Friday, December 31, 2010

Bring it 2011!

I am not usually one to look back on a year and think "Wow! I sure am glad to see that one go." But I must admit that the year 2010 has not been a personal fave of mine. However, it sometimes takes the not-so-fab moments in life to bring out your personal best. We are determined to find the good in all these rather common yet difficult experiences.

We (Shan & I) felt many personal strains this year...emotionally, physically, and financially. We weathered an almost-layoff, but by the grace of God, Shannon found a great job in just the nick of time. With a job change and this DREADFUL economy we have learned to manage our money differently and "Dave Ramsey says" is the most frequently spoken phrase in our home. I suffered from (still am) some very annoying and sometimes debilitating health issues. I am hopeful that we can resolve those or at least get some relief in the new year. I have also had some personal struggles that I shared with all of you through my blog(s).

I was on a quest to get organized (still am) and even devoted an entire blog to it. That was WAY too much for me to keep up with. So I am learning that for me, organization is a state of mind. It's little steps everyday that keep me organized, not a few weekends or late nights of major tasks.

I have struggled with returning to work to not only help financially, but to use my $$education$$. We decided to continue making sacrifices to allow me to be at home with my boys. We also decided to focus on my home-based business for extra income and for a creative outlet. i have gained many new clients and loved serving my returning clients who continue to support me.

I had many worries about family members who were dealing with life changing issues. I am in the process of handing those worries to the only one who can truly handle them. I realized that sometimes problems are much bigger than we are and that's all we CAN do.

Don't get me wrong, there was lots of good in 2010, but the not-so-good was extremely prevalent and seemed to be the headliner of this year. Having to deal with all of these pesky issues has caused a great deal of frustration and anxiety in our house. BUT we are learning to trust God more than ever and listen to our hearts. Through fighting all this anxiety, we are praying more and counting all our blessings. We have leaned on our amazing families, realized who our true friends are, and have grown closer as a family. Also, in blogging about all this over the year I have met some fantastic "blog friends" who have also been super supportive. I just love this community!

We are going into the new year with positive attitudes and hope for a better year. We pray that all of you have a happy and safe new year's eve and that 2011 brings you much joy!

from What's Bakin'?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Merry!!!

The What's Bakin'? Christmas Card 2010

We hope you all have had a MAGICAL morning and continue to have a blessed day!

Merry Christmas!!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Magical Night

Doesn't Christmas Eve seem magical?

It seems surreal and magical to me when I think about...

  • An event which took place over two-thousand years ago that changed the world forever
  • The amount of faith the parents of this precious baby must have had on their journey
  • The feeling of being humbled when I listen to the Gospel at church (Luke 2)
  • The lyrics to the hymns we sing in church- ESPECIALLY, Hark the Herald and Away in a Manger
  • The beautiful glow and coziness of our sweet church
  • The quietness of the usually bustling streets
  • The overwhelming feeling of gratitude I have for the things that really matter
  • The AMAZING behavior of my children, which makes me wish every day was December 24th
  • How no matter what my level of anxiety is, the second I walk into my parents home I feel like a care-free child again on Christmas Eve
  • How giddy my boys get when I read "South Carolina Night before Christmas"
  • How paralyzed with anticipation they get when I read "T'was the Night before Christmas"
  • How awe-struck and solemn they become when I read the The Christmas Story from their children's Bible
  • How blessed I feel to be sharing the Santa experience with my best friend of 18 years
  • The bizarre feeling of comfort I get from hearing the voice of James Stewart in It's a Wonderful Life
  • The feelings of relief and appreciation I have when I look under the tree and see that we were blessed enough to be able to provide for our loved ones yet another Christmas
I'm so thankful that we had a relaxing evening and yummy dinner at mom's tonight after church. I'm looking forward to spending Christmas day with my boys in the morning and my mom's side of the family at mom and dad's tomorrow for dinner. And we had a great night at the lake with Shannon's family last night. But most of all, I absolutely cannot wait to see the excitement on my boys' faces tomorrow morning, as they experience some of the same magic!!!
So, here's to wishing your Christmas is as magical as it should be!
Christmas Eve dinner with Muzzy and Boppa (and the reindeer???)
At the lake with the Baker cousins

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Just in time for the holidays...Ollie has a new 'do!
And a new nickname!
We're not really sure how it gets like this through out the day. It's understandable when he's been in his car seat a while, but it randomly ends up like this sometimes.
It has a nice crest to it, like a plume of feathers.
It also resembles a nest.
And no, I don't typically use my bathroom as a backdrop for photos, nor do I let my kids eat in the bathroom. But ya know---when the opportunity arises, you must take full advantage. Right?
It's a good thing we're Gamecock fans!
Any who...we now call him "Rooster".
It's so hair-larious!

Friday, December 17, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like...


The boys and I have been hard at work the last few days. We have been doing all our prep-work for the holidays. Our holiday punch list is gettin' done!

Biscottis- A family holiday tradition started by my great-grandmother (Nana), Sadie Tronco. We made our 1st of 3 batches Wednesday night. Muzzy joined us to help "knit" the dough (as Nana would say in her Italian accent). The boys rolled, twisted, and shaped their biscotti pros! As usual, they turned out beautifully and very tasty.

The Candy Cottage- We do gingerbread houses every year, but this year... we have THE CANDY COTTAGE! It's the plastic concept of a gingerbread house, only this one you can wash it off after decorating and use it over and over again. You can even use it for other seasons. To me this all makes perfect sense because let's admit it...the best part of eating a gingerbread house is the candy! A PLUS was that Boppa came over to help!

Teacher Gifts- Because the Biscottis get rave reviews every year, that is what the teachers received from the boys again this year. They're also getting a delicious bag of the Christmas Blend coffee from the Fresh Market to enjoy with their cookies. Having been a teacher in both a very wealthy private school and a very rural public school, I have to say my favorite gifts were the homemade goodies. I know they were prepared specifically with the receiver in mind and they also came in handy when having holiday visitors drop by. I always had something yummy to offer them. So, I choose to do the same and share a little of our family tradition with our wonderful teachers.

Christmas Play- The boys have been so precious running around singing their songs to practice for their school play. We were so excited to go see our boys in action last night. I loved it! In addition to the adorable story line and cute songs, there was another very special twist to the play. My friend blogged a sweet story about the should read it.

Christmas Cards- CHRISTMAS CAAAAAAAAAAAAAARDS! It's that time of year. My busiest season for Letter Bugz. I think because I design cards and I look at thousands Christmas Cards each year, our personal family cards get put on the back burner. By the time I get to ours my creative juices have somewhat dwindled. I feel so much pressure to make mine look good and I frequently think they're the worst. I get emails, texts, and facebook messages from friends saying... "I can't wait to see what you come up with" and "I know you'll have the cutest card." Uhhhhhhg! NO! I don't...for several reasons. 1) Facebook has stolen the thunder from it because I post all our good pics. So, that leads me to having to take one in front of the tree...which truly makes me want to fall on a sharp object. Trying to get 3 BOYS to sit still and pose is a nightmare. 2) I use all my good ideas on my customers...especially the special orders and theme related cards. 3) I'm always racing to do it at the last minute and I don't take my time. I have sent out cards with errors in previous years...because I didn't proof my own card!!! But any who... 150 cards will be sent out today, cute or not. Buuuuuut. I'm still taking last minute orders until TOMORROW, December 18th. I'm hoping to get all current orders out the door by then too.
And better late than never...the boys officially wrote their letters to Santa!

Reading Christmas stories aren't officially on our "punch list" but I thought this was cute!

So I'm feeling a tad accomplished today, knowing all of that is D.O.N.E! (Still have more biscottis to make but that's ok. so put in your request now, 'cause I'm headed to da sto).

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

NEW favorite blogger

Today, I came upon this blog from a link that a friend posted on Facebook. I love this girl! Amy Morrison of The Pregnant Chicken had me in stitches. My mom, Shannon, and I laughed so hard that we cried...several times. Those of us who have ever been pregnant (and our spouses who went through it with us) can so appreciate where she's coming from. She writes the things we all think and puts it in the words we'd love to be able to reel off! She's my new favorite blogger! Even though we have now moved beyond having babies, I can't wait to read her next posts!

A few favorite posts so far are:

Awkward Pregnancy Photos ---WARNING: Have tissues and depends undergarments handy

About Me ---I LOOOOOOVE honest people

Boobie Beenie ---Absolutely Priceless

The Fourth Trimester ---You know you've thought all of this

Any who...Just wanted to introduce you to Amy (a.k.a. The Pregnant Chicken)

Happy reading!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Music...Questionable

As I was puttering around town today, I was enjoying watching the shoppers rushing "home with their treasures". I had my radio tuned into a non-stop holiday station. And in between "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" and "Little Drummer Boy" the most depressing songs were played. One Last Christmas and Christmas Shoes. HOLY COW! They truly made me contemplate becoming a self-made homeless person and giving up everything or even worse, just driving into a tree, as I was filled with guilt, sorrow, and hopelessness. I was so distraught after listening to the songs! There is NO WAY they motivate anyone, to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, or prepare our children for a celebration! When I heard these songs I counted my blessings and thanked the Lord, but I don't know how in the world these can be considered Christmas songs.

The Christmas season should be a time of joy, generosity, and preparation for the celebration of Jesus's birthday! RIGHT??? Shouldn't the song lyrics reflect that???

I am a music lover (all kinds)! I am a Christian who just loves being in the true spirit of Christmas and celebrating the greatest gift we've ever been given. I feel the above credentials make me qualified to give this critique. I mean, seriously!!! Don't we want people to be moved in a positive way? Not blubbering down Forest Drive, sad and depressed because you can't change these pitiful situations, and you can't help everyone. If you want sappy Christmas songs, that's fine! I actually like several sappy tunes. But there are plenty that have great seasonal messages. They're beautiful, you can sing along, they send chills down your spine, and you feel uplifted after hearing them. A few of my sappy faves are:
  • Here with Us by Joy Williams (Those of you who have been following me over the years know that I post it every year at this time) which tells the story of the birth of our Savior
  • Happy Christmas by the amazing John Lenon which promotes peace and love for others
  • I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day by Casting Crowns sending another message of peace and change of heart
  • Breath of Heaven by Amy Grant is the a beautiful song telling the story of Mary
  • Welcome to Our World by various artists is a simple and sweet song about the anticipation of Jesus's birth and a message of hope
I am so not trying to be a Scrooge. Nor, do I want to devalue the plights of others. I enjoy helping and giving to others. If I can't physically or financially help, I ALWAYS lift those people in prayer. However, on the flipside I try to stay uplifted, hopeful, and festive myself for my own little family. And some of the popular tunes just ain't cuttin' it for me.
Any who...for what it's worth. Merry Christmas and for your listening pleasure I have posted my playlist with my Christmas favorites! Enjoy!!!