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Now that Ellie is in first grade she has become fascinated by words. It comes with the excitement of learning to read and write. Almost daily she grabs one of her notebooks and writes down all the new words she is learning or wants to learn. Most the the pages are filled with words that you’d expect from a first grader: dog, cat, book, the, see, spell, Mom, Dad, toy, read, joy, tree…(you get the idea).

Earlier this week I discovered this list in her notebook:

 

Yep, you read that correctly. I created this 2011 calendar in just 30 minutes:

How you may be asking yourself? Well, even if you’re not, I’m going to share my secret. I’ve been feeling guilty because I’ve created calendars for years and years for all the grandparents and this year I just didn’t get to it before Christmas. Guilt has been increasing with the approaching January 1, 2011 just days away. Enter my hero, my guilt-banish-er, my 30-minute calendar maker: Big Huge Labs Calendar Maker

Upload your photo (in my case I uploaded various layouts I had created during the year-so they are super fancy with no additional work on my part), select your size, select the month and year. Wait a few minutes while Big Huge Labs does the work and enjoy your calendar page. Directly above the created page you can “save” your work to your computer (which is what I did) and print from there. Repeat for each month.

Calendars done, grandparents happy and guilt gone!

While snuggling in bed with Ellie the other morning and watching her Daddy get ready for work I commented “I think Daddy’s handsome.” Ellie said, “Me too.” After a minute I asked her “Do you think we should tell him?” With a quite serious look she replied, “Never tell a man that…unless it’s his wedding.”

Yep…I think he’s handsome. But shhhh, don’t tell him!

Ellie’s joy captured while opening one of her Christmas presents:

Journaling: “I can’t believe how excited you were to get your gifts this year. Christmas came early as we decided to celebrate our family day on the 20th. The top of your wish list had “zhu zhu” pets, the pretend hamsters. Not only did you get two new hamster friends (including the much coveted pink one with bunny ears), but you got a princess palace for them to play in. You were so totally thrilled. They were the first things out of the box once all the presents were opened.”

 

(See my previous post for information on how to get this paper and word art FREE).

 

There is a FREEBIE involved with this new challenge I’m hosting at Faith Sisters. I was inspired by this cover by Songs 4 Worship:

I loved the slightly grungy white paper and the “joy” word art, so I made this little FREEBIE for you:

You can get it HERE at Faith Sisters

After you’ve scraped your Christmas layouts with this mini-kit (I know lots of you have been taking lots of photographs these past few days) I’d love to see your work in the Gallery and let me know you’ve completed this “Joy” cover challenge in the Forum

Christmas Joy to all!

Last night was Christmas eve. Started our celebration by worshiping with the family at Earl and Penny’s church where Earl was singing in the choir. It was a beautiful service with of lots of songs and God’s fulfilled promises. Penny fixed a yummy dinner featuring ham and cheesy hashbrown potatoes. After a bit of cleaning up, it was picture and present time. As usual, the youngest (Ellie) got the most presents. Of course, she was thrilled with all the toys. Jeff and the other men in the family got new saws from Grandpa and pj’s from Grandma. The boys got some clothes, more treats and more money. Me–let’s just say I was overwhelmed by the generosity of my family.

December 24:

Reece (Gayna and Jim’s puppy dog) got worn out by all the excitement.

I’ve had lots of celebrating the past few days. Both of my stepsons celebrated birthdays and my A-team had our end of the season holiday social.

December 23:

Today my oldest stepson, Brandon, official entered the world of adulthood. I know it probably doesn’t feel any different right now, but soon changes are coming as he finishes high school and moves off to college in the coming year.

December 22:

Yesterday, Austin turned 15. It was their last day of school before Christmas break.

December 21:

Another season, my fourth as an MVC A-team member, came to an end. It’s been a wonderful year being a part of this awesome group of ladies. I will miss it. We celebrated by having dinner together at a local Don Pablos.

Since we have one of those blended families, we try to have an evening where we celebrate Christmas just as a family. We have dinner together and open our gifts to each other that night. This year we ate pizza and had such a fun time. Ellie got her zhu zhu pets (no dogs however) and a palace for them to play in and lots of other toys. Anna got some clothes, makeup and a DS game. Austin got lots of food gifts (and I do mean lots–but he loved it!) and a remote control helicopter. Brandon got some books, a digital picture frame and treats too. Jeff got a shirt, journal, treats and a restaurant gift certificate (he better take me out). And I got a new Forman grill, ornaments from Ellie and a scarf and hat that Anna knit.

December 20: