The Christmas Showdown

For those of you who know me, it's probably not a shocker that I've never really been a big fan of "Santa". Yes, I realize Saint Nick was a great guy who helped others...yada, yada, yada. Lately I've been thinking more specifically about WHY it is "Santa" has always rubbed me the wrong way. Then the other day when a gentleman at the store said to my 5-yr.-old, "Have you been good this year? Santa's watching!", it became ridiculously clear to me.

The greatest part of Christmas is that baby Jesus was sent to earth as our Savior offering us the ultimate gift - salvation...regardless of "how good" or "how bad" we've been. His gift isn't dependent on how well-behaved you've been. It's a gift that is available to anyone who comes to the realization that we're sad, pathetic, soon-to-be-expiring beings without the light of Christ in our lives. We don't deserve a gift even remotely close to the one we celebrate at Christmas, but that's not the point. God sent his son as a gift to EVERYONE - good or bad. If the same logic was followed as with the "Santa" philosophy, well, let's just not go there because it'd be bad. REALLY bad, for all of us.

I guess my point is this, let's take a minute to analyze our culture instead of just lapping up the greedy consumerism our society has turned the Christmas celebration into. If you want to let your kids believe some overweight jolly man squeezes down a 10-12" chimney pipe to deliver presents, fine. But in all seriousness, the real question as a parent is how to treat the Santa myth with our kids. It is a very legitimate argument to say, "How can I tell my kids about a magical man at the North Pole they never see but who cares and brings gifts... then tell them that he doesn't exist... but that the other magical man in the sky they never see but who loves them and gives them gifts DOES exist". At our house we've never really played up the whole "Santa" thing...even though there's a certain Grandma {who-shall-remain-nameless-but-we-share-the-same-last-name} who frequently talks about Santa. There haven't been "From Santa" gifts under the tree, but we do have many of the Christmas books with stories about Santa that the kids enjoy hearing. Obviously, the last thing I want is for my kids to be "those kids" who ruin it for all the kids who DO think Christmas = Santa. But I do want to be very intentional about making sure my kids have learned about the origins of Christmas AND that they understand a way to show similar Christ-like love IS through thoughtful gift giving today.

So this Christmas, tell the story of Jesus. It's SO important and IS the real meaning of Christmas. Then try to find a tangible, practical way to be generous and help each other in Jesus' name. That's what Christmas is all about!

P.S. Santa, I don't hate you...really.

Easter Weekend

A few weeks back Peyton and I had the opportunity to hitch a ride with my parents down to visit my Grandma Grace. For those of you who don't know much about her, Grandma is one of the most wonderful ladies I have ever met...and I'm not just saying that because she's my Grandma! For as long as I can remember, she's always been a shining example of what a loving, servant-hearted, godly woman should look like.

My memories of growing up a few miles away from her and Grandpa are so incredibly wonderful! Our days were filled with ice fishing, gardening, going for walks up the dirt road they lived on, swimming in the creek just down the road, spending hours upon hours playing out in the woods, making the world's BEST dill pickles with Grandma, drinking TANG and "kids coffee", gobbling up Grandma's AMAZING spaghetti, going to auctions, bird watching, splitting wood for the winter, visiting neighbors up the road and giggling as they spoke Swedish with Grandma, enjoying a tractor ride from Grandpa...the list could go on and on. I just remember always feeling so excited to hear, "We're heading over to Grandma & Grandpa's house"...even when I was a teenager! We usually spent Sundays with them, going to church together and then after lunch we'd go spend the afternoon/evening with them just hanging out playing games, watching football, listening to the Brewers on the radio, singing around the organ or listening to Grandma play the harmonica. I've probably mentioned this before, but some of my favorite memories of spending time with Grandma was when we'd get to sit with her in church! What a treat! As any good Grandma does, she always had Tic Tacs in her purse for us (my kids are now addicted to these - thanks, Grandma!), but the thing I always loved the most was singing next to her. She has a beautiful alto voice - between my Dad's fantastic tenor voice and my Grandma, I learned how to pick out harmony lines by ear and ever since I was young that's something that has always brought me great joy - singing.

Grandma celebrated her 91st birthday in January and recently her health has begun to deteriorate. But how refreshing it was to walk in the door on the morning of Good Friday and see, despite the fact her body isn't as strong as it once was, she's still got her spunky personality and hilarious wit! We enjoyed a wonderful weekend with Grandma talking about everything from what's going on back home in MN & WI, to Grandma's childhood/upbringing, to all the funny stories from us kids growing up. It was such a special time - and the best part was that Peyton was able to be a part of the weekend and have some time with Grandma, too. I remember back when I first found out I was pregnant with Peyton...we didn't know what we were having, but I knew that if we had a girl I wanted her middle name to be after Grandma (Grace). Peyton Grace...little did I know the day she was born the special connection her and Great Grandma Grace would have. :) And even though we haven't lived as close over the past several years, Peyton still talks about Grandma regularly and those two were like two peas in a pod when we were down to visit. Grandma called Peyton her "bedmate", and Peyton wanted nothing more than to simply lay in bed with Grandma and spend time with her. The first thing she said to Grandma when we got there (once she warmed up and realized it was still the same old Grandma Grace, even if she wasn't able to get out of bed like she could last time we visited) was, "You wanna snuggle with me?". What a special, special weekend, filled with lots of laughter, catching up, and of course, a few tears as reality set in that this could very well be our last visit with Grandma here on earth. But what a comforting thing to know that we'll be able to sing together forever with the Lord in heaven!! :)

Here are a few pictures of Peyton and Grandma from the weekend:

Grandma singing "I Have Decided To Follow Jesus" with Peyton (one of Peyton's favorites!)

Peyton & Grandma being silly laughing together

Grandma kept talking about how worthless her hands are now and Peyton's response was, "I can hold your hand!"
...and she did, every time she crawled up in bed with Grandma

Peyton showing Grandma her beloved CARS

Weekend "bedmates"

Tasty Thursday - STROMBOLI!!!

This is a special post JUST for Becky - you know who you are. :) Stromboli was a staple in our house growing's simply FANTASTIC. Enjoy!

Click on the image to enlarge it, then print and file in your recipe box - it's that easy!

When I Grow Up

This week is a special week...Peyton is "Star of the Week" at school and she's SOOOO excited about it. She gets to be the special helper in the classroom all week, got to bring home the classroom bear (Baby Bear) for a sleepover, and also gets to share a bit about herself through a poster we made. Mrs. Ward, Peyton's teacher, sent home a list of a few things she wanted us to share along with pictures, including what Peyton's favorite food was, what her favorite animal was, etc. As I sat with Peyton putting together her poster we had so much fun! We got to the final part of the poster we needed to fill in - I asked Peyton, "What do you want to be when you grow up?". With a huge grin on her face she smiled and excitedly exclaimed, "A GRANDMA!". I laughed at the time, but the more I thought about it, I thought how impressive. Most kids would've responded "a doctor" or "a fireman" or "a teacher", but not Peyton. To her, being a Grandma is an important job and it made me smile to think that she realizes that at such a young age. I think back to growing up and how special both of my Grandmas (and my great Grandma who I remember spending time with) were to me. Today would've been my Grandma Cromley's 80th birthday, and boy, do I wish she were still here so she could have met my kids! They would have loved her!! We have plenty of photos around of both Grandma & Grandpa Cromley so the kids know who they are (along with Grandpa Carl)...and that they'll get to meet them all in heaven. My Grandma Grace (who Peyton's middle name is after) celebrated her 91st birthday in January and my kids absolutely adore her. There isn't a day that goes by where Peyton doesn't talk about Grandma Grace (along with Grandma Becky, Grandma Julie and Grandma Janice - from our church)...we're so blessed with wonderful "Grandmas" in our kid's lives! The picture Peyton chose to share about what she wants to be when she grows up is one of my mom, Grandma Grace (my dad's mom), Peyton and myself last summer at a family gathering - what a sweet photo!! I'm proud of you, Peyton, for having such great heart and for already being able to see what's important in life - family!

Special Dinner Guests

Over the past few months I've really enjoyed overhearing some of the conversations the kids have had now that Peyton is becoming more and more able to express herself verbally. Last night Chad had a study group he was a part of so for dinner it was just the kids and I. The kids had asked for mac 'n cheese for dinner (shocking, I know), so I got started on making that while unloading the dishwasher and picking up the kitchen a bit. The kids were in the other room playing cars together. Their conversation cracked me up...

(FYI – All the "Agent" talk is due to Carson's love of the show Phineas & Ferb where their pet platypus, Perry, is a secret agent - they call him "Agent P")

Carson: Peyton, let's pretend this car is Dad and we'll call him "Agent D". This car is Mom and we'll call her "Agent M". This car is Jesus so we'll call him "Agent J".

Peyton: Then this car be God - call him "Agent G"

Carson: Okay, let's pretend Jesus is going to Wisconsin to visit Grandma Becky. "Hi Grandma Becky, it's 'Agent J' and I came to visit you. Whatcha doin'?"

Peyton: Agent G going to Grandma Becky's, too!

Carson: Okay, now Agent J and Mom are going to visit Matea in Duluth. "Hey, what are you guys doing - this is Agent J and we want some ice cream!"

Peyton: Agent D have class tonight - he no have dinner. Maybe later. Carson, God wants ice cream, too.

Carson: Peyton, no, that's Agent G, not God. "Hey guys, is there enough ice cream for Agent G, too? He's hungry".

Peyton: How bout Agent G likes Boots (our dog)? Wanna have ice cream, too, Boots? Boots say yes.

Carson: Agent J said he's still hungry.

I had to interrupt the kids play time to call them to come and get ready for dinner. I asked the kids to be helpers and get silverware out for us. As I was dishing up mac 'n cheese I saw the kids getting the silverware and Peyton grabbed cups out of the cupboard and they both went over to the table. As I turned to put the plates on the table I noticed the kids had put silverware and a cup out for 4 of us. So I said to them, "Oh, guys, Dad's not going to be here for dinner". Carson says, "Mom, don't you know God is standing right next to you because he's always with us.". And Peyton pipes up, "This cup is for Agent J - he wants macaroni, too." Oh boy. So, we had dinner last night with "Agent J" sitting in Chad's spot. Throughout the meal Peyton kept saying "Keep eating, Agent J, no have a treat if you don't eat" and "Good job eating - you like it?". Their pretend play with "Agent J" and "Agent G" went on for about 45 minutes after dinner and I couldn't help but smile listening to them. I love the fact that even in seemingly silly situations like this, they've got an understanding that God is always with us no matter what ... even if it's as our dinner guest for a gourmet dinner of Kraft mac 'n cheese!


I often hear women talk about splurging on various things, whether it be buying a new purse, getting their nails done, getting a massage or just getting some new highlights put in their hair. Those seem like fairly typical things that a lot of women do to pamper themselves. Then there's me. Much to my husband's dismay, I don't often see the need for those luxuries (yes, I just called them luxuries)...instead, I love nothing more than getting a new funky t-shirt. Yep. Call me strange, but it's true - I'd rather have a fun new t-shirt than a new Coach purse or an hour massage. Let's face it people, I spend the majority of my days in my basement a t-shirt and jeans. Today I'm sportin' the "Green Eggs and Ham" gem I scored at Target on clearance for $2.48. And last Friday I had the privilege of wearing my Kermit the Frog "Awesome Meter" t-shirt (which I splurged on...for a whopping $3.74). Back before Christmas I was thrift store shopping with my friend Stacey when we stumbled on a vintage "Chillin' with my Gnomies" shirt in the CLEARANCE section for $0.50 - I thought I'd died and gone to heaven!! One of my all-time favorites is my black Muppets "Animal" shirt...that embarrasses my husband. Sorry, dear. But from the first time we met, I've been this way. My first memory of meeting Chad was at a Halloween party where I was wearing my Mister Roger's "Welcome to my Hood" t-shirt (yes, the one Mr. Roger's sued over because the image had him holding a gun...c'mon, it was college!!!) That should've been his first clue. Chad, on the other hand, was the exact OPPOSITE of me - struttin' his stuff in Girbaud jeans and Tommy Hilfiger polo shirt. Wow, the memories. So here we are almost 12 years later and I still love me a funky t-shirt!! (Thankfully Chad's given up the Girbaud jeans and most of his Tommy clothes)

Seeing as how my birthday is just a few short months away, I'd like to throw out a few birthday present ideas for all of you who are DYING to get me a present that is EXACTLY what I've always wanted...another t-shirt. Check these bad boyz out...they're just a few I'd like to add to my repertoire:

Easy Street


That *sigh* pretty much sums up how I felt as I plopped down in my office chair this morning. So many things to catch up on after a crazy busy (but AMAZING) weekend. After 9 months of preparing and planning, our Women’s Ministry team, in conjunction with the Best Life Ministries team pulled off a wonderful women’s conference over the weekend. God did some incredible things during and through the conference! I was completely humbled watching all of our volunteers work so diligently on the tasks that had been assigned to them. What a privilege it is to serve with such a sincere group of people - I’m honored to call them my brothers and sisters in Christ! :)

This morning I was thinking back on this weekend and all the stories we heard from the various women of Best Life Ministries. Most of their stories were about situations God placed them in and how they were able to push through despite unbearable circumstances. Over the course of the weekend I heard various comments such as, “Wow, I don’t know how anyone could ever get over something like that”, and, “There’s no way I could handle something like that”. I started thinking more in-depth about the different situations God places us in, many of them ones we never would have imagined, both good and bad. Unfortunately, we often only remember the bad or difficult situations/circumstances.

As I was thinking back through a few difficulties I’ve faced in my own life, I was jumping around reading some different scripture passages and stumbled upon 1 Corinthians 7:17. Wow. What a powerful verse!

“Each of you should continue to live in whatever situation the Lord has placed you, and remain as you were when God first called you.”
1 Corinthians 7:17

This made me stop and really think about how our response in difficult circumstances is a reflection of our faith and our confidence in God’s ability to carry us through. Are we really that foolish to think that God doesn’t know what we’re going through or that He isn’t aware of how much our hearts are aching as we endure situations that weren’t in our “plan”? HE is the one who laid out HIS plan for us long before we were ever created. I especially loved the last part of the passage above, where it says we are to remain as we were when God first called us. What an incredible reminder that we need to stay strong, holding to the promise that our God, our Creator, knows EXACTLY what He’s doing...and our job is to remain faithful to Him no matter what!

Over the weekend I was talking to a couple of girlfriends and we were discussing how some of us have been so blessed with a life free from difficult childhoods, troubled marriages, tragedy, etc. A comment was made, “Sometimes I wonder why God has been so good to me and yet I see so many others struggling”. I’ve often felt that way about my own life - like I’ve been living on “easy street” for the majority of my life. God has been SO incredibly good to me. I had a fabulous upbringing in a wonderful Christian home with my 3 brothers, and our parents gave us a tremendous example of what a respectful, godly marriage should look like. I’ve never struggled with self-esteem issues and have always been a fairly confident person, even though I witnessed friends/peers who really struggled in this area. My college years were full of great memories and I didn’t get caught up in the partying scene that many of my friends did. I married a wonderful Christian man and we were blessed with 2 sweet kids spaced almost two years apart just as we’d hoped...I’ve been successfully running my own business for over 4 years now. So why haven’t I experienced life-altering struggles in my life like so many around me have?

That question used to really bother me....I’d hear others talk about what a life-changing day it was when they first asked Jesus to be the Lord of their life. And here I sit, with my uneventful memory of accepting Christ one night when I was about 7 or 8 after a Sunday night church service...nothing real earth-shattering. But after wondering this for many years, it’s finally become clear to me. I firmly believe that God was preparing me. He was preparing me and building me up specifically to be a mom to Peyton and all that this entails with our daily struggles. He was also preparing me to be used for His purpose, whether that be providing support for others after receiving a diagnosis for their special needs child or being a listening ear for those who are hurting. And as the scripture passage stated, I need to “remain as I was when God first called me” so that He can use me in whatever way He has planned...even if I haven’t gone through the many hardships that some around me have. In my limited mind the plan for my life may not always make sense, but I rejoice in the fact that I’m not the one who laid out this plan - HE did. Now my job is to remain faithful to Him, open and ready to be used in whatever way He sees fit.

Christmas Break

Well, it's the Monday after Christmas break has "officially" ended. What a whirlwind break it was. I'm not quite sure why I feel like that because we were here at home the entire time, but still, it just seems like it went by way too fast and it was a blur. Maybe because we did so much over break. Who knows. Here's how our Christmas/New Year's went...a 'lil something like this:

December 24th -

All of Chad's mom's family came in from out of town (Nebraska, Missouri, California...) and we all gathered with Chad's parents, his Grandpa and a few friends for a massive Christmas Eve meal and lots of laughs. We opened presents and then sat in a food-induced stupor after we topped off the evening with pie from Baker's Square.

December 25th -
Repeat of December 24th, with the day ending as Mommy & Daddy took Carson to see "Yogi Bear" while Peyton lounged in her PJs at Grandma & Papa's.

December 26th -
Headed to church for a fun family-friendly interactive church service with our NorthRidge family. Carson shared his picture of "God and Jesus walking on the water" with everyone (his interpretation of the scripture passage our table was discussing about Jesus being the Living Water) little artist! :) Then we just enjoyed some downtime at home that afternoon, and went out for a yummy "kids-eat-free" dinner at probably my favorite restaurant of all times - Axel's Bonfire.

December 27th -
Hit up the waterpark in Otsego to use some passes we had - the kids had a blast! Mom and Dad endured the chili water for as long as we could before we finally had had enough. As long as we were running laps in the lazy river we were fine, otherwise I'm pretty sure it would've been warmer if the pool had been OUTside. Sheesh.

December 28th -
Had a lazy morning in our PJs, ate some cinnamon rolls, then took the kids to use some giftcards at Target, scored a Disney Cars parking ramp that's been a BIG hit! Then Mom and Dad headed out to dinner and a show - Triple Espresso, with some good friends (and Chad's extended family who were still in town).

December 29th -
We bundled up the kids and called our friends Kelly, Colin & Jake to go sledding with us. It was a blast!! Then after lunch we picked up Colin and headed to see "Tangled" - what a cute movie! Later that afternoon/evening Mom and Dad were off to use some Timberwolves tickets we'd gotten at the Silent Auction for Peyton's therapeutic riding organization. We had AWESOME seats - 7th row, midcourt. In typical Wolves style, they led most of the game and ended up losing by a few points in the last couple minutes. Lovely. Chad was like a giddy school girl after the game because we were sitting by the Vikings player EJ Henderson and he got to shake hands with him as we were walking out. Excitement...or not.

December 30th -
We got up bright and early to head down to Children's Minneapolis/Noran Clinic to get Peyton all set up for a 24-hour EEG. Her pediatric neurologist wanted to do this to make sure Peyton's not having any sort of mini-seizure activity that's causing her to wake up multiple times per night (thus, complicating a few things at school - staying focused/on-task due to not being fully rested). The tech hooked up 26 electrodes to Peyton's head (and a couple to her chest and side to monitor her heart). I was beyond nervous how this would all go down, but Peyton was AMAZING!! She sat so still and followed the tech's directions so well that he was done hooking everything up within 20 minutes. Mr. Tim, the tech, told Peyton she was his "perfect angel" and that he'd gotten done in record time! He then talked with Peyton about her friend "Star" the horse that she got to take home. Star was a little horse backpack that held the harddrive where all the electrodes hooked up to, recording Peyton's brain activity. The way we explained it to Peyton was that "Star" was "typing" on the computer so the doctor could see how smart she is! :) Oh, and I have to mention Carson, too - he ended up having to come with and did a fabulous job sitting quietly with Daddy, not distracting Peyton while she was supposed to sit still. Once we headed home our day consisted of laying low, watching a couple of movies, playing cars and ending the day with Mom having a sleepover in Peyton's room (to make sure she didn't wake up in the night and attempt to take off any of the electrodes/wires). Carson and Dad got to have their own sleepover, too!

December 31st -
We had to endure the worst part of Peyton's EEG - removing the putty/glue they used to attach the electrodes to Peyton's scalp. Not fun. :( It took us a good 40+ minutes in the tub to get it all off. Peyton was NOT a happy camper...and to be honest, Mom was near tears, too. But we survived!! Then the kids were off for a sleepover at Grandma & Papas. At the very beginning of Christmas break Grandma had told the kids they could spend the night the Friday before they had to go back to school...pretty sure she didn't realize it was New Year's, but hey, a free overnight babysitter = Mom and Dad on an overnight date night downtown. We splurged (with the help of some credit card points...knew those would come in handy some day!) and stayed at Graves Hotel in Block E downtown. We used a giftcard to get some appetizers, then wandered a bit downtown before heading to Kieran's for an evening of people watching and listening to the Sweet Colleens. :) We had a blast!

January 1st -
After sleeping uninterrupted past 6:30am for the first time in....oh, a REAAAAALY long time, we packed up our bags and headed to the Macy's clearance racks. Yep, can't pass up a good clearance rack!! :) We found the deals of the year (yes, I realize it was only 1st day of the year, but still...they were fantastic). We scored a winter coat for Carson (for next year), 2 fleece zip-up sweatshirts for Peyton and 2 ties for Chad (no, he still can't tie them) for a grand total of $29.38. Wowser. Our receipt said the total would've been just under $300 if we'd paid full-price for everything we got. Love me a good bargain!!

January 2nd -
Headed down to Children's to return the EEG equipment, then made it back in time for second service at church. Peyton was thrilled that the worship team sang not one but TWO of her favorite songs AND she got to sit/sing with Grandma Janice. Woohoo!! :) After church we ran to Target (like everyone from NRF does after church) and grabbed a few things, then headed home to make a big fatty brunch to eat while watching the Vikes lose and the Packers win - GO PACK GO!!! Then we packed up lunches, snow gear bags and headed to bed.

January 3rd -
The kids gave me a late Christmas present - they both slept ALL NIGHT. Incredible. And thus begins our routine we call "normal".

Hope you all had a great Christmas break!!

Copyright © 2008 - Libby Land - is proudly powered by Blogger
Smashing Magazine - Design Disease - Blog and Web - Dilectio Blogger Template