Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas Palooza

The Saturday after Thanksgiving we set aside for Christmas tree hunting, decorating, reading the first Christmas story of the season, new pajamas, and the Polar Express. So much fun to all happen in one day, lest not to forget sharing the most important reason for all this celebrating in the first place...The birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. I so enjoy the holiday season and love to create the same excitement and joy surrounding Jesus' birthday for my kids.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sugar Cookie Goodness

Who doesn't love to make and decorate sugar cookies at the holidays? Especially with kids it has become one of our favorite things to do. A few weeks ago Jack and I were shopping and he asked if we could buy a leaf cookie cutter. Why not, right? I generally don't make sugar cookies except for Christmas so to change it up we made some Thanksgiving Leaf Cookies. Imagine the reprimand I received from my husband when I told him I was trying a new recipe and not his mother's beloved sugar cookie recipe. I assured him this was just a trial and I would indeed make 'his' cookies for Christmas. I was pretty delighted with the new ones however I think I'll have to stick with Josh and keep his mother's as my favorite too.  Take your pick or make them both and you decide.


1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
3 oz. cream cheese, softenened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract (optional)
3 cups flour

1. Cream butter and cheese until fluffly; mix well
2. Add egg, salt, vanilla, and almond extract; mix well
3. Add flour, Wrap dough in plastic and chill several hours or overnight.
4. Roll out on floured surface and cut out cookies (keep on the thicker side). Bake on ungreased sheet at 375 degrees until edges begin to barely brown. (about 10 minutes). Cool completely and frost (see below).

a couple of tablespoons butter, softened
a splash of milk (or more)
a touch of fresh lemon juice/or vanilla
a ton of powdered sugar

1. In/with an electric mixer, combine all ingredients; mix until you get the correct consistency (go thinner than you think for expertly frosted cookies ala Martha!)


2 eggs beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup shortening
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt

1. Mix all together adding enough flour to make a soft dough; Knead well
2. Roll out and use cookie cutters to make cookies.
3. Bake at 350 degrees for 5-8 minutes or until edges are just slightly brown. Don't overbake.
4. Once cooled, frost and decorate with sprinkles, etc. (I like to use Decorator's Icing with milk and confectioners sugar on these).

Monday, November 23, 2009

Santa Parade GR

We had no plans for the day and were looking forward to a slow morning, each of us taking a run and hanging at the house. I looked at Josh at 8 o'clock and said "Wanna go to the Santa Parade?" Neither of us had ever been in all the years growing up here. "Sure!" So we scrambled to get the kids dressed and fed and jumped in the car. I'm so glad we did! The parade itself was nothing special, but the time making memories with kids was priceless.It turned into one of the busiest Saturdays with all the running around we did, but I wouldn't have done it any other way.

For you local folk, here's your history lesson for the day:
The Grand Rapids Jaycees Santa Parade held on the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving in downtown Grand Rapids, is a tradition of more than 100 years.  The parade serves as the kickoff to the holiday season in West Michigan. 
Dating back to the late 1800s, the parade is an opportunity for local children to get their first look at Santa Claus. 
In the early 1900s, the parade was organized by downtown department stores.  Families from all across the region would make an annual trip to downtown Grand Rapids to watch the parade and then continue the day by shopping at nearby stores. 

As shopping locations began to move away from the city's center to suburban locations, downtown merchants no longer had the ability or desire to continue organizing the parade.  In 1969, the Grand Rapids Jaycees took control of all aspects of the parade.  The Jaycees continue to organize and implement the parade today.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Costumes and Candy

Back in August Jack met a little girl at the park and in moments they were bff and she was asking him to come for a sleepover and watch Star Wars - Have most 4 year olds been introduced to Star Wars already cause Jack was clueless as to what she was talking about. Our trip to the park that day opened up a whole new category of toys and obsession. The following weekend Josh watched the movie with Jack (or just parts of it) and for weeks all we heard about was R2 D2 , Luke, Storm Troopers, etc... And then to fuel the fire, my mom pulled out a whole box of action figures from when my brothers were kids. Specifically the three storm trooper figures have been part of everyday play for a while now.
Well, a long story short Jack quickly went from wanting to be an astronaut to insisting on dressing as Luke Skywalker for halloween. Thankfully my cousin's son had the same idea last year so I was able to just borrow a costume. As for Eleanor, all I had to do was make a simple gown and we were set. The buns were my favorite to make, but unfortunately she would only keep them on for moments at a time...bummer, but the pig tails worked well too.
Another fun season of Costumes and Candy!

Pumpkin Art

If you have kids in school you know about the abundance of papers and art projects coming home. I've read and heard many ideas for choosing what to save and display vs. immediate trash but I still haven't quite determined what our system is. I'm ashamed more stuff goes pretty much right to trash than not.
A few weeks ago Jack came home with a craft where he created all the stages of a pumpkin attached to a piece of yarn, ending with a face drawn on a giant pumpkin. (if I was smart I would've at least taken a picture to show you before throwing it away.) So what did we do - when it came time to carve the pumpkins, Josh helped Jack turn his art into a real Jack-O-Lantern.

Jack's is the one on the top

The kids started off very interested but somehow by the end, it was only Josh and I at the table carving pumpkins.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Oh the Words!

I love to hear little kids as they are learning to piece words and sentences together. Eleanor's vocabulary has been greatly expanding the past few months and some of the things that come out of her mouth are so bizarre. Jack and I were on the couch reading last night and Ellie comes over looking like she might give me a kiss but no, she leans over and takes a pretend bite out of me..."Ommm, I eat you all gone. Ptttt, I spit you all out." What in the world...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Perilight Graphics Giveaway!

Hey all, I've decided that there are way too many creative things happening in my life right now to add another... Though I love to make my own Christmas cards this year we're having a friend design them. Kelly from Perilight Graphics is already working on some great new card designs for this season. If you comment on her blog you'll be entered for a chance to win 25 free cards and if she gets 250 comments it goes up to 40 free cards. If you get a minute check out her designs, she has some cool stuff.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Generational Holiness by Josh Goad

We are all familiar with the concept of generational sin.  This concept is based on the premise that the sins of the father are revisited upon his son and his son’s son and so on down the line.  It is a downward spiral that creates a mechanism of moral failure for many men and women in society today.  Examples are everywhere, fathers who beat their sons, leading to more fathers that use violence and physical threats to hold down their offspring…alcoholics that lead absent lives give way to children that don’t know responsibility or how to lead a family…women who’s mothers harped on their appearance that become so self-conscious that they hurt themselves to feel pretty…parents who are unfaithful, leading to divorce and infidelity, skewing the views of traditional marriage and its merits.  Generational sin is a tragic cycle and to free yourself from it, you must take heroic efforts.  I am happy to say that I have an example in my life of someone who was willing to take that leap of faith and stand firm in his morality and holiness to break free from a cycle of sin and create a legacy of holiness that his offspring have embraced for 3 generations.

Many years ago, my grandfather was raised in a family of bootleggers.  This family took morality for granted and made their living through shady means.  It was OK for them because that is how it had been for many generations prior.  Sin, depravity, evil, wrong-doing…none of these words resonated with that family.  My grandfather eventually enlisted in the Navy.  After his years of living in this morally ambiguous world, the discipline of the navy was very appealing.  Through his time in the navy, Granddaddy was exposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ through a Gideon witness.  That Gideon witness provided a copy of the bible in a hotel room that Granddaddy was staying in.  The Holy Spirit and God’s grace led him to read that bible and embrace the message of life and hope, and became a follower of Jesus.  This in itself is a brave step.  Imagine the upbringing that he had gone through and the realizations that this new worldview was going to bring him.  How easy it would have been to return to his family and fall back into that generational spiral, but instead, the Lord called Granddaddy to be a Baptist Minister.  Through five decades of ministry, the Lord has blessed him with wonderful congregations and countless chances to share the gospel message with unbelievers, leading many to the Lord.  I myself was led to the Lord through the witness of my grandfather. 

What makes this story so compelling is not only that great and dignified life that Granddaddy has lived, it is the great and dignified life that he continues to pass down from generation to generation as his sons, their sons, and their sons continue to reap the harvest of his life.  Granddaddy was a faithful husband, devoted father, loving grandfather, and committed follower of Christ his whole life.  This was not for show but it was because God’s grace prepared a way for Granddaddy to embrace hope, morality, goodness, kindness, and his Christian calling through his circumstances.  I can only imagine the amount of times that he must have felt sin tapping him on the shoulder, reminding him how easy it is to return to that generational lifestyle of his father.  I can equally envision how Granddaddy answered those taps.  He opened his Bible.  There is nothing quite as sweet as hearing your grandfather rattle of entire chapters of scripture out of memory. 

God’s ministry through the life of Ollie Goad touched his sons.  They all have embraced their father’s passion and are committed believers.  It did not stop there, that generation of fathers have been faithful to their spouses and committed to their sons and daughters and the next generation has come to know the Living God through this legacy.  As my generation has begun to have children, we are now beginning to understand the responsibility that we have.  A couple of years ago at Christmas, I was sitting next to Granddaddy and he was telling me (as he often does) about how he had prayed for me that morning.  I looked him in the eye and told him that I had prayed for him that previous night with my wife.  As tears filled his eyes, I finally understood.  He had been waiting for that response for so long and to hear it offered brought great emotion and pride to his heart. His ministry continued on to another generation.  I can say that through Granddaddy’s legacy, I know that sin can come into my life through so many different ways and that I can answer that call two ways.  I can stumble or I can stand up.  I can listen to the world or I can seek refuge in God’s word.  I know that if I were to be unfaithful to my wife or dishonor my kids in any way that that could spurn a legacy of distrust, uncertainty, and sin and I don’t want to be responsible for that.  Through God’s grace I will commit myself to honoring the legacy of my grandfather and honoring the calling that we all have as Christians to be holy, seek justice, live humbly, and love one another.

The story does not end there.  In the later stages of life, Granddaddy has developed Parkinson’s disease and has suffered from a number of debilitating physical conditions.  He is now a shell of his former self with a frail body and a deepening discomfort of age.  While in the hospital recently, being monitored for a recurring problem, he became disoriented and spent a few days hallucinating and confused.  In this state of confusion, I saw Granddaddy witness to nurses and minister to those around him more than most of us were able to minister to him.  He was able to rattle off timely scripture even though he was often not aware of where he was or what was going on.  I hope that I can live a life that will allow me, in my darkest, most embarrassing moments, to be able to witness and recite scripture. 

I am grateful to Granddaddy for breaking that cycle of generational sin that he was immersed in.  I am grateful that I have been able to follow in the footsteps of good Christian men the generations before me.  I pray that I can continue to carry the torch of generational holiness that Granddaddy started and my father has carried.  I pray that I can someday, pass that torch on to my own son and that it will continue to pass through the generations thanks to one man’s brave stand and heroic life.

Quote of the Day

I wasn't in the room to hear it, however Josh just thought it was the funniest thing. I was making cookies last weekend (yes I admit to letting my kids eat the dough) and Jack was in all his glory sitting on the counter..."Dad, I could eat this whole bowl if I was bigger like you."

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Mighty Wind

Yesterday afternoon the wind starting picking up and there was wind advisories in the area. Before going to bed I randomly said to Josh "I hope that dead tree in the backyard doesn't fall over!" I guess I didn't hope enough...It makes for a lot of fun playing outside though!

Family Pictures

How terrible is it that I still have pictures from last Christmas of the kids in my frames sitting out. Last week we finally took some new family pictures and shots of the kids. A friend of ours shoots wedding photos and has recently started doing more family/portrait shots. We went with more of an urban feel this time and headed downtown to hopefully get some cool pictures. Ben did a great job and we are very happy with the selection. The other cool thing was that we just paid a set price for a disc and all the pictures are ours to print what we choose. For anyone in our area who might be interested, check out his site. Take a look at some of our favorites. It's so hard to narrow it down to just a few.

Friday, September 11, 2009

School Days

My boy is off to school! He did great and like most was very excited. How in the world did the past 4 years go so fast. I'm a proud Mamma! He walked right up to his classroom and classmates, we prayed together before going in and he never looked back. Unfortunately Eleanor cried the whole mile home "Want Jacky Mommy." I'm sure once she realizes the attention is now all for her she'll be ok.
Jack - 4 years old

Do you think he's just a little excited?

Oops, was I supposed to teach him how to wear a backpack?

"Goodbye Higgins Lake"

Most of my fondest memories growing up some how include Higgins Lake. Every time we pulled away my parents let us unbuckle and look behind us down the big hill to say "Goodbye Higgins Lake" as we waved our hands and remembered all the good times we had...until next summer.

This is what bouncing three kids at the same time looks likeJack with my mom tubing

We were getting a little a low on firewood (not that it mattered because we're surrounded by forest), but we had three huge pine trees cut down last week. You can see some of the giant logs in the background. I rarely get to because Josh doesn't like it much, but I love sitting by a good fire and stoking it late into the night. Here's a picture of what some fresh cut pine can give you :)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Camping time with cousins

Last week our family spent a few days camping with Josh's parents and his brothers family at an RV resort a little north of GR. We didn't have the greatest of all weather for camping but still a few days of great time with family. Jack and Eleanor love their cousins and I enjoyed so much watching them play together for extended days. Thanks for a great vacation Jon and Ginger! I hope we can do it again soon.

(Kennedy, Sydney, Jack, Eleanor)
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Grilled Pizza

If you can cook it in an oven you can cook it on the grill. My favorite meal of our camping time was the grilled pizzas over the fire, We had this awesome firepit grill that we used to cook pizzas, steak, heat pots of food, etc... The best part of the pizzas was Josh's mom's homemade flatbread...yummmy!

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Pretty Princesses...

Eleanor and Paige
(Paige is my cousin's daughter and the girls are just 3 weeks apart)

Paige, Eleanor, and Maren (my other cousin's daughter)

Josh was feeling a little left out

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Happy Birthday Ellie Pea

It's been hard to believe that Eleanor is already 2 years old. I remember it like yesterday when my water broke 6 weeks early and just thinking she's too small, it's too early, but God has blessed us beyond our beliefs with this little 4lb peanut. Josh often calls her "Ellie Pea" because she is so small. As moms will often chat about their kids and sizes, percentiles, etc... I've always had to say, "Well Eleanor isn't actually on the chart yet" Congratulations girl! You are in the 5th percentile now.
Jack and Eleanor pre-present opening
Eleanor's favorite of all her gifts was probably the cheapest too. She loves necklaces and bracelets and wears them all the time.
All dressed up for a tea party with Daddy
She wasn't even willing to take them off for nap time :)
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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Vacation at Higgins

We've been home from our vacation at the lake for a week now and I think I finally have everything unpacked and put away. Sometimes it just takes much longer than it really should! We all had a lot of fun and really enjoyed a quiet time away from home. Some of our highlights included celebrating Eleanor's 2nd birthday, bringing Jack to visit a Native Indian novelty store (go figure the only thing he wanted to buy was a tractor and trailer), spending time with my cousin and her family from Colorado, and seeing Harry Potter at the local movie theatre. After all these years of summers spent growing up at the lake we had never been to this theatre. Much to our surprise, it turned out to be quite a treat! I felt like I was in the lodge at summer camp. The Pines, Houghton Lake MI

Here is a glimpse of our week in a few photos

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Hello Blog!

Time passes fast when you're having fun. I can't believe that I haven't posted anything in a month and a half. Our family has had a great start to summer and as quickly as I say hello, we're out again for vacation this next week at the lake. Scroll on down to see a little of what we've been doing lately. I can't believe my first born, my son will be 4 and starting preschool this fall. His short haircut makes him look so old. And my little 4 lb peanut will be 2 on Monday!

Paw Paw and Yinzy

Josh's parents had stopped by and asked me to take a few photos of them they needed for something. I rarely get a chance to take a good picture of the kids with them but this was perfect. It wasn't really planned but Jack wanted to help take the pictures and then the next thing I know they had jumped in the picture too. We spend so much time at the Lake with my family during the summer that we are extra excited to spend a few days camping with the Goads in August...five days of pure Goads!