Please note: All images on this blog (except where noted) are original works of Miki Baxter and cannot be duplicated without permission. Also, if you're inspired by a project featured on here, then please link back to me and give proper credit. Thank you!!!


Our Family Christmas Letter

For your reading amusement, I present to you our annual Christmas letter. We try to find creative ways to present the information of our lives; this year's letter was inspired by another family's letter found through Google. Enjoy!
The Baxter Family’s
Christmas Guide to the Best Movies of 2008
BABY MAMA - Miki Baxter has lovingly put her husband and children ahead of her artistic endeavors. Now 37, she's determined to have a regular scrapbooking time and creative outlet. Her plan is thrown a curve ball after she discovers there is only a million-to-one chance of getting an extended period of time to herself. Undaunted, the driven Miki recruits hard working guy, Sean, to become her unlikely surrogate. Realizing that Baby Keizo should be getting over separation anxiety, Miki goes into hyper creative mode: reading craft books, collecting supplies, and pulling out photographs. But the desperate mom’s well-organized strategy is turned upside down when Keizo keeps escaping the baby yard and getting into her things. An unstoppable force of love meets an immovable bundle of cuteness as structured Miki tries to turn determined Baby into a self-entertaining toddler. In a battle of wills, they wrestle and giggle their way through games, tickle times and numerous distraction techniques. And in the middle of this tug-of-war, they'll celebrate their kind of family: one that genuinely enjoys being together and realizes these moments and stages pass way too quickly.
GET SMART - Bungling producer Seanwell Baxter, also known as Agent Creative, works for CONTROL aka Erickson. His latest assignment sends him to Maine to battle the forces of their nemesis known as KAOS aka "Don’t mess up on this big budget project." With his more than competent partners Miki, Mireille, Barnabas, & Keizo at his side, he rushes headfirst into the crisp, clean Maine air. When the headquarters of CONTROL is attacked by doubts of competency, Sean has no choice but to rise to the occasion and bring his 16 years of film experience to the forefront. Sean does whatever it takes to thwart the latest plot of KAOS to disturb production plans, wreak havoc with communication, and send problematic talent his way. New friends, kayaking, and successful production is all that’s left when the dust settles.
27 DRESSES - 27 Dresses centers on Mireille Baxter, an optimistic. fun-loving second grader who has numerous interests and talents. From diving into books to taking up knitting, her creative energies know no limits. A ballet student on Saturdays, a fearless Level 2 swimmer, Mireille also enjoys science and writing original stories. Which path will she follow? Perhaps the answer lies in her growing interest in fashion, as evidenced by numerous notebooks filled with designs. With her boundless energy and stylish flair, the sky is the limit.
LEATHERHEADS - A kindergarten comedy set against the backdrop of Catonsville’s youth football league. Sean Baxter is determined to guide his son’s team from distracted practices to focused games. But after the players lose their first game and the entire team faces emotional collapse, Sean convinces Barnabas, the team’s rookie quarterback, to run the play they’ve been practicing over and over again. This optimistic coach and devoted dad hopes this latest move will help the struggling team. Displaying an uncanny command of the field, Barnabas has proven himself a leader on the field. Can he overcome his fear of the "big boys" and lead his team to victory? With praise songs constantly flowing from his lips, anything is possible.
JAMES BOND: QUANTUM OF SOLACE - Quantum of Solace continues the high octane adventures of Keizo Jun Baxter. Growing and changing at an amazing rate, 0011.5 months fights the urge to destroy, but the Christmas tree looks so inviting.... Pursuing his determination to uncover presents and overcome the numerous obstacles and baby gates blocking his way, Keizo and M (Mommi) engage in a friendly game of peek-a-boo. Will the distraction techniques work? Will Baby Keizo succeed in his takeover of the home or will M be able to corral his determination and energy to a more productive end? This stage of growth and discovery, which includes walking, is far more complex and adventurous than anyone had remembered.
We hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a blessed New Year!


All Points Weather Bulletin

My blogger voice has been quiet this last week. It lost in the competition for time and attention, as I have been overwhelmed by activities and rampant emotions. Has it only been a week? Last Friday night, giddy with anticipation and inhaled hairspray fumes, I was ready to head out for a night of dancing and fun with my husband. Feeling oh-so-very feminine and chic in a long flowing dress and strappy heels, bright red lips and big hair. Then the phone call came. My father had been rushed by ambulance to the hospital. After some time waiting, prayer and an update, with more promised throughout the evening, a shakier me headed out anyway. Thank God, my father was treated and released after several hours, though he wasn't fully recovered. Neither was I. My dad, in an ambulance...... Saturday morning, with the remnants of big hair, I dressed up again with the added bonus of a tiara and headed out. First stop, my daughter's ballet class for a demonstration. Lovely. Then an inspirational tea party at church. The following morning was church, with an adult Christmas Dinner early in the evening with a hilarious white elephant gift exchange. Whew. And the weather pattern from last Friday to yesterday, a week's worth, was tumultuous. It started off cool and clear, snowed, cleared up, got very warm, foggy, rained very hard, and then clear and very cool again. Parallel to my inner emotional state. Wacky. Though there is a part of me that is outgoing, I definitely crave time to myself. I need stillness and quietness within me as well as around me. That peace inside is critical to my functioning well on the outside, though it is not so apparent to others. But the filter through which I see and interact with the outside world is affected and clouded. So this last week has consisted of regaining some peace within as I processed my thoughts and emotions, dialogued with God, my parents and close friends. Working on a massive Christmas card project has helped too by giving me a creative outlet and time to think things through. My father continues to struggle with health issues. There are some family members struggling too with various things, related and unrelated to my dad's condition. A close friend has been struggling. My heart is heavy and burdened for those I love. I sense the closeness of my Lord, which is comforting, but the busyness has interrupted my drawing deeply from His well of peace. And the ostrich tendencies of wanting to hide and bury my head at times like this war against healthier patterns of properly processing. So I've been struggling. And with puffy eyes, blotchy skin, and two severely wayward pigtails, I have emerged after a week of little sleep and inner rest with my voice again. I see what's been going on, have been processing them all, and now am heading on the road to regained peace. Ah, it's quiet in the house this morning. I don't have to do anything, go anywhere, be anything... My beloved has gone on a grocery store run and has generously given me time to myself this morning without baby. I passionately love my husband, children, family, friends and most of all Jesus. But in the storm and in the struggles, I need Jesus. He alone can penetrate and help from deep within. And He is an ever present help in time of trouble. Yup, that's what the Bible says! The quietness after a storm is breathtakingly wonderful. Fellow storm riders, how do you process the torrents of emotions and life situations? What does your all weather gear consist of?


In The Hands Of A Skilled Surgeon

I received an answer to an unspoken prayer request today. Though I've experienced God's healing touch throughout the years, there are still areas I feel might be out of His reach, things I have been reluctant to turn to Him about. Why??? Sitting at a beautifully set table today, in a room with sparkling lights and warm Christmas decor, I smiled, greeted and chatted with ladies from my church at our annual Christmas Tea. I wasn't consciously aware of the question lingering in my heart, but when the answer came through the message shared by my pastor's wife, I was deeply touched. Rocked to my core, truthfully. And so very, very relieved. Fittingly, the theme this year was "The Island of Misfit Toys," from the Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer holiday movie. We all are like dysfunctional, broken toys in various ways, but Jesus claims us as His very own. The pastor's wife shared how her sons had all broken numerous bones in their bodies, and one son experienced a break that was of special concern. They were worried that the area of the break would always be weaker and affect his ability to play sports. The orthopedic surgeon they consulted replied that in the hands of a skilled surgeon, that broken area will actually become stronger, the strongest part of the bone. The pastor's wife also told us a phrase her husband likes to share: Jesus is the Prince of Peace and also the Prince of Pieces. In the hands of our Great Physician, the most skilled Surgeon of every area of our being, our broken parts actually can become the strongest parts of us. Selah (meditate on this.) I have walked with the Lord most of my adult life, yet there are broken pieces, broken places in me that I feared were beyond His reach. I realize, writing this, that these are also the places I feel the most vulnerable in. I have a great testimony of God's faithfulness and deliverance - He has brought me through and out of so many things, yet I have held onto these areas despite the Truth of His Word and the gentleness of His manner. Recently, I started wondering to myself as certain issues arose if those areas could be changed. Could they? Could I be healed? Could I be delivered? Will I always be held back by the bruised, scarred, broken pieces deep within my heart that most people don't even know about? Though I haven't let many things hold me back in my life, internally I felt crippled. Today, when I heard about the broken bones being stronger in the hands of a skilled surgeon, hope rose in my heart. I COULD be touched there, I COULD be healed, and those areas would be stronger because of the skilled hands of our Creator. My first step is to have a consultation with my Doctor. I am going to make an appointment and show Him the problem areas (though He is well aware of my condition.) This will require transparency on my part - I must truthfully share how I have been affected by these problem areas and the level of discomfort/pain they are causing me now. I have to open up, confess. Then we will discuss a treatment plan which include a daily dose of His Truth Medicine, the Bible, and regular follow-up visits (prayer time). I will let go of my management of these areas which involved self-medicating, denial, and suffering in silence. His ways are so much better. And since He is available, I need to let Him in. I have been afraid for too long. I have held onto a tattered blanket of sorrow and pain close to my heart, in a vain attempt to protect myself from further damage. The wounds haven't healed this way; I've developed some scar tissue and hard areas in my heart while other areas are still raw. But I do believe that it is time. God brought this message as well as other things recently to show me it is time to get treatment and operate. It is time to experience relief and release from areas of hidden torment. It is time to be free, to grow stronger in those broken areas, to know Him in a more intimate manner, to trust Him deeper, and to proclaim His goodness with an even bigger voice. Amen. I know this is true for me - it is time. Is it true for you too? Will you make an appointment?


Strengthen your strengths

Why is it that we are able to quickly point out the negatives but finding the positives can be so challenging? My mother and I were having a discussion about this yesterday, and I find it true in so many areas of my life. My pastor's wife in Georgia once said something so completely revolutionary that I couldn't believe it at first: Strengthen your strengths. I was stunned when she said this and asked her to repeat it. Strengthen your strengths. It's true, isn't it? God has given us specific gifts, abilities, etc. and expects us to exercise them, to strengthen them, to use them in order to be a blessing. Yet I have spent so much time working on my weak areas, trying to strengthen those instead. And I tend to focus on areas in my children's lives that need to improve versus focusing on their strengths and encouraging them first and foremost in those areas. We do need to be aware of weaknesses but focus much more on the positive. Strengthen our strengths, strengthen our children's strengths. I could probably make a list of my faults, weak areas, flaws, etc. quickly, but what are my strengths? What are yours? I challenge us to a list :-) What are your strengths? What are you good at? What's your favorite part of you? My strengths: I am sensitive, organized, intelligent, creative, thoughtful, lively, passionate, fun, expressive, quick to respond, honest. I am good at: detail oriented things, taking great photographs, baking, designing rooms and clothes. My favorite parts of myself include my brain, my creative abilities, my voice as far as expressing myself, my face and hair. That wasn't as hard as I thought it would be! And I feel good after writing it down - hurray! May this be a daily habit of rejoicing in how God created us and focusing more on the good - in ourselves, our beloved mates, our precious children and others around us. How do you strengthen your strengths? I plan on recognizing what I am good at and going to that first - for example, I can bake well and will plan more meals that require baking versus other kinds of cooking that intimidate me. I will use my camera as a creative outlet more often than other projects that I get overwhelmed in doing. I will approach housework as an organizational and design project and do the things I do well first in order to encourage myself. I will try to find a creative way to approach the things I dislike and don't do well that need to get done anyway. I will use my strengths (like communication, artisitic creativity, organization) in homeschooling, rather than trying to force myself to live up to some standard of what I think a homeschooling mom should be. And I will write reminders in my planner and around the house to focus on the positive and on the strengths of my dear family and others. I feel like a burden has been lifted off of me! Without realizing it, I think the pressure of not measuring up, not exceeding expectations, seeing failures all around and in me, etc. have been oppressing me. I can actually breathe better right now; I actually found it hard to breathe earlier today. Wow... I sense the presence of our wonderful Lord drawing close and whispering that we are His precious ones. He loves us with an everlasting love. He created the good and placed special gifts in all of us. He formed each one of us specifically and knows us so completely. He knows the weaknesses but delights in our uniqueness. I sense the urge to turn to Him more openly and to share more transparently in the struggles but also in the celebration of all that is so strong. Our God is so sensitive and loving, and He wants us to love ourselves, His wondrous creation. Then we can truly love others well. Selah.


Shoes, Handbags, and discovering God's purpose

There's a commercial on TV that bothers me: a woman driving down a city street notices that it's raining shoes and jumps out of her car to snatch up as many shoes as she can. I seriously don't get that commercial. First of all, what's the point in not having matching pairs? Secondly, I don't get the fascination with shoes. I have never been a shoe girl. They go on my feet and touch all kinds of yucky surfaces. I value shoes because they are a practical necessity, not for their ornamental qualities. Perhaps my apathy towards shoes stems from the fact that once I turned ten, I could not fit into any cute shoes in Japan. My feet were too big. The only pair my mother finally came across were a dark color and really ugly. And the same thing happened to me in Ethiopia when I really needed a new pair of shoes. Once again, the cute shoes were denied me because my feet were too big! At the time, I wore a size 8.5. So imagine my chagrin when after three children, my feet expanded to a size 10. Sigh. It occurs to me that I have had numerous shoe trauma incidents. I remember being around kindergarten age, wearing white sandles and stepping into a dog mess on the sidewalk. I didn't know what to do - my sandals and foot were covered in that stinky mess. Trauma. More recently, I only had one pair of shoes available to me after our move to Maryland. Crocs were my shoe staple throughout my pregnancy, and one night I threw up all over them. I had to go to a meeting early the following morning before they had gotten washed and ended up having to wear a pair of my husband's shoes...more trauma. I'm sure there are many more, but I will spare my grossed out readers any further details. Handbags, on the other hand, I understand. I have always liked purses, handbags, totes, satchels, even paper gift bags. Bags hold all the important things we need. Mirror, there it is! Gum, found it! Waiting in line, open up and grab a book! Bags make sense to me. The only trauma I can recall is not being able to find a diaper bag that I liked, and I looked everywhere! So I carry either a pink and orange mesh tote that I got from a thrift store (cute bag!) or a large denim tote from Bath and Body Works that I received as a gift. For Christmas, I want a new bag. In fact, I am ready to retire a number of bags and carry only this one. Because it's pricey but oh so lovely and practical! There are numerous styles, but I'll know it when I find just the right one... What does it say about us, the shoes or handbag types? Some are both, I know. This post isn't a deep one, but I have been pondering what my passions are. And though bags don't even qualify as a passion for me, they are something I particularly like. So I am starting there and hoping to discover more and more what my true passions are. Maybe I'll start a list. (On a previous post I mentioned how much I like lists.) Anyway, it will be an interesting journey as I dig deeper and discover more of the things that God placed in me for His purposes. There are natural gifts, spiritual gifts, personality traits, temperaments, preferences and tendencies...all the things God uniquely designed in us. May His purposes and passions ultimately prevail in my life, amen.


Thanksgiving and being the Middle Child

I hope Thanksgiving was a warm and wonderful celebration for everyone! My husband, Sean, was gracious to agree to another trip down to Virginia to have Thanksgiving with my family first, then returning to Maryland to visit with his family. Last year we left on Wednesday night, and the trip took seven hours due to traffic (it should only take four!) This time we left Tuesday night, and the trip took five hours. It's progress! Actually, this time it wasn't the traffic that made the trip a challenge - there were so many crazy drivers, and we witnessed several accidents. When I took over the wheel midway through the trip, I was startled to see headlights right up against our car. A little while later this vehicle finally passed me, and it was a big truck! I couldn't even tell because it was so close to me. At that point, I prayed that God would create a buffer around our car. For the rest of the trip, there was a safe cushion of space around our car, and I felt tremendous peace in knowing God was protecting us all along the way. For the first time ever, my sister and I prepared the holiday meal. We had to chase our mother out of the kitchen a few times with a stern warning that she wasn't allowed to fret over anything, and she finally seemed to get the message and relaxed. A bit. For her, that's a major accomplishment. And for us, it was a blessing to show that we were able and competent women. Though we are in our thirties, our parents have a tendency to revert back to treating us like we're still teenagers. And they like to lump us together as one female entity, though we have two very different personalities and lifestyles. That has been perhaps the most frustrating aspect of our entire family life, my sister and I being treated as though we were the same person versus being recognized for our individuality. And though our lives are so very, very different, that hasn't changed in nearly forty years. I am the older daughter and middle child. And yes, most of the things they say about middle children were true with me: The following information comes from an article: Middle Children: Finding Their Own Pride of Place by Robert Needlman, M.D., F.A.A.P. ...Middle children... They often aren't the biggest and strongest, they aren't the babies who get away with murder, they aren't really anything special, at least in their own minds. Sometimes they feel invisible. But this uncomfortable feeling of not having a defined place in the family may actually turn out to be an advantage. Unlike first children, who often define success by their ability to meet their parents' expectations, middle children are more prone to rebel against the status quo. Another result of having a less well-defined place in the family is that middle children often reach outside the family for significant relationships. They make close circles of friends. As the underdogs themselves in many sibling conflicts, middle children often develop a fine sense of empathy with the downtrodden... Where first and last children may tend to be self-centered, middle children often take a genuine interest in getting to know other people. Being in the middle, they may find it easier to look at interpersonal situations from various points of view. The most revealing part of the article above was the statement that not having a defined place in the family can be an advantage. Though I often felt lonely when my brother and sister conspired together, it taught me to stand alone and for myself. It enabled me to find my voice early in life and to depend on my inner resources of creativity, imagination, and sometimes sheer will to navigate through life, both in my younger years and even now as an adult. As I mentioned earlier, my sister and I have followed two very different paths in our lives and have very different personalities. Almost opposites in every way. I would call us fiercely individualistic. Yet we have cultivated our relationship and enjoy an open, respectful relationship, which is fantastic. But our parents have a tendency to treat us like we are the same person, which is not fantastic at all. This didn't occur too often at this Thanksgiving gathering. And for that, I am very thankful..........