Sunday, December 26, 2010

Unwrapping Christmas

Christmas has wrapped up and it seems so very surreal. I'm trying to absorb every millisecond possible with the family and friends. We began Christmas Eve at the Gray household with their family, Nick's godfather and his seven children and their children...

The Gray household, to say the least... was overwhelming! There were so many people I could not count them! It was so much fun. We ate a lot, stood around and talked, a little boy read the Bible story and we prayed, Jim took professional shots of all of the families and then we opened gifts... WOWSERS. I don't have the professional shot yet... but, I do have one of my family we took in front of my lil tree!!! It was such a neat experience. There were little kids running through the house while the adults laughed and carried on. The Teters even got to make a visit. I was so worried if Brenda and Dad were entertained, but they seemed to enjoy the visit, too.

Nick got me beautiful diamond earrings! I think people thought he was going to propose because of his little speech, but no... too cliche. I'm getting really frustrated with everyone pushing me to get married... I'm almost there... but, there's still a long journey ahead! ... Anyway, so Nick says I always tell him to get a rock from his garden and write me a poem on it and that would suffice as a sweet gift... so my gift is a sort of rock! I am in love with them... but, I would like a poem just as much... maybe! I got him golf irons, an Under Armour polo and a few small items just for fun.

Dad, Brenda, Nick and I went back to my place to open just our gifts. This picture doesn't do it justice, but my family is a little crazy about gifts. We love to open!

I think we scare Nick with the amount of gifts. As you can see... Santa each year brings us kids the essentials in a huge bag full of toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning products... that sort of thing... I think I get about 40 gifts or so... that's just normal to us only children. I try to get Dad and Brenda as much as I can, but I just try to make it meaningful. We had so much fun ripping open gifts and enjoying them. I don't even know my favorite. I got a lot of kitchenware and clothing. I just loved everything so much. I was sad when Dad and Brenda left for bed. It felt surreal that it was all over so quickly. I talked to God about my blessings for a long time that night.

We headed out to Henryetta, Oklahoma to my stepbrother's family's house on Christmas morning.

My stepbrother, Steven and his wife, Ashley and their daughter, Rylie & Saige

By the time we got there the girls had already gotten their gifts from Santa and they were beyond thrilled. Rylie is four and Saige is 20 months... oh man they are sooo much fun!!! I have been ridden like both a horsey and a piggy. I've been tied to the playhouse because I was a bad dog. I have been licked by a play puppy. I've been jumped up and down on like a trampoline. It seems like torture, right? Actually it's quite fun! Wow... mothers are tough folks!!!

Rylie's new puppy, Slinky

I like posed pictures, but my dad does not. We were chilling on the couch after a long day. This is Ashley's mom, Carla and all of us...

We went to church this morning and I have talked before about how much I love their preacher. I really enjoy his thoughts and listen to the sermon with open ears. There are a few things I want to work on in the next year and one is getting more involved with my church. Ashley and I went on a walk in the frigid weather and we looked at some really neat houses. It seems so desolate, yet there are these huge and neat houses in the middle of these random lots. By the time we got back everyone was settling into football mode. I've never watched so much football! Steven is a coach so he lives and breathes it... this is when I roam away and go play Toy Story with Rylie!

Tomorrow morning we are going shopping in Tulsa... then we are headed West on Tuesday for more adventure... Life is so fragile and I just thank God for allowing me to enjoy my loved ones at this time.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


I keep talking about the magic. I just wish it was here all year round. The holidays are sometimes difficult, yet always out of this world. I keep reverting back to childhood because Christmas was always so special. My boss didn't mean to, but she was talking about cooking all of the goodies with her daughter. It hit me all of the things my Mom used to bake during this time. I remember this one Christmas when I was a teenager I finally had a little allowance money and I bought her a Gap sweatshirt. I was so so so excited that I had spent so much and was able to get her something special. She was probably just excited that I had actually picked her out a gift and not been selfish with my money. The first year it was just Dad and I it was very difficult to know how to buy him all of the gifts. It wasn't about money, but trying to live up to that expectation of making him happy without all of the big things she could give him.

I notice these traditions. I just realized that at some homes Santa Claus brings all of the gifts. See... at my home Santa only brought the biggest and baddest the next morning after I unwrapped all the gifts from my family. Another thing... People find it strange I sent out cards with pictures. Especially since we aren't married. I guess I find it strange, too, but beats it just being me. I cannot help I don't have some cute little kids. Growing up as an only child my mother would dress me in different outfits and have me pose all around the house. I thought it was very normal. I so loved doing that. Do you want to know the tradition growing up after Christmas Eve dinner at the Stewarts? We would drive around looking at lights for a while then we'd go home and change clothes. Mom would begin playing the piano and Dad and I would sing with her. Then we read the Christmas story from the Bible then we ripped open gifts going around in a circle. WOW. How do you beat that?!!

This year as I have said before it is about making a new tradition. We will spend the Eve at Nick's parents house then come back to my place and open gifts. I don't have a piano... that's okay because the one at Dad's house is so out of tune I feel sorry for Brenda when she does play!!! It is Granny Gert's from back in the day and I am darn proud of it!!! We will spend Christmas with Steven, Ashley and the girls in Oklahoma. It will be fun to see the magic of Santa in their eyes. We will attend church with them and I really love their church.

I don't want the magic to leave or the music to stop. I guess each month we have different seasonal activities and maybe we can make those special.

I am thankful for all of my blessings God has given me. It's different to be from a small family, but it's so normal to me. My traditions are very different from each. Nick's parents both come from semi big families, yet each of those siblings has their own traditions so they choose to spend Christmas with his godfamily and now us... It seems pretty neat to me! They all take family photos after Eve dinner as Nick's dad is a professional photog on the side. It's special to them. And we know I love photos... so somehow all of our traditions intertwine... and somehow it's all God.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's a Charity Bash

A large part of Christmas is about giving. It seems every Hallmark movie tells us that. I'm not sure that the Bible tells us this is the only season to give, but it seems the magic whirls so much that we just open our hearts. Andrea hosted a Charity party this weekend and it was so much fun. Nick and I were assigned to a 16 year old girl. I had a blast as I went through my closet and drawers just to give her extra things! Her actual gift wrapped up were what she asked for - a pair of Skinny jeans from Forever 21!!! Our friend, Kacie is close to this family... There are TEN children... and the parents work very hard to support them. They sleep on blankets in their small apartment and volunteer at the food bank to help others. They are a very special family. You should have seen the presents flowing!!! Andrea and Kacie went to surprise them tonight with gifts!!!

We had a good time... I got to hang out with Stephanie as she came over from Arlington with her husband. It was so good to all get together since Jana, Stephanie and I have been friends for over ten years now!!! Andrea danced as she always dances ;)... and Chad did cheerleading stunts with the old cheerleaders as he will never grow out of it! Nick talked sports with the guys while us gals talked about shopping and girly things.

I'm so ready for this weekend. Dad and Brenda will be here on Eve and we will celebrate with Nick's family. We will then travel to Oklahoma to be with my stepbrother and his family. We will THEN make the long trip through Snyder to see Grandmommy and go back to Midland. We are celebrating with the Stewart family after this! And... then I'll fly back... WHEEEW... So exciting!!!

Jana & Stephanie

I look a bit like a chipmunk here, but Andrea and Stephanie are hotties.

Why does Nick look afraid?

Never a dull moment with Chad.

Brian and Kacie

Jana and Jason

Stephanie and Jody

Monday, December 13, 2010

Manufacturing Christmas

The magic of Christmas swirls through the air and I just cling to each day as if it’s a balloon trying to fly away. Maybe I try to manufacture Christmas in a sense. Like I am trying to create what I had as a child. I want to bottle that and just drink it.

We have been going to a few Christmas parties and it has been a blast! Last week we had Nick’s parents’ neighborhood party in Lake Highlands and then my company party at The Village in Dallas. It was so pretty and so much fun. I didn’t feel like putting on a dress in the tundra, but I'm so glad we went!!! Tonight starts with an ornament exchange at Sandi’s; Toys for Tots Dinner tomorrow night for work; Sarah Cohen’s Birthday Outing; Holiday Sales Gathering at work Friday; Andrea’s Charity Party Saturday… Wow… I love it. I’m sure we’ll stuff some in here and there. Nick and I are trying to get a group together to do the carriage ride through Deerfield this weekend. We usually just go in our car, but it takes forever and is annoying in lines. We want to enjoy it and sip hot chocolate and sing along. Okay… so people in Dallas seem to think their lights are the best… well, they don’t know about my hometown… Big Springers try to outdo one another so each house is bigger and better with decor. I grew up on the “Christmas Light” street where legend is you had to put lights on your house in your contract…but, it was major and beautiful. I really miss that magic. The lights here are great… but, NOTHING compared to Big Spring!!!

All this talk about gifts and parties makes the manufacturing. Sometimes I get wrapped up in the lights and have to look at the true meaning. It’s not a cliché that Jesus is the reason for the season. Everything about Christmas is Jesus. Don’t you see? When I talk about the giving and the lights and the magic… isn’t that all Jesus? Lately on my heart has been my precious friend, Lindsey with breast cancer and brain cancer… It’s not the fact she has battled and beaten it now three times, but the miracles surrounding it that knock me to my knees in my faith. Just a sample… Lindsey and her husband decided to sell their luxurious home and cars after knowing the finances they are facing… these were all sold in three days… Lindsey was offered a job outside her traditional classroom setting and if she wasn’t in this job now when her brain tumor hit she wouldn’t have been able to take a leave… Her seizure hit during the holidays so she could take minimal days of vacation… They were able to give one of their dogs away in 24 hours to an amazing home… wow… I could go on and on… The point is that there is no way any of this could have happened by coincidence. I tried to remember this when I am worrying about the smallest worries of my day. God is taking care of the big ones… so if He can move mountains… He can certainly heal me.

I’ll try not to manufacture my own Christmas. At times it’s difficult not to fill my own vile of medicine with this magic… but, it’s best to let the season come as it may and just enjoy each day with the excitement and vigor of a child.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Gobbles 2010

Our Thanksgiving was filled with so much love and laughter I could still pop. I should just copy and paste the e-mail my Dad wrote about it, but I also should not plagiarize his own genius of writing skills so I'll touch on pieces of it!!!

I flew in to San Antonio to celebrate with Brenda's family. We went out to her Aunt Cora and Uncle Ed's little farm. They are truly neat people that have been married over sixty years. There were about thirty people in attendance. Ed wanted to have dinner out in the barn... or his workshop... why, you ask? He was very proud of it and Cora wanted a place we could all sit together. They put together tables and it was just fine. It wouldn't have mattered where we were eating. The day was gorgeous which half annoyed me because I had put together an elaborate new outfit with my new coat and scarf... but, I like being warm so it's even better!!! I don't like normal food on holidays so I said no to the turkey and ate all side dishes... I'm weird, but I like it that way. They were so yummy. Of course I also went for dessert. Eating healthy didn't seem to matter that day.

After lunch Ed and his brother serenaded us with a violin and guitar. My Dad loves that music so I enjoyed it, too. It felt like we were in Luchenbach. Between bouts of football we played Bunko and then did the White Elephant gift exchange. It was such a blast. We laughed the entire time.

Aunt Cora has lung cancer and is going through treatments so the family really tried to make her time a wonderful one. She is doing so well that I had no idea she was still in chemo. She said her hair should fall out soon and she has a wig! She is so funny and just has the best heart.

My favorite part of the day was just being with everyone. Being an only child, grandchild and niece I had a very small family... When we would go with Dad's cousins I felt like I was in a big family and fell in love with it. Nick tells me that now I not only have my family, but Brenda's and his family, too. The love just surrounded us. They welcome Dad and I like we are their own blood.

When we go to San Antonio we stay with Brenda's brother Jay and his family. They have a nine year old, Seva. We have such a blast playing. She makes me see through a little girl's eyes. She is so full of energy, hates boys and loves Disney.

We got up at a normal time on Black Friday, but decided to hit some shops later in the day before I flew out. I think we all got a few gifts... but, nothing too crazy!!! I didn't want to fly back to the real world.

When I got back Nick surprised me by having my Christmas tree up and some of my house decorated!!! I melted!!! How awesome!!! So we spent the rest of the night wrapping gifts... hey, that's my idea of a perfect night...

Perfect holiday. Gobbles.

KATELYN AND ME. This is Brenda's niece... She is 12... She is my mini me in a way telling me about the boys she likes and her sports and cheerleading. She is just adorable and lots of fun.

TWINS BLAYNE AND KEENAN. Brenda's cousin's grandbabies. Adorable. Too small... Scares me.






WHITE ELEPHANT AND BUNKO. I came home with Armor All... but, it was what I stole... They stole jewelry and Starbucks from me and I like to keep my car clean!!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Find the Light Through The Darkness

There are a million things I could write about just because I haven't set down to write. I wonder why I write, but then I remember if I don't write I go insane because I am a WRITER at heart. No one really reads my blog because I don't have kids and I'm just me! But, atleast it's here for me and one day people will read it!!! I'm interesting!!!

So a million things... Like the fact it's Thanksgiving week and I'm so ready to fly to be with the family. Like the fact I've been insanely decorating and shopping for Christmas already and still have many presents to buy. And, I wonder... why oh why do we give so many gifts? I absolutely love it... I grew up an only child, grandchild and niece so I got a lot of gifts and we didn't do the drawing for who gets what blah blah blah... So I feel as if I should shower people with gifts... but, man, it's hard to figure out what some people really want! In my shoes this is who gets gifts: Dad (the most because he's Dad!), Brenda (who has already made a haul this year!), Nicholas, Nick's parents, Grandmommy, Alyssa, Aaliyah, Malachi, Xander, Steven, Ashley, Rylie, Saige and D'Layna... oh, and a gift for Secret Santa at work and Andrea's Christmas Party and probably another Christmas party that requires a gift (and that is why I love Christmas Tree Shops because I can get rocking gifts for less expense for these!)... too much fun to shop!!!

Another thing... Mom would be 58 this week. By gosh. She passed away at 48. I wonder what life would be like for her? I wonder what she would look like? I wonder what she would be doing? 58 seems so young now. She will be eating red velvet cake in Heaven. Funny thing... Red velvet is Nick's mom's favorite, too. Sometimes the things I cannot explain with Nick and my background blow me away. That's a small thing, but it's neat and unusual. Sure wish Mom could taste Dianne's red velvet cake.

On to the meat of my heart...

Today at church the preacher was talking about depression. He was saying sometimes our sadness should not be medicated. This was not his sermon, but he made a good point. A young girl who was depressed came to get meds from him. After speaking with her for a while he asked her what grieved her the most. After she confessed all of these things deep down she cried heavily and was a different person from then on. Without meds. Now, I'm not giving up my crazy anxiety pills just yet, that is not what I'm saying... and heck, I'll always be anxious. That's just me... but... this is interesting. What grieves us the most? What do we do that makes us feel God hates us? And, if you think about it, it weighs us down. Sometimes when I feel like God probably hates me I close up and I'm sad. I thought hard when he asked me that question. Why do you feel today God hates you? Why do you grieve? Well... for me... I'm always worrying and always thinking. I live in fear of the unknown. I'm afraid to walk outside for fear the tree will fall on my head... not really, but it seems like that at times. Always the What Ifs of life. I worry God is angry at me for this. I cannot help it. The way as women we sometimes gossip and say ugly things... and then I stop myself because I know I'm wrong. I've found myself now multiple times just smiling and staying out of the conversation and telling people not to be mean. But, sometimes... yes. We all fall short. I'm selfish and I feel horrible when I realize I'm being selfish. Yes, God still loves us when we do these things... but, I just realized it sure is hard to live this life that pleases God every single day. I mess up. We all mess up. And we have to just give it to God and ask Him to forgive us because it just festers and builds until we explode. We find the darkness if we do not go into the light.

That's my rant for today.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Neverchanging Stocking

I got stockings in the mail today and boy, was I excited... Weird, you say? Well, this season it seems to be about making new traditions... The short of the story is that Dad and Brenda are coming this way and decided I had to have a beautifully decorated lil space for them... so I then decided to spruce up my decor. Nick's mom has been helping me find some neat things... I've always decorated, but this is the first year for a tree!!! Growing up I was quite spoiled with our stockings... Granny Jac made Mom, Dad and I stockings... They are full of sequins and just gorgeous. Well, I knew Nick and Brenda needed a stocking... so I created two online through Personal Creations. They are amazing!!! I will hang them up beside Dad and mine (I thought about getting us all matching ones, but I refuse to retire the Granny Jac stocking because it rocks)... I already want to blast the music and decorate...

I don't like change. I've said this before... But, we knew last year we needed to grow. Look, after Mom passed away that first Christmas was horrendous trying to figure out how Dad and I could do Christmas Eve without her. Sitting on the floor exchanging gifts... It ripped our hearts out. I don't remember it too much, but I know we had to learn how to celebrate again. You have to remember I am an only child. My Christmas is not filled with screaming children running amuck. It was always me, Mom, Dad, Grandmommy, Granny Jac and sometimes Uncle Mike... that's it... We celebrated on another day with Grandaddy and Rae since Granny Jac didn't enjoy being in the same room... Christmas Eve for the past 25 years though has been spent at dinner with the Stewarts in Big Spring. I knew two years ago it was different when we didn't spend it at Ina's anymore... Ina is the grandmother... I knew the spirit was different as everyone was getting older. I love every year seeing my second family and my "sister" Stephanie... She was a gymnast at Boise State so she didn't come home much at all during college. I also knew last year that with Nick one of us had to budge with our stubborn feelings on our own traditions. We aren't married, my gosh, but we had to grow as a couple...

We do Thanksgiving with Brenda's family and spend parts of the holidays each year in Oklahoma with my stepbrother's family... Brenda's daughter moved up North this year so they will not be with us. So my family is coming this way with Nick's family... It's different and it's scary. It was hard on me at first when we did the integrated Christmas with Brenda's family because it was just different. No matter how much time passes I wonder why holidays still tear at our hearts? Grandmommy is at the age where she doesn't cook anymore and she swears she needs no gifts... though we still find her things!!! I don't know how that will work... How will we see Grandmommy in Snyder if we are in Dallas and Oklahoma? We will figure it out... I know... we always do... It's a big change for all of us... We seem to have done it so many times before that it just seems normal.

I look back in wonder that Dad and Mom had it so easy... yet so different. They knew they would go to Snyder because they were both from there... Dad's parents were divorced though and that had to be hard to figure out who gets "left out." They never let me know it was weird. It's hard as we grow up and our lives grow and change that we have to mold along with it. I have spent many holidays in a news station. I spent Christmas morning of 2005 crying in an airport on my way back to the news... Change. I promised myself I would always be with my family. I would not leave my Dad out of holidays because he has been through all of the changes with me. Family is the most important thing in our lives... the love of it all. The holidays though they change... the one constant that stays is FAMILY. Family might not mean relatives... it might mean friends... The Stewarts have been our very best friends all of these years through the changes... As we add people to our families... as the stockings of Joe Mark and Julie meet their matches of Brenda and Nick... it's all about the constant through all of the waves... LOVE.

This is how much I love my stocking...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010