Dec 31, 2010

2010 Highlights

Here are some highlights! It's hard to just pick one or two pictures per month!

January: Make a visit to Missouri in the coldest period on history. Find out we are having a girl, but she has a large tumor.
February: Hunter learns to snow ski. We adjust to life with many doctor visits and ultrasounds.
March: Hunter starts t-ball. I attempt Spring Easter pictures of the kids.
April: I am starting to feel very pregnant.
May: Katie and Brad get married in my yard.

June: Ainsley has her third birthday princess style. Tessa is born, has successful surgery and comes home a week later.
July: Krista and Thomas get married.
August: Tessa learns to smile. Hunter starts 1st grade homeschool.
Ainsley takes ballet. Hunter learns to water ski.
Hunter asks for another impossibly hard Halloween costume that I pull off cheap ghetto style. It's Chewbacca, people. He also has a birthday.

Hunter loses his first tooth.

So many thoughts and feelings lived in each month. So much learned. So much rich family and friend time spent. I consider 2010 pretty successful! Happy New Year!

Dec 23, 2010

And God Bless Us Everyone.

A door hanger. A simple craft. The meaning of Christmas started here for me.This is Michael with my friend's cute kids who brought him a balloon last year on his birthday. The place is Raintree Convalescent Home. I visited all last year making a simple craft once a month with the patients there. Then I had Tessa and took some time off - for almost a year. I went back this last week to make some Christmas door hangers with the patients.
Michael was gone.Michael was one of our favorites. He had a wry sense of humor and was a huge Giants fan.
I asked where he was when I didn't see him. I also didn't see Virgil. Virgil had amazing faith in God and was a favorite of Hunter's as Virgil loved to joke with him. I had looked into Virgil's room going by on the way in and didn't see him either. I had asked Carolyn, the activities director, where they were. She told me they had passed away this last year. My heart hurt all day. I missed them. She said that she really appreciated the crafts I do with them because they may not have a much longer by the time they get to the convalescent home. They try to keep them happy and busy with the time they have. Crafts and birthday balloons mean so much to them when we bring them. She said they tie the balloon to their wheelchair until it finally meets it's demise about a week later. It's a pretty big deal I guess. Some of the ladies were having so much fun doing crafts they wanted to do about 4 or 5 different door hangers.
In contrast:
This is my house:

Yeah, this is what I have.
They get a little door hanger I made with them.
I regret my year off visiting. I wonder if Michael got to see the Giants win the world series this year?
The birthday balloons and crafts are usually bought at the Dollar Store or Oriental Trading Company. For pennies, we brighten someone's day who has ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. The rooms are pretty stark and bare. Some don't have families to visit. We have this under our tree today. It kinda looks like an obscene amount of gifts doesn't it?
The patients there don't have much in the way of material possessions. Some have lost much of their physical capabilities as well. They really can't do more than a simple preschool craft. This is isn't one of those fancy smanshy convalescent homes with the glossy brochure explaining what they can offer the elderly. This is a run-down, small, hospital type of home with caring people who run it with little resources.

I on the other hand, have been rockin' the Christmas spirit trying to jam in as many Christmas traditions and activities as I can for my kids. Our home is filled with laughter, love, and togetherness. There is such a stark difference.
My kids sat alongside the patients and made their own door hangers too. The one up above? That's Hunter's and he's darn proud of it. Young, old, privileged, rich, poor, and needy. We all are God's children and are loved by Him. There are some beautiful precious souls in that home. I enjoy spending a morning with them once a month. I don't go because it's another check on my to-do list. Ya know. My good deed for the month? I really love the patients. They are delightful and funny and some are just so sweet. Precious souls who deserve to be loved.

You don't have to go far to find people who need you. I only have to drive 2 minutes to this little home.

The door hanger? It's the meaning of Christmas to me.

Dec 22, 2010

Sugar Cookie Tradition

A couple days before Christmas my kids and I always make sugar cookies. Like the biggest batch EVER of sugar cookies. It takes the whole afternoon, but I probably have the biggest cookie cutter collection ever so the kids have a blast. Here we are making the dough for the biggest batch ever. Then I flatten and stick the dough in the freezer for an hour so it gets cold faster. We all wore aprons and Ainsley also decided it was important to bake in her pirate costume. I don't know why, but she was adamant about it.What did the baby do while we were baking? Sat right next to us on the floor in her little seat playing with "toys". Except we were having trouble coming up with enough interesting toys for her to keep her occupied and happy. Did you know that this was the best one? Yeah. Hunter's play handcuffs that came with his Cowboy and Indian set. What do you mean it's not normal? Desperate times people. These totally kept her happy for a whole half hour. And while we waited for the dough to freeze up, Hunter went to play with his friend across the street and Ainsley helped me hang up the photo cards we got this year. These make me happy.This kid is a tough kid to keep happy. She is never happy in one spot for very long, and gets quickly frustrated with her toys. After a few minutes she get mad at it and starts wailing in frustration. Who knows why? She's just a really high strung baby. Such huge emotional swings all the time from high to low.
Lord, please help me when she reaches puberty.
She chucked her toy as hard as she could over her shoulder and now is sad that she doesn't have it anymore. She was throwing toys as fast and as hard as she could as soon as we gave them to her. Then she would get mad and demand a new one. Logic is lost on 6 month olds. But who can resist that face?
It was a really lovely day. We were listening to christmas carols and baking....then Daddy decided to play/blast Guitar Hero Metallica. There went that. But it did keep Tessa occupied. She was happy in her walker sitting next to him and babbling at the TV. Until Daddy handed her a drumstick to play with and she beaned herself in the head with it as hard as she could and started wailing. Usually I stick with soft toys for her because she is hardly gentle. Actually she wants into everything within a 24 inch vicinity of her reach and dive bombs for it. Last night at dinner she was sitting next to me chewing on Ainsley's belt (I know another weird toy, but another that kept her happy for a super long time). Then she started whipping it as hard as she could and when she got me and things starting flying across the table, I called it quits and took it. I have a feeling we are going to need locks on cabinet doors with this one. We did with Hunter and didn't at all with Ainsley. Back they will go though with Tessa I think.
Hunter needs his apron tied up higher I guess. They were both having a great time putting "sparkles" (sprinkles) on them. We are going to my parents on Christmas with a lot of family around, so I bring a load of the cookies and they all get eaten no problem. Tessa even got a first bite. The jury is still out on how she feels about them....
After we baked all the cookies, we loaded the kids up and had dinner at Taco Bell and drove the route at Candy Cane Lane for the light display. What? Oh Taco Bell. Well, after baking all day, I was coming up short for dinner plans and Taco Bell can feed us all cheap. No, we didn't go because it was super Christmasy or anything. But the lights had a us all "Ooo"ing and "Ahhh"ing and feeling very Christmasy. We all played "I Spy with my little eye..." and the kids got really into finding all the little things (all four of us jammed in the front seat while Tessa dozed in the back).

All in all, a great day.

You want the recipe? It's a great one for soft, chewy sugar cookies and a really big batch too.

Sugar Cookie Recipe
1 1/2 cups butter, softened (3 sticks)
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for a least one hour (it's super sticky and needs to get really cold).
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 6 to 8 minutes.

I can't even guess at how many this makes since our cookies run from teeny tiny to HUGE. I told you I have the biggest cookie cutter collection ever, right? And my kids want to use them all.

Dec 16, 2010

Precious Memories - Found!

So I was at my grandparent's house a couple weeks ago, and I found in a drawer, tucked in a shoe box some old photos of myself with my grandparents (I called them Mamaw and Papaw). I had never seen them before and they had my grandma's notes all over them. She died a while back and seeing my grandpa holding me was not something I had seen before either. So I took them and scanned them. These are so so precious to find!

He looks so different now thirty one years later. It's hard to recognize him.
Here is my Aunt holding me with my mom looking on. Aren't they cute?
I am sitting on my Mom's lap with my Great Grandma and Grandpa.Isn't this one cute of my Mom's smile?
My grandma is holding me and my new brother while my mom looks over the back.
Shaving with my Grandpa. Isn't this the cutest? I love the tatoo showing.
Sitting on my grandpa at his house. The note said it was Thanksgiving so I am three months old.
I love this one.
What a find! Memories. Life. You blink....and then.....

Dec 12, 2010

A Big Ol' Plate of Goodness

No time to get your holiday baking on? No biggie. Me neither. But these little suckers are easy and addicting to eat.
You need: mini pretzels, kisses, some M&Ms.
That's it.

I made three kinds using the peppermint, regular chocolate, and carmel kisses. I have to say the peppermint are my favorite, but my husband loves the carmel ones. We had already eaten one whole cookie pan full before I took this picture. Addicting.

Lay a layer of parchment paper or foil on one of your cookie sheets. Place the pretzels on the pan with one kiss in the middle of each. Bake in the oven at 200 degrees for 6 minutes. Pull them out and press the kiss flat with an M&M. Place the tray in the fridge to cool and the chocolate to harden up. Peel off the parchment paper and start poppin them. You won't be able to stop at 1 or 2 or 3....It's something about the salty crunch with the sweet. If I had been really "with-it" (I never am), I would have had the Christmas M&Ms in red and green. But I had a only a couple bags of regular so that's what I used. Then I ran out half way through and started pressing the carmel ones flat with leftover pretzel bits. That was pretty good too. Kinda tasted like those chocolate turtles. If you had some pecans, you could also press the carmel ones down with a nut. That would also be super tasty.

I transferred them into this casserole pan because it has a snap on lid and the ants this year have been really bad because of all the extra rain. We are constantly fighting them in our kitchen and house. Yeah, super classy, huh?

Enjoy. I know we are.

Dec 9, 2010

While Visions of Sugar Plums...

Lots of fun little sweet moments from this week are dancing around in my head at the moment and I thought I'd show you a snapshot of them.
These shoes and headband were a custom order I did this week to match a very fabulous red Christmas dress for a customer.
Ainsley and her class did a little Christmas dance for the parents to watch. She really was too shy to do much dancing, but she loved getting her certificate at the end.
Our Bible study group decided to do a fun night and make gingerbread house with our kids. I was smart and decided to pre-glue them. It was a lot of fun...for about a half hour until the kids lost interest. The houses were awefully cute. The dads were lined up watching the football game holding the four babies, and the moms were helping the five older kids (2 to 6 years old) make houses. Then these same Mommies and kids decided to come over a couple mornings later and get our craft on making hair clips. This is what our table looked like (thank you Jen for your funny cell phone pic). I think it's funny how the Bumbo seat, bottle, kid snacks and baby toys are all mixed into the craft stuff. But every mommy got at least a few clips done.Whew! And between all that fun, I am frantically pushing out etsy orders that have come streaming in. I can't sew fast enough!
It's enough to wear a person out. Sweet Dreams!

Dec 4, 2010


Just some random happenings in our life this week.
First off: The Tree.
We have never aimed for one of those "pretty" themed trees at our house where there are only pretty balls in the same two hues. How could we ever attain that with 3 kids I'd like to know? But because we never have, we almost do. Everything on it is a unique fun ornament. Mostly in primary colors and I love our tin angel and bead garland. No boring white lights here. We go rainbow colors! To me, it looks like a toy land tree. One tradition we've done now since we were married is everyone gets one new ornament for the tree every year. Tone gets an airplane every single year. I've had to really hunt some years to find one. This year Hunter picked Yoda and Ainsley picked Beauty and the Beast. I write their name and year with a sharpie on the back. I still snicker at Hunter's Dora in the pink sparkle outfit that he HAD TO HAVE when he was two years old. Priceless.
This is the kid's side table with the stuff they can play with. I found this set for $5 at the discount store and picked it up a few years ago. They adore it. Wouldn't you know it, within five minutes of pulling it out of the box this year, they had the pieces scattered everywhere. It's been 3 days and we still can't find the little asparagus shepherd. There is always one piece found after I've packed up the Christmas boxes for the year and it goes in the junk drawer until the next year when I pull it out and reunite it with the set.

And drumroll please...this is hands down the kid's favorite. It's pretty cliche. Bet your grandma has one. The ceramic village!!!
Yeeeup. They can't wait to dig out and carefully arrange it every year. They think out every little piece placement and ooo and aw when it gets turned on. It's almost better than the tree.
Ok, ok. I love it too. I like peeking in all the little windows and the scenes inside.
Moving on past the decorating:
I somehow walked out of the grocery store with a box of chocolate instant pudding and an oreo crumb crust. The kids wanted pudding cups and oreos. Nay, demanded it when I took them with me (this is why I don't like to take them with me). This pie solution was a lot cheaper. It looks like a pile of poo on her plate, but it was a big hit with the two of them.
Tessa found her feet. She is too chubby to get them in her mouth much to her disappointment. But she still quite enjoys them.This little music box plays songs, lights up, and blows snow. It kept Tess entertained for a very long time. She liked licking it and trying to eat it. Since it's pretty unbreakable, we let her have at it while I made dinner.Last but not least, Hunter lost his first tooth. The tooth fairy came with four quarters so he could buy himself a Hotwheels car.
He totally knows the tooth fairy is me. When asked, he told me all 6 year olds know that of course. Sheesh, mom.
Santa though, Santa is totally real. Everyone knows that. Sheesh, mom.