Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas from the Duty's

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

All Aboard!

We did a very small party for our little one year old with trains as the theme. Here are pictures below:



I made this cute little happy birthday banner (Pottery Barn inspired) to use for this birthday and future ones too!


I sure had fun making the little train cakes! I felt like a little kid popping on all those Sprees and Hot Tamales!


Beckett with his cake: "What...you want me to eat this thing WHOLE?"


"Alright, I'll give it a try..."


SUCCESS!!!


"Can I wear this thing as a hat?"


All aboard the alphabet train!


"Mommy, I know I'm one now, but can I still have my nap?"


A video I made for Beckett's First Year of life...be forewarned...it's 11 minutes long. But every minute is sweet. I get emotional watching it, but then, I'm the mommy!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Happy 1st Birthday, Precious Boy!



Sweet Beckett,

When you were in my tummy, I had hoped you were a girl.

I didn't know what to do with boys. I knew all about ponytails and dolls and tea parties. I love PINK! I didn't want to subject a boy to that.

But, before we even found out for sure you were a boy, I knew. And I was scared.

You popped out like a football player with those big shoulders, all 9 lbs. of you

I saw that dark brown hair and those big blue eyes and wondered, "is he mine?"

But then you cuddled in next to me and made your home there.

You made your home in my heart, sweet boy, like I never imagined was possible.

From the start you made it clear, "this mommy...she's mine."

And I've loved every minute of loving on you, cuddling you, teaching you, nursing you...

I'm saddened that you are turning one, honestly.

I hope you still want to cuddle me and give me big open mouth kisses.

I hope you still let me rock you to sleep and sing your hymn, "How Great Thou Art" to you at night. Every time I sing it I am more in awe of how great and amazing our God is. Somehow looking at your face, singing that song...I become overwhelmed with His goodness. Honestly, I have to commit you to Him often. I frequently have to check my grasp to make sure it's not too tight. You have a way of sneaking into my heart and my thoughts and making me want to grasp your sweetness a little too tightly. I know you're a blessing from Him. There's no way I could have dreamed up something so precious.

I'm glad I have celebrated one year with you.

A year of amazing firsts, like smiles that light up the room, laughs that keep us rolling, smirks that steal our hearts, not to mention, rolling, crawling, sitting, talking, and taking your first steps!

What a precious year it has been. Oh, the things I have learned and the things you and your sister have taught me. I'm convinced they could fill a book! Thank you for teaching me what only you could teach me in the way that only you could.

I love you eons more today than I did a year ago and who EVER thinks that is possible staring at their little newborn?

You are a special boy, Beckett Cole.

Happy Birthday my little man.

Love,
Mommy

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Vote for my Snow Bears


Precious Snow Bears


KBTX has a place to upload snow photos and, of course, I would like for you to vote for my cuties if you get a chance! Just click on the little checkbox that says, "Vote as Best"!

If you are scrolling through the pictures you may just find some additional pictures of Beckett with his first snowball as well as the youth group crazy snow fun last night. Vote for those too!

Here are some pictures from last night's fun!




Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Isn't that just SO Texas?

Yesterday I was sweating my pants off at a nasty 77 degrees and 100 percent humidity and today, lo and behold, we opened up the blinds to find this!



Texas has always been ridiculous about this, but really? Allen and I couldn't have been more shocked when we opened the blinds this morning after SEVERAL hours of being up and around the house.

Taylor was very excited about the snow and so we went out to see it. I couldn't handle the cold for too long.



In true Texas style I asked Allen, "Will the roads be icy?" He just laughed at me. Ah, the joys of being a Texan...

Saturday, December 06, 2008

My Helper



The annual bakefest (aka Christmastime gifts and treats) has officially begun in our home. Last year I was 9 months pregnant or had a newborn, attempting to bless every last person in our neighborhood or at our church with goodies.

This year things are going to be very different. Know why? I actually have a helper. This helper isn't eating all the dough this year. Nope. She's not hanging on my legs. Nope. She HELPING! Woo hoo!

We made snickerdoodles and chocolate chip cookies for the youth volunteers this week and she rolled the dough in the cinnamon and sugar mixture. She made things go much quicker and I am so proud of her. I let her have a little dough and one baked cookie, and reassured her that we were making these to bless others. Usually I have to allow extra time doing something if Taylor will be "helping," but not so this time! I am thrilled!



Here are the recipes in case you're interested:

Snickerdoodles:

1 box yellow cake mix
1/4 C. oil
2 eggs

Mix together. Roll in cinnamon/sugar mixture and bake at 325 degrees for 10-12 minutes. They won't look done when you pull them out. They will look doughy, but they will stiffen up. If you pull them out when they look done, they will be overdone. I'm just warning you. ;)

Chocolate Chip Cake Batter cookies:

Same as above except nix the cinnamon/sugar and add Ghiradelli chocolate chips to the mix. Mmmm...

Here is our birthday boy doing his own "cooking" in the kitchen. Plus, I just wanted an excuse to post a picture of my little cutie.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

First Week of Advent

It's the first week of Advent. Get excited! We decorated the inside of the house this weekend after a wonderful Thanksgiving in Dallas with our families. Taylor Joy keeps saying, "Mommy, Christmas is pretty."

On another note, Advent in the Duty home started yesterday. We are doing the 24 days leading up to Christmas. Since I can't do anything the traditional way, here's how our Advent looks.

Our calendar:




Made out of toilet paper rolls, scrapbook paper, ribbons and cute extras, I made this with my own two hands with love and excitement for the Advent season. I created an advent calendar detailing relevant scriptures, activities to do together and questions to discuss during family worship time. Each day will have it's appropriate page inside of the toilet paper roll. Thanks to all who donated rolls to our cause. Know that lovely pearls of wisdom are being stored in the place where your toilet paper hung. Now that's beautiful.

Our wreath:




Honestly, I just plain didn't like any of the Advent wreaths that I saw. So, I bought this wreath at Michael's and the candleholder as well (for the Christ candle) and then placed them all snugly inside. I decided to buy battery-operated candles for the candles so that Taylor Joy can help "light" them and so that we can leave them on all day.

Here are some scriptures to consider this week, the Prophecy Week:

Isaiah 7:14
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

Psalm 62:5-6
My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation: He is my defense; I shall not be moved. (KJV)

Hebrews 10:23
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful...

Micah 5:2
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.

Isaiah 40:31
Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.

2 Corinthians 12:10
That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Isaiah 11:1-2
Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse,
And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him,
The spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The spirit of counsel and strength,
The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

John 15:4
Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

Jeremiah 23:5-6
"Behold, the days are coming," declares the LORD,
"When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch;
And He will reign as king and act wisely
And do justice and righteousness in the land.

"In His days Judah will be saved,
And Israel will dwell securely;
And this is His name by which He will be called, 'The LORD our righteousness.'"

Ephesians 1:9-12
And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment--to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.

Galatians 4:4-5
But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

Malachi 3:1
"Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming," says the LORD of hosts.

Isaiah 42:1, 5-6
Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold
My chosen one in whom My soul delights.
I have put My Spirit upon Him;
He will bring forth justice to the nations.

Thus says God the LORD,
Who created the heavens and stretched them out,
Who spread out the earth and its offspring,
Who gives breath to the people on it
And spirit to those who walk in it,

"I am the LORD, I have called You in righteousness,
I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You,
And I will appoint You as a covenant to the people,
As a light to the nations. (NASB)

Isaiah 60:1-3,19-22
"Arise, shine; for your light has come,
And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.

And, our Advent Cheatsheet:

Symbolism of the Advent Wreath

  • The four candles represent the 4,000 years prior to Christ's coming and the four weeks of Advent.
  • The unlighted candles represent the dark ages before Christ's coming.
  • The lighted candles represent Christ, the Light of the World. Each week we light one more candle and that represents the idea that the coming of Christ is closer.
  • The circular form of the wreath symbolizes that God has no beginning and no end.
  • The green of the boughs indicates hope--just as the green of spring indicates new life.
  • The word Advent means the coming of promise.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Advent Conspiracy

We're down with this. Are you???



I wanted to blog about this now because in actuality, it may take some preparation on your part. It's not as simple as running into the mall for a few hours and coming out with gifts for everyone on your list. It might take some work.

I don't have to do much shopping, but I have some preparation, much working with my hands (and getting the kids involved "helping") so that our Christmas might be meaningful this year, especially at a time when a 2 1/2 year old is actually "getting it." She's at a point where she understands what it's all about.

I'm undertaking a project of making an Advent Calendar so that in the 24 days leading up to Christmas we are taking focused time everyday to talk about the meaning of Christmas, the events that led up to that historical day and talking about how those things can have meaning to us today. I'm also including things that we can do to prepare for Christmas together, such as: bake cookies, deliver them to neighbors as a family, plan a Christmas neighborhood social to meet more neighbors and build a closer relationship with others, make gifts together, go on a Christmas hayride as a family, choose gifts from the Samaritan's Purse catalog together, buy shoes for kids in need and much more! I am excited that the month of December will be focused, NOT frazzled, planned, NOT full of last minute scurrying through the mall, and meaningful, purposeful, focused on Christ.

Will you join our family in making the most of Christ's birthday this year?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cutesy Badge Album



I recently came across this idea to make a mini scrapbook out of name badges. My best friend from elementary school all the way through high school just had a birthday and I made a mini album for her, thinking it might be an inexpensive, but special gift.

Here's what I did: designed the inserts in Photoshop with cute digital scrapbooking kits that I found online. I put in cute pictures of us from college, as well as more recent ones of our little ones. The great thing is that I can definitely reuse the templates that I made, so although it did take some time to make them, I can use them again and it should take much less time. Each badge is 3.25" by 2.5", so I just designed each template to be that size, emailed the final inserts to Copy Corner and had them print them, cut them out and put them inside the little badges. Voila!

You could definitely print these on your home printer if it prints high quality. Ours happens to be out of ink right now.

I decided to add some ribbons for decoration after attaching the badges together with those little metal rings that open and close.

This could make a really cute Christmas gift for someone you love!

I want to see pictures if you decide to make this!




Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pandora

Cody and Chelsea told me about Pandora Radio and I just had to share it because it's AWESOME! You can just type in your favorite song or artist and it cooks up a station especially to match those types of artists and songs that you like. Then, if you want to add some variety you can continue to add artists and songs that you like AND let them know which songs you like and dislike to make it just perfectly to your liking.

I am REALLY enjoying this. It's like they are in my head and know just what I want to hear. Crazy! I don't know the logistics of it all, but I love it! Listening to it on my computer and my iTouch is delightful and it gives me some exposure to songs I may want to buy. Oh, and it's free!

Here is the website and here is the Pandora application to download to your iPhone or iTouch.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Renaissance Festival

Taylor and I had a mother-daughter day a few weeks ago at the Renaissance Festival during its' annual School Days in Plantersville, TX. I had hyped it up to Taylor Joy for awhile because I was so excited to go and spend the day with her without worrying about that precious little needy boy who often takes most of my time and attention (aka Beckett). Taylor was very excited to spend the whole day with Mommy. We made some special memories that day. Here are some pics:


All the kiddos

On the giant swing! I was afraid Taylor might get scared when they cranked it back, but she never did! As a matter of fact, she kept asking to go on the big swing again!



Taylor Joy and Ariana

Annika on the bungee!

Easton on the bungee! He wasn't scared a bit!


Sweet friends



Birds of Prey demonstration:


Marylou loving on Taylor Joy

Watching the joust


Another big swing...Taylor wanted to ride on the same side as me.

This is Taylor's newest smile...we say "smile for the camera" and this is what we get. Precious.


I could go on for days about what a blessing this child is to me. She's always been a blessing, but truly I think we've reached another milestone in the process of training her and bringing her up where she is actually "getting" it and she is such a pleasure to be around. She helps in any way that she can and loves to do it. She says things like "Okay, Mommy knows what's best for me" when I tell her that she can or can't do something she has asked to do. She brings smiles to my face all day long.

I know there will be other bumps along the way, but I am just enjoying this time with her so much. Praise the Lord for the all the discipline and training paying off! To Him alone be the glory!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Kendra's Cinnamon Cider


Okay, it's definitely NOT secret (Cate!).

It IS yummy.

It IS essential to the cool weather.

It IS going to be our family tradition (Taylor tried it and likes it!).

And here it is:

Kendra's Cinnamon Cider:

4 quarts (2 large cans) of apple juice
1 quart (1/2 bottle) of cranberry juice
3 sticks of cinnamon
3/4 C. of cinnamon candies (aka Red Hots)

Bring all ingredients to a boil, lower heat slightly and stir continually until all candies have dissolved. Turn heat to low and let simmer for several hours.

My favorite thing to do is transfer it to a crockpot and just let it sit on warm and that lovely smell permeates my house all day. Mmmm...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A Good Post for a Confusing Time

Allen showed me these posts and they really encouraged me toward the future.

Thoughts on the abortion issue have overwhelmed me, saddened me and put knots in my stomach, but as I read through the post as well as 50 Ways to Help Unborn Children and their Mothers, I was brought back to the reality that it's so not over.

It's Over; But it's Not Over (One Day it Will Be)

Al Mohler

Monday, November 03, 2008

Taylor Joyisms



It's that time again. Taylor Joy has been saying some hilarious things around our house. She pretty much makes me laugh every time she opens her mouth. The way she talks is about as funny as what she says. She has the cutest little raspy voice.

  • One day when we were sitting at the dinner table I asked Allen something using his name and Taylor said, "Daddy, you're Allen?" and we both kind of looked at each other and smirked. Allen replied with, "No, Taylor Joy. I'm Daddy." So then I asked Allen if he thought she knew my name. Without another word from us she said, "Mommy, you're KENDRA!" and just started cracking up!

  • She got a dress-up cheerleading outfit for her birthday and one day I was teaching her some cheers. The main one being, "Daddy Daddy he's our man, if he can't do it, nobody can!" Well, when she went to show Daddy our cheer it went something like this:

"Daddy Daddy he's our man, if he can't do it, EVERYBODY can!"

Way to make a Daddy feel special.

  • Her Nanny had given her some dollar bills for her Dora purse and wallet and one day she was in the backseat pulling them out of her purse. I asked her out of curiosity of what she would say, "Taylor, can mommy have your money?"
She said, "You can have my money, Mommy. You can have it when we get to the store."
I replied, "What do you want me to buy with your money?"

She said, " Hmmm...I wanna buy....(long pause)...MILK! I'll buy milk for yooooouuu, Mommy!" (very excitedly)
Such a sweetheart.


She's such a helper...no matter what I'm doing, she wants to help. Here are some examples:
  • "You need help with your coffee? Be weel cehful, Mommy!"
  • She saw me putting a new shirt on Beckett one day and she went to get scissors to cut the tag off.
  • She LOVES to help cook and will go get her stepstool so she can stand up there with me and help me cook.
  • She even asked me if I needed help going to the potty one day!


She is very appreciative (most of the time):

  • Aunt B came in town and took Taylor to Chic-Fil-A (Chickel-A) one day when Beckett was sick. On the way back she told B, "Thanks for taking me to Chickel-A. That was such a blessing to me, B. Thank you!"
  • I went to get some meat out the deep freeze the other day and as I walked in I heard, " Mommy, you got meat for us? Oh! That was nice!"

I felt like the Proverbs 31 woman rising to get the food and the kids calling her blessed. She brings such a big grin to my face.

  • A prayer that I enjoyed sounded like this: "Lord Jesus, help us not to fall down and give us band-aids and he's prayin' for us."

  • One day I put on a Baby Einstein for the kids to watch and headed to the kitchen to start dinner, thinking that I could get some time cooking without kids crawling up and down my legs and asking when it would be ready a million times. Wrong! Taylor Joy starts roaming around the house looking for me and within a matter of minutes of not finding me cries out saying, "My Mommy went to Sachse!" I immediately reassured her that I hadn't gone to Sachse, (my hometown) I was just in the kitchen.

  • We have been doing a children's catechism with Taylor and it starts off really simple asking questions like, "Who made you?", "Why did God make you?", etc. Well, one day we were going through her questions and got to the question, "How can you glorify God?" and Taylor answered, "when I jump up and then I fall down."

  • A couple of weeks ago I was in McAlister's ordering to-go and we were in the main area waiting on our food. Well Taylor Joy decides that is the time to start belting out the songs that we have taught her. More specifically that is the time to sing the line, "death is coming, Hell is moving" from the hymn "Brethren We Have Met to Worship over and over again." I laugh just thinking about it. Our little girl preaching repentance at McAlister's!

I hope you made it that far. She had some good ones this month and I guarantee you that's not even the half of it!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Reformation Day & Halloween Pics

Ever since Halloween (a whole day) I've been getting threats from my family to see pictures from Halloween. Family... (who will go unnamed)...the kids are in bed and I'm now able to upload pics. Be entertained. Laugh. Smile. Here below is your heart's desire:




Our family: The Reformation Fairy, The Pope, a maiden (NOT a Renaissance Barbie, which I was called), and Baby Spidey.



Luther (aka Jason) and the Pope



The Reformation Fairies


Sully and his mommy


Now onto Halloween pics:

Taylor Joy, Annie and PJ


Beckett and his G-pa

My sweet little Spidey


Superman Treston playing with our Fairy Princess
Pirates Nathaniel and Tara...so great.
Us....again.


Wizard of Oz crew

Napolean and Deb (aka the Garratts)

I'm not writing much...I told Allen I would be done in 2 minutes. Enjoy! I may elaborate later.

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