Friday, December 30, 2011

Another Christmas Past

As I sit in my bed,  a little under the weather. .I find it REALLY hard to believe that another whole year has passed. .in the blink of an eye really! The Bible tells us that our lives are "but a vapor (James 4:14). . "consumed in smoke" (Psalm 102:3). ."a mere breath" (Job 7:7).
A mere breath is not very long. .so I'm not even sure how one would measure how long a year is in accordance. .but it surely feels like it was but a mere breath! Anyone else out there agree with that??
We enjoyed a lovely Christmas!! No one in my house even stirred until a little before 7!! Unlike some years when I am hollering at them to go back to bed by 3! While, we do teach the kids that the reason WE celebrate Christmas is because of the birth of Jesus, we also enjoy our annual visits from the jolly ole elf named Santa! He was a hit this year. .bringing one little miss a barbie who LOVES to have her hair combed and colored. .and she came with her own fake fingernails and decals to boot!
These potato guns also showed up in some stockings. Have I ever mentioned what kind of messes I get myself into by just not thinking it all out first?? I will be cleaning up tiny potato pellets for the rest of my days!! You stick the end of the gun into a whole potato, and it nips a little piece of tater out. .and as the trigger is pulled, it releases the tater pellet to pelt unsuspecting people in the foreheads. .or backs. .or walls!
Do you all remember how we found our trampoline after our weekend camping trip last summer??
Well. .Santa dropped that one off about 7 years ago when the big boys were small!
They have REALLY been missin' it! So, Santa made a repeat performance, and dropped another one out of the sky this Christmas! That crazy guy! 
They have been on it every day. .in the gorgeous afternoons we have had. .and in the frosty mornings until their feet are too cold to do tricks any longer!!

In an attempt to move the kids outside of our little family world. .
earlier this fall, in anticipation of Christmas. .and giving. .
we decided to go to World Vision and sponsor a child. For a nominal monthly donation, we are helping to make a difference in the life of a child and her family. Devin and Cami helped me pick one out. .there are MANY to choose from. .and we received our first letter from their 9 year old "sister" Catalina a few weeks ago! She lives in a small village outside of Santiago, Chile. Her letter came written, by her in Spanish, and interpreted by World Vision to us so we could read it!  Check out the web site above. .maybe you would want to consider a project for the New Year!
We enjoyed Christmas day with Jeremy's family, just down the road from home! My brother in law is a turkey-frying fool. .and he fixed one of the best turkeys I have eaten. .additionally, my father in law smoked a second turkey. .which was also delish!! Needless to say, we did NOT hurt for good eats that day!
The day had a hint of sadness to it though. .it was the 2nd Christmas without J's grandpa. .last year he was living, but in the nursing home with his advanced dementia, and of course we lost him this fall. Additionally, Jeremy's grandma on his mom's side was moved into the nursing home right before Thanksgiving because of her failing health and mind! She was able to be with us for lunch, but her physical deterioration was terribly apparent.
Despite that, there was lots of laughter. .like when Devin helped Jeremy to put on his new suspenders!! He had those on his Christmas list to keep his racing pants pulled up :-) And don't even think we've stopped teasing him about them yet!
Grandma Pat brought ingredients to prove to Joe that one CAN make peanut brittle in the microwave. .but unfortunately. .granny's microwave cooks a bit hotter than Pat's. .and they burnt the soup out of the brittle. .so I'm not sure he is convinced yet!
We played lots of games. .including Grant's new Scrabble Flash, Yahtzee (and I even got a Yahtzee!! Whoopie!), and shrinky-dinks (which I had never seen until last weekend. .I know Bonnie. .you're mouth is dropping to the ground :-)
Since it has finally rained, we felt safe in letting off some parachute fireworks. .
The kids rarely get tired of chasing after those. .unless you are 4. .and your legs are short. .and your arms don't stretch high enough. .and then you get tired of chasing down the parachuting army guys!
Overall, it was a low key and relaxing Christmas day!
Well, mostly low key anyway!!
And next Christmas, I'm asking for a pair of THESE!! I think I could totally ROCK those!!

Wishing you all a very Blessed New Year and remember to make EVERY second count!!

"Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away." James 4:14

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Pomegranate. .My New Love

We had a GREAT Christmas!! I have lots of photos (really??) to share. .but I just HAD to post this tonight, in the event that I can entice anyone to try this recipe out. Grandma brought this spinach salad starring pomegranate seeds for Christmas dinner. .and it was insanely divine!!
Now, I have to say that I have enjoyed pomegranate in alcoholic beverages. .and add the juice to my jalapeno jelly. .but I've never even seen a real pomegranate, much less eaten one. .until this week. My kids were wild about the seedy little devils too!! Tristan and I went to a funeral today out of town, and scored some of these little guys at Walmart! 
Here's the inside of one, for those poor souls that have never seen one. Not too pretty actually. 
I started out by cutting it in half and using a spoon to gather the seeds. .WRONG. Tristan showed up and told me that GRANDMA said. .cut it in quarters and pick out the seeds. .Hmmph! When I started kind of peeling the skin off the seeds, it did work much easier. .and you can see how beautiful those seeds are. .they look like popcorn kernels! And they are REALLY juicy. .I was squirted in the eye more than once.
So festive. .and pretty to look at. Poms are easily found during the Christmas season. .which is why I wanted to hurry and share the recipe. .so you can grab one while at the store to try in this salad!! We had to buy extra so the kids could devour them plain!! Which is ok, since they are loaded with antioxidants and everything healthy!! Enjoy!

Festive Spinach Salad

6-10 oz bag of fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup feta cheese
3 green onions (although Jeremy threw in 3 more for good measure when my back was turned. .it tasted fine)
3/4 cup pomegranate seeds (I threw in the seeds from one whole one. .it was a little over, but we like the juicy, crunchy little devils!)
1/2 cup glazed almond slivers (the original recipe didn't have these in it, I spotted them in the store and thought they would be good. .they were!)
1/3-1/2 cup Balsamic vinaigrette

Mix all the ingredients together except for the vinaigrette. .add it right before serving. You'll love it. .Promise!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Joy To the World. . .

The Lord is Come!!
God's house was full tonight. Many people and families were present to wish Jesus a happy birthday.

The children wore us down, and gleefully opened a present when we got home this evening.
The kids and I drove 50mph all the way to town, singing Christmas carols at the top of our lungs, (that was the deal. .sing the carols. .and sing them loudly. .or I would drive slower, prolonging the outing for the grumbling teenagers) and enjoying the sparse but proud Christmas lighting displays around our community. Actually, as loudly as they grumbled. .I was amazed at how many carols they knew. .and I think they really did enjoy the time spent!
Now. .
The stockings are hung. .
on the wall, since we don't have a chimney! 
And the children are all snug in their beds. .or all snug in Grant's bed as the case seems to be. . 
. .while visions of reindeer dance in their heads. .
Devin and Cami shook out reindeer food onto the lawn in the expectation that Rudolph would see the shimmer from the sprinkles, and not miss his turn!!
It seems so hard to believe that the night is already upon us once again!!

Dear Lord. .
I'm so thankful that you sent your Son. .
to be born in a humble stable over 2000 years ago this night.
 I'm thankful that through His birth, and His death. .
and ultimately His resurrection. .
the ones who believe in You, will live forever in Your presence.
I pray Lord, for all of the people that read these words. .
if there should be one that doesn't know You. .
that they may give themselves the best Christmas present ever
. .by giving their hearts to You Lord.
That they may admit their sinfully human natures,
and choose to turn to You and Your Word for their healing and eternal life.

Wishing my friends and family a joyous celebration of Christmas. .
And the birth of our Lord and Saviour. .
Jesus Christ!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Free Day

A 100% chance of snow.
That's what we had!!

We were expecting a total accumulation of 4-8 inches.
It rained all day Monday. .
We had 1.30 inches of much needed moisture!!
The temperatures dropped. .as expected, and I dumped my rain gauge!!
It continued to drizzle all evening.
The wind blew. .also as expected, wreaking havoc with my decor.
We were anticipating blizzard-like conditions. . 
They even called off school last night. .and I rescheduled my out of town clinic.
We enjoyed my work Christmas party last night before we came in and hunkered down. .waiting for the white stuff!! Around bedtime the sleet began to replace the rain.
This is how our world looked this morning. .4 inches??
 Nope. .
What you see is ice pellets.
My kids were devastated!! 
But a little detail like
didn't slow them down!!
They were happy to use their imaginations and PRETEND there was 10.5 inches like my friend Gardener on Sherlock Street received north of us!! 
Yes. .they even went sledding.
Poor, poor pitiful kids!!
At least I got my Christmas cards ready to mail. .and some snacks for work tomorrow. .and part of a puzzle finished. .and I never even got out of my pajamas.
The weather man says there is another good chance for snow on Thursday. .
Know what I think??
I think God LOOOOVES messing with weathermen!!
5 more nights. .ya better watch out!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Family Christmas. .Take One

Well, this past weekend we officially started our Christmas get togethers. .with my family. We had a very short visit on Thanksgiving. .so we were excited to have a longer weekend to hang out. We always have a good time!
This was the cutest photo of the weekend. .Grant and my sister. And the first photo was our annual attempt to get 13 kids to look and smile at the same time. .you can see we failed once again. .unless someone else did better than I did. Oh well. The weather was gorgeous. .but did we make it outside to get a complete family photo. .NO. .they voted to wait until the snow was flying or when the temps were 10 below 0 like they were last year when my mom I-N-S-I-S-T-E-D that we go O-U-T-S-I-D-E! But I'm not bitter or anything :-)
The gift exchange was postponed until right after lunch so my brother could watch Pittsburg State University win the playoffs. Every time someone asked what time we were opening presents, they got the standard answer. ."Call Uncle Brendan and ask him!!" The kids opened gifts first. .and then we sent them elsewhere (like to the table to try out their new stuff). .
. .And the big kids congregated in a little bit of peace!
A peace only interrupted by little girls making sure everyone sported super soft, glossy lips. .
. .and by little girls stealing pieces of other people's bubble wrap.
My only living grandparent joined us for the day. .and we helped her try out her new winter scene puzzle. I apparently got my love of puzzles from her. .and had planned to break one out at our house this week for everyone to work on during the quieter evenings!
Auntie Mel LOVES little kid projects. .and she saw an idea to make snowmen pretzels the day before she left.
So, she accumulated the ingredients. .and the kids. .and, with the help of her sis in law Tina. .who graciously photographed the opportunity. .
. .and Grandma and Aunt Kristi. .they proceeded to have a GREAT time!
Everyone got their own pretzel rod freshly dipped in white almond bark by yours truly. .
And a handful of M&M baking bits for buttons, mini chocolate chips for eyes. .and their choice of a DOT candy (cause Walmart in Wichita DOESN'T even CARRY gumdrops. .ever. .let alone the only season where they are essential to gingerbread houses and snowman hats alike!!) and a gummy lifesaver to make the hats.
Teegan worked until he figured out that people were spilling lots of candies on the floor. .Yes. .we were doing it in the living room. .with carpet. .
that's what my mom said too!!
Even 18 month old Ryder helped out. .for a bit!! I'm sure that you have noticed that we used an ABSOLUTE cleanliness policy. .NO licking of the fingers took place. .I'm sure they were just itching their lips. .All of them!
When we finished creating our snowmen, we took fruit by the foot roll ups and made little scarves!!
Most of them turned out cute. .and the kids had a ball!! When we ran out of hat pieces because the big kids were sneaky and heisted some of them. .we just put on buttons and eyes. .and more chocolate. Everyone took home a bag of snowmen and other various creatures and creations crafted from pretzel pieces, white chocolate, and leftover candies.
Aunt Kristi made sure the carpets were cleaned up before Grandma had a heart attack. .
No vacuums needed here :-) This was Aunt Tina's best shot of the night :-) BUSTED!
While we created. .the rest of the family enjoyed sipping and visiting!
And Papa did what Papa does best!
Some enjoyed a movie on Grandma's bed. .
. .while others enjoyed a rousing game of QUARTERS. .now my children know how to play poker. .and how to play quarters!! And there is some speculation that Tristan has been practicing the game. .I choose to think that he is just naturally gifted!

6 more nights. .Hope you're all on the "nice" list!!