Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas from the Takalas!

Merry Christmas!  We hope that you have a wonderful day celebrating the birth of our Savior with family and friends.  I wish I could send a Christmas card to all of you, but since I can't, I thought I'd post ours here.  Blessings to you all!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Bloggie Christmas Exchange

About a month ago, Shannon posted on her blog that she'd like to do a Christmas gift exchange for the readers of her blog.  Me being a huge fan of gift giving (totally my love language,) I jumped at the chance.  I was super surprised and excited a couple weeks later when I found out that she and I were gift exchange partners!  I've been reading her blog for years and now I got the pleasure of picking out some fun Christmas gifts for her and receiving a few as well! 

You can see what I sent Shannon by clicking here.  And you can see what she sent me below!

It was so much fun to receive this box all the way from Utah!  Shannon sent me fun notepads, nail polish, cookie cutters and sprinkles, a delicious candle, peppermint bark, an ornament, and a bath pillow.  Thanks, Shannon!  I had so much fun doing this and can't wait to do it again in the future!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sixteen Months

Our little girl is growing up before our very eyes.  16 months.  How did this even happen?  A few highlights from this month:

  • Loves to climb EVERYWHERE!
  • Cut her bottom canines around 12/1.
  • Pooped in the bathtub for the first time on 12/5.  This is important to document, people!
  • Had her second Thanksgiving and actually got to eat some of the yummy food.  
  • Went to visit Santa at Bass Pro.
  • Talking, talking, talking.  Some of her favorite words this month are: ho ho ho, no, crackers, go, hi, bye, happy, midnight, "Hi Bay!" ("Hi, Bayley!",) stop- nah
This month has been pretty crazy, so we don't have quite as many pictures as normal, but the ones we have are as cute as ever!  We LOVE this baby girl.  How did we live before her?

Waiting for breakfast at Bayley's

Acorn pickin'

Look at that hair!

Just hanging out

Playing the cowbells on Thanksgiving

Leading great-grandpa around the house.  Her favorite thing to do!

Checking out cousin Oliver

Loving the Grapevine Christmas lights

Smiling for Daddy at Kindermusik

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Your Christmas charity of choice?

Each and every year at Christmas time I am reminded how blessed I am.  It's easy to take for granted my blessings throughout the year, but at Christmas, I just can't forget.  Because of that, it's very important to me each year to give.  Not just to my friends and family, but to someone in need.  Now that we have started our family and have a daughter, I want to make sure she also understand how blessed she is and how important it is to help people when they are in need of blessings.  Some years we have donated gifts to members of the community, some years it has been friends in need, and some years it has been through Christian organizations that provide gifts for children in need across the world.  I don't say this to brag at all.  I only bring this up to make people aware of the great need there is to help others all year long, but especially at Christmas time. 

This year, we decided to participate in Operation Christmas Child.
You've probably heard of OCC.  You get a shoebox, fill it with toys, clothes, trinkets, candy, or snacks for a child, and Samaritan's Purse makes sure it is delivered to a child who wouldn't otherwise receive any Christmas gifts.  Although it's getting close to Christmas, it's not too late to build a box!  If you are looking for a way to share your blessings this year, this is a great way to do it.  Even if this isn't what you feel called to do, I encourage you to look for opportunities in your world to give to others at Christmas time.  You will never regret it!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Looking at lights

Perhaps my most favorite Christmas tradition is our annual outing to look at Christmas lights.  I'm not sure how many years we've been doing this, but I know it started well before I left home and has continued yearly ever since. 

At the beginning of every December, we pick a night to go look at Christmas lights as a family.  On that night, we load up the car, pick up some pizzas, and set out to find the best lights we can.  Usually we go to Southlake or Highland Park, but every once in awhile, we go to Interlochen in Arlington or somewhere else equally spectacular.  It's so much fun to drive around with our mobile pizza picnic looking for Christmas spirit.  We've now added a husband and baby to the mix, and while things have changed a bit, it's mostly still the same. 

Do you have a fun Christmas lights tradition?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Community Christmas traditions

Do you live in a community where there are really wonderful Christmas traditions?  Growing up and still living in Dallas, there are tons of communities with their own fun traditions.  There are Christmas traditions in both the town I grew up in as well as the town I now live in that I can't wait to take advantage of when Emily is a bit older.  Irving has a Christmas parade and tree lighting, both of which I participated in as a child.  In elementary school, we made ornaments to hang on the tree in Heritage Park and then our choir would sing.  Come to think of it, most of my community Christmas memories have to do with music.  Singing with the Irving Girls Choir in the annual Christmas concert, singing with the Lively Keynotes around the city, marching with the band in the Irving Christmas parade, listening to carolers, the Irving Ballet's Nutcracker production.

Irving Christmas tree lighting

In Euless, they have a Christmas tree lighting ceremony and the Parade of Lights, which we haven't had the chance to attend, but definitely will next year.  I'm excited to experience some fun community Christmas traditions with our kids to make fun memories for them!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Pictures- Day 3

After not having a guest blogger yesterday, I knew I'd at least be on the ball with today's post.  However, when I started going through all the Christmas pictures on my computer, I realized all I had were from the past few years.  A quick call to my mom, and she came to the rescue!  Thanks for going through the albums and scanning these in for me, Mom!  This post may be late in the day, but it totally counts!

Lounging in front of the tree.  My first Christmas!

Grocery shopping, obviously!  I can definitely see Emily in this picture.  A year old.

Two years old and rockin' the white tights!

Riding the Christmas train at Irving Mall.  Three years old.

Still three and clearly thrilled to be hanging with the cousins, holding my new bro.

Four years old with our annual Christmas teddies from Santa/Grandpa

Still four.  Look at my brother with the scotty dog turtleneck.  Love it!

Five years old.  Santa (Harrell Griffin) came to visit us while our parents were at a church Christmas party.

Future Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader, obviously.  Six or seven years old, I think.

Super excited by the surprising twist in the latest Boxcar Children novel.  I'm gonna guess nine or ten years old here.

I remember this one clearly.  How could you forget wearing a Winnie the Pooh sweatshirt at age 16?  And look at those jeans!  Oh, the things I would say to my high school self.  Also, the Christmas I received my first car, which is a whole 'nother story.

Senior year of high school or freshman year of college with the cousins.

Hope you enjoyed my stroll down memory lane!  Coming tomorrow...Oh Christmas Tree!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas Challenge Day 2

For today's challenge, I was supposed to ask someone to guest blog for me.  Since I only decided yesterday to participate, I didn't have time to bribe swindle talk someone into blogging for me.  So in the time I would've taken to do that, I instead organized all of Emily's outgrown clothes and put them away in bins, got the Christmas presents moved out of the dining room, and finished my Christmas shopping online.  Pretty good accomplishments for a Sunday afternoon!  I mean, I could've been napping.  (Yeah, right!)

If you'd like to participate in the challenge, the topics are:

1.       Christmas Music

2.       Invite someone to guest blog about their holiday thoughts

3.       Christmas Pictures

4.       Christmas Tree

5.       Community Christmas traditions

6.       Looking at lights

7.       Finish this sentence: “Its Christmas When…” or “It feels like Christmas once…”

8.       Your Christmas charity of choice?

9.       What do you wish you did for Christmas that you don’t do

10.   Your thoughts on Elf on a Shelf. 

11.   Advent

12.   Favorite Christmas carol and memory tied to it. 

13.   Favorite Christmas cookie – share the recipe

14.   Christmas Ornaments

15.   What about Christmas makes you say Bah – Humbug?

16.   Gifts

17.   Go to Christmas beverage  – share your recipe

18.   Stocking stuffer ideas

19.   How has Christmas changed from your nostalgic view as a kid to your view as an adult?

20.   Christmas

21.   Nativity

22.   Christmas around the world

23.   One gift you are anticipating getting – one gift you are anticipating giving

24.   Christmas Eve Traditions and Christmas morning traditions

25.   Christmas Day Scattergories – I’ll post the topics

26.   Did you have to take something back?

27.   Its over now what?

28.   How long do you stay with your family?

29.   When do you take down the tree?

30.   New Year’s Eve traditions

31.   What’s your wish, dream, plan, goal for the new year?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Heart of Christmas Blog Challenge

Although I'm behind on blogging some of our fall happenings, I've decided to take my friend Keisha's Heart of Christmas blog challenge.  It's a bloggie advent calendar of sorts.  Instead of eating a piece of chocolate each day (although I will almost certainly do that as well,) I will blog each of the topics she's pulled together.  If you'd like something to help you reflect on the Christmas season as well, I totally recommend it!  Now let's see if I can make it through the first two days week.

Day 1:  Christmas Music

As a huge fan of music in general and a musician of sorts, I just love Christmas music.  Then again, who doesn't?  I do have two "things" about Christmas music, though.  The first is that I don't want to hear it any time of the year other than between Thanksgiving and Christmas day.  I think it makes it more special to only pull it out at that time of year.  The second is that while I LOVE the good old-fashioned carols and tunes, I find myself loving even more the new songs that have been written as well as some of the older ones that aren't necessarily standards.

I have wonderful memories of Christmas music from my school years.  When I was in elementary school, the whole school would file down to the cafeteria and sit close to listen to the Irving High School band play a few Christmas songs.  A few years later, I became one of those high school students, sitting on the front row, playing my heart out on that little flute.  We always played three songs: Sleigh Ride, Christmas Festival, and Themes from the Nutcracker Suite.  I will never forget the way those songs sound and how much fun they were to play.  I still get excited when I hear our version of Sleigh Ride come on the radio.  I also had the wonderful opportunity to be in choir in high school and have many great musical memories of Christmas concerts.  I sang three Christmas solos in high school- Sleigh Ride (sophomore year,) It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (junior year,) and Santa Baby (senior year.)  So much fun!  And of course, who in choir could ever forget singing O Holy Night by candlelight?

It's hard to narrow down my favorite Christmas songs, but I thought I'd post a few of those newer/less mainstream songs that I talked about.  You may or may not have heard these, but if you haven't, definitely have a listen!  I think you will enjoy them.

SCC- Angels from the Realms of Glory

Relient K- I Celebrate the Day

Mercy Me- Joseph's Lullaby

Meredith Andrews- He Has Come for Us

Kari Jobe- Adore Him

Nat King Cole- Cool Yule

Train- Shake Up Christmas

White Christmas Cast- Snow