Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanks and Giving - Part 4

Hard to believe that tomorrow is December 1st and Christmas is just a short 25 days away!  As we round up this month of #30DaysofThanksandGiving and enter the season of celebrating our Savior, I hope to continue thinking of ways to serve and be an example for my children and others to show how love conquers all and kindness always wins.

We had a few extras this week to make up for some of the days we were slacking this month.  Thanks so much to Holly and Sara for the inspiration!

Day 25:  We are so grateful for so many great teachers at Carly's school and today we prepared Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins (recipe here) and I told her she could choose all the teachers she wanted to deliver them to.  She loved it and I think she may have snagged one or two for herself.
It also happened to be grandparents day and the bookfair was in full swing so I actually volunteered for a brief time and noticed the teacher's wish list.  Carly's current teachers did not have any items on the list so I picked a few other teachers who are close to my heart and made a special delivery.  
And here is Carly Jo with Nana and Mimi.  She loves having them come visit her school and I think she convinced them a few books was a good idea.  
Day 26:  We are so thankful for food on our table and knowing that we do not have to worry each day whether we have enough to eat.  My kids are fully aware that there are those in the community who are not so fortunate and they enjoy volunteering when they can at our local food bank.  Today Dillon and his friend Colby invited a few friends to join us.  I'm so thankful my kids have such great friends so after all their hard work we treated them to Wings N More for lunch.  
Wednesday afternoon we had family pictures.  I am so thankful that my family is willing to set aside time to have a few pictures taken each year whether by me or a professional as they mean the world to me!  This really is just me being thankful and the chance to have all my babies all together at one time is priceless.  Hopefully they all know just how special this is to me! 
Day 27:  Thanksgiving Day and we were all so thankful for a beautiful meal and good company.  I was so happy to make my Meme's dressing and to have all my kids with me.  

Day 28:  I think I was in a food coma on Friday as I really can't remember anything that really happened!  Oops!  I did run into World Market and picked up some fun stuff for my niece and nephew who I am so thankful for.  Being an Aunt is so much fun and it blesses me so much to be able to give to them.  Hopefully they will receive their package of goodies this week. 
Day 29:  We are always thankful for our clothes and especially jeans so we donated a load to Jeans for Jesus (read more here).  Side note....always double check with the husband before leaving with his jeans.  I seriously had to go back two days later to pick up a pair that he still wears!! 
We are so thankful for our cousins and since we did not see them Thanksgiving day we decided to drop by with pizza for those that were still visiting from out of town.  The girls had such a super time and played for hours and I got to love on the newest little cousin, Rosser.  Dutch Buddy was in heaven playing with all these girls and he was so tired when we arrived home he skipped dinner and went straight to his crate!  

Day 30:  I am so thankful for our church home.  We really have missed more sundays than I care to admit this fall but today I knew my heart needed it more than ever.  The sermon was perfect and a perfect way to tie up the #30DaysofThanksandGiving.  The pastor spoke about the source of life and the fact that it is no one else's responsibility to fill your love jug but you.  I think sometimes we start out giving thanks and giving of our time or our resources with the very best of intentions and with only love in our heart but sometimes along the way we (as imperfect humans) begin to feel like we are giving and giving and no one is taking care of us.  I struggle with this the most with those I love the dearest.  My intentions are all in the right place but as soon as I lose sight of Jesus in my daily life and replace Him with my husband, my kids, my friends, my job, I begin to feel resentful and bitter because no matter what these people do for me it will never be enough to fill my soul.  We are responsible for our own hearts.  I am so thankful for God's grace every single day and hope that with His help I will have the ability to be more compassionate and kind and forgiving of others.  You can view this sermon later this week or any of the amazing sermons here.  

Proverbs 4:23, Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.  
If you are interested in seeing some of the other ways our family participated in #30DaysofThanksandGiving you can read about those here:  Part 1Part 2 and Part 3.  

If you are looking for a way to challenge your family to random acts of kindness in December, visit Courtney Defeo's blog for her Light 'Em Up ideas here.  

Ember Grey: Grateful Heart
My Joy-Filled Life

Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday Favorites - Food, Family, Friends, Football, Fun

The day after Thanksgiving my very favorite thing to do is sleep late, have pie for breakfast and enjoy the day with no agenda and a little internet shopping.  I'm off to a great start!  
And my sweet friend Holly shares my love for dessert for breakfast and gave me this adorable pie plate on Wednesday!  

On to this weeks Friday favorites!  

It would be hard to start off Thanksgiving week Friday faves without starting with food.  Here are some of my very favorites that we have to have every year.  

First up is my Meme's dressing.  I have tried to skip making this dressing and just ordering in the past but it just isn't the same for me.  I usually prepare my cornbread, celery and onions ahead of time but I procrastinated and ended up preparing on thursday morning.  It turned out perfect and I will be eating leftovers today for sure! 
Broccoli Rice casserole is also another favorite.  I've made this several different ways over the years but always come back to this recipe using the secret ingredient Cheese Whiz.  Nothing healthy about this dish here but it is so good. 
I also make my Meme's fruit salad which is super duper easy to make with the secret being peach pie filling.  I'd like to say this dish was a favorite for everyone at our Thanksgiving dinner but I failed to get it out of the fridge and over to our friends house!  Fail...will be having this today as well. 

And of course we had pumpkin pie along with chocolate and pecan.  Carly Jo helped make the pumpkin pie and I love that she is interested in being in the kitchen with me! 
And then as I was finishing up I peaked up from the sink and saw these two snuggled up enjoying a moment.  Keith tries to let us all think he is tough as nails but this little girl right here has him wrapped all the way around her finger! 

This year the Aggie game was in town so we also stayed in town instead of traveling to my hometown.  Keith's mom and sister both work the football game and could not join us so this year we decided to have our Thanksgiving feast with our good friends the McBertys.  Holly set the most adorable table with lots of simple ideas that looked so put together and made us feel special.  

After lunch we headed to campus for some tailgating with friends before the game.  Our kids have grown up going to Aggie games and even though Jordan is the only true Aggie in our group thus far going to the games is definitely something we look forward to. 

Love these two girls!  Pregnancy brought us together 13 short years ago and we have seen lots of growing pains together but always, always have a great time when we hook up.  
 These girls...oh goodness I think we may be in trouble someday with these two!  They both want to attend A&M so we have high hopes that someday they will be roomies and will have so many great pictures to decorate their dorm room! 

This little turkey latched on to my big turkey and they snuggled at the game.  Since Jordan doesn't live at our house Hope has not seen a lot of her but recently I told her that Jordan was my baby so now she just refers to her as "Aunt Shelly's baby".  So stinkin' cute! 
 Night games are the best but it was definitely a little chilly. 
 We took a break after the first quarter and ran down to Aunt Amy's office for a treat.  My sister in law always, always finds the best surprises for the kids and she did not disappoint with these little turkeys full of candy! 

Having family pictures taken is so important to me and my kids know that this makes me so happy so once every year whether I hire someone or I take them myself we get together for pictures.  This has gotten harder and harder every year with the Bigs having so much going on and the only day the entire fall that worked for us was the wednesday before Thanksgiving.  I booked my very favorite photographer, Sarah Burns of Butterfly Chaser Photography.   Sarah comes from a big family so besides the fact that she is amazing behind a camera she is also extremely patient with my kids.  The other big challenge is that Keith works in Austin and this is the second time he has literally shown up at the very last second just in time to be in one picture so that I actually get a Christmas card!  Here are a few sneak peaks...NOT from my photographer but you can get the idea.     I will definitely be working on my Christmas card today so I will share the real deal soon.   

Now that Thanksgiving is out of the way I'm ready to pull out my Christmas decorations and get the house ready.  I love my fall decorations but I really, really love my house decorated for Christmas.  Hopefully when the food coma wears off I'll be ready to start the process.  Here are a few items I found while browsing through World Market that I'm really thinking I am going to have to add this year.  

Hope all of you who love Black Friday have scored big and all of you like me are enjoying the day at home.  Have a great long weekend....once it's over the race is on! 

Linking up with these fun bloggers! 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thankful Thursdays {Where}

It's Thanksgiving thursday and I have so many things to be thankful for!  I excited about cooking my Meme's dressing along with my families other favorites and we will be celebrating with good friends and family before heading to watch the Aggies BTHO LSU.

Today I am linking up with these fun bloggers for this weeks edition of Thankful Thursdays focused on Where!

The Celebrating Momma

Today I am thankful for where I am on my walk with God.  

I honestly cannot remember a time in my life that I didn't believe in God but I can also honestly say for most of my life I was not walking on the right path.  I grew up in a small town where everyone knew everyone else's business and I definitely created lots of dirty laundry for all to see.  It was like every bad decision I made took me one more step away from the love of God and I began to feel unworthy.  As a young mom I tried going back to church but I never really felt comfortable and always felt like I was alone in my lack of knowledge about scripture and never felt confident praying even to myself.  Off and on through my adult years I attended a church but never could fully commit.  I really felt like in order to be part of a church I had to live a "perfect" life free of sin and honestly I was still making decisions every day that did not feel very Christ like.   We had several friends who were attending a non-denominational church that was somewhat non traditional as well and we decided to try it.  The first visit Keith and I were both a little taken aback as we had both grown up in very traditional churches with hymnals and fire and brimstone preaching.  We didn't go back for quite some time and often had the discussion of trying another church but Keith grew up baptist and I grew up methodist and neither of us wanted to try the other.  How crazy were we that we would choose to go nowhere rather than try something new!  We finally gave Brazos Fellowship another chance and I'll never forget that first Sunday and feeling like the pastor must have been watching my life for years.  That was enough to get me back the next Sunday and the next after that and soon it became "our church".  For the first time in my life I did not feel judged for being the person I am and for making all the choices I have made.  For the first time I didn't feel guilty only loved and chosen.  For the first time I realized that I was worthy of the love of God who had already given the greatest sacrifice so that I could live an imperfect life yet still be forgiven.  God's grace is sufficient.  For the first time I was in a church home where I felt like every single member, including the staff, were also sinners and I felt no judgement.

I am so thankful I live in a country where I can worship freely as I choose.

I am so thankful I found a church home where I feel welcome and surrounded by love.

I am thankful that where I am now in my walk is still a long way from where  I need to be but God is right beside me.

I am thankful to look back and see where God put opportunities, people and challenges in my path that helped me grow closer to Him.

I am thankful to know where I am still weak He is strong.

Thankful and blessed beyond measure this Thanksgiving day!  

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Outfits for Family Pictures

Today is a big day at our house!  The day mom is super excited about and everyone else picture day.  I love taking pictures and am usually the one behind the camera.  If you love taking pictures and have a nice camera then you know what a challenge it is to hand it off to someone else so you can actually be in a picture with your family.  My luck is never that great and I typically end up with an unfocused picture or the lighting is pathetic or they take one shot and there are lots of eyes closed.  Since 2009 I have tried to hire a photographer to take our Christmas pix at least every other year and I'm always super excited with the results but always super stressed putting our outfits together.  This year I actually have had the majority picked out for weeks so I'm feeling ahead of the game and as long as I have a good hair day I think this will turn out ok!  

I almost always start by picking out an outfit for Carly Jo.  This is partly a perk of being the youngest but partly because I have the hardest time finding clothes that are age appropriate and fit her nicely.  I found this top at Dillards a few months back and knew it had potential.  I have paired with jeans that are slim fit through the leg with a slight bootcut and these little booties I bought for her during the Nordstrom anniversary sale.  We are debating about adding the fur vest and will see where tomorrow takes us! 
Family Photos
Exact top here//Exact fur vest here//Jessica Simpson jeans similar here//Booties similar here

I headed to Old Navy online to try to find some reasonable shirts for my guys.  When I saw the flannel plaid it was instant love!  They will all wear with jeans and my husband will wear boots while the boys will either wear Sperrys or Vans. 
Blue checked here//Grey pullover here//Flannel Plaid here

Jordan & I have the most clothes in our closets but seriously it is always the hardest pulling together our outfits.  Here are two options I have come up with for me and since she doesn't live at home she has seen what I have and it will be a surprise when she shows up tomorrow!  
 Plaid Scarf Options here//Sam Edelman Boots here//Gap sweaters similar here
Leopard Scarf option here//Dolman Top similar here

The even bigger challenge for me is to wear a real smile!  You wouldn't think smiling would be so hard but I'm telling you I seriously have the biggest issue smiling naturally for pictures.  I'm really hoping I get a few great shots to print on canvas for my entry hall.  My kids are literally growing up before my eyes and having these pix every year just makes me so happy!  

Here is a funny out take from our family shoot last year.  I had to set up my tripod and use a remote to take our pictures myself and so there is lots of taking some pix and then me running to look and see how things look and then running back for more pix.  It's exhausting.  We were working on fixing some hair, etc and I guess Carly Jo decided it was a perfect time for her own little photo shoot.  I laughed so hard when I loaded my pictures and found these little gems! 

Work it girl!

Happy Hump Day!  

Linking up with these great blogs! 

pleated poppy

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanks and Giving Part 3

If you are reading for the first time, we have been participating in #30DaysofThanksandGiving this month.  Here are a few ways that we were able to give thanks this week and all were basically free and just took a little bit of time! 

Day 18:  Carly is thankful for her glasses and her dance studio happened to be holding a drive for donations of old glasses so she dropped off her old pair. 
Day 19:  My littles make their own lunches pretty much every single day.  We typically work together on Sundays to prepare individual packages of snacks so it makes it really easy for them but this week I was a total bummer mom and they were truly fending for themselves.  I was up extra early and made their lunches and included a sweet note letting them know how thankful I am to be their mom! 

Day 21:  Typically I am either snuggled up in bed or leaving for the gym when Keith gets up for work so he always makes the coffee and his own breakfast.  This morning I started the coffee and cooked him a real breakfast and we were able to have some nice conversation and coffee together before he left for work.  
 Day 23:  We gave thanks for my Mamaw as we joined her for lunch at the assisted living home where she lives.  We had a table for 10 and I know it made her so happy to have so many of us there with her even if the little kids make her a little nervous!  After lunch I took her shopping which is absolutely her favorite thing to do.  
I can hardly believe the last week of November has begun!  If you would like to see some ways we have given thanks this month you can read Part 1 and Part 2 of our Thanks and Giving.  If you are looking for something fun to do with your family in December, my friend Holly shared a link to Light 'Em Up 2014 which is a challenge for December led by blogger Courtney Defeo.  

Have a great week! 

Linking up with these bloggers today!  
Ember Grey: Grateful Heart

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