Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Looking Back at Christmas and Looking Ahead to a New Year (Warning...Super Long Post!)

Happy New Year, everyone!  Can you believe it's already 2013?  The years seem to fly by faster and faster the older I get. :}

Thank you for being so patient with me.  I know you've all been waiting to hear from me here on the blog.  Things have been pretty nutso with the holidays and everything, as I'm sure you understand. :)

So, first things first:  Christmas.  This year was a bit of a strange one in some ways.  Our schedules were all very different, and Christmas came right after school was dismissed.  Between that, a last-minute trip to Nevada to see my dear friend's home, and my daughters' illness in the middle of the month, December was one of those months that sped by almost before I realized it was over! ;)

In spite of all that, we had a very nice Christmas with my family.  We stayed at my aunt's house for 6 days and had a great time with everyone.

Things I want to remember from this year:
     1. Little Gal singing Christmas carols quite loudly from my shopping cart...in the middle of Goodwill. ;)
  2. Middle Gal saying, "What I want most for Christmas is a Lalaloopsy set...and for Jesus to have a good birthday!"

     3.  Performing in the church Christmas program with Oldest Gal.  She did such a great job! :)

     4. The beautiful snowfall the Friday before Christmas.

     5. Our Christmas get-together with Hubby's sister, brother-in-law, and their girls the Saturday before Christmas.  We visited, watched this funny clip on YouTube, exchanged gifts, ran to Walmart, and watched "White Christmas" (it was Hubby's first time seeing it). :)

     6. The excitement of arriving at Mimi's house on Sunday night and having family there waiting for us.

     7. Aunt V's fudge and gingerbread...as always!

     8. Food, friends, family and fellowship.

     9. Seeing my brother's baby enjoy her very first Christmas. :D

    10. The joy on my daughters' faces as they opened their gifts.

    11. Watching the girls make their own gingerbread cookies with Aunt V.

    12. Our family getting hooked on "Duck Dynasty".  My brother's brother-in-law celebrated Christmas with us and played us a few episodes.  We ended up watching both seasons in one week (every night after the girls were in bed).  The rest of the week, we were quoting the show:  "Hey!"; "Happy happy happy"; "I like Spock, he's the one who blew up the Death Star.  He could kill people with the Volkswagen Death Grip!"; "One of the reindeer had a heart attack, but that's okay, 'cause we et on him for 3 days"; and "Oy to the World!"

    13. Celebrating our annual "Girls Night" with friends after the family had left.

    14. Coming home again, glad to sleep in our own beds and get back to our routines, yet feeling slightly melancholy that the week was over and missing everyone. ;)

I got a lot of fun and thoughtful gifts for Christmas.  Here are some of them:

These Pepe le Pew and Penelope salt and pepper shakers from my dear friend I visited in Nevada.  Aren't they adorable?  I've always loved Pepe le Pew! :)

Toe socks from my mom.  I always get them in my stocking...it's a long-standing Christmas tradition. :)

American Girl stickers (also from my stocking).

A really nice Laura Ashley sheet set from my brother and sister-in-law.  (Yay!!  We really needed some new sheets.)

This pretty handmade purse from Aunt V.

A cute handmade scarf from Mimi.

This little doll was from Oldest Gal.  She used some of her Awana bucks to buy it for me, because it looked "just like a Bollywood girl".  I didn't have the heart to tell her that it's actually a Spanish doll.  It was so sweet of her, and the doll is lovely.  She'll be put proudly on display in my room. :)

A close-up of her pretty face.

This sweet "Family Rules" plaque from Mimi.

A set of 2 vintage Strawberry Shortcake gift boxes, still sealed!

My mom found them at Goodwill (our favorite store!). ;)

These pretty hair clips from Hubby.  He also bought me some earrings, but as I have really sensitive ears, they didn't work out.  We're thinking of using the money from the earrings to go see "The Hobbit" together instead. :D

The American Girl Chocolate Glasses from my sister-in-law's brother (the same one that introduced us to "Duck Dynasty").  Yay!!  I've been wanting these for a long time.

Originally, I had thought of giving Hayden glasses, but when I tried these on Emma, they fit her perfectly and added to her personality. :)  What do you think?

One thing that makes this gift even more special is that I got glasses this year (surprise!), mainly for reading and computer work.  They don't look exactly alike, but when I picked out my glasses, they reminded me of the chocolate glasses from American Girl. :)

My mom and my daughters also got glasses from AG, so I'll do a review post on all the pairs sometime later. :)

I got this nice little radio/CD player from my mom and dad.  Our radio hasn't been working properly for several months now, so I'm super excited to be able to catch my favorite shows again. :)

Mimi also got me the Silver Celebration CD collection from Adventures in Odyssey.  My brother and I grew up listening to Odyssey, and I've enjoyed sharing it with my kiddos too.  This collection has favorite episodes from the show's producers, spanning the 25 years that Odyssey has been in production.

There are 3 packages inside with 4 CDs each.

Each package folds open and shows pics of how the characters have changed through the years.

Here's the earliest interpretation of Mr. Whittaker...

...and the next...

...and the next...

...all the way up to the current version.

And here are some of the artist's sketches of Whit.

It also shows the three actors who have played Whit through the years:  Hal Smith, Paul Herlinger, and Andre Stojka.  (Hal Smith remains my favorite to this day, because he was the Whit that I grew up with.)

Emma and Charlie got some fun presents as well:

Charlie got some vintage-looking Wall-E posters and a Rex toy.

Emma got an Ivory Ice Crystals mini Lalaloopsy...

...along with her Popsicle, pet, and snow globe.

From my mom, "they" got this vintage AG sleeping bag (I've been wanting one of these forever!).

These two little Christmas books were Goodwill finds (they're for all of the 18" girls to share).

And my mom found these perfectly doll-sized ceramic bowls. :)

My real girls (not the 18" variety) got some fun things, too.  I thought I'd share each of their main gifts:

Oldest Gal got an Elizabeth doll.  This was a doll that my mom and I found on Craigslist early in the year.  I was originally going to give it to her for her 8th birthday (since she had officially reached the youngest target age for the dolls), but the timing wasn't right.  So, she got Elizabeth for the Christmas she was 8 instead. ;)  I hope to do a more detailed review in a future post.

Middle Gal's biggest Christmas wish was to have a Lalaloopsy of her own.  These were the full-sized ones that Mom and I found at Goodwill:  Crumbs Sugar Cookie ($1.99) with her pet mouse (49 cents) and Ace Fender Bender (also $1.99) with his pet monkey (49 cents).  Ace and Crumbs were in the toy aisle, and their pets were on the 49 cent toy table at the front of the store.  This was such a nice answer to prayer to find these there! :)  Middle Gal loves them.  She calls Crumbs "Lolly" and Ace "Mechanical Mike", or just Mike for short.  She also switched their pets.  In her play world, the mouse belongs to Ace and the monkey belongs to Crumbs. :)

When I was doing some research on Lalaloopsies before Christmas, I discovered that there was a Snow White one named "Snowy Fairest".  I knew that Middle Gal would love her, since Snow White is her favorite princess.  I couldn't find the original Snowy, but I found this cute winter edition at my local Target.  This is one of the minis.  Middle Gal fell in love with her and has played with her constantly since Christmas. :) 

The only thing on Little Gal's wishlist was a Hearts For Hearts Girls Lilian.  My mom decided to get her one.  I know it looks like she was used, but she was actually brand new on Christmas morning. ;)  Her meet outfit stayed on for all of 5 minutes.  As soon as Little Gal opened up Lilian's pajamas, she wanted them on Lilian.  Her hair has been pretty wild since Christmas morning, too.  But she's well-loved. :)

I was hoping to do a detailed review of Lilian later, but we'll just have to see how it goes.  I didn't get any pics of her in mint condition, since I didn't feel like it would be right to take a ton of pics of my daughter's Christmas present before she got to play with it. ;)  I'll probably do at least a photo shoot later, though. :)

Okay, so that was Christmas.  Now, on to the New Year! :)

I've never been good at New Year's Resolutions.  Basically, all it accomplishes is giving me one more thing to feel guilty about. ;)  But here are 13 things I'd like to attempt in 2013:

1. Work on my personal devotion time, both on my own and with the girls.  This is a huge one that I really want to get right.  It makes all the difference in the world when I'm reading the Word and praying. 

2. Keep on trucking with my weight loss journey.  I still have around 8-10 pounds to go, and it's going to be tough without Weight Watchers.  I hope to continue tracking my points and weighing in on my own.  I'd also like to get serious about adding regular exercise to my routine.

3. Continue working on whittling down our debt and making wise financial decisions.

4. Spend more quality time with my girls.  They're growing up so fast, and before I know it, they'll all be teenagers!

5. Look into either getting a blog sponsorship or using ads on my blog, something to bring in a little extra, without compromising the integrity of my blog (either through reviewing things I don't care for but not feeling I can be honest or having ads that don't fit my themes or beliefs). :{

6. WORK ON MY BOOK!!!  I have so many ideas scribbled down in my little writing journals all over the house...I just haven't made the time to sit down and do them.  This year, I really want to complete at least my rough draft of my first book.

7. Get more organized, especially with my house.  I'd love to get the clutter under enough control that I wasn't sent into panic mode every time I had an unexpected visitor. ;)

8. Get into my drawing again.  I'm getting rusty!!

9. Either find my camera manual or look for another copy online.  I really need to learn some things beyond just the auto setting. :}

10. Get back into regularly doing my vocal workouts.  It's amazing how much that helps the quality and stamina of my voice.

11. Try my hand at writing either an article or a short story for publication, at least once, just to say I've tried it. ;)

12. Make wise decisions if the opportunity arises to add to my doll or Disney collections.  

13. Make the most of every moment, never taking anything or anyone for granted. :)

And here are 13 things I'm looking forward to in 2013: 

1. A new year with no mistakes in it yet (borrowed and adapted from "Anne of Green Gables"). ;)

2. The girls' birthday trip in February (most likely).

3. Our income tax return (hopefully a good one!). ;)

4. My writer's group meetings every second Monday night. 

5. Hopefully getting to meet up with the local doll club ladies again, at least once.

6. Easter and celebrating the resurrection of Christ.

7. Our 11th Wedding Anniversary on June 29th. :D

8. Our annual summer trip to the coast with our family.

9. A summer camping trip to the mountains with Hubby's family (our Christmas gift from them).

10. August, when I send three children to school!!  Yay...and sob. ;)  Just for a little bit.  I think I'll adjust pretty quickly. :}

11. My birthday in September...yikes...32?  Really?  I still feel like I'm in my early 20s!

12. Holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.

13. The mystery of a new year, full of surprises and the unknown, all orchestrated and planned by my Savior. :)

I hope that all of you had a wonderful holiday season with your family and friends, and I hope and pray that the coming year is filled with all of God's best for you. :)


Anonymous said...

I have the family rules sign too! It's hanging in the dining area which aparently is where we need it best! :)

Anonymous said...

You have an annual girls night too. My daughters love that! And you wear glasses and love dolls.

It's official, you are a another me!

Happy New Year,


All AG said...

I got the chocolate glasses too! :O

Also, do u like Saige?

beastsbelle said...

Lol...hi, Anonymous! I think the dining area might be a good spot to hang our family rules sign, too. Funny how that works! ;)

Hi Deliah...or should I say, other me? ;) Nice to know we have so much in common. That's what I love about blogging...it's great meeting other people that are a lot like me. ;)

Congrats, All AG! :) And yes, I do like Saige. She's similar enough to Hayden that I probably wouldn't add her to my collection, even if I had the funds, but I think she's a cutie. ;) I think my favorite thing from her collection is her Border Collie. :)

Dakota and Grace said...

Hi, I'd like to put your blog button on the side bar of my blog, but I can't seem to figure it out; how am I supposed to do it..? Sorry I'm kind of new to the world of blogging :/


P.S. I always love reading what you post!

Anonymous said...

I just love Saige! But I think she should have had marie-grace's face mold. It would have made her more unique.
Oh and have you watched English Vinglish! It's a great hindi movie. Here's the link to its Wikipedia page:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_Vinglish
even though I love saige, I'll have to avoid buying her since I just bought marie grace. No fair!

Hey, you can't have everything!
Great Pictures!

Your twin,

beastsbelle said...

Hi Dakota and Grace! Thanks for commenting, and welcome to the blogging world. :) Don't worry, we all had to figure these things out at one time or another. ;)

To add my blog button, copy and paste the code underneath the picture. Then, go to your blog Layout page and click "Add a Gadget" on your sidebar. A window will come up with different options. You want to choose "Html/java script". When you click on that, it will take you to a window that says "Configure Html/java script". Simply paste my code in the text box and click save. If you don't want my button at the top of your sidebar, you can rearrange the order of things on your sidebar by clicking and dragging the different gadgets you have there and clicking "save arrangement" at the top of the layout page.

Hope this helps! Feel free to comment again if you have any trouble. :)

beastsbelle said...

Hi Deliah! :) I think Sage is adorable, but I do agree they could have made her slightly more unique. Congrats on getting Marie Grace! My mom just bought her on the special sale, and she's stunning! Much prettier in person than in her stock photos. ;)

I've never even heard of English Vinglish, but it sounds really interesting! Thanks for letting me know. :) I'll have to figure out a way to watch it, though...without Netflix it's really hard to get Hindi movies in my area. :(

Talk to you later! :)

Dakota and Grace said...

YAY it worked thank you so much! =)

beastsbelle said...

You're welcome. :)

Amber said...

You find the best! toy finds at Goodwill!! I'm so jealous, I never find anything good like that. I wish I could find good finds like you do once in a while haha. It sounds like you and you're family had a good Christmas :) which is awesome! Here's to the new year.

beastsbelle said...

Hi Amber. :) Believe it or not, there are lots of days where I don't find anything. ;) Our Goodwill is a great one, though. New items are put out multiple times during the day and they have a good-sized toy section. There are times I actually avoid going in, especially now where I'm trying to be better about sticking to my budget, just because I tend to find things frequently, and it's hard to pass them up when I know they'll be gone if I don't snag them right away. :}

Anonymous said...

Sage is soooo cute! Now if only I could save enough money to get her...

beastsbelle said...

She's very cute, Anonymous. I hope you're able to save up for her. :)