Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Hollywood Themed Christmas Party

For the past 6 years, it has been my privilege and joy to host our South Bay staff Christmas Party. What started as a dinner for three families in our little apartment back in 2008 has grown into a full-scale event with a catered dinner, themed decor, and sixty people! This year topped the charts with our first ever costume party. 

Andy & I wanted our staff to know how much we love and appreciate each of them. They are heroes in our eyes and deserve to be honored and celebrated! So we came up with the idea of doing a Hollywood themed party and have a night to "Celebrate our South Bay Stars". 

We asked everyone to come dressed as a Hollywood star, past or present. We realized that coming up with a costume idea had the potential to be a little overwhelming, so to give people extra motivation and incentive, we included a huge prize! The person voted to have the Best Overall costume would win a one night trip for two to Hollywood! And, boy, did our staff deliver! We laughed until our stomachs hurt as people really got into character, both with their costumes and personalities.

I lucked out with some of the decor as there just happened to be someone on Craig's List selling all of her decorations from her Hollywood themed wedding! I bought from her the clapboards, film reels, ceramic popcorn containers, ostrich feathers & vases, and a few other odds and ends.

  • Centerpieces: I taped together two pieces of black cardstock, cut and tri-folded them to be 5x7, and then affixed a black & white photograph of old Hollywood stars on each side. I placed it on top of a round mirror sprinkled with snow and a few tealights. For the finishing touch I put a small hurricane vase with a Christmas floral arrangement in the center of the tri-folded paper. 
  • Name place cards: Purchased here
  • Beaded curtains behind dessert table: Purchased here

We had our friends (and fellow South Bay-ers) from Whimsical Booth set up a Hollywood themed photo-op for us. The pictures were printed on what looked like film reels. So cute!

It is such a joy to give each staff child a present from South Bay and to tell them what a valuable part of the South Bay team they are. Always a highlight of the evening!

These adorable Hollywood stars were designed by my friend, Ashleigh. The children loved that they each had a star with their name on it! The walk of stars greeted everyone as they came in the room. 

Our food, which I sadly have no pictures of, was catered by Caterman Catering. They did a fantastic job. Jasmine Santa Cruz catered the yummiest mini dessert bar for us including creme brûlée, tiramisu, cake pops, banana pudding, peppermint brownies, pumpkin cake with cream cheese icing, and cookies! Incredible! I can neither confirm nor deny that I ate (at least) one of each!

As our stars arrived, they walked down the red carpet where paparazzi snapped their photos. 

The stars were greeted by our "Butler" who offered them something bubbly to drink.

After dinner, the kiddos went to play and watch a movie while we handed out mock-"Oscars" to the adults, played a few rounds of group charades (which was a riot!), and announced the winners of the costume competition.

It was nearly impossible to know who to vote for, but alas, the time had come for everyone to cast their ballots. The categories included: Best Overall (winner of grand prize trip to Hollywood), Best Couple, Most Creative, and Most Accurate Portrayal. Each of the other winners received gift cards for dinner and a movie.

And the winners are...

Best Couple: 
Tim & Jasmine Castagna who came as "The Artist", a black & white film

Most Creative: 
Vivian Dorflinger starring as "Effie" from Hunger Games

Most Accurate Portrayal:
Filipe Santos starring as Edward Cullen from Twilight
(Filipe was really creepy and didn't smile all night. He just stared deep into your eyes like he was thinking of how much he'd like to suck your blood!)

Best Overall:
Kendall Hibiske starring as Cruella Deville
(This picture does not even do justice to how good her costume was! She was hilarious...kept walking around saying in a very disturbing voice, "I'm looking for my puppies!" And then laughing a sinister laugh. She was too much!)

Christmas presents for the kiddos. Our first Christmas party we had 3 kids. This year we had 23! 
(Side note: I had all these presents bought, wrapped, and stored in my closet since October! Had to get things done before Karis was born!!!)

I love these crazy people and I am fiercely loyal to them. They lead with courage, serve in ways no one ever knows, and work tirelessly to advance the Kingdom! They are fun, anointed, passionate, and love Jesus with all their hearts. It is such an honor to be apart of a team like this!

Merry Christmas, Folks!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

His love never fails

This morning, Karis and I watched the South Bay Church service online. Well, actually, I watched it while she slept on my lap!

When Archie began singing the song, "His love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me," it struck some tender place in my heart and I was trying to figure out why. Then it dawned on me...

It was this Sunday one year ago that I was in the middle of our miscarriage. I felt like something was wrong and had been to my midwife two times the previous week. Both times we saw the heart beating, but I still felt uneasy. That Sunday I found myself caught between hope and despair. Hoping against hope that my intuition was wrong. But the next day my fears were confirmed as the heartbeat was gone.

The song Archie sang this morning was one we sang regularly this time last year...and it haunted me.
"In death, in life, I'm confident and covered by the power of Your great love."

Except, I didn't feel very confident and what I was suffering through didn't feel very loving. 

For months I battled these thoughts in my mind. Every day. All day long. It was hard for me not to equate my circumstances with God's love (or lack of love) for me. I found myself thinking things like, "You could have prevented this. So whether You caused it or simply allowed it, You did this. And I just can't understand why."

Some time during those dark months I listened to a sermon by Andy Stanley. He taught about the time John the Baptist was in prison about to lose his life and it seems that his faith was shaken. John sent friends to talk with Jesus in order to relieve some of the doubts he was having. Jesus reassured John's faith and even said that there was no one greater than John the Baptist. There is no doubt that Jesus loved this cousin of His. But He left him there. In his suffering, facing death. And He said, "Blessed is he who doesn't fall away on account of me."

In other words, "I'm going to do things that don't make any sense to you. There may be times that it seems like I've left you high and dry. But you will be BLESSED if you keep believing and trusting Me even in the darkness."

Jesus proved His love for me on the Cross. No circumstance in my life can ever change that. No matter how much pain I'm in or how confusing His ways may seem, His love is consistent. 

This morning as I listened to the words of that song with Karis in my arms and tears streaming down my face, I thought of how much has changed over the course of one year. From perhaps the darkest days of my life to the most joy-filled. My circumstances have been all over the map, but this one thing remains:

"Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me."

Friday, November 8, 2013

My Joy Has Arrived

8 lbs 15 oz of pure perfection joined the world on Saturday morning at 9:01 AM. 

Our long awaited Karis Joy was welcomed into the thankful arms of her mommy and daddy after 15 hours of labor. This week has been a dream for me. I cannot stop staring at her. I can hardly force myself to set her down. I keep singing to her that David Crowder song that says, "You are my joy, you are my joy" over and over again. She is my gift of grace from God and it has filled my heart with JOY!

I knew from the time I woke up on Friday morning that I would probably give birth within the next 24 hours or so. I wasn't in active labor, but I could tell things were happening. I had already planned on going to breakfast with some very special friends, so I just set about my day with a little giddy excitement in my waddling steps.

Andy and I had planned on going on a date that night. We had already arranged for a babysitter to come and I decided that I didn't want to cancel. Contractions were getting more regular, but I knew this would be our last date for a while and labor could take hours. So we still went out and enjoyed our time. It was quite surreal timing contractions (about 7 minutes apart) and working out childcare details while we ate our dinner.

We came home a little early from our date so Andy could take the boys over to our friends' house. I'm a little neurotic about coming home to a clean house, so I put a few dishes in the dishwasher and straightened things up in between contractions (now about 5 minutes apart). Andy got home, laughed at me, and said "Go get in bed!" I obeyed, but you can tell by the picture below that I was still in early labor. I shot out a few texts to family and friends and posted a couple comments on social media.  

When my contractions were averaging about 4 minutes apart, I text my good friend Stacy. I had invited Stacy to be apart of our birth as she was going to take some video footage of our labor. The picture below cracks me up because it really sums up how I think she was feeling on the inside! She is young, single, never had children, and not very medically inclined. She was honored to be there and said it meant the world to her, but it definitely got her out of her comfort zone! (Btw, she never made this face in front of me. My friend, Kendall, snapped this photo when I wasn't around.)

My labor, which ramped up slowly over the course of the day, progressed slowly the whole time. I got really discouraged by this because my labor with Caedmon was 9 hours and I knew that Caedmon was bigger than what Karis would be. So in my mind, with it being a 2nd birth, 9 hours was the absolute longest my labor would last. Not so. 

We asked our doula to come around midnight when my contractions had been 3-4 minutes apart for a couple hours. I thought for sure that as soon as she got there, she'd say, "Oh, we should head to the hospital soon." Nope. She said, "I think we've still got a good bit of time." :-( What?! I'd been in active labor for over 6 hours. Surely the baby would be born within the next 3 hours. She must be wrong, right? Unfortunately, no.

We got to the hospital at 5am. I still had 4 more hours of work before I held my baby in my arms.

And, finally, the moment we'd all been waiting for. Karis Joy was here.

When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she brought a new baby into the world.  John 16:21

That's the look of pure relief on my face.

The picture below is of my amazing doula, Tara, and my midwife, Lin, who literally saved my life. About 10 minutes after Karis was born, I started bleeding really heavily. Lin switched gears and, in an instant, the room went from a joyful celebration to an intense medical scene. 

For 5-10 minutes, Lin barked out orders, administered 3 different types of meds to me, and did all kinds of painful things to my body. Andy and others around me began to pray out loud and Tara looked at me and said, "Stay alert. Don't close your eyes." It was a pretty scary few minutes until they were able to get the bleeding under control. I don't think Andy's ever been more thankful for modern medicine than he was in that moment.

The drugs that they had to give me left me feeling pretty crummy for at least an hour afterwards. You can see by the look on my face below how out of it I felt.

This was my first good look at her face. Love at first sight.

My support team, cheering me on and celebrating with me.

That evening my friend, Lina, brought our boys up to the hospital to meet their baby sister. You can see how special it was for them.

First photo as a family of five.

I think Karis' birth was especially significant to Sammy. He is a very nurturing child and plays so well with younger children. Moving from the "little brother" role to the "big brother" role made him so happy. He loves to hold her.

Karis is so thoughtful that she planned ahead and had a couple gifts to give her brothers when they met her for the first time. She gave them each a Big Brother t-shirt and the game Blokus to share.

Andy and I got ready to head home about lunch time the next day. Even though the nurses treated us like royalty while we were there, I'm not one for hanging out in hospitals unless I have to.


You could never understand what holding you in my arms means to me. As I type with one hand and cradle you with the other, my heart overflows. So many prayers. So many tears. So much waiting and hoping that one day we would have you. And now you're here.

"Thankful" does not even scratch the surface of how I feel. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Guest Blogger: Kendall Hibiske "You're Invited..."

Thank you, Stacie, for allowing me to hijack your blog!

If you know Stacie Wood, you probably know she’s pregnant. If you know her well, you probably know what an amazing gift this little girl is to her family and to the world! We are so excited to welcome Karis Joy, due November 9th. Just a few more weeks! I am so ecstatic I can hardly contain myself.

Stacie is the kind of friend to me that you only have a few of in your whole life if you’re lucky. We’ve been through so much together. She was my college roommate, and has been my dear friend through thick and thin. We lived in Texas after we were both married, attending the same school, and now we live in California together serving at South Bay Church! She was even present to see the birth of both of my precious baby girls, now 22 months and 12 weeks!

I am pleased to announce that we are hosting a very special baby shower for Stacie this Saturday October 12thAll South Bay Church ladies are invited! We want to take any and all measures to get the word out because we did not do any form of personal invite.  We have a facebook event, we put it in the program, and we have been posting this nifty little digital invite above all over social media.

 Please come by and say hello! We really just want to bless Andy and Stacie and celebrate their little miracle together as a church! Hope to see you there!

Kendall Hibiske

Monday, October 7, 2013

A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Birthday Party

Caedmon (who is never shy to ask for EXACTLY what he wants, no matter how big or small) always comes up with these elaborate ideas for his birthday. We've done StarWars, a camping trip, and this year it was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Those turtles were quite popular when I was in middle school, then seemed to hide out in the sewer for many years, and are now making a major comeback. Welcome back, boys. Welcome back.

I now know each turtles' name, color mask, and weapons of choice. Important stuff, I tell ya.

Dirt cake...because life in the sewer is pretty dirty.

The amount of food coloring and artificial ingredients in these cupcakes makes me cringe. I felt guilty for serving them, but they turned out pretty cute. And most importantly, Caedmon loved them!

As the kiddos arrived, they were given the opportunity to make their own numchucks (or as Caedmon likes to call them, non-jocks). Some foam tubing, orange duct tape, and some orange ribbon was all that was needed. It got a little crazy in our living room as more and more kids had weapons to hit each other with! A 7 year old boy's dream!!

Once all the party guests had arrived, they (just like the Ninja Turtles) were exposed to some toxic green goo (green jello) which mutated them into Ninjas. Mutation is underway in the picture below.

Our mutated ninjas with their weapons. Also, Spiderman decided to randomly make an appearance?

Now the ninjas were ready to undergo their first training exercise with Master Splinter Andy. They practiced throwing punches, kicks, and some very funny spinning moves.

After their training session, they were ready for their first mission: an invasion of the Foot Clan. Their ninja skills were required to destroy the evil Foot Clan before they could continue to spread.

Sammy discovered that numchucks were not nearly as effective as biting. I couldn't stop laughing as he'd go from one balloon to another, piercing it with his teeth until in blew up in his face!

Everyone knows that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles love pizza. So the next order of business was delivering 15 pizzas at a time in the form of a relay race. Pizza boxes were flying everywhere!

Our last activity was in honor of Michelangelo, the silly turtle who just always wants to have a good time. We had a silly string war, which was a ton of fun. My back patio may never be the same again!

Our "goodie bags" went home in the form of pizza boxes. I just found those pictures online, printed them on full page label paper, and stuck it right on the pizza box. It was pretty simple and turned out really cute!

The good news is that Sammy decided he ALSO wanted a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle birthday party (at the end of October). At first I thought, "You can't do that. You have to choose something special for you." But then I thought, "Hey, that's a fantastic idea!!! Thank you, Sammy!" 

So all of my left over supplies will be put to good use. No more searching on Pinterest for party ideas or stressing over gathering materials. No more dreaming about Ninja Turtles or planning games. This exact same party will get an encore presentation later this month for a group of 4 & 5 year olds!

Booyakasha! Have a Turtle-Power kind of day, Dude!