Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Home Sweet Home!!!

We're home, safe, tired, happy, sad, exhausted, cheerful, full, and together....all 7 of us made it back and forth across the country! Just wanted to peak in and say hello bloggy world!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Wishing You a Very Merry Christmas....

I'm leaving for the holidays and want to send out a Merry Christmas to my bloggy friends! It's been a very hard few weeks here, facing 2 family deaths during the holidays, but so many of you have left me so many beautiful words of encouragement and wisdom. Thank you for all the emails and prayers...I've felt them all. We're leaving town to spend the holidays with those we love. This unplanned trip will be filled with sadness, but so much joy and gratitude as well.

I don't like writing my posts ahead of time and having them auto-post...I like to write them in the moment and post them. So My Blog will be here, without me until December 30...31st... somewhere around there. I'll be back to start the New Year off fresh.

Merry Christmas to you all and enjoy this beautiful holiday.
May you all have a Christ filled Christmas!
♥ Tara

Thursday, December 18, 2008

And the Winners are....

Congrats to the winners of the beautiful Holiday Hair Bows!

Courtney Set #1
LaQuela Set #2
Amy Set #3

Enjoy & MeRrY ChRiStMaS

Please email me ASAP with your address @ tarabrown at cherishbound dot com

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wordless Wednesday...WAHM WISH GRANTED!

Kelly McCausey @ Work @ Home Mom's Talk Radio granted me my Wahm Wish!!!
Yes, an Epson Artisan 800 Print / Copy / Scan / Fax / Ultra HD Photo
Ahhhhhhh!!!!!!!!! I'm so excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thank you Kelly. You're awesome!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tuesday Tradition #36

My mom has officially started a brand new tradition in my! There's nothing more exciting than getting the "ding-dong" of the doorbell and then finding a big gigantic box on the porch! So much fun!!! This box contained some wrapped gifts, GIANT candy canes, fun Christmas Beanie Babies, and.....5 hand sewn Christmas themed pillowcases for my kids!

Yep, that's the new tradition! Some of my friends are 100% domestic diva's (you know who you are) and make themed pillowcases for every holiday. Well, I've never gotten around to it and kind of forgot about that idea...until today! And what's even better about it, I'm going to let my mom surprise us every year with new Christmas pillow cases. I'm going to let her pick the fabric, sew them and even ship them. ;O)

She attached a cute little poem....

December the first starts a magical time,
With all sorts of color, music and rhyme.
Sugar plum fairies will dance in your head
If you'll put this pillowcase on your head!
The reason it's special as you will soon see,
It's been dusted with Christmas fantasy!
Visions of candy canes, Santa and such
Will fill each dream with pleasure so much.
But when comes the time for it to be washed,
Do it quickly so the magic's not lost.

Now break out those sewing machines & get to work!

♥ Tara

Advent Conspiracy

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Day Fun!

Christmas Day is a long day, but fun and filled with excitement. We like to pack our day with activities that we can enjoy as a family. There are 2 things we always do on Christmas day and they make our day memorable as we enjoy this special time together.

Over the past 8 years we started buying our kids games. Just regular fun board games, card games....any game! Lots of them too. We always add to our collection and play the new games that we get under the tree, but also many old ones like Monopoly and Clue!

The other activity that we look forward to is watching home videos. We tend to roll the camera sporadically throughout the year and never have time to go back and watch the chaos that we've recorded. So it's always as surprise on Christmas Day as we go back and watch the embarrassing, hilarious and crazy videos that we tape during the year. You never know who recorded what, where we are or what we're doing. This brings back memories of the recent past, but we also pull out the old ones from the years gone by.Plan now for your Christmas Day entertainment. Find things that bring your family closer and help fill your home with love and laughter.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 12, 2008

My Husband Rocks ♥ Christmastime!

Today Katy Lin's "My Husband Rocks" is a Christmastime theme....and I have lots of amazing stories from the holidays. But I'm going to post the most recent, sweetest, kindest thing he's done....there are many, but this one melted me....

The past four years we've either been in transition of moving or had major "things" going on in our lives during the holidays. It's kept me from being the over top wannabe Mrs. Claus that I've always dreamed of being....lights on every inch of the house inside and out, baking 24/7, holiday decor plastered in every room, including the laundry room, music constantly playing my favorite on and so on.....give me time, money and opportunity, my holidays would look like that!

Well, this year we're actually "settled" for once! I love my home and especially my yard that houses at least 100 oak trees. There are many clusters in the front yard that are begging to be wrapped with lights....Oh, I could just picture the lights swirling around each trunk.....As we started to go through the boxes of holiday decorations we realized that all of our outdoor lights were not there....3 moves within a few years and somewhere they got lost. {GASP} boo-hoo-hoo! Yes, the lights were missing...I know, I know...shocking! Because I ♥ Christmas lights! I get all giddy and little-girl-like and it makes me want to bake fudge and drink cocoa. (I'm so sparkly diamonds...just lights and lots of them!)

Anyway, budgeting Christmas for 7 people and tyring to keep our holidays focused in the right direction, I decided that I wasn't going to beg and cry.....I could forgo this year with no outdoor lights and enjoy the many blessings I already I let it go.

I was leaving early one weekend morning a week ago when I realized my husband was heading out of the driveway and idea where he was going....AND he didn't even say goodbye! Oh, well, I left with the kids and returned a few hours later. The rain had started and it was getting very cold. As I turned into the driveway, I could see my husband wading through the trunks of oak trees, with boxes of lights piled on the walkway, frantically wrapping every single little oak in our front yard. I stopped the car and (I know this sounds so babyish) but I actually teared up! I got out and he turned his head surprised to see me....we were standing in the rain as he kept wrapping but with a big smile. I walked over and just grabbed him and hugged him!! He kissed my head and said, "Babe, you're so easy...that's what I ♥ about you. Now grab some lights and let's get this baby lit up!" My older daughters took the little ones in the house and my husband and I finished wrapping all the trees.

When we were done it was dark, we did the whole plug-in ceremony with just the two of us standing there on the heart just melted because he took the time to listen to me, he knows what I love, what I wished for, and somehow made it work within our budget....and stood in the pouring rain hanging Christmas lights just for me! He so ROCKS!

For more "My Husband Rocks" visit My Husband Rocks Blog Roll!

Little Girl's Holiday Hair Bows ♥♥♥ Giveaway!!

I need something to make me feel better today...
And giving away things always make me feel better.

So I have 3 sets of bows to give away!!
My amazing friend CMommy at Her Sweet Little Things has been making bows for awhile now and has just started making her hobby a small business. She has made many beautiful bows for my girls and has now given me some to share with y'all! All you have to do is leave a comment and let me know which set you! PLEASE Make sure you leave your email if you don't have a blog. I cannot find you if I can't contact you!!! And you need to be willing to give me your mailing address if you win, but don't leave it in the comments...I'll contact you for it via email or your blog so I can send you your beautiful bows before Christmas!!

You have until
Wednesday, December 17th Midnight (EST)!!!

Set #1:
Set #2

Set #3

Thursday, December 11, 2008

It's so much closer than we know...

The last few days have been a complete Father-in-Law passed away very unexpectedly Tuesday. With only hours to understand it all and before we realized what was happening, he was gone. I'm trying to understand and be strong, but it's so hard right now. We live across the country from all of our family and having to hold it together for my kids, alone, is very hard.

My husband received the call on Tuesday that he needed to get on the next flight out of Tampa and get to San Diego as fast as he could. Things were bad and it was more than just needing a miracle. Within a 48 hour period he developed an extreme case of pneumonia and was admitted to the hospital on Monday. He made some great progress by Monday evening, things were looking good as we expected. He's a young 65-year-old...and we didn't really panic at that point. I mean, they just bought their plane tickets. They were coming to our house in 2 weeks to spend the holiday with us. It's been 7 years since our kids have been able to celebrate Christmas with family and we were so excited! We couldn't wait for them to get here...we were emailing just this past week, counting down the days and making final plans.

By Tuesday morning, everything that could be wrong and bad, was. A turn for the worse in the middle of night made it almost impossible to keep him breathing on his own. The dreaded early morning phone call made my heart stop as a I saw the area code on the caller ID. I knew it had to be bad. At first I didn't want to answer it, but I did, and with a pit in my gut got the news that he wasn't okay. I honestly don't remember the conversation, but I had to tell my husband to be prepared to head to California. I don't think it even set in then...until the midday phone call with more panic and a plea to get there. My husband immediately came home from work, grab a suitcase and headed to the airport. I felt like I was standing in the middle of busy subway watching everything around me fly by and feeling completely helpless. My husband gave me a hug....a long one, and I knew in my heart that when I saw him again he would be different. I could feel his pain already.

My husband called me from the Atlanta airport while getting ready to board his next flight and there were no sounds but the background noise of the airport. He must have just gotten a phone call or an update and whatever it was it was bad. I knew he was tyring to collect himself together so he could speak. With a deep breath he said that his family called him and told him that he needed to know that his dad probably wouldn't be with them by time he got there. Things were just moving to quickly....he said more but at that time my heart began to break as I pictured my sweet husband getting on the back of a plane, with tears and pain that were indescribable....and all alone. I wanted so badly just run out the door and go to him. I just wanted him to feel my hand or something...I could not even fathom the pain he was going through at that moment, all by himself.

His plane departed and I waited patiently at home, all the while trying not to alarm the kids yet. And then the phone rang I heard my MIL say my name I just knew. She didn't need to say a thing. I knew his time had come. As I sat there on the kitchen floor, we just cried together wishing we could just touch each other and make some sense of it all. I waited up for my husband to arrive in California, and knew that I'd be the first person he'd call. And he did. I couldn't talk when he called, and as I tried to say the words he already knew. As we sat there in silence I realized he was still on the plane. He hadn't even gotten off yet.

The last 2 days have been an emotional roller coaster and I know that this is just the beginning of a long road. My husband has told me that his world is no longer the has changed. He can't explain it, but I know it hurts so deeply. Deeper than I can ever imagine. His quiet sobs from 2000 miles away anger me, sadden me, frustrate me, because I can't hold him. But i know he needs to be there. Telling our children was the hardest thing I've ever had to do.....watching their sweet little spirits go from bright and bubbly to deep sadness that would forever change them was heartbreaking.

In this horrible pain, I know that this is not a goodbye, it's just a see ya later. He's finished the test here on Earth. His work will continue on, he has errands somewhere else. Somewhere close by, just a little farther than those of us here on Earth want. I've developed an even deeper gratitude for my Savior and Heavenly Father, yet again, for the knowledge and faith that I've been blessed with. I know that this is not the "end". This is just the beginning for him and as our lives continue on here, his life is beginning in a place we all long to go one day. I'm thinking, given the chance, he'd never wish to come back here...who would ever want to leave the beautiful presence of heaven? It's so much closer than we know....and I feel that right now.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wordless Wednesday... Saying Goodbye

Saying goodbye is so husband lost his father very unexpectedly last night. Just trying to be strong with the heavy heart that I'm carrying.

Wordless Wednesday @

Monday, December 8, 2008

Dinner Party Frock GIVEAWAY!!!!

My Littlest Lady would look B-U-TiFuL in this dress!
I WANT IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I mean, she wants it!
Dinner Party Frock GIVEAWAY!!!!

And the Winner is.....

Linda from Another Piece of the Pie!!

Linda won my $200 Cherish Bound Story Giveaway!
My 6-year-old thinks he has the coolest job in the world...he's my official giveaway drawer. So he picked your name out of a box full of entries!

I'm so excited to help Linda tell a very important story
about an amazing person in her life!
Congrats Linda!!!
Make sure you drop me an email....
tarabrown at cherishbound dot com

Christmas Craft ♥ So Easy...Even I can do it!

This craft was so easy and it's adorable! I wish I could take credit, but of course it's something I found online somewhere, can't remember where, and now I can't pass on the credit. If I figure out who it was I'll make sure I give them the credit for it. My daughter's and I made these trees last weekend and they look adorable up on the mantle.

We bought 2 Styrofoam-shaped cones, gathered buttons from home, but also purchased a few craft bags full of buttons, and stick pins. The buttons we used were reds, greens, and whites of all shades and sizes. We also used stick pins with the white balls on the end. There were a few buttons that had large holes so we used hot glue to secure them and there were a few tiny buttons without holes for the pins and we used hot glue to attach them in the little spaces that were left at the end. It's a quick fun project that is very cute when done.....

Voila! There they are... {smile} So proud of myself...and my daughters.
We actually FINISHED a project! ♥

For some more great Homemaking Monday ideas visit
11th Heaven's Homemaking Haven

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Storytime ♥ Highlighting Books for Chidren

The past few years my children have accumulated beautiful collection of storybooks. Being a Cherish Bound consultant and working out and about in the storytelling industry, I've had the privilege of being introduced to some amazing storytellers and writers. My children have received many storybooks from family and friends as well, and many we had never heard of until receiving them as gifts. Sometimes it's hard to find stories and books our children will love and finding a great storybook is always a prefect gift.

So be on the lookout each week as I highlight and share a storybook from my children's collection. I hope you find some new stories to share with your children. Feel free to comment and share your family's favorites too!

So here's goes the first book....

"Martina the Beautiful Cockroach"
My rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

I met the author of this book for the first time at the Jonesborough Storytelling Festival in Tennessee back in 2006. I fell in love with her stories, her energy...everything! She's absolutely incredible. Her name is Carmen Deedy and I've talked about her on my blog before. She's a phenomenal storyteller!

Our last Cherish Bound convention was at the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival and of course, Carmen was there. In the store I found one of her stories I had heard her tell, but it was in print, and I had to have it for me...and my kids too. It's called "Martina, the Beautiful Cockroach". Yes, it's a story about a Cockroach. It's a Cuban folktale that she has retold with a little Carmen-spice. Stirred it up a little bit of Spanish. It's an adorable story about a Martina the Cockroach who's looking for love....but doesn't know a thing about love and marriage. Her wise grandmother gives her advice that will help her find what she's looking for.

This book also came with a CD, so my kids love listening to it in the car as well. The book has beautiful illustrations by Michael Austin. The story is wonderful, humorous and the book is beautiful! Martina has her own website, Beautiful Martina.

You're kids will get a kick of the book, but you'll also get a some humor and a little laugh out of it too. It's a delight to read and Carmen is simply a breath of fresh air! Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Last Chance for $200 Giveaway!!!

Enter here or on the original post
I ♥ my bloggy friends! I'm so Thankful to have found this amazing world that I didn't know existed just months ago.
So I want to give you a Thanksgiving/Christmas present you can't live without!
Running until 11:59 pm on Friday, December 5th, I'll be giving away my best giveaway yet! Cherish Bound story products, story starters, chat cards, and even publishing!!
Don't miss out!!! You'll love everything in this giveaway!

$200 of Cherish Bound goodies!!!!!!!!

♥Gathering Chat Cards
♥Child Chat Cards
♥Sassy Binder
♥Notebook Pages
♥Writing & Publishing Guide
♥Vacation Dailies
♥Looking Back, It's My Life, A First Time For Everything Mini Story Starters♥
♥Recipe & Top Ten Mini Story Starters
♥Best Friends, Reflections of a Parent, I Did It, & All About Me Story Starters
♥Photo Bracelet
♥$29 in Cherish Bound Publishing!

Here's how you can enter!!
  1. Leave a comment & tell me a story you would love to tell your family
  2. Follow me on twitter
  3. Sign up for my newsletter (see top-right sidebar, already get it, just remind me in your comment and it counts!)
  4. Post on your own blog about the Power of Story and how Cherish Bound can help you tell your stories. (5 entries for every post!! Just make sure you link back and let me know in the comments!)
  5. Add me to your favorites (top-right side bar-I'm already a favorite? Remind me...and It counts :O)
  6. Refer a friend and have them mention you in their comment (5 entries)
  7. Register at my Cherish Bound home page (VERY bottom) (if you're already a customer it won't let you do it twice ;O)
There you GO!! I can't wait to give this amazing gift package away!
GOOD LUCK! And many blessings to you and your family!!
US Residents only. And PLEASE don't forget to leave your email!! You have to be able to give your shipping address if you win!!

Wordless Wednesday: His new Obsession!

For more Wordless Wednesday visit

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

TwitterMoms Holiday Catalog

Look who's #1 on this list.... ♥ Twittermoms ONLY!! Email me to get 25% of All Cherish Bound publishing and products from now until December 31!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

12 Days of Christmas...The Power of Service

I think I was in 6th or 7th grade. Being the oldest of 3 and in a newly divorced family, I knew too much at a young age and I also knew what to expect that holiday season. Looking back, I consider myself more mature than your average 11 or 12-year old. I kind of had to be...

My parents were living in the same town, different house, every other weekend, 2 house payments, money was tight, etc. I was prepped for a slim Christmas. I was fine with it...sort of. It was hard to comprehend having a "small" Christmas because quite frankly, we were used to BIG elaborate holidays. Santa was always more than generous. We were sort of spoiled. Yes. But this year was going to be different. Things had changed drastically.

My parents were both struggling in more ways than one. My brother and sister were too. I think I was fine. At least I remember being fine. But I could tell there was some sadness, frustrations, wasn't the happy feeling I wanted during the holidays. This had always been my favorite time of year, but not this time. It wasn't going to be happy at all.

Until one night during the first week of December . I still remember the day, I wrote about it in my journal. There was a loud knock at the door, fairly late in the evening. We gave each other the look, "Who could that be?" Everyone jumped up to go to the door. The porch light was off, so mom turned it on and my brother opened the door. Nobody was there. He went to close the door when my little sister yelled, "STOP! There's something on the ground." I pushed through and picked up a small green Christmas tree filled with chocolate candies. Attached was a note.

I don't remember what the note said exactly. It said something to the affect of "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me...." and on it went. There was unexpected excitement as we ran out to the yard to see if we could see anybody, but they were long gone by then. We ran back in the house laughing, my mom smiling, as we tore open that cute little helpless tree and began to devour the yummy chocolates. Mom salvaged the tree and put it up on the shelf with other decorations where it still sits today.

The next night, there was another knock at the first it didn't register, but then we realized what it might we ran to the door and of course no one was there, but a beautiful crystal candle holder with two bright red candles. Beautiful. And a note that read, "On the second day of Christmas my true love gave me to me..." and on it went. Even though this was a gift our mom would enjoy, we were excited too. My mom's smile grew a little bigger as she put it on our dining room table and lit the candles. They smelled so pretty...the house began to buzz again....a little happiness filled up the room.

The next night, we were ready. We knew this was going to go on for the next 10 nights. We sat and waited outside, on the side yard, back inside by the window and so on...nothing. And then just as we were giving up and heading to bed, "Knock-Knock!" Dang it! We missed it again....

This continued on night after night. I could see my mom's stress turning into something more relaxed and her smile stayed a little longer each day. My brother and sister were a so excited as the sun went down each day anticipating the "Knock"! I was swept up in the wonder and mystery of it all. I could feel that happy feeling that loved so much coming back. It was so sweet to feel that again...

Night 12 had finally arrived. It was about 5 or 6 days before Christmas. My mom had been talking to me earlier that day about how she wanted me to help her make some gifts because shopping was going to be limited and the budget was just too tight this year. She was trying to think of ways we could serve and help other people....Huh? I kept thinking we were the ones that needed to be served. We weren't in any position to help anyone else, but that's not how mom was working....she still knew there were people that were going without. We were fine. But I could see the worry on her face that day. She loves to give. And this year, she wasn't going to be able to give to her three kids like she always did. It wasn't about her. It was about us. She just wanted to make us happy.

"Knock-Knock!" A scream slipped through the house as we all darted for the door hoping to finally catch our secret Santa! Nope, nobody there....but on porch laid a cute little house made of cardboard. It had individual boxes inside like a puzzle, 12 of them. We picked it up and ran into the house and set it on the table. My brother opened the first box and pulled out a 20 dollar bill. My eyes about popped out of my head. My mom's jaw dropped and we began opening the houses. Each one filled with $20. TWENTY DOLLARS! Times that by 12... $240! Yes, on the 12th day of Christmas someone gave to us $240 to use on Christmas. My mom's eyes began to water and she slowly began to cry as she realized that someone had just changed our lives. Not because she could go buy "stuff" for us. That wasn't it at all. It was because she saw that each of us in our young ages softened and felt the undeniable power of service. We all began to cry as we sat around the kitchen table. We knew that we were loved, watched over, and someone really cared.

To this day we do not know who did it. We assumed it was someone from church. But we still have no idea. I don't remember what my mom bought with that money. But what I do remember is the feeling I had that night as I realized what Christmas was all about. It's about serving others, sacrificing and becoming like Christ.

Since that experience, I have continued the tradition of the 12 days of Christmas. I've never been able to offer $20 in 12 little houses :O) But we have put some smiles on faces and in return felt the warm love of service. ♥

Tune in tomorrow for ideas on how you can start the 12 Days of Christmas! It's an amazing tradition that will change your holidays!