tis the season of gift-giving
Tuesday, December 20, 2011

If you like to give homemade treats and gifts at Christmastime, but struggle to control your own calorie intake when making all those many delicious baked goods (as I raise my own hand high in the sky and wave it madly), then here's another hand made gift option for ya!  I sewed up a bunch of these rice-filled, lavender-scented hold/cold packs this year:




I started out making sectioned ones as seen on Pinterest here, then realized I was running out of time for this project (and I was growing tired of the constant yet lovely smell of lavender permeating our house) so I switched to the much quicker square version.  (Can I also just admit here, to my horror, that I misspelled lavender on EVERY SINGLE GIFT TAG?  Oh the shame.  It's hard for me to even post the photographic proof of that guffaw.) 

It's not too late to make up a few of these if you're still on the hunt for last minute gifts!

The kids and I did bake up a few treats for the immediate neighbors...and as feared I lost all self control and joined the kids in continually sampling our work.  So much that it makes me a little sick to even look at these treats - I can go a long, long time without eating another MandM cookie.  When will I learn?!?





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Fourth Annual Coffee-Girl Dinner
Monday, December 19, 2011

A group of friends and I meet (sporadically - we are all moms ya know) on Thursday's nights for coffee and conversation.  And laughs.  Lots and lots of laughs.

We've made it a tradition to get together for a Christmas Dinner every year, where we each bring different ingredients and prepare a meal together.  I blogged about our first dinner here, the second year of green-chile enchiladas somehow went unblogged (travesty!), our omelette lesson from last year is documented here, and this current post marks our fourth year.  It seems at once unbelievable that I've known these ladies that long, and unbelievable that I haven't known them longer.  Know what I mean?



This year, my friend Terisa brought her raclette grill and we cooked at the table as we ate.  I had never seen or heard of a raclette until Terisa introduced it to us, but it's super fun.  Different cooking oils, veggies, seasoning, and meats are all in serving dishes around the table and you throw on the raclette whatever combo you want.  Smoked sausage, black beans and corn in your pile, cooking alongside your friends shrimp, squash and mushroom in her pile.  Then you decide that her pile looked pretty good, so you replicate it the next go round! So good.





There were a couple times at dinner when I had to resist the urge to break into a heartfelt soliloquy about what these ladies and their friendship means to me. I hadn't prepared notes or anything, and didn't feel quite confident enough to bust into poetry off the cuff.  What a fun night and great tradition.  Looking forward to next year ladies, and what new stories we'll have to share.


"Thank you Lord, for these women as well as other women in Lubbock and elsewhere, that encourage me and help me see Your nature and heart!  I see Your creativity, passion, love, and grace represented in the lives of these beautifully imperfect, forgiven, amazing women."

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the rectangle
Sunday, December 18, 2011



A few Sundays ago, I did an activity with my small group (I hang out with the 3rd grade boys before and after Trinity Kidsplace large group service) that has stayed on my mind and heart these last few weeks.

I put a different name tag on each of the boys:

"Hello, my name is__________" tags, that we then labeled with all the things the boys' said that they loved to do.  Hello, my name is Wii.  Hello, my name is skateboarding.  Hello, my name is... Reading Books.  Art.  Play Station.  Television.  Bike-riding.  Playing with friends. Football.  Swimming.  XBox. Each boy got a label representing an activity.

I drew a rectangle on the ground with painter's tape, and explained that the rectangle represented the 24 hours each of us have in a day. Then I started putting boys in the rectangle.  Wii went in.  Skateboarding went in.  Television. Books.  Friends.  It was getting crowded, but I kept shoving them in the rectangle.  Bike-riding, playstation.  This was getting messy.  Not much room left in the rectangle now.   With some effort, the boys squeezed together to cram in Football, and that was it.  No room left.


Then I introduced a boy who had been given a tag that said "Hello, my name is Jesus."  Except...he wouldn't fit in the rectangle.  There was no way, with all the other stuff happening in that rectangle, that there was room for Jesus.

I had all the boys exit the rectangle and sit down, and we put Jesus in the rectangle first.  Then Jesus got to decide who else could join him.  We had a good talk about how we must make Jesus - praying to Him, and reading his Word - take first priority, and then let Him control the hours we're given.  Some of the kids acted surprised that Jesus asked Wii and Skateboarding to join him in the rectangle, so we had a good talk about having fun while honoring God, and how every good gift comes from Him.  (These unexpected conversations about the character and nature of God are my favorite!)

I've thought a lot since that Sunday about my rectangle and the things that crowd out Jesus.  "Hello, my name is...." Housework. Television.  Books. Cooking. Friends. Vanity.  Time spent cleaning the kitchen counter for the 15th time, watching a mindless sitcom, texting a friend a random story, spending too much time blow drying my hair and carefully applying make-up, and just like that the routine of a normal day can leave no room for Jesus.  He gets squeezed out of my rectangle more often that I'd like to admit.

What I've learned by experience but haven't fully embraced in practice, is that when I make Jesus priority - when He is the first thing allowed in my rectangle - then supernaturally the rectangle this is my day seems to expand, making room for everything else that must be done.  Except that it's not a place of chaos, with all the demands pushing and shoving to make room, it's a place of peace with plenty of time and space for all that He asks of me.




Thanks 3rd grade boys, for helping me learn a lesson, and thanks 252basics for great curriculum that teaches the teacher!

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it's true
Monday, December 12, 2011








favorite ornaments
Friday, December 9, 2011

Any ornament that marks the kids growth will always be a bittersweet favorite for me! I love seeing how they're growing, but hate how fast it's happening.  And all the moms said Amen. 


Remember when Ryan's handprint ornament shattered?  Here's a similar version of Dylan's hand:


Love these handmade gems!








The time. It does fly.
Thursday, December 8, 2011

I've been thinking a lot about this texting conversation I had with my mom.  Trying to enjoy each moment, even in this busy season.  Apparently, the passage of time flies by even quicker when we become grandparents!








Here's to planning more Starbucks dates with the Cliff Crew, and enjoying the chaotic days in between and along the way.














electronic Christmas greetings
Wednesday, December 7, 2011









Favorite Ornaments
Friday, December 2, 2011

I bought this ornament in the campus bookstore, right before I graduated Northeastern State University in December of 1999.  We moved to TX soon after.

NSU was a great place to go to college, and a wonderful time of my life. I met some of my lifelong friends at Northeastern and had incredible experiences there.  Gotta make plans to take the kids to Tahlequah next summer.  It's time they see beautiful Seminary Hall, and be forced to pretend to listen and politely nod as me and Jonathan endlessly reminisce.


When I hang this ornament, I think of camping out along the Illinois River...worshipping and singing while good friends played the guitar...growing up, and falling in more in love with Jesus...fun times with roommates in the dorms...planning a wedding and getting married...the good stuff.


Hey NSU alumni - did you know you can enroll your kids in the Legacy Program if you are a member of the Alumni Association?  We enrolled the kids, and at different times they get correspondence and fun stuff in the mail with the NSU logo. Kinda cool.








Favorite Ornaments
Thursday, December 1, 2011

Here's my second installment in my favorite ornament series. I know you've been anxiously awaiting.


*****

Jonathan's mom always makes special ornaments each year, for her kids and now for her grandkids.  I don't know when she started it, but it was a tradition already firmly in place when I met Jonathan when he was a Sr. in High School.

The Christmas of 1995, when I was a Sr. in high school, I got an ornament.  Oh yes I did!  I was included in the Cliff family tradition 3 years before Jonathan and I ever married.  I think that means my mother-in-law saw a good future ahead for Jonathan and I!  It just occurred to me there's a small chance that Jonathan just asked him mom to make his girlfriend an ornament, and she agreed because she is the agreeable type. I chose my own, more romantic version of events.

Here it is, it's 17th year on a tree.  Cute little squirrel, huh?  









The first of many hand-painted ornaments made just for me by my incredible mother-in-law.  I'm grateful for her every time we decorate our tree.

















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I'm Starr Cliff. A domestically-challenged mom, climbing over mountains of laundry to bring you my stray observations and amusing stories about my kids. (more)

 

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