Parenting – Teaching Your Children to Use Their Gifts

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Our oldest is just amazing.  I know I’m his mom and so of course I’m biased… but oh my gosh, God has blessed him with many talents and gifts!  He’s kind… he’s gentle… he’s a strong leader and he’s only 7 years old!!!!!  Watching him is so inspiring to me to be a better mom – to be the mom he truly deserves in life (and yes, I feel like I fail constantly)!  We all deal with some amount of “Mom Guilt.”

Anyway… his school was having a city-wide art competition, and right away I was like, “You have to do this.”  He doesn’t believe in himself, just like I was growing up and still have issues with at times.  But his raw talent and gifts can’t just be shut up inside him and never used or developed!

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This is something I wish I had learned earlier in life myself – that my gifts, whatever they were, were supposed to be used and practiced and developed and strengthened!  It’s nice to have people loyally on your side, watching you with a gracious intent, gently encouraging you to use your gifts, but usually none of us really have people like that around, so we develop self-consciousnesses or neurotic beliefs that we’re always wrong or not very good.

And I see them reflected in my son.  His self-doubt, his belief that he’s actually NOT a good artist, or that he’s not funny, and not that smart (when he makes All A’s and B’s and excels in things like math!!).  It’s weird to me how we can have such a distorted view of ourselves when in reality, we are given so much more than we see.  This is what I imagine Paul was referring to when he was encouraging Timothy to not let anyone look down on him because he was young, but to set an example for other believers and to USE his gifts, and practice them and develop them.

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Practice.

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Develop

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It took him 3 days doing it a few hours at a time, and I had to keep reminding him that he probably wanted to work on it or it wouldn’t be finished in time for the contest, and he did want to finish it.  The more he painted, the more he enjoyed it, too!  As he and our other children grow older, I’m not going to be harping on them as much so that they can learn that if they don’t hustle and do their work on time – or be consistent in it – they will miss MANY opportunities in life and some that they won’t get a second chance at.

 

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But for now, I’m like the woman Jesus talked about who kept pestering a man to do what she wanted 😀  I will encourage him, remind him, love him, prod him, and “train him up in the way he should go,” according to his gifts I’ve seen God has given to him.

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His art teacher came up to me with excitement yesterday when I picked him up from school, and told me with wide eyes that he had placed in the competition… out of THOUSANDS of other kids who entered all over our city!  He won his school somewhere between $1,000-3,000 in art supplies!!!  Of course we were so proud of him!!!

And I asked him in the car when we were driving back home, if he was glad that I pushed him to enter… because he never would have known if he could win if he hadn’t even tried.

I explained to him again that when God gives us special gifts like that, He expects us to USE them for Him, and that others are BLESSED through our gifts – but only if we have enough confidence in ourselves to decide to step out in faith act.  We are also blessed when we bless others!  As he found out when he won that much money for his art teacher!  It’s a blessing to be able to bless other people!

He’s heard about the parable of the talents, but it will probably be a deeper lesson saved for when he is a little older – that if we don’t use our gifts, that God may decide to take them away.  I know it sounds harsh, but we are stewards of the things God has given us, and that includes our giftings and talents.

May we all learn to be more confident in the gifts God has given us, and to use them, practice them, develop and strengthen them for His glory.

Stephanie

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Skin Care After 30!!

Oh I am so excited to write this post… something I’ve been thinking about writing for awhile now!  I just had 2 appointments this week with my beloved and long-term dermatologist, one for a normal yearly checkup (mostly for skin cancer full-body screening since I’m so white), and then another to go over my skin regimen and anti-aging “plan.”  LOL  As if you can really have a plan to not age!

I was pleasantly surprised at how pleased she was this time when viewing my skin under her sun damage lens (special lens that can see UV ray aging and damage underneath the top layer of skin – basically early aging before it appears).  Apparently the two most important things I’ve been doing have been:

  1. Using a high SPF sunscreen fairly regularly (and every day in the Summer)
  2. Using a little bit of brightener in the form of a very very low percentage Retinol cream and Vitamin C

She exclaimed that my skin was looking YOUNGER and “glowing”… as though I was 25 again (and this lady don’t lie).  But, the signs of coming wrinkles underneath the visible skin were “just barely” starting to show, and it was time to go with a little more retinol %, as well as to maybe think about including alpha hydroxy acids into my routine.

This is WORLDS away from what happened when I saw her back when I started this blog in 2013… I was only 27, but she thought Botox was in order for my visible fine lines LOL!  Apparently that’s how bad I was aging (and admittedly, I had neglected seeing her for years at that point)!

So again, let me reiterate how important using even the lightest retinol 2x a day and SPF sunscreen as much as I can:  The constant cell-turnover and brightening the retinol was doing, as well as the protection from further damage the sunscreen was doing, literally rewinded my skin cells back 6 years (and maybe more if I was aged older than 27 back then -which I’m guessing I was due to her horrified reaction lol).

This is one of those important lessons I want to impart to my daughter about beauty (and how sweet that my doctor is more than likely going to be the one taking care of her skin, too… *tear*).  I hope she learns from me that taking care of your skin throughout your lifetime is SO worth it to feeling healthy.  In other words, if you eat healthy, exercise, and yet you’re not taking care of your skin, there’s something missing 🙂

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So let me give you some tips I just got this week before I forget 😀 these are things that are straight from my dermatologist, who is considered “World Class” and one of the best in our city!

  • You need to be cleansing your face 2x a day with a stronger cleanser (than the grocery store brands I used to use and wrote about) that has some kind of acidic quality to it, especially if you’re fair skinned (glycolic or salicylic acid).  This will be your basic exfoliant, as it literally will make the dead skin cells “slough off.”
  • When skin cells slough off through cleansing with glycolic acid cleansers, it increases cell turnover, which helps prevent early aging.  From Google: Glycolic acid is part of the group of active compounds known as AHA’s (alpha hydroxy acids). Derived from cane sugar: It has the smallest molecules in the group so is able to penetrate skin deeply and easily, making it the most effective for treating fine lines, acne, blackheads, dullness, oiliness etc.
  • Now that you’re over 30, scrubbing with exfoliants, like I was so avid about doing before, is no longer really that beneficial (yea I was shocked :/ ).  In fact, since my skin is getting thinner (she held up a rubber glove and pulled it taut and told me THAT was how thin my skin was getting!), that scrubbing is going to do more damage than good for my skin.  So like the first point states, a stronger acidic cleanser will become your exfoliant.  Go with gentle chemicals to get the dead skin off, instead of rough grainy beads.
  • Get serious about using Retinol a couple (or more) times a week.  Your face has to build up to get used to it.  And if you’re fair skinned, you’re more than likely also sensitive to Retinol (other shades of skin can be really sensitive as well though – always check with your doctor to see what strength they suggest for your specific skin type, sensitivities, and thickness, etc.).
  • Now is the time to start getting acid peels (medical grade facials – not the kind at the spa, but medical grade ones) every now and then – but only during the Winter months since they make your skin EXTREMELY vulnerable to more sun damage.  My dad actually had something like that done recently with their UV machine (that literally caused layers of damaged skin to peel off and left his skin so beautiful and smooth and 10 years younger looking).  His is to prevent skin cancer, but the effects are still nice to see and feel.  Doing something like that just once or twice a year “resets” your skin and helps your regular regimen to keep improving it (and be able to penetrate deeper).
  • You’re now at the stage of “Maintaining.”  They explained to me this week that although my skin looks beautiful and even “glowing,” it is now the time to get serious about maintaining that glow and youthful baby softness.

It’s really fun to get into the science of all this stuff, and feel relaxed in knowing you’re taking care of yourself.  I went ahead and got a glycolic acid/ azelaic acid Brightening Creme to use 2x daily (Glytone from France), along with a 0.5% Pure Retinol Creme (Skinceuticals brand USA) to use only at night and only a couple of times a week (should not use during pregnancy).  The Retinol is a high potency product and using it more than 2x a week would make my skin just peel too much.

Things I’ll be adding as well is a gentle alpha-hydoxy cleanser (Oil of Olay), and then Bio Oil which is INCREDIBLE as a moisturizer for aging-past-30 skin.

That’s it!  And now I’m going to go play with my retinol 😀

Stephanie

How to Stand Strong in Stressful Times

This is a great video.  I urge all you readers to watch it.  It’s SO. GOOD.

I found it about two or three months ago, and it’s just repeated wisdom of what I’ve heard all my life growing up in a strong, Christian school from age 4-15, having strong Christian parents, and then mentors who have poured into my life.

I feel so lucky (not sure “blessed” would be the right word here) – but seriously lucky to have had all those people in my life, to the point where this message is not new to me, but wonderful to have so much wisdom piled into such a short video.  We’re all at the mercy of where God places us – what kind of parents we will have is probably the biggest deciding factor on how our lives will turn out.  And yes, I have some “survivors guilt” I think from having such wise, wonderful people for parents.

Anyway… no matter what you’re going through, and this message seems to speak to many things, I hope you find comfort in this video.

Stephanie

 

Puppy Love!!

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Our sweet, mischievous dalmatian (who sometimes drives us insane 😀 ) loves our babies!  I can’t believe how good he is with them, but then again dals have lots of babies of their own as a breed, and the males are actually involved with their pups – they’re good doggie fathers ❤

So he’s gentle and protective with our kids – it’s so cool to watch.

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Sweet face….

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He’s like our gorgeous nanny-dog who helps me watch the kids… kind of like the one from Peter Pan 😀 it’s nice.

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And our sweet baby girl is about to turn 7 months this month!  It’s hard to believe how fast time has flown by.  She just got her ears pierced a couple of days ago, and she looks so beautifully feminine with those little baby earrings ❤

I’m so grateful for all the gifts we’ve been given, surrounded by love and crazy little kids!

Stephanie

Merry Christmas!

One of the things I love about this time of year is the going to parties and seeing friends and family.  We just had our annual Police Dance event, which is very similar in ways to a Military Ball event.

It’s a dance and it’s supposed to be for fun and entertainment, but it’s also very much a work event.  We had actually never gone before, so it was fun to read up on all the military ball etiquette advice.  It was a lot more relaxed, but the etiquette was proved to be useful just as well.

We had so much fun! 😀 ❤

Everyone there was dressed so nice, the food was amazing, and we were able to have a nice night, kid-free, to actually get out and dance.

My husband announced to me that we “have” to do this every year from now on 😀  It’s not mandatory like a lot of the Military Balls are, but still, it was very much a networking event, and a perfect “date night” to boot complete with live bands playing for music!

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My husband is not really a picture-taking person, but man he took a ton of pics and videos that night, a lot of them selfies of us together ❤  Really romantic 🙂

My only jewelry were two pearl and diamond pins in my hair, and of course, his badge necklace.

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When my husband smiles like this, I KNOW something is going right 😀 ❤ ❤ ❤

He was so happy that night.  He doesn’t drink either, and the drinks were all free!  So this was a real, natural high on the joy of the moment ❤

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A better picture of the dress I wore. It’s actually a dress from when I was 16 or 17, but it still fit and I thought it would be gown-appropriate, floor-length attire.

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Everyone’s dresses were so beautiful – I LOVED seeing all the girlfriends and wives dressed up 😀  What a nice way to celebrate together… someone remarked, “We all clean up pretty nice!”  LOL

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Merry Christmas readers!  Hope you all find joy and meaning in the spirit of Christmas this year!

Stephanie

 

Things I Want My Daughter to Know: Keep it Classy

There’s an woman I know who looks, acts, (and even talks!) very much like this beautiful woman in this video.  For some strange reason, she has decided to adopt me over this past year, lol, and taken me under her wing (in advice, elegant home party planning, ettiquite, proper form, entertaining higher ups, etc.), and helps me a lot with running the events I do for our wives organization.  Her level of sophistication and class has truly challenged me to step up the elegance and effort on my part.  Wow was I ever lacking in this area!

Her sweet, beautiful and kind daughter is high school age, and I ADORE watching their relationship. 😀

So I would be remiss to not post this as “something I wish my daughter to know.”

Keep it Classy 😀

Stephanie

Christmas Season Joy!

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A half-done tree 😉  We waited until my husband got home to do the star at the top, which is always down by the youngest in house who is able to walk ❤  Watching my husband pick up our 2nd son and let him put the star on is like winning the lottery.  So. Much. Love.

We got our decorations up last week, it’s been so much fun decorating with the kids and seeing all the ornaments come out again.  I get so much pleasure from just seeing everything again – like seeing old friends… LOL.

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My mom got us this sweet decoration a few years back.  I know Santa is a controversial figure, but I do love the story behind him, the legend if you will.  And I love this decoration because it kind of epitomizes the importance of Jesus’ birth amidst all the craziness of Christmas shopping, Santa visits, or whatnot.  It’s really about this, when it comes down to it.  None of the other stuff matters, and it’s nice to be reminded of that.  We can have all the other joyful stuff, as long as Christ is still the at the center.

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Love lights ❤

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And at night….

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Our famous skyline.

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The top of the building in the center of the above pic, is where my parents bought their chunks of land in the country back in the 80’s.  All the way at the top in the penthouse.

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So cute… 😀

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Our river ❤  There were less lights for some reason this year.  It was still gorgeous and we can’t really complain – but apparently we have new boats that light up the water below them.  LOL

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Our cutie…

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Christmas Candle… I always try to get one every year and light it every night, at least through dinner.  It’s just a simple tradition, and the light is beautiful for the kids (and me) to look at.

LOL our mischievous one!  Wait… they’re both mischievous… oh well!

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Enjoy this season readers!  Please go out and have fun!  Do joyful things… go listen to some carolers, or watch a ballet of the Nutcracker.

Do something to remind yourself of beauty this season!  To recapture how you felt when you were a child.

Go see some glittering, brilliant lights around in your city.  Really look at a well-decorated Christmas tree at a hotel.  Enjoy some wine!  Go out dancing!

Do something this season to bring more joy into your life, please.

Stephanie

 

November Patreon Dr. Peterson

Awwww  I loved this… have had to listen to it over the course of a few days (just so long and with babies there’s no way to actually listen to it all the way through).

 

Things I like and relate to in this video:

-He talks pretty early on about envy, and why it’s just ridiculous to harbor it, and how to maybe help yourself get over it by practicing the biblical concept of being happy for other people when they’re happy or successful.  It’s not the other person’s fault that you’re feeling envy.  You can’t blame another person for “inciting” your own problem within your own heart.  Unless you want to play the victim role all your life, never growing or learning how to move on.  I like how he continuously confronts envy, never letting an envious person feel entitled or blame other people for their sin… reminds me so much of the things my dad said growing up.

One thing that keeps me from ever really feeling envious is that I can see how everyone in this world has had something hard to overcome – even the glamorous movie stars and singers, etc. they all haven’t had it really that “easy.”  When you have compassion for others, you’re less tempted to envy their happiness or success.  Some of the famous people you see, are actually very unhappy.  Even the ones who have found happiness, usually they deserve it because they’ve made choices to create happiness for themselves, and they have things in their past that are horrible and very painful that they’ve learned to overcome.  I don’t know.  I just want to live a quiet life, enjoying relating to people in my sphere of influence, enjoying raising my kids and trying to help others when I can.  No reason for envy… there’s enough happiness to be found for every person, if they’ll just take a look for it.

Neuroticism – he talks a little about this trait.  It is where you’re always questioning yourself, having negative feelings about why you question yourself, and about what you’re doing in or with your life.  It robs your peace if you don’t know how to deal with it.  I’ve always been fairly neurotic – not a true neurosis like a mental illness… but having “neurotic tendencies” of wanting to do the right thing, but at the same time, not even being sure I was.  If you receive praise, you always question if you really deserve it… if you’re really “good enough.”  You tend to believe that you’re never good enough on the regular… it’s my mind’s default setting, which is good and bad depending on the situation.

This is where I’ve found mentors and advisers (real life people I trust) to be amazing help.  They can often point out if I’m seeing something off, or if I’m actually right in my assessment of a situation or an idea that seems so wrong or even evil.  I’ve had to work pretty hard mentally to overcome the constant questioning of neuroticism, though, which is ok… it really does keep me from being over-confident, while still teaching me to remain confident enough in my ability to assess things so that I’m not bent by every whim or wave of theological deception.  And to have enough confidence to keep my own personal convictions –  no matter who in real life (or here) comes and tries to challenge me on that.  Ironically, not being so sure of myself has opened the doors to many wonderful older women taking me under their wing in real life ❤ which has honestly been incredible.  Something good from having neurotic (negative) traits lol.

My dad understood how and why I was a little neurotic.  He seemed to adore it and would assure me it was much better to always question yourself, than to have a character disorder.  He also would assure me that I didn’t truly have what was a neurosis (a real mental illness).  I think when you’re growing up hearing your dad talk about all kinds of psychological disorders and things, it’s easy to try to self-diagnose.  But he was keen on what I was always thinking, and helped me avoid doing that to myself.  Character disorders were extremely scary to me – the way they’d affect a person and the person wouldn’t even be able to tell.  When you have a character disorder, you tend to always feel sure of yourself – never questioning if you did the right thing, never seeking out advice that may make you feel guilty.  Neurotics are terrified of getting it wrong.  Sometimes that’s a good thing.  It can make you into an over-achiever.

On being neurotic and seeking out advice – the Bible tells us many times to seek out wise advice, and it is one of the reasons why I think I’ve been able to withstand entire communities with thousands of women hating me and attacking my husband and I, without cringing in fear and folding up shop, being intimidated by their hatred and slander and attacks and threats through these years.  I don’t talk about it here usually, because it’s such an ugly topic, and this blog is intended to be on more positive things.

I’ve seen these women gang up and happily destroy a woman’s book and reputation publicly online just because they hated her and hated her blog.  I’ve seen Christian women defend this ugly behavior toward another sister in Christ, and try to guilt trip the Christian woman being attacked and slandered into just accepting it, because accepting defamation and damaged book sales was “the Christian thing to do.”  I’ve even seen from a Christian woman who used to comment here, that she actually wished harm – real harm – would come to this blogger just because of what she writes so that maybe she’d be scared enough to stop.  That woman is the wife of a pastor.  Let that one sink in.

Anyway, on intimidation… my husband knows intimately that he holds the keys to this blog, and if he ever wants me to shut it down, I’d obey in a heartbeat.  I’ve asked him many times if he wanted me to stop or if it ever bothers him, and he always laughs and says no.  But!  If I ever disappear here suddenly, it will be because he’s asked me to ❤

Moving on….

-He talks about how to help a marriage that has lost its attraction, but wants to stay together.  Superb advice 🙂 and very kind to them.  He doesn’t doom it to failure, which I love (being an optimist myself and kind of wanting to see everyone get married… or be happy… which I know is naive, sorry).

-Dr. Peterson advises a paranoid schizophrenic young man 😥  on how to go about dating.  I really appreciate Dr. Peterson’s thoughts for this young man.  Ugh….

He advises someone thinking about going into Police work.   I totally understand that poor person’s hesitation.  This may be where I disagree with Dr. Peterson (for the first time, imagine that!).  I DO think it’s much worse for police officers in this culture, but then again I didn’t live through what he saw in the 60’s.  My dad ironically DID say exactly what Dr. Peterson was saying a couple of years ago in trying to talk to me about it.  If I remember right, my dad told me these things come and go.  Maybe they’re right.  Maybe it will “get better.”  For all my optimism, something tells me deep down that it’s not going to get better, but hopefully I’m wrong.

All I know is it is very hard.  It is very hard to watch what my husband goes through.  It’s hard to understand the depth of uncaring “sheeplike” people out there who have no idea what they’re talking about – regarding evil people and justice, etc.  It is just super hard.  Being the wife behind the badge has it’s own set of issues to deal with – none that I really talk about much here.

Just this past weekend, a sweet male cousin of my husband’s made the mistake of talking to me and mentioning his goal of joining my husband’s department.  It’s really hard for me to see such good men go into a profession where they’re going to be so hated, and possibly murdered simply for trying to do good.  He brought up how hard it must be, and I felt tears coming – IN PUBLIC of all things.  Ugh so embarrassing and I felt sorry that he had to witness me breakdown.  98% of my energy is spent on composure in public when police issues are talked about, I’m really lucky not very many people catch me off guard by actually asking how I am doing with it all.  I’m usually very good at keeping composure, but his kindness was just so real, that it touched something in me deeply and it brought out some tears – that someone actually cared.  So many constantly show that they don’t.  I’ve found it’s very rare to feel that kind of kindness from someone.  Most people want to hate, want to criticize, want to look for something negative, so that level of kindness really touches me emotionally… unfortunately.  :/

I think marriage is much harder for a police family, but also (I think anyway) a lot better BECAUSE of having to overcome such things.  I like it… but I also consciously try to make myself like it (instead of hate it, or feel like a victim, which would be very easy to fall into), but I wouldn’t trade it for the world even with all the hardships.  It’s been a blessing overall.

He talks about the dangers of giving out advice without helping someone think it through or fully understanding the issues they may be dealing with.  Reminds me of the verse saying that the person who speaks without listening first, there’s greater hope for a Fool than for them.  Without first listening to where they’re coming from, you don’t know if your advice will do more harm than good – going on then is a sign of a major pride issue in the advice giver’s heart.

There’s a lot more in the video… but I don’t have the time right now to write it all out 🙂 Enjoy it if you watch it!  Hope you get something from this stuff, he’s really good (and very hated).

Stephanie

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Just wanted to post some pretty pictures and wish my readers a Happy Thanksgiving!  We’ve been pretty busy… lots of baking, decorating, and going to the park nearby to see lights each night!  And just dwelling on the gratitude of all our blessings.

I love this time of year.  I actually enjoy the wildness of it all.

Today we had some of my older son’s friends come over – the house was full of boys running around like crazy 😀 playing loud music in our “music station” of our game room, being silly and dancing around the house ❤

I baked cookies and set the boys all up to decorate some to take home when they got picked up.

It was SO. MUCH. FUN. ❤

I don’t think I’m ever happier than when our house is full of people – or kids – especially crazy boys 🙂  Makes my heart warm seeing them have so much fun.

 

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It’s been so beautiful here lately, and with perfect weather – and just cold enough at night to warrant hot chocolate drinks!  😀

Same scene as above, but this is what we’ve been seeing every night we’ve been able to go:

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The Christmas trees are suspended above a lake to look like they’re floating on top of the water.  Just amazing to see in person!  I tried to get a good pic.

So romantic, and so magical ❤

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Like a winter wonderland. 😀

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I love this time of year… focusing on what we’re thankful for, seeing family and friends and lots and lots of cooking and baking!  It’s hard to imagine a happier time ❤

Hope all you readers have a happy Thanksgiving!

Pearls & Lace

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So… I have a ton of jewelry, mostly gifts from childhood, that I just never ever ever wear!  LOL… I am having so much fun giving our daughter all of my jewelry.  Even if she doesn’t want to wear it when she’s older, she can always keep it and pass it down if she wants.

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Her birthstone is pearl.  And I happen to have a few strands of real, precious pearls.  Yes, I know you have to be sensitive with them!  Baby drool is not something they’d take well to I’m sure, but it was fun anyway 😀

She also will have earrings passed down to her in every shade of pearl, thanks to my Momma ❤

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And for adorable Bloopers …. 😀

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What’s this?

Baby belly button!!!

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