Christmas ornaments for military moms – updated as of 12/16

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A group of West Point moms decided to do an ornament exchange this Christmas season. For a few months now, a special West Point moms facebook page has featured photos of ornaments received. Pangs of envy have pulsed through me as I observe the thought-fulness and creativity shared among friends. Mostly though, seeing pictures of the new foofaraw for the holidays is a blessing.  When I consider that many of these moms haven’t met each other in person, I’m deeply moved. These women simply share an unbreakable bond of being a military mom, specifically of the West Point/Army variety.

My intention is to update this post regularly and include as many of the ornament ideas as possible. Feel free to share this with your family and friends as a subtle hint that YOU want some new pretties for your tree. If you are a military parent, YOU deserve it! WE gotta represent!

I’m very fond of this one featured above, I just would need to change the last name so it’s my 2LT.

If you are a military mom, here’s an example of what one West Point mom did for another.

A WP mom created a collage of the ornaments she received from her Secret Elf.

A WP mom created a collage of the ornaments she received from her Secret Elf.

Foundations guardian angel of the military figurine from EnescoThen there’s this one a West Point mom ordered. The Guardian Angel of the Military is quite lovely!

Check out this onePersonalized Christmas Ornaments - American Flag Star - 11089

Another awesome one from Cafe Press, my cadet has worn that hat! Brings back a lot of memories…

This weekend, a group of West Point moms received a personalized ornament created by Megan at Pages. Here is the site. She has all kind of custom ones, but knows which ones made for the West Point moms. She also has custom military event paper that she will customize further for your Cadet and Year.

An adorable glass cadet ornament would look so pretty sparkling next to the lights on my tree. Here’s the link. (Update, crud, it’s sold out but you DIY folks might be able to replicate).

Although this one is made in Taiwan, it’s still lovely. Seriously, it won’t be the only non-US made ornament on your tree. For reals. Anyway, it’s embroidered which is different! Here’s the info

Continuing on the glass ornament theme, you might like these especially because of the unique way they are designed. The main image is on the INSIDE! The image is put on a clear backing which is almost invisible at first glance. The image is then placed inside the ornament and the outside is decorated with polka dots or other images.This gives the ornament a multi-dimensional look that really pops! The finishing touch is the addition of multi layers of korker ribbon to coordinate with your ornament choices.Click here for the talented lady’s website on etsy.

Floating American Flag Ornament - Personalized - Small

I thought Longaberger only made pretty baskets, I was wrong. I apologize! Check this out and note the special offer. Save $10! Veteran’s Day is Sunday, November 11th and these beautiful handcrafted ornaments are the perfect gift to honor our service men and women and you’ll receive them in time for Veteran’s Day! A perfect holiday gift at a perfect price — only $20 each! Available in Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. Select a branch of service in the drop down menu to see each Ornament. A portion of the proceeds from each American Valor Ornament sold will go to the Longaberger Military Cares Program. You’ll also have the opportunity to make an additional donation to Military Cares at checkout. Longaberger’s Military Cares program combines the efforts of employees, sales field and customers to support America’s military troops and their families through numerous charitable programs and contributions. Click here for the deets. 
Offer good from 12 Noon EDT through 11:50 p.m. EDT (9 a.m. – 8:59 p.m. PDT) Wednesday, October 17, 2012. Price valid with online order only. Price does not include tax or shipping and handling.

Another WP mom didn’t wait for a Christmas tree to find a place for this ornament. How many of us have proudly displayed something like this in our homes year-round. Awaiting order info from a Secret Elf.

And when West Point moms get to-gether, it’s going to be a good time! There is an end-less supply of pride (the good kind) and stories!

We usually have our tiaras dis-cretely hidden but every now and then we gotta flash the bling. Such a fun bunch of ladies!

Check out this site for ordering info for this ornament because it’s pretty wonderful! American Hero ornaments deserve a significant place on our trees.

Once a West Point mom, always a WP mom. I have great admiration for the women standing alongside their cadets and Soldiers. There is an immensely talented WP mom who makes her own miniature watercolor paintings as ornaments. The ornaments are $18 each which includes S&H; contact at jacruick@yahoo.com to order!

A little watercolor painting as an ornament, what a treasure!

Elegant and lovely!

As the West Point ornament exchange 2012 winds down, I still learned of some great ideas.

Beautiful colors and detail

Beautiful colors and detail

This cross ornament can be found here.

My Soldier jumped out of airplane this week, maybe I need one of these?

My Soldier jumped out of airplane this week, maybe I need one of these?

If you have a military person in aviation, a West Point mom dis-covered this perfect gift for the tree! Click here for the link. Mine will be jumping out of helicopter soon so this might get on my shopping list.

And then there’s this one. I’m super excited to give this to my favorite Soldier and Scrabble buddy. This is a common Army exclamation. The creator of these ornaments appreciates the military and in an upcoming post I’m going to offer a give-away thanks to her generosity! You can find Lilly on facebook or on her etsy site. She can do any up to 9 letter word, btw.

If you are an Army person, you know what Hooah means! I can’t explain it, it’s a word and a feeling!

This is my ornament positioned right by a picture of the Hubs and I on our honeymoon in Spain.

This is my ornament positioned right by a picture of the Hubs and I on our honeymoon in Spain.

Please send me your pictures and links and I’ll post them here. Go Army!

3, 2, 1 = the day I wished I was a statistician

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Over Christmas break, I asked the middle OS to run to the store to get me some canned tomatoes. By the time Aaron came home, he had accumulated MUCH more than 32 ounces of canned tomatoes. Read on for details…

Not just a pretty face! 

We live close to several grocery stores and therefore I assumed Aaron would perform this task lickety-split. My middle bairn has a good track record as my errand boy. If I may brag a moment, Aaron will be a fine husband one day. He not only puts the toilet seat down after using it, this guy can find common food staples and less traditional food items such as hoisin sauce and kefir in several nationally known grocery chains!


However, this recent grocery trip was taking longer than expected and I wondered to myself, “Where is Aaron? Where did he go? I need my canned tomatoes!”


And that’s when the phone rang. 
Aaron: “Hey, Mom.”
Me: “Hey…where are you?”
Aaron: “Um, I just got a ticket.”
Me: “WHAT? What were YOU doing and where are my canned tomatoes?!!!”


The middle OS proceeded to explain where and how he got a speeding ticket. The simple trip to the grocery store had morphed into a jaunt to the used bookstore which somehow led to a pricey speeding fine.


Upon Aaron’s return, the cheerful mood in our otherwise festive home had soured. The Hubs was miffed, Aaron was embarrassed and I was annoyed that I had waited so long for my canned tomatoes.


But it gets better (or worse depending on your perspective)…

“I may be a ginger but I can apparently
read road signs better than my West Point brother!”

We then asked our oldest OS to drop the orange hair, freckle face OS off at basketball practice. He agreed and scuttled his brother into the car. He was gone for no more than 10 minutes-


And that’s when the phone rang.
Nate: “Hey.”
Me: “Hey…what’s up?”

Nate: “I just got a ticket.”
Me: “WHAT? What were YOU doing and where is Isaac?!!!”

The oldest OS then proceeded to explain where and how he got an even heftier speeding ticket. The simple trip to school had morphed into a second W-H encounter with law enforcement. Despite the verbal warnings of the younger brother, Nate had overlooked obvious road signs and in the span of less than one hour, two of our three OS had about $600 in associated ticket costs.

Three oliveshoots, two speeding tickets,
one day = let’s try to not repeat that, guys!
I’ve never heard of such a thing! What are the chances of having three oliveshoots who drive (Ike has his learner’s permit) and two of them getting speeding tickets on the same day in less than an hour? I’m no statistician but I’d say it’s highly unlikely.

The OS are handling these issues responsibly and financially independently. They are reaping the consequences of their actions and although I do not find it amusing that they did something wrong, I do think it’s funny in a quirky sort of way. According to my calculations, for the price of two speeding tickets, these two guys could have bought me over 400 cans of canned tomatoes!

We embrace our weirdness!
I’d love to hear about your unusual holiday experiences too. 

PS. Here are a few links of our other unusual grocery store encounters (one involving an innocent assault with salt!) if you’re interested. 




This mama returns to writing

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It’s been a while since I last posted on this blog. Happy Thanksgiving! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! With that in mind, I thought I’d reconnect by answering some not really frequently asked questions:


Where have you been? I’ve been sewing. From October to December, I made and sold over 50 fabric bowls and over 100 little Scripture pillows.

A fabric bowl that I especially enjoyed making

Thread and material strewn all over the house. As I found myself dressed in clothing (as is the social norm in this suburban town when one goes out in public), I found hundreds of mismatched thread fibers attached to my pants and sweaters. My mother cautiously remarked one day while visiting my home, it looked like the Fabric Fairy had stopped by and thrown up everywhere! From morning till night I was a human sewing MACHINE. 

                             
                          Believe it or not, this was our version of clean for about two months





How is Nate? My oldest OS is recovering marvelously. So well in fact that when he was home from West Point during Thanksgiving, we made a trip to the local airport. We had to pick up the middle OS who was returning from a mission trip to Costa Rica. Nate and I were behind schedule and started to run in the airport. It was then that I noticed he was moving awkwardly. For a second, I thought to myself, “Why is he limping?” and then I remembered, oh yeah, he had SURGERY!


What is the cumulative weight of the average W-H? Well, that’s kind of a personal question but, um, ok, since you asked, the garden variety W-H tips the scales at 147 pounds. Some of us want that number to increase, others (who shall remain nameless), are not happy…


Did your family make an annual Christmas ornament video? YES! The timeless tradition continues. Each year the Hubs and I hide the pickle ornament somewhere in our large Christmas tree and then the three OS battle to be the first to find it! Here’s the video for your viewing pleasure. Let me know if you can guess who was the vanquisher and who hung his head in shame for the second year in a row. 


Maintaining a blog is difficult but I assert that it serves a purpose in my life, if only to allow me to scribe about life as a blessed, albeit imperfect wife, mother and follower of Christ. 



If you bothered to stop by after all these months, bless you, sweet reader…


more soon!

All I want for Christmas is WATER!

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Guess what Santa brought us for Christmas? A broken water heater and valve!!! This might not have been the work of Santa but of that sinister Grinch or Scrooge. I would have preferred coal because at least we could have done something with it. Apparently Santa also doesn’t read this blog because if he did, he would know all the good will and cheer I attempted to spread onto others through apron making. He would never have done something like this if he had read my blog and seen what a wonderful person I have been lately. Hmphf.


Thanks goodness I have been on two mission trips. In Peru, I learned the fine art of dumping water into a toilet to force it to flush. In El Salvador, I learned the fine art of pouring clean drinking water into a cup and submerging my toothbrush and toothpaste into it to maintain proper dental hygiene. On some very microscopic level, and I emphasize microscopic, it has helped me salvage a bit, and I emphasize a bit, of sanity which isn’t saying much.

Here is a picture of a toilet in Peru outside of an elementary school. The orange bucket is full of water, the white bucket is using for pouring.

And this is a picture of a toilet in a poor village in El Salvador. This is actually a very nice toilet compared to what a wonderful pastor and his family used to have.


If I look on the bright side, at least the broken water heater and valve waited until our Christmas Eve company left before deciding to act the fool.

And if I continue to look at this as a glass half-full moment, than I must continue to be joyous that Isaac was feeling sick after our Christmas Eve company departed.

That’s because instead of going to a late night Christmas eve church service, Ike, Aaron and I stayed home. Isaac was trying to go to sleep but heard this annoying tick-tick-tick sound in his room.

I thought I found the culprit to the sound and turned off a few ceiling fans. However, the tick-tick-ticking continued. Being the mama of a Soldier, I thought it sounded like a bomb. Freaked me out a little. The sound was relentless and I pressed my ear to the walls trying to figure out from whence the maddening noise was coming.

Aaron saw me listening to the wall completely dumbfounded as to the source of the problem. Pressing my ear to various places on the wall, I told him this reminded me of a close family member who had suffered from mental illness who also heard things in the wall. It was one of those awkwardly funny comments and Aaron wasn’t sure what to say. Thankfully I wasn’t the only one hearing this sound.

When the Hubs and Nate returned from church, Aaron was fast asleep, Ike had relegated himself to another room to sleep and the Hubs and OS began to hunt for the sound.


That’s when we discovered that the tick-tick-tick was actually a drip-drip-drip coming from the attic and Christmas Day arrived with a very unwelcome gift…no running water. You can get batteries on Christmas Day but you can’t get a new water heater and valve at a gas station! Where’s a Jewish plumber when you need one?

We’re Day Two of this annoyance and the saga continues…ergh

Crazy Christmas Cookie Time

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And my sisters have an annual tradition in addition to our Christmas Pickle video…


After my sister Lorri arrives from Chicago, the three of us along with other important members of the family, this year being Rachel’s Christmas video debut, we make Christmas cookies. Last year Aaron made a video about it and it was so cool, he’s now the honorary videographer.


Denise was the brains behind the “story” and I will say on behalf of myself, at the risk of stating the obvious, my acting is very natural! We are not a perfect family but it’s moments like this that make me overjoyed to be a part of this clan!


The Christmas Pickle Video 2009

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It has been a family tradition for many years. The day after Thanksgiving, we decorate our Christmas trees. Then when we are done, the Hubs and I dismiss our OS into another room and we continue another family tradition, the Hubs and I hide the Christmas pickle ornament somewhere on the tree. I’m not sure if the Christmas pickle is a Southern thing but we’ve been doing it since we moved here.


You might think that my OS are too old for such shenanigans, that they are too mature, too busy, too manly to engage in this family tradition. But you would be wrong. Very wrong. This year to our surprise, a new OS became the vanquisher and someone very shocking came in last place.

We give each OS an inexpensive gift for finding the pickle. Even at 19, 15 and 13 years old, they still expect a present. When one OS finds the pickle, he is automatically eliminated from the next round. I’m really making this sound more complicated than it is…

Hope you enjoy! Special shout out to middle OS Aaron for making what was now become another family tradition…a Christmas pickle video! And if you’re a glutton for punishment, check this out

Sew messy

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For the last six weeks, I have been a mad seamstress. Not mad as in angry but mad as in crazy, frazzled and ridiculously blessed. As of this post, I will have made almost 70 aprons for Christmas. Since I am the mama of three OS, I have used nearly half a football field worth of material. I have sewn aprons for people who aren’t even related to me, people who would not feel morally indebted to purchase something made by my hands.

Beyond my wildest expectations, the Lord has spoken to my heart deeply and when I have time, I wish to share with you my personal history as it relates to aprons. For me, aprons are more than an “outer garment one uses to primarily cover the front of the body.” But alas, let me say that I am nearly without words to describe the depth of happiness and fulfillment it has brought me to make them for others including some of you who will read this post.


If there is a downside, it’s that my house has been a wreck. Seriously. Sew messy. And it seems as if there hasn’t been a room in my house where the Fabric Monster hasn’t touched. Threads, pins, remnants have invaded this once fairly tidy domicile.
Since I do not have a craft room, my kitchen has served as the Command Center for this operation. One evening I took a few pictures to offer you a glimpse of the vantage point from my sewing machine. It looked worse at other times but I didn’t have the courage to capture the chaos.


To me, it looks like one of those photos you’d see in an I-Spy book. “I spy with my little eye an orange dinosaur…” (I made dinosaur aprons) or “I spy with my little eye a Christmas ornament in a box…” (I personalized an ornament for a friend). We have a beautiful new room outside of our kitchen and to the Hubs’ chagrin, the ironing board became a new piece of furniture. It didn’t exactly match with the existing decor but I’ve had no choice.


And then there’s Tess. Tess is the name of my dress form. When my oldest OS returned home from West Point for Christmas Break, I asked him if he had met Tess. He said no and when I introduced them to each other, he told me I was seriously freaking him out.

At this moment, our house is less cluttered as my apron making frenzy has calmed down. I am proud of myself for working hard and so happy to being slightly relaxed until Wednesday…aka Christmas Cookie Making Time!

Merry CHRISTmas!