Christmas Marathon...

Well the official Christmas days are over. But I still have two more Christmas' to get through! One with my mom's side of the family and one with another side of Senor Smarty Pants family. The Christmas season is more like a marathon! But the last two days were wonderful. I have decided Christmas Eve is my favorite. The anticipation, coziness, and beautiful crisp winter night, makes this night indescribable. Christmas lights are on, our church looks stunning, the stars shine bright, its just such a special night in so many ways. I hope you all had a blessed and wonderful Christmas!



...And Look For The Lord To Be At His Door...

Christmas Guest
By: Reba McEntire 
It happened one day near December's end
Two neighbors called on an old friend
And they found his shop so meager and lame
Made gay with a thousand bows of green
And Conrad was sittin' with face ashined
When he suddenly stopped as he stiched a twine
And he said "Oh friends at dawn today
When the cock was crowin' the night away
The Lord appeared in a dream to me
And said 'I'm comin' your guest to be.'
So I've been busy with feet astir
And strewin' my shop with branches of fir
The table is spread and the kettle is shined
And over the rafters the holly is twined
Now I'll wait for my Lord to appear
And listen closely so I will hear His step
As He nears my humble place
And I'll open the door and look on His face"
So his friends went home and left Conrad alone
For this was the happiest day he'd known
For long since his family had passed away
And Conrad had spent many a sad Christmas day
But he knew with the Lord as his Christmas guest
This Christmas would be the dearest and best
So he listened with only joy in his heart
And with every sound he would rise with a start
And look for the Lord to be at his door
Like the vision he'd had a few hours before
So he ran to the window after hearin' a sound
But all he could see on the snow-covered ground
Was a shabby begger who's shoes were torn
And all of his clothes were ragged and worn
But Conrad was touched and he went to the door
And he said "You know, your feet must be frozen and sore
I have some shoes in my shop for you
And a coat that'll keep you warmer too"
So with grateful heart, the man went away
But Conrad noticed the time of day
And wondered what made the Lord so late
And how much longer he'd have to wait
When he heard a knock he ran to the door
But it was only a stranger once more
A bent ol' lady with a shawl of black
With a bundle of kindlin' piled on her back
She asked for only a place to rest
But that was reserved for Conrad's great guest
But her voice seemed to plead "Don't send me away
Let me rest for awhile on Christmas day"
So Conrad brewed her a steamin' cup
And told her to sit at the table and sup
But after she left he was filled with dismay
For he saw that the hours were slippin' away
And the Lord hadn't come as He said He would
And Conrad felt sure he'd misunderstood
When out of the stillness he heard a cry
"Please help me, and tell me where am I!"
So again he opened his friendly door
And stood disappointed as twice before
It was only a child who'd wandered away
And was lost from her family on Christmas day
Again, Conrad's heart was heavy and sad
But he knew he should make the little girl glad
So he called her in and he wiped her tears
And quieted all her childish fears
Then he led her back to her home once more
But as he entered his own darkened door
He knew the Lord was not comin' today
For the hours of Christmas had passed away
So he went to his room and he knelt down to pray
And he said "Dear Lord, why did You delay?
What kept You from comin' to call on me?
For I wanted so much Your Face to see"
When soft in the silence, a voice he heard
"Lift up your head, for I kept my word
Three times my shadow crossed your floor
And three times I came to your lonely door
I was the begger with bruised, cold feet
And I was the woman you gave somethin' to eat
I was the child on the homeless street.
Three times I knocked and three times I came in
And each time I found the warmth of a friend
Of all the gifts love is the best
And I was honored to be your Christmas guest."

Blessings on this blessed day! 


The Reason for the Season...

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, 
   and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.




The fourth candle of Advent has been lit. This candle is the candle of Love. With this flame we signify the love of God that surrounds and fills us at all times, but that we recognize in a special way in the Christmas story. There is no greater power than love. We love, because God loves us.



Kitchen Marathon...

I had never made a Gingerbread House before. Not even one of the pre-made ones. I went to Target to look at the pre-made Gingerbread Houses and I was perturbed at all the pre-made stuff...pre-made brownies...really people?! So I decided then and there I was making my own! I found this website and it was very helpful.
So I made the dough, I baked it and then I made royal icing and Senor Smarty Pants and I went to work. 
 LOTS of icing. 

 All done! Mom did the wreaths and the snowman...shes ridiculous...aren't they cool?!

OH my what are these? These are Peppermint Whoopee Pies! These babies were part of my Kitchen Marathon. They were so good and weren't hard just time consuming. The filling kept squishing out but that did not ruin them one bit. They lasted about 5 hours at my house. Here's the link:




A season filled with joy and traditions.
One my families traditions has to do with ornaments. Each year us kids gets an ornament. We have been getting one from our parents since our very first Christmas. Each year I receive an angel, A receives a Santa, and E gets a train.(not sure where the train idea came from. I think they just found a really pretty one when E was born and went with it!) This is my 20th ornament and mom says my last. The thought was, when we have our own tree someday we will have some ornaments to start with.

My ornament is a Willow Tree angel. I love Willow Tree items. So simple and pretty. A's Santa is holding a raccoon....sure A may rather just have the pelt of the raccoon...but this one is alive and looks friendly! E's train...well its a train...we found one so we bought it, they are a challenge to find! I love this tradition.




It's beginning to finally look like winter around around here. Its felt like winter for a few weeks but besides the brown prairies there weren't many visual clues that it was in fact winter-and oh so close to Christmas. But today we have some beautiful white stuff. I am a snow lover, much to many of my fellow citizens dismay. I just love the sparkly, cold, white stuff, so today when I looked out my window and saw the sparkly brother to snow, Frost, I was so happy! It is so beautiful out. On my way to Senor Smarty Pants' house I knew that I could not let this day of Frost go undocumented, so I have a few shots to show you, thanks to Senor Smarty Pants' mom and his family for letting me borrow her camera and their homestead for the pretty scenery for these pics!




Oh Christmas Tree!

I have never had a real Christmas Tree in my home. My parents used to have one before they had kids but my dad, being the extreme perfectionist that he is, took years (only a slight exaggeration) to get the tree perfectly straight. Mom said they would spend a long time looking for the prettiest one, only to get it home and see that the stump, or whatever you want to call the wood part, would be twisted somehow. or just wouldn't be straight, and that bothers ol dad. So we have always had an artificial tree. I've had lots of friends with real trees and someday I will have a real tree at least once.

The other day I was reading the newspaper and an article about Christmas trees caught my eye. The idea of a living Christmas tree had crossed my mind but I had no idea that people were actually doing it on such a huge scale! It's genius! One company in Oregon has potted trees. You pay for your tree and it can also be delivered. You give a deposit and get the deposit back when they get the tree back. They then plant these trees at area schools, watersheds, churches and parks. The trees are close to full size Christmas trees depending on the size your house can handle and lots of different types.

Another company marks their trees with bar codes. You get the trees when they are fairly small, you still pay for delivery and pickup but next year you will get the same tree! Cool huh?! One woman noted that like her son who was a year old, her tree had "filled out." I just think this is so fun. These company's are in larger cities, Portland, LA, ect. But I think it could definitely done on a smaller scale. I have heard of getting potted trees and then you yourself plant them but in cities many don't have that option. It's great recycling. We were given this Earth, we are to be stewards of God's beautiful creation. "Everyone is an environmentalist, the goal is to be a good one!" So now I will try to have a "Living Tree!"



Happy Birthday Senor Smarty Pants!

Today is a big day. Its Senor Smary Pant's 20th Birthday! Yes he is younger than about 3 months... go me a cougar. :) But yes he is 20 today. What are we going to do on this special occasion? Take FINALS! I know us college kids sure know how to have fun?! Then what is he going to do? WORK! Then the lucky dog gets to go home. I know he will have a wonderful day though. He never has a bad day. So in honor of Senor Smarty Pants' birthday I decided to post something a little special with a fun story behind it.

The song below is Senor Smary Pants' FAVORITE Christmas song. Now you may be thinking, "Oh sure when he was six." Wrongo. To this day he loves this song. I just found out about this love a few weeks ago. I was talking about Christmas songs and he said that he loved the hippo song. I was confused. He tried to sing it to me and for some odd, unknown reason that didn't clear the mystery up....:) So we do what anyone in our generation would do...GOOGLE, then YOUTUBE. We found it and when I started this song his head started bobbing to the beat and he was happy as a lark. He then said that when he was little his mom called into the radio station and said that it was his birthday and to " his favorite song, "I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas!" It just made his day. I could not stop laughing while he was telling this story! So without further ado here is "I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas" By: Gayla Peevey Enjoy!

I somehow forgot to mention that after hearing this song as a child, Senor Smarty Pants then wanted a Hippo. A real one. He thought he could keep it in the backyard and play with it and it was no big deal! HA!

Happy Birthday Senor Smarty Pants, my best friend, I hope your day and the coming years are blessed! You truly are a catch.

P.S. Its my 100th post! :)




The advent candle of Joy was lit last Sunday. This candle is reminding us of the joyful singing of the angels  about the birth of Jesus! This candle should be fairly easy for us. There is so much joy around us especially in this "Most wonderful time of the year". We must be careful to not let Joy get pushed aside however. Things can become rituals very quickly and we can miss the welling of joy. Joy is a choice I believe, its an attitude you choose to have or to not have. We can easily become "out of shape" and not have this joy. It needs to be exercised. How do we get back to that place? Well, we have to open up. We have to be willing to be joyful. We must trust that GOD has planted joy within us, we just need to recognize it and let it well-up within us. We need to be willing to share it, like the angels singing for joy and care for this attitude. I pray you will be overflowing with JOY!



You see them everywhere during the holiday season. They give you the "warm and fuzzies." It doesn't really feel like Christmas unless you have some greenery around. But this year I got to thinking, "Why? Why the green kind of prickly stuff?" Well besides the obvious during the winter it is basically the only thing that has color, there are other traditions and the smells are a holiday tradition, along with the baking and such. 

Its hard to explain how a lit Christmas tree makes you feel. The earliest record of a specific tradition of a decorated tree indoors during winter was a Christmas tree in 1521, in Alsace, Germany. There were no printed books in those days so the plays were a way to pass on to new generations the cherished customs and traditions of the culture. The plays started with Adam and Eve and ended with the resurrection of Christ. As the plays gained popularity in the fifteenth century natural elements were blended with Christian theology. Spiritual and materialistic influences blended in contrast. A pronounced prop in the plays was a fir tree decorated with apples representing the Garden Of Eden. And I guess you could say the rest is history! 

I have been thinking of the benefits of having a real tree, if you are not allergic and the one benefit that stands out in my mind is the fact that artificial trees are made oversees. So where does all the profit go? Certainly not here. Not cool. Oregon has a huge amount of Christmas tree farms and in a later post I have some info on something really neat larger cities are doing, but its totally possible for us small town peeps. 




I had my first Symphony experience the other night. It was so cool! Actually I don't feel that adjective is effective enough. I come from a fairly musical family, lots of different instruments are played on both sides. I was in band from the 4th grade till I graduated, I did choir and show choir but had never been exposed to an orchestra. My cousins were in orchestra but I don't ever remember going to their concerts. UNK has an orchestra and they also open it up to the community. They had a Christmas concert and I was so excited. It was so amazing. I just kept realizing, "That music is ACTUALLY coming from THAT stage!" I have never had that kind of experience with a mass of stringed instruments. They are amazing to watch. You can really see the synchronization of each player.

The Christmas songs they played were beautiful and then a choir joined them and it was beautiful and then the director invited the audience to sing, you know I joined in on that action!

My favorite part? Watching the Harp player. It was very fun to watch her. She really felt the music. She counted with her body and moved in a way that was complementary to the music- she was so graceful. So many of the performers "felt" the music. I love seeing that. My aunt is like that, she plays the piano amazingly well. Mom always said I was like that when I enjoyed playing a song on the piano...but that hobby was kinda fruitless. I don't play much anymore. Anyway, I can't wait to go to the symphony again! I feel so sophisticated saying "I went to the symphony." :) It is well worth your time if you ever get the opportunity!



...Christmas Gift Memory Day...

Today I woke to the radio announcer speaking about memorable Christmas gifts. He stated that today was "Christmas Gift Memory Day." He has a facebook page and had posted this and then asked people state their most memorable Christmas gift and where is it now. He then read the responses on the air. It was very interesting. One woman said it was a cookbook from her late Grandmother, filled with her recipes and now this woman has been able to add her own. Another was about a man receiving a shot gun when he was young, he has now been able to hand down to his son. One woman said that she actually met her husband on Christmas, and well he is still with her! But my favorite, was about a woman who said she was adopted on December 6 1983. She said, "Lets just call it an early Christmas gift for a 10 year old girl." Does that not just melt your heart?! Quite the gift, the gift of a forever family. I say, she wins!

My most memorable gift? For quite a few years I was really into porcelain dolls, my older cousins had lots and so I thought that I too needed to collect lots. Mom loved this collection and she got me some of the prettiest dolls. I always remember getting them, but I especially remember getting one for christmas. She is beautiful. She sits not stands and she is a little bigger than the regular dolls. I believe I named her Claire-the most beautiful name I knew at that time, and I named EVERYTHING. I was probably 9 when I got her. Her hair is brown and beautifully curly, she's wearing a pretty red dress with velvet trimming. I used to just sit with her on my lap and read. She definitely got special treatment. I remember being so excited as I tore off the paper and reveled her face. Love at first sight. Now Claire and all my other dolls, are boxed up on a shelf in my closet. But now that I've relived that I might have to dig them out and look at them...oh memories.




Last Sunday in church we lit the candle of "Bethlehem" along with the candle we lit and talked about last week of "Preparation." This candle has a pretty simple and somewhat obvious meaning. It is reminding us that Jesus was born in Bethlehem.  

The story: 

 1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 

Our Advent candles are purple to remind us of the King Jesus truly was. Every factor of this story and the traditions from it are so important to remember. 



Shopping Time?

I have a bit of Christmas shopping to do. This isn't the most important part of Christmas but I take great joy in shopping for others. I would say I enjoy it more than shopping for myself really. But this year I am struggling a bit to figure out what the perfect gifts are for a few people. Senor Smarty Pants turns 20 on the 15th. (EEK! we will both be 20 year old adults soon!) I really should have done a better job of choosing a significant other, a December birthday is tricky, especially one 10 days before Christmas. Just Kidding! First it makes my wallet even more under the weather. But don't you doubt for a second that I even consider not getting him anything, or anything less than I would if his birthday was a different time of year. That's just not fair! But while some may say, "Hey, you have all year to think of what to get him for both holidays!" Well, you know thats just not true! What I may have thought would work 3 months ago either wont anymore or...I have forgotten. Whoops.

This will be our 3rd Christmas of exchanging gifts. Senor Smarty Pants doesn't have a lot of hobbies. He knits, but that's not really a hobby you can buy much for. He isn't into sports. He likes to read but doesn't have time to really do that. Not much into cars. He does love snowboarding-convenient for Nebraska, right?! But, the one category he does like? Clothes, he loves when I will pick out what he should wear, when clothing items are his gifts. I think it's because then he doesn't have to think. I love that he enjoys this stuff. It's easy for me and SO fun to shop for. I could pick clothes out for him all day long. They make so many cool mens shirts. I especially love shopping now for the flannels and long sleeve items. I love all the plaids and patterns and the awesome color combos. So this being fun for me, I have taken advantage of it. So Senor Smarty Pants has gotten some pretty darn cool shirts for some holidays. So this year I want to do something different but equally enjoyable and perfect. What is it? I'm not sure. Any suggestions? :)



Santie Claus...

So I went shopping the other day...I really did need stuff but that darn $1.00 isle caught me again. But, I am proud to say that I came out of it with something useful...another pair of absolutely completely perfect SOCKS! I have come to love socks! 

This post was really to show off my socks. Lame I know. :) But they are cuuute! I love me some Cindy Lou Who! 




MMM...Candy Cane...minty, sugary goodness. These candies are a must for Christmas. Mom uses them for our tree, she used them when we were teething as babies to make our gums numb. Senor Smarty Pants eats them like its his job! He loves to make them sharp...extremely sharp. I like to then act like I want a lick and then break it off. Its for his own safety. :) And it annoys him. :) 
So were did this sugary goodness come from? What a fine question you pose! I did a little research...ready to learn?! I thought so! 
The tradition of having Christmas Trees started in Europe in the 17th century. The decorations were food items, including cookies and candy. The predecessor of the modern candy cane came around at this time and it was a straight, white stick of sugar candy. One tradition was a pageant at the Colonge Cathedral. In about 1670 the choirmaster there had sticks of candy bent into the shape of a shepherd’s crook and passed them out to the children. It became popular and the tradition lived on. 
Candy canes on Christmas trees made its way to America by the 1800s, they were still pure white. Christmas cards depicted the candy as white until around 1900, and no one is really sure who put the red stripes on it. But they stuck! 
The elements of the candy cane can be given much religious meaning. It is shaped like the letter “J” in Jesus’ name. It is also the shape of the shepherds’ crook, symbolic of how Jesus, like the “Good Shepherd” watches over us, his children like lambs. The candy is hard like a “rock” , the foundation of the Church. The flavor also has interesting symbolism. The peppermint is similar to another member of the mint family, hyssop. In the Old Testament, hyssop was used for purification and sacrifice, and this said to symbolize the purity of Jesus and the sacrifice he made. The white can easily be seen as purity as well, and the red can be seen as the blood shed for us. Candy canes have three stripes representing the trinity, Father, Son, Holy Spirit. 
So there ya have it! Your holiday history lesson for the day! 
Enjoy a Candy Cane!


...You Have All the Tender Sweetness of a Seasick Crocodile...

It's the 1st of December! I woke up this morning filled with Christmas Spirit, this was strange because I don't wake up with much spirit of any kind! But I wanted to just tell everyone "Merry Christmas!" I was extremely close to sending out a "Merry Christmas" mass text message. Must have been the movie I watched last night!?

Last night a Christmas Classic was on Tv. My grandparents were not even slightly interested in watching it so Senor Smarty Pants and I went into the kitchen and enjoyed "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." It has always been a holiday staple at my house. I love this movie and the recent remake is really enjoyable as well. I love the song "Mr. Grinch" And well...I found some Grinch Socks a few days ago...for $1.00 couldn't resist buying a pair for me and my mom. I'm no Grinch but I love these socks!

Hope you can enjoy this classic and many others this holiday season!



The season of Christmas has many wonderful traditions. One being Advent. By definition Advent means: arrival of a notable person, thing or event; leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays. 
In my church each week we light an “Advent Candle.” Each candle has meaning, meaning that we discuss during church in the readings, and sermon. This week we lit the candle of “Preparation.” I would say the whole point of Advent is to prepare our hearts for the coming, the birth, the wonderful gift, Jesus! The “Preparation” candle really focuses on this point. We need to always be ready for when Jesus will come again. We also need to be in the right mind set to celebrate this holiday, his birthday!
We can get so caught up in all the other preparations. The buying gifts, food, and putting up decorations can all be distracting us from the most important preparation. It’s not about the gifts, the twinkling lights, or even the sugar cookies, those things are so fun and wonderful but without Christ we wouldn’t be celebrating! It’s about our hearts and the most important gift we were ever given. Salvation, through Jesus. Through realization and preparation we can celebrate this Christmas season wholly and truly!