Our Family Advent

Advent is a time of waiting for the arrival of Christmas.  

And even though we are still more than a week away from Thanksgiving, the holiday spirit is in the air.  Or maybe it’s just weather below 70 degrees (which puts Texans in a festive mood).

This year, I really want to slow down the faced-paced hustle that is the American Christmas and capture each day with my family. And so I’ve purposed in my heart and my calendar to do so.

I’ve been working on creating a special Advent calendar and I wanted to share it with you. 

Our plan is to ‘open’ each day in the early evening hours after dinner, so we will have time to focus on the activity for each day. For this coming Saturday’s Do-It-Yourself Project (DIYP), I will show you exactly how I made mine look fun and festive. If some of my ideas won’t work for your family, use what you can and come up with creative ideas to fit your family.

I planned our days with my calendar in my lap. Some activities are time consuming and perfect for the weekends, while others can be done during the school week.

Many activities are just plain old fashioned fun that will help us spend quality time together. I hope some of the other events will remind my children the true meaning of Christmas. I also think it’s important this time of year to focus on others: those we love and those less fortunate.

At the end of this post, I’ve included a pdf of the advent calendar. Please feel free to print it out and enjoy it!
Sshhhh! It’s a secret from my kids…each day will reveal the following:

{December 1} Send a letter to our Compassion Child (Don’t have one? Talk about getting one in the New Year. I highly recommend sponsoring a child. It’s such a great way to teach your kids about others). Read I John 4:10 

{December 2} Visit Santa at the mall or make a list.

{December 3} Let your light shine!  ask: How can we do this? Read John 1:5

{December 4} Build a fort from blankets & sheets/ Read a Christmas book in the fort!

{December 5} Lay on the trampoline and stargaze, talk about your dreams for the future.

{December 6} Fill a shoebox for a needy child (Samaritan’s Purse).

{December 7} Go ice skating!

{December 8} Make paper snowflakes (here’s some great patterns) Read Ecc. 3:13

{December 9} Play a board game.

{December 10} Pray for poor people.

{December 11} Work on  teacher’s gifts (we’re making these).

{December 12} Leave little notes of encouragement all over (i.e. the mailbox, grocery story, park, etc)

{December 13} Make hot chocolate with lots of marshmallows! 

{December 14} Watch a Christmas Movie

{December 15} Give $5 to someone (find a needy person) Read Rom. 5:8 

{December 16} Make cookies

{December 17} Pray for The Persecuted Church and Uzbekistan (You can join us in this one. Our Russian friends would appreciate it!)

{December 18} Make a birthday card for Jesus. Put it under the tree.

{December 19}  Fix Mom’s hair/give her a massage (my 36th birthday!)

{December 20} Go look at Christmas lights.

{December 21} Christmas Carol at someone’s house.

{December 22} Make a spinner  www.thetoymaker.com

{December 23} Take bubble baths with Christmas confetti (recipe).

{December 24} Read Christmas story from the Bible (children’s version).

Open Christmas Eve gift from Mom and Dad (snowman pajamas)

{December 25} Go visit NICU (Every year we visit the Neonatal Intensive Care and drop off cookies to the nurses and doctors who watched over our third child on Christmas a couple of years ago).

Click this link to print out a copy: December 1pdf

Here’s how I’m displaying my advent ‘tree’.  It’s a fun, easy DIY project!

THAT Family Tree Society-Issue 18

Grab the button, email me the answers, join the club!

Week in Review: 
Now, y’all know I’m an introvert. I don’t like seeing myself on my own computer screen. But I felt bad about ignoring your requests to see my new ‘do, so here’s a couple of hair pictures. I won’t even tell you how many photos I took to get these. Photography? Not my gift.

Introduction into The Society: I’m happy to introduce you to When Does Daddy Come Home. I love the name of this blog. For obvious reasons! Visit her today and she’ll tell you more about how lucky she is to be a part of this tree!

1. Tell us a little about your blog (name/reason why you blog):

I actually did not think up my blog name. I had to bribe someone, with a prize, to think one up for me! This was my favorite from the many ideas I was given because it fit our lives perfectly. I’m constantly calling DH at work… “When are you coming home? I’m going crazy over here… get home NOW!”

2. How long have you blogging?
January 2008— I’m a newborn blogger

3. How would you define THAT family?
THAT Family is comprised of NORMAL people who are just trying their hardest at this thing called parenting. Parenting is a learning process and we all need to band together in support, not in judgement. We slip up, we mess up, but most of the time it happens with an audience…

4. When did you discover you were a part of THAT family?
Probably the day my 5 month old daughter crawled (yes, she crawled VERY early) off my bed onto hardwood floor while I was in another room (I think I was actually on the toilet). The pediatrician on the other end of the phone had a tone that made me feel like THAT Family! Oh, and we’re always getting stares in stores. Not that we’re stupid or redneck— I’m one of those “ignore the tantrum throwing toddler” parents so it drives everyone around us nuts.

5. Where can we find your blog?

DIYP-Painting Your Kitchen Cabinets

I’ve been wanting to post about my amazing kitchen cabinet makeover for months.
We moved into our house 5 years ago this Christmas. And even though it came with nice cabinets, I didn’t like them.  Call me picky, but they were pink.
Not princess pink, but a bleached creamy light pink. Gag me. 
Our home came with gorgeous black-speckled granite that only made the cabinets look, um, more pink.
So, here’s what I did:
I waited until my hubby went on a long business trip.  (Ya know, in case I ruined my house and had to find another real quick-like).
I unscrewed a cabinet door and took it to our local Sherwin Williams.
They didn’t even blink twice when I sauntered in with three kids and a door.
I was instructed to lightly sand the slick surface.  This doesn’t require labor intensive sanding, you just want the paint to be able to ‘grab’ onto the wood. You cannot skip this step!
And then I bought Black Oil Based Satin Enamel. It’s pre-mixed and comes in black or white. This paint is amazing. It’s chip resistant, durable and great for furniture and cabinets.
I also bought a really nice brush that cost around $15.  Because it was my kitchen cabinets and my $ Dollar Store brush wouldn’t cut it.
During nap time, I sanded and took off the hardware and carried the doors to the garage. And during bedtime, I painted until midnight every night.
The first coat was pretty easy. I slapped it on there and didn’t worry to much about stroke lines. It served as my primer (very good paint, stinky, but good).
I took more care with the second coat. 
But it wasn’t perfect.

(And I didn’t do the inside of the doors.  Because I decided one night late o’clock, I wasn’t Superwoman).
But that was fine because once everything dried, I sanded off the edges and a few areas to get the worn, country look I love so much.
This was a very time consuming Do-It-Yourself project, but worth every hour.
And now the granite counter tops look amazing. (So, does the fake stainless. And while I’m not exactly thankful for the electrical storm that killed a couple of our white appliances, I do think the stainless makes the cabinets look even better!)
I must admit I feel so proud when newcomers enter my kitchen and say, “Wow, I love your cabinets, who did them?”
“I did.”
And you can too!
Check out more painted wood projects here!

Who Couldn’t Use Some Etsy Jewelry?

*UPDATED* We have a winner!  And when I counted my way thru the comments, I almost cried when I read the winner’s comment (I got behind and hadn’t read them all). It just seemed this random winner was meant to be! She wanted to win the ‘shine brightly’ necklace for her child who is losing his eyesight. Congrats to Ramblings of a Mother and Wife!

One of my favorite things to shop for on Etsy is jewelry.  Hellllooo? Have y’all typed in jewelry into the little search engine?

It’s a hot item.
I did so much perusing the other day, I lost my vision.
Not really, but I did see everything in sterling silver for two hours.
I kill me.
I was looking for a special personalized item for my son’s first grade teacher. She just announced she’s expecting her first child. She’s five months pregnant already. Yep, I totally missed that one. Just call me observant. 
Anyway, she’s having a boy and since she’s doing such a great job loving on my boy, I bought her this at rhbdesigns for Christmas! 
It's a boy / girl necklace, sterling silver disc hand stamped and personalized with heart baby feet charm
And this sweet artist, also a mom blogger, is giving one of you a $25 gift certificate for some of her lovely handmade jewelry. 
I love this.
And this.
And, oh my, this. (Only with my kid’s names. Boy, that would be awkward).
Not that I’ve spent hours looking or anything. Tell me what you love in the comment section and I’ll choose a winner on Saturday afternoon!

It Happened to Me

Something scary happened last week. 

It left me shaken.
I didn’t plan on blogging about it.  I didn’t know if I could.
But all week, I’ve wondered if my story could save a child’s life.
A child like mine.
My toddler nearly choked to death at a restaurant. 
Now, I joked when I wrote a letter to Mr. Heimlich. And Lord knows, we’ve had our fair share of THAT family moments, but what I’m going to tell you is not funny and I cannot make light of it.
I joined my parents for an impromptu lunch with my toddler in tow. It was at my favorite Mexican food place, so I couldn’t exactly turn the offer down.
My parents and I were talking politics and my girl was next to me in a high chair. My Dad noticed she had something in her mouth and said, “What is that?”
I saw the empty candy wrapper on the edge of the table and I remembered seeing her tuck a peppermint into her pocket from the candy bowl at the entrance of the restaurant.
I meant to get it from her.
But I got busy.
Once I saw the candy in her mouth, I held out my hand, but before I could tell her to spit, she swallowed the hard mint.
And she choked.
I patted her back briskly.
The gagging and gasping continued. I picked her up.
I pounded harder and looked to my parents for help.
They jumped up and came around the table. 
At this point, my toddler was still pink, but she struggled to breath. 
I put my arms around her middle and did The Heimlich Maneuver
The candy was still lodged and my daughter was losing the battle of her life.
I tried again.
And again.
My Dad grabbed her and we ran towards the bathroom. He picked her up and turned her upside down. 
Still nothing.
My Mom stuck her hand down my baby’s throat.  So, did I.
Again, nothing.
At this point, I am praying. Hard. “Jesus, please help my baby.”
She is still panting/breathing and we determined that the candy was lodged in her windpipe and although it wasn’t a total obstruction, if it shifted to cover her complete airway, we would have only seconds…..
Another minute passed and I was at a complete loss. We tried everything.
I will never forget the pleading look in my child’s eyes. She was asking  for help. She clawed at me while she made pathetic noises. I felt so helpless.
I remembered there was a doctor’s office in the same shopping strip and I told my parents that’s where I was headed. I wanted them to call 911 (I still cannot believe the restaurant didn’t offer to do this).
But just before I ran out the door, my Dad gave her one more hard thrust on the back and she vomited on the floor. 
I’ve never been so happy to see my child throw up in public!  We took her into the bathroom checked her out and wiped her face.
Her demeanor, breathing, instantly changed and everything was completely normal.  As a matter of fact, she was giddy with bright eyes.  
I can’t help but think she was just so happy to be alive.
I learned some very important lessons from this ordeal (I talked with my friend Karen a nurse, and replayed my actions):  
1. DO NOT let babies or toddlers have hard candy. 
2. DO NOT assume someone will help you.
3. DO TRY The Heimlich Maneuver.
4. DO GIVE hard pats on the back.
5. DO CALL 911 immediately.
6. DO NOT wait. Ask if there is a medical person nearby. Make a scene.
7. DO NOT allow your kids to eat in the car. Choking is silent.
8. DO LOVE on your babies. Because life is precious.
Please visit, the following link for step-by-step guidelines for choking children. I’ve memorized it.  
Once I got home, I tucked my exhausted baby in her bed and collapsed into a tearful pile.  I twittered the story while my hands were still shaking. I think I just needed good thoughts and prayers sent my way.
9. DON’T THINK it can’t happen to you.
“He will give his angels charge over you to guard you in all His ways,” Psalm 91:11

Sincerely ‘Fro Me to You: There is a Reason

Sincerely ‘Fro Me to You is here! Welcome. 
I’m keeping it short and sweet this week because sometimes words aren’t required.

There is a reason, God, in His infinite wisdom gives us baby teeth when we are babies.

It’s so we don’t look like this when our big teeth come in:
(The normal Mr. Linky I use is not working tonight, so let’s try this one. 
Or leave link in comments)

Oh, Stop My Beating Heart

Have you met my newest Mom sponsors?  

Tie one on with The Apron Queen… aprons make fabulous Christmas gifts! (While you’re there help her pick a new haircut!)
And Marcy with the Glamorous Life? Visit this great blog and see what glamour is all about! (You must read her AdTalk!)
Creative Blessings by Stacey is an amazing stationary store with terrific prices. I don’t know how this Mom of triplets does it.  Just look what arrived at my house today (email her about making some to match your blog):

With my own matching business cards and stationary, I’m feeling quite professional.  (Does it count even if my profession is being THAT mom and living to tell about it? I think so)

$25 Free Loot!!

*UPDATED* Congrats to Peace and Carrots! Someone is going to get some cute loot! Don’t forget to shop Etsy this holiday season, y’all. And if you didn’t win, don’t fret I have several more giveaways coming up (one tomorrow!)
I’m bound and determined to turn my toddler into a bow head. 
She’s resisting.
But I will overcome. Especially since we took her for her first trim this week (to address the nest).
The hairstylist wanted us to get our money’s worth.  Apparently. Because the word trim has many definitions.

As I dried my tears with her golden locks, my oldest made me promise to make her girly. She’s convinced she’ll be mistaken for a boy.
Our little pixie with a pixie:

But I’m not worried. Especially since there are places like Ally’s Boutique, the fabulous Mom store I’m featuring today.   Now, tell me, wouldn’t my cutie look adorable in this:  You Pick Crochet Beanie with Boutique Hair Bow    Or these clips for her hair. And I’m interested in this for me, do you think this tutu would make me look small?Tutu Dress with Matching Flower Hair Bow Just askin’.
Ally has generously offered one of you $25 in free loot! All your little darling’s (or your friend, family and foe’s little darling) hair dreams will come true!  Her prices are so reasonable that $25 will go a long way in someone’s stocking.
Please visit this adorable Etsy store and tell me what you’d choose. Help me support another Mom and get a chance to win $25!  Wouldn’t that be handy this time of year?
P.S. If you’re a Mom with a business, have you checked out my great advertising special?
So, my tip for too-short haircuts?  BOWS and such! For more great tips, visit Works for Me Wednesday!