Monday, December 29, 2008

The New Year

The Schneck family has been traveling and visiting like crazy banshees over the past week or so. Not much time for blogging. Liam and I are headed out to Gatlinburg where we are meeting Jon and the boys until after the first of the year. So, I thought I'd do my new year's blog between napping and packing and laundry and such.

2008 has been a year of extremes. It's been about as much sorrow and as much joy as my weakling heart could take. My beloved Paw Paw passing away in March amongst deaths of several other friends and family members, surgeries, illnesses, family issues and the economic rollercoaster are just a few of the things I could complain about. But in the face of all the blessings we have received it seems juvenile to even mention them. God has provided. God has protected. God has shown us a deeper level of His infinite mercy and love. How could we have ever known the vast amounts of joy and love that would come our way with the birth of our first born, our baby boy, Liam. If you have never had a child, I literally cannot tell you what it's like. My physical body can barely contain the wealth of emotion. Sometimes I think I'm going to squeeze him so tight that his eyeballs are going to pop out. All the sleepless nights, super stinky diapers (just wait until table food....oh dear...), medical bills, breastfeeding woes, etc... have all been well worth it. I would rather be in the situation I'm in with Liam than have the money, freedoms, alone time, etc... I had before. It's no contest.

I try not to make resolutions because after the first month or so goes by and no one is talking about "resolutions" anymore, I forget what it was I resolved to do in the first place. I'm easily influenced. So, I've decided to call my resolutions "goals" instead. Here are my goals:

1 - Lose the weight that I gained back after I stopped nursing (thank you egg nog lattes, christmas cookies, etc...)
2 - Make a concentrated effort to finally make Nashville my home instead of having one foot in Atlanta.
3 - Love more, taking the time to build real and lasting relationships and improve the ones that I have already made.
4 - Convince my husband to eat healthy and actually exercise!
5 - Watch TV less and read, craft, exercise, etc... more.
6 - Start singing again. Watch out TVC choir! Here I come!
7 - Practice contentment instead of materialism.
8 - Travel to see family and friends who are far away!
9 - Cook more.
10 - Pursue God.

Baby steps, people, baby steps...

As always, I am really looking forward to the coming year and all the blessings and challenges God has planned for us. By nature of Jon's profession, we can always count on the excitement and anxiety of an ever changing music industry. Our sweet son Liam is sure to bring a whole new load of experiences, perspective, and lessons in his second year of life. I wish you and yours a very joyful and blessed 2009. I pray that through Christ you are tested and challenged to be better than you were in 2008 while still making it joyfully and peacefully to 2010. (Are we really about to hit the '10's???) Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free; from our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee. Israel's strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art; dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart. Born thy people to deliver, born a child and yet a King, born to reign in us forever, now thy gracious kingdom bring. By thine own eternal spirit rule in all our hearts alone; by thine all sufficient merit, raise us to thy glorious throne.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Excellent Gifts

I have always loved giving gifts. It has honestly been one of my great joys in life. When I was little and I would go on a field trip, my mom would give me "spending money" for the souvenir shop or snack bar or what have you. I always came back with presents for everyone - mom, dad, brother, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins... I would spend as long as I could, perusing each item up for sale and deciding which one would be most appreciated by each person. I would try to be as frugal as I could while not skimping or being stingy. I did want to walk away with something for myself, after all! On the ride home I would get so excited about sharing my gifts with my family. This carried on into my adult life. I actually bought gifts for family members on my honeymoon. I knew that my mom would love a coffee cup from overseas, that my grandparents would love coffee and spices from abroad. I don't say this to tout my ever generous character...barf... But, the very timely subject of gifting is something that I am passionate about and I think is very important, especially when it comes to our children. I think it is important to teach our children the time honored lesson of "it is better to give than receive." This has proven true in my life, and I am hoping it will be in Liam's too. One way that we as parents can teach our children these character building qualities is through giving gifts ourselves - and more specifically, the gift of reading. We have some amazing women at our church, The Village Chapel. I am lucky enough to be able to be mentored by some of these seasoned mothers while I myself am in the process of mothering. Derri Smith wrote this email to our mother's group today, and I loved it so much that I wanted to share it with all of you.

I’m a big fan of reading to children, as I’m sure many of you are. I grew up in a totally dysfunctional home, but I was an avid reader. A children’s librarian gave me weekly guidance, suggesting excellent books to read. When I’d read everything in the children’s section, she took me upstairs and started me on excellent adult books. Unknowingly, she shaped my character. From the books she recommended, I learned to admire what is admirable, to dream of noble pursuits and to picture the consequences of choices, both good and bad.

Just as we take great care to give our children the healthiest foods, we give them a great gift when we offer them fine reading fare.

In the weeks ahead she is going to be giving us different ideas on how to use books to help develop our childrens' character. I can't wait to see what she has in store!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Relient K on Jay Leno tonight!!

I just wanted to let everyone know that Jon & the boys will be on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno tonight! This is their 4th time on late night TV and, ironically, there always seems to be something outrageous said or done on the particular night they are on. Por ejemplo, the last time they were on Conan there was clip from a movie shown with a ridiculously long kiss between 2 girls. I'm really glad my grandmaw was watching that one....sheesh... Well, tonight Jim Carrey and Rosario Dawson are on the show and as far as I can tell their current projects rank low on the "racey" factor. I hope you guys stay up to watch or at least set your TiVo!!! I know I will :)

Below is a picture of Tom Wilson aka. "Biff" from Back to the Future . There's also two videos of his comedy. Really, really funny. You'll see what this has to do with anything if you watch tonight :)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Let it snow!

Nashville got its first snow of the year tonight. It started out as a slush shower around 430 and ended up as real snow by around 6 or so. We got a little over an inch tonight, which is the real deal here in the mid-south. We never measure snow here in feet. Fractions are too confusing. Inches are where it's at. I had a friend who actually got stranded on the side of the road. In only an inch of snow. That's right. And he's from Ohio too. I guess he's gotten soft from all his time in Middle Tennessee.

Now Nashville is moody about its winters. It's hard to believe that this will be my 8th winter here. Some winters we've only had one day of snow the whole time and some winters it has been much more. I remember my junior year at MTSU it rained and then sleeted and then froze over and then snowed and then froze over again. We were literally stranded in our house for days. The university cancelled classes for the first time since the early '70's. It was crazy and fun all at the same time. Below is my attempt at photographing snow at night with a sick child on my hip. I don't call it bad, I call it artistic. Obviously, you just don't GET it.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Advent Conspiracy

Let me start off by making a confession...

...I am a post stealer. If you post something on your blog and I like it, I'm going to steal it. Sometimes I even plagiarize. Hate it for ya. I will try to remember to give you credit if that's any consolation :)

I stole this from my friend Melissa's blog because it is A-MA-ZING. Although I have already purchased most of my Christmas presents, I am talking to Jon and praying about doing something with this organization, regardless. Whether you decide to participate or not, this is definitely a good lesson for this season and all year 'round, for that matter!

So powerful, right?! Melissa, the aforementioned victim of my thievery, is doing an advent reflection on her blog this year that will knock your socks off. Check it out! I love this season!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Long Time, No Tag

So, Rhondi tagged me AGES ago to do a Christmas question thingy. Due to my fierce loyalty to Thanksgiving, I put of my response to a more appropriate time, thank you very much! Let me start off by saying that I am perfectly aware that there is a fairy tale land that only exists in my head where every holiday is perfect and I am Martha Stewart. I will have you know that while I repeatedly try to make this place a reality every year, I am in no way shocked when it doesn't quite turn out as planned. I also have no delusions about actually being Martha...only in my dreams... I know you have all been waiting in knots for my Christmas tradition autobiography. Well, writhe in agony no longer my anxious ones. It has arrived!!!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? One of my great joys in life is seeing a sparkling Christmas tree under which sits droves of gifts wrapped perfectly in coordinating papers. One year I used all paper from Crate and Barrel. Be still my heart. While this is obviously the ideal, I am very likely to use all gift bags this year due to a) lack of time, b) lack of cash, and c) Liam Jude.

2. Real tree or Artificial? I love the idea of a real tree. Jon and I had real trees for our first 3 Christmases. We wore scarves and got Starbucks and went to the tree lot and convinced our friends who worked their to give us free stuff. After 3 years the prices were jacked up too high and our friends got real jobs and we gave into the reality of a little one coming along and ingesting pine needles and getting water all over the place. So, now we have a lovely artificial pre-lit tree and I light one of those Christmas Wreath candles from Yankee Candle Co. It will have to do :)

3. When do you put up the tree? Growing up we always put our tree up the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Now, we normally don't get back to Nashville until that Sunday night, so my goal is to get the tree up sometime that following week. No earlier I tell you!!!

4. When do you take the tree down? New Year's Day. No later. Come on people.

5. Do you like eggnog? LOVE LOVE LOVE it. I know some people think it's nasty. I totally get that. I like fruitcake too, so sue me.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Dear Diary. I don't remember much about it other than it was an electronic diary. It was really my favorite present because I knew my Paw Paw looked all over to find one for me because I wanted it SOOOOO bad :)

7. Hardest person to buy for? my father-in-law....any hints???

8. Easiest person to buy for? little kids. toys and more toys.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? No, but I REALLY want to start the Willow Tree nativity.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? I prefer mail. I like buying festive postage and using my cute return address stamp as often as possible. However, our Christmas card list is RIDICULOUSLY too long. So, we are going to do a combo this year. Mail to our family and those friends who share my love of stationery (Court and Katy) and email to everyone else.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Um, one year Jon got me a Rocky action figure that he really wanted because he saw that I had one more box under the tree for him than he had gotten me. True story.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Charlie Brown's Christmas

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? You're lying if you say you haven't.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? My Nanny's southern breakfast spread! Biscuits and gravy....mmmmm...

16. Lights on the tree? Yes, white. What is the alternative to lights? Candles? I'm confused by this question.

17. Favorite Christmas song? O Come O Come Emmanuel (traditional hymn) & Labor of Love (new song)

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? We always travel to the ATL. I don't know how much longer we'll be able to do that with little ones, but we'll keep trying!

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen....Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen...but do you recall...the most famous reindeer of all?? Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer!!! If you want me to remember something, put it in a song.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? We have this retro spire looking thing, but I would have to pick a star over an angel. Welcome to the 90's.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas morning!! How can you open presents if Santa hasn't even brought them yet??

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? When people say "holiday tree" or "holiday lights." I mean really. You aren't fooling anyone.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color? For aesthetic purposes, I love a green tree with all silver, white and red! Our tree is a mix match of ornaments with lots of memories and sentimental value, so I love that too.

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Growing up my grandmaw always had a honey baked ham and stouffers mac'n'cheese. I know it sounds strange, but this will always be my favorite Christmas combo!

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? What don't I want!

26. Who is most likely to respond to this? Hmmmm...not sure...

27. Does Santa wrap your gift or leave them unwrapped? Traditionally my parents never wrapped our presents, but I like the idea of a mixture. Some unwrapped for instant wow factor and some unwrapped to extend the surprises.

I tag Michelle and Hannah.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Grow old along with me...

...the best is yet to be.

Who knows where the road will lead us,
Only a fool would say,
But if you let me love you,
I'm sure to love you all the way.

Happy Anniversary! Four years and going strong... I love you :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It's beginning to SOUND a lot like Christmas!

I have posted my Christmas music playlist! Hooray! I know some people are annoyed by blog playlists, but I love them, so I'm keeping mine up. If you don't like listening, there is a pause button on the player at the bottom of the page. Feel free to stop the music while reading if you'd like :) I'm not going to lie, this is an odd playlist. It's balanced equally by Sufjan Stevens and Bing Crosby with a little Kenny Rogers to fill in the gaps. (Watch out for Kenny, ladies.) I LOVE this playlist. Sufjan is my obvious current Christmas fave, but there are lots of sentimental songs in the mix. Bing, of course. The Chipmunks, a given. But very few share my memories of decorating the tree and baking cookies with the Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton Christmas album serving as the soundtrack. Oh yes. Think "Islands in the Stream" on egg nog. So nice.

I'm also doing a little shameless promotion by sportin' my own tunes. Well, not technically MY tunes, but Jon's. Relient K's Christmas album "Let it Snow Baby...Let it Reindeer" is really good. You really should check it out! I am a little annoyed at because I couldn't find all the songs I wanted. "Labor of Love" sung by Jill Phillips on the Andrew Peterson Christmas album is such an amazing song. It talks about the conditions surrounding the birth of Christ. Last year I was super preggo during Christmas and I bawled and bawled every time I heard it. I think it was part hormones and part sheer terror at the thought of giving birth, but mostly it was because it is a killer song.

Well I hope everyone is having a great time getting in the spirit! I hope everyone is remembering the true REASON for the SEASON. Many thanks to my friend Courtney who chastised me for texting "xmas" instead of spelling out "CHRISTmas." Now to make up for it, I have vowed to text "CHRISTmas" - actually capitalizing the "CHRIST" part - every time I text that word. So, if you get a text from me like that, I don't think I'm better than you, I'm just serving my sentence.
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