Saturday, December 25, 2010

We Wish You A

Merry Christmas


Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Excitement

It is the early morning of Christmas Eve, and I've been awake for a good while. Can't sleep. I feel like a kid because I'm so excited about Christmas! Traditions. Family. Friends. And I can't wait to see the little monkeys' faces on Christmas morning. So much fun.

Growing up, we didn't do the whole Santa thing. My parents did not discourage it in the least, but none of us really got it. I think we are all big realists, and it just didn't make any sense to us. But Eveley is definitely in to Santa this year. She has watched Rudolph and Frosty and has already informed me that we must leave Santa a plate with 4 cookies tonight.

She had a pretty rough afternoon yesterday -- major tantrum and stinky attitude. I thought I may try and use this Santa thing to my advantage, so I mentioned that Santa only delivered presents to children who were sweet and loving. That did it. She said, "Oh NO! Am I going to be on the naughty list?" Hmm... Didn't even have to mention that one.

But I did remind her that the most important thing about her bad behavior was that it made Jesus sad. He wanted her to obey her parents and speak sweetly. She got the message and shaped up.

Our young family hasn't developed too many traditions yet, but there are a few that I am trying to implement around Christmas.

First, I am writing our children Christmas letters each year -- just taking the chance to recap the year, remind them (and me) of their growth and experiences, and reinforce how much their parents love them. I started this when Robbie was 1 and definitely enjoy reading back over that letter.

Next, I get the kids Christmas pajamas that they open and wear on Christmas Eve. Nothing huge, but kinda fun. We also get them each an ornament of their own, which they opened last night.

As a child, Christmas Eve was sooo exciting. I am the oldest of 5, and we would usually all sleep together in the same room and talk unto the wee hours of the night. Then the first one to wake up would rouse the rest of us and we would race into mom and dad's room for the Christmas story. Once we read Luke 2 together, then we could go into the living room for presents. (We usually picked our sister Carrianna to read the story since she read the fastest!) Great memories indeed.

Time sure flies.

Christmas 2009

Now, I am the parent and on the other end of the excitement. We will have our Christmas Eve service at church tonight and then spend the evening assembling and wrapping the presents.

I love this time of year and all the memories and excitement it brings. But I love it especially because we are celebrating the birth of true HOPE and LOVE.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Caramel Joy

Definitely, a favorite part of the Christmas season is all the yummy baking that is involved. I enjoy giving friends and neighbors a sweet Christmas treat and letting them know how special they are to us!

For the past few years, I have made my mom's recipe for Caramel Corn to give my MOPS leadership team. And each time, it is a pretty big hit. As our last Christmas meeting approaches, I begin to get a few "hints" from the girls, making sure I remember how much they loved the popcorn the prior year. I don't blame them. It really is delicious!

And if you know me personally, or have been following this blog for a while, you know you can depend on me to present only the best and most efficient ideas for this type of Christmas gift-giving. Remember, I play Tetris in my head. There are countless options for treats and goodies. But the only ones I repeat are those that are totally worth the money, time, and effort. And this one certainly is.

So, this post is for my friend Joy who swears she can never make this stuff on her own.

Ingredients Needed:

3 bags of microwave popcorn (or 6 quarts of popped corn if you want to do it the old-fashioned way); 2 sticks butter; 2 cups brown sugar; 1/2 cup light corn syrup (Karo); baking soda; salt; vanilla

Nothing unusual. You can find it all at Walmart.

Step 1: Pop your 3 bags of microwave popcorn and pour into a big roasting pan (or other oven-proof container). Preheat oven to 225 degrees.

Step 2: In medium saucepan, melt 2 sticks of butter over medium heat. Add 2 cups of brown sugar, 1/2 cup light corn syrup (Karo), and 1 teaspoon salt. Continue stirring until all ingredients are mixed together (you can't see any separated butter). Keep stirring as you bring mixture to a boil. Stop stirring and let it boil untouched for 5 minutes.

Step 3: Remove from heat. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon vanilla. This will cause the mixture to bubble a bit. Stir until it is all combined and turns into a light brown caramel.

Step 4: Pour caramel over popcorn evenly. It is easiest to pour it in batches and then stir the popcorn so you can coat all the kernels. (Don't worry if it doesn't look like it is all coated. The caramel will continue to spread as you bake it.)

You could also add 1 cup of peanuts to the popcorn before pouring on the caramel if you wish.

Step 5: Put pan into oven for 1 hour -- remove it at every 15-minute interval and stir the popcorn so the caramel can spread out over all the popcorn.

Step 6: After 1 hour, remove pan and pour popcorn onto parchment or wax paper, breaking up larger chunks. Cool and store in air-tight containers.

See. Simple and delicious. Most everyone loves it, and anyone can make it. (Yes, even you, Joy !)

What are your favorite things to bake during the Christmas season?

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Halls are Decked

Yes, it is true. We just put up our Christmas tree and decorations, and it is the 16th. But, since my motto was "Too Blessed to be Stressed" I made a conscious decision to do things when the time was available. The past two weeks have been spent focusing on Christmas parties for MOPS, Bob's office, and church; shopping, planning, and loving on the little ones.

As you probably know, Christmas shopping with a 3 and 2 year old is pretty tough. Add in freezing temperatures, and it is darn near impossible. But I am close to the finish line and am hoping to finish this weekend when I have a babysitter (ahem...or at least when my hubby will be home).

Bob came home a little early Wednesday night and took Eveley to pick out a tree. She is definitely in a different stage this year, and has been over-the-top excited about every aspect of Christmas.

{And, somehow, Caleb got the memo that he has just entered the terrible two stage.}

Since it was too late to complete the actual decorating, we let Eveley put on the star and then promised her we would complete it this morning.

{Eveley starting the tradition last year. But I did not realize Bob also had his specific attire for the event!}

And she did not forget the promise. Before 7:00, I was awakened from a deep sleep by a little mangy girl begging me to put on the lights.

I forget how much fun it is to go through the box of ornaments, which is now quite big. There are many memories attached to each one. And although I'm just certain I will never forget the details, I am afraid that is not reality and it is best to record them now.

1. A gift to Eveley from Marmee
2. Our angel Eveley Joy
3. Eveley Joy's ornament (obviously)
4. This was a gift from Marmee to Robbie because of his great love for Aunt Beka's huge Christmas sugar cookies. He surprised us on Christmas Eve when he came into the living room chowing down on the cookie he managed to grab off of the kitchen bar.
5. This is from the Homestead, a resort nearby where we have taken many family trips together.
6. Caleb's first ornament (given by some sweet friends) when he was just a week old. And the second is an ornament remembering Robbie (see #13).
7. S'mores ornament given to Robbie by our aunt and uncle.
8. I made several of these 2 years ago and gave them as gifts to our immediate family and a few friends.
9. This was a gift from a sweet MOPS friend for my first Christmas without Robbie. I love it because that was really how I hugged him -- completely enveloped -- and he would lay his head on my shoulder.
10. Gift for Robbie's first Christmas.
11. A reminder of the reason for the season
12. Eveley Joy's ornament, reminding us of the angels that announced Jesus' birth and those who will announce the beginning of eternity.
13. A gift from another sweet MOPS friend (along with #6) my first Christmas without Robbie. She gave these type of ornaments to a group of us with our children's names on them, and I was so blessed that she remembered both Robbie and Eveley. (This was before Caleb) :)
14. The first ornament given by my mom to Robbie for his 2nd Christmas. You can see it in his Christmas card pictures, since this was the only way he would sit still.

15. A gift to Eveley Joy reminding us of her love that year for candy!
16. Robbie's ornament from Marmee because of his absolute love for dogs (they're even on his Christmas stocking).
17. This ornament is from the Greenbrier, a beautiful resort where we spent Christmas 2007 with Eveley. This was our first Christmas without Robbie and we knew we had to do something very special. It was absolutely lovely and helped us make some good memories even though it was a difficult Christmas.

It is fun to look back on these special memories, and it also makes me excited of all the other memories that are yet to be made. And we need to catch little Caleb up with some new ornaments this year.

Now our house looks and smells like it's Christmastime.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Baby Boy

My sweet baby boy is growing up. Today is Caleb Robert's birthday, and he is 2.

It's hard to even begin to express how I feel about my sweet Caleb. I am so in love with him and have to keep myself from eating him up at times. He is pure sweetness.

Now he definitely has his persnickety side. He is very stubborn and strong willed. But he has been my most cuddly child by far. He loves to snuggle and would let me hold him all night if I could.

Caleb also has the best poochie lip ever. As soon as he is reprimanded, he puts on a face that looks like you just ran over his puppy. Then he holds his arms out and runs to cuddle. I love his sensitivity and the fact that he feels safe and secure -- even in discipline -- with his parents.

Caleb reminds me of God's loving sovereignty. The timing of his birth was simply miraculous. You can read about it here. Robbie was born on my maternal grandfather's birthday, and Caleb shares a birthday with my paternal grandfather who is now in heaven.

Caleb's birth was fast! We didn't even call the doctor until 10 p.m. when I was pretty sure that labor was underway. The doc told me to head to his office first, which is 25 minutes away, and Caleb was born at 11:47. More about that

Dear Caleb, I love you more than you could possibly know or understand right now. You were a great gift and continue to give me more joy than I can stand! You do not replace your big brother Robbie, but you have given me the gift of being able to snuggle and smooch on my roly poly boy. And I am so grateful. We love you Ca-Ro and know that you will be a great big brother too.

To make sure that I fully grasped the fact that my baby is growing up, Bob decided to cut off all of his hair Sunday night. Boo. Caleb has a head full of thick hair, which we have trimmed many times. But after seeing our Christmas card pictures, Bob decided that Caleb's hair had to go.

We sat him down in front of Thomas (he absolutely LOVES Thomas right now) and he barely moved through the whole process.

I'm still getting used to it.

He looks so old.

We will celebrate his birthday this weekend in a big way. It's a surprise to the kids, but I really think they are going to have a blast!


Saturday, December 4, 2010


Last night was our annual MOPS Christmas party. This is a highly anticipated event since it involves dressing up, date night, childcare, good food, and a crazy gift exchange.

It was tons of work but my Steering Team is absolutely fabulous! The room looked gorgeous (for a church fellowship hall), the food was delicious, the company delightful, and the children discreet. And the entertainment wasn't so bad (thanks, honey!).

I love these girls and am so thankful that they have chosen to "do life" with me. They are awesome! (I didn't get a people photo on my camera but will try to track one down!)

*Thank you, Anna, for taking the great pics.




Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Let the Countdown Begin

I love Christmas! And one of my favorite parts of this holiday is watching my children's excitement as the day approaches.

They are still young and definitely don't fully understand all the hype. But they do know it is Jesus' birthday and it is a cause for big celebration!

To help them count down the days to Christmas (and to try and cut down on the times I have to answer, "Is it Christmas yet?"), I have been in search of the perfect Advent Calendar. There are so many to choose from -- great ones to buy, cute ones to make. But when I saw this one, I knew it was the perfect one for us!

I found the idea here. It uses a shoe organizer, which I have in abundance, and is supposed to look like this:

I took some creative liberties, and mine looks like this:

I put it in the playroom and told Eveley there will be a "treat" in one pocket each morning. I'm planning to put in a different verse from Luke 2 each day to try and lay out the Christmas story (along with candy, stickers, or other yummies!).

It's really cute and cost me about $10 total. I already had the shoe organizer, craft punch (the only one I own), and clothespins. I bought red spray paint, and a small scrapbook paper pack.

Miss Priss is very excited!

Posted by Picasa