brief Christmas update

I wanted to put up a few pictures before it is officially 2011. Here are a few moments from our Christmas. I will write more later and still plan on doing a year in review with pictures.

Also: We had a basketball game this morning and the girls won by three! I may have a heart attack before I'm 25.

Our "family photo"/self portrait. We tried the timer and failed miserably.
Our lights :) Brent did a great job hanging the icicles lights... we had a few chunks that occasionally didn't want to work, and the strand over the garage to the right never worked. Bummer. But they looked fantastic!
Christmas morning Brent unwrapped this guy:
A stuffed dog named "Atticus." :) Attached to his collar was a note to Brent that he could get a real puppy. This has been something he has always wanted...and something my fear of dogs has kept at bay. Well, I decided--and changed my mind a million times-- that Brent doesn't ask for much at all...and so I REALLY surprised him! We immediately started looking at puppies and in about 5 minutes Brent is going to walk through the door with our new little boxer puppy [girl...so we couldn't name her Atticus.] More of an update on this later. And yes, I'm terrified.
We did spend Christmas day with my family and Brent's. It was wonderful. And our nephews are excited about our new puppy. Heck, they were pretty excited about this stuffed one too! :)
I hope your Christmas' were all fantastic! We are going to celebrate with my family today and tomorrow... the joy just keeps on coming!

Happy New Year as well...
And Happy Birthday, Lesa!


christmas time in our new home

First: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY MOM!!! What a wonderful lady... it seems fitting that someone who has spent her whole life giving and sharing would be stuck sharing her Birthday with the Christmas, but if anyone can do it with grace it is her. We love you mom!

I don't remember if I ever posted a picture of my Thanksgiving wreath, but to save a little I bought this grapevine wreath and then a bundle of fall foliage... and then removed them, put them in a bag for next year, and replaced them with some winter foliage. I decorated both sides of the wreath, since it is hanging in our front window.
Joan gave me some beautiful greenery which smelled delicious! I wrapped this bow on it, added a little holiday bling, and hung it on our front door.

It was great having room for a Christmas tree this year. Last year we actually didn't even put our tree up because we didn't want to move furniture around, not have space for a month, and then not even be there to enjoy it at Christmas. We were going to cut a real tree, but decided our little fake tree [which I think I stole from my college?...maybe that story later] would be nice. We didn't even have to move any furniture!
For those of you that remember, when I was a freshman in high school our garage caught on fire. We were minutes away from the house catching, and stood in shock in the cool February air as we watched the volunteer fire fighters do an amazing job. We were ultimately just thankful because we could have lost so much more, but besides the rocking horses that my Grandpa built Kali and I the thing we missed the most were our Christmas ornaments. Every year on the day after Christmas Mom would take Kali and I to Hallmark and we would get to pick out an ornament. We had some really neat ornaments from every year of our life, plus others that had been given to us. Mom would write down dates on all the boxes, and every year we had so much fun reminiscing about each special one as we hung them on the tree. The next year as we decorated our tree we did so with teary eyes, thinking about our tradition that wouldn't be the same, and also because our church family had put together a basket full of ornaments for us so we had something to decorate with. However, Mom was so good about wrapping them all back up, putting them back in their boxes, and then in an additional tub, that a few actually [miraculously] survived the fire. She gave Kali and I ours that had made it, and some bear the markings of the night they endured. One box I have is completely black. Here you can see the bottom of the sheep is melted a bit. I am so thankful for these ornaments as they represent Christmases I spent with my family years ago.
We didn't have a tree topper and our tree looked a little sad without one, so I bought some cheap wire ribbon, made a bow, and slapped this "joy" ornament in the middle.
Our kitchen table even got a new centerpiece... but I just had to keep the turquoise bowl!

This isn't necessarily of Christmas decorations... I wanted to debut the BEAUTIFUL love seat that my Aunt Ceann recovered for Brent and I. We absolutely LOVE it and it adds so much more seating in our living room. Didn't she do an awesome job? [Uncle Kirby made us a sofa table too...what a talented family... but we need to do some finishing touches to it and then it will make a debut here as well. It is gorgeous!]
Joan [Brent's mom], and my mom and I decided that we should get together one Saturday and make Christmas cookies all day long. So we did! And it was wonderful. We got the first snow of the year this day as well. We made so many different types of cookies, but I only snapped a few photos before my camera died.

Brent even stopped by the help frost some sugar cookies
...if you couldn't tell by the KU cookie :)

And my favorite...we made OREO BALLS. Lots and lots of Oreo balls. And they are all gone all ready. Bummer.
I'll have to take a picture of our lights outside the house tonight.
Have a Merry Christmas.


this Christmas

I want to snuggle with my husband in our bed on Christmas morning and be thankful for our home, and for Christmas number 7 I get to spend with him. I want to watch "It's a Wonderful Life" while eating Oreo balls until I am sick to my stomach. I want to remember the Christmases of my childhood-- when decorating the tree meant eggnog and unwrapping ornaments that had been tucked away for year, when every gift was a new revelation of joy and excitement. I want to lie under the tree and look up at the lights like I did when I was young.

I want to make cookies from scratch with my mom and be covered in flour and frosting. I want to wrap presents with real ribbons and make giant, glittering bows. I want to string Christmas lights all over our house and leave them on all day and night. I want to clean my house to the sound of "Silent Night." I want to relive all the white Christmases when my sister and I would wake up at 5 and sneak a peek around the corner of the stairs to see the presents.

I want my house to smell like evergreens and cinnamon, and hang shiny ornaments from every corner possible. I want to not care where the glitter from the garland falls and not vacuum up the specks for months. I want to read the Christmas story everyday and write verses and put them all over the house and she will call him Immanuel-- GOD WITH US. I want to put cookies on a cheesy Christmas plate and wrap it in tinfoil and look at my breath as I walk across the street and deliver it to my neighbor.

I want to set up my nativity scene and still be creative with where I put baby Jesus like I was when I was little. I want to light candles and sing hark the herald angels sing. I want to fill Brent's stocking until it falls off its hangar. I want to make a snowman in my front yard and then run inside and drink hot cocoa in snowflake mugs with mini marshmellows and tuck my toes under Brent's for warmth while we watch "Elf."

I want to kiss Brent under mistletoe. I want to sing the song I still have memorized from a children's program at church when I was seven as loud as I possibly can: Christmas isn't Christmas 'til it happens in your heart. Somewhere deep inside you is where Christmas really starts. So give your heart to Jesus, you'll discover when you doooooo...that it's Christmas-- really Christmas-- for youuu.

I want to wear a cute scarf with every outfit, and leopard print slippers around the house. I want to take lots and lots of pictures of my family. I want to call friends I haven't talked to in so long and talk forever without worrying about the time. I want to ride around and look at lights while eating chex mix and listening to cheesy Christmas songs. I want to eat toffee, and frosted sugar cookies, and fudge, and caramels. I want to finish reading the 3 books I have started while I snuggle under a blanket.

And I want you to have a beautiful Christmas, full of laughter and hugs and blessings.
Enjoy Christ's birth.
I know it's been said many times many ways...

Merry Christmas, to you.



The other evening I had a few free minutes and so I plopped myself down, picked up the DVR remote, thanked God for DVR, and clicked on a recent crime show I had recorded.

You've seen these shows before. There is a murder, or a kidnapping, or some other horrific event, and the show starts at the crime scene with the officers arriving and getting the run down of the known facts.

This particular episode was no different. There was a postal vehicle abandoned in a New York City tunnel, and the driver had been missing for nearly 24 hours. One of the main detectives pulled up to the scene, threw her car in park, and then surveyed the damage. With a distant look in her eyes she began to cry, softly at first and then with greater intensity. She then saw one of her colleagues walking toward her car, swiftly wiped her eyes, and resumed her authority on the scene and it is business was usual.

As a viewer, I was made to believe that she saw something at the crime scene that caused her tears; something made her afraid, or sad. Possibly she knew the missing person? Possibly she was overwhelmed at the brutality her job forced her to endure time and again? But these questions were not answered throughout most the show. The crime was solved, and then finally-- finally -- you see our teary eyed detective at her desk and a flashback occurs. She is sitting in a doctor's office, finding out that she has the same heart condition that caused her uncle's death. There is a possibility her young son has it too. Just then her phone rings... a postal worker has been kidnapped. She rushes off and the aforementioned scene plays out.

She was not crying about the job. She was not crying about what was before her at all. She was crying because she had just received some very devastating news, yet no one ever knew this.

After the show was over I turned off the TV and sat for a moment thinking about what had just unfolded before me. I knew these were all fictional characters, however this story was too real.

I began thinking about what people go through every day that most of us don't know about. And then my thoughts were turned to my students. Throughout the course of the day I have 108 students that walk into my classroom, take a seat in their desks, and are supposed to think about Language Arts. 108 different stories. Who knows what they have just experienced? Maybe there is a student in my first hour who just got in a fight with his dad on the way to school. Maybe there is a student who just learned the truth about a family member's addiction. Maybe there is a student who was just made fun of for 20 minutes straight while trying to eat her chicken patty at lunch. 108 different lives.

It makes me realize that I need to reach out with compassion instead of instant anger at the kid who puts his head down to sleep everyday. Maybe this is the only safe and quiet environment he has in which to rest his eyes. Maybe I need to be more understanding that she didn't turn in her assignment--again. Maybe she was busy being the mother-figure for her 4 younger siblings while her single-mother worked the night shift. Maybe he was by his grandma's bedside last night while she took her last breath. Maybe she was just in the bathroom crying because her best friend told her she was fat. Maybe he just failed a math test and is officially kicked off the basketball team and knows his father will be waiting for him when he gets home.

I just don't know. I need more patience. I need more understanding. I need more compassion. I need more Jesus-love.

What was a simple crime show turned into an important reminder for me. This classroom, with its hand-me-down desks and stained white boards, is where God has put me for the time being. And here is where He will teach me, "whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."


day 10- a photo of you as a baby

I had a wonderful, blissful, magical childhood.

I am so very thankful.


Really, Kelsey?

I don't know if you've ever seen the Saturday Night Live skit in which the two news reporters do a segment called "Really?!" I don't watch SNL very often, but I would have to say that this is definitely one that can always make me laugh. They essentially say something very sarcastic and end it by the question/statement/ guffaw of "Really?!"

I feel like there could be a segment like this on my life right now:

- You not only felt the need to coach softball, but now basketball? Really, Kelsey? Really?
- You thought you should assign each of your classes multiple assignments each week so they understood the material but didn't take into account how much time it would take to grade them? Really, Kelsey? Really?
- You're at school so much that you have only cooked approximately 3 or 4 real meals in the past 2 weeks. Really? Really?
You feel the need to not just mark a question wrong when you're grading but also write out an explanation so the kids can still have an opportunity to learn the material? REALLY? Really, Kelsey?
- REALLY?! This is your life right now?
- Really, you grade papers by the light of your cellphone on bus rides to and from basketball games? Really, Kelsey?
- You can't will your body out of bed until at least 7:15 in the mornings because you are so completely exhausted and you don't understand that you brought this all on yourself? Really? Really?
- You can't write anymore because you have to grade for the next 5 minutes you have right now before going to practice? Really? REALLY?
- Really, Kelsey?

Really, people. Really. This is my life.


day 9- photo of your family

Here is the photo I decided on for day 9. This was taken in the summer of 2009, and I love it for many reasons. Obviously one reason is because I love my family. Another is because this was just after Dad graduated from the academy and it was his first vacation in a LONG time. I love it because it was such a sweet time of anticipation as we waited for Kali's baby [I'm sad Dan's not in the photo and couldn't be there with us], and I love it because that day we had such wonderful conversation with Grandma. She was such a wonderful lady.

It actually reminded me of a piece I wrote in college when I was thinking about leaving my family after getting married. I know I have posted this before, but for those of you who never saw it:

Family is never quite as beautiful as when you are leaving it. I think this is mostly because, when driving away from mom-dad-brother-sister, you realize who you are. To see their faces becoming blurred in the distance only makes you realize how defined your own face is in the review mirror.

This happens for me particularly when the departure occurs after a holiday. Holidays are nostalgic times for most anyway, filling the mind with previous smells and melodies. But for me, when pulling away after a Christmas celebration, I don’t remember the smell of sugar cookies or ham roasting or the twinkling lights on the tree—I remember the faces of my family.
My mom’s face when I showed up to her Christmas cantata at church. We had been arguing about whether or not I needed to be in attendance. I argued that my open-gym practice was more of a necessity and that I simply wouldn’t have time to change and make it to the church. She soon fell silent and I left for the gym. While shooting I began to recall all of the things my mother had attended and supported me in over the years and I left a little early in order to make it on time. I’ll never forget the moment she saw me, sweatpants and t-shirt in the back row, and tears came to her eyes. Being supportive is not a one way street in a family, and leaving reminds me of this.

My dad is waving from the front step and I catch in his face a memory of Christmas morning when I was 10. Having no source of income for myself besides an imagination I had found a scrap piece of wood somewhere around the house. On it I painted, in the best handwriting I could muster, someday I’ll find my prince, but you’ll always be my king. Dad tries to be macho but in this moment I saw him soften and become proud in the same instant. It is this face I see each time I leave.

My older sister and I would always sleep together on Christmas Eve. We would giggle and whisper into the wee hours and wake each other up moments later to check the time. The moment she said I do I instantaneously recalled all the nights we had spent tucked away under her bed sheets, and as she left for her honeymoon I realized this was over. And yet each time I leave her we hug, and in that embrace I feel the warmth, as if we are sharing a blanket once more.

It is in these departures, in the absence of family, that I feel them all the more. I know I am made up of these people—that the same blood courses through my veins. I know I have to remember, each time I leave.

I’m getting married soon and I know this will be another type of leaving—a more permanent one. I will no longer have a toothbrush at home or winter clothes stored in the basement. But I know, as I walk down the aisle beside my father, he will have that look on his face, as if I had just handed him another creation of mine. I know in the front row my mom’s eyes will fill with tears, as she is here to support me once more. And I know that my sister will be waiting at the altar, and I will stand next to her and have the courage to say I do because of late night whispers and stolen covers.

I now pronounce you man and wife…
And as I walk away with my husband I know my family will never be quite as beautiful.


day 8. a photo of your favorite band/musician

My favorite band? AIRBAND '07, baby! Every year at my college "Airband" was held during homecoming week. It was essentially a glorified lip-sinking contest, and the winners received a cash prize and a pizza party [I think...I don't really remember]. Anyway, I participated my last two years in college. My junior year my group got 2nd [ROBBED!], but my senior year, oh my glorious senior year... we decided we had to go ALL out. So we figured what better way than by wearing 80s outfits and reenacting a ridiculous music video to "I've Got to Praise You Like I Should." At first the audience was silent...not really understanding that we wanted to look ridiculous... and then they got it and laughed a lot. If you can't tell, the guys are literally sweating! We went all out... AND TOOK FIRST PLACE! We were so excited. It was a fun night.

My hair begs me every day to live in the 80s :)