Friday, December 18, 2015

Tis the Season…to be Busted

Lest you think from my very scarf-heavy Christmas pictures earlier,

 that I have a whole Pinterest-perfect thing going on here,

let me summarize my last few weeks.

I put up the most dismally weak, BLUE, manic solar lights ever on the trees in front of our house.

So I took them all down and decided to put up bright, WHITE lights to somehow rectify 
the short period of time that we were, to quote Ellie, 

“The embarrassment of our street."

I underestimated how many strands of lights it would take to wrap a DWARF lilac tree and three small shrubs.

4 boxes of lights in, I realized I needed MORE lights.

I just popped in the house, 
grabbed my keys and purse
and left for the store.

It wasn’t until I was actually IN the store that I realized I had a pretty significant twig stuck in my hair.

My hair was pulled back into a pony tail 
so it had to be pretty obvious.

To everyone but me, of course.

I also found a long chunk of hair that should’ve been pulled back into my pony tail,

no longer was.

I am pretty confident I looked like 
I slept under a bridge.

I’m not totally sure 
because I hadn’t bothered
 to check in a mirror.

I tossed the twig in the Christmas light aisle and tried to kick it out of sight

and did my best to tuck the stray chunk of hair behind my ear in what I hoped was a whimsical, wind-swept totally not, I CAME FROM UNDER A BRIDGE kind of hair style.

The line was 30 deep.

Plenty of time to feel the judgement of others.

I wanted to yell,

“You think I look bad?!
There was a  TWIG in my hair 
not 3 minutes ago! 
Go check the Christmas light aisle 
if you don’t believe me!"

I do think the lights turned out great, though.

My neighbor texted me the other night,

“Love your palm tree!”


She said to look at the dwarf lilac all lit up from her perspective.

I did.


Palm tree.

I just tossed the lights over and across the top of the tree, forming, what I didn’t realize, was the perfect shape of palm leaves.

Hey, works for me!

I’d put our nativity scene right under it 
but it’s metal and Joseph’s face got bent in storage 
and his face cracked and fell off.

Moving on…

Monte and I went to a party for Young Life leaders and supporters, Friday night. I knew to bring a side dish but failed somehow to read the part of the invitation that said to bring one White Elephant gift per person.

Nothing beats the Christmas Spirit out of me faster 
than not being prepared.

And I LOVE White Elephant gift exchanges!

Luckily, I’d been shopping that day with my friend, Beth, and we’d bought some funny gifts.

I texted McDaniel to grab one of the gifts, throw it in a grocery sack, 
slap some washi tape on it and drive it over to us pronto!

She did. 

I LOVE having another driver in our house!

That covered one gift.

Monte had the idea of taking a $10 bill from his wallet and scrounging around the host’s basement for a box, and just sticking the money in it.

It ended up being a very popular gift with all the college kids in attendance.

But the stress of that exhausted me.

Monte and I are morning people.

The next morning we got up and for whatever reason, ate breakfast in our pajamas.

Then we watched Game Day still in our pj’s.

That is so not normal for us.

We are not lounge around in our pajamas type of people.

We get WAY too many pop-in visitors and it’s also hard for me to be productive in pajamas.

Which is precisely why they are called lounge wear.

Monte and I aren’t great at lounging.

But Monte had been traveling for two weeks and I was still reeling from the “We were supposed to bring presents?!” realization.

I was enjoying my second cup of coffee on the couch when the door bell rang.

I ran for the basement and left Monte to answer the door in his bright orange plaid pajama pants.

Thank goodness it was just Julie.

She was suspicious though.

Earlier this week, I hosted a brunch for my bible study.

I was rushing around trying to get everything done at once and in record speed when I opened the pantry door on my face.

My cheekbone, to be exact.

It hurt.
And swelled quickly.

I covered it up with makeup and forgot about it.

Later that night, Monte looked at me for a long time and asked,

“What’s wrong with your face?”

Words every wife wants 
to hear from her husband.

Just this morning, I made the uncharacteristic move and stayed in my pajamas while I did bible study homework, started laundry and scrubbed the toilets and bathtub.

Of course, the doorbell rang.

I had forgotten to tell all the ladies 
that prayer group was cancelled this week.

Busted in my jammies again.

So now, as I type this with hot wax hardening on my lip and chin,

I fully expect to hear the doorbell ring again.

This time it will be someone with a camera crew offering me a giant check and some balloons 

or someone from a brand new TV show asking if they can give me a makeover.

Tipped off by my friends, no less.

The friends that keep catching me in my pjs.

But the answer is still yes.

For the love of Pete,


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Christmas is in the House

I’ve been done decorating my house for some time now.

But I’ve hosted a couple brunches and attended a handful of parties 
so I haven’t had much time to post.

We have our last party Saturday.

It’s our annual neighborhood Jingle Hop where we “hop” from one house to another and another.

Three houses in all.

Last year, we had to do a hop and a skip 
since our house was torn up 
in the middle of the renovation.

We are excited to host our neighbors this year in a bigger space.

My neighbor gave me this just a few weeks ago.
I love it!

I painted this sign last year from the wood shelves I saved from our old den before demolition. I made two extras and gave them to my neighbors who also host the Jingle Hop.

I got new garland this year for both mantles.

50% off at Hobby Lobby.

That’s the sheet music wreath I made hanging on the mirror.
I really like the garland on this mantle but I want new stocking holders.

Maybe I’ll catch an after Christmas sale.

I knew I wanted wreaths on the new windows in the new space.

Julie came up with the idea of incorporating turquoise in the wreaths since I already have it as an accent in the room.

I made those bows out of burlap chevron ribbon I already had.

The bows are small because I didn’t have much of it.

On the window sill are Wizard of Oz nutcrackers since we dressed up as those characters one Halloween.

This shows where the wreaths are in the windows.

Ignore the screens leaning against the wall.

I had to take them out to hang the wreaths.

I have a ton of angels. I only brought out a few this year.

Well, hello, Fancy Gator!

With that top hat on, it looks like he’s smiling.

Take it off, he looks like he’s hungry 
and maybe envisioning you as lunch.

I made that tree with book page strips, Styrofoam rings and a pencil to curl the paper.

Carisa gave me this awesome wooden H for my birthday.

I paired it with the circular seed spreader I had to spell out “Ho!”

It took the girls awhile to notice it.

I made the button tree a few years ago by gluing green buttons onto book pages. I just taped the Scrabble letters
spelling out NOEL right onto the glass of the frame.
I put an enormous Rudolf nose from my Christmas photo booth stash

yes, I have one,

on the cardboard moose head. 

This scarf used to be on a stuffed snowman that Nigel carried around for years during the holidays until one year he decided the scarf had to go so he ripped it off the snowman.

And then proceeded to rip the guts out of the snowman.

For whatever reason,

I’m guessing this one,

I kept the miniature scarf.

Owls might get chilly, right?
Mama Kringle came with a little play set we had when the girls were little. At one time she had a sled and Kris Kringle, I think.

She’s the only survivor of some tragedy that I have to assume 
includes Nigel’s chewing.

Ellie made that adorable reindeer at church a million years ago.

When in decorating doubt, put a scarf on it.

You can quote me on that.


Scarf = instant table runner.

I need to iron it.

After last night’s anniversary dinner involving punch and marinara sauce,

I need to wash it too.

I have two figurines that a friend gave me to represent younger McDaniel and Ellie.

I LOVE them!

But I accidentally dropped the McDaniel one a few weeks ago and her head shattered.

I saved as many pieces as I could and tried to hot glue it all back together.

It’s terrifying.

I haven’t pointed it out to Monte yet. This could keep him up at night.

And part of her head is still missing.

There feels like there is an entire message with this of how when we try to fix our own brokenness there are cracks and missing pieces.

That only God can make us new.

But that’s a message for another time.

I needed to be at the grocery store like an hour ago.

Sorry this picture is so dark.

The skate may say it, but I really don’t mean it.

Those green hydrangeas have been in that barn wood trough my dad made since summer. I just added a few fake poinsettias.

I decided to rearrange the living room since we didn’t really use it much with four chairs facing each other by the fire place.

Now the girls do their homework here since the lighting is better than in the office.

And I’ve had extra seating for brunches and parties.

That’s my grandfather’s wooden Coke crate.

Julie helped me arrange this seating area with my two favorite chairs.

This is the best place early in the morning to do bible study homework.

I’ve always loved this.

I really like that I have a good place for the nativity scene. I used to put it on the piano but it wasn’t in full view.

I got the metal O Come Let Us Adore HIM sign from Pick Your Plum this year.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Today is our 20th wedding anniversary.

It’s December 16th and unseasonably warm and sunny

just like it was on our wedding day in Indianapolis.

There was a snow storm the weekend before 
and the weekend after our wedding.

But a blessed 50 degrees for the actual day.

Last year, Monte and I were in Nashville with his company and ate sushi with about 15 of his co-workers to celebrate 19 years of marriage.

And my hair was flat as a pancake.

Tonight, we go back to our tradition of ordering in from a local Italian restaurant and letting the girls serve it to us on our Christmas china.

We will toast to us with my grandmother’s famous slushy punch.

And afterwards we will have a dance party.

Luckily, McDaniel only has one final tomorrow.

We’ve been doing this since Ellie was still in a high chair 
and smearing spaghetti sauce all over her face.

We usually put in our wedding video to watch but it’s VHS and we never hooked the player back up when we renovated the house.

But that’s okay.

I’ve pulled out the wedding album.

We are all excited to bring this old tradition into our new kitchen and family room.

Like our muleart that represents our marriage:

But then again, I think this picture really sums up our marriage too.

Not because I look like I’m dead.

But that Monte is a good sport to “play along” 
with whatever me or the girls get in our heads to do.

“For fun.”

Here’s to 20 more!

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Last year we were knee-deep in our house remodel so just a sad little fake tree was the extent of our Christmas decorations.

I am a real tree kind of gal.

I love that no two trees are ever exactly alike
so all our pictures are slightly different.

I love the smell.

I love that when Christmas is over, 
we can just haul it out to the street 
and the city will take it away.

It’s been fun finding new places in our new space for our old decorations.

I still left a lot of things in the Christmas boxes.

I’ve learned that too many knickknacks cluttering 
all the open spaces in a room clutters my brain.

And makes it tired 
and frustrated.

I feel that way about decorating our Christmas tree too.

I like it simple and sparsely ornamented and illuminated.

Every year I am tempted to just string some lights 
and call it a day.

My girls wouldn’t have it.

Still, it’s easy on my eyes and doesn’t scream at you when you walk into the room.

I hosted a brunch for my prayer group last week and one of the ladies thought it was “adorable” how few lights I had on the tree.

I didn’t realize 400 lights was a few.

She puts around 2,000 on hers.


Speaking of lights,

we always put some up outside with fresh greenery around our front door 
and windows 
and illuminate various bushes and trees.

Well, Monte and I can just not fathom the thought of putting a single staple into the new wood around our front door.

Can’t do it.

So we are in need a new plan.

In the mean time, we’ve done nothing.

Our girls pointed out to us that we looked like the Grinch house on our street with all our Christmas Spirit and decorations being on the INSIDE of the house and not equally represented on the OUTSIDE of the house.

Monte has been in and out of town for two weeks so I decided not to wait on him and did the easy thing which was to take our solar lights that we have around the trunk of our beloved Sycamore tree in the backyard and just use them for the front of the house.

But they are those LED lights so “white” actually pulls blue.

And they are SOLAR so any little bit of light 
like the ones hanging by the front door 
or coming from headlights, 
triggers them to turn off.

Or go into a frenetic strobe-like pattern.

Compared to all the pretty clear-lit, ELECTRICALLY illuminated houses nearby, 

ours has the strength and intensity of a weak night light.

That’s blue.

And sometimes stuck on intermittent strobe.

We pulled into the driveway after Ellie’s choir concert Monday night to the faint, sad, blue-blinking mess when she declared,

“We are an embarrassment to our entire street!”

It’s really no exaggeration.

I texted Monte who was still out of town that he better brainstorm and bring home his “A-game” in the outside illumination department.

Sans stapling our new wood.

Then I parked myself in front of the TV to address Christmas cards.

One of those home Christmas lighting competition shows was on.

Not good timing for someone who was just told their house was an embarrassment.

I watched intently and made mental notes.

At one point, I let myself entertain the thought of water cannons.

Yes, a man in California incorporated water cannons 
and fire 
into his lighting display.

All synced to music, by the way.

I decided I needed to turn off the show.

I’ll show more Christmas house pictures soon.

 Like this one:

Not sure why, but this reminds me of David Lee Roth in a music video from the 80s.
The gator looks so festive, doesn’t he?

In the meantime, I have to go buy lights.

Lots and lots of lights.

Monday, December 07, 2015


I read the neatest story last week about something said by the author’s young son.

Something cute but profound.

Something said seemingly childlike yet with a maturity some will never achieve.

She questioned why her son only asked to hold his newborn baby brother at the end of each day after he’d been tucked into bed.

The little boy answered with a sigh,

“Mommy, it’s just easier to be holding the baby 
when my feet are slowed down."

Isn’t that just the perfect advice for US this Christmas season?

May we all slow our feet down long enough 
to “behold” the baby.

The only reason for the season.

23 Behold, the [a]virgin shall be with child and give birth to a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel”—which, when translated, means, “God with us.”
--Matthew 1:23

The definition of “behold” is:

To observe; 
look at; 

Synonyms are:

gaze upon, 

I don’t know about you, but I can just see that little boy gazing at his baby brother’s face. 

Observing every feature on his sweet expression. 


None of which could be done on the go.

I recently heard a wise woman ask a room full of praying moms,

“Why am I always looking to see God’s hands 
instead of His face?”

Aren’t we all guilty of that?

So here’s to a season of intentionally slowed feet.

Of gazing upon and regarding.



“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.” I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”
Luke 2:10-11

Click HERE to read the entire Alicia Bruxvoort story which appeared on Encouragement for Today as a Proverbs 31 Ministries devotion.

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