Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve 2009

What a huge fun blessing to spend the last day of a terribly difficult year with our friends who bring us much JOY! We love the SpicyFamily and rarely get to see them. It has been two years since PandaPop has had the chance to visit with them in person. We all met when our girls were only two years old and were instant friends with MANY similarities. God has blessed our friendship in such crazy ways!!

As 2009 moves behind us we can see God's hand shielding us, guiding us and carrying us through some very emotional times as we lived through the raw pain of having a little boy in our home for six days, giving him all we had only to say goodbye to him and our dream of adopting. After five years of one let down after another concerning adoption, this final blow really took the life out of us and joy was hard to find. The entire month of December, He has flooded me with JOY everywhere I turn. That is a miracle.

We have no idea what lies ahead, but we do know Who holds that future. We are truly blessed.

Happy New Year 2010!!

We look forward to what the Lord has in store for our little family and we can be a blessing to others and HIM!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Oh, The Irony

The irony of this huge cat is that his resting place is the LITTLEST Pet Shop box lid! ; )

We love you Miao! (pronounced's Chinese for cat!)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Great JOY-Part 3 of 3

PandaGirl's grandparents had to leave at lunchtime so we helped them pack up to get on the road while PG had fun with the snow (and I guess I was having fun with the camera while they were loading! lol!). She got this cute fluffy, furry white vest that went perfect with the snow on the ground. Can't wait to snap some black and white pics of her in this vest!
PP's parents and sister. We had all gotten ready for the day and PP didn't because he thought we (me & PG) were staying in PJs so that's why he doesn't look "ready".....because he isn't!

PG is still on a Littlest Petshop kick so she got a few for gifts and we found the Monopoly LPS version that we LOVE!! You get to use whatever pet you desire from her collection. This night I was the black cat, last night I was the way cute little lamb. PandaGirl KICKED MY TAIL TWICE!!! PP wasn't too far behind her! I was down and out, almost broke, but those two were land, pet carrier and doggie house tycoons! Fun that PG is old enough to be able to play a real game! Yay!
After our two rounds of the game we have discovered that in order to play LPS Monopoly we MUST include the indulgences of eating NeRds! New tradition. (This pack was in PP's stocking, but I confiscated them!)
In 2004 we started a tradition of making Chinese food at home for just us three. The past few years we have eaten out at Chinese restaurants for Christmas which is great, too, but this year we got to do it again just like our first time. Us three, at home, our Chinese dishes and home made (well, frozen!!) Chinese food. Good memories of the BEST CHRISTMAS EVER!

Now this week we still get to look forward to celebrating with my parents!! ; )

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Great JOY-Part 2 of 3

As I awoke on Christmas morning I was greeted by the stillness of the snow from the night before while looking out my kitchen window to the back yard.

Below is PandaGirl opening some Princess and the Frog fun goodies! That movie was so fun! PG gave me the soundtrack for a gift and I was ecstatic!
PandaPop BLESSED my socks off with this gorgeous and delicate pendant called "Infinity" which is so perfect because we have always said, "I love you, infinity times two." It was a huge treat since I haven't gotten any jewelry for Christmas since PG came along. Smile.
If you've seen the movie "UP" then you totally get this. If not, it will make no sense. That movie moved us both greatly. Some very personal and poignant parts in it. I made this for PP from a soda bottle cap from our open house party a few weeks ago.

He teared up.

It was great. ; )
These three little cuties on my front porch have been with us since 1995....long before PG came along. I guess it was prophetic for the three of us. Hmmm. Anyway, it was fun to see them with little drifts of snow on Christmas morning.
PG's rain boots after coming in from out in the snow!
The breakfast for Christmas morning couldn't have been any more perfect! PP's mom made orange French toast that was to die for!!!!!!! It was just the right flavors all mixed together that were perfectly Christmasy.
Part 3 tomorrow!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Great JOY-Part 1 of 3

The JOY was delivered in my heart!

This whole month I have been surrounded by every kind of reminder that JOY comes from the Lord. My circumstances affect my mood (though I do try to keep that in a healthy state!!), but JOY is something deeper that comes from the Holy Spirit living in me and the HOPE I have in Jesus of one day living in perfection with my Maker. JOY!

God blessed my socks off in the past couple of days with our Christmas celebration. After all the tears cried over the past couple of months from our loss of the adoption, etc. my heart really didn't believe that I'd experience any happiness or joy this season. So very blessed in my heart that I was wrong and that He provided and I am ever grateful for the gift.
Christmas Eve in Texas never involves snow, but lo & behold if didn't come a little blizzard from mid-morning on through the evening! Due to PandaPop's need to be at our church's Eve service and work this coming Sunday, as well, we needed to stay at our own home for Christmas this year as opposed to traveling to see extended family.

While we were waiting for PP's parents and sister to arrive, I was preparing lunch, PandaGirl was watching some "holiday" show on TV and PP had gotten our very aromatic chimnea going with a strong fire that wafted in the front door with the most wonderful fragrance of.....winter and all it's charm. I know there were people waaaaay up north who were stuck in their cars earlier in the week for THIRTEEN HOURS due to the "charming" winter blasts, but in this moment the falling snow, smell of the chimnea's smoke, looking at our own decorations, all the gifts under the tree, the yummy food waiting for us and the anticipation of family and the day's events to come were just....magical.

There were so many squeals from me and PG! I really was a giddy girl and enjoyed every minute of it in awe and thanksgiving to the Lord for his provisions.

I don't deserve ANYthing, yet He blesses still. JOY.
This doesn't look like much snow, but it's still early on in this pic and it snowed ALL day. For Texas, that is a big deal. I have NO memory of a white Christmas----ever. So fun to see look out the windows of our cozy home to the powdery white fluff falling everywhere!!

Our church has two different Eve services. PandaPop, of course had to attend because he was reading Luke 2 for the services, but the rest of us stayed in the house. More so than snow, we get ICE on Texas roads and that is very dangerous.

PG and I had run outside for a moment when I saw the Jeep lights coming down the street and I knew it was my Man so I snapped this fun pic of him arriving home from the first service.

Part 2 of 3 pics tomorrow!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009

Christmas Eve 2009

These are some of the BEST and easiest cookies in the world!

My very-close-to-my-heart-real-life-SpicyFriend gave me the recipe long ago, but it never gets old.

Cake Batter Cookies

one box yellow cake mix (dry)
one stick of butter, really softened
one egg
two tablespoons water
MIX all together and add in 1 cup of chocolate chips

Bake @ 350 for 11-13 minutes
(Play with mix and chips variations!!---I even used strawberry cake mix, added some red food coloring to darken the batter and used dark chocolate chips for one batch and white chips for another---YUM and cute!)

PandaGirl's real life middle name if NOEL so of course, this time of year I LOVE seeing and using all the "noel" stuff I can find.

Merry Christmas Eve!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Holly Jolly Photo Shoot

Have a holly jolly Christmas
It's the best time of the year
I don't know if there'll be snow
But have a cup of cheer

The pic above would reflect these lyrics from days gone by, but in order that all ten of my readers not get the wrong idea and believe that our PandaFamily has it all together and perfect, I have included just a few of the other pics from the morning of our photo shoot. Our wild and precious friend met us up at our church to take our pics for a Christmas card.

We were to meet at 10:30AM, but us three arrived at 10 to do a few things in PandaPop's office first. As we pulled into the parking lot we saw lots of cars and realized there was a funeral going on.

Slight respectful eye-rolling on my part. I did NOT want to take away from the loss and heartache of those attending the funeral, but me and my carnal self had the second thought of "oh great, now we can't take the pics in the right sunlight." Forgive me, Lord! I immediately told my little crew that it was all OK and that we should pray for those attending the funeral and take our pic whenever they were done.

Over an hour later they were done. However, during that time period my sweetheart of a husband let PandaGirl have candy, Coke and an ice cream cone. (Are you asking, "Where was the mother?!"---I was in another room working on a project.)

Can you see where the sugar shock is heading?

Crashing down from all the sugar high fun was soon as we were ready to take pics.

Holly Jolly Day.

Suffice it to say, our little family photo shoot was LESS THAN jolly as PG starts getting so giddy that she can't take any pics, that makes me mad, I gripe and threaten, PP is about to kill us both, PG gets huffy-puffy, I get sarcastic, PP shuts down and it pretty much turned out HORRIBLE!

But don't worry! We all made up and the delete button on the camera was put into full use. I wonder what other families have a similar story about the wild fun they had taking family pics?!!! LOL!

Thank you, Wild & Precious Girl for your fun, laughter and for putting up with some cotton-headed-ninny-muggins! ; )

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Two Peas

PandaGirl is so blessed to have two little girls from China at our church. One is a year younger than her and the other is a year older. This is the older one whom PG likes to scheme with every single Sunday after church. Both of them contrive plans as to which house they are going to get to go to for the afternoon until choir time comes around that evening. They are disappointed when one of us moms has to say the dreaded "no" to their heartfelt plans, but there are also many days that we say "yes" and there are squeals of delight echoing the halls of our church.

It's good to have kindred spirit friends.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Date with Destiny

I know that I only have one child to get ready for school in the mornings, but there are many days that PG can hear me saying multiple times,

"Hurry up! We're running late!!"

I have no idea where the time goes really.

First things first, though, and I ALWAYS brush my teeth, wash my face and put on a base coat of waterproof mascara. Is your face twitched up a bit at that mascara reference? Well, I have done that forever. I have white, and I do mean, whitey-white-blonde eyelashes that make me look like a different person entirely than I do with mascara caked on. This morning for some reason I pushed off my normal morning routine thinking I'd just do it as soon PandaPop took PG to school.

Destiny had a different plan yesterday. PP decided on a whim that I needed to hop in the car, too and that he'd take me to a surprise breakfast.

Awe, how sweet!


Furry teeth.

No deodorant.

Unbrushed hair.



"SURE! I'd love to go!! Can I at least brush my teeth first and throw on a ball cap (and slap on some mascara) even though we are pushing the long hand even closer to a tardy slip?"

Great. Good man.

We ended up having a great time of conversation over his African Red Bush hot tea and my Caramel Brulee' Latte. I had a list of things. All about me, of course.

Who am I now and what am I supposed to be?

We talked shop about me.

I adore talking with PP. He rocks my world. Perfect sounding board for my random thoughts that I like to verbalize.

Using the word "destiny" is like saying I believe in fate or serendipity (Serendipity is one of my MOST favorite chick flicks of all time!!). Nah. I do believe that God has a plan. For me. He created me and knows me better than I know myself.

PP gave me a license to figure out just who that girl is.

Bless him.

Turning 40 in September 2010.

I just enrolled in PandaMom 101.

Let's see if I can get an A+ according to the true Professor.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Off Broadway

What a weekend!

PandaGirl's strep throat must have been caught early enough that she really didn't get to the bad stage at all. Whew. Made it through her Thursday night dress rehearsal a bit weakly, but made it none the less.

She was, of course, THE cutest gift package I've ever seen!! I decided to go with blue wrapping paper even though I'm a RED girl and she's a RAINBOW girl, because I figured everyone would go with red, green and gold. Good call PandaMom! Look at my sweet little gift showing up so cutely smack in the middle of all those Christmas colors in the full group shot below!! ; ) Not arrogant, just smart stage show thinking. Smile.

Our music minister asked if I would take pictures with my good camera during the dress rehearsal on Thursday. I took a lot of great shots, but I missed the finale so I was able to snap this one last night. Our church choir, orchestra, dancers, actors, backstage crew, sound crew, lights, all of them were so fabulous and very effectively relayed the message of CHRISTmas!! Love my church family.
Me and my awesome friend!! We connected a couple of years ago for a very serious reason. We both graduated high school in 1989!!! That one one fact opened up the door to a wonderfully fun friendship. If you look back in the group shot you'll see her green-garbed-self on top of a huge rolling platform. Great job, C!
My parents came to see PG in her little blue gift ensemble and had fun helping with making some Christmas goodies in the kitchen. Oh, and we had to go out for BBQ, too. That IS what we Texans do, ya know.

Lots more fun Christmas pics to come!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Some TLC, Please

PandaGirl came home Tuesday with strep throat. Woohoo. Got her on meds fast enough that she didn't get to the miserable part.

That really was a blessing.

This weekend she will be a gift package in our church's Christmas musical. She had to miss one of the rehearsals, but made it to the dress rehearsal last night. So cute!!
Love this darling pic of PG!!

I do wish that the reflection of my super skinny leg in the ornament was not just an optical illusion. I think the last time my thigh was THAT skinny was around age...oh, let's saaaayy, two years old.

A girl can dream.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Sunday night our church held the traditional Hanging of the Green service where church members help decorate the church with Christmas trees, lights, bows, poinsettias, etc. while worshiping through song and testimony. Our new worship minister who arrived in the spring really helped put together a warm, homey service with our large church family. The whole thing was quite emotional and very moving. All age ranges of choirs sang something along with different prayers, Scripture reading and a short testimony by yours truly.

Our worship minister asked me a couple of days prior if I'd like to share a favorite Christmas memory. Ya know, 3-5 minute kinda thing. He thought I might be freaked out by getting up in front of people to talk.

Bless his heart. He really doesn't know PandaMom that well yet. LOL!! Anyone who knows me in real life knows that getting up in front of people to talk is no problem. Getting me to shut up? That's a different animal altogether. ; )

Anyhoo--I really didn't know what I was going to say because I don't have a magnificent memory to tell, because really, all my Christmases growing up were consistently happy. I told PandaGirl what I was asked to do and that I couldn't pick out any one event or gift. She reminded me (thanks, PG) about the time I peeked at some fluffy pink house-shoes in my mom's room and spoiled my own surprise.

Hmmmm.....that seemed sorta blah. I needed something wonderful and great, but I just couldn't think of something. I kept putting it out of my mind, getting busy and distracted until, whatdayaknow---it was about 30 minutes before the service and I really needed to think of something to say!

As I was sitting and listening to PG's choir do a quick practice run of their song I noticed that the name of it was "Joy". You've got to be kidding me, right?! Boy that word just keeps on popping up this season. My lack of it and search for it after such a crazy loss of "our son" and the dream.

It immediately came together in my mind!! I do believe the Lord allowed me to think of all of these things and worked them together for His good. By the way, I thought I would be one of several people sharing a little favorite memory until I read the printed program in those minutes prior to the service. NUH-UH---I was the only one. Oh my. I felt like I really had to have something to "say"!! Here's how it went:

First I promised the congregation that I no idea the kids were singing a song named "Joy". Then I told of my Spoiled Joy when peeking at the house shoes as a kid. My own fault.

Next I fast forwarded to Christmas 2003 when I carried around a picture all month of a precious little girl who was waiting for us to come get her in China. That was Expectant Joy.

Finally, I share how I had Lost my Joy in the past several weeks due to the devastating experiences with our little boy coming and going out of our life in such a bizarre manner and how all three of us were heartbroken. Of course, my voice cracked and I teared up and forced my way through the words during this part. Saw several of my close friends in the congregation all teared up and I just had to move through it!!

Then, here's where the Lord really did a number and wrapped it all up to make sense in a way that could only be Him. This past Friday night my wild and precious friend bought me a beautiful pendant for a necklace that said "JOY" on it. She has walked this ugly road with us and new that Joy was my theme for the time being while I try to get back to a normal state of heart. We were at the children's party that PandaPop leads and were busy going and getting pizza and getting ready for the night. Not thirty minutes after she gave me my Joy necklace I had lost it. We searched EVERYwhere for that thing!!! I just couldn't believe how it just flew off my neck without me knowing it. It was quite large and I would have heard it if it fell.


I felt so badly because she had JUST given it to me and it was such a personal, well-thought out gift with a sensitive meaning.

NO LIE----four hours later my friend goes back to the pizza place and FOUND it in the parking lot under a car!!! She texted me and said, "Found your joy. It's a bit scratched, but it's here!"

Tell me, how incredibly PROFOUND is THAT????!!!!

I lost my JOY, but found it again though it's SCRATCHED.

That was my Favorite Christmas Memory little testimony. I ended with the truth that our JOY doesn't come from circumstances, but rather from God and his grace alone.


I was shaking a bit knowing that whatever had just come from my mouth was not me, but the Lord allowing my brokeness to speak to someone. Even PandaPop was wiping away his tears. Apparently I was right. Sooo many people had such sweet things to say to me and to PP about it. I didn't say anything for any kind of praise or pity, but I do believe that all of us have losses that steal the Joy away and then think everyone else has it all together.

Not so.

No one has "it" together.

That's exactly why we need a Savior.


The Savior that was born for us and died for us and lives for us.

The whole purpose for CHRISTmas.

Trust Him for your JOY.

I am.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Volunteer Open House

Yesterday was our 3rd annual open house for our children's ministry volunteers. We open our home to these awesome servants who give of their time to help children know more about Jesus and his saving grace.

He IS the perfect gift.

Of course, we always serve yummy, fattening food and enjoy lots of good conversation. This year's gift from us to them were these cutie patootie chunky fat clear glass mugs filled with two big cookies and a package of flavored coffee. I think it was a great time of fellowship. As soon as we were done in the afternoon we all headed back to our church for the Hanging of the Green worship time.

It. Was. Amazing.

We love our precious church.