Sunday, December 30, 2012

christmas time

We started celebrating Christmas around here before Thanksgiving was here.  We've been listening to Christmas music since Halloween and a few days past Christmas, we're still listening to it.  I always wish that we could celebrate Christmas for an entire week.  I wish Jordan could have the whole week off and that we could have a party every other night or so.  But since we've been celebrating for so long, we have thoroughly enjoyed the season!  We've done lots of baking with the kids, slumber parties, Christmas music has been filling the house everyday, we've done crafts, Christmas movies, and we've partied!  We had a full 5 days leading up to Christmas with holiday baking, a wedding, and family parties.  The kids did so wonderful with it all.  And we enjoyed them so much!  Natalie got excited about Santa this year probably because of school, otherwise we've never really said much about him either way.  It was fun to play along though.  She wrote him a letter asking for a bow and arrow and he delivered!  Each year, my mom takes the grandkids shopping for a gift for the moms and dads. So this year, Natalie picked out a small Nutcracker for me and chocolate for Jordan!  Ruby also got Jordan chocolate and got me a small cupcake candle!  It is pretty hilarious to see what they think we will like!  And mom and dad Barkel went crazy with gifts once again!  Mom does stockings for us all and there were almost 120 stocking gifts alone!!  We're all pretty lucky... our moms love to shop! 

Ruby decorated the tree almost entirely by herself.  She was very deliberate about which ornament went where!

Jordan got a new tie from Natalie to wear to work!


Seriously...look at those presents!  And that's not even including the stockings!

Charlie was such a trooper with all of the parties.  His favorite gifts: airplanes and tools!

When she wasn't sleeping, Emmy enjoyed her first Christmas!
It's always a little sad when the last party is over and Christmas time is gone.  But now we wait to see what unexpected blessings the new year will bring.

holiday baking

Each year, we have a delightful time getting together with family to bake up a bunch of goodies just before the holiday parties.  The kids and I did a bunch of baking the entire month of December...probably too much since we just kept eating it and thus needed to make more!  I love to get our aprons on, take our time, play music, sing and bake with the kids.  Especially during Christmastime.  But now we MUST give baking a break for awhile.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

havinga wedding

Our friends, Brad and Jaclyn, were married this past weekend!  Natalie and Ruby were the flower girls and Jordan was a groomsmen.  The girls were so excited to be a part of it.  They couldn't wait to finally wear their dresses and they were elated the night of the rehersal when they recieved new shoes, pearls, headbands, and lipsmacker for 'their' special day!  They were also quite thrilled to walk down the aisle with boys!  The boys did great as well.  Brad's dad joked that maybe the pastor would marry the wrong couple.  Neither of the girls seemed opposed to the idea!  It was so adorable to see them holding hands down the aisle.  Ruby, as you will see in pictures, was trying so hard not to smile whereas Natalie, whom you will also notice in the pictures, was pretending she was unimpressed.  In this case, Ruby reminded me of myself and Natalie reminded me of Jordan!  I see him pull that face all the time but I never buy it :)  When the girls made their way down the aisle, I got a little emotional (yes, I can be that way!) thinking about them getting married someday.  I know it's going to happen before I know it and I'll think back on these times when they were so little.  We are so proud of all of our kids!

The girls went home after the ceremony while Jordan and I went onto the reception.  Great times with great friends!!  I'm going to let the pictures speak for themselves :)

Congrats to Brad and Jaclyn.  Blessings on their marriage!!

Monday, December 24, 2012

christmas eve

It's Christmas Eve and I'm preparing for the next day.  Cutting up fruit, thinking about everything that needs to come with us to the party, thinking about what we will all wear.  Totally not preparing my heart for the big day.  I've loved this Christmas season.  Although we've only seen a tiny sprinkle of snow, I've definately been in the 'Christmas' spirit.  Decorating, caroling, eating, partying.  But of all times, I'm neglecting the reason for Christmas.  I haven't read my bible in a couple weeks, I've suddenly realized.  I've been so selfish.  I'm realizing that my joy has mostly been coming from the congregating of family and friends, not to mention the presents and the food.  And though I keep meaning to make time for Jesus, I still haven't.  So I'm not going to express my thoughts much more on here because I simply need to make room for Jesus.  More than 2000 years ago, most of the world slept through the coming of Christ.  There were so many who were lucky enough to witness the newborn baby Jesus but they missed the point.  They had no idea what they could have beheld.  But instead, they slept.  I've been missing the point and literally choosing to sleep instead of make time and room for Christ.  So as I sign off tonight at 11:43pm, I plan to dive into the word and try to comprehend as fully as I can the radical gift that God has given us and once again, make room for Christ.

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 17, 2012


Suddenly, my heart is so heavy and sad.  Days ago, it was light and joyful.  All was right with the world.  It's Christmastime.  The happiest time of the year.  But this year, there was a darkness that came over our nation.  Only 11 days before Christmas. 

The tradegy at Sandy Hook Elementary.

There was a dispicable act of evil displayed at Sandy Hook, an attack straight from the devil.  It has made me and the nation scared, insecure, and grasping for control over our kids and these situations.  A gunman shot down 20 elementary students between the ages of 6 and 7 and 6 teachers.  Not to mention his own mother prior to this.  And suddenly, the holidays will forever wear the stain of this dreadful day for so many of the affected people.

I cannot shake what has happened.  The entire nation is grieving over these innocent children.  And for the moment, everyone seems to be scared about their own kids and schools.  I, for one, worry about my kids enough as it is.  And then this happens and it about sends me through the roof.

Something I always seem to struggle with is the lack of quality time that I spend with each of my kids.  Many times after I put them to bed and reflect on the day, I find myself regretting all the times that I turned one of them down when asked to play because 'I've got work to do.'  So then I vow to do better the next day.  But when the next day comes, I forget to be intentional about playing more and once again, I lay out my regrets that night.  I wanted this month to be different.  And Jordan and I have been making more of an attempt at quality family time at night: baking together, stories, crafts.  But with the events that unfolded over the last few days, I feel like it's still not enough.  It's tragedies like these that once again set my priorities straight.

I often hear, 'You're such a great mom.'  People think I'm a great mom.  Sure, I'm good enough.  I make sure their basic needs are met, I discipline them, I show them love, and try to be there for them.  But I can do better.  Much better.  I feel like I have lost that fun, care-free side of me.  I used to be very calm and easy-going.  But more and more, I feel like I am anxious, busy, and worried.  And that isn't the way that God intended me to feel as a mother.  It's not something that I have been bringing to God either, so the feelings only get stronger.

But I'm bringing it to God right now.  I don't want to feel anxious, busy, worried.  I want to be light-hearted and happy again.  And I want it to last.  Not just when things are going great or at Christmastime.  But all the time.  Circumstances may shake me but it shouldn't shake my faith.  I know that my God is in control.  He is just, He is merciful, He is the Prince of Peace.  And He is God with us.  That is all I need.  No matter what happens, my God will always be my faithful Savior.  It's who He is and why He came.

One of my favorite 'Christmas verses' seems so appropriate to me this year: "In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."  John 1:4-5.  Jesus has already overcome this darkness.  And we 'will overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of [our] testimony.'  Revelation 12:11.

So I guess this is me, overcoming my fears and the plots of the evil one by the word of my testimony to who my God is.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

more emmy love

Is there seriously anything sweeter than a newborn baby?!  Maybe it's because she's my last child that I'm just eating her up.  Here are my top 10 reasons you can't help but fall in love with a baby.

1. The peach fuzz!  Emmy has those soft little hairs on her shoulders and a little on the cheaks and I just find it to be adorable!

2. The little sqeaks, hums, and purrs!

3. The way her eyes stare into mine without blinking, just studying me.

4. Soft smiles as she dreams... or poops!

5. The way that she bunches her legs up when I hold her up near my shoulder.

6. She cries and I can fix it by feeding her, changing her, or picking her up.

7. Neck wrinkles and her double chin!

8. When she shakes her head back and forth as much as she can when looking for food.  The way she goes after her little fingers when she's hungry.

9. The way she smells!

10. Her smooth, warm, kissable, irresistable skin.