Nov 302009
 

Hey everybody, sorry this post is a going up so late in the day. I had another successful shoot this afternoon, and I got a little caught up in editing the pictures.

So, here is what I am sending one lucky lady!

No, it’s not just a pair of socks! They’re wearable foot warmers!

No, that’s not just another word for socks.

Seriously, they are kinda my thing this year, and anyone still on my very short Christmas list will probably be getting a pair. Each sock is doubled layered and filled with rice. Microwave them for 45 seconds and they will stay warm for awhile!

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For those of you without blogs, feel free to send me descriptions and/or photos of your Make Merry efforts.

This is what M.J. Martin’s lucky recipient will receive!

Jami Regan decorated these adorable frames!

And Becky Campbell made these three mixes…

1 canister of Pepperminty Hot Cocoa Mix w/recipe & instructions attached!
1 canister of My Favorite Pancake Mix w/recipe & instructions attached!!
1 tub of Mornin’ Sunshine Syrup mix w/recipe & instructions attached!!!

Did you blog about what you made?

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 November 30, 2009  Uncategorized Comments Off
Nov 302009
 

Today was ridiculously awesome. In fact, God blessed us today in ways that some people might keep to themselves for fear of appearing needy. But I think we all know that I am not one of those people.

Last night I went to bed with what I thought was going to be a bad stomach bug. Because of that, I slept in this morning; but when I woke up at nine-thirty I felt just fine. It was too late to make it to church, so I started cleaning the house in preparation for a family photo shoot (that I was doing as a favor for a friend) later in the day.

Papa Bear got a call for some handy-man work, which kinda irked me because his brother and sis-in-law were going to be stopping through and I didn’t want to handle the photo shoot, control the kids and clean the house by myself. Plus, it was a Sunday. Of course, we both agreed that he couldn’t be turning down work; so, he headed out.

After goofing off and reading blogs, I decided there wasn’t enough time to clean the house.

Ahem.

Instead, I stuffed everything that wasn’t nailed down a few remaing things in my bedroom (Eek, I still need to do something about that!).

Then I sat up my little studio.

And the boys helped me test the lighting.

At some point I checked my e-mail and found that Dad had sent me money via PayPal, just ’cause!

My girlfriend arrived with her husband, sixteen month old son and brand new baby boy, and we had a blast shooting for about an hour. When it was time to say goodbye, this handsome man gave me way too much money for what was supposed to be a free sitting.

About the time they left, Papa Bear showed up. “Oh, I have to go pick up some food!” he said as he turned around and headed back out the door. He showed up ten minutes later with steak, turkey, ham, bread, milk and pie that a friend of a friend had begged us to take (his family had left town leaving him with leftovers – remember how I wanted leftovers?!). Papa Bear said it was hilarious, he kept trying to thank the guy, but the guy kept thanking him instead, “I am so glad you can use it; I didn’t want to throw it out!” What a blessing!

Papa Bear’s older brother, his wife and their three beautiful girls made it into town around four o’clock. We had a great visit and the kids enjoyed showing them around our new place. They asked me how I liked living here, and I said, “I love it! But it’s a lot more room…to heat.” In the course of conversation, we spent about fifteen minutes bragging on our wonderful landlord, and then I checked my e-mail to find this…

Hi Sarah, hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving and a great weekend! I know that we have a lot to be thankful for! I was just thinking about that extra $50 that you owe. Before you add that to the Dec. rent, If you do not mind, I would like to have you all just forget it. Maybe you could put that towards your Dec. electric bill.

Are you kidding me?!? What a stinkin’ great day!!

Tomorrow is going to be awesome too because it’s the Make Merry Swap Roundup! I can’t wait to see what you made!!

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 November 30, 2009  Uncategorized Comments Off
Nov 292009
 

Wow, Thanksgiving is over! That, of course, means that Christmas is almost here. Are you ready? With Papa Bear’s layoff we’ve decided to cancel the present aspect of Christmas (except for the Make Merry Swap, of course!), and I have to say I’m a little relieved. Don’t worry, the kids will get a few things from grandparents, and I’ve promised them lots of cookies and cider and camping out on the living room floor under a beautiful (albeit fake) tree. Yes, I know, we live in the mountains and we have a fake tree. This is pretty much the only thing I have ever won about in my marriage. I’ll have to tell you the story sometime this season.

Did you go away for Thanksgiving this year, or did you stay home and host? For the past few years I have planned and planned and then felt a little gypped when the whole thing was over so fast. But not this year. This year I didn’t plan. Seriously. No post-it notes. No recipes. Nada. That doesn’t mean that planning wasn’t done, it just means it wasn’t done by me. Ha.

But we still ate like kings (even though I can only take credit for the turkey and the pumpkin pies). And I still don’t have pictures (apparently I do not like taking pictures of people stuffing their faces). The leftovers are already gone though, which kinda makes me wish I had planned.

We had a good Thanksgiving. And that’s really saying something considering we crammed my entire family in our living room and kitchen and then managed to cover every controversial topic known to man (we’re a fun, fun crowd).

I think my highlight of the day happened just as the tryptophan was mixing with the red wine. My brother’s shoes were off and sis-in-law was having none of his toe-picking ritual. I was proofing the contest post, and my dad was rocking in our recliner, scheming his next move in an attempt to take sarcasm to heights never before reached by mankind.

“What’s their last name?” he said.

“Vowell,” I answered.

“Bowel?”

“No,” I slowed, “V-o-well.”

“Oh, cool. I would have named my kids a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes v and w.”

V and W?!?” we erupted.

“I mean Y and W,” he corrected.

“No, just Y,” the younger generation laughed and mocked.

“What do you want to bet?” he said.

“An enormous, steaming pile of pride,” I answered without a moment of hesitation.

Just then my mom (an elementary teacher and trained phonetics expert) came walking down the stairs (unlike the rest of us, she maintains her energy level and is apparently tryptophan resistant).

“Honey, aren’t Y and W used as vowels?”

“Just Y, she answered, but I have heard of that before with W.”

“Mom, don’t encourage him!” we protested.

Then, I Googled “W as a vowel”. I was immediately concerned when Google filled in my search for me, but I pressed on. After all, there was a looming amount of pride at risk.

Today, I’m a little short on pride. And I’m pretty sure my dad will be gloating for many Thanksgivings to come. Because, according to the Grammar Girl…

“…though its not mentioned as often as “y.” Both of these letters are consonants only at the beginning of a syllable. Let “w” sneak inside a syllable and become part of a diphthong (more on that later), and it becomes a vowel.”

Darn.

Tonight we polished off the rest of the turkey in a wonderful soup that my mom made last night (she left today). She did most of the cooking while she was here while I lay around doing nothing and completely taking advantage of her presence. Actually, the only thing I cooked or baked today was a pan of cornbread to go with the soup. And I was too lazy to even look up a recipe (which was actually for the best because my guess-ipe turned out much better than the last corn bread I made).

I’m working on another post, but I didn’t want you all to think we had skipped Thanksgiving! I hope yours was wonderful too (and I hope you still have leftovers).

By the way, Merry Christmas!

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 November 29, 2009  Family Life Comments Off
Nov 282009
 

Did you notice that our page views just passed 100,000?! I didn’t even put up the counter until I was within a few thousand hits. And, truthfully, I only added the counter because I was going to offer a prize to the person landing closest to that mark. But then Thanksgiving happened, and apparently I blinked, because the opportunity has come and gone. But 100,000 hits in ten months makes me feel pretty special. Thanks for reading, y’all! For the record, I am officially offering a prize to whomever lands on 200,000!:)

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Someone, please, give Stormy a little competition this month!! You have two more days to enter!! We’re off for December so your link will be up for a month.

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Yes, you have until December 23rd to give to Compassion International and enter to win a stay in Red River, NM. But, please do not wait until then! The earlier you enter, the more money we can raise, and we’re offering a few early bird incentives as well.

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I’m feeling a little inspired and a little more tired. I’ll be back later with something more closely resembling a blog post.

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 November 28, 2009  Blogging & Writing Comments Off
Nov 282009
 

The most common thing that acquaintances and strangers say to me is, “You are so patient!” Note that this is being said by, ummm, people who do not fully know me yet. Apparently, I appear to be a very patient person. Actually, if you Google “the appearance of patience,” you might just find me there.

I am not a hot-tempered person. No, wait, that’s exactly what I am. Let’s just say that I am a redeemed hot-temper. My ancestry is largely German and Irish (sometimes I think I am self-combustible). But my main goal for my spiritual life, and thus for my life as a whole, is to gain complete control over my tongue.

Proverbs 10:19 When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.

2 Samuel 23:2 The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me; his word was on my tongue.

Psalm 34:13 keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.

Psalm 35:28 My tongue will speak of your righteousness and of your praises all day long.

Psalm 39:1 I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth as long as the wicked are in my presence.

Proverbs 10:20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value.

Proverbs 12:18 Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Philippians 2:14-15 Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.

I made this my primary battle about two years ago. And although I have come a long way in that time, I am nowhere near where I want to be. However, the Lord has been teaching me something that I’m finding to be an invaluable tool.

I can give Him my anger in the middle of a sentence. I can give Him my anger after I’ve already started to mess up.

Sometime last week, I was sitting on the couch nursing Baby Bear (I have the sneaking suspicion that I have started quite a few paragraphs this way). I had a large bag of Epsom Salt sitting out because I’m trying to get around to making bath salts for Christmas. Honestly, I don’t think that my brain has been running at full-speed these last couple of weeks. I’m stressed, stretched, and I feel like I’m continually hovering between health and illness (mostly due to the weather). I’m just telling you this because I’m almost positive I was looking directly at my children. But what I was seeing and what was actually happening didn’t connect until I heard, “Uh oh!” And I looked to see a large pile of Epsom Salt on the floor. It seems that being snatched too soon from an outer space adventure is much like being woken from a heavy sleep. At that first moment of I’m-awake-I-just-wandered-off-for-a-bit! consciousness (a few seconds before full lucidity), I’m not sure I could fathom anything worse than a pile of Epsom Salt on the living room floor.

“Lil Prince, what were…”

I could feel the tension rising as my shoulders grew stiff and threatened to crawl up over my head. The headache I had squinted past all day pushed through to the center of my focus. Many [unfortunately] times before, this scenario has climaxed with a harsh voice and a rude (or at the very least, unthoughtful) tongue (or what I refer to as “losing it”), but I’m growing stronger.

And with an audible exhale that I know God was there to receive, I stopped mid-sentence and said, “Oh, honey, that’s alright. Let’s clean it up, OK.” And let me just tell you, the wrath that was turned away by that gentle answer was visible. If I were to say that Wrath doubled in pain and then ran down my stairs, slamming the front door as he left, I would only be slightly exaggerating.

I’m telling you this, because even though it is embarrassing to admit that after spending the majority of my life with the Lord I am still fighting a battle with my tongue (and inner dialogue), the victory I am gaining is share-worthy.

I believe there is a phenomenon that happens when one first begins to sin. In reality, we are being blindfolded and then physically lowered into a vat of warm and rancid waste; but there is something in our human, fleshly nature that feels at home there and begins to sink slowly and wilfully down. Once Satan has had his way with us, our eyes are opened to the filth that thickly coats our skin. At that moment, we have the choice of running through the cleansing Blood like a child through a sprinkler on a hot summer day, or letting guilt lead us to despair until we sink further in and nearly drown.

But what about just jumping out of the vat, pre-submersion, instead?

I suppose this lesson is obvious when looked at through the lens of big sins. But what about eating the whole pie, snapping at your children (which is inevitable after eating a whole pie), or neglecting God for the sake of entertainment? I believe it is in the minor things that we most readily allow Satan to use us, and about which we are the most blind.

But did you know that God has given us power, not only over the enemy but over our own flesh as well? And, once again, I’m telling myself what God first told me to tell my kids…

God says you can control yourself. Ask Jesus to give you self-control. And then learn to use it.

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 November 28, 2009  Christianity, Mommyhood Comments Off
Nov 262009
 

Last Christmas I told the Lord that I wanted to get Him something He wanted for His birthday. Of course, it didn’t take a sky writing stunt plane to tell me that…

I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.

I already knew what He wanted.

Over the course of the next year (the last eleven months) I have become especially impressed by Compassion International and the work they do…

feeding Jesus

clothing Jesus

and caring for Jesus

I knew I wanted to help.

Eighty-percent of Compassion‘s expenditures are mission based (meaning that less than 20% of what they raise is being used to fund overhead). This phenomenal accountability is probably what has focused my attention, and my affection, on the ministry of Compassion.

Because I want to help the least of these too.

I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.

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Today, as you fill your plate with a second helping of turkey, or slice off one more piece of pie, I would like you to do me a favor. Look around at your friends and family and imagine them…

cold

dirty

thirsty

starving

And imagine that someone has the power to change that.

Because someone does.

Christmas is the time we celebrate Jesus’ birthday. I truly think it’s time that we give Him what He wants.

I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.

And He’s already told us what He wants.

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So, get your checkbooks and debit cards ready…

No, seriously, get them out.

Because, here at Kingdom Twindom (snugly headquartered in Red River, NM) we’re giving you an extra reason to give to Compassion International this Christmas!!

We’re giving away…

(drum roll please!)

A pizza night with Kingdom Twindom!!!

What? That’s not a real prize?

Hmmm…

Well, you do know that we live here, right?

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What if I told you that our incredible sponsors, the Golden Eagle Lodge in Red River, NM will be putting you (and your party of six) up for free


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For three nights!?!

Here!

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And what if I told you that you could eat a stuffed sopapilla and drink an agave wine margarita courtesy of the best New Mexican restaurant in the world!?

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Oh, and you’d be here!

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And what if I also told you that you’d be dining on the most perfectly prepared tuna steak and baked brie this side of heaven (yeah, I’ll admit it, I’m hoping we’ll be eating in heaven)?

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All the while hanging out here.

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Oh, and of course you’re invited to our house for pizza too.

To enter, simply donate to Compassion International * and come back here and tell us about it (please do not mention the amount of your donation).

*Whether you support Compassion monthly, or this is your first experience with them, we ask that you make a special donation as your entry into this contest. We’re leaving the amount of that donation entirely up to you.

For a second entry, blog about our contest and place the contest button (check our right-hand sidebar) on your page (if you do not have a blog, skip to the third entry).

For a third entry, please either e-mail (cc me @ sarah.valente@yahoo.com), post to Facebook or Tweet (@Kingdommama) about this contest (please choose the method by which you can reach the most people).

And, if you earned a bonus entry before the start of the contest, please mention it in your comment!

Enter early!! We will draw one name each week (December 3rd, 10th , and 17th) for bounus entries and other prizes!

The winner’s name will be drawn (by the Mayor of Red River, NM) on December 23rd.

One lucky blessed person will win…

A three night stay* at the Golden Eagle Lodge in Red River, NM

*Spend three nights, summer 2010, in a two bedroom apartment with a full kitchen.

Fire Mountain Gourmet Coffee (provided in room)

A $50 gift certificate to Sundance Mexican Restaurant

A $50 gift certificate to The Timbers Restaurant

A free mountain photo sitting with Kingdom Mama

Oh, and a pizza party with Kingdom Twindom!!

The winner will be announced on Christmas Eve!

**The Red River, NM: The Small Town with a BIG Heart mini-vacation package is valued at over $700!! In the current economy, this is an opportunity to give a fantastic Christmas present to yourself or to someone you love! So, regardless of your location, do not miss the opportunity to give to Compassion and enter!!**

It’s SO easy. Just click here!

Red River, NM is conveniently located within a five hour drive of Amarillo, TX (four hours north of Albuquerque, NM). Stop through and see us sometime; it is well worth the drive!

Sample Entry

(Click to enlarge.)

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Give.

Enter.

Win!

Special thanks to Jerry and Marla Vowell of The Golden Eagle, Tim and Dondi Coon of The Timbers, John and Linda Hoag of Sundance Mexican Restaurant, and Mayor Linda Calhoun of Red River, NM: The Small Town with a BIG Heart.

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 November 26, 2009  Uncategorized Comments Off
Nov 262009
 

My entire family is in town (minus my sweet nephew and my adorable niece who are with their mom – divorce stinks). And we decided to brave the cold for some so-worth-it New Mexican food at our favorite family restaurant (I can’t believe I left the camera at home).

While we were there, I paraded my foursome through the crowded restaurant for two potty breaks.

One for number one and one for number two!

The second pilgrimage was toward the end of the meal, and they were starting to rebel let their hair down a bit. Cuddle Bug hit the bathroom door full force before realizing it was locked. “Oh, I hate it when that happens!” she exclaimed.

Hmmm…I wonder where she learned that phrase? Bummer.

A very tall, gorgeous, rail-thin woman emerged from the restroom and was instantly captivated by my children.

“Oh, you are all so precious!” she gushed.

“Mama, I like her,” Tiny Dancer responded.

“I know,” I said. “Because she’s so nice.”

“Yeah,” she giggled furiously and then forcefully proclaimed, “And because she’s huge!”

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 November 26, 2009  Things Kids Say Comments Off
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