Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Eve Highlights

1. Food. Food. And more food. In fact, my sister-in-law were so busy elbowing each other out of the way for more appetizers and mashed potatoes that I didn't take any pictures of the food part. It was survival of the fittest... and I would NOT have been the fittest had I been trying to take pictures as well!!!

2. Family. It is always great spending Christmas Eve with Don's family. They are my family, too. For the last 12 years. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

3. The excitement. Look how excited Sis is over her shower gel and lotion. I love how exciting EVERYTHING is at Christmas!!!

4. My gift from my sister-in-law (well, it's for Don, too): she and my niece took a picture of my kids, then sent it off for a charcoal drawing to be done from the picture. I was having major photography difficulties that night, but I think you can tell how special it is, even though the picture is so blurry!
5. In yet another blurry picture, you can see one of Bub's fave gifts of the night: His Star Wars helmet that can change your voice. Say it with me: "Oooooooooooo!" I think just about everyone tried it that night!
6. And Sis's gift: An AMERICAN GIRL DOLL!!! Kit, to be exact. The specific one she wanted. Because Kit looks so much like her. Here she is reading her new Kit Kittredge book to Kit (she also got the movie).

7. Here's my niece and I doing our pose that we do every time we're together. It always turns out better when she's the one that takes the picture. I think because she's taller, and therefore her arms are longer. Or something.
8. Finally, the kids had so much fun making up games the other night, like the Family Wirdo game, that we played it again with the bigger family. Bub is filling out his ballot here. I won't tell you who won the title of "Weirdo." I'll just say it wasn't me!!! :)

I feel like I can join the club now...

The "I bake cookies at Christmas with or without my kids" club. I've never been eligible before... until now.
I really like to cook. But baking is another thing. Meaning, not MY thing. But I decided that my kids and I could have fun baking cookies now that they're a little older. So we began... We started with cutout cookies.
Then we used egg yolks with food coloring (idea courtesy of Pioneer Woman) to "paint" the cookies before we baked them.

Once they were baked and cooled, we made icing to decorate the cookies even more (and sweeten them up even more!!!).

You like the rainbow giant gingerbread guy? I think Bub's cookie rocks! He was the "chosen one" left for Santa on Christmas Eve.

Then after making chocolate cookie dough to put in the fridge, Don and the kids started making cake balls to freeze, then dip into melted chocolate.

Finally, Don did a taste test of the cutout cookies to make sure they were edible.... I think they passed with flying colors!
Hope your Christmas was filled with lots of sugary goodness!

The Spelling Bee - Christmas-Style

The kids were in a Christmas program at church. The premise was a Spelling Bee, spelling different words representing Jesus (ie. Prince of Peace, Morning Star, Mighty God, etc.). Then once the kid misspelled a word, he/she went to change into their nativity scene costume.

Sis was Beatrice Buzzby (or something like that), who thought she needed to dress like a bee to win a spelling bee. She wore all black and yellow, and her glasses were black/yellow stripes. She looked adorable.
Bub was Jeffrey Johnson, the athlete. See his letterman's jacket? It was Don's letterman's jacket from junior high... which is the middle school in our town. The jacket (and Bub) was quite the hit!
It's safe to say that my kids don't have a shy bone in their bodies! They handled themselves on stage like pros!

Here's Bub as a wise man:

And Sis as an angel:

Oh, the Blogging Irony

Why is it when I have plenty of time to blog, I have to make up embellish search for things to talk about, but when I filled up my camera's memory card with pictures, I have no time to blog???

Oh, the delicious irony. Although not as delicious as the cookies the kids and I made over the holidays. But that's a whole other blog. With artful, fun pictures to accompany.

So, prepare yourselves for lots and lots of holiday blogs... all at once (practically).

But first, here is a short synopsis of our holiday:

1. The kids made up their own games one night... Sis's was called "The Family Wirdo," which was her spelling of Weirdo. We all had to fill out ballots on who we thought the weirdest person in our family was, then we all got to call the winner "Weirdo" the rest of the night. Don won by a landslide. The kids had GREAT FUN calling him Weirdo without fear of repercussions! We also had a dance contest and a drawing contest... NONE OF WHICH I WON. I think Bub felt bad for me, because he whispered to me: "Mom, what are you good at? We can have a game about THAT!"

2. At my mom's side of the family Christmas, we had a kids' talent show, much like the one we had at Thanksgiving. Sis didn't feel good, so didn't participate. Bub's talent? Pulling his tooth in front of all of us. He made my cousin run out of the room gagging. Good times.

3. Watching Sis's face when she opened her new sewing machine. I was so excited!!! She. was. not. More like confused... like, this is my big gift??? I said, "remember saying you wanted to learn to sew this year?" Her response: "Can't we just borrow someone else's?" She felt better about it when she realized it wasn't her only big gift... :) Oh, the honesty.

4. Mostly the kids. My kids. My sister's kids. My cousins' kids. Kids always make Christmas fun!!!

More details to follow!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ode to Joy

Last night I was practicing with the trio for a song we're singing on Sunday. It's called JOY.

I don't know about you, but it is SO EASY to forget to be joyful this "joyful" time of year...

I've been crazy-busy at work. The economy makes my stomach hurt. We've all been sick. I haven't finished all my Christmas shopping. ALL of that can distract from our joy if we let it.

The thing is, circumstances don't HAVE to be "just so" in order to have joy. We don't have to have joy BECAUSE of our circumstances. We can have joy IN them.

I can have joy "just because." In my mind, it's a decision I can make. I CHOOSE JOY.

There are some things that give me joy no matter what is going on:

Hebrews 13:5-6
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" That gives me joy... we're not alone in this!

There are other things (maybe not so spiritual) that give me joy (not a complete list... I always think of other things to add as soon as I push "Publish"):
Music... singing it, playing it, listening to it. Right now, I'm LOVING Christmas music... Mariah, Jessica Simpson, Amy Grant, Point of Grace, Avalon (whose song JOY we're singing!)
Reading... it can be an escape if it's fiction, funny and/or motivating if it's non-fiction, and completely inspired by God if it's the Bible! :)
Family... there's a special kind of joy I feel when I spend time with my family. My kids and hubby are joy-provoking. And the rest of my family... well, all I can say is that I'm thrilled that I'll get to spend so much time with them in the next few weeks!
Friends... joy, joy, joy!!! There are some I see all the time, some I only see every couple years, and a lot in between... and I count them ALL joy! You should have seen how "joyful" I was with Cara and Ginger last night while we were practicing... I was doing my "joyful" cheerleading jumps while they were doing their solos... (I was NOT a cheerleader, in case you were wondering! Nor do I have one ounce of coordination! But I was immature joyful!)
Photography... it's an old love that's been renewed in the past few years, thanks to my hubby's NEW love for it. Sometimes we tussle over the camera! There's something about documenting EVERYTHING that helps to remind me what's REALLY important in my life...

What are your thoughts? Are they joyful?

I will joy in the God of my salvation. --Hab. iii. 18.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Stop the Clock!!!

Do you ever wish time would stop? Even just for a little while, so you could enjoy just where you are???

I'm feeling that way right now with my kids... they are both at such a fun age. Bub is wrestling now (post to come later about this), and LOVING it!!!
And Sis, well, what can I say... she's just really growing up before my eyes! I'm enjoying it on one hand, but it makes me sad on the other. It seems like just yesterday she had a little squeaky little-girl voice...

As part of her growing up, I let her go on my "girls day out" shopping trip last Saturday with my mom, my sisters and me. She's been begging to go on our quarterly "girls nights out" to dinner for the past year or so. We've decided to let the younger girls join us on those when they turn 12. So this was like a "practice run" for her.

To say she was SO EXCITED would be an understatement. And while she was exhausted by the end (we all were, actually!), she did great!

The highlight for her:

Had to be the *Starbuzz* at the beginning of the day... Peppermint Hot Chocolate!!! What a grown up thing to do!!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Past Progressive

I don't know about you, but the biggest motivation ever for cleaning my house is to invite people over. Better yet, a LOT of people over!!! So, when our Young Families class started planning a progressive dinner, I volunteered our house immediately!

So, just in case you don't know what a progressive dinner is, let me explain: You start off at one house for appetizers, another house for salads, another house for the main course, and yet another house for desserts (or however you want to split up your meal).

I volunteered for desserts for 2 reasons:

1. I did NOT want to have to worry about having enough sit-down, formal seating for 30+ people. I figured desserts were more informal.

2. I didn't want to have to cook main course-ish type of foods. I do okay at cakes and sweets. Cooking turkey or whatever for that many people would break me out in hives!

So, with all those people coming over so early in December, the pressure was ON to get the Christmas decorations up and ready... I did make a conscious decision to scale down the decorations in order to be ready in time. I normally do the big tree in the great room, our 7-ft tree in our bedroom with all the Hallmark ornaments, then a 4-ft tree in the kids' playroom that has all their ornaments and homemade ornaments. The 7-ft tree never even made it out of storage... the 4 ft tree is... well, it's still sitting in the playroom undecorated. We just haven't gotten to it yet, that's all.


So, Don and I got the big tree up and decorated in the days prior to the party. The 2 gifts under the tree are gifts the kids wrapped from their Santa's Cottage at school. The fact that I haven't bought, much less wrapped, hardly anything is another post for another time. Or not.

And we got the fireplace decorated... somewhat. We didn't hang our wreath way up the stone wall. yet. It could still happen!!! And I'm not sure why I was holding the camera at such a tilted angle here. Oh well. You can still get the picture, so to speak!!!

So, once the evening got started, we were appetized, then full of salad, then turkey and veggie, then OUR house!!! I took pictures of the previous events and posted them here, but... what do you know? Once everyone got to OUR house, I was too busy to take lovely pictures of all the desserts! So, my camera didn't make it back out again until gift time. And might I add that these were all white elephant/dirty santa/gag gifts (whatever it is you might call them... they weren't serious gifts).

Here are a few shots...

Here's Kristin opening a sweatshirt from me. I bought it for the Redneck party from the goodwill, but found something even MORE redneck to wear... speaking of, Kristin accidentally left the sweatshirt at my house afterwards. I'll have to remember to drop it by her house! I'm sure she's already missing it! :)

Even with the stress of having to have a CLEAN HOUSE, it was a great night!!! Fun, silly, and delicious!!! You can't ask for more than that for a fun night, can you??

Thankful Thursday

Hmmmm... it's Thursday again. Have you been thankful today???

Here are three things I'm thankful for this cold fine Thursday:

1. I'm thankful that I work with a fun bunch of people. We had our Christmas lunch today. A lady I work with got out her accordion and we sang Christmas carols. It was hilarious! And I sang the kindergarten version of "Jingle Bells," meaning I YELLED "Hey!" and I added the "ha ha ha" parts. Great fun! Silly fun!

2. I'm thankful I know how to do this now... expect to see it regularly. I'm like a little kid with a new toy.

3. I'm thankful that even though I'm not nearly ready for Christmas yet (ie. buying gifts), I'm relaxed and enjoying the season regardless.

What are you thankful for today???

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Breaking up is hard to do... and so is catching up!

So, it's not too late to re-visit Thanksgiving, is it??? I am VERY late in uploading pics from recently, so I thought I'd catch you up on some things...

Thanksgiving was really great this year. It was relaxing, fun and really, really good to spend time with family. My aunt is nice enough to host us every year, and she normally has a craft set up for all the kids. She did that this year (oh, man... that's an art picture I forgot to take!!!), but she and her grandkids also thought of having a performance by all the kids.

One word: ADORABLE.

Here's my niece, Big Sissy, singing us a song that had parts for us to repeat her. She pointed at us when it was our turn.

Then she and her little sister, Little Sissy, sang us a duet... and counted... and generally just showed us how cute and smart they are!!!

My dad made an announcement that my 19-year-old cousin was sad that he wasn't invited to perform... the only grandkid not performing!!! He looks devastated, doesn't he?

Bub didn't get too creative on his performance... he had just seen Oprah's very talented kid show, so he was thinking of breakdancing and/or yodeling, but instead settled on standing on his head as long as he could. Never seen THAT before, have we???

Sis then did an art demonstration for us... see how the pie looks like it's missing a piece? When you turn the art upside down, it looks like that there's only one piece left! Amazing and magical!

She then showed us how to make a paper airplane...

... then had her "lovely assistant" demonstrate how it flew!

Buddy really wanted to show off how he could crawl, but got frustrated... so he just looked really cute instead!
Hope y'all had as nice a Thanksgiving as us.
Give thanks!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Black Friday

Wow, this is the 3rd post I've done today!!! I've had nothing to say for so long, and now the words are just SPILLING out!

So, the day after Thanksgiving, I did my annual Black Friday shopping trip with my sisters. It used to include my mom as well, but her current job doesn't allow her to have that day off. :(

So, Liss and I were supposed to meet at 7:00... we both ended up there at 7:30 instead. hee. Then Christy met us later that morning after she fed Little Buddy.

Christy and Liss really didn't have a lot of shopping to do... they were practically done. I, on the other hand, had not bought ONE. SINGLE. THING. YET. Nope. Not one. So, I had a lot of work to do.

Unfortunately, I found way more things for me than anyone else... isn't that the way it goes? But we had a GREAT time. And apparently turtlenecks are all the rage again (which works out well for me since my neck is ALWAYS cold with this new haircut!). Here's Christy trying one on at the Gap... apparently this one is for a giraffe!!!

Here's to keeping our necks warm this winter!

Thankful Thursday

Isn't it ironic that on THANKSGIVING I didn't do a Thankful Thursday post???

Let's just all agree that I was completely thankful that day, but didn't feel the need to post about it! Or we could agree that I was just lazy... whatever!

Today, I am thankful for:

1. My kids who are into being especially thankful themselves right now. Sis told me the other night that I was a great mom. Then she was so proud of herself for being nice that she expounded: "Isn't it nice when someone says something nice like that? It's like getting a little bit of sunshine on the inside, isn't it?" They rock.

2. My husband. 'Nuff said. I already said it all here.

3. My parents, who every year let me ask them last minute to watch my kids for some Christmas event Don and I have to go to... and they not only willingly watch them when they can, they make it a fun event for my kids!

Wise Words from Bub

Bub was doing bicep curls with his backpack last night...

Bub: You know why I'm working out my biceps?
Me: No. Why?
Bub: Because those are the most important muscles to have to impress the ladies!*

*Apparently a quote from a SpongeBob computer game... oh brother!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Holiday Pick Up Sticks

So, I haven't posted yet about our wonderful Thanksgiving, or even Black Friday yet! But I thought you should know that my Christmas cards are en route and should be delivered tomorrow! I'm so excited!