Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas 2007 Revealed

Christmas was grand this year... as it is most years. I must say that we were VERY spoiled... much more than in years past.

We celebrated with my family on the Sunday before Christmas. Everyone brought snacks and we nibbled all evening. The Zombeck's brought Guitar Hero and have since left it for Keith to practice. One of our together gifts this year was a new PS2 with Sing-Star. We played that too! Loved it!

The kiddos opened their packages with grand expectation. Each of them had several very special and thoughtful items from their aunts and uncles. They all seemed to be very pleased.

Keith and I also exchanged presents. He gave me a sewing box and a beautiful necklace. He received the infamous VAN HALEN tickets and the Zombecks even tacked on a parking pass... THANKS!!!! After weeks of pining over how to wrap them, I found a snowglobe that holds a photo and has an option for a recorded message. I made a photocopy of the tickets and slid it into the picture slot. Then I recorded a clip of "I Can't Stop Lovin You." That was our wedding song!!! Love it!!! I was so excited to see his face. He is a HUGE fan and this was a superb gift!!!

On Christmas day we celebrated with the Mock clan at Rene'e and Lee's place. It too was a grand affair. There was so much food and a house-full of guests. It was great to connect again and mingle amongst them. We left there feeling entirely spoiled AGAIN... a milk can that matches my spare room (need to pick it up), a really cool festive pyrex dish, some Bath & Body Works items, a candle, a 3-pack of nuts, a Kennywood mug, and a really cool wall hanging!!! Wowzer!!! Not expected!!! But boy was it a good time.

Keith's Mom and Step-dad were here this weekend. Not a long visit, but enough to enjoy and celebrate once more. They spoiled me with a lovely jewelry box... with a gingerbread man pin... and Keith got a TABLE SAW!!! Wahoo!!!! Now we just need some wood and he'll be building me all sorts of things!!! Denise & Randy sent me some earrings... bless her heart. She always picks out the coolest stuff. I love it! She picks things for me that I would not splurge on for myself. While they were in town they took us to a Brazillian restaurant in Monroeville. It was very unique... and quite delicious as well.

All is quiet today... Mom and Jim got on their way... We played some PS2. (I stink at racing) Nibbled on some leftoevers... and now he's watching the game while I blog. I've spent a lot of time thinking about the freshness of the new year that is quickly coming upon us. I have all sorts of organizing that I'd like to accomplish and self-improvement projects that will make the Lord proud of me. All works in progress and what better time to embrace them than at New Years!

Christmas 2007 at the Vulhop's was grand this year... and we are looking forward to many more in the the years to come!

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My friend at work gave me this festive decorative pillow and tealight burner. The wall-hanging was made by K's grandmother the first year we were married. It is a decoration we display annually in our home.

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Keith decorated the wine rack... the candy is from Tammy & Rob - THANK YOU!!!! It was yummy and is now all gone! (can you believe it!) The Santa was a gift from Rene'e from a few years ago.

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Some of the lovely items that came with my name on them this year... The wall hanging was won in Rene'e's exciting gift exchange. The festive bear was from Joycie. She is so sweet. The jewelry box was from Mom & Jim and is quickly filling up!

PS2 with SingStar AND Guitar Hero

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These all came with Keith's name on them! He is SO SPOILED!!!

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David LOVED his conductor outfit. I love that he loves it!
Also some Christmas sparkle!

Annual Ugly Ornament Contest

Feel free to vote for
As much as I'd love to say that John won the ugly ornament contest... It's only fair to be gramitically correct... John's ORNAMENT won the ugly ornament contest. Click on the picture for a closer look. What the heck is is supposed to be anyway????

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Here are all the uglies on display... this years on the tree and last years on the wall behind and beside it.
Rules of the game:
Ornament must be purchased.
Entry fee is $2
Everyone gets to vote.
Winner of the ugliest gets the money.
Winner of the cutest has to display all the uglies!
Entry #1 - Moms ugly bell.

Entry #2 - J's ugly camel

Entry #3 - Johns ugly ??? Pinecone???
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Entry #4 - Amanda's ugly pillow thingy.

Entry #5 - J & K's ugly pig
FREE Entry... 2006 Ugliest Winner!!!!

Entry #6 - J & K's owl
Honestly people... it is REALLY ugly when it's not on the tree. As soon as we put it in/on the tree, it became really cute. What's up with that?!
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Good Material To Acquire

Check out Laced With Grace who is having a really great give-away! This is great study material for the upcoming year. Sign up soon... we're almost out of time!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Birthday Jesus!

Today we celebrate Jesus's birthday... not just us, but most everyone we know. What a joyous occasion it is! How lucky we are that God came to Earth to endure life as we do. Given the events of his life here, and death... what a perfect example of love He is. We are so blessed!

Have not had time to blog much lately. I'm craving a relaxing day... a fun-filled day... a energetic day... but... busy busy busy I am.

Sunday's Christmas celebration at our place with family was superb. As always the spread of food was overwhelming and duly delicious! The children were all delightful... full of joy and excitement. The boys loved the racing game and Keith enjoyed watching them play! The girls were decked out in their pretty red velvet dresses - how lovely! Everyone brought goodies to share.

The ugly ornament contest... Um... we lost... well, I suppose you could say that we won "the cutest" entry and thus we must display all the ugly ornaments in our home next Christmas. The Zombecks won. Check out their post to see how ugly the ornament REALLY is! I will post pictures soon. I just haven't uploaded them yet.

We were really spoiled this Christmas... more than any before. We are not planning to spoil ourselves much in the upcoming year. We figure we have finally made up for the past several years and it's time to regain our focus now. Keith has two Van Halen tickets and a parking pass for the concert! We got a together-gift of PS2 with the sing-star bundle. The Zombecks have loaned us their Guitar Hero and Keith is quickly becoming a pro at it. Re-Re... he's going to give you a run for your money next time we get together! (it's in his blood) I got a lovely sewing box and a beautiful pink-crystal necklace. So pretty!

Thank you Mom & Dad for the lovely Christmas tablecloth. It was perfectly festive for this occassion. Thank you Joycie for the lovely Christmas bear for my holiday trinket collection. It's precious... just like you. Thank you Mom & Dad for the fragrance of the candle we burned all day long for our Christmas celebration. It's my favorite scent and I so love candles!!! Thank you Amanda & John for the parking pass for the concert and for loaning us the Guitar Hero (and for most likely convincing K that he NEEDS one of his own) and for the delicious cookies that will most certainly stick to my thighs and butt!!! Oh but they are SO GOOD!!!! And I shared some with the Mocks today.

Today we celebrated with the Mock's... another huge feast and a home full to the brim with children and adults and presents and goodies! There was a gift exchange where we could choose a gift or steal a gift. We came home with an armload of lovely gifts that we were SO not expecting!

Later this week we will extend the festivities to celebrate with K's Mom and step-dad. We are excited that they are coming. They too are spoiling Keith this year. I can hardly wait to see his face when he opens the gift they are bringing!!!!

Now it's time to snuggle in for the night. He has had his 2 hours of Guitar Hero practice and I have had my own quiet time. Now it is time to snuggle in together... say our prayers... watch The Office... and doze off.


Saturday, December 22, 2007


I have the coolest present for my handy-hubby this year. I found the most clever way to wrap it too! I can't wait to spill the beans! Just a few more days!!!!

Here is somewhat of a hint...

Sharing The Wealth

Wendy says she wants my recipe for Oatmeal Cinnamon Chip Cookies. My handy-hubby is wanting to eat them as fast as I'm making them! (except I have a secret stash to share with guests!)

p.s. I made a batch the other day and didn't have time to bake them all. I baked half and then wrapped the other half in waxed paper in the fridge... a few days later I sliced them and baked them and they were just as yummy!


Friday, December 21, 2007

On Money... Budgeting... Spending

Rebecca at Renaissance got me thinking this morning. Read her post on Act Your Wage, Wage Your Actions.

Holiday spending is out of control in this country. My co-worker scrambles to find every last thing that her children desire. Frantically she makes numerous calls to find the hot items on the list. Meanwhile, I fuss over the idea of purchasing an additional gift that I know my hubby wants instead of using some unexpected funds to either pay off a bill, save for our some-day home, or spoiling someone else. As I muse over my options my coworker says "Just charge it" and is amazed when I respond that I do not use credit cards. We are quite focused on getting out of debt and have made huge strides in the past couple of years. With each month I see us climbing hand over fist up up up out of the hole of debt and closer to our goals.

In regards to money... we figure that it is NOT our money, but what we have is provided on-loan from the Lord. We are thankful for such blessing. Managing it is not always easy. We have a budget. We've re-done the budget many many times. The hard part is sticking to the budget! I think keeping the focus is the biggest obstacle. Gift giving is part of the budget. It's HARD to stick to the budget when the desires of ones heart wish to spoil someone BEYOND the budget!

In our household, we usually purchase a sensible gift for eachother, something for a needy family or two from the church angel tree, and a gift for each child in our family. We have 10 precious ones so we have to carefully budget the expenses in order to choose one modest gift for each niece and nephew. Contrary to what some may think... we do not have a large budget for gift giving at Christmas time.

We have decided that TIME is actually a better gift than any. This year we spent one Saturday taking my parents to the Soldiers and Sailors museum, out for dinner, and to a holiday show of the Ralaigh Ringers. We proclaimed that this was their gift from us.... a little spoiling on a night of togetherness doing something interesting and festive. Having a few hours of undivided attention was gift enough for me... and based on their responses we understand that they enjoyed it as well.

I am thankful that our family intends to celebrate with us in our home this year. For me... TIME is the greatest gift and thus I shall be mighty spoiled this Christmas!!!!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Not Much New

Plugging along... late nights and early mornings. I'm stressed and I'm tired. I'm so thankful for my loving hubby who rubs my feet when I ask and tries to declutter the house so as to avoid any meltdown-like behavior on my part. He's the best!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Annual Fun and Tradition

The search for the ugliest ornament is one its way! Here is a peak at last years UGLIEST...

We THINK we found an uglier one... but ya'll will have to wait to see it. Can't give it away just yet.

Have any ugly ornaments to share?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I Need A Plan

I'm giving myself a pep-talk tonight. I'm feeling very UGH after the holiday, traveling, being under the weather, the crazy stress at work and the fact that I have NOT been looking out for myself lately. I have confessions... I have not been exercising. I have not been watching what I eat (unless you count the fork to the mouth). I had french fries with lunch AND dinner today. (shame shame) I have not been taking my Omega-3's. I have not been planning well. I have not been taking any "me" time. I have not been taking care of house-work much. What is wrong with me?

I need a plan:

1. I will make time first thing in the morning for God. Read scripture and pray. This does not have to be lengthy, but it does have to be meaningful. Suggestions: clip a coupon of wisdom (to be redeemed later of course), or meditate on a particular portion of scripture, or post a snippet of the devotion on my blog.

2. I will make time to read significant e-mails before and after work. I will allow insignificant ones to WAIT until free-time. I will not allow the clutter of such to overwhelm me. (it's my OCD)

3. I will read at least 3 health related articles each day. (internet or magazine etc.)

4. I will make special time for my hubby each day. I will ask him what I can do to help him. I will greet him pleasantly. I will strive to care for our home in a way that is orderly and comfortable. (making meals, cleaning, decorating, etc.)

5. I will look ahead to tomorrow and plan accordingly. I will keep a calendar of engagements in such a way that my husband is aware of our obligations. I will ensure that we both have clean laundry. I will make sure our bills are paid on-time. I will make sure that we have the supplies that we need for the days/week ahead. (groceries, etc.)

6. I will take the steps instead of the elevator. I will park farther away than usual. I will do simple stretching exercises at my desk at least twice every day. I will complete my simply free-weights workout each evening for the next 5 days. I will re-establish regular cardiovascular workouts this weekend.

7. Water will be my drink of choice, and lots of it. Coffee will be minimized to 2 cups per day (if that). I will focus on consuming vegetables this week. I will NOT eat french fries or bleu cheese dressing again this week. (my 2 biggest challenges!)

Lighter Loads??? Not Actually

WHEW!!! The load feels lighter today having put behind us a number of big quarterly meetings at work (last night). Still back-logged. Still overwhelmed. Still insanely behind... But today shall be a little lighter on the mind than before.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Are You Feeling Lucky?

GoodyBlog has a bunch of giveaways that are easy to enter. Lots of kids stuff.

Blessings Monday

If you would like to join us in sharing our blessings, or even if you just want to read up on some other people's blessings (which is a blessing in itself), head on over to Marci's blog "Down On The Farm" to link up.

Brrrrrrrr... what a frigid morning. There is snow on the ground. It's been wet and C-O-L-D! I appreciate warmth of my home and what is there to provide it.... a furnace in working order, a husband with strong loving arms to embrace me, a stove to make hot water for tea, coffee, or cocoa, or... BLANKETS!

This week I am blessed by warm blankets. As the cold settles in here in Western PA, I find myself feeling satisfied snuggled deep down within the layers of multiple blankets in our comfy bed. Not everyone has this luxury. There are those near and far who lack such warmth, even from something as simple as a blanket.

My favorite blanket, and the one on the bed this week, is one that my hubby bartered for in Guatemala. I'll have to see if I have a photo to share. I'm not taking one this morning as Handy Hubby is still sleeping. Sorry - maybe later. For now... enjoy this photo of our kitty snuggled between two covers... the bottom one is the favorite one. You can see the color and how the panels of it are sewn together.

I realize that I am blessed to house and utilize multiple blankets in our home, especially compared to many areas of the world where blankets are not so easy to come by. I thank the Lord because He meets this simple yet profound need in my life... the need for warmth.

Heavy Burdens... Work

Matthew 11:28-30 (NRSV)

[Jesus said] "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am
gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke
is easy, and my burden is light."

Work is weighing hard on me this week... and last week... and the week before that. UGH. With one of my co-workers having resigned, I am feeling that 'sinking ship' type of feeling. We finally have a temp, which I appreciate, but we have to teach her and direct her. It's a good thing overall. My volume has sky-rocketed, while demands for other this's and that's roll in constantly. We have to stop everything today to prep for our quarterly meetings tonight. It's going to be a LONG day, a long, long day.

So this morning I feel the burden of stress at work. The Lord will give me strength to endure today and the days to come. I long to feel the rest and peace that comes from Him.