Wednesday, December 29, 2010

There's No Place Like Home

Having not gone home for Christmas did cause a bit of nostalgia to rise up in me.
Nostalgia for what traditions; I am not quite sure.

We moved at minimum every four years growing up and so Christmas never looked exactly the same. We seemed to absorb whatever the "locals" did into our own family traditions so now we look like a collage of world traditions that don't seem to make much sense.

Christmas Eve in South Georgia:
"Sure, have another glass of Gluhwein, Opa!"
"Just pass it over the fried rice."

Or something exaggerated like that.

But it is home and you have to love the home that you grew up in. No matter how insane it might look to outsiders.
I saw this video last night on YouTube and it was so so sweet.
It made me want to bust out the video camera much more often around my kids.

And the real reason why I should use the video camera more often?
Right here.
Just wait until the last 15 seconds.

Disclaimer: Lucy dressed herself today.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Snowed In and Loving It

Since yesterday morning at 7am, we have now received over 9" of snow at the Sloan Homestead.
Merry Christmas to us!
We were up and at 'em this morning sledding with neighbors down a "luge run" that ended with a pretty solid jump at the end. The kids had a blast all morning and were sad when their fingers and faces were freezing off.

The only person not uncomfortable was the abominable camo man that was their dad.
About a year ago we discovered that Matt's snowbibs had disappeared and have not replaced them. So he now uses his waders. No one thinks we're rednecks AT ALL.

Lucy decided that she wanted a photoshoot all of her own on the walk back home today. I happily obliged.

We spent the rest of the day making forts, drinking hot chocolate, watching football and other boxing day tasks. It was fantastic.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

He Appeared and the Soul Felt Its Worth

The reason why we celebrate Christmas?
Jesus. We got it off on the right foot.

We woke the kids up this morning.
You read that right.
We WOKE our kids up this morning and our family sang "Happy Birthday to Jesus" and then proceeded to tear the house apart with the giving and receiving of gifts.
That my friends,
is a mouth FULL of Reeses Butter Cups at 7:05am.
Not a Red Rider.
But a pretend Pump Action Hunting Rifle.
Just like dads.
Somebody was super pumped.
I have to stop letting her watch America's Next Top Model.
Look out! Santa didn't visit us on Christmas-DARTH VADAR DID.
Oh, my bad. It's just Asher.
I have the happiest husband on the block.
Duck decoys.
Merry Christmas Mommy.
My girl reading her new book to her stuffed animal kitty cat.
Be still my heart.
Somebody in the North Pole knows me really really well.
I guess I was a good girl this year.
Asher and Lucy put on a rock show right away this morning.
Then Lucy went into Lillith Faire mode.
And Asher is playing bass for P.O.D.
The wreck of Christmas 2010.

I stilled all my OCD'ness during the opening of Christmas presents
so that this picture could happen.
You're welcome.

Merry Christmas to you all!

PS: stay tuned-while opening presents, snow started falling! We now have 2 inches on the ground and much more is predicted on its way! White Christmas pictures will be up tonight!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

The Sloan Family is celebrating Christmas for the first time in our beloved Asheville and it has been such a sweet time for us!

I baked and baked and baked today.
So much so that I opened up every woman's dream:
A Kitchenaid stand mixer for CHRISTMAS!

I love it so much.

The kids are beside themselves to open presents in the morning.
We can't wait either.
We have never been home on Christmas before and so this is new territory for all of us.

We find ourselves marrying a little bit of our parents with the things that we have always wanted to do but never really could do to the whole traveling every year thing.
Pecan Pies.
Treasure hunts.
Christmas Cookie decorating taking the whole afternoon.
Family craft times.
Family Christmas Jammies.
Giving the kids their own Christmas ornaments that represent the year.
The Sloan Family picture in front of the Christmas tree:
Lucy's face. Amazing.
Sorta cute, but forced. Also, lots of my leg in the foreground.
We had to cut loose for a minute.
Lucy isn't really sure about this whole picture thing.
Close enough! Let's wrap it up!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Nativity Story as told by adorable children

I don't go for "cutesy" YouTube videos as a rule.
I don't even like to watch them.

I sure don't post them on this blog.

So this one doesn't fit that category.
Trust me. It's a live nativity scene performed by Australian children-so dang cute and it looks like it was a lot of fun to film.

This video has swelled my soul today.
And Lucy watched it no less than 10 times too.

"He has two Daddies. God and Joseph!"
That's my favorite part.

*Thanks to Sarah Spooner for the link

Monday, December 20, 2010

Survivor Season Finale

Last night was the season finale of Survivor and our friend Chase came in a super close 2nd place. He lost 5-4 on jury votes after winning four straight reward challenges and physically dominating play throughout the season.

He was awesome! A little crazy on some decisions, smart on others, made crucial alliances and broke them when they didn't work out. Basically he played Survivor and almost won whole dang thing.

The most crazy part of the whole show is when they let the jury have a say and ask any questions that they want. About 50% of the people don't even ask questions, they just use the opportunity to verbally back-slap the contestants who have outwitted, outlasted and outplayed them. It's a grown-up version of sour grapes and it looks so silly and immature. I would love to see Survivor figure out a new way to do this section of the show.

Otherwise, it couldn't have been more fun to watch and see Chase "survive" week after week!

The Angel Appeared to Shepherds

This past fall, my life was greatly influenced by the book, Scouting the Divine by Margaret Feinberg.
The book is about a journalistic approach to seeking the relevancy of the Bible in agricultural terms while many of us are disconnected from living a lifestyle that the Bible speaks about so often.
One example the author uses is the verse referring to a land flowing with milk and honey. She says, "My familiarity with honey extends as far as the honey bear on the shelf at the grocery store. It's probably not what God intended for me to understand."
So she goes on a journey to explore more about God by visiting with a shepherd, farmer, bee keeper and a wine maker.

The two chapters that had the biggest impact on me were the shepherding and bee keeping chapters.
So much so that Matt, the kids and I went to visit a "Fiber Fair" here in WNC about two months ago and we all fell in love with the idea of raising sheep.
It's going to happen one day people. Get ready.
Not this year. Not next year. But one day.
The yarn colors were amazing. People knitting, spinning wool, loving the craft and connectedness to the animals, each other and the earth.
I really believe that this is what God intended for us.

One of the sheep sections that really resonated with me spoke about sacrifices.
God, in the Old Testament, required the first shearing of a sheep. It is the very best, softest wool. Most like a fleece coat is now.
God doesn't want more and more sacrifices from me or you.
He wants the best. He wants what is hardest to give up.
Not more. The best.
Matt noticed that all of the shepherds at the Fiber Fair had a tremendously gentle presence.
From the oldest man to the youngest boy.
They couldn't have sudden, rough or abrasive movements.
The animals would have startled or reacted suddenly causing more problems.
My perspective of God has been that I would ALWAYS like for him to act quickly, swiftly, justly on MY behalf.
My new perspective is: He is.
It is gently, quietly, behind the scenes. In ways unknown.
My job is to simply respond to his voice.
Gates are crucial to a sheep's survival.
1) They keep a sheep in which provides protection.
2) The keep predators out which provides them protection.
The heart of the shepherd is always protection.
I tend to view gates in my life as barriers rather than my protector.
Psalm 23 says "You make me lie down in green pastures."
Why would God have to make me lie down in green pastures?
Because I am defenseless against my own will.
He is there to protect me.
This is Reid.
He needed a haircut before he was shown the next day.
His shepherd loaded him up on the cart, muzzled him down and he struggled like crazy.
He was breathing hard, snotting, slobbering.
I asked, "Is he in pain?"
His owner said, "No. As soon as he realizes I am right here and he's just getting a haircut, he'll settle down."
I can be every bit as silly as that sheep.
Chafing under God's guiding hand when all he wants to do is embrace me and give me a haircut.
He is just beautiful.

I want to remember this whenever I don't feel so lovely about myself.
Get used to this.
It's going to happen.
Never give up on being like a sheep.

God chose for an angel to appear to shepherds.
The disenchanted, disenfranchised. Children, women, the lame of society cared for sheep in Israel during the time of Jesus' birth.
Not full-grown strapping men.
Think of David and Goliath.
David was the shrimp of his family and he was tending to the sheep.
It was not a highly valued job, yet God reveals himself amongst these animals time and again.

I love it.

It doesn't hurt that my maiden name is Lamb.
Kind of makes all the messages sink a little deeper.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Cookies

It's the week of Christmas, which means it is time to bake!
Except that in the middle of baking my last batch of cookies, I smoked out my mixer. I killed it.

Which I feel really really good about.
I mean, I put a hurting to my mixer. Who does that?
I do.
I am a baking machine is why.

But that does mean, unless I get another one in the next few days-no more cookies for Christmas.
Sad face.

So to alleviate the pain, I thought I would share my three favorite Christmas cookie recipes today.
Make these, get fat and be the most popular person amongst your friends. It's easy!

Peanut Butter Balls
2 sticks butter
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (I only had 1 cup, so I used 1 cup more crunchy peanut butter to make up for it)
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup coconut
1/2 c peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
16 oz. conf. sugar

Mix all above ingredients. Roll into 1" balls-put into freezer. While making dipping chocolate.
-in a double broiler, melt 12 oz bag of choc chips (I had mix of semi-sweet and peanut butter chips) and 2 tbs. shortening or paraffin.
Dip 1" balls into chocolate. Place on wax paper and let dry.

Gooey Butter Cookies
1/2 cup butter
1/4 tsp vanilla
1-8oz package of cream cheese
1-1lb box butter recipe cake mix
powdered sugar for dipping
cooking spray

Beat butter, vanilla, and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Mix in dry cake mix. Chill for 30 mins. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly coat cookie sheet with cooking spray. Drop by teaspoonfuls into a bowl of powdered sugar; roll into balls. bake for 10-12 mins. Makes 3-4 doz.

Praline Strips
1 pack Graham Crackers
1 cup butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

line 9x13 pan with foil and cover the bottom completely with crackers. Boil butter and sugar for two minutes. Add pecans and stir to cool. Then add vanilla. Pour over the crackers. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes cut while warm. Yield 4 dozen.

Friday, December 17, 2010


I am so completely confused by this.


Last Minute Gift Idea

If you are looking for a last minute gift idea for someone on your list & they own a Wii, look no further.

This video game has revolutionized my life.
Not really.
But it is ridiculously fun and I have had a dumb amount of laughs in the last two weeks playing it.

Do you want some?

No you don't know the song. It was a tribal dance. And yes, we were supposed to be in sync.
Apparently you can burn 1000 calories in 5 dances. And I believe it.

$29.99 at Target RIGHT NOW!

Toddlers and Tiaras

Sorry for the lack of blog posts as of late.
To be honest, I have created a home office in our house to section off "work" from just "messing around" on the computer. The fallout has been my blog.
I am trying to figure out ways to create good family time, solid work time and fantastic "me" time. Somebody has to lose and well, that has been this location.

I am going to make it up to you today however.
Buckle up.

This video is of Lucy's Preschool Christmas Program held last night.
She never told us anything that was going on with the program but apparently she was front and center and knew EVERY SINGLE WORD TO EVERY SINGLE SONG.

If the volume is terrible, I am sorry.
Just wait unti the VERY end, there a nice treat waiting for you.

We have decided that the "Christmas Program" is indeed why you enroll your child. Not to get ready for school but to see them in all their glory on a stage and to watch what will happen.
I'm so proud.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Go vote now!

Will you do me the favor of going to Shutterfly and voting on my picture in their photo contest? It just takes a second! You can vote every day! Check out this entry I found on Shutterfly Holiday Photo Contest.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

True Thanksgiving

As we head into the holiday weekend, it can be a difficult time encountering family and extended family (I know nothing about this-mind you) with years of hurt and past difficulties rising to the surface as you pull into the driveway.

I was reading this passage by Henri Nouwen this morning and thought it might be a nice reflection and give purpose to the weekend should you have a moment (and I would encourage you to) to pause, read this and ask God to let you have this as your worship to him this weekend.

"We spend countless hours making up our minds about others. An unceasing exchange of opinion about people close or far away keeps us distracted and allows us to ignore the truth that we ourselves are the first ones who need a change of heart and probably the only ones whose hearts can indeed change.

We always say again: "What about him? What about her? What Jesus says to us, as he said to Peter, who always wanted to know what would happen to John, "What does it matter to you? You are the follow me." (John 21:21-22)

Imagine your having no need at all to judge anybody. Imagine your having no desire to decide whether someone is a good or bad person. Imagine your being completely free from the feeling that you have to make up your mind about the morality of someone's behavior. Imagine you could say, "I am judging no one!"

Imagine-wouldn't that be true inner freedom? The desert fathers from the fourth century said, "Judging others is a heavy burden." I have had a few moments in my life during which I felt free from all judgements about others. It felt as if a heavy burden had been taken away from me. At those moments I experienced a deep love for everyone I met, heard about, or read about. A deep solidarity with all people and a deep desire to love them broke down my inner walls and made my heart as wide as the universe...

We all have these moments if we are attentive to the movement of God's Spirit within us. They are like glimpses of heaven, glimpses of beauty and peace. It is easy to dismiss these moments as products of ours dreams or poetic imagination. But when we choose to claim them as God's way of tapping us on our shoulders and showing us the deepest truth of our existence, we can gradually step beyond our need to judge others and our inclination to evaluate everybody and everything. Then we can grow toward real inner freedom and real sanctity."
Here and Now: Living in the Spirit
pages 60-61

Monday, November 22, 2010

Seasonal Affective Disorder

I do believe that SAD is real.
And I do believe that it strikes people beginning in November.

And my son brought home a book today that he MADE in school, that perfectly illustrates all of the reasons why SAD kicks off its strains of "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight" this month:

(In case you can't read it, I will translate)

No green grass.
No blue sky.

No bare feet walking by.

No birds. No Bees.

No leaves on trees.

No vember.

That's about how I feel about it too!

Moving on...
Bring back the summer!

Menu Planning

Our family, just like every family in America is busy wrapping up work today and tomorrow so that they can be free to enjoy the holiday week and gorge themselves on food.
I believe that we can put stack our menu up against anyone else's menu in a Food Network "Showdown Throwdown" if necessary in order to maintain our standing as the family that makes the most delicious amount of food possible.

The emails have been flying for about two weeks now and this is where we have landing most recently:

turkey & dressing & gravy - Linda

fried turkey - steve

ham - Buffy

appetizer - Leslie

brie/pecan/kahlua appetizer - Jeannie

oyster souflee - Linda

macaroni - Judy

sweet potatoes - Judy

green veggie - Judy

sour cream muffins - Judy

squash casserole - suzy

pea salad - suzy

side dish/casserole - Leslie

'healthy' sweet potatoes - Mary Lane

'healthy' collards - Mary Lane

cherry cream cheese pie - Buffy

nana's yellow cake/choc icing - Jeannie

nana pound cake - Leslie

pecan pie tarts - Judy

s'mores by the firepit - s & s

My most favorite lines have been highlighted in bold for you all to take delight in as well. My sister-in-law Mary Lane has a reputation for being "healthier" than the rest of us. Thus, her food has been labeled as "healthy" as opposed to artery clogging fat fest that the rest of us are bringing to the party.
Know what I say?
Belly up to the table people! Bring it on!

However, I do think for sake of the email and party planning sanity I think that we ought to transition to a Google Document for next year. Just my nerdy two cents :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Soccer Season

Our families first soccer season has drawn to a close and we went out on a high note.
It snowed on our final game of the season.

I felt like I caught a glimpse of all those games that my mom endured wearing the ugliest clothing combinations that she could muster all in the name of warmth. And I understood.

We had the pleasure of not just one game but two games. An hour or so apart. In the snow. And sweet Amy Noll WANTED to watch three year old and five-eight year old soccer-why? I don't know. Because mainly it looks like this:
Yes. That kid is eating the soccer net.
The other kid is simply growling at the other team.
Not kicking the actual ball. Just growling.
This was the only time Lucy ran during her whole game.
But this is what Y soccer is all about.
1. The trophy.
2. The friendships.
Look how big my boy looks!
3. Learning patience. Waiting your turn.
5. Fundamentals of the game.
How to absolutely destroy a ball into the back of the net.
Look at that focus. Just like his mom.
6. Letting fans of other teams touch us. Until we destroy them in the Swamp.
7. Learning how to cheer on the count of THREE!
8. Perfect the art of the soccer boy stance.
9. We're back to the trophy.
It's all about the trophy.