Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Tree 2011

Our goal was to have our tree up by the Monday after Thanksgiving. Well, we had it up by Sunday but it took us until Tuesday night to have it decorated. That's okay though. Well worth the wait to not be rushed!

We just knew that this year Brianna would be thrilled at the opportunity to help us decorate the tree. Not so much. After the first couple of ornaments, it was more fun for her to create stories with the ornaments rather than hang them on the tree. But whatever kept her quiet!

I put some of the non-breakables in a basket for her and Hunter to play with. That turned out to be a great idea because it really kept them occupied and out from under our feet.

Every year I snap some pictures of my favorite ornaments. I try not to take pictures of the same ones year after year, but forgive me if I duplicate from previous years. There are certain ones I am always drawn to. :) This probably doesn't interest anyone else very much but all of my ornaments have special meaning to me which is why I love decorating the tree.

An ornament that Brianna and Leila ("Oma") made over Thanksgiving holidays. The camera lighting made this ornament look so cool! It is actually green but I love the way it looks with this light!

My 2011 ornament from Mom. She always picks ornaments that I love!

Some ornaments I got 75% off last Christmas! (I'm drawn to glitter, much to the chagrin of my hubby)

An ornament I got for Hunter last year... when it was 75% off. Whaaat!?

I remember buying this ornament when I was pregnant with Brianna in 2009! Ironic that her first handprint ornament from 2010 is in the background. :)

So over this tree-decorating thing.

Several people bought us "first-year" ornaments for our first Christmas together, but this was always my favorite. (From Jenn)

A quirky little snowwoman from my friend Tracey!

My new jingle bell ornaments... 75% last year, haha!

Another of Mom's originals. I love this one.

This was Brianna's ornament from Gail last year. Her first year as a big sister!

My new "disco ball" ornaments... guess I don't need to tell you I got them on sale.

I LOVE this ornament but for the life of me it's one of the only ones that I don't know where it came from!!

Brianna holding her 2011 hand up to her 2009 hand. Much bigger now!

Hunter's ornament last year from Gail:

Stephen despises tinsel. Loathes it. But he'll do pretty much anything for his two favorite women who just happen to LOVE the stuff!!

Finished product!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Angel Tree

My sister is so amazing. I know she has SO. MUCH. going on in her life but she is working hard to help me spread the word about the Angel Tree we are doing at our church (not even her church. She's just that awesome.)

Last year, Fed By Faith (the food ministry I started in 2009) was given the opportunity to sponsor the Candor Head Start. Go here to see how amazing it was. Last year we helped 94 families (to give you an idea of how incredible that is, the Empty Stocking Fund helped 50 families in 2010.) I haven't counted the families for this year yet, but I'm sure it will be at least that many.

Unfortunately, many families in our church are struggling. Some families aren't struggling, and they are able to support one or two (or more) kids from our Angel Tree. Some families are barely making ends meet and just can't afford to support a child.

Trust me when I say I totally understand where those people are coming from. BUT, then I had a thought. What if the people who couldn't afford to sponsor one child could afford to buy a $10 board game? Or an $8 outfit? Or had a toy in their attic that had never been opened? If all those people came together, we could pull enough gifts together to sponsor all these children (and the staff at Head Start - don't get me started about how many hours they work compared to the amount of money they make.)

My sister took the time to write a post about this year's Angel Tree. And then she wrote another one. So I am finally sitting down to write a post to you, as well, in the hopes that you will feel led to help out in some way. If you can't, you can't, and I completely understand, whether it's finances or distance that keeps you from helping. But if you CAN help, you can comment here, or you can email me at "amanda.talbert at" for more information.

Jenn has listed several of the available people on her blog, if you click here. But if you can't support a child, maybe you can donate one of these items that has been requested:

(These items can be unwrapped. I can arrange for pickup. Also, don't forget, cash donations are welcome!)

School supplies

Walmart gift card

Bath and Body Works gift card

Books A Million Gift card

anything Tar Heels

soccer ball


an iron

board games

Nintendo DSi games (if you have games you would get rid of but you KNOW they still work!)

Wii games (same as above)

Easy Bake oven

Itunes gift card

Old Navy gift card

game of Trouble (board game)

baseball glove (right-handed)

Selena Gomez CDs

Ross gift card

game of Operation

Bop It

Lincoln Logs

Space heater



Toilet paper

Paper towels

Bath towels

Twin bed sheets

Full bed sheets

Pots and pans



gas card


Thank you, thank you, everyone involved in this! Look at the blog post from last year and hopefully it will kindle your Christmas spirit. :)

(P.S. If you want to make a Paypal donation I can work that out too. You can pay it to that email address as a "gift" if I'm remembering correctly.)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Not Enough Time

I would post tonight but I am consumed with thoughts of our Angel Tree at church (I need to blog about this soon...), trying to list an enormous amount of stuff on ebay, decorating for Christmas, and now I have been told by Stephen that he will go to the commissary tomorrow and price check any items for me that I want him to. Do you know how giddy that makes me!?

I PROMISE I will try to make my posts more interesting in the future. I have SO MUCH to tell you!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Last Minute

Well, technically I have another hour to post something but I don't plan on staying awake for another hour. Between two church services today, choir practice this evening, putting up the Christmas tree this afternoon, actually watching the better part of a movie with Stephen and taking about an hour-long nap today... there has been no time to blog. I will try to do better tomorrow. :)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Christmas Spirit

It's hard not to get into the Christmas spirit around here - Stephen starts singing Christmas songs around the Fourth of July and stops about the 3rd of July, if you get my drift, and Brianna's so doggone excited about Christmas she just can't contain herself!

Every year our family from Georgia comes to see us for Thanksgiving. Usually a few days after they leave we start setting up for Christmas. We actually don't get into decorations that much (we will do a lot more the older the kids get) but we always have a great time decorating the tree and dancing around the house singing carols. Tonight at dinner we were talking about Christmas after our family had just left a few hours prior, and while Stephen bathed both the kids I had a burst of energy. By the time they got out of the bath I had turned this:

into this:

And also, Christmas window decals were put up on the windows, the piano got decorated, and some of Brianna's Christmas presents were brought down from the attic so I can wrap them in the next couple of days.

I love this time of year - I feel so inspired. :)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday

I don't do much for Black Friday. You would think because I am so cheap frugal that I would buy tons of stuff during Black Friday to save all kinds of money. But I really find that people go to insane lengths to save money on things they really don't need. I don't buy Christmas presents for anyone except my kids, for one thing, which really saves a lot of money. And at this point, my kids' Christmas presents have been bought for months.

Last year I went to Black Friday for the first time. I was still nursing Hunter so I was up anyway, around 4:30 or so, so he and I just hit the road to Walmart and I got a steam mop and a vacuum that we needed. I was in and out in about 30 minutes and we still use both of those products weekly.

Today I went to a lot more places but still with the same concept in mind.

  • Big Lots - 2 packs of batteries free after rebate
  • Food Lion - just a run for $0.19 Marcal paper towels
  • Walgreens - spent $36, got $45 back, all stuff to sell on ebay
  • Best Buy - got one video game for Stephen that was 50% off
  • Burke's Outlet - looking for winter clothes for me but didn't find anything
  • Claire's - hair products for me and Bri for just over $5
  • Belk - a shirt on sale for $10 that my mother-in-law bought for me

All of this was spread over the entire day, none of it took long at all, and it was all worth it. In fact, most places like Best Buy and Food Lion I was able to leave the car running with the kids and Leila in it and just run through the line quickly at the store, taking less than five minutes.

Lunch was at Mellow Mushroom - finally we got to try our new one. The pizza was delicious of course!

I made barbecue for dinner, got a yummy caramel brulee latte from Starbucks this evening, spent some quality time with my sister-in-law Jennifer at the Plaza in Southern Pines, got to see my nephew Kaleb tonight, saw several friends while we were out and about town this afternoon, and topped the evening off by watching Brianna have a very interesting, inventive, creative conversation with Leila before bedtime. As "Miss Blank" (that is her preschool teacher) she instructed Leila as to what items were being put in her pocketbook (she would put one item at a time into her pocketbook only to realize she had put her toy car keys in the VERY BOTTOM, so she'd have to dump the whole thing out only to start again!), she explained that they could have snack but they could not play outside because, "You can't play outside when it's dark outside", and even read two books and a Bible story to Leila to finish up. I love her imagination and there aren't many hours in the day I get to just sit and watch her anymore.

So I'd have to say today was a very good day. More about Thanksgiving later!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Happy Thanksgiving! We are spending the day with out-of-town family who we rarely see so I won't really be around to blog! Happy eating-your-weight-in-turkey day!

And DON'T forget to thank God for all your blessings today!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Hunting

I went hunting with Stephen for the first time in about ten years tonight. In recent years when we've had more opportunities to go hunting, we can't go together because of the kids. Tonight, though, Leila offered to watch the kids so that we could go together. It was in the 60's and although it was windy, the weather was really nice for sitting outside for a few hours. I finished my book (Bitter Harvest by Ann Rule, an author I have been turned onto by Granddaddy), we sat in silence for a long time (not brought on by a quarrel), and basically just enjoyed nature. Next time I am bringing binoculars. There was so much happening with the birds, and I am really dorky in that I like to figure out which birds are fighting, which ones are gossiping, I look at their beautiful colors and bodies - I know, I am like an old fogey. But anyway, it was really nice and I am so happy we got the opportunity finally to go together!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Stephen killed a 9-point deer this morning! That is an answer to prayer because we just can't afford to have to pay for meat and we were getting low-ish on venison in our freezer. I was actually just telling people the other day that I was praying for him to get a deer. So, answer to prayer this morning! Yay!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Bath Time

Our kids take baths together, 35% to save time/water and 65% because they have so much fun together. I am truly thankful for many of the games we are able to see them come up with. This particular night I am thinking of, they began screaming at each other as if to see who could scream louder. Then they would both erupt in loud laughter and one of them would break the laughter only to start screaming again. Most people might be irritated by the loud noises, but hey, we don't have close neighbors, and so our little family of four got a kick out of these shenanigans. Very blessed.


I had a life disappointment today. I have a produce guy that I go to regularly but he's closed on Mondays. I went to another local produce stand down the road to get a couple of things. While I was paying for my yummy sweet potatoes I realized he had oranges.


We live in North Carolina, if you hadn't noticed.

I said politely, "Um, where did you get oranges from?" Florida.


Then I said, "So I noticed last week that you had watermelons. Where were those from?" Peru. Peru, people.

I can't believe I thought all roadside stands were selling local produce just because the one I go to regularly does. I definitely urge you to check out where your stuff is coming from, especially if you are really trying to buy local and organic like I do. I won't be buying from him again in the future, unfortunately.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Brianna is all the time having conversations with people - very animated conversations, and most of the time they have no clue what she's saying. Here she is on the phone with Nenah a couple of months ago. You can figure out most of what she's saying I think, although a lot of it is just gibberish.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Daddy's Coming!

Back in September, a few days before Stephen came home from deployment I was prepping Brianna to see him. We didn't know if she'd be shy around him or anything, so I was really talking him up and making sure she knew to hug him and kiss him when he came home. In this video, I'm getting her to tell me what she's going to do when she sees him - and trust me, when she saw him, she definitely hugged and kissed him first thing!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving Program

Tonight is Brianna's first Thanksgiving program. So for the last six weeks all we have heard around the house is:

"It's a hoooooliday, a hooooliday, a hooooliday. It's a hoooooliday, Thanksgiving is the one. On this day we eat turkey, we eat turkey, we eat turkey. On this day we eat turkey and pumpkin pie too."

"Gobble gobble gobble gobble, fat turkeys are we!"

And a couple more songs that are in the program. I promise you, I sing them all. day. long.

So today I am spending the day:
  • making cornbread for the Thanksgiving "feast" after the program
  • making a pumpkin roll for said "feast"
  • making sure the camcorder is charged
  • impatiently awaiting for Leila to get here - she's flying in early for Thanksgiving and Stephen is picking her up this afternoon!

Okay, it doesn't sound like a lot when I bullet-point it. But I have to get on it and get off HERE!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hunter's Second 1st Party

I blogged the other day about Hunter's first 1st party on Skype. A few days after that we had his party here at our house.

As you can see, I took so many pictures. Actually, Jenn took a ton but I can't figure out how to get them from Snapfish to my blog without the pictures becoming miniscule. Sorry. Needless to say, we had a BALL! And we have thoroughly enjoyed having Hunter in our family for over a year. Here's to the next 80+! :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


The other day (okay it's been about six weeks ago now), Brianna noticed that Hunter had climbed up the slide and was playing. So she scurried up after him, swung her arm around his shoulder and said, "Look, Mommy, two friends!" I was ooh-ing and aah-ing at her sweetness so much that she said, "Take pictures!!"

They're so sweet.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Stop and Think

Okay, raise your hand if you've ever seen this picture. If you didn't raise your hand you either don't watch the news, don't read the news, don't have email, or don't have a Facebook account. This picture has circulated ever since Obama was elected President and I can't believe people are STILL posting this on Facebook. Are you kidding me?

The claim is that President Obama won't put his hand over his heart for the National Anthem, basically because he is Muslim. And he is so evil and a socialist and trying to destroy our country from within and ICAN'TBELIEVEHEREFUSESTOPUTHISHANDOVERHISHEART!!!!

I try not to get into politics on this blog, mainly for the reason that I don't know enough about politics to talk about them, but this is just interesting to me. Growing up, I was taught to put my hand over my heart during the National Anthem. I still do it as a reflex. I don't know why we do it, we just do.

Last weekend when we were at the tractor pull, they played the National Anthem before starting the races. As I looked around, I realized approximately 90% of people did not have their hands over their hearts. Lots of people didn't stand up. Some people carried on conversations during the song. I actually felt awkward that I was one of the few with my hand over my heart, like I was suddenly unsure that was the "correct" thing to do!

It made me stop and think back to when this picture was really prominent on the internet (usually followed with something like, "Obama MUSLIM hates America!!" or something else ridiculous). And I realized I'm not even sure people are being taught to put their hands over their hearts for the National Anthem anymore. Does anyone know? Anyway, I asked Stephen on the way home from the tractor pull about it (he's military) and he actually said to him it's almost reflex to simply stand at attention, because that's what they do in the military rather than placing their hands over their hearts.

Talking during the song? I think that's a little disrespectful, but I'm not going to judge you.

Not standing during the song? I mean, I really think you can get off your toosh for two minutes out of respect, but again, I won't judge you.

Not placing your hand over your heart? Obviously this is only a big deal when our President doesn't do it for whatever reason. Again, I won't judge you.

I'm not getting into politics and respect for the military or respect for the country or any of that. Actually the reason I'm writing this post is for you to stop and think before posting a dumb picture like this on Facebook or some other social network and writing "People, see this man is not American... please get him out of office."

Don't embarrass yourself. You might not like Obama. You might not have voted for him. You might have voted for him and now wish you didn't. All that is beside the point. He is our elected leader, and you're supposed to show respect for your leaders. Actually, Romans 13:1 from the Bible (NIV translation) hits the nail on the head:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

I guess it just makes me irritated when people put stupid things like the "no-hand" situation in emails or on social networks, and then I go to a public event and see 90% of the population do the exact same thing and no one says anything to those people.

So please, please, stop and think before you send out that email, or put something on Facebook. And if you dislike the people we have in authority, I suggest you do two things:

1) pray for them.

2) vote.

I wrote this post after a VERY long night and re-read it 24 hours later. Not all of it makes sense to me (based on what I was actually trying to get across) but I'm still going to post it. If I need to explain anything I was trying to say, please feel free to comment (not bash me!) and I'll try to clarify my meaning.

Hunter's First Party

That is what's called a "double title". See, because this was Hunter's 1st birthday but these pictures are from his first party. See how clever I am??

Our family from Georgia unfortunately could not make it to Hunter's birthday party, so they mailed his present and we opened it while we Skyped with them. Success! The only problem was that the presents were so good the kids kind of forgot about the fact that we were Skyping with our family...

Patiently waiting for Skype to come up... poor child doesn't realize these are Hunter's presents!

"Daddy, let me help you!"

First thing that happens: Brianna finds that she does have a present! A very cool magic-color book!

"Hunter, allow me to help you."

Bri attempts to take pictures for us: