Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Our Christmas

I don't quite have the words to describe this year's Christmas. To say it's been different than years past would be an understatement. I'll start off by writing about the high points of our Christmas.

The cousins (minus C)
Christmas Eve - We started the day with Robb's brother and his family. The kids absolutely love getting to spend time with Brad, Courtney, AP, and new baby C. Sassy Pants, who usually is stuck to either Robb or me like glue, actually warmed up enough to sit with her Uncle Brad. We exchanged presents. We gave AP a Pillow Pet pig. We were informed that she has a stuffed animal pig that she named "Anna Piggy", so the Pillow Pet has been dubbed "Anna Piggy Jr." The Boy spent a week this past summer with Brad and Courtney and played a game with them called Ticket to Ride. He absolutely loved the game, so they gave him Ticket to Ride for Christmas. We've played it several times since Christmas, and I highly recommend it! (Of course, that may be because I've won all but one game.)
Anna Piggy Jr.

Ballerina and AP
 Later, we went to the Christmas Eve service at church. We've done this every year since we've been married, and it's a tradition that I pray my children will continue when they are adults. It is so important that we remember that Christmas is about our Lord, Jesus Christ, who came to this earth in order to be the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. While it's fun and nice to have time with family and to give and receive gifts, that isn't the main point of Christmas.

After the service, we drove out to the fairgrounds to see Santa's Magical Village - a huge Christmas light display. It was beautiful and the kids enjoyed it. On the way home, we stopped at the hospital to see Robb's mom so the kids could wish her Merry Christmas.

We have one other tradition on Christmas Eve; the kids each get to open one present and it's always new pajamas. We give each child their present, and then Robb tells them about how his dad always gave him one gift on Christmas Eve and how he wanted to continue this tradition with them.

Finally, it was time to send all the small people off to bed, and Robb and I went to work getting everything together for Christmas morning. Robb had already assembled the basketball goal and 2 soccer goals, but still had to finish assembling the soccer kickback and put the goals out in the yard from where they were hidden.

Ballerina's stuff
The Boy's stuff
Christmas morning - Every year, we say we're not going to go overboard like we did the year before, and every year somehow we still go overboard. It looked like Toys R Us had taken over our living room.
After looking at all of their new things and eating breakfast, they opened their presents to each other. It always blesses me to see how they (usually) put a lot of thought into each other's gifts. Later that day, we went back up to the hospital to give Grammi and PopPop their gifts from us. Robb had a blanket made for Grammi that had pictures of the kids throughout the past year on it.
Little Red's stuff
Sassy Pants's stuff
Soccer Girl's stuff

 Day after Christmas - We woke up to snowfall. It was absolutely beautiful. Pictures from that are here. The kids got to play for a while, and then we all got ready for church. After church we came back home, and the kids went back out in the snow. It was a nice, relaxing day at home. Until that evening. We got a call from Brad that Robb's mom had passed away. Robb left to go up to the hospital, and I told the kids. They were heartbroken, especially The Boy.

Some of the girls together

Opening the camera
2 Days After - We had already planned for my brother and his family to come visit, and we wanted to keep things as normal as possible for the children. It was nice to have Damon, Carrie, H and L here. The girls were able to spend time with their cousins, and it took their minds off of losing their Grammi, at least for a little while. We exchanged presents with them. We got them a video camera, and they were quite surprised. Robb had to leave for a good bit of the afternoon to take care of arrangements, but the rest of us enjoyed a nice day of visiting with family. The Boy and I introduced Damon and Carrie to Ticket to Ride, and Damon proceeded to beat us all. They were able to copy some recipes that I had from my mom and grandmother.

Like I said earlier, the reason for Christmas is not family; it's Jesus. Having the opportunity to spend the time with family is an added blessing. I am so very happy that we were able to take all of the children up to see their Grammi one last time on Christmas.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

Living in the South means that snow is a rare occurrence; snow at Christmastime is even more rare. Waking up the morning after Christmas to find that we were in a winter wonderland was almost surreal. At 7 am, the girls were up and wanting to go outside. Knowing that The Boy would be VERY upset if I let him sleep while they were out in the snow, I went into his room and serenaded him with "Let It Snow". Normally, my singing to wake him up makes him crazy and he crawls even further under the covers, but once he realized what I was singing, he was up and quite excited about it.

So outside we went. The first thing Sassy Pants did was pick up some snow, yell "Snowball", and throw it at The Boy.
The older girls had to try catching some on their tongues, and then they tried to teach Sassy Pants how to catch them.




The Boy was much more interested in making snowballs than catching snowflakes.

Little Red and Ballerina decided to brave the cold, wet snow and made snow angels.

Ballerina's snow angel


My favorite thing about snow is how beautiful it makes everything look. These are some of the sights from my front yard of the neighbors' trees.






 When we came in for breakfast, I asked the girls what their favorite gift was from Christmas. Ballerina and Little Red both said that the one they got from God was their favorite; they loved the snow!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yesterday afternoon was Soccer Girl's turn to bake with me, and she chose chocolate chip cookies. We use a recipe that Jan Harsh submitted to our church's cook book. Her recipe says that it yields about 3 1/2 dozen, but I must make my cookies smaller because I can get closer to 5 dozen cookies out of it.

Ingredients
1 1/3 C Crisco                                                         1 C white sugar
1 C light brown sugar, packed                                   2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla                                                             1 tsp salt
3 C flour (not self-rising)                                            12 oz bag chocolate chips
1 tsp baking soda

Mix Crisco and sugars until well blended. Stir in eggs and vanilla. Stir in baking soda, salt and flour. (If you want your cookie to be softer and chewy, add an additional 1/4 cup of flour.)




 Stir in chocolate chips.











Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in 375 degree oven for 8 minutes or until lightly brown. Remove from oven and let cookies set on the baking sheet until firm. Then remove to wax paper or cooling rack.









Here's one last picture of the baker with her cookies before we put the first batch in the oven.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fudge

The Boy's favorite food is fudge, so when I asked each child what they wanted to make with me this week, I wasn't really surprised when he chose fudge. We've tried several different recipes over the past few years, but our favorite is my grandmother's fudge recipe.

Put into a large bowl:
     1/2 lb butter
     3 sm pkg chocolate chips
     2 cups nuts (optional)
     1 tsp vanilla

Boil below ingredients together for 6-8 minutes. Stir constantly.  
     1 lg can evaporated milk
     4 1/2 cups sugar
     20 mini marshmallows    







Pour milk, marshmallow, and sugar mixture over mixture in bowl. Mix thoroughly.
    







Pour into large flat pan.  












Let stand in refrigerator 2 or more days. (I'm going to have to be honest - we're lucky if it sits overnight before we cut into it and start eating. I have no idea why the recipe says for it to sit that long.)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Oreo Truffles


Little Red and I made these yesterday, and they are absolutely wonderful! Robb's first reaction when he saw them was, "You made those?" Little Red was as proud as could be to tell her daddy that, yes, she made those.

Ingredients:
1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese, softened
1 pkg Oreo cookies, finely crushed
2 pkg (8 squares each) Baker's semi-sweet chocolate, melted
Unwrapping the chocolate squares
Melting the chocolate
Mix cream cheese and 3 cups cookie crumbs until well blended.
Shape into 1-inch balls.
Dip in melted chocolate. Place on waxed paper-covered baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining cookie crumbs.
Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. Store in tightly covered container in refrigerator.



Notice the chocolate on her mouth where she had snuck some from the bowl.

These are definitely a hit at our house. Next time, we'll have to make a double batch because one isn't enough!

What I Did on My Christmas Break


Well, technically it wasn't my entire Christmas break, but this was how we began our break - at soccer, of course. Soccer Girl and The Boy had a 3 day soccer clinic in a town about an hour away on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. The clinic was incredible! The people who ran it were very professional. Check them out at One Soccer Schools.

Soccer Girl's group was small - only 7 kids - so she was able to get some very good one-on-one instruction. She was one of 2 girls at her session.


I actually saw Little Ms. Laid-back get a little physical.

The Boy's group was a lot larger - closer to 45 kids ages 9 to 18. He feels like he improved in his skills just in those 3 days.

 Of course, it would have been so much simpler if their sessions had been at the same time, but that is not how things work in my life. Soccer Girl's session on Monday was from 9am to noon, and The Boy's was from 12:30 to 4pm. Since we wouldn't have time to drive back and forth home during their sessions, the other girls and I got to hang out for a while. We visited the library, the mall, and drove around for a while. We were in the town where I grew up, so I took them by places from my childhood - my home growing up, the schools I went to, the church where Robb and I were married. We also spent some time just hanging out in the gym while the other 2 were in their sessions.



And I have to share my favorite picture from the weekend. This is of Soccer Girl right after she finished her session on Sunday.
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