Christmas

#GreatChristmas2013 – That’s a wrap!

‘Twas the month of December and all across the land,
there were dozens of bloggers with presents in hand.
Down the mail shoots and into the bags
went the gifts, covered in bows and tags.

Where each would end up, only one knew
a secret Santa surprise
a special gift out of the blue.

And upon its arrival there was much joy and glee,
each one opened their box, anxious to see
the gifts that were wrapped with such meticulous care.
Their long awaited surprise was finally there.

-An ode to #GreatChristmas2013

Well, my friends, The Great Christmas Exchange has come and gone and I’m already ready for it to come again! This was so much fun! Beth and Samantha did a great job of organizing and facilitating this wonderful secret gift exchange.

In case you missed my previous posts about this exchange (you can find them here and here), I’ll explain briefly. Everyone who signed up to participate in the exchange was emailed a secret partner about a month before Christmas. We received their blog and social links and a few details about their favorite things.

Then we went shopping! And crafting! And post office mailing (yep, that phrase just happened)!

I was thrilled to find out that I received the lovely Meg of Rivers and Roads as my partner. I knew of Meg from reading Beth’s blog, Oak + Oats. Turns out they’re besties! How awesome is that? It’s a small world.

So I semi-stalked Meg and learned about her life, what she enjoys, how she spends her free time, etc., etc., etc. And I wrote it all down in a notebook that I read every day. Just kidding. I’m not a real stalker. Promise. 🙂

Finding gifts that I thought Meg would like was fairly easy. It was wrapping them up and making them look cute that was hard. You see, I’m a terrible gift wrapper. Always have been and most likely always will be. (I apologize to my future children now. Mommy’s going to put all your presents in gift bags and cover them with tissue paper.) But after a few hours of meticulous measuring, cutting and taping, I managed to get Meg’s box to look like this!

GreatChristmas2013

All ready to meet a new friend!

I gave Meg some blank notecards because she loves snail mail, some pink Essie nail polish because every girl needs a bottle of that stuff and a soft green infinity scarf because she said she liked them and because it was Christmas and green is oh so festive.

I mailed Meg’s package then traveled to Texas and Kansas to spend Christmas with my family. I knew my gift would be waiting for me when I returned so I rushed to the mailbox first thing once I got home.

And I found a package from the UK! That’s right. My gifts came all the way from across the pond! That made me even more excited.

I opened my package to find a fun snowman card, some amazingly delicious Cadbury chocolate, a sweet bracelet made up of tiny hearts, a cute cupcake bath bomb and a yummy winter scented candle. All of them were perfect!

TheGreatChristmasExchange

Across the pond and through the woods, right to my mailbox came this wonderful package from my secret Santa!

And who was my secret Santa? She is none other than the lovely Becky Brown! After getting to know more about Becky, it turns out that we’re a lot alike. She lives in a small village and describes herself as a country girl throughout. I grew up in a small town, too, and as far as I’m concerned you can never take the country out of the girl.

Thank you again, Becky, for my gifts! it was so wonderful to meet you!

 

To wrap it all up (see what I did there?):
Like I said earlier, I loved participating in #GreatChristmas2013 and I can’t wait to do it again. In the meantime, I might just mail more gifts and notes throughout the year. I think I’m hooked!

The Great Christmas Exchange

Hello from an Arkansas winter wonderland!

I’m currently sitting on my couch, wrapped up in my favorite fuzzy green blanket looking at the fluffy white blanket of snow that fell outside last night and this morning. It looks like we got about eight inches. I haven’t gone outside yet to verify (it’s too stinkin’ cold!) but it looks beautiful.

Maybe when I go outside I’ll take some real pictures, too. I refuse to do the “here’s the snow through my window blinds” photo. Sorry ’bout ya.

Anyway, all this snow has finally got me in a Christmas mood. I’ve been listening to Christmas music since December 1st and have even done a little gift shopping, but for some reason, it just didn’t feel like Christmas yet. Maybe because it was 70 degrees here on Tuesday. No lie.

Now I’m all holly and jolly, and merry and bright, and ready to dance the jingle bell rock!

Who’s with me?

Another thing I’m excited about now that it feels like Christmas is The Great Christmas Exchange!

Elah Tree

The fun idea was baked up by my blogger friend, Elizabeth, at Oak + Oats and her blogger friend, Samantha, at Elah Tree. Anyone who wanted to could sign up and was emailed an partner a few weeks ago.

I was super excited to receive my partner email. I love meeting new people in real life and now that I’m trying to get back into the blogging world, I’m looking forward to meeting new people digitally. (What great things we can do with the Internet nowadays. 😉 ) New friends are fun.

I’ve enjoyed learning about my partner via his/her blog and social media channels, albeit it does make me feel a bit like a stalker. I can’t wait to send my gift and read about its recipient’s reaction!

Stay tuned for my gift post in a few weeks.

Have you ever participated in a secret gift exchange? What was your experience like?

Operation Christmas Child

Do remember what it was like as a kid to wake up on Christmas morning and run to the Christmas tree to find piles of gifts and presents stacked around it?

Do you remember what it was like to tear the wrapping paper off a gift, so excited to find out what was inside that you felt like you just couldn’t unwrap fast enough?

Do you remember the smile that came to your face and the joy that filled your eyes when you found out that you’d been given exactly what you wanted?

I’m sure most of us have happy memories similar to those. But for many kids around the world, Christmas morning is just another day. No tree. No gifts. No wrapping paper. Many of them have never received a Christmas present in their entire life.

One organization is working to change that.

Operation Christmas Child, founded in 1993 as a ministry project of Samaritan’s Purse, sends shoeboxes full of gifts all around the world to give to children on Christmas Day. Not only are children presented with shoeboxes full toys, clothes, school and hygiene supplies, but they are also presented with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, either through a live presentation or a booklet written specifically for them that tells the Gospel story in their native language.

Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has distributed over 100 million shoeboxes to boys and girls in more than 130 countries. That’s a lot of joyful Christmas mornings!

I love this organization and the work that they do. I love to imagine the face of the child that receives the shoebox I packed for them.

I imagine which toy they’ll pick up first.

I wonder if they’ll share with their friends and siblings.

I imagine which part of the gift they’ll like best.

But most of all I love that I’m helping to spread God’s Word and love to people around the world.

If this sounds like something you’d like to get involved in, now is the perfect time! Operation Christmas Child’s National Collection Week is November 18 – 25. You can find out more information on their website like how to pack a shoebox and where to drop your shoebox off. You can even watch Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty pack his own shoebox!

While Operation Christmas Child has a ton of great gift ideas on their website, today I’m going to show you what I put in my shoebox.

First choose whether you want your gift to go to a boy or girl, age range 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14. I chose a 5- to 9-year-old boy. Next, purchase your gifts, then you’re ready to pack.

I packed my gifts in a plastic container about the size of a shoebox because I figured the kid can use the plastic container, too, and it won’t deteriorate as quickly as a cardboard shoebox. Either choice is fine, though. You can also wrap your box/container, but I’m the world’s worst gift wrapper, so I opted out. I don’t want my kid receiving an ugly box!

Operation Christmas Child, shoebox

Step 1 – Get ready to pack your gifts. I used an empty plastic container similar in size to a shoebox for mine.

Then I gathered all my gifts and laid them out, trying to create a mental picture of how they would best fit in the container.

Operation Christmas Child, shoebox

Step 2 – I lay out the gifts I’ll pack in the shoebox. I included a ball, coloring book and crayons, two shirts and Hot Wheels cars.

All packed!

Operation Christmas Child, shoebox

Step 3 – After packing, unpacking and repacking several times, I got everything to fit in the box!

Once your box is packed, you’ll need to attach a label to it, noting the gender and age of the child it should be delivered to (you can get your labels here). I didn’t get a photo of this because I printed and attached my label in a hurry one morning before church. Sorry for the fail!

You can also make a shipping donation to print a special label that will let you track your box. I think this is a great idea! I can’t wait to see where my box ends up!

So there you have it! Such a small effort on your part can make such a huge difference in the life of a child.

Will you pack a shoebox this year?

(And in case you think you’re too busy, you can build a shoebox online! No excuses. 🙂 )

Recaps, reviews and resolutions

Everybody’s doing it. You know, writing a “Here’s-what-I-did-in-2011-and-here’s-what-I’m-going-to-do-in-2012” blog post. And I’m finally jumping on that bandwagon. I’m only four days late.

I run on my own schedule.

 

2011 was a fun year! And because I’m sure y’all have already read a bunch of these kinds of lists and I don’t want to bore you, I’ll just rattle off a few quick highlights. I’m sure this is probably more for my benefit/nostalgia/enjoyment than yours anyway.

–2011 saw more snow days for my little Arkansas university than it had seen in 30+ years.

–Said snow days occurred as a result of one heck of a crazy snowstorm everyone dubbed, “The Snowpocalypse.”

–Then came, “The Rainpocalypse.”

–I failed at baking brownies, coloring, cards, and drawing the state of Kansas.

–The highlight of the year was definitely completing an internship in Spain!

–I decided to take the LSAT and possibly apply to law school.

–I started my senior year of college.

–I got to TP a basketball court.

–2011 closed out with a (semi)-winter storm and plenty of Christmas and New Year’s parties.

 

Now… for 2012.

I’m not much for resolutions. It’s not something I’ve ever really done and I’m much more of a go-with-the-flow person as opposed to making a plan and sticking to it tooth and nail.

I jokingly told a friend that I had made a one-day resolution to cheer for the Denver Broncos when they played the Kansas City Chiefs even though I am a huge Chiefs fan. I only did it because I didn’t want the Oakland Raiders to go to the playoffs, which they would have if Kansas City won. A few minutes after the game started though, I figured out that if Oakland lost their game to the San Diego Chargers, it didn’t matter if Denver won or lost; Oakland would be denied a playoff berth. (If you’re unfamiliar with the NFL playoff system, let me tell you, it can get a little crazy!)

So I said heck with the Donkeys, uhh… Broncos, and cheered all-out for my Chiefs!

And it all ended up working out ok. The Chiefs won and Oakland lost! Yay!

But, I digress.

Back to New Year’s resolutions.

Which I don’t really make.

With the exception of sarcastic one-day resolutions pertaining to football games that I actually make for selfish reasons.

And then break ten minutes into them.

I have problems. I know this.

But for real. A couple days before the new year, I downloaded a year in photos app for my iPhone. Y’all know what I’m talking about. Take one picture a day, every day, for 365 days.

Now, I’m really not a fan of such long-term commitments, mostly because I don’t like planning and being tied down, but also because I’m pretty sure I’ll break them. Nevertheless, I’m attempting this one. And by attempting, I mean keeping up with it as long as I can and not caring too much when I miss a day.

I’ve kept up with it so far though! Four days… impressive, I know.

Here are the first three photos and captions. (I haven’t uploaded the fourth to my computer yet. It and subsequent photos will hopefully follow.)

 

New Year’s Cookies! This is a family tradition. Every year my aunt makes these delicious German treats. This year I had at least six of them. I lost count after that, so the final tally isn’t exactly known. Oh well, it’s better that way. I’d probably rather not know how many I ate. I tend to overindulge a bit during all the holiday parties.

I have problems. I know this.

Being a cat is rough. Just ask my cat, Turvy, and he’ll tell you all about it. He gets to spend all day inside and stick his head in the bag of cat food and eat whenever he wants. And he’s supposed to be an outside cat. Pshhh. My mother spoils him.

Family Christmas supper at the local restaurant. This was like the twelfth (and final… thank goodness) family Christmas we’ve had this year. I love my family. I really, really do. And I love get-togethers and parties! But we like to eat in my family, so there is always tons of food at our get-togethers and my stomach has finally said enough.

The flip side is that in a week, I know I’ll be back at school dying to have a home-cooked meal again, so I really shouldn’t complain.

And that’s all for now, folks!

I hope y’all had a fantastic Christmas and New Year’s with your friends and families and that you can approach each day in 2012 as it comes, with a smile on your face!

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