10.  watching the Steelers play in Heinz fieldSteeler Bengal Game

9.  the blizzard of 2010


8.  our annual Labor Day weekend reunion with friendsIMG_2809

7.  watching my kids play sports (soccer, baseball, gymnastics, wrestling)Grace preps to make a soccer goal

6.  teaching my son to read


5.  Aunt Karen and Eli’s long winter visit


4.  hosting my entire family for Christmas

Chaffin family 2010

3.  Gana’s visit from California


2.  our Florida vacation

Boating in crocadile infested waters

1.  the birth of our son


It’s really been a fabulous year, filled with many special memories.  I am grateful for all the Lord has blessed us with this year and look forward to what is in store for 2011. 

Ever year it is the same… I beg and plead for just one small Christmas Eve miracle, a picture of my kids in front of the tree.  The last few years as they’ve gotten older, it has actually gotten easier, thanks to a slight guilt trip from Daddy (do this for Mommy please, as your Christmas gift to her).  I thought it might be fun after sharing this years picture to look back on Christmas’s Past.




thank you card


(we didn’t attempt a group kid shot that year, but instead opted for individual poses in front of the tree)





(it appears we didn’t try for a kids only shot and just opted for the family shot that year)


2005 (seems to be the most casual of our Christmas Eve shots)


2004- our first Christmas as parents

Christmas Eve

A few moments from this weekend which I wish to savor…

1.  My son presenting his gift to his extended family.  (One nap time he came up excited to share that he had drawn a picture from each scene in Luke 2.  On Christmas he gave one picture to each person.  He then laid them all out on the floor and recited the story from memory.)



2.  Prepping the Christmas Lasagnas with my daughter… it marked a milestone, in which she was truly helpful in the kitchen.  She made one lasagna and I made the other!


3.  Uncle Jim patiently spending time reading and playing with my kids. ( sooo good to have him here rather than skyping from Iraq like last year)


4.  Cousins playing together…IMG_7515



5.  Watching my brother play with my kids.DSC03645


6.  Spending the day with my nephew.IMG_7467

7.  My sons first ChristmasIMG_7214

I am so thankful for the memories shared this past weekend.  They are worth far more to me than anything that could have been wrapped and put under our tree.

Just a few of my favorite pictures of our fun on Christmas morning!

Someone got a lil sleepy waiting up for Santa


The grandparents eagerly waiting for the kids to wake up on Christmas morning.


Does this capture the excitement of Christmas morning, or what? (I wish knew what had just been opened)



This tender moment was brought to you by “Lego Star Wars for Wii”IMG_7390

We were even blessed with a “White” Christmas!IMG_7373   IMG_7376

Enjoying our presents…




It was a fun filled and relaxing Christmas day at the circus!

The week has been full of shopping, cleaning, baking, laundry, card writing, visits with friends, and last minute preparations for the festivities at the end of the week.  But, in the midst of all the hustle and bustle, I’ve had a few precious moments which I want to quickly record lest I forget them in days gone by.

Monday evening I took my 4 year old daughter shopping for her sister’s Christmas present.  She has known for months what she wants to get her, it was simply a matter of carving out the time for the 2 of us to go and buy it.  As we drove off, just the two of us, she was excitedly chattering in the back seat.

After parking the car, I grabbed her hand and we walked over the bridge from the parking garage and into the store.  As I held her hand, joy surged through me.  So often, I am grabbing hands for fear of them running away in the parking lot.  Most of the time it is a quick command and I stick my hand out there for someone to latch onto as I juggle the baby carrier, the shopping bags, my purse, and the keys.  It’s not really an intimate exchange, more of a mode of survival for keeping everyone close by and safe.   And rarely in those moments do I savor it.

But, as we walked, just the two of us, I didn’t really need to hold her hand.  She wasn’t running off and my mind wasn’t scattered in dozens of directions.  I reached for her hand, just because I wanted to hold it and as I held her hand in mine, I simply savored it. 

When did she get so big?  How can it be she will turn 5 in 2 months?  She’s not the toddle she was just yesterday.  And before I know it, she won’t be holding my hand in the parking garage anymore.  In fact, before I know it, she’ll be driving the car in the parking lot.

We waited in a rather long line, but it was just the two of us and neither were in a hurry for our time together to end.  So we didn’t  mind.  She played with the items on display at the check out, laughing and smiling at how silly some of them were, and all the while I just kept savoring her. 

Oh, how I love this girl.  She’s not one to really beg for your attention.  In fact the spot light is not a place she genuinely enjoys being in.  How long has it been since just the two of us went out together? 

The answer… too long.

Since we were both having so much fun, we decided to go to Target to pick up a few things before heading home.  Since this wasn’t simply an errand, but rather a “date” we decided some Starbucks was in order as we began.  She got a kid sized peppermint hot cocoa (did you know they make the kids hot cocoa at a cooler temperature?  How fabulous is that? Oh Starbucks… you think of EVERYTHING) and I had my now standard grande pumpkin spice late w/ skim milk and no whip cream.  (oh how I love walking up and knowing exactly what I want to order and how I want it).  We grabbed our delightful red mugs of goodness, paused for Cheers, and paraded around Target drinks in hand, happy and go lucky.  We grabbed some pjs for her brother, and a sippy cup for the baby, perused the toys for her cousin and then headed to the check out.  All the while she kept commenting, “Mommy, I love you and I don’t want this date to end!”  I feel the same way dear girl, the same way.

Like all good things though, our evening did end.  We got home and shortly after Scott arrived home from wrestling practice with the other 3.  It was time for pjs, teeth brushing, Luke 2, fluoride, water, and lullabies.

However, that hour and a half of one on one time, was a true present in the midst of this chaotic life.  And it served as a gentle reminder to stop and savor the ordinary. 

When cutting down a tree, much like when shopping for a dress, there seems to be an unwritten rule of conduct.

No matter how fabulous it looks, you simply can’t go with the first one you see.

One simply can’t drive to the farm, march down the aisle, and stop at the first decent looking spruce you see.

That would be far too easy. 

Where would the fun be in that?

And what if an even better tree lies waiting around the corner and you miss out because you settled for that first tree?  The easy tree.  The one you could have posed for pictures in front of, cut down, took more pictures with, and paid for all while your toes and fingers were still warm.

No, the circus family is a lot of things… loud, crazy, traditional,

…but easy is not in our vocabulary.

We like to walk up and down every row.  We find a good tree… even snap a few pictures in front of it, but then we second guess ourselves and send scouts back to that first tree.  Is it better?  The scouts never know so we leave someone at tree 2 while others go back to the easy tree.  Inevitably during this back and forth, someone stumbles across a third option.  What about this one? 


At this point, we’re all quite cold frozen through and through and eagerly agree to whichever tree the majority of us are standing closest to. 


We then set about the task of cutting down the tree.


(even the lil guy gets in on the action…never to young for a saw, we say)


By the time the tree is down and more pictures are snapped,


some of us are more excited than others. IMG_6701

Some are just cold and ready to get back in the toasty van. 


“Seriously, why couldn’t Mom and Dad have just agreed to the first tree? Why do they always have to make things so difficult?”

It happened again…I sat curled up on the couch, reading page after page of Solomon’s Puzzle, until before I knew it, the clock struck midnight.  While I didn’t turn into a pumpkin, it did make waking up the next morning rather difficult… especially coupled with nursing a sick baby.  Yes, I hold Loris Nebbia, author of Solomon’s Puzzle, strictly responsible for the fact that my son was late for his tutorial twice last week. 

My favorite kind of books, are the ones in which the characters are so vivid and real that you find yourself believing that they are in fact your real life friends.  From the first chapter of Solomon’s Puzzle, I was instantly captivated by the character of young Ben Hunter.  He is so likeable and  yet there is this cloud of mystery surrounding him, as you question how he could be so completely different from his harsh and unloving father.

I love the way the author so beautifully portrays good and evil in this book.  The two main father figures in the book could not be more opposite from each other and Ben’s struggle to comprehend their differences is a compelling one.   You can’t help but route for him as he struggles with more than the typical teenage battles.

Nebbia does a great job of staying true to her characters.  This means that she sometimes uses language which I don’t generally appreciate in novels, as well as a few “PG” scenes, but they both serve to accurately depict the characters. She also portrays the negative ramifications these actions cause in the lives of all involved.  Sin is in no way glorified or glossed over in this novel.  At the same time, it isn’t one of those cheesy, “every one is a Christian, every thing works out perfectly all the time” type novels either.  And unlike most novels I’ve read, it is far, far from predictable.  As I read, I really had no idea how it was going to end up.  This kept me reading late into the night as I found myself engrossed in the lives of the characters, eager to see how it all would unfold. 

Prepare to stay up late and let some of your work slide as you find yourself sucked into the story, eager to find out more about the characters and solve the mystery behind Solomon’s Puzzle.   It is a delightful book, that begs you to sit down under a comfy quilt and read the night away.   You can order it here, and I highly recommend that you do.  It is the perfect way to spend your winter evenings! 

I found my 3 yr old like this during nap time today… it seems baby doll has been displaced from her bed. 


It reminded me of a picture I snapped a few weeks ago of both on my girls as we found them when we peeked in on them before going to bed.


YES… they are both sleeping INSIDE of their drawers!

And since I am sharing sleeping pics, why not share a few of my lil man snoozing as well?


What is it about a sleeping baby that just makes your heart swoon?