Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas 2010

Well Christmas this year for the McGraw family was a month long celebration. We of course remembered the reason for the season all month long and are so grateful that God sent his son to be our savior. It started by celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas with Mike's side of the family and ended with Christmas with my side of the family. It was great having most of my Christmas shopping done by Thanksgiving and it was nice for the kids to have all their presents spread out so they could appreciate them more. Here are a few pictures from our Christmas celebrations.


Abby and her new lap desk



Our family after Christmas Eve Service as my parent's house



Will is a little excited about his new metal detector

What a great time of family fun we had. I got a huge surprise from Mike as he got me a new MacBook. I needed a new laptop badly but we decided, or so I thought, to hold off. I am so grateful that Mike wanted to do something special for me this Christmas.

We are looking forward to 2011 and all the God has in store for us. We have been so blessed.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Thanksgiving Program

Will's kindergarten class did an amazing Thanksgiving Program. I never knew so many songs existed about Thanksgiving. Abby did the same program two years ago and it was just as cute the second time around. Here is a video of my little Indian.
video
We had a great Thanksgiving up at Lake Erie this year. Also for the first time we celebrated Christmas as well. This made it more hectic in November in terms of getting my shopping done, but now I am so far ahead. We love spending time with our families over the Holidays. Abby and Will had a blast with their cousins and of course we had an amazing Thanksgiving meal. We have so much to be thankful for and I want to keep that spirt of thanksgiving going all year long in our family. Now onto CHRISTmas!

Monday, November 22, 2010

One nation under God

Last week, Will and his kindergarten class said the Pledge on our local Christian radio station. Will and another classmate actually introduced the class and if you would like to hear them head over to 1049theriver.com/say-the-pledge/ and scroll down to Bailey Elementary Mrs Fisher's class. Will was very excited to participate let alone get to introduce his class on the radio.

I find it timely that this past few weeks in our study of Isaiah in BSF we are looking at the judgement of the "nations". We saw how God has a plan and will use nations to accomplish that plan, whether in victory or defeat. I find it so comforting that even when it feels sometimes that our country is not abiding "under God", I know he is in complete control of all things. "For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? Isaiah 14:27

I am thankful during this week of Thanksgiving for the freedom I have in this country and even more thankful for the freedom and security I have in Christ. It was just icing on the cake to hear my little one echo these freedoms on the radio.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

American Girl Madness!!!


A couple of weeks ago myself, Abby and my mother and mother-in-law headed to Chicago to visit The American Girl Store. Abby has had a few of their things and has always wanted the Kit doll. So for here birthday we all flew over to Chicago for a few days to celebrate.


Here Abby is thinking "Seriously Mom, another picture". We ate lunch there and the table settings were so cute. They had trivia cards for us to answer while we waited and each of Abby's dolls had their own high chair and cup/saucer. It is really over the top but was super cute and the food was actually good.


After a full day at the store we were all a little tired but it was so worth it. They really help create an amazing experience and memory there. Abby got to get her picture on the front of a magazine to take home and also got her picture placed up on the big screen. We were able to gets lots of American Girl accessories as Christmas gifts for her and just enjoy the wonder of a store completely filled with dolls and every accesory ever known.

Abby really is a special and sweet girl and I know we all cherished the time we got to spend with her on this adventure. The memories made were precious for sure and I am so blessed to have such a loving circle of women to call family. Thanks to Donna and my mom for helping me guide Abby to be the wonderful little lady God has designed and longs for her to be.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Halloween 2010


We had a great but busy Halloween this year. Abby was Padme Amidala from Star Wars and Will was Captain Rex from Star Wars the Clone Wars. Of course Will did not like the helmet that came with the costume and did not wear it but at least we got to see his cute little face. Fortunately for his birthday he just got a Captain Rex helmet that talks that he will wear so I expect to get alot of playtime out of his costume.

The kids had Harvest Parties and a Halloween parade at school on Thursday and the Trick or treat was that night as well. Then the next evening Will had his first birthday party ever with friends. He and about 12 other 5-6 year old boys ran around PumP it Up for two hours, they had a blast.

I never thought that a movie Mike and I watched as kids would be something we would have in common with our own kids. It has been fun to watch the movies as a family.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My little man is Six!!!



Today my youngest is turning six, where has the time gone. Will keep us laughing around this house. He is the perfect mix of silly and sweet, tough and sensitive. He loves his family, friends, sports and any toy imaginable. Will was born on beggars night and will be sharing his birthday today with beggars night again. He is going to have his first ever birthday party with friends. He and about 12 other 5and 6 year old boys will be tearing up Pump it Up tomorrow night. October is a busy month with both Abby and Will having birthdays two weeks apart. I am so grateful for this little boy!

Here is my Will around 6 months old. It is amazing how God has shaped this unique little boy over the past six years. I pray that the tenderheartedness that God has so blessed him with will continue to be a mainstay of his character as he gets older.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Abby is Eight!!



Yesterday by little girl turned 8. I can not even begin to write what a blessing she has been and continues to be in my life. She is sensitive, caring, beautiful, thoughtful, silly, cautious at times but full of adventure at times. For her birthday this year she had her first sleepover at our house. She invited her best friend Regan over and they had a ball.


Here is Regan and Abby the morning after the sleepover!!


Here is Abby just under age two her first night in her big girl bed!!

Also this year for her birthday Abby, me and both her her grandmothers are heading to Chicago next week to go to the American Girl store. I am so excited to spend this special time celebrating a very special girl. Most of all I am so happy that she is first a child of God and she knows it. She knows that Christ is her Saviour and that is the best gift a child can give to their parents. Thank you dear Lord for this little girl.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Out Live Your Life



I just recently read this book by Max Lucado. It is only my second book to read by him but I am of course very familiar with his name and impact. I can say that this book was convicting, inspiring, heart felt and practical. The main purpose of this book I think is found on page 68 "Works done in God's name long outlive our earthly lives". Each chapter guides you on how to make a difference in this world now and have a lasting impact for Christ after we are gone. I enjoyed the short chapters as it kept me on task and allowed me to read small bits at a time without getting lost or off track. It also offered a scripture verse and prayer at the end of each chapter which I found useful in summarizing the key points. The prayer will also serve as a great reference to help me as I strive to make the changes I know God wants me to make. There was also a great balance of biblical examples(Moses,Paul and Stephen) as well as personal stories from Max and others.

Some of my favorite parts of the book are as follows:
Chapter 6 OPEN YOUR DOOR: OPEN YOUR HEART- Call us a fast society, an efficient society, but don't call us a personal society. Our society is set up for isolation. We wear ear buds when we exercise. We communicate via e-mail and text messages. We enter and exit our houses with gates and garage-door openers. Our mantra: "I leave you alone. You leave me alone."

How I long for the days of front porches and kids running in and out of yards as the parents gather and discuss the events of the day. I love the convenience of technology but I need to make sure I don't let people become inconvenient.

Chapter 13 DON'T WRITE OFF ANYONE- God used Paul to touch the world. But first he used Ananias to touch Paul. Has god given you a similar assignment? Has God given you a Saul?

This gave me hope for those I know that do not know the love of Christ or have turned away from him. I am encouraged that God may choose to place someone on my heart that I need to reach out to when no one else will. I can only hope that I am willing to listen and respond to God's prompting on this.

Chapter 15 PRAY FIRST; PRAY MOST- Grant me the grace to treat everyone I meet as someone for whom Jesus died and rose again. Let there be no unwholesome or unholy distinctions in my eyes and no unworthy favoritism in my actions. Rather, make me into a vessel through whom Jesus shines.
I love that, a vessel through whom Jesus shines. What a great mental image of what I should be striving for and can achieve through the power of the Holy Spirit.

We are privileged to be able to serve along with our Lord and this book is just the tool to help us show that to others.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, September 2, 2010

It's that time of year!!!


I love College football but more importantly I love the Buckeyes. Tonight is the beginning of a great season and my whole house is pumped. Abby and Will went to school wearing their buckeye gear today and we will definitely be watching tonight. It is funny how weekends become more exciting or planned around Buckeye games in the fall. We are planning on going to the OSU vs Ohio game and are fired up to watch all the games we can from our home. So I am grateful for the simple blessing of college football but also that I get to live in Ohio and be an Ohio State Buckeye fan. GO BUCKS!!!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Will is in Kindergarten!!


Will is in Kindergarten, he was very happy his first day and very talkative. In Dublin they only go half days and so Will goes in the AM. He went Tuesday, Thursday and Friday last week so this week will be the first five day week.

Mike came on Thurday to wish Will the best and of course that was a great bonus for Will. I did not have a hard time sending him to kindergarten as he was actually gone longer for preschool then he will be for kindergarten. I am going to enjoy these half days with my little man. He is so full of energy and I am excited to see what fun adventures the afternoon will bring us.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Abby is in Second Grade!!

Abby started school on Monday, she is a big second grader. The summer was fun and fast but I can honestly say I am ready to get back into a routine. Here she is with her brother outside the school. I love that I have documented proof of their love for each other so that when they are fighting I can show them this picture to remind them.


Here is my Abby and me before she headed into school. One of the moms at the school offered to take a picture of us together, which was so nice. I love this girl.

Here is Abby as she poses outside our house, she looks so adorable. She looks like Kit Kittredge but with longer hair. We got this dress at target and I love the retro look with the socks and flats. I love that Abby is still in love with dresses and all things girly.

Abby has her first male teacher this year and he is super nice. Abby has a great group of kids in her class and I am excited to hear all the fun stories.

Jasper

Our trip to Jasper was too beautiful not to put some pictures up. We stayed in a lovely cabin at the Fairmont Jasper. It was spacious and beautiful and so rustic.

Here is the beautiful lake we got to look at every morning. It was so cute in the early mornings as Papa would head down to the deck with some of the grandchildren with his coffee.

One morning we took a 45 minute bus ride to see Maligne Lake. Then we went on a boat tour and saw God's beauty up close. I know the picture doesn't fully capture the color of the water but it is the most beautiful aqua/teal color.

Another day we rode a tram up Mt. Whistler which is @7500 feet. We had great views of the mountains. The tram ride was beautiful but also a little scary being suspended mid air, but the end result was worth it.

We had such an amazing trip, our travel was safe and smooth. We got to experience so many new things together as a family, I am so grateful for the wonderful memories.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Lake Louise

We were blessed this past week to travel to Canada with Mike's family to celebrate his parents 40th wedding anniversary. What a blessing to witness Mike's parents commitment to God and each other and of course an added bonus to visit Canada. We started our journey by spending one night in Lake Louise. To say God has made some beautiful things is an understatement. When you read about God's creation in Genesis you can not even fathom what he really created until you get out there and see it. What a blessing to show my kids what our God has created for us to enjoy.

As we were driving to Lake Louise we say a rainbow, what an assurance of God's promise and that his presence was with us.

Here is Abby and Will with their two cousins Libby and Marie as we wait at Calgary airport to get our rental cars.

The view of Lake Louise from our hotel room

On Lake Louise cayaking with our family, it was a crisp and clear day.


More pictures of our stay at Jasper to come, the pictures do not capture all that we saw but they are pretty close.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Lake Erie 2010

Well we have been home from our annual Lake Erie trip for almost two weeks and I am now just getting around to posting pictures. It was hot but the water was not as cold as usual which made me more than happy to play in it with the kids each day. This year I was a single parent for most of the trip as Mike had to save his vacation time for our Canada trip that is coming up. The lake is full of great friends and family who always make it special. Here are a few of the bazillion pictures I took.





We are so fortunate that we get to spend so much time up at Lake Erie. Thankyou Lord for your beauty that was so wonderfully showcased each night at sunset. Thanks for the friends and brothers/sisters in Christ that we have up there as well. See you over Labor Day!!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Every Season - Nichole Nordeman



I rediscoverd this song by Nichole Nordeman and it gives me goose bumps every time. As we have just entered a new season take time to remember all that God is teaching us. I love the lyrics and they inspire me to think how God is always recreating mefor his good and his Glory. I hope everyone has a blessed fourth of July and God Bless.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Fun Summer Weekend

We had a great family weekend. We started off the weekend by seeing Toy Story 3 with our two kids. It was an adorable movie, full of laughter and touching moments. I cried like a baby at the end as my 5 year old son sat on my lap and you watch Andy head off to college. I know I have several years before that day comes but you can't help feel her sadness as her boy leaves the nest.

On Saturday we headed to Will's wiffleball game. It was super hot and Mike is the coach thus I became the co coach that day. The kids did well and Will hit his first home run of the season. We were proud and he was super pumped. After the game we watched the USA play their world cup game, although they lost I was proud that they got this far and that I actually watched all their games this World Cup. Soccer may be gaining some momentum in the US now. Then we took the kids over to Locker Soccer in Powell for Parents Night Out. Our typical babysitter was out of town so we snatched up the opportunity for babysitting at the place where our son plays soccer. So we headed to a new restaurant called Luce in Powell and enjoyed a wonderful meal together. We picked the kids up two hours later and were so happy that they had a blast!

On Sunday we headed to church and Will was very excited because he had been promoted to the big kid room with his sister, his exact words were "Hallelujah!". Then we headed home and Mike and I started staining our 5 year old playset, it was long overdue.

I love the balance of activity and down time we had this weekend. I loved hearing our Pastor speak as we have been out of town or in nursery for the past few weeks and missed his sermons. He preached on having the right perspective in our circumstances and that we should choose joy as Paul did while in prison. So I hope that this week will be filled with joy no matter what the circumstances. How can I not make that choice when I have the God of the universe beside me.

"AND WE KNOW THAT IN ALL THINGS GOD WORKS FOR THE GOOD OF THOSE WHO LOVE HIM, WHO HAVE BEEN CALLED ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE." ROMANS 8:28

Monday, June 14, 2010

Will's Pre-K Graduation


Here is Will and his proud parents on graduation from Pre-k. We are so proud of the little boy Will has become and we know he will do super in kindergarten.

Here is my Mom with Will. We are fortunate that she is able to come up and celebrate these special moments with us.



Here was Will during his ceremony, don't you just love the hands in his pockets. They sang Psalm 100. They worked really hard over the past few weeks to memorize it and it was precious to see them sing it. I feel so blessed that both Will and Abby attended a Christian based pre-school. What a great foundation it has laid for the rest of their walk with Christ as well as their future education. I have been apart of NPCA for almost 6 years so I will be sad not to go there anymore. I can't believe both of my kiddos will be in elementary school this fall. Abby will do great in second grade for sure and I know she will show her little brother the ropes.

Thankyou Lord for the gift of my children, they are a blessing each and everyday. Sometimes I might have to search harder then others for it but it is there because they are a gift from you.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Show us your China Pattern

Over at Kellys Korner she is asking about china patterns. I picked mine out 12 years ago and am still using both. I did pick a fine and everday china. Early in our marriage I thought maybe I should have just picked an everyday china. Now that I am finally starting to host more family occasions I am grateful for the fine china I recieved as a wedding gift and continue to slowly add to it. I consider fine china as an investment, I didn't see much return those first few years but now I am truly grateful.

I chose a traditional fine china called Federal Platinum by Lenox. I love that this classic pattern will be in style for years to come. I can also change up the look down the road by adding some more colorful accent plates.

For my everyday I chose Mikasa Aztec Blue. I really had no idea what my colors were going to be in my kitchen so I chose this setting with its blue and somewhat brown undertones. I do like it still but I do hope to get a new set soon. Now that I know my style better and I love my kitchen, I think it will be easier to choose a pattern this time around.

Right now I really like this Ballard Designs antique white set. I figure if I get something neutral I can still use all my cool serving bowls and do not have to worry about everything coordinating. We will see, after looking at everyone else's patterns I am sure I will change my mind.

Monday, June 7, 2010

New York New York New York!!

I love that song by Alicia Keyes and jay z but it is not the reason behind the title of my latest blog post. In May Mike was blessed with a new position at JP Morgan Chase. We had been praying for a new opportunity for a while and he was contacted by a division in Chase about a new role in New York. Mike interviewed and was offered the job which he started about three weeks ago. Luckily he does not have to move to New York but he has been traveling there. Here are some NY style gifts he brought the kids after his last trip:

Although we are die hard Cincinnati Reds fans, Will is really into all sports and loves his Yankees jersey. He is allowed to wear it whenever but he must always stay true to his Reds

Abby just finished a unit at school about US symbols so she was super excited about having her own little Statue of Liberty. It is so neat how each child has different personalities and that gifts that Mike chose were perfect for each one.

We feel blessed that Mike was chosen for this new position. We know it will require some additional travel initially but we really feel like this is where God wants him to be. Thankyou Lord for the peace you have provided our family regarding Mike's new job. We are so grateful for answered prayers and we appreciate what you have taught us as we waited for your perfect timing.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

May was Crazy

Wow did May fly by. I have so many things to talk about and can't believe it is over. I am going to post little bits at a time and hopefully I can cover everything. I will first start with Abby's first grade program. They practiced really hard in Music class for weeks to give a performance and it did not disappoint.

Here is Abby, back row fifth from the left, as they get ready to start. Abby, Will and Mommy after the program. They also gave us Mother's Day gifts, a cute handpainted pot with a flower. It is still alive one month later, YEAH!! Proud Daddy and his little ones! Grandma is here to enjoy the fun. Notice Will decided to do the peace sign in each photo. He has been into this for about a month. I am not going to be picky though because he looks happy in all the photos.
video

Monday, May 10, 2010

You Can Be Everything God Wants You To Be


I recently finished reading this book by Max Lucado. In a short 127 pages he helps you discover the "sweet spot" that God specifically designed you for. It is marketed on the cover as the "Perfect gift for the Graduate" but I found it very helpful as a stay at home mom who graduated years ago.

I like that it is broken down into very small chapters that flow seamlessly into one another. I found that I could read small sections at a time and not feel disconnected by not completing it all in one read. When I was done with the book I at first felt slightly disappointed that their wasn't this immediate moment of clarity, shouldn't there be some sort of checklist/quiz to point me towards my unique gift? Then as I flipped back through all that I had underlined this stuck out "So make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that"(Gal. 6:4 MSG).

This book is just part of my exploration, a tool in my navigation to be everything God designed me to be. As Max says "Consult you Designer" and no quiz can give me the answers to the plan that God specifically created for me. So use this book as a stepping stone towards discovering your uniqueness, I have.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's day


I am so blessed to be the mama to to these two kids. I took them to the zoo on Thursday as the new polar bear exhibit opened. I had a wonderful Mother's day with my family. We went to church, had brunch and then planted some flowers and then I got a great gift from my hubby-a gift card to Pottery Barn to buy some things for our home. As joyful as I am that I get to be a mommy I can't imagine the loss others feel today as they wait for their chance or they mourn the loss of a child. I pray that they felt God holding them close today and I pray that they will soon recieve the gift they have been so longing for.

I am so grateful for my Mom and MIL as well. I have a wonderful relationship with each and they are so helpful to me as I raise their grandkids. I would also be remiss if I didn't give my wonderful hubby a shout out. He really is such a great partner in this journey of parenthood. Thank you Lord for the privilege of motherhood!!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Show us your life-Baby Names

Over at Kelly's Korner she is asking fellow bloggers to share their baby name choices. I think choosing the names of your child is so exciting yet can be very challenging. Mike and I agreed on girl names much easier then boy names. I wanted some newer/trendier names and Mike was really not on the same page, he wanted really traditional names. So when we found out we were having a girl we named her:

ABIGAIL REBECCA

I loved the idea of a strong old fashioned name with the ability to shorten it to Abby, which is what she goes by. Rebecca is my moms first name and I really wanted to use that in my daughter's name. My mom is very special to me and I am so glad that my daughter can share in that. For our son we chose:

WILLIAM DAVID

We chose William because it was Mike's dad's name and because we wanted to call him Will. We chose David because it was a strong name and of course very biblical. We had thought of naming our boy Blake but now that I have a Will I couldn't imagine him with any other name, it is perfect.

If we are blessed with any more children I am toying with keeping the A and W theme going. For a girl I really like AMELIA KATE and for a boy I like WESTIN MICHAEL. I also like the name Wyatt for a boy but I don't think Mike will go for it. I know some people take their maiden name and use it as a middle name but my maiden name is Vogel, which doesn't seem to flow very well as a middle name.

I am looking forward to checking out some of the other names out there as well as the reason they were chosen for that particular child. Head on over to Kelly's blog and you might just find he perfect name for your future little one.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Plan B


Well Plan B by Pete Wilson has finally been released!! I was fortunate enough to win an advanced reader's copy almost two months ago and have been so eager to post a review. I posted a review on Amazon last week but thought I would give it a little review over here on my blog.

What is amazing about the release of this book is the timing. Pete Wilson is the senior pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN. If you have been following the news you know that Nashville experienced the worse flooding on record this past weekend. I have been following youtube videos posted by those in the area and the devastation is heartbreaking. Pete Wilson's church has been organizing relief efforts this week and has even set up a fund. Talk about the ultimate Plan B, many of these homeowners have no flood insurance.

This book is great because we all have unmet expectations or dreams that failed to come true, the key is what do we do about it. How can we see/feel God's presence in our life when it seems like everything is going wrong. Pete helps you work through the confusion to come out stronger and closer to God. He reminds us of the hope that is in Jesus Christ during and inspite of all circumstances. One of my favorite chapters is Chapter 6 Whiplash. On page 93 he offers this advice "In this life, many of your questions will simply no have answers. But through it all, God himself will never change. This is why our faith must rest on his identity and not necessarily his activity."

Probably my favorite lines of the book are found on page 199 "...God has a perspective on life we don't have.... If you had been at the cross on the day Christ was crucified, you would have sworn that was the worst thing that could ever happen. We don't see it that way today, do we?"

I already have two people in mind that I am going to purchase this book for. I am hopeful that this book will be a blessing to those who are currently struggling in their Plan B and a great resource for those who have yet to experience one.