The 12 Days of Netflix

Well, here we are on Christmas break, and before me lies twelve days before we hit the weekend of going back to school. I would like to say I am totally prepared and am jumping off the walls with excitement about being home with all three kids for the next two weeks.

But that would only be partly true.

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While I do have some fun things planned for break–including way too much sugar–we will have a lot of down time too. Cortney and I are really trying to keep the boys off their ipads and tablets, but I figure watching movies and shows together is cool, right?

RIGHT! Which is one reason we love Netflix. Here are twelve more–because twelve days of Christmas. Get it? Yeah, so anyway…

  1. We can watch it anywhere in our house. We have a roku TV in our room, a Wii downstairs. a Roku TV upstairs, and an ipad mini. Technically all four TV-watchers could be watching a different Netflix show at the same time.
  2. There are choices for all of us individually AND as a family.
  3. The League
  4. Seemingly endless episodes of Phineas and Ferb
  5. All of the Pokemon that Eddie can handle.
  6. Eddie being able to work Netflix from any device all on his own–which means he can start a show for his brother and himself at 7am allowing me to sleep a little longer.
  7. No commercials
  8. All the Christmas movies and episodes of things to fill a few afternoons. Ahem.
  9. Orange is the New Black
  10. Individual profiles so we don’t have Curious George in our favorites next to Breaking Bad.
  11. There is ALWAYS something to watch.
  12. Say what you will about screens and shows, but watching Netflix is truly something we do as a whole family. I love that.

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What are you watching this holiday season?

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Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.. I am a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam so I get free Netflix streaming and a device to watch it on. The opinions here are always my own.

Uncommon Goods for an Uncommon Guy

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This week we celebrated Cortney’s 37th birthday. I have mentioned before that my love language is the giving and receiving of gifts.  I do love to get presents, but I truly love to give them as well. In a perfect world, I would have unlimited funds at my disposal strictly for random purchases for people I love, just to make them smile.

I love birthday and Christmas lists as much as the next guy, but what I really love is seeing something that makes me think of a friend or family member and knowing they have to have it.

And then I married a guy who is impossible to shop for.

Ok, that is not true. He is not impossible to shop for; it’s extremely hard to find something that elicits any sort of an emotional reaction whatsoever. A smile and a bit of a nod is the best I’ve gotten. In fact, this guy is so hard to excite with gifts, that if I can get him to smile big enough that his dimples make an appearance, I know I have done good.

Which means every December is a challenge since it’s his birthday AND Christmas. He makes a {relatively lame} wish list that I give out to our moms and siblings, and then I am stuck with nothing but my imagination and Eddie and Charlie telling me “get him a tool or a shirt with a bear on it.”

This year, I did a happy dance when Uncommon Goods contacted me to showcase some of their gift ideas. I have been a long-time fan of theirs because their products are so unique and fit most any budget. In fact, you can check out gifts for under $50 here and for under $25 here.

I also love Uncommon Goods because they contribute to some fantastic Not For Profits: RAINN (The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network), American Forests, Women for Women International, and one very close to my heart Reach Out & Read. In fact, Uncommon Goods has donated over one million dollars over the past fifteen years to charities around the world. I LOVE THAT!

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Cortney is a fan of craft brew beers. A super fan, you might say. In fact, we went out to a local pub for his birthday and someone suggest he get a Backwoods Bastard from Founders and he declined because “I have had it before.” Even though he really loves it. Uncommon Goods had sweet growlers, and I was able to get him a stainless steal copper one.

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Now he can fill up and keep a favorite beer in the fridge, but still try “new to him” ones when we are out. It’s a win!

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I also picked him out a beer cap map of the United States. DO YOU SEE THE DIMPLES!?  I did it! He was surprised AND impressed! It’s a unique gift that is so very right up his alley. He LOVES to hit up the local beer store that has a wide variety of craft brews and pick up a “mixer sixer”. Now he can keep the caps of those he really loved.

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The big question is…will he just put in any that he loves, or will he try to keep each cap near the state it came from? Decisions, decisions!

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Of course, because I had a wee little left to spend and because Uncommon Goods has such awesome stocking stuffers (no really, they are awesome. Go check them out), I got myself a little something too. I had to feed my writer self a bit, you know.

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And since I am a bit obsessed with leaving my words behind, I got this fun journal that has prompts in it that sort of time capsule who I am and what my life is like.

I absolutely love Uncommon Goods. Love them. I am pretty sure they have gifts for absolutely everyone–you can find something special for every taste and hobby and personality. Plus they have a fun blog that I love to check out because it’s full of what they call “Uncommon Knowledge”.

Anyway, thanks to Uncommon Goods, I saw Cortney’s dimple come out for both of his gifts. And then again this weekend when we took him to TripleRoot and they brought him some birthday cookies.

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Because every local brewery gives you cookies for your birthday, right? RIGHT!

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Disclaimer: Uncommon Goods provided me with with product and payment for my post, however I was able to choose the product, and then opinions are 100% mine (and Cortney’s). I have been a big fan of Uncommon Goods for gifts for a long time, so I was delighted to be able to work with them to make Cort’s birthday dimple-worthy.

I Choose You

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I don’t believe in fate or destiny, but I do believe we were meant to be together in some capacity.

Our children were meant to be.

But that could have happened without 20+ years of friendship and 13+ years of being in love.

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God gives us the gift of free choice, and I sure am glad Cortney and I choose each other every day.

We have the bonus of laughter and joy and inappropriateness.

We are blessed with something I will never take for granted–a kind of love that doesn’t happen to everyone.

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Happy birthday (a day late) to the only family member I ever got to choose.

I think I made a good choice.

Did I Hear a “Niner”?

Dear Alice,

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Some in church this morning said, “Good morning, Alice! Wow! You are growing so fast!” That is totally the theme of every baby’s first year of life. Every baby in the world grew up quickly in their first year, but it always surprises us. This month you have hit a bunch of milestones.

First, you are crawling! Last month you were just starting to army crawl around. Most of the time you would roll and pull yourself until you got what you wanted, now you are taking trips around the house in a full-on crawl. It’s a good thing daddy put the gate up by the steps a few weeks ago! You already crawl over and peek down when a brother disappears down the steps.

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You are pulling up to your knees on things too! Mostly on me or daddy, but you love the pull up by the couch or ottoman too. It’s funny because once your brothers learned to crawl and pull up we were constantly saying “no, no!” and chasing them around because they would get into all the things. I am sure that is coming with you, but for now you crawl to what you want and then sit and play

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It’s really getting hard to get a non-blurry picture of you! Plus you love to “talk” and make yelling noises–or singing noises.  And you laugh at EVERYTHING. If Charlie is crying, you laugh. If Eddie looks at you, you laugh. If we make a pretend chuckle at you, you start cracking up. Everything is funny and worth a grin and a guffaw. You are just so so sweet.

You get mad only when you are tired, poopy, or hungry. The rest of the time it’s smiles for days. Grandma and Grandpa say you look just like me. I think you look like your brothers, but they swear by it. And I guess they would know…they knew me when I was your size.

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You now have four teeth on the bottom and four on top. You love to eat, but are not very quick about it. Not like your brothers. You like to self-feed, but you’ll eat baby food if we give it to you.  You gagged on avocado and bananas, so I guess we will hold off on giving you “real” food for a bit longer and stick with melt-away crackers and such.

We don’t carry you around in the infant carrier anymore. You still use it for a carseat because you comfortably fit in it and it’s rear-facing, but we usually leave it in the car and you ride around on our hip.

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Most of the time my view of you is this. Reaching for things and crawling over obstacles.  You are just the sweetest, snuggliest, funny little honey pants ever. Daddy often looks at us together and grins and says, “my two girls.” We are quite the pair, my little girl.

Oh, I would be remiss to not mention here that in the past month you have started a new habit: Floor Sleeping. Almost every night between your 7pm bottle and your last bottle of the night (which maybe we are about done with?), you play yourself to sleep on the floor. I have started taking your picture almost every time and it’s been keeping my friends on Instagram and Facebook so happy. Because you are adorable.

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I can honestly say I miss the days of tiny baby, but not enough to have another one. I can also honestly say that I love you more and more each day. I look forward to seeing you first thing in the morning, after work, and snuggling you at night.

The way your face lights up when you see any of us, really, is just beautiful. You love your daddy and brothers and momma. You are our shining little light always.

I’m proud of you that you hold your own bottle, but I love that you let me hold you while you do it.  I love that you can fall asleep on your own, but let me snuggle you while you do it. I hope this is always true, my Alice: that you can do things on your own, but allow me to be a part of your life.

I know I say it each month, but I truly had no idea how much I wanted…and needed…a daughter. I didn’t think having a girl was a big deal…or at least that much different than a boy, but I was as wrong as wrong can be. I am so glad you are here. I am so glad you are part of our family.

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You are so loved, my little one.

Love,

Momma

my light grows dim

Advent is a time of waiting…and a time for hope. I’m off to a rough start in the hope department.

Every day we pull down a day from our Advent calendar. Every day I read a short story from the Bible and a very short devotional. It’s very much like the Jesse Tree devotionals for kids. It follows each of the Bible stories about why we need a savior in the first place.

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Tonight we read the creation story at dinner. About how it was all perfect in the beginning.

At bedtime, Charlie randomly chose a story out of his Story Bible–the story of God telling the prophet Isaiah about a Savior that would come. About “Operation No More Tears.”

I want to believe these stories so much.

The simplicity of the story in Isaiah for this children’s Bible. They put it in the form of a letter from God to Isaiah that he needed to share with people. It spoke of a baby being born to a girl with no husband. Of a man who would be a king, but not look like a king; in fact he would be very poor. He would fight evil, but he would have no swords or armies…or guns. He would be a Prince of PEACE. He would be the answer to all this awful in the world.

As Christians, we believe that was Jesus.

He came; he lived in poverty; he spread the message of love; he was an early adopter of non-violent protest and civil disobedience. Then he died.

We are told he went to hell for all of us, then came back from the dead to let his posse know he was the real deal. He told them to tell the world about him. Then he went to heaven.

We are told he will come back to fix this mess.

I’m going to be honest here. I am having a hard time believing in the midst of all this shit that keeps happening in our country and in the world. I’m having a really difficult time believing that I can pray, have it be heard, and have it mean anything or have any effect.

I love the message of Advent. I do.  And I so badly want to believe that this is how it works: we wait and hold on to hope and then Jesus makes it better.

But you guys? Do you ever have those dreams where you are trying to tell someone something because it’s incredibly important. So you shout, but nothing comes out. Or you try to get to them, but obstacles get in your way or you get lost or your legs won’t move. And it’s not just frustrating, it’s the worst feeling ever. You are on the verge of a full-on panic attack and may even wake up shaking or crying, most definitely sweating.

That is how I feel when I see this crap unfold, and then like a fool, I look on Facebook or the comment sections and see crap like this:

Problem: Here is this thing that people keep using to kill people.
Solution: GIVE EVERYONE THAT THING.

WHAT???

I just feel like we are throwing prayers into the wind. We pray for the victims, shoot we even pray for the shooters, and what happens? More acts of terror.

I feel like a damn hypocrite almost every Sunday. I show up to teach my 2nd and 3rd graders in Children in Worship all the while second-guessing, questioning the very stories and lessons I am trying to impart to them.

A couple weeks ago I told them about Joseph and how his brothers sold him into slavery. The theme of the lesson was that God turns bad choices into something beautiful. If life is a woven fabric, we humans make stupid choices in threads, but God can take those bad threads and weave them into something utterly wonderful.

But I am having a hard time right now with seeing how more violence is going to turn into something beautiful.

I know, I know…”but Katie, it’s not for you to know!”

Well, right now, my eyes need to see…something. Because the light of my hope is running out of oxygen and growing very dim.

In the End

Today marks the end of NaBloPoMo: thirty days of solid, uninterrupted blog posts.

Whew.

Part of me wants to keep going just to see how long I can go. The other part of me wants to slap the first part of me for being insane.

The thing is, I have learned some things from all this key-pounding.

For one, I learned that I can, in fact, carve out a slice of time every day to write. Some days it’s only about 5 minutes, but I consciously take the time. It’s been good for me mentally, I think. I feel like I was able to write about stuff as I thought about it rather than saying, “That would make a good blog post…someday.”

By hitting “publish” every day, I also learned that I probably don’t have to hit publish every day. The fact that I sat down to write is the good part. In fact, there are some posts that could stand to have stayed drafts to be revisited later. They just didn’t quite say what I wanted…or at least not the way I wanted to say it.

Not everything I write is gold, but dang if I didn’t write some good stuff this past month. At least in my lowly opinion it was good stuff. And I learned that writing begets writing. I’m sort of afraid to stop because I’m afraid if I skip a day, I will skip another day, and then a week, and then I will be rarely posting again. When I post only rarely, I start putting pressure on myself to write amazing things every time. So then I don’t post because I think what I’ve got to say isn’t good enough to break a silence of days of non-posts. It’s a stupid cycle.

Writing every day also forces me to think like a writer. Everything I do becomes fodder for a post, and I find myself jotting notes on post its, my planner, and even my hand. I write notes on my church bulletin and on receipts. Sometimes it’s singular words. I had “white church” written on a post-it that I carried around until I wrote about it last week.  Sometimes it’s a topic or a phrase. Sometimes I write a bunch of stuff in a notebook and use that to craft a post. I have been looking at my life through my writer’s lens this whole month, and that has felt good.

Lastly, I have learned…or actually reaffirmed…that I am a procrastinator. I never finished my days post (ok, I never even sat down to write them) until the evening. There were nights when–and Cortney can attest to this–I have been crabby and annoyed because I had  to still write something.

But I did it. Every day I did it.

Advent

Each year after the turkey has been consumed, Christmas goes up in our house. It felt appropriate that we put it up on the first day of advent this year.

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Our advent calendar is from Naptime Diaries.

Today I taught my 2nd and 3rd grade Children in Worship class about Advent and what the people in the Bible were waiting for. They didn’t know they were waiting for Jesus; they just knew they were waiting for someone to show them the way…someone to save them.

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I really, really love this time of year. Most of the year I consider my faith and understanding of it shaky at best. It’s so hard for me to believe because I am so very afraid. But that is maybe a different post. This time of year is all about hope.

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Hope for a better world and better people and better choices. Hope that it’s all true and that Jesus came and will come again.

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I don’t know where factual truth ends and where symbolic allegory begins. I don’t know what is historic or scientific. This time of year reminds me what faith is all about. Believing even though you can’t see with your eyes.

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The waiting time of Advent slows it all down. It forces me to reflect each day on what it must have felt like to wait and wait for a Messiah, because really, we are waiting for that now.

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I watch the news and see this world. I have felt loss and witnessed despair. But as we enter Advent, I remember that this is not it. This is not how it’s going to be forever.

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I am glad for this time of reflection and peace and tradition. I love to take this time to teach the kids about how love will always win.

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Plus this is our first Christmas as a complete family.

And that is pretty cool too.

The Importance of a Friend

Being invited over or out feels good–regardless whether I can go or not. It’s being invited anyway because she wants me there.

Insisting on taking a selfie with me because she doesn’t have enough pictures of us together feels good. Even if I look ragged and tired from shopping all day.

Asking about my family and life feels good–even if there is not much to report.

Telling me about her life and thoughts and feelings feels good–even if I don’t have advice. It’s good to feel trusted. And needed.

Being reassured that this is just a season of my life–the one with tiny kids, making it hard to get away spontaneously–and that she will be there when I can get away more feels good.

Sipping champagne and laughing about the past and giggling about the present and wondering about the future feels good because it’s in those seemingly mediocre moments that life is most joyous.

Laughter with a friend is like a warm blanket over cold feet; it’s needed and cozy at the same time.

photo courtesy of my friend Trisha and her insistence that we get a selfie at 1am.

photo courtesy of my friend Trisha and her insistence that we get a selfie at 1am.

The Day After

We are fat and lazy and tired today.

I went shopping with my mom for five hours today. I am exhausted, but I have very little left to buy–most I can do online.

In a little while we will be heading out to our friends for dinner and games and general tomfoolery.

Maybe tomorrow we will put up Christmas.

Grandma picking out a football. I laughed the whole time because according to Ralphie (of A Christmas Story), a football does NOT make a good Christmas present.

Grandma picking out a football. I laughed the whole time because according to Ralphie (of A Christmas Story), a football does NOT make a good Christmas present.

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving…

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from my three turkeys…

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to you and yours.

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We give thanks for you.

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