Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas Blessings: God's Adoption Gifts

When I think about the best Christmas present I've ever received, my mind immediately goes to our adoptions.  Not just because our children are incredible gifts (they are!), but also because we've had many important moments for all three of our children's adoptions happen right at Christmas time.

Christmas Blessings: God's Adoption Gifts to Our Family.  We have had several beautiful (and even sad) adoption moments happen for each of our children right at Christmastime... www.sweetlittleonesblog.com

In 2010, the very first time we started the adoption process, we received our "scrapbook" right before Christmas.  This is the scrapbook that our agency makes about our lives to show potential birthmothers.

With every single adoption, receiving our book is what made it become real.  Here is what our child's birthmother will see.  She will choose our family based off of what she loves in our book.   Our scrapbook is like our ultrasound; our connection to our birthmother and baby.  I felt for the first time that this adoption was really happening: we were going to have a baby!

So my favorite gift of 2010 was that we were officially "expecting".

Christmas Blessings: God's Adoption Gifts to Our Family.  We have had several beautiful (and even sad) adoption moments happen for each of our children right at Christmastime... www.sweetlittleonesblog.com
Jim surprised me with a rocking chair for our nursery - so many tears of joy!

The second time around in 2012, we were matched with a birthmother who was due at the beginning of January. But when Santa Claus was putting out all of the presents at 11:30pm on Christmas Eve, we got the call that she went into labor.  We spent all day Christmas at the hospital, but our son B held out til the 26th!

So, of course, our son was our favorite (belated) Christmas gift of 2012.

Christmas Blessings: God's Adoption Gifts to Our Family.  We have had several beautiful (and even sad) adoption moments happen for each of our children right at Christmastime... www.sweetlittleonesblog.com
Celebrating Christmas a few days late, but with our newest family member!

Last year, we were matched with a birthmother due with twin girlsTwins!  We had a gender reveal with ornaments for both of our families.  We were thrilled!

But shortly after Christmas, this match fell through.  Even though I was devastated, this fall-through really helped me to grow closer to my husband and to God while we grieved our loss.  I still think about those girls (especially with Christmas coming up), but I know God's plan is the best one for us, no matter how difficult it might be at times.  He has never failed us.  He sent us the perfect little one in our son L only a few months later.  He was the child who was always meant to be in our family!

So my favorite gift of 2014 was a "divine smack" as I call it.  A little push to strengthen my trust in God, my faith, and my marriage.

Christmas Blessings: God's Adoption Gifts to Our Family.  We have had several beautiful (and even sad) adoption moments happen for each of our children right at Christmastime... www.sweetlittleonesblog.com
We may be celebrating one First Christmas this year instead of two,
but we couldn't be any more in love with the little one God blessed us with!


What are your favorite gifts of faith and family that you've received at Christmastime?


Merry Christmas to you and your family!  May you be richly blessed with love and joy in celebrating the Birth of Christ!

Christmas Blessings: God's Adoption Gifts to Our Family.  We have had several beautiful (and even sad) adoption moments happen for each of our children right at Christmastime... www.sweetlittleonesblog.com

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and Merry Christmas!

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Gingerbread House Icing Recipe + An Etsy Giveaway!

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is making gingerbread houses as a family. Jess already shared a lot of our houses from years ago - think Lord of the Rings, Nativity scenes, football stadiums. The usual type of gingerbread houses. ;)  This year was our first year doing it with Abby and it was a hit! She had a great time and is already asking if we can make another one. :)

Getting ready to decorate :)





We don't buy a kit - just use an empty milk carton and some graham crackers. We use an icing to keep it all together (it's not edible, so don't taste it!). My mom sent me the recipe we've always used, so I thought I'd share it with you all in case you want to join in the fun! Here it is:


Gingerbread House Icing

2 egg whites
2 tsp water
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
3 c powdered sugar


1. With an electric mixer, beat together egg whites, water, and cream of tartar until foamy.
2. Gradually add in powdered sugar, mixing well after each addition.
3. Mix until icing is thick.
4. Place icing in baggies (this recipe was good for 3 bags worth).

That's it! Pretty easy :) Once it's in the bag, just cut off a small bit of the corner to use it as a piping bag. We taped the milk carton onto a paper plate so it wouldn't slide around. Add the icing to the carton and a little on your graham cracker and it should stick on fine.


Here are the finished products! :) They were so proud!






Now for the giveaway portion of the post! :) We are giving away two 8x10 printables from Lilypad Printables!  Our sister Kelly has seasonal prints, quotes, Bible verses, illustrations, and hand drawn prints.  She can even customize a piece to make it perfect for you and your space.  She is very talented and her work is incredibly beautiful!


Come Let Us Adore Him Print

So Kelly, Jess, and I are giving away TWO of her 8x10 printables.  You can choose 2 different prints from the over 100 prints Kelly has in her shop Lilypad Printables.  Go check out her shop for some beautiful and inexpensive decor for your home! The prints are instant downloads, so they are great for those last minute Christmas gifts!

Please enter below to win...and good luck!  

Dream Big, Little One Print

Winner will be announced at the next Tuesday Talk on December 22nd.  The winner will receive two different 8x10 instant digital downloads of the winner's choice from Kelly at Lilypad Printables.  This giveaway is open to anyone over 18 with an email address!

Song of Solomon Print





Good luck! Have a great Tuesday!

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Ok, on to the Link Up!

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Check out the Tuesday Talk guidelines here,
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Friday, December 11, 2015

Feast Day Celebrations: St. Lucy


This Advent, we're trying to do more faith-filled activities to teach our kids about the beauty of our Catholic Faith.  We've been doing a Jesse Tree and lighting our Advent Wreath everyday, the kids have been playing with their felt Nativity Scene nonstop, and we've been celebrating saints feast days (St. Nicholas, St. Juan Diego, and Our Lady of Guadalupe so far!).

Up next, is celebrating St. Lucia (or St. Lucy) on December 13th!

Catholic Liturgical Living: St. Lucy/Lucia Feast Day Celebration Ideas, Traditions, Recipes, and DIY Wreath Crown Craft www.sweetlittleonesblog.com
St. Lucia by Heather Sleightholm of Audrey Eclectic (I just love this picture!)

St. Lucy is an early martyr of the Church.  She wanted to live as a consecrated virgin for Christ, so her scorned suitor handed her over as a Christian where she was then murdered for her Faith.

Honoring her feast day is fairly new to us, so we're pretty excited!

Lucia-13.12.06

In Sweden, she is highly honored.  Traditionally, girls dress like St. Lucy wearing a white dress with a red sash (symbolizing her martyrdom) and an evergreen wreath with white candles as a crown.  And of course, there's special food too!  Saffron buns and a sweet bread braided into a wreath (with candles!).  Yum!

We're definitely taking the simple path with St. Lucy's feast day celebration at our house:

Catholic Liturgical Living: St. Lucy/Lucia Feast Day Celebration Ideas, Traditions, Recipes, and DIY Wreath Crown Craft www.sweetlittleonesblog.com

J will wear a white dress (my First Communion dress!) with a red ribbon at her waist.  I made a wreath just like the one from our Advent wreath craft, but I made skinny, white candles with yellow poms poms for flames instead.  (I just rolled the paper tighter so I didn't need the toilet paper rolls.)  J had so much fun making another wreath with me!

Catholic Liturgical Living: St. Lucy/Lucia Feast Day Celebration Ideas, Traditions, Recipes, and DIY Wreath Crown Craft www.sweetlittleonesblog.com
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I found these great shortcuts for making the saffron buns and braided sweet bread: Pillsbury cinnamon rolls!

I followed Lacy's instructions from Catholic Icing.  And it looks like it took a lot of effort, but it is so simple.  I made the saffron bun (above) and braided wreath (below) in less time than it took the oven to preheat.  And it only took one can of 8 cinnamon rolls to make both.  It looked beautiful and tasted awesome!

Catholic Liturgical Living: St. Lucy/Lucia Feast Day Celebration Ideas, Traditions, Recipes, and DIY Wreath Crown Craft www.sweetlittleonesblog.com
Traditionally, white candles are used.  We didn't have white ones, so we figured yellow was close enough!

St. Lucy's name means "light".  The story goes that she would take food to persecuted Christians in secret at night, so she wore candles on her head so her hands would be free to carry the food.

I also just learned that in the old Julian calendar, December 13th was the winter solstice or the shortest day of the year.  It used to be the date for a pagan festival of lights, but Christians turned it into a Christian holiday by celebrating St. Lucy's life instead!

So another fun (and easy!) activity to do is to drive around looking at Christmas lights.  We've done this for a couple years now, because I knew her name meant "light" but I didn't know the history behind her feast day. 

2006 outdoor Christmas light display in Cincinnati OH

We have really enjoyed celebrating so many saint's feast days this Advent.  I love reflecting on their lives and teaching our kids about them because in all of their words and actions, they point us to Christ. 

So Happy St. Lucia Day on December 13th!  May her courageous example as a Christian strengthen us in our own faith everyday!

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