Friday, December 30, 2011

It's A Wonderful Life

Get ready for picture overload....

My trees may be down, but I am still so full of the Christmas spirit! It was wonderful, fast-paced, and as usual, never enough time, but always seems to wipe you out just the same. :)  Here's a recap:

A few days before Christmas, Jeff and I went to dinner and exchanged our own gifts to each other before the family hoopla began, so we'd have some "us time."  We think we're high cotton when we eat at the new Bonefish Grill in town, so we started there, and when we got back to his house, there were suddenly a BA-ZILLION zebra wrapped boxes that weren't there the day before.  Someone is aware I am a snooper.

 So I jumped right in, and immediately realized every single box contained a new outfit from my favorite boutique in town, The Blue Door Boutique , and that Jeff had actually gone shopping for me.  As in, something he hates to do even when it comes to tshirts and boxers!  He had totally gone all Richard Gere-Pretty Woman and bought the store out of all my favorite things, just because he loves me.  Truth be told, he could have just gotten me a scarf and I'd have been content, just knowing he left his comfort zone for something that makes me smile.  And to top it off, my night ended with a beautiful bracelet too! 

 Ok, so I didn't do bad either!  Jeffrey got tickets to see that idiot, Ron White who happens to be coming to Columbus in April, and we're smack dab on the front row.  And truth be told I laugh my head off at him too.  And for his big boy prize, a Ruger 1911.  Anybody?  Anybody?  Or are you on the Blue Door's website shopping already?  Oh well, it's a fancy smancy gun, Jenn did good.  We were happy kids.  By the end of the night, I was having a fashion show, while Jeff was playing cops and robbers.  As much as I love surprises, nothing makes me happier than the look on than man's face when I know I did good.  It may be a Ruger.  But I've seen that same face with meatloaf too.  Which means I can afford to keep him.  :)
 Ok, I'm getting wordy already and I'm two pictures deep.  And believe me, it's just getting good.  Christmas Eve I spent with Jeff's family.  Yes, you may read.between.the.lines. 

First stop was Grandmama's house where all sorts of extended family stopped to visit and eat and catch up.  Then over to his parents where gift swapping began with his and his brothers' families.
 And I spent quality time with three of the most important people in the world to me.  See, Christmas miracles do happen.  ;)
 Rani and Abigail sang Happy Birthday to Jesus, and a few Christmas carols, to get the party started.  After a quick wardrobe change after Grandmama's house, Emmy came in in her Elf dance recital costume to hand out all the gifts, and bust out a few signature moves.

 The rest of the evening was filled with lots of dancing and singing, kids laughing and playing, and wrapping paper flying high in the sky!  We wrapped it up as early as possible so kids could get tucked in tight because Santa Claus had lots of deliveries to make!

 As full as my heart was after Christmas Eve, I was aching to see my family some kinda bad.  So on Christmas morning I was locked and loaded and jetted to Montgomery as fast as I could.  In my haste, I failed to re-charge my camera, so unfortunately there is little documentation of the day in pictures for me to look back on.  :(
 Oh, but how I love these people.  And it only takes moments before I realize just why.  We are not exactly the most sane bunch in the crowd, and that's just how I like it!
  Mimi and PawPaw never fail to make me laugh.  In their new OUTDOOR chairs they had to open and "set down in" by the tree, we told them they looked like Mr. and Mrs. Claus.  Mimi said to go and fetch her "spec-tickles"  so she would look just like her, and then take her picture again.
 Christmas here was crazy and humorous and loud as always, but there was a tinge of bittersweetness in the air.  We're missing a cousin who should have been with us, and a month ago he was.  So as we celebrated, we mourned too.  As I said the blessing, I choked up as I realized we were short one teenager ready to pile a plate high with all the fixins.'  I gave my grandparents both pictures of last T-giving and Christmas of their grandkids with Levin in them, and they both seemed so proud, and sad, and thankful, and happy. 

  The day started at Mimi and Paw Paw's, and ended over and Grandmother's and then Jeff and I headed back to Columbus late that night.  It was a whirlwind of a day, but I wouldn't change it for the world.  I love every moment, every hug and every kiss, every story (that I've probaby heard before), every meal, and glass of syrupy sweet tea, and cousin, every laugh, every-everything.
During this holiday, being with my family, after such a loss, in such a special time of year, celebrating Christ' birth, spending time with people I love, new to me, and those I've known all my life, I am so grateful.  God sent his only Son, to be so meekly born, to walk amongst us, to live like us, and to one day suffer and die for us.  For me and all my sins.  Wow, Thank God for Mary and her undying faith.  Thank God for Joseph, and his loving support of Mary, and his trust in God.  Thank God for that manger, and for that little babe.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Christmas Play

The Sunday before Christmas Jeff and I went to church at his mama's church, Oakland Baptist, which is a sweet little country church where everybody knows your name.  His brother and sister-in-law go here too, and after church their 5 year daughter Abigail came up to us and in her irresistable little voice said, "Uncle Jeff, Miss Jennifer--will you pweease come to my pway tonight??" 

Well--have mercy.  How do you say no to that face?? 
So we were back there Sunday afternoon, with front row seats, Nikon in hand, and with cousin Rani piled in my lap, for the festivities to begin.
 And Abigail played her role of the Angel sharing tidings of the Good News perfectly!
 So did the rest of the sweet little children of the church, as they acted out the Christmas Story.
 When the little children were done, the youth and some adults have a more light-hearted (ok, hilarious) play to put on to share the news of Jesus' birth, that had me gut-laughing in my seat! 
 Afterward, we spent time together and ate some wonderful food in the fellowship hall of the church.  I had to take this picture of Loretta, Jeff's sister-in-law on the right, and her friend Shaundra who were both in the play.  They both used his dad's overalls as props and were cracking us up the whole time!  I can't tell if Mr. Rainey was loving this picture with the ladies, or thought we all were half crazy!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Big Heart

This year I met a man with the most kind soul, and a BIG HEART.  So let me tell you his story.  (I wish I had taken his picture, but I didnt...)

Mr. Ludy lives in this home in Columbus.  About four months before Christmas he climbs on his roof, on ladders, all over the yard, and decorates until it's just right.  :)

 He designs it himself, then constructs the figures, strings the lights, and even bought the rights to a local radio station to have synchronized music playing to the flashing of lights.....and bada-bing-bada-boom, there you go!
The best part about Mr. Ludy and this display he creates every year is that he collects donations for something you all know is so close to my heart.  As people drive by, or pull over so their children can get out and walk up and meet Santa (on the weekends), you can make a donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation!  Over the last five years, his donations have grown tremendously, just from a 5 gallon bucket in his driveway!  Year one was $1,200 and just last year he raised $7,400! 
 Jeff took his kiddos by last week, and then again the two of us went again.  We stopped and talked to Mr. Ludy, let him know we will be his support if every he needs it, and asked him why he chose MAW as a philanthropy.  Did he know a wish child personally?  Did he maybe have a family member who was granted a wish?  He answered so simply it brought tears to my eyes....Mr. Ludy said as he thought of a way to give back, and involve his passion in doing so (electronics), "What better way to do so at Christmas than granting the wish of a child."
Couldn't have said it better myself.  So if you're in town, the Ludy Lights will be shining bright through New Years.  Someone called it the Griswold's on speed, and I suppose that's about accurate.  :)  Check 'em out at and make a donation!  It's no Fantasy In Lights, and not meant to be.  This will impress you in a whole different way, that one man, and a whole lot of lights, can make a wish come true.  Literally.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Double-Header = Double Smiles

Christmas shoppers can't touch the shopping mania I had the privilege of being a part of last weekend!

We granted TWO wishes in Columbus, both shopping sprees, both requiring major naps afterwards :), and both OH SO worth it!

First off was this young man, Trevon, who's fighting ALL Leukemia like a man.  He wished to go to Best Buy (he specifically had his eye on a new tv and an iPod touch).

 We surprised him Saturday morning with balloons, signs, and a limosuine of his very own to cruise us to Best Buy....where the store manager was there to greet us at the door!  As we walked inside, the manager had arranged for practically every employee to be lined up waiting to cheer him on like a quarterback entering the field!  It was priceless!
 Terri and I were so pleased with the personalized touch Best Buy gave to Trevon.  Every department was ready and waiting for us, and so excited to be of service.  He smiled from ear to ear all day! 
 His body may have given out a bit by the end of a very successful shopping spree, but I'd say his mind was still going a mile a minute, as to what he should tear into first when he got home!!  We ended up with a PS3, lots of games, a 37"TV and stand, ipod Touch, new cell phone, and even a laptop!!
 Show me the money!!!!!
 With our first successful checkout (and I won't lie, I felt a bit like an extreme couponer for a bit, watching the total go up...and up...) Trevon paid the man his dollar-billz, ya!
 Oh but wait, we dont waste a penny around here, so with literally the last $1.50 we had, he ran back for candy, and our final transaction!
 Trevon left a happy boy, and we left with a mission accomplished.  To give a little "normal" to a kid who hasn't seen so much of it lately.  I hope his mother has to pry the door of his room he's having so much fun with all his new toys....because that means his wish came true!

On Sunday, we did it all again!  Meet Rabbit, and a positively infectious smile!  I suppose his birth certificate says Alijundro, but he goes by "Rabbit"....because 'I'm so fast!' 

Rabbit has Rhabdomyosarcoma, a mouthful right?  It's cancer, and a mean one, that spread from his back to his chest to his legs and even muscle tissue.  So our personal mission for this angel face was to make that nasty monster disappear for as long as possible and make his biggest wish come true!  And for Rabbit, it was to go crazy in Gamestop and Walmart!!
 So Sunday morning, again armed with balloons, signs, big smiles, hugs and kisses, we surprised Rabbit and family with our favorite limo escort and headed to Gamestop where he did just that...went crazy!!
 We left with a new PS3 and 14 games!!!  And a new buddy in the owner!  Oh, and a little sidebar here, as a Christmas crowd-patroling police woman was writing a ticket outside for OUR limo parked just outside the door in a firelane, we quickly stopped her, telling her we're with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and we're granting a wish this very minute!!  Well, wouldn't you know before we even left that cop was back in Gamestop with a wrapped gift she just ran down to Barnes and Noble and purchased, and made a special delivery just for the man of the hour!
 Our next stop was Walmart, and in true Walmart fashion, they never disappoint!  Half the store was outside cheering for my little celebrity man as we pulled up!  May I even say I learned they had announced us on the intercom prior to our arrival and invited even patrons to join them outside, and they did!
 When I say Rabbit's smile is infectious, I mean it!!  Look at this face as he climbed out of the limo!  He was so excited (and embarrassed!!)  He had half the employees laughing, and the other half crying!!
Walmart spoiled us rotten, with decorated buggies of all his favorite things:  a new PS3 game, Spiderman cupcakes, a basket full of skittles and starburst, and even Spiderman pinata hood ornaments for our buggies! We were given a personal shopper too we could not have lived with out!   (Look at every eye on Rabbit....oh, how I love that!)
 After a long day of shopping, all we wanted to do was eat...and where else but Rabbit's favorite restaurant...McDonald's, DUH.  Walmart also gave us the hook up there of course.  We knew right where to sit when we arrived. :)
 As we checked out with new sneakers, and toys, and Kindle, and TV....again we were a few cents shy.  By now we know the drill of course.  So we spent that last buck on CANDY of course!!
It was another good day, where a child learned that dreams really do come true.  That you can wish BIG!  And I bet he even had sweet dreams. :)  I know I did. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

I do love this season!  There's nothing better!  Well, my friend Tara would argue...she loves the fall because of the weather, and football, and Halloween, and maybe her birthday too...and that's tough to argue with.  ;)  And my girl Anna Kate would vote for Easter, right?   And believe me, the way she decorates, she should!

BUT....there's something about Jeff huffing as he pulls out my unloading my 9 boxes of Christmas decorations and getting all the trees up while watching black and white Christmas movies and setting up the nativity and wrapping presents in rediculously big bows.....

Anyway, another reason I LOVE December is because we host a Make-A-Wish Christmas Party every year.  It's our selfish way of seeing all our families again really and hugging the necks of all those angels.  :)

 This year it was at Eastern Heights Baptist Church, and was the perfect place for the occasion.  Macon Road BBQ fed us lunch, Columbus Corner for dessert, and of course Santa surprised us all with goodies for everyone!  The day turned out perfect as always, for these children deserve nothing but the best!!

 In other news this weekend, I got to spread a little Christmas cheer at Jeffrey's too, which made my heart happy.  I love that in his 'neck of the woods,' everything I want to decorate with is in the yard, or a Kubota ride away.  No trip to Hobby Lobby necessary!  Jeff patiently cut branches and watched me overload every horizontal surface of his home then I gracefully adorned a few areas (inside and out) with our trimmings.  :) 
 And we welcomed out of the attic the "man tree" from last year, with a few new ornaments I'd been stashing.  The shotgun shell lights are definitely the highlight of the tree.  What will he do when I inform him one day this tree will be retired from its home in the living room.....???
 Ah yes, and Scrooge himself suggested hunting down some mistletoe.  I'm calling you out, love.  I proudly hung it, and got my first smooch of the Christmas season.  He may not admit it, because I suppose I go overboard enough for the both of us during this time of year, but I'm pretty sure he likes the holly, and bows, and twinkly lights, and music, and that one verse I can't get out of my head of "Baby It's Cold Outside."  I'm like the red nose to his rudolph.
Merry Christmas, friends!  It's my favorite time of the year, what's yours?