Monday, November 24, 2008

Bake with Me

The kids often like to wear their chef hats and aprons when we cook. This particular day we couldn't find our other chef hats, but Sissy was just as happy wearing my Martha Washington cap from my 6th grade Constitution play.
We saw these organic brownie mixes from Arrowhead Mills and decided (of course) to try them out. (Note: it's always easier on an overweight Mom's guilty conscience to buy a mix "for the kids," and then she gets all the benefits, as well.)

The mixes include a little fold out of fun facts and jokes, etc. Tornado, as usual, is all about the jokes. His reading has really seemed to improve the past few weeks. I can tell how much he enjoys being able to read more in everyday life.

Every worthwhile project is not without a few glitches. Sissy dumped out the remaining egg replacer from the box. We had to scrape some off the top to use. These brownies were for our enjoyment only so do not be alarmed about our unsanitary methods of baking, not to mention all the saliva from the double dipping.

Since this baking project, which was a success (our stars weren't as pretty as the ones on the box, but they weren't bad), we have went on to try an Arrowhead Mills organic cupcake mix. They were also very yummy! We are going to try the sugar cookie mix next.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Getting My Jingle On

our first Christmas together, 1997
My friend Lori from the Davidson Den blog-tagged me with the question: "Are you ready to get your jingle on?" Does the fact that I put on Christmas music at random times during the year answer that question? It's not unheard of for Faith Hill's "Where Are You, Christmas?" to be on my playlist at any given time. "If there is love in your heart and your mind, you will feel like Christmas all the time - WHOAH!...I feel you, Christmas! I know I've found you! You'll never faaaaade aaaa-waaayyy!" :)
one of my favorite ornaments, Santa kneeling beside baby Jesus, among my most special ornaments made by my late great-aunt/one of the greatest people ever, Mert

I'm ready to get my ornaments down from the attic and "get this party started," as Tornado would say. He's been asking me every day if we are ready to start decorating. I told him I just have to get the house clean first. We will get our tree on Thanksgiving weekend. I love going to the tree farm. The past three years we have gotten trees that still have their root balls in the pot. We have replanted them in our yard (we had to leave two of them, of course, at our house we sold), and they have always made it just fine. I love opening the tubs and carefully unwrapping all the ornaments that hold a special memory. This Christmas will be extra fun since it is the first in our new house, and all of our decorations were in storage last year.

What else makes Christmas special for our family? It goes without saying that I love the time with family and friends. I love the feeling of being in a candle-lit room, surrounded in decorations, with Christmas music playing in the background. We let a pan of cinnamon simmer on the stove. I am thrilled to have a fireplace (electric with a remote control, but it's a fireplace!) and mantel this year. I told my husband that was one of my must-haves when building a house - just so I can "hang my stockings by the chimney with care." I love getting Christmas cards in the mail! One of our new ideas is to send a little gift to the first person who sends us a card. My dad has been busy working on their Department 56 snow village scenes, and my kids can hardly contain their excitement waiting for it. I love Christmas through my children's eyes even more than I loved it for myself as a child. I waited all my life to get to be like my Mom, with her "master list," staying up to all hours on Christmas Eve, getting everything ready.

We find ways to focus on the birth of baby Jesus by setting out our Nativity and having a "birthday party" with a cake to help the kids associate. Our gifts to Him come in the form of filling Operation Christmas Child boxes and picking other goodwill projects during the season. We also only give/receive three wrapped gifts each year to represent the three gifts presented unto Him. We tried implementing a candle-lit service into the mix, but we got so stressed out that our squirmy boys were going to burn the place down, we might have to hold off a year longer on that one. If anyone has any other ideas, let me know. I'm going to get an Advent wreath/candles this year. But I guess it really isn't as much the "activities" that you do as just a state of mind, a feeling in approaching and talking about the holidays - the spirit of Advent.

Other fun family traditions include our Night Tree, Christmas movies, decorating cookies, driving around to look at lights, and Christmas Eve Scavenger Hunt/New Pajamas. We read from our basket of Christmas books each night, culminating with 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and much more important, the Christmas Story, when we put out our milk and cookies plus reindeer food for the Jolly Elf. I also hope to make it to Silver Dollar City sometime in December; I love it. Despite the fact that SDC is so commercialized, it is a place that is built around a Christian core, and I can feel that when I am there.

I can't wait to go Christmas shopping - there's just something more fun about bundling up in your coat and scarf and shopping when there are decorations all around. I actually do most of my shopping online, but I have to go OUT a few times, at least, for the fun of it. I am trying to do better each year about buying things here and there, throughout the year. I already have a lot of my stockings stuffers bought already. I can't wait to meet my girlfriends in Kansas City (where one of the girls lives) for a fun Christmas-y weekend in December. Our first family Christmas get-together is next week!
My sisters and I, circa 1983 - I don't think my brother ever joined in on the matching, ha.

We spent a night at the Lodge at Mount Magazine during the Christmas season 2007. Our house was being built, and we were living with my parents so Santa came and filled our stockings at the Lodge. It was a beautiful, fun place to stay, and we can't wait to go, I just can't get away from the matching pajamas; it's genetic.

I am tagging Cary and Stacey. Answer the question, "Are you ready to get your jingle on?" Then, if you wish, tag other bloggers to see what they have to say.

"Christmas is here, everywhere - OHHH! Christmas is here, if you care - OHHH!"

Update: All this Christmas talk inspired me to carry my tubs down from the attic...we're ready!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


The boys were hard at work, creating with their wooden Connectagons that were purchased from Hearthsong one year for Christmas. How I love it when they play together without fighting.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Snack Time

Daddy has always been a snacker - Mommy, not as much. The kids, of course, take after him. Ever since Tornado was a baby, one of Daddy's "things" is to sit and eat snacks with the kids - popcorn, fruit, etc. They like to take drives to Kroger just to get a snack. Their latest fave is frozen mangoes. They'll buy a bag and eat the whole thing. They've also really gotten into cooking little snacks together, with all four of them pitching in to help. They've gotten ideas from our Quick and Easy Cookbook which was printed by Troll Associates in 1981. I think it was one of my sisters' books when they were little. They really like making the frozen bananas, which are coated in granola, honey, and spices. This weekend they made Peanut Butter Balls, a recipe Tornado found in his Highlights magazine. They sampled a lot during the process. It was definitely a successful project; they all really enjoyed them. I could tell how much Sissy and Dash ate especially, because they were downing the soymilk afterward.
Dash, true to form, stuffed an entire ball in his mouth at once. Yum!

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Hulk, Batman, Little Red Riding Hood, a Power Ranger, a Ninja, and a Pirate Join Together to Party

Thursday night some of my nieces and nephews were in town to have a little Halloween fun with us. Here they are, decorating cookies.
They decorated little fake pumpkins with pirate faces (kits bought from Wal-Mart).

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Our Favorite Dog and Yours, Puddy

Great Aunt Patsy gave Tornado a wonderful set of Daily Journal Writing Prompts by Teacher Created Resources. There are books with pages for every day and month of the year. He doesn't write in them every day, though, so they are lasting us longer than a year. I was looking through one of his journals, and I thought this was a particularly sweet entry.

It reads, "My best friend is Puddy. I eat trail mix, and Puddy eats dog food. I drink milk, and he drinks water."

Puddy is my sister Cary and brother-in-law Andy's dog. He really is adorable, isn't he? Puddy was totally posing as I took these pictures. The kids love it when they get to visit with their cousin Puddy.