Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Inspired by....

MckMama - that's who!

This post is dedicated to MckMama and her sweet son Stellan (and the others in her brood too)!

She posted directions and deliciously inspiring pics on her blog about her homemade SnowPops. I just had to take her challenge to try them myself. I was certain I would be successful, I mean I love to cook and bake all the time and MckMama claims little skill in the baking area.

False Assumption on my part!! I think, for one, she was using better ingredients and it all counts!! But I still think mine look pretty darn cute - and well my audience was not comparing them to anyone else's blog!

So here is my sweet helper as she cleaned up my spatula - after I was finished using it....

Then she decided to get a little more to clean up.....

but then I caught her - honestly I had not idea when I took the picture above what she was doing, until I took the camera down from my eye....

Anyway, here is our finished project. They were sure fun and easy, just not picture perfect.

Here is the crew with full bellies enjoying Ice Age. The young man in the middle is not a regular part of our family, but he is enjoying his night tonight as a part!

One more thing, if you are bouncing around MckMama's blog make sure to check out THIS post and THIS one too!! Second one is laugh -out-loud FUNNY!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Post Christmas & Baptism!!

Merry Christmas from our family!!

Here are some pics from Sunday!! A big day for our family!!

This is my sweet boy all dry and getting ready for his "re-birth" of sorts!!

Below he is getting ready to go under! Notice the mouth - he is a little nervous about the crowd - but smiling sweetly because he is excited!!

And finally, here is my brother in Christ as he comes back up a New Creation!!

What a great day!!

Well, Christmas came and went in a flash. or so it seems on many levels! But it was so much fun to watch the kids open presents this year with so much amazement. The mystery of Christmas continues another year in our home. The boys are certain he exists even though we have told them in the past the truth over and over. I think they really want to believe, so we let them!

The paper is clearing, the boxes should be gone tomorrow with the trash, but the gift of Christmas cards still continues, which I love!

We are back to some semblance of reality here though, and I am ready to have it be fully here. Robert is back at work - working nights again this week. So I am back to serving the big meal at lunch and a simple meal at dinner time for just the kids. I seem to not have much appetite when I have such a big lunch - so that is good for me!

Finally, here are some pics from Christmas morning. It was a bit crazy, but if was fun! The kids did such a good job of really keeping their focus on Jesus this year. They enjoy the gifts but if you ask them they will admit the real celebration is about Jesus and what he did for us!!
Here are the kids with full stockings!!

This child chose to dump rather than remove ...never would have expected that would you??
And this little girl loved her scarf and hat! What a cutie!

So as 2010 quickly approached I wonder ~ how do I want this next year to be defined? What do I want to do better and what do I want to weed out.....lots to think about!

For New Years this year we have a friend spending the night - Bryce- and we will celebrate with "make your own" pizza - followed by fondue!! I hope to have some pics of some snow pops to share in my next post, my angel is helping this afternoon with these as the boys have hooked up their IV line to the wii and will need to be torn away if there is an emergency!! Should be a good afternoon!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Crafty Christmas

Okay, so we have been busy elves and we are having so much fun! I love it when you plan a craft and it just snowballs into craftiness beyond your imagination. With kids this is so much fun to see happen. This last week, I found a craft on my favorite art blog HERE and I prepared by cutting out 3 shapes (took about 30 seconds) and then after school one morning we got everything out and I showed the kids what we were supposed to be doing. This was not intended to be one of those "freedom of expression" exercies, it was a "follow the directions craft" - and they did a great job. That was fun, they each made a card and it looked really good. So then the day after they found the shapes on their own, and made more, and the next, well they did the same thing. So wow! What a fun craft to stumble on. I may use this idea and figure out how to do one of these each month for the holiday that month! We also made the candle cards with directions from the same blog but HERE

So another fun thing we made this year. I have always loved those manilla colored tags that come from office supply stores (with the hole punched and a little string) - I think they are shipping tags of some sort. About 7 years ago I made some gift tags from these and loved them. This year I saw something similar on a tree in Cottage Living - and the owner used some sort of tags to put names of family on her tree. Well I took the two and merged them and this is what I ended up with...

I then laminated them at Mardels today - for 2 sets of tags and 4 large bookmarks I made for my older boys all cost 25 cents to laminate - gotta love Mardels!! I love these tags!!

Next, I bought a bag of Christmas fabric in Michigan this summer at a garage sale for 10 cents I think. Inside were these pre-cut christmas trees - they were cut with pinking shears and I had no idea what the person had cut them for. Then fast forward to Thanksgiving at my sister-in-laws house and she had these adorable placemats that were shaped like big leaves and I instantly knew what I would use those trees for. Check them out....

So I just sewed the trees onto another piece of Christmas fabric - then I cut them with pinking shears again. So there are 2 Christmas patterns - one more formal and one more fun. And they were all used with free fabric (okay 10cents I think) and about an hour total. I love them!

So here is what my place settings will look like.

Did you notice my little silverware holder? That idea came from Family Fun - I used red velvet (that I have had for years) and again sewed wrong sides together and then cut with pinking shears (do you think I love those scissors?) and waalaa - not sure how you spell that. But I love how cute they turned out! And again SUPER easy!!
So, yes we have been busy, well not so much we, as much as I have been. But it has been so much fun making all these cute things - my favorite part is that I have not bought any Christmas fabric, I either had it from years past, my mother-in-law gave it to me this summer, or I got it for cents at a garage sale this summer! So fun!
So, normally I am pulling my hair out this time of year, but we have settled in at our home, we are enjoying school by the fire most mornings and we spend the afternoons creating! So the stress is so much less than any year I can remember. It is fun! So please share if you have any fun & easy craft ideas!!

And, finally, Jennifer I hope there are enough pics this time and enough close-ups!! Seriously , hope you enjoy my work my friend!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Warm Cup of Tea

Well, it is Wednesday already, the week before Christmas and well, I am not ready for it to be now! Really I would love to cram one more week in before Christmas, and not because I am overwhelmed and have so much to do, because I am in my element and am loving it!!

First, I'll explain. Robert is working night, which you probably already know if you talk to me or read this blog much. This is not our ideal way to pass the days, although we are loving family time from about 11am until about 2:30 - the kids are really loving it!

But, my philosophy of life tends to be when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade - for your own sanity really! But in this case I have been making a warm, sweet, cup of hot tea. Yes, it is a bit chilly here (depending on the day) and we have been schooling by the fire most mornings which I absolutely adore! But my afternoons have been spend wandering the blog world or sewing. And MAN I have found some great stuff!!

So at the request of a certain friend in particular I will share. Please understand I only hope to inspire you, not to guilt you or make you feel bad in any way. Goodness knows we all have plenty of guilt without adding any more. So if you are a fellow crafter, enjoy and be inspired, if not, well put in your order for your family and we'll see what I can do! :) But really hope you enjoy! It has been lots of fun sitting on the couch in the evenings working on these!

First, do not think all is perfect in my house. While I immerse myself in the world of wonderful crafts, my dryer sounds like a jet engine about to explode, my washer has been backing up since yesterday, and well my kids are running around, as usual, like crazy! So these are some normal views in my house as I choose to craft rather than tidy up!

Notice that is an air hockey table, that well we are not playing air hockey on these days, but man it makes a handy craft table

And here are our stockings. I have hoped for years to make some homemade stockings for my family. I started these, well sometime last fall I think. Then I worked on them a bit in Michigan this summer and I finished (well almost) them these past 2 weeks or so. I love them. Not sure about the name part, but i can always update that later.

Here are some felt ornaments I made. There are great downloadable directions (owl)here and (little house)here and (assorted others)here and here is one I may make in the future . Finally here is another that is on my list, but as the days go by, not sure.....

Here is a cute little butterfly I made for a great friend's little girl. I think it is cuter in person, but my little girl loves it! So hopefully the one who gets it will love it too.

So that is all for now, I am off to sew some more, and I think I may just make a cup of tea too! Something fun about tea, maybe we will have an afternoon tea party!! And then, I have more owls to make - I think those are one of my favorites.

Happy Crafting!!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sad Saturday :(

When we started this day I really really thought it may end differently. I mean it has been 7 years....7 LONG years and I just thought surely this is the year. But no, even though I was so halftime we had it. Well not that 3 points counts for much. But once again this year, we lost to Navy. So sad. It is so hard to watch our beloved Army Black Knights lose. I cannot imagine how those seniors feel, another class to never beat Navy.

Here are the kids before the game...cheering the cadets on to victory....

But it was a fun game to watch, closer than the last few years and more fun I think too. Then Robert headed out to work and I got out the sewing machine. I finished all the stockings but J's - I need more binding tape and then they are done. I still plan to make 4 more for the future when we add to our family (through marriage we hope). I also played with some scrap fabric and I think I am making place mats for Christmas supper.

We received the coolest book today from my mom in Oregon. I thought it was just (not really just, but well.....)another Christmas book which I could add to our basket of Christmas books in the living room. I love to add new books each year, but this book is special!! It is the Night Before Christmas, but it is read by my mom and recorded in the book. So as you turn a page she starts reading. It is really cool!! So the kids get to sit and listen to my mom read them a book whenever they want! I love it! And it is just so cool to see God continue to restore my relationship with her, to allow us to continue to get to know each other, see how similar we are, and to just grow closer. I feel so blessed to have her back in my life!

One more week of Robert working swing shift and then it will be back to normal for our family. I will admit it is no fun going to be alone in that cold empty bed. I am ready to have my heater back in my bed to help me out with warming it up! And not to mention I am not usually to anxious to go to bed alone, it is lonely. Not that I am whining, it is great to have him home in the afternoons and the kids are seeing so much more of him and that is great. But I am ready for normal life again!

Well, here is to another Army Navy Game - and let's hope that next year we BEAT NAVY!! Hats off to both those cadets and midshipman who watched their last game before graduating. I continue to be grateful for those willing to serve our country by putting their lives on the line! God Bless our troops!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Traditions: Old & New

Traditions are a big deal for me. I grew up with the tradition of no (or very few) traditions. So when I learned, during a season at MOPS in Michigan, that when you grow up and get married you get to decide what traditions to hold on to and which ones to let go of. She told us that we could start new ones and we could decide how we want traditions to look with our family. So every year I try to look at what we do as a family, which traditions are rock solid (will ALWAYS so them), which are fun but not a must, and which ones we can let go of for one reason or another.

Last year we used our chocolate Advent calendars to remind us to have devotions every night (the reminder was the kids begging for their chocolate) and we were very diligent and it was a great (what I thought to be) "new" tradition. This year, with Robert working crazy hours and me trying to adjust to that, well, the Advent/Jesse tree tradition is not happening this year. I think we have only done the calendar 3 times (the second and third were more than one window to open). We are currently due like 3 little pieces of chocolate (maybe more).

But the best part of all of this is that it is okay. We still talk about Christmas every day, we talk about why it is really important. We talk about how we can bless others. We hear those great Christmas Wishes on KLTY (one of our local Christian Radio stations) and we cry and we talk about how blessed we are to have all we do. So even though we are not doing our Jesse tree devotion, I feel like we are still getting it. I hope so! And maybe next year it will work out again for us to try the Jesse tree thing again.

A tradition I think I will never drop is the baking part. This afternoon I decided we were going to knock out several items at one time. I picked four things to do so each child could help with one of those items. Started our with Marinated Mozzarella cheese - and my little girl helped with this one. She loves to help in the kitchen, pretty sure she is my sous chef and that she belongs in the kitchen. Next was the peppermint bark with white chocolate - and that was our youngest son E. Following that was a family favorite : fudge and my eldest son J helped me mix all that up. Finally we ended with some biscotti and my middle son P helped me with this. At bed time they were all talking about helping in the kitchen. It was fun and I think we will do more of this, with them helping in the kitchen.

The best part of our day was dinner though. Robert is working a swing shift these days and so our family meal is lunch and dinner is usually left overs. This morning we all wanted pancakes - specifically Gingerbread Pancakes like the ones we had at the Magnolia Cafe in Austin, for breakfast. After reading reviews of the recipe though I realized that they would be best if the batter sat for a while in the fridge. So for dinner tonight we enjoyed our Gingerbread pancakes! The kids are certain we will make them again - and I am thinking they may become a fall/winter family favorite! Here is the recipe we used, I modified 2 - the Magnolia Cafe one and one on - they were wonderful!!

Janelle's Wholewheat Gingerbread Pancakes
3 eggs
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 1/2 c flour (I used whole wheat)
1/4 c. coffee (brewed)
1 1/2 c. buttermilk (I used regular and added almost 2 teaspoon vinegar)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cloves
1 Tblsp cinnamon
1 Tblsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg

I blended the milk, coffee and sugar. Then I added the eggs. I mixed all the dry ingredients together and then added them to the wet and gently mixed. Then I refrigerated it all for about 8 hours - reviews I read said some people let them sit overnight.

That is it. Then we cooked them for supper. The Magnolia Cafe adds sliced bananas on top and I think even some in the mix, but we did not have any yellow ones!

If you try them let me know what you think! We loved them!!

Here is a video of a recent craft afternoon - we made applesauce ornaments. Notice my dear little girl cleaning up her part....

So I continue to try to refine our family traditions. No matter what we enjoy this time of the year, we enjoy talking about giving to others we know and those we do not know. I love to see my child grow in their maturity when it comes to Christmas. We are truly enjoying this season on celebrating the REAL reason we have this season : Jesus and all he did for us!!

Blessings to you this Christmas!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Applesauce Ornaments

Well, I promised I would never make these again! I made them in 2002 the last time they worked, and we still have them. But, I am not a cookie cutter person. Sure, I have plenty, but I really do not like to use them.

Today I ventured out of my comfort zone and we made them again. This time I followed Lisa Whelchel's recipe in the book The ADVENTure of Christmas, one of my favorites for Christmas ideas.

Here is the recipe if you are interested in trying it in your home:

1 cup ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
1 cup applesauce
2 tablespoons white craft glue
Food Coloring (optional)
a few tablespoons of all-purpose flour

1. combine the cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg in a mixing bowl
2. Add applesauce and glue
3. Work everything together with your hands
4. If desired, divide into portions and mix a few drops of food coloring into each.
5. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to approx 1/4 inch thickness
6. Cut dough with cookie cutters into various shapes
7. Bore a hole in the top of each ornament (a drinking straw works well for this)
8. Lay ornaments out to dry - I baked mine at 200 degrees for about 1-2 hours.

We made 2 batches, one (first) was mine that I made and have ornaments I want to give away. The other (second) the kids made entirely themselves and we can hang those on our tree!

It was a fun afternoon activity - the kids love to play in the kitchen and they love to do crafts so this was perfect!


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Our "Arctic" Adventure

It took a while to prepare. We had to plan: clothes, jackets, gloves, blankets, food, drink, etc. Route, destination, and parking. (well I honestly did not plan the parking well)

Then there was the packing: the Army Duffel bag with blankets and gloves. The hot "cooler" with breakfast burritos wrapped in foil and hot from the over, the thermos filled with hot cocoa - with 4 to go travel mugs for four little travellers.

Destination: UNKNOWN as far the the kids knew anyway.
Departure time: 0600 hrs - or about that time.

So yes, Robert helped me pull of an (possible new tradition for our family) Arctic adventure.

We braved the cold and went to the Dallas Children's parade today with some great friends! It was so much fun (if you ignore the whining kids, crying little girl, and the cold!!)! The kids were bundled up - our friends arrived right after we did and we took over a small section of side walk at about 7am. The people started to fill in. The clowns began walking the streets with all their antics. And we sipped our hot cocoa under our blankets, gloves and hats!

It was great. We are going back next year (we think) and plan to bring Dad this time!

Was it cold? Oh my - it was in the 20's when we arrived, probably in the high 30's low 40's when we left - we were in sleeping bags (thanks to the Gladdens since we forgot ours) wearing our gloves and snuggling together. But it was great to see Spider man, Hello Kitty, the Star Wars crew and lots more!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Peace - what does that actually mean? How does it apply in our lives? Especially at Christmas?

Jesus says "My peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." John 14:27

This is what I read this morning while trying to find a moment of peace while my big boys do their math and the little boy and girl, do something.....

And this verse just kind of hit me up-side my head! Just yesterday Robert told me I received an email from someone who somehow causes me to let go of that peace. So I was in knots for a little while, then I turned to Facebook to get my mind off my anxiety....silly thing to do. Does facebook bring anyone peace? No - it only adds useless info to your already full mind.... it may encourage you occasionally, but for the big picture, I know I should not be turning to FB to bring me peace.

During the holidays is my biggest struggle with peace. If you have ever been around me in December my pulse is usually elevated, my anxiety attacks kick in, and my back goes out. That is my pattern. Last year it was not as bad as usual. We kept things low key and tried to not let ourselves get too busy.

This year the process started, almost as soon as Thanksgiving was over.... so much to do .... stockings to finish, gifts to make, candy ingredients to buy... and on and on. Then I had to just have a good talk with myself. I mean really. For one, there are lots of days until the BIG day. Lots of trips to Walmart, lots of quiet evenings to get out my sewing machine, and really who is watching, who is keeping track of all that needs to be done? No one! No one but me. And really, can I not give myself a break??

Yes, I can - and I am committing to.

One of my favorite quotes for somewhere... How do you eat an elephant? A bite at a time!

Janelle's version, How do you tackle Christmas? A task at a time and lots of prayer and quiet time mixed in.

The reality is, if I keep aiming for the Peace of Christ during this holiday, and let the anxiety just fall away, things will go much better. I mean really, they will. And maybe my back will make it all month with no issues - that would be a miracle!!

The Peace that Christ leaves us is not a peace that we see in this world. It is a supernatural peace. One that cannot be explained. It is the lady in line at a store behind tons of people with a smile on her face and a happy greeting for those around her. It is singing songs and reading books with your kids even though you have other things you planned for that period of time. It is not getting upset when you get an email from "that person" - instead you pray for them. Pray that God will help you reflect the truth back to them and not your anger, not your hurt heart, not the bad, just encourage that person, because honestly isn't that what she really needs? And isn't that who God has really called us to be?

So as I strive for peace in a crazy chaotic world, I trust that I can find that peace in only one place - not Facebook, not my Christmas tree, not in my kids, but in the God I serve, in the one who I love and trust in. God Bless!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Listening to the rain fall

Tonight has been a great night to relax, get a little crafting done and just enjoy the sound of the rain falling outside.

Yesterday was a bit crazy for us because we had a sick little boy Sunday night. So sick that I moved to the couch to sleep with him thinking he might fall asleep if I was there. He was having a really hard time breathing and that is always hard to listen to for your little boy (or girl). I knew we would be trekking to the doctor in the morning and so we just gutted it out that night.

We ended up at our normal pediatrician - Dr Mann (who really is amazing) and we found out he has either pneumonia or Bronchitis and has Strep. So, yes a sick little boy.

Did I mention the throwing up all morning? No, well we had lots of that too - 3 times. I am very proud to say that he figured out the throwing up part quickly and never missed the toilet or the bucket! yeah! (for mom)

At the dr, he got a shot of antibiotics (due to the vomiting) and some medicine (lotion for the vomiting, really cool if you think about it!) and a prescription for more antibiotics. Once we got home he crashed on the couch for about 3 hours, then woke, drank some cranberry juice, and watched tv until dinner. Finally he ate and then he complained of a tummy ache - of course it was empty ALL day!! Needless to say he slept well last night and woke up a new boy this morning. Today you could hardly tell he was sick - except and occasional cough!

Robert is working evenings & nights this week, so we had a great lunch with dad, started our Jesse tree daily devotions with our chocolate Advent calendars and kicked off the family traditions in style! Then we all got some much needed work done around the house before Dad headed out to work.

I am excited because I actually got some sewing in tonight - and plan to do lots more this week in the afternoon/evenings! My oldest boy even started working on some Christmas gifts - he has high aspirations of all the gifts he is planning to make (wonder where he gets that from!).

So, all is well here. I love to sleep to the sound of rain falling, so I think I am off to bed. Even though Thanksgiving is over, I am still so thankful!

For good doctors, medicine, sleeping children, gentle rains, Dr Pepper, a wonderful husband who works very hard at work and at home, and all the many things God has given to me and our family!


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