't know how to wear the rest. 
* If it were up to me, I'd never read anything but "home and garden" magazines.  In the bathtub.  With a bunch of pretty candles lit...(are you relaxed yet?)
* I think The Princess Bride is about as good as it gets.
* I much prefer "social" board games to "strategy" board games - I want to get to know people, I don't want to have to think.
* I understand the value of minimalism, but I am most definitively a 'nester.'
* Sometimes I just need to call my closest girlfriend and talk about absolutely nothing.  Or complain till I'm all worn out.  Just let out all the 'me' that's been bottled up inside. 

I don't mind putting on all the different hats.  I went into acting because I like exploring other personalities and different perspectives.  But I've also known a soul or two who's gone a little off his rocker because in all that exploring, he lost touch with his true self.  So every now and then (like when I'm singing along to Disciple in the mom-mobile on my way home from a playdate-planning session) it's nice to allow myself a little self-indulgent rumination.  To think about hanging out with my roommates in college listening to the music I loved, reading the books Icouldn't wait to pick up, wearing the clothes I'd purchased on impulse because the just felt so 'right.' And sometimes I allow myself a day to be unapologetically me.  Even if everyone else is eating salad and wearing pearls and talking about running marathons.  I'll just sit there in my jeans and Uggs and snarf my nachos and nod along.  I'm glad I'm not just like them.  I'm glad they're not just like me.  Can you imagine what a boring world it would be if we were?
Happy 2012 everyone!!  As you can see, I had a very blessed New Years Eve.  It's tradition that my husband and his college roommates (and now their wives as well) all get together to celebrate the new year.  We're scattered all over the country, but once a year we still manage to make the trek to see each other.  It's a real blessing to be with good friends again.  And this year, we just happened to meet up at gorgeous South Beach in Miami.  After two non-stop years of night-wakings, diaper-changes, and whining toddlers, it was so incredible to have a little r & r. 

While I was away, I did a lot of thinking, too.  I decided I need to add one more goal for the year. 

#11: Learn to like myself just the way God made meThe Lord has a purpose for me.  He knows what He wants me to accomplish with my life, and He has made me perfect for fulfilling that purpose.  When I find myself disastisfied with myself, it's usually because I'm trying to fulfill a purpose that is not my own.  No, I'm not gorgeous and fashionable - but I'm not meant to be a supermodel.  Sure, I'm struggling with sales in my etsy shop, but I shouldn't be envious of the women I know who are great successes.  Perhaps their shops are what the Lord has in store for them now.  He wants me to be focusing my efforts on other things (though I'm not giving up the store, it's just a hobby).  I'm not "cool" or funny.  But my friends seem to like shy and nerdy.  I'm not Supermom.  But she doesn't really exist. 

All I need to do is let go of what I think I'm not and begin to embrace what I'm made for.  I have a nice, soft lap for snuggling with and reading to my kids.  We have a warm home that our kids aren't afraid to explore and learn in.  I genuinely care about nearly everyone I meet, even if they don't all want to be my friend.  I'm a decent cook, get the bills paid on time, can make my husband laugh.  I want my kids to be happy and to learn responsibility - though I'm still working on the execution of this one. 

Goals 1-10 lay out a plan to change a few things that I think will make me better at fulfilling my purpose.  Goal 11 is my permission to let go of everything else.  All the emotional 'stuff' that weighs me down.  God loves me just the way I am, and that's what really matters.  Now it's my turn to learn to do the same :)

How did your New Years Eve go?  What are some of your goals for 2012?  I'd love to hear what you're all up to!
I've got lots of plans in store for 2012 and I am so excited!  I just wanted to give you all a rundown of what to look for in the upcoming new year!  I'm tweaking my post schedule a little.  I'll still have my regular posts, but I'm also adding some fun link-ups as well.  Here's what things will look like beginning in January:

Monday: Stuff I Love
Tuesday: Stuff I Don't Love and/or Tuesday Top 5 linkup
Wednesday: Book Of The Week and Wednesday Wander linkup
Thursday: Recipe Of The Week and Think Thinner Thursday linkup
Friday: Free Friday (anything goes) and Swap It To Me linkup (once/month)

I'd love for this blog to be a starting point for all of us to get to know each other better and share our knowledge and resources.  So I'll be giving you guys opportunities to share your opinions, gain new followers for your blogs/shops, share your best fitness tips and trade goods and services. 

AND the BIGGEST news it - we're going to be moving!  Lovely as weebly is - it's just not the very best place for us.  I'm in process of having a lovely designer give my old blogger site a brand new facelift!!  Starting in February 2012 we'll be moving back to blogger (I'll keep this site up so y'all can come visit the archive anytime).  I'm sure I'll have some kind of fun grand reveal.

So that's what we have to look forward to next year!  I'm signing off until 2012.  I hope you all have a really lovely, blessed and safe new year celebration! 

Christmas Decadence


It's been quite the Christmas at our house.  We celebrated in early December with my parents and the kids were spoiled with tons of presents.  Then we celebrated at home on Christmas eve and the kids were spoiled with even more presents.  Then (after a brief jaunt to church where they were thoroughly bored), we headed out to the other Grandma's house and they got so many presents we don't know where to put them all.  By the end of the unwrapping sessions, our two year old didn't even want to finish unwrapping his gifts, the four year old wanted another present even after he'd finished unwrapping all 12 of his, and the baby decided she'd rather just chew on the boxes.  Wow.

I'm hoping that despite the fact that we went totally overboard this year, the kids will be able to take away from the holiday something other than lots of presents.  I'm hoping that they learned something about Baby Jesus at church.  I'm hoping that they remember that His birth is what it's all about (after all, we did have a "birthday party for Jesus" on Christmas eve - even if it did involve more junk-food eating than Bible reading).  I'm hoping that they treasure the time they had with their grandparents and aunt and uncle more than the gifts they won't even remember in a few years.  And I'm hoping that they will remember to think of those who don't have enough, as they themselves are blessed with too  much. 

I plan on making the kids sift through their toys to pick out a few to donate to children who don't have as much.  I think it's a concept they understand, even at this young age.  They're still learning all about "share"- so I think sometimes the empathy is difficult for them - but I want them to learn now so that giving will be second nature when they're older. 

Our kids know that Santa isn't real.  They choose to believe that he is, just for fun.  But they know that all the gifts under the tree(s) come from people who love them, and they know that saying "thank you" is a must.   They still get excited to see the man in the red suit when we're out around town, but somewhere in their sugar-crazed state they know that the 'real' meaning of Christmas is so much more than presents and sweets. 

Now that the holidays are over, I'm hoping that we can focus on the fresh start of a new year.  I'm planning to sit my kids down and talk with them about goals they want to accomplish this year, hopes that we have for them, and ways that we can make this a better year for others.  I know it's a long-shot that they'll really 'get' it, but some day they will and I want to set the precedent now.  I wake up every single morning feeling so incredibly blessed for all that we've been given and I just hope and pray that I can pass on an attitude of gratitude to my kids. 

So how did your holidays go?  What are some goals that you have for this coming new year? 
Gift overload
Don't worry, this Christmas celebration is protected by Green Lantern and Superman
What Mommy and Daddy spent their entire Christmas assembling (but isn't it gorgeous!?)
Merry Christmas everyone!  Much love to you all from our family.  We are grateful for you!  Hope that you have a truly wonderful and blessed holiday and a stellar new year!
A huge thanks to Michelle at The Momma Bird for organizing this super cute rewrite.  Merry Christmas everyone!!

Twas the Night Before Christmas {blog style}

Twas the night before Christmas, while scheduling posts on the blog

Not a child was stirring, they were bumps on a log.

Facebook was quiet no updates to see,

I sure hope Santa remembers presents for me!">{Michelle @ the Momma Bird}

Oliver was chewing his bone by the fire,

his eyes were heavy, he was so very tired.

I had on my onesie covered with penguins you see,

hoping that under the mistletoe Mike would meet me.">{Ashley @ The Shine Project}

When out on the web there arose such a clatter,

from the Duggars &cloth diapering, to family matters.

Away to my laptop I started typing away,

25 blog posts to schedule before Christmas day!">{Lacy @ Living on Love}

The room was a mess and life was on hold,

as the luster of my screen showed I had one more post to go.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

but a sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.">{Melanie @ Catelmo Family Blog}

With a plump red belly and a white beard to boot,

I knew it was Santa Clause delivering his loot,

With a voice that sounded much like Tom Hanks,

He shouted out to his flying ranks:">{Kendra @ Our Little Almanac}

Can you hear that baby?! Happy, now sad, now laughing, now crying!

Little girl don’t you know, tonight’s the night in which I am flying!

From the boppy to the bed, all in one fell swoop.

Let’s scurry off to bed, for your mommy is pooped!">{Alexandra @ My Blog Kip}

As the wind picks up and the snow is falling,

We are met with deadlines and emails are calling.

So up to the house the laptop now closes,

With a sleigh full of Giveaways and cheeks all a rosey."><em>{Beth @ Through the Eyes of the Mrs.}

And then as I took a sip of my tea

I heard, on the roof, someone louder than me.

I quickly grabbed my flask to spike my large cup.

Oh phew, it's just Santa, here to make my pageviews go up.">{Niki @ NoVa Mom Blog}

He was dressed all in red, it was a nice little look,

And a noticed in his bag, a little silver Macbook.

He took out his Mac, took a seat in a chair,

Then connected to the web, and said, "I like to share what I wear."">{Lacey @ Little Miss Nerd Girl}

His Iphone did twinkle! His Ipad did glow.

His fingers like ice cubes, his pointer like snow.

He looked for his warmers, they went on with a pop,

he could text and browse thanks, to the Hollie Rogue Shop!">{Andi @ The Hollie Rogue}

The click of the mouse beneath His forefinger,

As upon another blog post his eyes did linger.

But alas he grimaced in pure consternation

As he saw that dreaded prompt “Word Verification”">{Misty @ Through A Photographers Eyes}

He was savvy and smart, a solo Geek Squad in red,

And I followed each detailed instruction he said.

And my blog design problems were through, I could tell,

For Santa, it seems, sure knows html.">{Cat @ Stuff I Love}

I sat at my desk, typing away with a smirk,

choosing words and pics to display all my quirks.

Each word and sentence slowly turns into prose,

the night ticks away, as the bright screen still glows.">{Mary @ Lily White}

I sprang to my laptop, not a moment to lose,

and feverishly typed while G continued to snooze.

I looked out the window, as he disappeared into the night,

wishing Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.”">{Jac @ BabEblessings}

Merry 'early' Christmas Everyone!!!

Love,"> The Momma Bird">The Shine Project">Living on Love">Cantelmo Family Blog">Our Little Almanac">My Blog Kip">Through the Eyes of the Mrs.">NoVa Mom Blog">Little Miss Nerd Girl">The Hollie Rogue">Through a Photographers Eyes">Stuff I Love">Lily White">BabEblessings

Hi all.  Today I am issuing you a challenge.  I posted here not that long ago about the differences between my dream house, and my real house.  And while I've made peace with most of my mess and clutter, frankly, my basement bedroom is getting kind of dreary.  Not only is is fairly dark, but now that it's winter, our little concrete box of a room is cold!   I find myself longing to move back into our old master bedroom with the tray ceiling, warm carpets and window that actually let in light.  However, baby girl needs that room now, and we're hoping not to be in this house TOO much longer.  So here's the challenge.  This is what my bedroom looks like now:
Ugh.  Not very welcoming, eh?  What I want is a super low-budget makeover.   I don't want to spend a ton when I'm just going to be moving out soon (I hope).  And I want to keep things fairly neutral for the next owners.  Other than mudding and taping and then painting the walls - I'm kinda stumped.  How do I make this space pretty without spending money?  This is where you come in.  I would LOVE to hear your ideas.  Did you see an awesome DIY on Pinterest that you think could work here?  Link me to it!  Did you run across a dirt cheap lamp or rug or anything online that you think might look cute?  Give me details!  Do you have a killer knack for decorating and/or organizing and have some tips for dressing up a space?  Please jot them down! 

I have seriously come to dread bedtime because I don't want to go back to my box.  I used to look forward to relaxing in my cozy room.  Not so much now.  So any help or advice you might have is mighty welcome.  I am grateful to all of you! 

And when this is over and I've given my room some TLC I'll be posting a before and after.  If I've used your tip, I'll be giving you credit!  I may even have a little reward for the most helpful commenter.  Thanks a bunch everyone!
Have you discovered Shabby Apple yet?  If not, you're missing out!  Shabby Apple creates some of the most gorgeous dresses, skirts, accessories and kids' items I have ever seen.  Not only are their clothes both trendy and classic, but they even provide you with the tools to pick the perfect outfit.  The website allows you to shop by body type, by clothing style, by event or even by outfit.  And these clothes won't be going out of style any time soon.   I can't stop adding their items to my Pinterest page. 

Check out some of the amazing sales they are having this December.  I promise, you won't be disappointed!
Dresses from Shabby Apple
Dresses from Shabby Apple
Happy Advent all!  Yeah, I know, I'm way behind.  That's just my M.O. this Christmas, unfortunately.  Anyway, I've been working my little tail off trying to get  things ready for advent for my kids.  I love holiday traditions and with all the books on Santa that we're reading, I thought I would try to get the kids excited about Jesus instead.  Here are my top favorite resources for putting together a stellar Advent!

1) After spending hours on Pinterest (that's probably not much of an exaggeration) trying to come up with the perfect Advent calendar, I finally decided to make an amalgamation of these two garlands (click images for links):

I'm using a combination of the envelopes and the mittens - not going to finish in time to have all 25 days this year, but so far it's looking adorable!  And the best part is, they are super easy to make - just stitch up a couple pieces of felt and you're done!  I have 2 envelopes and a mitten sewn up and un-numbered, so I'll just be reusing them every 3rd day this year and finish up after the holiday crunch.  Oops - at least my kids are forgiving. 

2) In each pouch I'm adding a verse from here and from here (this one can also be made into a paper chain if you're not doing pouches).  I'm also adding one charitable act to perform each day, and a special treat (dinner out, candy, extra bedtime books, etc).  And we do a fun Advent-related activity every day.  You can find ideas for activities here, here and here.

3) And because I have been reading about it everywhere, and I really wanted to go all-out this season, we're also following along with Truth In The Tinsel.  It's a great e-book (only $4.99 and you can download it instantly!) detailing a verse, a craft and discussion points for each day of Advent.  It's easy enough for young kids I'm so excited to get started with my kids.   (click the picture to buy the book).
If you celebrate Advent, what fun activities have you put together?  Please feel free to share so we can all learn from each other!

I'm (blank) because


It's going around the blogosphere, so I thought I'd partake as well.  I am _____ because:

I'm weird because...
I eat hamburgers, pizza, nachos and most other 'finger foods' with a fork.
I'm afraid of clowns.
I used to have a Yoda collection.
I'm terrified of talking on the phone.

I'm a bad friend because...
I get easily overwhelmed and bail on things I said I'd do (esp if I'm hosting)
I talk too much and sometimes interrupt.
I almost never get a birthday present in the mail in time.

I'm a good friend because...
I'll listen for hours if you really need to talk about something.
I really do care about everything going on in your life.
I'll watch your kids or bring you soup or help in any way I can. 
You can call me at 2 am and I won't get mad (hubby might, though...)

I'm sad because...
My babies are growing up so fast.
My sister just moved far away.
I feel like I've wasted so much energy on things that just don't matter.
I want so badly to help the suffering, but just don't know where to start.

I'm happy because...
I am blessed SO far beyond what I deserve or could even imagine.
I have an amazing family who loves me just as I am.
My God has saved me and given me hope.
It's a gorgeous day today.

I'm excited for...
My daughter's first birthday tomorrow.
Christmas and all the 'magic' that goes along with it.
Seeing my parents for the first time in a year.
Watching my son sing in his preschool Christmas pageant. 

I'm blessed by...
Having more than I need every day of my life.
My loving family and friends.
A loving Savior.
All of you!!  I really do appreciate every one of you.
The Fontenot Four
Stuff I Love
Little Miss Nerd Girl
Stuff I Love
Sneakers Over Stilettos

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