Thursday, December 27, 2012

Best of Christmas 2012 - So Merry!

There's a lot to post this Christmas, but I'll just give you the highlights.  One of the best things that happened this year was that I didn't get overstressed.  The cards went out hassle-free....and the reason for the stress-free cards was because the one I wanted (below)  ended up being $2 per card, so within a hour I picked up some at Walgreens, for which I paid $0.41 for each. And they were just as great!

 

The gifts were bought this year without any fuss.  The boys not only licked every envelope for our cards, but M and C picked out each gift for every cousin at one Target visit.  Done!   But you know how the Lord says that you'll be blessed if you give?  Wow, did I ever?!  Best gift went to ME.  A professional karaoke machine.  Yes!!!!



And well the cooking...besides making fruit soup for breakfast, I didn't cook a single meal..hallelujah!  We did bake but even that was therapeutic.   And I didn't decorate the cookies..LOL.

 


Fruit soup is a tradition, as well as visiting the National "holiday" Tree.  Right.  Yeah, it's a Christmas tree and here it is in all its glory.  This year was pretty underwhelming visiting the tree with no yulelog and a crowded area to see the manger - next year, we might need to adapt a new tradition.  We did have fun with our friends Jay and Kathy though, and afterwards, we ate plenty of pizza!



Another tradition at Christmas is to eat like there's no tomorrow.  There's always a turkey, a beef roast, a fish, a noodle dish, a soup, and all the Khmer favorites.  I have proof!  This is only like half of what was served....Cambodians know how to feast!


 


And one more tradition to observe this year was Christmas Eve.  We always try to go to the candlelight service.  This year, I asked a friend for her iphone and was able to get this beautiful calming picture.  It was this serene peace that filled me---- to be there with my friends and family thanking God for that Silent Night and our Joy to the World!




Other great moments:  when the tree went up this year, Tristan went nuts.



As in years past, we didn't forget to put up the train.  Well, that was a good call.  Our little Tristan was mesmerized by the train.  All he said for days was choo choo.  He would stare at that thing go round and round for at least half an hour.  We just weren't sure what to make of this fascination. 





Nothing says Christmas like a festive Christmas party.  We managed to make it out to a few and remembered to take a photo at the end.  It's always so fun to party with Patrick.  He's a hoot.




Probably one of my fave moments is when Patrick did a reading of the Christmas story out of Luke Chapter 2.  




Thank you to everyone who prayed for me in early December to make sure I remembered the reason for the season.  Every time we did something, we remembered the "why" and I was immediately filled with joy!  From our family to yours, Merry Christmas!



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Crafting & Playdate

This morning was half fun, and half chaotic.  We had little wee ones here, and I had forgotten the times the boys needed gates and needed to lock down loose furniture pieces.   We had a few near misses and I'm grateful that despite the chaos, people managed to have fun and get creative.  Look what Karina's little David  made!



And all the kids made theirs...[cough cough, it was mums, too!]....


Victoria, by the way, looked strangely relaxed as she was painting.  I have to admit sitting down and being creative and concentrating...it's really therapeutic.  Zoning the world out....


Jeannie did the most creative ones if you ask me.  She is not only "one of the brighter ones" but she is also clearly one of the most fittest.  She is giving birth to her third son TOMORROW, I repeat tomorrow.  And she is out and about...and SMILING.  That's perspective for you.


My favorite is Abs trying to steal a fingerprint from her baby while she was sleeping.  These are eyes beginning to half open.  Hilarious!


I will say because the crafting was so fun, we may get together again and do just the mommies.  And maybe add some wine and cheese to the fun, too! 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Seasonal Decorating

It's funny whenever anyone comes over, the first thing they say is.....you changed that! Yes, it's my creative outlet to update and change the look of my home very often.  As a full disclaimer, I told Patrick this very early on...and he still agreed to marry me!

So, this is what it started out as...sort of a blank canvas.  The yellow chairs were my "pop".  I was shooting for elegant comfort.



Easiest way to update a look is with pillows.  Summertime was easy as you buy some fun Pottery Barn covers on sale (I have my own much more inexpensive pillow inserts).  
This cover bought for $12.73 Pottery Barn Outlet.


I updated a Craiglist find (table and five chairs $35) with brand new seat covers to tie the two spaces together.  The covers were a lot of hard work to remove all the existing staples.


A few months later, I moved the two white chairs to flank the fireplace instead and added a few more accessories (end tables, starburst mirror, ottoman, baskets) and it's starting to come together.


Before I knew it, it was fall, and the summer white and the yellow and cool blues weren't warm enough to carry the comfy cozy look I was hoping for.  My new colors were gray and orange.....


Did you buy a new couch?  No!  With new slipcovers (on sale at IKEA $100 off) I sewed new silk 108" curtains at $10 a panel, added new artwork (IKEA frames and leftover fabric) and bought a whole bunch of new pillows at the cheapest prices you can imagine.


A new black mirror ($29.00) and some harvest decor lends itself to a cozy fall living room.



This place has come a long way....here's the before:


and after...


More before....green cabinets and old white appliances....overhead lighting...nasty ceiling fan....


And after....


And here's what it looks like at Christmas time....add some garland, stockings and red/grey/green/cream color scheme to your new Christmas living room.


A warm hearth glowing and we're ready to bring in the Christmas season!
....more decorating before and afters on the upper and lower levels as soon as I can remember to take the "after" pictures!

One might think I am insane for changing it so often, but for me - creating an environment where details tell people that my home is theirs - that makes all the difference!

First annual neighborhood Christmas Party.  It was a smashing hit!


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Micah turns six!

Happy sixth birthday to my sweet boy!


With my mom in Cambodia this Christmas and my brother in town for New York, I gathered my side of the family together for an additional celebration of giving thanks.  I so thank God the day He created Micah.

Micah:  Mommy, what is an Octopus under water?
Soryda:  Um, no clue.  What?
Micah:  An underwater arachnid.
Soryda:  .....[that's a big word...] 

Micah:  What sea creature does not float?
Soryda:  Um, still no clue.  What?
Micah:  Duh mommy.  A great white shark!

Tristan's Shark Attack face.  So scary!
Wow.  Micah knows everything about the ocean's midnight zone, submersibles, and sea creatures.  You can't get away with "that's a fish".  You will get corrected:  It's a fang-tooth fish.  Or a Viper.  Deep sea angler... I'm not intimidated though, I'm thrilled he has such an interest and he's a wonderful learner.  When persuaded to do a birthday out like at an indoor water park or even a movie, of course---he said no.  When asked what kind of birthday?  He immediately replied:  Under the Sea.   Here are some highlights!

Beware of the Shark!  To help decorate, I enlisted the help of Kelan our neighbor!



We decorated the dining room with seaweed streamers and leftover paperplate fish.



And we had  octopops, shark blood, shark teeth, fishcakes, "orange" roughy, fish & chips and fish bait!  So fun and super easy!  Super thank you goes to Melanie for helping out before the party! To Julie for paint, Kelan, and the printables, and to Renu for the Fish Bingo!


All the neighborhood kids came to celebrate!


Micah's birthday was on a Monday afterschool with neighborhood friends and 2 elite kindergarten friends, so in case anyone is slightly offended they didn't get an invite----it was just the afterschool crowd! :-)


Micah, your life could not bring us any greater joy.  We are so privileged to call you son and we will do our best to raise you to be the man God created you to be.  We love you!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thankful............I'm Me.

This year, I went down the list of things I'm thankful for...I took a deep sigh....and was truly grateful for something new this year.  I'm thankful that I'm me.  It's such a counter-intuitive thing to feel because the world tells you that you haven't arrived or you're not the person you've wanted to become, that you need more----more stuff, experiences, intelligence.  Things that make up your self-worth.  None of those things are inherently bad, it's when you feel less than who God made you to be----always pining after something when God is perfectly delighted in who you are now.

Deep at the heart of being thankful is being content in your circumstances, and in your identity.  This means accepting yourself as you are, and not making excuses for any limitations that you have.  It's loving yourself in your own skin, and actually liking the things about you---even though you know those things don't necessarily measure up to others.

This world is a hard place because as humans we are hard-wired to be relational and with that comes this need to be accepted, and to be loved, to be safe, to be connected, and to be significant and valued.    The problem with that is we need others to make us feel that way about ourselves. 

And what we desire from others we don't get because those others are usually doing the same dance---fearing rejection and never truly able to give you those things.   This deep fear also keeps us avoiding people, that at an unconscious level, somehow won't give us what we need---unconditional acceptance.  And it's usually people who are different from us.  Right, it's easy to stay in our comfortable huddles, but risk going out there and getting hurt----not so easy.

This is where the beauty of the gospel kicks in.  It's obvious that God doesn't want us walking around in fear and having an identity crisis.  Or wanting anything more to define us because He knows if we continue down that path, we'll never stop wanting.  This was not the way He designed it.   The bible says He knew us before we were knit together in our mother's womb, that we were perfectly and wonderfully made and that the maturing and sanctifying process is not about how we'll be accepted by everyone else, but that we will become more and more like Him.

In many ways, this is so freeing---to know that we don't need others to give us that significance when we were made to have our identity satisfied and fulfilled in Him.  And in His economy, less is more.   "When I am weak, then I am strong---the less I have the more I depend on Him."    It's a unique tension---to feel weak, but yet feel so strong in the Lord that you actually like being weak in yourself.  When's the last time anyone thought weakness was a good thing?

It's important to know, too, that Jesus had a core group of people he loved, and loved him.  He had a big group of twelve, but He spent more time and had deeper connections with three.  When He wasn't spending quality time with those He loved, He was out there unafraid.  Jesus was with all the wrong people: the outcasts, the sick, the poor, the needy, the socially unacceptable, the super-educated snobs.  The truth is that He was never challenged about who He was.  His identity was always tied to who His father was.

When I have my identity in my Father, I know that I am deeply loved, deeply valued, deeply accepted.  I am irreplaceable.   I need the few around me to love me and affirm me, but I need to be challenged to love others who are different from me.   This Perfect Love casts out all fear.  This is how He would have wanted it. 


Friday, November 9, 2012

WonderFall October 2012

Between Caelan's birthday (October 1) to Micah's Birthday (November 24), we have a season of just enjoying the cold crisp fall weather and making wonder-fall memories.

My friend Jewel, a professional photographer, gave me a huge discount as she spent some time taking pictures of the kids, and us a family.  You should be getting one of our family pictures in the mail for our Christmas card photo.  With so much to do for the holidays, I'm so glad that's done and over with!


Can't kick off the fall without leaping in a leaf pile!

 

Or a neighborhood Halloween parade. 


Micah's school had a "monster mash" which sounds much scarier than it was.  Just an opportunity for the PTA to make money for the school by doing games, offering food and have the kids come in costume.  Here is new BBF in the neighborhood, Tristan, fellow kindergartener.  Yes, another Tristan two doors down.


My little guys are the CUTEST warriors.  They are taking back the empire.


Even little Yoda has the force with him.


The kids don't get all the fun.  One of the most beautiful fall Saturdays in October,  several friends got the idea to do wine and ziplines?   Seven ziplines and a skybridge walk.  My legs were trembling!


We picnic'd under a gazebo on a mountain overlooking the Potomac river.  It was breath-taking and super relaxing.  Starting to think about November with our service project, Thanksgiving and Micah's birthday!









Friday, October 26, 2012

Relax. Don't do it. When You Want to Go to it.

I've stumbled upon something so amazing that I need to share it.  I have found the secret to a happy household.  The principle applies for everyone, but for stay-at-home moms, this one is for you.

This is me from 3-5 p.m.weekdays.


"Well, what's so revolutionary about this?" you ask.    Let me tell you!  It started when our neighbor's kids all started knocking on the door after school.  Micah had just learned to ride his bike without training wheels and all they wanted to do was ride, ride, ride.  In order for them to ride, it was a rule established by the moms that there would be at least one mom sitting out there.


I'm the only full stay at home mom on the block, so a majority of the time it was me.   Oh my gosh, can I tell you even though I was grumbling and complaining at first, it turned out to be the biggest blessing.

1) It made me STOP in the afternoon and DO NOTHING.  It's amazing how hard "not working" is.  If I was in the house, the kids would be playing, but I would be focused on something else I had to do.  


2) Fresh air! It made me go outside and in the warm days, I got vitamin D and in the cold days, I wrapped up in a blanket with my hot coffee or hot chocolate.  It's been unseasonably warm even in late October and when the wind blows on a perfectly cloudless day, and some days I take out my bible, it's clear you are communing with God.

3) As a byproduct, it hydrated me!  You all know the struggles I have with water, but being out there for two hours--my beach chair offered a spot for a "big drink" so I'd fill it and drink two of them!


5)  The focus became my kids.  For many of you SAHMs, you get this---you can be at home, but really distracted that you unintentionally disengage with your kids.  This put a stop to all that.  I had to run after Tristan in the street, and I just got to stare and marvel at my boys as they waved each time they rode by.  The sun would settle on one of their noses and I would notice every detail of their face.



5) I became recharged.  Sitting there in the sun and enjoying my children,  while I'm physically being restored makes for a happy wife when Patrick comes home.  I give him a warm welcome home outside while he pulls up.   The look he gives me is priceless: "Who ARE you?"

 

I wonder that myself.  I began to think this could be considered a variation of a modern-day Sabbath for me.  I fiercely guard this time now.  It's made a huge impact on me.  I won't give it up!  I dare you to try taking two hours of the day and not do anything but rest and get restored.  It looks easy, but there's still often an itch to go "do something".  The Lord knows what He's talking about here.  It's not only good for you, but when you're in this still place, all you want to yell out is "Yay, God!" and that brings Him glory.



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