Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas 2012

Christmas this year went by SO INCREDIBLY FAST that I got behind on blogging about all of our fun activities. So, in the spirit of trying to catch up, here is the quick run down with lots of pictures for our families to look at :)

On Christmas Eve, we picked up my parents at the airport and headed pretty much straight to our Christmas Service at church. The sermon was once again, amazing and left me with some new thoughts about Jesus and how we are to fit our lives around Him, not how we are to fit Him around our lives. Thought provoking! Then we followed on with Team Blevins' tradition and headed to Wendy's for our Christmas Eve meal (don't be jealous) and then walked along the Cumberland River to enjoy the lights!

When we got home, it was time for the kids to make reindeer food with Grammy and Op-Op. If you don't know, reindeer food is oatmeal with glitter in it...lots of glitter. Oatmeal is what they eat and the glitter is so that the reindeer can see it. Then it was time to sprinkle it on the lawn with Op-Op.

Christmas morning the kids got up at 7 and went to see what Santa brought them. Chloe had asked for American Girl, McKenna and the set that went with her (balance beam, loft bed, gymnastics bars, etc...) and Brody had asked for a castle set and a dragon. The kids had proven to be on the "nice list" I suppose because Santa did come and deliver. Along with those things, they got board games, Furby dolls, and various other goodies. It was so nice to spend it this holiday with my parents and I loved them being here to watch and be a part of the traditions that we have established for our family. The kids loved having their Grammy and Op-Op here too! After the morning festivities, I made breakfast and then a late lunch for the family and we relaxed the rest of the day. We ended the day with a birthday party for Jesus by decorating cupcakes and singing Happy Birthday to Him.

Ernie left Chloe and Brody a goodbye letter and the last part said that after the letter was finished being read that his Christmas magic would be lifted for a few minutes so they could hug him and give him a kiss goodbye. And then they placed him back where they found him and he disappeared back to the the North Pole that afternoon.

this picture just makes me smile! I love the look of joy on both of their faces!

Other things that we did over the month of December include: 
** making marshmallow snowmen

** watching Ernie, our Elf on the Shelf, be creative and mischievious (other Ernie Escapades in a previous post)

** watching Christmas movies all month long
** driving around to look at Christmas lights in various neighborhoods (one of my very favorite things to do!!!!)
** Christmas parties

Team Blevins 2012 Year In Review

I'm not going to even pretend that I can remember what happened in the beginning or even the middle part of this year, so let me just get that off my chest. Ha! But what I wanted to do was go on exactly what were the highlights for Team Blevins this year - ie...the parts that actually stayed in this chemo brain of mine and they are in no order whatsoever.

1. Chloe started Kindergarten and that quite honestly rocked my world. I was nervous for her to be at "big school" all day every day but we have all adjusted and she LOVES school so much! I still have days where I just miss her like crazy, but then there is Christmas break to remind me that it really is better for her to be in school now. I can't tell you the number of times I have heard "I'm bored. I miss Mrs Campbell. I miss my friends." And then there is the sibling rivalry and arguing that is going on, but I won't go there. No, these are HIGH-lights of the year (how's that for a gentle reminder to self?)
2. Brody started Pre-school. How is it that I have one in Pre-K and one in Kindergarten already? My little guy has surprised me so very much this year in school. He goes twice/week but is really learning how to write his letters and spell. He knows his shapes, colors, etc... This is the first year at our Parent's Day Out program that he has walked right into his classroom without hanging on me and trying to escape from the room after I drop him off.  He is growing up so fast and loves being with his friends and teachers too.
3. Brody turned 4 and Chloe turned 6.
4. We took the kids to Gulf Shores this summer for a family vacay. It was amazing and awesome. They are already asking us when we can go back to the beach. Our routine every single day while we were there was: breakfast, ocean, pool, rest, go out and explore and have dinner, bed. PERFECT!!!
5. David and I celebrated 8 years of marriage. It's been hard and we've been through more in our short marriage than most couples go through in a lifetime (ie - moving, building a house, cancer, two babies less than two years apart, chemo off and on for 3.5 years, a new business) but we are blessed and we know it. I love that man of mine :)
6. I finally finished ALL chemo - forever this time!!! Thank you Jesus!!!!
7. Cabot turned 8 - yay (insert eye roll here). Sorry. My priorities totally shifted when the kids were born and poor dog had to take a back seat. He drives me insane most days, but I tolerate him because I love David and David thinks Cabot hung the moon. Ha!
8. Chloe professed a faith in Jesus and she is not looking back. I'm just praying that I can disciple her and lead her along the right path of growing her faith!!!
9. I had my thyroid removed and am feeling SO MUCH BETTER! Apparently I had an autoimmune disease that no doctor detected except my surgeon. Thank you Jesus for putting him in my path!
10. I lost both of my grandmothers within a few weeks of each other. Hard to know that I now have no living grandparents now.
11. Chloe and I traveled out to Seattle to visit my Sister-In-Law and niece while my brother was/is in Afghanistan. We had a wonderful trip and so enjoyed our girl time!
12. We started praying about where God wants Team Blevins to be in the future and what He wants our family to look like in the future...
13. David and I signed up to go on his second, and my first mission trip to Ethiopia. We are so excited to be leaving in 6 months for a 10 day mission. David left part of his heart in Ethiopia and cannot wait to get back, while I am thrilled to be serving alongside of him this time!!!
14. I got a mini-van. Yep, I joined the Swagger Wagon Club (although its an Odyssey)/soccer mom club, and I LOVE IT!!!!
15. Chloe was hospitalized over Thanksgiving down in Atlanta at the children's hospital for pneumonia and asthma :(
16. I got the host Christmas for my parents this year and had a blast doing so! We loved having them here with us.

And I think that is it. Not sure though...chemo brain, like I mentioned above.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Gingerbread Gospel

Thanks to Faithful Provisions, a website that is designed to help families live as conservatively and frugally as possible. I encourage you to google it and then bookmark it if you never have because it is well worth it. I can't even begin to tell you how many free Kindle books that I have gotten from there and how many tips I have gotten from her. I could go on and on about this website but what I really want to do is share this with you...and of course the idea is straight from Faithful Provisions. It's called The Gingerbread Gospel.

Today, the kids and I made a gingerbread house...for the first time ever. Well, we actually just decorated a pre-made house but who's counting, right? My kids were lucky that I was even willing to buy one at all seeing as how I detest things that are that messy. Anyways, I digress. Then a few hours later, I happened to be on the Faithful Provisions facebook page and saw a blurb about the Gingerbread Gospel and a free download of it. So, tonight after baths, we brought the gingerbread house into the living room and went through the Gingerbread Gospel.

Here is the "transcript" of it. We had a great time as a family going through it and it is such an awesome tangible and real way of applying the Gospel to a simple Christmas activity. Enjoy!!!

The Gingerbread Gospel
Present the Gingerbread Gospel with everything you need for making a gingerbread house with your children or a group of children.
ASK: Can you imagine what it would be like to live in a life-sized gingerbread house? What would your favorite candy house be made out of? What would you use for beds, chairs, pillows, and toys? (Let the children offer ideas.) my kids said their houses would be made of sour patch kids, warheads, sweet-tarts, and sour spray. their pillows would be fruit slices, beds would be marshmallows, and their blankets would be fruit roll ups.
EXPLAIN: Wow, those are great ideas! That would almost seem like the perfect place to live, wouldn't it? Well, the Bible tells us about a real live "perfect place to live." It's called Heaven. Long ago, that's where Jesus lived. But God decided to send Jesus from His perfect house in Heaven to Earth (John 6:38).
ASK: What was the first house Jesus lived in on Earth? (Pause to let children offer answers, but lead them to use the term “stable.”) What is a stable? (Let them offer answers, but lead them to understand it by using the term “barn.”) Chloe answered by saying "barn"
What do you think it would have looked like? What would have been in that stable? What would it have smelled like? (Allow your children to think freely, but keep them on track and focused by moving along before they can become distracted.) Jesus’ first bed was a manger (Luke 2:1-7). What is a manger? (Help children understand it is a feeding trough for animals. Compare it to a dog’s food bowl. Would they want to place a newborn baby in something like that?) According to my kids, it looked like a barn looks and there were cows, horses, and sheep in there. Brody said it smelled like poop. As for the manger, Brody said it was like a bunch of hay in a basket.
Was it anything like the perfect place Jesus came from? Now, why do you think that God would send His own Son from a perfect house in Heaven, to a dirty, smelly, cold place like a stable? (Let children offer answers.) Chloe answered that God would send Jesus to the barn to be born because we needed Jesus to forgive our sins.
EXPLAIN: God sent Jesus because He loves you very much! He wanted you to know Him, and so He sent His Son Jesus to tell you about Him, and to show you what He was like. Jesus did just that. He taught us about God, and the things that He taught are all written down for us in the Bible (John 3:16).
One day, when Jesus was still a young man, He left His home on Earth. He took the punishment for all the bad things we've done when He died on a cross. And now He has a new home. Do you know where that is? He still lives in Heaven, but He wants to live in our hearts. He will come and live in our hearts if we just ask Him to. He will forgive us for all of the wrong things we've done (John 14:15-17).
ASK: Now, why do you think Jesus would want to live inside us? Why would He want to go to all that trouble for us, so that God would forgive us of our sins? (Pause for responses.) Chloe answered "because Jesus loves us"
EXPLAIN: He does that because He loves each one of you so much! He wants to always be close to you and help you with every single thing in your life, every day.
Finally, the Bible says one more important thing about houses. It says that Jesus is preparing a house for each one of us in heaven! He says that one day, we can all live forever with Him there in that perfect, wonderful place! (Luke 1:31-33; John 6:38-40; John 14:1-3)RECAP: Can you tell me what houses we have talked about that Jesus has lived in? (Heaven, stable earth, our hearts, and Heaven again) Chloe remembered heaven, barn and heaven again immediately
REMEMBER: Now, when you take your gingerbread house home, I want you to remember how much Jesus loves you every time you look at it. And I want you to remember that Jesus wants to live inside you now, and one day, He wants you to live with Him in Heaven. Let’s pray together and thank Jesus for all His houses.
PRAY TOGETHER: Have children bow their heads with you to pray. Pause at each break and encourage them to repeat each phrase after you.
Dear Jesus,
Thank you for leaving Heaven to come to earth to teach us about God. And thank You for dying, for taking the punishment for all the wrong things we've done, and for wanting to live inside us. Thank You for preparing a place for us in Your beautiful Heaven, and all because You love us SO MUCH. In Jesus' Name, Amen
After the prayer, Brody said that he wanted God to make his castle in heaven a candy castle instead of a Spiderman castle. Not sure he understood everything we talked about, but quite sure that he is getting bits and pieces of it at his young age and for that I am grateful

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Girls' Weekend - 4th Annual

This past Friday was mine and Chloe's 4th annual trip to Opryland for the weekend. I started this tradition right after I had finished breast cancer treatment as a way to just be away from everything and spend some quality time just focusing on my little girl. And this year, as every other one, proved to be phenomenal!

 We started out by me getting her out of school early on Friday so we could make it in time to see the Shrek-tacular show. We got checked in and dropped off our luggage just in time to make it to the show. It was so fun. We saw Shrek, Fiona, Puss N Boots, and Kung Fu Panda (my kids favorite). However, all I could think about during it was how much sweet Brody would have loved it too. Moving on from that though, our next stop was the mall. We took the shuttle over to Opry Mills and did some shopping. We walked all over that mall and finished up Christmas shopping, grabbed dinner, and then headed back to the do some more WALKING!!! We walked for probably another hour all through the garden conservatory - Chloe's favorite part of the hotel. And then we went back to our room, went onto our balcony and indulged in our Gigi's cupcake. was amazing. If you have never had a Gigi's, just know that there are not enough words in the world to describe how wonderful they are.

enjoying her cupcake

The next morning, we started bright and early by going to the craft show in the hotel, walking around the gardens some more, and then hopping on the shuttle bus to see the Radio City Rockettes. Now this is my favorite part of our trip every year. It is absolutely amazing and the costumes and set designs are stunning. Every year I sit and think that I should have never quit dance when I was little so that I could have been a Rockette. Maybe that will be my job in heaven one day. Do you think there will be Rockette Dance jobs in heaven? If so, I will be the first one to apply. I digress..

After the Rockettes, we couldn't stop thinking about the boys so we called David and Brody and asked them to meet us and tour the hotel with us (but not stay the night - after all this is a girls' trip.) They gave up their afternoon of "man time" to come hang with us. We took them to Shrek-tacular and I was right, Brody LOVED IT!!! We then went to see Santa, played with trains, went to the kids area and played blocks and games with the kids and just really enjoyed our family time together. After they left though, Chloe and I decided to order dinner as room service and we ate and hit the sack EARLY. We were out for 12 hours that day walking around and were both asleep before 8:30 that night. It was great!
On Sunday, we packed up pretty early and headed out. We had to get home and get ready for our small group Christmas party and I had to run by Target and get a few things before the party.
All in all it was THE perfect weekend. We enjoyed our "alone" time together, laughed a lot, were silly, and didn't take anything too seriously. My daughter is growing into an even more beautiful and pleasant little girl. She is a pure joy and has such a sweet innocence to her. I would keep her this age forever if I could. There is truly not one thing I would change about her. I am grateful to God for choosing me to be her mommy and I am blessed beyond all measure.
Oh, one thing we did decide for next year...Chloe and I will still do our trip, but the second night we are there, we are going to allow the boys to come and stay with us. Brody was very very sad that he didn't get to stay this time, although I happen to know that he LOVED his man time with David. Apparently all they did was drink Coke, watch Tom and Jerry, and play iPads. Haha! Perfect weekend for our boys.