Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Happy Birthday Jesus!

The Christmas season was a little more exciting than usual this year for our family, and I have a feeling it will continue to grow in joy, traditions, and memories in the coming years. It's amazing to think that Grace Louise was a babe just a year ago, wearing her 0-3 month Christmas jumper and getting passed from one set of arms to another. This year she was raiding the Christmas tree ornaments (or "apples" as she calls them), carrying around baby Jesus from the manger scene, and opening her own gifts with little help.

Jimmy and I have delighted in being able to come up with our own family traditions during the Holidays, one of which is reading the story of Christ's birth from the Bible on Christmas morning. (This year it was so cold in the house, we opted to read it snuggled up in the bed). Like most other families, we also have a nativity scene and a Christmas tree. In an effort to keep our family's focus on Christ and celebrating His birth, this year we switched all of our ornaments to nativity or otherwise Christ-centered images/words/scriptures. In a world where our children are bombarded with secular influence, even during Christmas time, this is a way we can further remind Grace Louise of the True reason for celebrating.

Holiday Baking
Baking during the Holiday season is something I have done with my mother since before I can remember. I love this tradition and just know that Grace Louise and I will also have many great memories in the kitchen, singing Christmas songs, and baking together. This year, Triston and McKenzie joined us in making iced sugar cookies. By us, I mean me. Jimmy was probably in woods somewhere far away from flour and sugar. Grace Louise was more of a spectator, but wanted so badly to be a taste-tester instead. She was perched up on her chair trying to hang with the big kids. So cute.

She ended up settling for an apple that night. Poor deprived thing.

Christmas Eve
Grace Louise opened her first Christmas gift ever on Christmas Eve. A new pair of black and red plaid pants with a matching hat from her Bebe. She wore them to the DuBose Christmas at Aunt Cat's.

Low and behold when we got there, cousin Fred had the same hat! Now that's just weird!
Christmas Day and The Big Red Car

"Okay. I've got the top of it open. Now if I just pull this paper down I'll be one step closer to finding the prize!..."
LaLa bought Grace Louise none other than a Cozy Coupe for Christmas. Whew! Now she can stop driving mine. They brought it over to the house Christmas morning and pushed Grace Louise all over the yard. She loves her car!

Christmas with Hursts
As if one mode of transportation wasn't enough for this woman (she is her mother's child), Grace Louise also got a tricycle from her BeBe and Pops. She's in heaven with all this driving.

Jimmy and I sporting our new Costa sunglasses. Oh yes, and those are waders, not breast-high leather boots. Now I can go duck hunting with my hubby! Yippee!

Christmas Evening
We traditionally, have a prime rib dinner with my family on Christmas evening. Oh, it's a glorious time of beef-eating! My mother does an amazing job with the meal; it truly is a gift to all of us. We drew names for gift-giving this year and enjoyed the element of surprise in revealing who we bought especially for. A fun, new tradition.

A much needed rest in her new rocking chair after a long Christmas Day!

Friday, December 24, 2010

What are we celebrating anyway?

I've been blessed with a very quiet and warm Christmas Eve at home with nothing that must be done. Grace Louise is napping and Jimmy is headed in from the woods; I've been given the gift of solitude for the next hour. My heart has been hungry for God this week so I have stayed up the past four nights later than everyone else, spending time with Him, honestly, afraid of waking up the day after Christmas realizing that I had not spent precious moments alone with sweet Jesus. I earnestly do not want this season to pass without meditating on the Reason we celebrate.

I really really love this time of year. I love everything about it. The time with family, giving to others, traditions, the story of the real Saint Nicholas, Christmas music, breaking bread (and meat and potatoes and sweet goodies) with others, the beauty that the decorated tree brings to my home... And all these things, as wonderful as they are, pale in comparison to the True Reason for this joyous season. Unfortunately, it is easy for all of us to get caught up in the peripherals, and lack focus on the fact that we are celebrating the birth of our King.

The Nativity Story isn't just a nice story or a historical account of an important birth. It is a story that would radically change lives forever. Before the night in Bethlehem, generations upon generations of Jews had been waiting for the promised King and Messiah, though they had not the picture of Jesus in their minds, (born in a manger, a servant to all, meek and lowly). Little did they know, that this coming King would step down from His throne to walk with them on earth, or that in His plan of redemption, He, the greatest, would become the least. How many kings would do this?

The best part of the story is that He did that for you and me- and all who'd believe. If you are reading this, I personally encourage you to take a few moments in the hustle and bustle of Christmas time to listen to the words of this first playlist song and meditate on what Christ did for you. And in this season of gift-giving, to marvel at the gift that Yeshua is to all mankind- our King and Savior.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Playing with the Nikon... She's such a good sport!

More Wonderful Christmas Times...

Play time after church in the cool winter weather.

Monkey see. Monkey Do.
First tree-climbing experience. Lala did the hard part. She just enjoyed the view.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Wonderful Christmas Time

I actually considered getting a babysitter for the night of the Lake Wales Christmas Parade... What was I thinking?! Grace Louise LOVED it and had an absolute blast! It was an amazing experience for me too, watching my baby girl sit on the bench with her friend waving and clapping for the passing floats. I had a few sentimental moments and was definitely that mom taking a bazillion pictures!

Bundled up for the very chilly weather!

First taste of peppermint candy cane.

My heart is melting behind the camera in this shot.

Okay. Only in Polk County.
(Surely I don't have to explain the irony in this picture...)

Warming up after the parade in The Oasis Spa with our friends from CrossRidge Church.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

PeePee in the Potty!

Grace Louise showed an interest in hanging out on the ever-so-cool seat that is the frog potty at my friend Missy's house a few weeks back. I bought Grace Louise her very own froggy potty last week and we had our first successful pee pees today... yes, I said pee pees... two in one day! Yay for early potty training! Her interest in the potty is, I'm assuming, a God-given one, as I honestly, have never talked about the potty or even thought about early training (until now... muhaaaaa!!!!). She just loves to sit on this darn seat so we tried it out naked today with great success!

I was changing her diaper and decided that while she was bare, we might as well. I took her in the bathroom with me, sat on the big girl toilet, put her on the froggy potty next to me, and wa-lah! We followed up with much clapping, cheering, and "Grace Louise goes pee pee on the potty" song singing! Mom was watching her for us this evening and she did the same thing. I'm thinking we'll be going to the potty together more frequently now! Fun!

Look how excited this little booger is!!!

A little side saddle potty action with Baby.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cheers to another 50 years!

Last Saturday will definitely go down in history as one of the most incredible and meaningful celebrations in our family. The boys and I threw mom a "surprise" 50th birthday bash, complete with great friends and family, yummy food, a bonfire, and fireworks! We managed to keep the party a secret until just two days before, but mom still had no idea who was coming or just what we had in store!

Along with our family, her closest friends and coworkers joined us to celebrate. Mom was surprised again and again as the guests continued to arrive. Jimmy was the head chef and prepared a delicious low country shrimp boil; fresh oysters were also on the menu! Old family pictures of mom adorned the tables and guests took the time to share some of their most fond (and funny) memories of mom. We toasted, we visited, we celebrated, we enjoyed. And yes, mom had her own personal fireworks display, conveniently timed at the end of the "Happy Birthday" song (thanks to Melanie and Larry)!!!

There's no one around Mashonda, but she's smiling awfully big... must be the good food!
And look at Tony boy slurping down a yummy oyster! (a true DeVane)

Lala and her little party animal!

Mom's favorite pig pickin' cake! It wasn't very pretty, but man was it good!

By far the most precious moment of the night.
Mom opening her framed picture of the boys and me. According to her, it was "all she ever wanted". She cried.

We are so blessed to have a mother as loving and generous as ours. We wanted to celebrate her in a big way this year, and I hope we got our point across!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Doctor, Doctor, give me the news...

Grace Louise went for her one year check-up this week with the pediatrician. No vaccines yet, as we using an alternative vaccination schedule, so it was just the basics. A little bit of measuring, feeling, and listening, and then answering a million questions about everything she can do. 23 lbs and 30.5 inches long. She got her first sticker (Micky Mouse) which for some reason, really hit me. My baby is old enough to think stickers are pretty neat?!?! The doc warned us that her language would be exploding here very soon, but we're already seeing that, as her vocab is over 50 words now. Yes, I counted... and I'm a proud mama. (She could be saying 4-5 words and I would still be so proud. That's how we mamas are).