Wednesday, December 25, 2013

All Is Calm, All is Bright...

Merry Christmas y'all! It feels like forever since I have sat here with my laptop and perhaps it is related to the holiday busyness that seems to crop up this time of year in spite of the best of intentions.

However, I did want to take a minute to wish everyone a "Merry Christmas" from our family!

Things at our home are calm today and outside the sun is brightly shining. I have finally accepted we have passed the years of late night Christmas Eves as Santa's workers and the early, pre-dawn Christmas morning excitement. The kids assured us last night that they wanted to sleep in this morning yet they were all up and going at 8:30.

Their stockings were filled with some of their favorite things...

And Kamdyn did a great job acting surprised as she opened gifts that were picked out weeks ago shopping with me...

Koby always loves to open gifts and he takes his time looking each one over...

This gift caught Brendan a little off guard! We will see how long it takes him to actually wear it and he said IF he does he will have an Texas ATM shirt on underneath.

And even Johnny was feeling festive this morning, sniffing through all the wrapping paper in search of a treat!

We enjoyed our presents, ate a big breakfast, rested and cleaned up and have now filled ourselves on a late lunch. Brian and I are enjoying a movie, the boys are playing a new game and Kamdyn is dressed in new clothes watching Netflix. Talk about all being calm!

Of all the things I have enjoyed about today though I am most thankful for that little bit of quiet this morning, with the trees lit and my coffee hot as I read through the Christmas story. To reflect on the birth of my Savior and worship Him this morning was indeed the greatest gift.

I hope each of you have experienced the calm that only Christ can bring! I trust you have taken just a moment to reflect on the love of our Savior and the hope that He provides.

I wish you all a truly Merry Christmas and over the next few days I plan to sit down and update on all that has been going on with the Bailey bunch!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Slowing Down...

Last week kept us on the go! The kids played three nights of basketball and they had their youth group Christmas Party on Wednesday night. And I want to say I love a game of "Dirty Santa", especially with 45 youth!!

The kids started the week off with a rough basketball game where all teams got beat but the boys bounced back winning the rest of their games for the week and Kamdyn's team won a big game on Friday night. The boys are undefeated in district which was one of their goals going into the season. We still have a tough team on the schedule in January to play twice so we aren't counting on the district champion trophy yet! Kamdyn's team continues to improve and they were so excited about winning this week!

She is learning a lesson about turning the other cheek, literally. This week in a heated game a girl from the other team gave Kamdyn a big slap on the cheek after she had already been very physical. The slap got her a tech and thankfully Kamdyn showed patience and didn't retaliate! Her coach has also told them if you get a tech you run two miles so that might have contributed to Kamdyn not saying/doing anything back to the girl. I worry about this happening to our boys but not to Kamdyn!

So all of that to say tonight I am sitting at home in front of the fire with our Christmas trees all glowing because after last week I need some PEACE!!! Our choir performed their annual Christmas program Sunday and the theme was peace. I think I needed to be reminded peace comes from God our Father and we need to live in it. I don't think He calls us to a life of chaos and activities that so easily distract families, tearing down communication and relationships. I think we need to slow down and walk in peace!

Tonight we all five at supper together, which is very rare for us. We are used to more than five at our supper table!  The kids have all gone on to study for their semester exams and here I sit typing and Brian is reading TexAgs and checking out Ebay and I will just say in this moment, life is good!

We also had some company this weekend....

....and our house seemed to be more like a fraternity than anything else. These boys played unlimited playstation and ate all kinds of food and laughed and joked and talked about love and life. Our boys have been so blessed to have some great Christian friends, and this weekend I realized these guys were an answer to my prayers. I have always asked God to provide them with friends who are faithful, who love God, who want to live life for Him. I think so many kids today think you can't live a life of faith and have fun. Our boys and these boys are far from perfect but they all are trying to live out faith and life. I took this picture after lunch Sunday before Thomas headed back to Auburn and I just wonder if they realize they are standing on the edge of the rest of their life with a journey ahead of them that only the Lord knows.

Along with the basketball games and Christmas party last week we also had a Christmas party for the women at our local mission. I am more than thankful to serve in church with such compassionate women who want to serve others! We had this party last year and I was so excited to offer it again. I will share more about it later but I did want to tell you about one of the things we did with the women - we made these super cute little chocolate covered marshmallows! It was so easy and I think I may do some more for teacher gifts. Just take the largest marshmallows and put the candy cane in the end of them. Dip the end of the marshmallow in the chocolate almond bark and the sprinkle crushed peppermint on the end or you could even use red sprinkles. The women loved doing this and I think you would, too. {Also, special thanks to Pintrest because of course that is where I found this cute idea!}

So there you go....as our life slows down a little yours may be speeding up. We are on half days at school through Thursday and my kids will be done taking semester finals Wednesday. Brendan will be going to see Ellie at the end of the week and I will be cleaning house, catching up on everything I didn't get done last week!! {If you haven't gotten a Christmas card from us that's in my catching up plan!}

I hope peace finds you or rather that you find it through the One who provides it. Just slow down..

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Baby it's COLD outside...

I can not even tell you how cold it is! I know many of you probably are going through the same thing wherever you are but oh.my.goodness! It's like we had winter then about three days of spring then hello - winter times 100!

The kids played ball out of town Thursday night and on our way to the game the temperature fell 31 degrees and I was so glad I had kept my sweater handy! I am thankful we are not frozen on ice like many of you back home in Texas because I want no part of that. Snow = yes, Ice = no way!

When I got up to a gray, cold morning Saturday I plugged in my Christmas trees and sat with a hot cup of coffee and the fire and just enjoyed the peace that comes from doing that....

...and I just praised God for quiet and warmth and a home and peace. I don't know what it is about Christmas and the lights and being all snuggled in but I do know it is good medicine for my soul to just sit and enjoy it. I realize some of you don't have teenagers who sleep until 10 or 11 so this not be something you identify with but I can tell you the quiet and peacefulness is coming one day and you need to enjoy it!!!

Not only did we welcome in the cold at the end of this week but we also got to welcome a special visitor...


Our sweet Ellie came home for a surprise visit and I think it is safe to say everyone was happy to see her! She worked with one Brendan's friends to surprise him at his basketball game Thursday evening. She showed up just before halftime of the girls game and it really was sweet to see the surprise on his face!! This girls is one in a million and you just about needs those odds to fit into this family of ours!

Friday night Brian and I took the kids plus Ellie plus Koby's friend Anna out to eat. I caught myself looking around the table, watching the kids talk about this and that and I couldn't help but thank God for pouring out his blessings on us. I also had a brief moment of vanity, thinking "am I really old enough to sit here with almost grown boys and their dates and a daughter planning her Friday night out with friends?". Well age is only a number in this birthday month of mine and I am truly learning to count my blessings in this season of parenting.

Saturday we cooked our normal big breakfast, did some grocery shopping and then snuggled in for football and soup as the north wind kept things frigid outside. Today we had to take Ellie back to Birmingham and Brian did such a great job getting us through the yucky rain and fog. We were sad to see her head home, but thankful for her time here with us and the added excitement she brought to our weekend!

It looks like we will be bundling up all week as we go to basketball games and Christmas parties! We have 5 more whole days of school left this week and 4 half days next week so we are on the countdown for sure. I hope you are staying warm where you are and that you too are finding peace and joy in this season...

Monday, December 2, 2013

Truly Thankful...

We spent Thanksgiving at home in Mississippi, which is not the home of my heart but the home God put into our lives almost 12 years ago. When I finally came to terms with the reality of missing Thanksgiving in Texas {or glory land as I tend to refer to it} I decided I would make the most of whatever it was that God had for us here at our home.

I was down in my back. Brendan was anxious about his ROTC interview. Kamdyn came down with strep throat and the flu. Koby bought three different necklaces and took back two of them all for the same person. Brian took care of all of us!

And we survived!

For that I am truly thankful!

I do have a few pictures to share from our Thanksgiving....

The boys wanted to get picture taking over with quickly and get on to the eating so they didn't want to stop to put on a coat or anything! We were truly thankful when we saw the sun come out on Thanksgiving Day because we had dealt with freezing cold temperatures and rain for about five straight days! And honestly I wouldn't complain much about that because I love a gray, wintry day where I can snuggle up with a good movie or good book and a fire and we did that pretty much all of Monday and Tuesday.

First of all, it's been almost a year since we brought this little fella home! By Thanksgiving Day not only was Kamdyn thankful to finally be kicking the flu but she was also talking about how  Johnny's first year in the family had passed by so quickly! I think this will forever be one of my most favorite pictures of her!

This could be a close second though!

I'll admit we did get a little photo happy while we were waiting to sit down to lunch! I think Koby gets the photo credits for this picture and that might explain why we are laughing more than just smiling.

And clearly it was a special day if both of the boys were willing to take a picture!

But then it was time to get serious! Brian is carving the first of two turkeys that he fried for Thanksgiving. He did an amazing job and we stuffed ourselves full!

We did a little Black Friday Thursday shopping, which included Brian's first real experience with the crowds and sales and checking out and also the boy's first chance to brave the cold just to get a deal. Koby's shopping experience is still making me laugh today!

On Saturday, the boys played in Memphis at the FedEx Forum - home of the Memphis Grizzlies! This was their third year to play up there and they really look forward to it. Here is a picture of the five starters before we went in to the Forum...

...and you can tell they are an entertaining group!

We were thankful to come out with a win and I was able to get a few pictures of the boys...

...but those were two of my favorites!

So this morning we found our way back into our school routine. We will have to make it 9 more full days and 4 more half days until our Christmas break arrives - not that I am counting down or anything!

*As a total side note thanks to all of you who have prayed for my quick recovery! By Wednesday I finally felt like I was going to be able to live somewhat normally again and I have since put the heating pad away. After 10 days of constant use I decided that the investment of that heating pad might just be better than any Black Friday deal!