Thursday, December 17, 2009

It's that time of year!

We have been busy, busy around our house and enjoying the holiday season. This past weekend we went with David's family to see the lights at the Opryland Hotel. The lights were beautiful but the hunting for a parking spot for 20 minutes was not the most fun we had....note to anyone wanting to go to Opryland--stay clear on the weekends! Here was our first attempt for a 2009 family Christmas card picture. Maybe next year we can get one with the kids looking in the right direction.

Asher has been enjoying rearranging the Nativity scene. Here he has decided to form a congo line.

While living with David's parents last year at Christmas time, Asher enjoyed making cookies with Nana. We were hoping to recreate the memory and start a tradition. Asher refused to roll any cookies and agreed to decorate about two cookies...can you consider it a tradition, if you force the kid to participate? ha! We didn't force but Pops was in the other room and he is much more fun to play chase with than ice cookies with your mom or nana.

I've been busy making cookies, exchanging cookies and finding who might want to recieve the cookies. Asher and I packed up a few cookies to give to our garbage men. Asher loves to watch for our garbage men every week and the men know that we are always at our back window watching for them so they wave and acknowlege us every week. So kind! Below are new cookies that I tried this year and have been well received. These Chocolate Decadence Cookies are from the December issue of Sunset magazine. What I love about them is it is one dough with four variations. Find the recipes here.

Hope you have been enjoying your Christmas preparations as much as we have!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Picture with Santa

Click here to view these pictures larger

As you can see, this was not the most enjoyable time for Asher. At least it was FREE! We told him before attending the Christmas with Santa breakfast that some people call Noah, "Santa." So, he really didn't know who we were seeing or why.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Pillow Fun

Who needs toys when you have pillows on your couch?

Asher has turned our pillows into all kinds of things....slides, castles, tables, steps, surfboards, sailboats, and as seen below, a train.

He also enjoys the couch (once pillows are removed), which has become our firetruck, car, tow truck and his favorite, the trash truck. The pillows on the floor then become the trash cans that we empty into our trash truck. What an imagination this little one has!!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Breakfast with Santa

This past Saturday, Asher and I attended the Breakfast with Santa at our church. We had so much fun! The organizers did a great job with keeping us busy during each station and it never felt like there were 400 people there!! We were in a fun group and moved from crafts, to a live navtivity, to breakfast (more like brunch for us) and onto Santa.
Made a snowman ornament. Actually, I made it while Asher just stared at all the other kids in the room.

Asher with a goat...

Asher loved the animals and I wish that I had video of him talking to him. It was the cutest thing. He would say, "hi sheep, hi" in the sweetest little voice. Although as much as he loved this part, he finally said, "Brrrr! Momma, it's cold; let's go inside."

Any guesses for who Mary, Joseph and the "wise man" are?

Sorry there are no pictures of Asher with Santa. Hopefully when we get our picture, I can post it. I couldn't take a picture of him with Santa because I was holding Asher and sitting next to Santa. He was not quite ready to do it alone. He did though smile when Santa touched his cheek but was still clinging tightly to me.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas Tea Party in Kenya

No, I have not flown to Kenya for Christmas (although that sure would be a special way to spend it). I just finished reading a post on the Made In The Streets blog and had to share it. I know that Darlene (who wrote it) would not mind and would hope that you would visit the blog and read more about their work. This is where David and I lived and who we worked with for 6 months five year ago. I hope you gain as much insight as I did after reading this about the true meaning of the Christmas season.

From the Made In The Streets blog by Darlene Coulston.

"It's December and I love giving parties. So on Friend Sunday, I asked Mbuvi to announce that all the church ladies were invited to our house Thursday at 4 for a Christmas Tea. OK, that was today. First, I was at the school, and Moses came to tell me there were women at the gate for me... for a tea party. In Swahili, hour 4 is our 10 am whereas our 4 pm is hour 10 -- confused? They were too. So I go home, make two big cakes, cut them into 15 pieces, and then, the rain started. Only if you've been here in Kenya during a rain will you appreciate how hard it is to walk in our particular kind of mud. I thought, "Oh, no. There won't be anyone for tea! Well, maybe 5 or 6." It continued to rain -- a lovely sound on our tin roof, and we really do need the rain. But my party..... Around 3 pm, I started making chai. I arranged chairs, etc. and I was ready, but not expecting many.

Well, by 4 pm, there were 33! I was thrilled! We prayed, and started the cake around. Then 5 more came. And another group, and another, and the rain keeps coming, and another 5. There are muddy shoes everywhere, I'm bringing out a pkg of cookies, making more chai, finding cups and chairs, and I stop counting after 50 women are in my house. I had no more milk or tea leaves for chai, no more food to offer, no more things we could sit on (Maureen even went home and brought all her chairs!) . And we were having fun!

One thing we did was share Christmas memories (around the small group of 50). As I listened to the women, they talked of sharing good food, special food like chapati and mandazi, and being with family and friends, and of going to church on Christmas eve. Not one mention of presents or busy schedules. I feel sorry for all of us with money -- we've been robbed.... in a very real way. There are certain advantages to poverty. We read Mt 2; Jesus' family sounds a lot like their economic situation -- and angels came for them.

Well, my guests left. The oldest woman, who had been a guest on Friend Sunday, gave me a hand woven basket; and I gave her a bag of our tomatoes and we were happy. We all sang "We wish you a merry christmas" I wish that for you all too!"

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thoughts of Asher

Tonight we ventured to the Lighting of the Green on Lipscomb University's campus. I was looking forward to this first Christmas event of the season and hoping the kids, well at least Asher would enjoy seeing the lights and hearing the music. As we settled in our spot to take in the festivities, Asher turns and says, "What are we doing here?"

Oh well, maybe next year he'll appreciate it as much as I do.
(He did enjoy the free cookies though!)
Picture from here.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Reading at Christmas Time

Asher received this book, Merry Christmas, A Storybook Collection, from his great-grandmother for Christmas last year. We have already been enjoying all three stories that are inside. I especially like the first story, Once There Was a Christmas Tree. It is such a sweet story about taking what you have and sharing with another. What a wonderful tale to share with your small child, especially when this season often turns into wanting things for yourself. Hope you can find this story to read to your child this season. You can find it at Amazon (as shown above) or you can borrow ours! :)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

My Little Elf

As soon as the first box of Christmas ornaments was opened, Jonas decided that he wanted to help in the Christmas tree decorating as well. He would pull out the boxes and I would hang them on the tree.

I gave him our only knitted ornament and you can see him below trying to get it on the tree...ooops, didn't quite make it. I realized I only have two soft ornaments to hang at the bottom of my tree so the tree is a little bare at the bottom this year. Not going to risk the the breakables within a one year old's reach!

I am sure you all are wondering where David was in all of this. Do you see what's on the tv in the background....College Football....does that answer the question? :)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

TOMS Shoes

If you are looking for a gift that not only gives but gives back, then TOMS shoes are the gift you should buy this season. When you buy a pair of TOMS shoes, you will not only get a pair of shoes but a child in need of shoes will also get a pair. Blake Mycoskie founded TOMS (short for tomorrow) shoes after visiting Argentina and seeing children in desparate need of shoes, a basic neccesity.

Here is what TOMS shoes has to say about this worthy cause...
Why shoes?
Most children in developing countries grow up barefoot. Whether at play, doing chores or just getting around, these children are at risk.

Walking is often the primary mode of transportation in developing countries. Children can walk for miles to get food, water, shelter and medical help. Wearing shoes literally enables them to walk distances that aren't possible barefoot.

Wearing shoes prevents feet from getting cuts and sores on unsafe roads and from contaminated soil. Not only are these injuries painful, they also are dangerous when wounds become infected. The leading cause of disease in developing countries is soil-transmitted parasites which penetrate the skin through open sores. Wearing shoes can prevent this and the risk of amputation.

Many times children can't attend school barefoot because shoes are a required part of their uniform. If they don't have shoes, they don't go to school. If they don't receive an education, they don't have the opportunity to realize their potential.

There is one simple solution...SHOES.

Of the planet's six billion people, four billion live in conditions inconceivable to many. Lets take a step towards a better tomorrow.
Above photo and website for TOMS shoes found here.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Homemade Birthday

Tonight we celebrated David's brother, sister-in-law and dad's birthdays. Yes, the month of November is quite a busy birthday month for our family. Today was spent finishing a birthday cake, making gifts and assembling presents and cards. Below are two homemade gifts we gave to David's dad.

Here are the recipes if you are interested in making some for yourself or to give as a gift.
Hot Fudge Sauce
(from Southern Living's December issue)
Makes: 3 1/4 cups (I halved the recipe.)
Melt 1 (8oz) package unsweetened chocolate baking squares and 1/2 cup butter in a large, heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Add 2 cups sugar, and cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds or until blended. Add 1 cup milk, and cook, stirring constantly, 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated and sugar is disolved. (Do not boil.) Remove from heat. Stir in 1 tsp. vanilla extract and 1/8 tsp. salt. Cover and chill sauce up to 2 weeks.
*To reheat, microwave sauce in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring occasionally, at HIGH for 15- to 30-second intervals or until warm.

Chocolate Chunk Hot Cocoa Mix
(from Real Simple's December issue)
What you need
2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder; 3/4 cup sugar; 8 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate.
What to do-In a bowl, combine the cocoa, sugar and chocolate. Store in an airtight container. Keep at room temperature for up to 4 months.
*Instructions: In a small saucepan, whisk 1/4 cup cocoa mix with 3/4 cup milk. Bring to a bare simmer. Serves 1.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Over the river and through the woods to Nana's house we go!" Asher always requests we sing the "over the river" song when we go to my mom's (Nana) house or to David's parents house (Nana). It's great that we cross a river (or a small creek) on the way to both of their houses. So, this is what we sang on our drive down to David's parents' house for Thanksgiving dinner tonight and what a feast we had. The table was set and gave a warm welcome to all with such creativity. Boxes filled with chocolate kisses and what Pops and Nana were thankful for in each of us. Even Scrabble tiles found their way to our table to say "Happy Thanksgiving."

Of course no Thanksgiving meal is complete without the variety of pies to choose from (or not choose from and just have a sample of all, if you are like me...and Pops!) We had chocolate cream pie, pumpkin pie and apple raspberry pie (my first stab at a fruit pie).

Elijah, Asher and Meadow gave us a small window to play a hand of cards while they watched a movie. (You may notice Asher is wearing his sweatpants since we are not quite accident-free in the potty training just yet. :))

Nana trying to get Jonas to dance.

Angie trying to gather up the family to get Skylar home...who was ready for bed. The turkey drug had finally kicked in. :)

Random picture of Kay and me. I told David I wanted to make sure I was in one of the pictures so that when we look back on this Thanksgiving I'll know that I was there. Ha!

So thankful for this past week of sweet time with family in Ohio and family in Tennessee and for this holiday that gives us an oppurtunity to share our thankfulness!

Now let's get out the Christmas decorations!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Local food, great offer!

(Image from here.)
If you are looking to support a local business this Christmas and would like to save a little money at the same time, then head over to Baja Burrito for a gift card. They are offering 20% off their gift cards until December 24th. For example, a $40 card only costs you $32. What a deal! Thanks, Baja!! (Not sure if Blue Coast Burrito is offering this same deal....of course, I am a bit biased to Baja.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Black Friday

You may already have searched the ads and found the cheapest prices for your Christmas gifts this year...and they ALL are on sale THIS FRIDAY!!! So, what do you do? Do you go out and fight the crowds, risk your LIFE (because yes, people have actually died on Black Friday in stampedes for their on-sale gift), buy, buy buy? And shouldn't we to help the economy...that's what our country tries to tell us, right? I challenge you to do something else this Friday that goes against the norm. I challenge you to BUY NOTHING!! Please read the reasons why below and know that if you choose this challenge you will not be alone. And, I would love to hear how it made you think differently of what your are buying and why?

(Image from here.)

Below are excerpts from

"Buy Nothing Day is your special day to unshop, unspend and unwind. Relax and do nothing for the economy and for yourself - at least for a single day. It's a reminder to stop and think about why you're spending."

"When it comes right down to it, it's not that we believe a single day without shopping makes a big enough impact in itself. But if we stop and think about it for a day, we might find out that we're more deeply tangled in the dragnet of consumerism than we imagined. This knowledge could be life-changing. If we disect our spending habits we'll see how we have a significant local effect. But we are part of the big picture as well, and if we take a stand others will as well, and we can see that impact on a global scale. If we buy nothing for just one day, perhaps we'll realize the true value of watching HOW we spend."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Early Thanksgiving

This past weekend we headed to Ohio for an early Thanksgiving with my family. We decided to take the boys to the Newport Aquarium on Friday evening and they loved it. We went at a great time and it felt as if we were the only ones in there. Can you believe we were able to capture this picture just as the whale was jumping out of the water?
I really liked how this aquarium captured the attention of both Asher and Jonas. Asher at one point said, "I don't like the big fish, just the little ones." Jonas didn't have to tell us what he liked. He would just scream and point to the big fish with all the excitement a one year old can exude.

Saturday evening we got together with my aunts, uncles and cousins on my mom's side. All but one of my cousin and her family were there. The kids all had a great time. My aunt Candy does a great job of bringing plenty of games for the kids to get involved in together.

My mom (Nana) enjoying her grandbabies (Jonas and my sister's baby, Anthony).

Looking forward to us all getting together again very soon(hopefully at Christmas).
(Oh, and this trip was the reason I missed blogging on Friday and Saturday. My mom's computer is SUPER SLOW so I was not about to give up time with my family to blog....hope the blogging world is forgiving.)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Christmas Traditions

I love traditions, especially Christmas traditions! Opening the stockings (picture above of our stockings at my mom's) after we have opened all of our other gifts has been the tradition of my family. When I celebrated Christmas with David's family for the first time, I learned that they opened their stockings first. So, as David and I have been begun celebrating Christmas with our children, we have been trying to come up with our own traditions that are different from some of the things we did growing up. One of the things we have decided to do is pick a gift from the Heifer International catalog and give a gift on Christmas day. We hope when our children are older that they will learn to appreciate all we have been given and that this tradition will teach them to give back after we have been given so much.

I have enjoyed reading different traditions lately and I came across this one that I would like to share. It came from the November issue of the Family Fun magazine. The McCollum family said they decided on Chrsitams to "focus on what they could give others, rather than on buying gifts themselves." They "decided to be "elves" for the 12 days of Christmas and anonymously would do nice things for 12 people who had touched [their] lives in some way." They did things like sending an ice cream gift card to a friend whose parents were going through a divorce and gave cookies to a family who had just lost their mom to cancer. I may keep this idea and when our children are old enough, have them do this.

I would love to hear any of your tradtions!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Taking Steps

I wish that I could say these pictures below are of Jonas' first steps, but they are not. I can say that they were taken around the time just before he took his first step. Yes, on Monday, he stood for a moment and then took one side step. Every day since then, he has taken just one step before he falls back into crawling. But, I can tell with each new trial that we are just moments away from the real deal. Oh, and then will my life get even crazier.
Yes, this is the little one who gets into EVERYTHING and goes EVERYWHERE he should not. As seen below..

She caught me going for the outlet again...but maybe if I look back and smile she won't say "no" this time. :)

I am hoping that I can catch a live shot of the steps one of these days!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Travel potty training

I have been potty training Asher over the past week. He is responding very well within our home and even today went without an accident. However, we have yet to go out of our house wihout a diaper, although, we have had successes of being gone for over 2 hours and returning with a dry diaper. So, this weekend we will be traveling to Ohio and I am not sure what to do about the potty training. Should I put it on hold until we return? Take the potty with us? Stop frequently along the way and have him "try" to go? If any of you have any experience in this, please let me know. I would love some advice.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Handprint Thanksgiving

Today we made these Thanksgiving placemats. I still need to laminate them but wanted to get this posted today. It will be fun (or possibly sad) to look back at these over the years and see how much their hands have grown (and mine...oh wait, hopefully my hands are done growing!).

Monday, November 16, 2009

Making gifts

This year I have would really like to make some of my Christmas presents rather than buying them all. I just am tired of falling into the trap of buying things just to have a present in the gift exchange. I am hoping my homemade gifts will be somewhat more thoughtful and hopefully more appreciated.

I love these painted mugs shown above from Martha Stewart's Craft ideas. You can find the directions here. She shows not only these mugs but other painted china.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Words of Asher

I don't have anything big to share today (yesterday's blog kind of wiped me out..ha!) So, I thought that I would just post about a couple of funny comments that Asher said today.

Returning home from church, David asked Asher what he did in class today.
Ashers' answer: "Watched Jesus on TV." (Was Jesus in a sitcom or a mystery drama or maybe he was on a reality tv show...ha!)

David's second question to Asher, "Who was in your class today?"
Asher's answer: "Jesus" (Nice! Asher not only got to see Jesus on TV but he also made a special appearance in his Sunday school class.)

Hope your Sunday was filled with unexpected answers that made you laugh!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Tonight we celebrated an incredible woman's mother-in-law, Kay! I won't say what year we celebrated but there are hints of it in some of the images below (sorry Nana). Kay asked for us not to make a big deal out of her birthday, meaning not a big suprise party like we did for David's dad's birthday on a particular milestone. However, she is such a special lady to so many that we couldn't let the day go by without those people having a chance to let her know, so we compromised. Many of her friends sent cards, special memories and pictures of them with Kay over the years. We then compiled a scrapbook full of all of these things from both her family and friends. This is what I have been working on all week with the help of others. She loved it!

Nana with Skylar (enjoyed the beginning of the party but had to call it a night early)
Pops had to work during the first part of the party but we were so glad he was able to make it for the end and just in time to have some cake! Jonas and Asher were so glad to see Pops. (We are a little worried about Asher's appears he needs binoculars to see Pops. :))

The grandkids helping Nana blow out the candles on her cake.

My nightmare story for the day...
I of course wanted to make the cake for the party and spent last night and this morning baking, icing and decorating the cake. I placed the cake on my glass cake stand with it's lid, placed it on the dashboard of the car as I was putting Asher in the car and as David closed the door on the opposite side, the cake slid off, glass shattered and the cake fell into the lid....not savageable due to small pieces of glass in the cake. So, Nana got this beautiful and very tasty cake from Puffy Muffin!

Greg, Julie and Angie enjoying the low key party at Greg and Angie's house.

Elijah and Luke updating their status on Facebook...(just kidding)

What a fun night with our family--Ralph and Kay; Greg (David's brother), Angie, Elijah, Meadow and Skylar; Steve, Julie(David's sister), Luke and Katie and our family! (Oh, and this is not the last of November birthdays for the Wilson family.)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Caregiver Kits

(Picture from here.)
Over the next couple of weeks, I plan to post ideas about different oppurtunities to serve others or buy Christmas presents that either impact the less fortunate of our world or offer fare wages to those making the products. You may already have your Christmas shopping done and that is fine but this first example is a simple way to reach out to others across the world with your family or a group of friends.

This first idea is working with World Vision.
The Need
Who’s in need? 33 million people living with HIV and AIDS
Where are they? Africa, Asia, and Latin America
Who’s helping them? World Vision-trained volunteer caregivers
What can you do? Build Caregiver Kits filled with basic supplies!

The opportunity
Assembling Caregiver Kits is an effective, hands-on way to:
-Show Christ’s unconditional love to those suffering from AIDS
-Equip caregivers with a year’s worth of the practical materials they need
-Encourage caregivers to continue caring selflessly for their neighbors
-Draw your church closer together by serving those in need

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I have had the camera out a lot lately since I am trying to catch moments of our day to blog about. On this occasion, Asher said, "Mama, take my picture...Cheese." I took several of him while he posed for the camera but these two were my favorites. Too cute for words! (Meanwhile, Jonas, in the background, is oblivious to us.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fun Birthday Cards

David is very creative when it comes to cards for any special occasion. I always feel bad getting him a store bought card when he gives me cards like these...

He made the cards above through Walgreens photo shop but has made others just on his computer with a color printer. Hope this gives you a new, creative way to send a card the next time you need one.