Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011!

Another year gone by -- very quickly, of course -- as LittleBear is now a walking, reasonably fluent two-and-a-half-year-old. (Compare the picture below to his first Christmas in 2009 and last Christmas.)

As we did last year, rather than a traditional Christmas letter, we invite you to look back through our blog from the last year and enjoy (perhaps for the second time) a taste of what life has been like at our house over the past year. If you don't want to read the whole blog (and I don't blame you), here are some of the highlights:
You may notice that Jeff didn't blog as much on this site this year... That's because he was busy blogging away at his day job, helping save the Big 12 and win a Heisman for Baylor (among other things). He also lucked into writing two of Baylor Magazine's four cover stories this year (here and here).

We hope you enjoy the blog, and of course you call follow all three of us on Twitter (@equusbeth, @astrosjeff and @LittleBearB) or find Bethany and Jeff on Facebook. If we haven't heard from you in awhile, drop us a line! We'd love to hear what you've been up to in 2011.

Until then, we wish you a blessed Christmas season and a happy new year!

(As luck would have it, we had an extraordinarily good photo shoot [thanks Robbie!]. You can see more of our Baylor/Christmas photos here. Sic 'em!)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Just For Fun: The Basket Hoop

LittleBear's favorite new sport is basketball. If you ask him, he will tell you all about the "Baylor Basket team," he will ask you to take him to a "Baylor Basket Game" and he will talk all about the "Basket Hoop" and the "Net." It's a good thing that this transition from a love of football to a love of basketball is coinciding nicely with the transition of football to basketball season.

Here he is playing with a "basket hoop" that we found while waiting for our Dr. Enjoy:

And here is his first dunk:

He's so cute!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas At Baylor & Starting Week 2 of Advent

This week has been a fun week of celebrating Christmas and we have Baylor to thank for a lot of it. Thursday night we attended "Christmas on Fifth Street" which is one of my favorite Baylor traditions. The university hosts a campus wide celebration of Christmas which includes a live nativity, horse & carriage rides, a handbell choir, petting zoo, decorated Christmas trees in the SUB, pictures with Santa and this year family Christmas photos (courtesy of Kathryn Krueger Photography).

Tonight we parked outside Pat Neff Hall on campus and listened to a carillon concert of Christmas music given by Lynnette Geary, the university's Carilloneur while eating our dinner. We really enjoyed it, LittleBear especially.

Thanks Baylor for helping make week 1 of Advent particularly festive!

We've been adding more ornaments to our Jesse tree too every day. LittleBear is getting really into it!
Today we start the second week of Advent, the week called Love. We lit the two purple candles on our advent wreath and thanked God for making a way for us to live with peace, hope and joy despite man's sin.

The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way”—
3 “a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”
Mark 1: 1-3

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: November 28, 29 & 30th

Monday we painted glue line pumpkins with watercolors, which LittleBear really seemed to enjoy. I was thankful this day for the joy that comes out in LittleBear giggles. When he laughs and his whole face lights up, you can't help but smile :)

Yesterday I was particularly thankful for the patience God has with me in that He doesn't give up on me when I make a mistake or get frustrated with me when I act like a two year old (hmm, I wonder what inspired that thought of thankfulness...). We decided to go on a walk and experience the lovely fall weather here. LittleBear loved looking at leaves and collecting much so that his pockets were bursting at the seams when we got home.
This evening (one day late) we started our Jesse tree. A seemingly dead stump with a shoot coming out of it to symbolize Jesus being born a baby from the line of Jesse and the earth to symbolize God's creation.
Today, the last day of November, I am thankful for the compassionate love that God felt for us all when He decided to send Jesus to earth to rescue us from the darkness caused by the evil one. I hope you all see evidence of that compassionate love this coming Advent season.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: November 27, 2011

Happy first day of Advent!!

I LOVE the time of transition from Thanksgiving Day to the start of Advent/the Christmas season. There is so much to be thankful for this time of year and my hope is that we'll be able to keep up the attitude of thankfulness beyond this season and into next year!
Today we put up our Christmas tree, brought out our nativity sets and hung our bows and greenery in celebration of the joyous month before us. LittleBear even helped!
Today, we also lit the first candle (aka turned on the first tealight) on our advent wreath, which ties in nicely to my point of thankfulness for today. I am thankful for the hope I have found in Jesus. I know without it, my life would be very, very different and I am so, so thankful. I don't want to imagine where I would be today without it.

The first candle of Advent is a purple candle called the candle of Hope. It stands for Jesus Christ coming as our Hope and the Light of the world. "We who have sat in darkness have seen a great light, the light of Jesus Christ, our salvation" (quoted from our Advent wreath readings).

"2 See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the LORD rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
3 Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn. "
Isaiah 60:2-3

What are you thankful for today?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: November 25 & 26, 2011

I am extremely thankful that the Lord kept our home and kitty safe and sound while we were gone and also brought us safely to and from visiting with family.

I am also so thankful for the rain we received today! We SO needed it!

Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of our two activities because we were in the car driving to visit family. LittleBear worked on his clothespin clip and count. He also worked on a paper-doll type Mr. Potato Head turkey, which he really enjoyed. The thing we all enjoyed most was spending time with our Texas family!!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: November 24, 2011

This song ("We Give Thanks" by Caedmon's Call) sums up my thoughts today. Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!!!!

PS- I am thankful for all of you who have stuck with me and are still reading...I know there's at least six of you and I appreciate you taking time each day to check in!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: November 22 & 23, 2011

After LittleBear's nap yesterday, he crawled up in my lap and snuggled up until he fell asleep. How could I not be thankful for that? LittleBear is usually running all over the place, so for him to want to spend some snuggle time with Momma was special to me and I am very thankful for those minutes anytime they happen :)

Today we get to visit with our dear friends the Stocktons, and I could not be more thankful for them. I am so excited to see them!!!!

Yesterday try as I might, I could not convince LittleBear to do anything Thanksgiving related except more stickers on foam turkeys, so we did that...again. This time he enjoyed making the turkey dance...
Today he was a bit more adventurous and we made a Mayflower handprint painting (see the top of this post for the finished product). He loved painting!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: November 21, 2011

Today I am so, so thankful for the fact that our frig/freezer are full and we have a wide variety of food choices for each meal. So many around the world do not and I know that we are richly blessed.
This evening we stuck more stickers on foam turkeys, but this time our stickers were "Apple Picking" themed instead of "Fall." Here they are below, you may be able to guess whose turkey was whose :)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: November 19 & 20, 2011

Forgive me for not posting yesterday, we were at a parenting conference all day and then had the Baylor vs. Oklahoma football game last night.

Yesterday I was particularly thankful for God's grace. At the parenting conference, I learned all sorts of things that will help us raise LittleBear. I'm thankful that while I have not been doing many of these things in his first 2.5 years of life, God says, "It's ok, just do your best from here on out." God never sees me as a lost cause and for that I am thankful!

Today I am most thankful that I am free to worship God as I choose and can go to church without persecution. I know many around the world do not have that freedom and I do not ever want to take it for granted.
For our Thanksgiving activities, we finally colored the squirrel picture and we also made beaded Indian corn. Daddy did a great job with his!

Friday, November 18, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: November 18, 2011

Jeff and I are attending a parenting conference this weekend at our church so please forgive the lateness of this post and lack of pictures. I am so thankful for the church we have here in Waco. Anyone and everyone is welcome and they are truly passionate about sharing the love of Jesus and fulfilling His purposes on the earth. I have learned so much since joining and love being a part of this great group of folks.

LittleBear and I were not able to get to our Thanksgiving activity (bad me). I will try to make up for it tomorrow or at the latest on Sunday.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: November 17, 2011

Today I am very thankful that my garden is still going and producing! Every week, I'm getting more green beans, cherry tomatoes and bell peppers. YUM!

This morning we played with stickers and foam turkeys. LittleBear loved sticking the stickers on and seemed to really enjoy it!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: November 16, 2011

Today, I am thankful for BSF (Bible Study Fellowship), which is an international, non-denominational Bible study I attend every Wednesday morning (they also have evening classes). Growing up, my mom was a BSF leader and after years of watching her pour her heart and soul into her "lessons," I finally decided to try it last year as they were starting a study of the book of Isaiah. I loved it so much, I'm back this year studying Acts. I have learned so, so much and I am so grateful to my mom for her example and urging me to give it a try. Not only am I learning a ton and making new friends in the process, but LittleBear loves it and is learning a ton, as well.
Today, we "played" with LittleBear's pilgrim hat. Meaning he wore it for about 5 seconds and then was done...oh well.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: November 15, 2011

Today I am very thankful for our kitty, Orbit. We have had him for about six years now and is very much a member of the family. Every night, he sleeps in his bed at my feet and he always wants to be in the same room with us. When I was in labor with LittleBear, he spent every second by my side while I was at home. He greets us every time we walk in the door and cuddles with us when we are sick. I am so glad we have him in our family!

Today, LittleBear was supposed to color a picture of a squirrel with a huge pile of acorns, but he refused multiple times to do it...Oh well.

Monday, November 14, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: November 14, 2011

Today I am so thankful for the little gifts God gives us each day. My example today is as follows: This past weekend I sat down and planned what Christmas activities we would be doing for the month of December and in talking about symbols of Christmas, I planned that we would be talking about bells on December 16th. We all know that LittleBear LOVES the bells of Pat Neff Hall on Baylor campus and I learned today that there is a Christmas recital honoring Baylor's December graduates at 5:00pm on December 16th. Some might say that is just coincidence, but I know it was a gift and I am thankful for it. LittleBear will be so happy!

Today, we made some toilet paper roll turkeys. Everyone selected what size googly eyes they wanted and we had a fun time putting them together. Daddy even tried them on for size!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: November 13, 2011

Jeff taking a turn on the "30 Days of Thanks" today... I'm thankful for little things that remind us of how things change -- and how they stay the same.

For instance, the two videos below. The first is of LittleBear at about six months, playing with his first-ever Christmas present, a Busy Ball Popper. The second is of LittleBear just a few days ago, now almost 2 1/2, playing with the same toy.

I'm thankful for the technology that allows us to relive such events. I'm thankful for little boys who grow up and learn so much. And I'm thankful for little boys who can still enjoy things of childhood even as they grow.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: November 12, 2011

Today, I am thankful for the gift of music and for the fact that I can hear it. I love music. I love listening to it, I love playing and singing and I love that I can almost always find a song that speaks to me in whatever mood I am in.

LittleBear and Daddy worked on Thanksgiving necklaces using a kit I found on clearance at Michaels. LittleBear's became a pumpkin necklace and Daddy's ended up being a turkey necklace.

Friday, November 11, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: November 11, 2011

Today (like many others) I am so, so thankful to the courageous men and women who have joined our armed forces and done what they could to protect our great country. I am so thankful for their dedication, sacrifice and selflessness. They are truly heroes and I wish we could do more to show our appreciation to them.

LittleBear and I reviewed our colors this morning by matching up different colors of pilgrim hats and color words together (from the Thanksgiving Tot Kit). He got all of them on the first try and definitely knows his colors. We've started talking about gold, silver and bronze lately too, which is a bit tougher.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: November 10, 2011

I am so, so very thankful for the wonderful house that we live in. When we moved to TX from PA, we had a weekend to find a house and we really wanted it to be the house we would live in for a really long time. After looking at 38 houses in one weekend (we LOVE our realtor, Nancy Evans Hutto...seriously, she's like family. If you are ever looking to move to Waco, you. have. to. use. her. She is phenomenal!), we narrowed it down to two very different houses at complete opposite ends of town. After much prayer, we decided on the one where we currently are and I have been so thankful ever since. It's the perfect size, layout and has an amazing backyard. I am so thankful for this house which has become our home!!!

Today, LittleBear and I had fun playing with these gel clings that I found at JoAnn Fabrics for 70% off. He enjoys playing with gel clings and I thought this would be a fun and different activity. He really did enjoy it!

30 Days of Thanks: November 9, 2011

Apparently, I am not one of those people who can blog every day...I'm ok with that.

I already mentioned that I am thankful for my Baylor U. college years, but I want to mention my graduate school years as another thing I am thankful for. While a portion of the two years I spent in graduate school at the University of Florida was really tough personally, I grew a lot and learned a ton about life. I made an amazing friend who is one of my dearest sisters to this day and did something I never thought I could do...write a thesis. I learned so many life lessons in those two years and I am thankful.

Yesterday, LittleBear did some simple Thanksgiving puzzles (see above)...I think the pumpkin and the turkeys were his favorite :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: November 8, 2011

I am so, so thankful for a group that is my family in Waco, aka my Lifegroup (some of the lovely ladies of Lifegroup are in the picture above). We meet on a regular basis to encourage one another and grow together, and they truly are like family. They are all very special to me and I love that LittleBear is growing up with these folks around him.

The three of us field trip to Target and let LittleBear choose a toy for Baylor and Aramark's Santa's Workshop program. They are collecting new, unwrapped toys $10 & under for three, four and five year olds in Waco. LittleBear had fun roaming the aisles and ultimately decided on a pack of ten Hot Wheels.

What is something you are thankful for today?

Monday, November 7, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: November 7, 2011

Today I am super thankful for the rain which we received. After experiencing the driest summer ever, I no longer complain when it rains. Instead we throw open the doors and windows and listen to it. I see the garden perk up after every rain and love how green everything gets when it has rained. My first year as a gardener has definitely changed my perspective on rain!

Today we colored Cornucopia pages from this free Thanksgiving Tot Pack which I found via Pinterest, then we hung them on our wall. Everyone enjoyed it!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: November 6, 2011

I think most of us have had jobs we have enjoyed and jobs that haven't worked out quite so well. Today I am so, so thankful for our jobs. I have had the privilege of working for the same company in different capacities for 8 years and while now I am only part time, I am still very thankful for my job. It is flexible and lets me stay home with LittleBear, but still provides some extra income. I could not ask for anything better! I am also very thankful for Jeff's job at Baylor. Not only does he enjoy it, which is great, but we also stay connected with the university and enjoy LOTS of benefits including sporting events, special speakers, concerts, plays and more! We love being part of the Baylor community and are so thankful!

We helped LittleBear with an Autumn Fall Tree kit that I found in the dollar section of Target while we listened to songs about being thankful. We unpeeled the leaves and LittleBear stuck them on. We then let him decide where the tree would live in the house. He seemed to really enjoy it!

30 Days of Thanks: November 5, 2011

Since this weekend was Baylor Homecoming, I didn't have an opportunity to even look at the computer until now :) But...that doesn't mean I haven't been thankful and thinking about it.
Yesterday as we celebrated BU Homecoming by going to the parade and the football game (albeit briefly), I couldn't help but be thankful for my four college years at Baylor University. I know not everyone has the same experience, but the four years I spent at Baylor really helped define who I am. I had the chance to move to a completely new state where I had never been before (Texas) and figure out who I really was. I gained self confidence, met some awesome friends, learned a ton not only about life, but also academically and fell in love with not only Baylor, but also my dear husband. I am so, so thankful that the Lord brought me here those 14 years ago!

So here are some shots from this weekend. Unfortunately, LittleBear wore himself out pretty early on and consequently acted like a really tired two year old most of the weekend, which meant that we didn't get very many great pictures and we only lasted 30 minutes at the football game, but I still tried to really enjoy the experience. Once the parade got started, he did really enjoy that and loved the cars, trucks, balloons, band, and all the people that came over and handed him candy or other goodies.

Yes, it was a wee bit chilly, but not bad!
Here they come!!!!
Bruiser the Bear riding a Segway...
The Baylor University Golden Wave Marching Band!!! (LittleBear's favorite)
President/Judge Ken Starr and his wife, Alice led a rousing Sic 'Em Bears right after this pic.
This balloon came right over top of us!!! It was HUGE!
Baylor has students from over 72 countries a representative of which looked to be carrying their home country's was cool!
This was LittleBear's second favorite...the biggest truck he has seen that close. The best part was he waved to the driver who saw him and then honked the horn. It was LOUD!
Bye, Bye, Truck!
Thank you, Baylor for all the amazing memories!

Will you not, as a loyal student of dear old Baylor, lay aside for a few days the usual cares of life, come back to your alma mater, renew former associations and friendships, and catch that Baylor spirit again?”
- Samuel Palmer Brooks, President, 1909