Christmas is almost here!

You guys, Christmas is coming. Like LESS than a week away coming.

nativityThe house has been decorated since early in November since we like to begin our advent season early. :)

presentsPresents have been wrapped and are waiting to be delivered to family and friends.

chocolate gingerbread cookiesCookies have been baked


Christmas carols have been sung with our teens

xmas moviesChristmas movies have been watched (or will be watched this next week)
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Lessons and Carols has been attended

michael and katy and usChristmas with my brother-in-law & sister-in-law has come and gone

familyNow we are eagerly anticipating Christmas with my parents-in-law on actual Christmas day!

family picAnd eagerly waiting Christmas with my family in January! :) (for those who are new: yup, that’s just my immediate family: my parents, my 4 siblings, and all our spouses, and all my nieces and nephews – minus one more who wasn’t born yet when this photo was taken)

xmas countdownAnd so the countdown continues…

Tell me about your advent season! How are you preparing or celebrating?
Love Rach

That time my father-in-law danced

This past weekend we celebrated Christmas with Christopher’s brother & his wife (Michael & Katy) at the boys’ parents’ house. This would be the first time our family was together since they lost their baby just before Thanksgiving and we weren’t exactly sure what all the weekend would hold. Katy had talked to me prior to the weekend about hoping it was filled with more happy moments than sad and it really, truly was. And it’s not that we avoided talking about what had happened. Michael and Katy talked openly about the baby and both their emotional states. It was good to see them handling this as well as anyone can handle such a tragedy.  More than anything, I think it was just good for the family to be together to love on each other. I’m thankful for that.

family pics (2)(last year’s Christmas family photo)

But the best moment? When Michael and Katy gave the boys’ dad, Tony, an MP3 player filled with his favorite songs. Tony’s dementia has continued to progress and this was the first time I’d seen him this happy in a long, long time. I got the tail end of his reaction on film (it began with dancing & tears).

You can see just how happy he is here. Dementia is a terrible disease that rips away the person you hold so dear. It was a beautiful moment to see that person again even for just a few minutes.

hu lights2We walked around and looked at twinkly Christmas lights one evening and Katy snapped this shot for us. Through everything, everything I have been so thankful to have this man walking by my side.

It was a great weekend filled with really good conversations. And even the disposal of an unfortunate bunny rabbit who had managed to get into the boys’ parents’ storage locker and died. Yikes! I was so sad for that poor bunny. The boys were hilarious about it, though, so even that was fun in its own way. :) Anyway, I’m dragging out the end of this post, haha! Summed up: It was a great weekend! :)

Love Rach

 

Happy happy birthday!

Today my sweet husband entered into the last year of his twenties. 29 years old today. The big 3-0 looming ever closer. He jokes a lot about how if he’s already falling apart in his late twenties (borderline high cholesterol & a torn ACL), he’s scared to see what 30 might bring. ;) But I just tell him that he’s getting this stuff all out of the way now so he can enter his 30s with style next year.

family

It amazes me still that we have traveled along this path together for so long. When we first started dating Christopher was 18 years old (I was 17). We were teenagers. Just kids. And somewhere along the way we entered adulthood. And truly, there is no one else who I would rather live life with.

family kisses

Earlier this year I wrote all about how amazing he is so if you missed that post – go back and read it. :)

My love, 

Happy 29th birthday! I’m so very glad that you chose me to be your forever. We are definitely going to be the most hip grandparents at the little league games someday. And from now until then, I am excited to live each day of life with you. 

With all my love,
Rach

Love Rach

Why The Little Drummer Boy Makes Me Cry

I have always loved this song, but this year it has meant more to me than ever. The first time I listened to it this Christmas season (you know, back in early November, haha!) I really heard it for the first time. I heard the lyrics. Do you guys know what this song is about? Listen to it:

It’s about a little boy who is going to meet the baby Jesus for the first time. He is poor and wants to bring a gift for for the new King, but has nothing to bring.  The little boy is a drummer so he offers up the one thing that he does have. He offers to play the drum for Jesus.

I played my drum for Him, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my best for Him, pa rum pum pum pum
Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum…

You guys, this makes me cry every time. There are so many things on my heart that I desire to do, but I feel like it’s not enough. Or I might not be the best at it. Or that I might outright fail.

But I need to stop over thinking it. It’s not about bringing the greatest gift to lay at Jesus’ feet, but in bringing the best that I have to offer. And knowing that He is smiling when I do.

This song has really hit me this year because Christopher and I have just completed the classes necessary to be certified as foster parents. We are still figuring out if we want to foster or adopt (or both) and what the timeline for that might look like. We always thought we would adopt older kids much later (like 10 or 15 years from now), but this year we decided to at least take the classes and get an idea of what we want to do.

To be honest, we still don’t know what we’re going to do or what the timeline will look like. But I do know that every time I hear this song, it touches my heart. I may not have the greatest, most impressive gifts or talents, but I can use the talents and passions that I do have to bless others (including giving children a safe and loving home). I am bringing my best and laying it at His feet. And I am confident that He is smiling.

Love Rach

The Last Christmas Playlist

To wrap up my final Christmas music list, I am going to share some of my favorite songs by male artists. Really this is the equivalent of Tuesday’s “Angel Voices” post, except for with guys instead of girls. I just didn’t know what to title it. When I first made this list I just called it “the men sing” thinking that I’d come up with a better name for it later. Well, today is the last Christmas music post and I still don’t have a better name for it, ha! So there you have it… listen to these men sing. :)

Cloverton’s “Hallelujah” I fell in love with this song last year and from the looks of my Facebook feed lately, everyone else has fallen in love with it as well. It’s beautiful, haunting, and magical.  If you haven’t heard this yet – listen to it. You’ll cry. Or maybe that’s just me, haha!

Josh Groban’s “O Come All Ye Faithful”

Michael Buble’s “Silent Night”

David Archuleta’s “The First Noel”

Michael Buble’s “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” Yuuup, Michael is on here twice again. You guys, his Christmas album is stellar.

Mark Lowry’s “Mary, Did You Know?” Mark is actually the one who wrote this song and the first one I ever heard perform it. Like I mentioned early this week, I love Pentatonix’s version, but Mark’s will always hold a special place in my heart. I get chills every single time when I listen to 3:05-3:36.

Downhere’s “How Many Kings” This song is beautifully written and beautifully sung. Truly, how many kings have given up everything for us? Downhere is one of my favorite bands because of the way their lyrics have always touched my heart. But it’s also at least partially (in a small way) because I was friends with the drummer, Jeremy. ;)

rach and downhereLeft: me with Downhere in 2004 (Jeremy in blue beside me) and Right: me and Jeremy in 2009 after a concert in Memphis. I was going to share the whole story here, but it’s kind of long so I just copy & pasted it into a draft for another day. So I will share the story later. :)

So there you have it, my friends! You now have the list of my absolute favorite Christmas songs. All 43 of them. ;) You can bet that these are what are playing at any given time in my house or car this holiday season. :)

Happy weekend, friends!
Love Rach

 

My favorite PEPPY Christmas songs!

I hope you guys aren’t sick of all these Christmas music lists yet. Only one more after today and then I’ll move on to other things. I just love Christmas music so much and want to share my favorites, but if I had left it as one giant post it would’ve taken ages to read. Haha! So indulge me just a day or two more. :)

Today I want to share all the peppy Christmas music. I love the slow paced “I’m dreaaaaaming of a whiiiiiite Christmaaas!” songs, but I also love the upbeat, peppy songs as well. And today I am sharing my favorites!

Lady Antebellum’s “Holly Jolly Christmas” Not only is this song great, but the video is adorable too!

Train’s “Joy to the World” This year is the first time I’ve ever heard this version of Joy to the World and I love it. I feel like this is how the song should be sung! With so much power behind the “JOY!” part. Love it! :)

The Irish Rover’s “Good King Wenceslas” The video I’m sharing is actually of a group lip syncing to this song, but the video was funny so I thought I’d share it. ;) And the song is pretty much the definition of peppy! Talk about something that gets stuck in my head, haha!

Colton Dixon’s “Jingle Bells”

RJ Word & Alex G’s “Let It Snow” Mashup

Idina Menzel & Michael Buble’s “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” So I am always a little torn about liking this song. I grew up listening to it so I’ve always liked it. And I love the way Idina & Michael come together to sing this so beautifully. But I do have a problem with the content. Not the content of the video with the adorable little kids, but the content of the lyrics. I mean, it’s a guy pressuring a girl to get her to give up her better judgement and do something she keeps saying she doesn’t want to do. Even if she’s playing “hard to get” (which I am so against, but that’s a discussion for another day), it’s still not okay to disregard another person’s feelings for your own. Anyway, I know the intention of this song isn’t supposed to be about voluntary consent (or the lack there of), but I couldn’t share the song on my list without at least a small PSA. Just remember – cute song, that’s fine. But in real life – it’s not romantic if your partner doesn’t listen to you. Okay, I’m done over thinking this song now. ;)

Savage Garden’s “Last Christmas” You guys, I love Savage Garden. So very much. Anytime I hear one of their songs, it takes me straight back to high school. I had no idea they had performed a Christmas song until this year and I have loved adding it to my Christmas playlist! :)

Trans Siberian Orchestra’s “Carol of the Bells” Okay so, I know this song doesn’t have any lyrics, but I love this song and I love TSO. Their whole Christmas album is amazing. We got to see them perform at Christmas one year several years ago and it was amazing live. I definitely recommend them! :)

Michael Buble’s “It’s Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas” You guys, I never understood all the Michael Buble craze until hearing his Christmas album. He has that old school crooner voice, but in a modern way. That’s the best way I can think to describe it. And I love listening to him! Hence why he’s on this list three times (though the other two times he is singing duets!)

Toby Mac’s “This Christmas” A song I’ve been listening to since I was a teenager. :) I have a heart for orphan care and this song touches that part of my heart every time.

Relient K’s “12 Days of Christmas” Do you guys remember when punk rock was the thing? I do. I loved it. And I loooved Relient K. I mean, honestly – I still love them. I play “Sadie Hawkins’ Dance” for the kids I nanny all the time and they think it’s the funniest thing ever. Or maybe it’s the dance I do when that song comes on that they think is so funny… ;)

Michael Buble & Thalia’s “Feliz Navidad”

Any peppy songs I missed on this list? 

Love Rach

My 9 Favorite Harmonious Christmas Songs

Of all the playlists I’m sharing with you this week, these songs are probably the ones that get played on repeat the most this year. I mean, don’t get me wrong – I have been playing ALL of this Christmas music non stop, but these songs sometimes get put on a loop. Because I love harmony. I love the way that voices blend together and make something beautiful. So yes, my friends… enjoy!

N’Sync’s “O Holy Night” This one is practically a classic. At least in my life span. ;) I know a couple of you are going to be excited to see N’Sync finally make the list. I sure do love me some 90’s boybands!

Cary Brother’s “O Holy Night” I’m trying not to have too many repeats of the same song on these lists (the idea is to pick my favorite version of each song). But where the N’Sync version of it takes me back to my high school days, this one touches my heart. It is absolutely beautiful.

Pentatonix’s “Little Drummer Boy” This is definitely the song that has been repeated the most this holiday season. Love, love, love it. I’ll be blogging more about it later!

 

Forte Femme’s “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”

The Piano Guys’ “Angels We Have Heard On High” I love how unique this is and yet still so beautiful. If you haven’t watched this video – you should. It’s amazing what you can do with a piano!

Pentatonix’s “Angels We Have Heard On High” Oookay, I know I keep saying that I don’t want to put up repeat songs or artists, but I love this version just as much as The Piano Guy’s version!  Sooo… I’m putting both on my list. :)

MercyMe’s “What Child Is This?” This song takes me back to when we lived in China of all places. For Christmas one year, I got a CD with this song on it while we were living in China and I listened to this song on repeat for weeks. And it’s all because of the “Hallelujahs” around the 2 minute mark. So beautiful.

Catcus Cuties’ “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” Not only are the adorable, but I love when they harmonize (beginning around 1 minute into the song).

Pentatonix’s “Mary Did You Know?” I love, love, love this song. I first heard it performed by Mark Lowry and I will always have a special place in my heart for that version. But there is something to be said for Pentatonix’s amazing harmonies.

So I broke my own rules – try not to have multiple artists or multiple songs… and this post did both, ha! But clearly I am a fan of Pentatonix. ;) Now if the cast of Pitch Perfect would just make a Christmas album… that would be perfect!

Now that you guys know how much I love blending voices… any recommendations for me? Is there a group I totally missed?
Love Rach