Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Gingerbread houses & Santa cookies

Not that my kids need any help finding things to scuffle over-they are normal after all, but always the problem when making our gingerbread house is who gets to put what on where and eat which leftover candy.  That's why I just beamed when I found a solution this year!
It's a village-a gingerbread village!  With five house to decorate...no fighting!  Yay!!  We divided all the candy equally, I glued (because you cannot call that stuff frosting) the walls together & they started working away, creating their little masterpieces and asking frequently if they got to eat the leftovers.  Which was okay, by the way...as long as they put SOME of the candy on the house!
 I love the rows of gumdrops on the rooftops...

Jack had a little different approach...he may or may not have been rationing the candy.  "What's the minimum I can put on here?"

Lily tried hard...she did her very best and had a good time chatting about it all.  She did get a lot of frosting  on her sleeves, her hand (licking took care of that problem!) and even her hair, if you look closely at the picture.  Hers was a totally random approach, whereas the big kids did more patterns.
But she did still put the gumdrops on the rooftop-must be where they are meant to go!

And, their finished work...

As for the two extras...I got to decorate those!

A day later and we were at it again...this time we had to make sure Santa didn't leave our house with a rumbly tummy.  Whipped up some sugar cookies & Camryn & Bryson helped with the decorating.  This was quite a hoot, watching them & seeing their different personalities...they all decorated one cookie & immediately ate it, declaring them Santa-worthy...then they settled in to churn out the cookies.

Jack still needs to work on the philosophy of all in moderation

Camryn's age was apparent as she decorated the cookies...some of hers were so creative & well done they looked almost professional!  She had lots of colors and ideas and details.

Macy's cookies had stories to go with them...these were my favorite.  They are a bride & groom (who thinks of that?)...they even have a bouquet of flowers and a lapel flower!  I just couldn't quit grinning when I looked at them, so happy, so in love...ahhhh....Haha!!  These were the ones that Santa got to eat as well.

Jack's...well, Jack's were...Jack-like.   He's such an interesting little boy!  I just love him and all his complexities.

Bryson's also had stories to go with them, but more humorous as is that little boy-my favorite that he made, the "angry eyes" gingerbread man.   What a hoot!

I managed to sneak a few away to decorate myself.
(there weren't enough stockings left by the time I got ahold of them to make all the kids one, so I just did one in honor of Tucker)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Almost Christmas!

I cannot believe that Christmas is almost here, although typing that seems ridiculous since the kids ask on a daily basis "How many more days until Christmas????"  I went last night & pretty much finished up the shopping, still one gift left to get, but I can't wrap my mind around the fact that Advent is over (I never made it to get new candles) and the beautiful, holy time of Christmas is here.  I really hoped for more anticipation & spiritual preparation in my life this year, but I guess with four kids time didn't take note & pause...it has been a fun season though!  We hosted a real, grown-up Christmas party this year...and it was fun!

This week will be my favorite time...the kids are home from school so no alarm clock to start our day, we have no where to be, and the best part...baking Christmas goodies.  I love to make the goodies-candies, chocolates, iced cookies, cakes, brittle...YUM-O.  I'm scaling back this year just because of the calories, but we will still have plenty to make to satisfy that little Betty Crocker in me!  

To leave you with a little conversation from Lilybug...who told me the other day in a quite dramatic, whine-y voice: "Momma, pleeeese don't sell us to the gypsies!"  Oh, my, we are so literal...better watch my threats!

Lily's godmother was giving her a ride home the other night & this was their conversation:
     Lily: Raise your hand high Nicole!
     Nicole: Ok, but why Lily?
     Lily: If you love Claire raise your hand. I love Claire Nicole do you? Raise your hand!
     Nicole: I'm raising my hand, I love Claire!
     Lily: Raise your hand if you love George, I love George Nicole do you?
     Nicole: I do Lily. Raise your hand if you love Ava. I'm raising my hand.
     Lily: I love Ava and mommy and daddy and Macy and Jack!
     Nicole: Me too. Both my hands are up.
     Lily: Raise your hand if you love Nicole everybody!
She's so full of love and excitement for the world and for everyone that loves her!  It's just precious!  I just want to bottle it up and save it to sprinkle on her when she's a teenager!  Ha!

Her loves in life are simple but plentiful...family, babies, shopping for clothes (especially shoes), blankie, a Cinderella cup of milk, and sparkly things to name a few.

Now, the little toot recently realized that she knows how to crawl out of her crib and is getting more bold about getting out.  Guess it's time to look into our options...
Christmas will be so much fun for her this year, being old enough to really understand it all...although, she was quite upset with Santa when we went to see him because he didn't give her the baby doll she asked for RIGHT NOW.  Didn't want to leave...and didn't really believe me when I explained to her that she has to wait for him to bring it to her house.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

15 years ago...

Today, I married my friend,
     the one I laugh with,
live for,
     dream with,
This post is all about me...and the one I love.  We married young, really young.  Society didn't give us a fighting chance (our parents always believed in us though!).  In fact, according to most statistics, we should have divorced a long time ago just because we married young.  But, we defied the odds.

We grew up together-both literally (being from the same small town) & in the sense of the real growing up came when we became a young married couple, living together & figuring out our personalities.  We went to college together...our new friends all thought of us as an "old" married couple when we met them just a few years into this vocation.  We grew (& continue to grow) in our faith together-my husband joining the Catholic church after we were married & I was his sponsor.  We took crazy road trips together-one time driving from Texas to California in an F-150 pick-up with NO room to recline your seat!
January 1, 2000 1:03 am
We saw in the new millennium-together, watching with our friends to see if the world was going to end!  Remember that?  All the computer hoop-la drama that really never happened...

In our 15 years of marriage, we have moved nine times (one time moving 5 times within a 6 month period), we have had 4 beautiful babies, 1 dog, 2 little fishies, 5 couches, 10 vehicles (oie!  probably shouldn't divulge that one!), collectively 11 job changes, and more laughter and fun than I could even begin to count.

Like all marriages, we've had our ups and downs, but we have been blessed with less "downs" and for that I give thanks to our God.  We have made a choice to honor those vows-good & bad times, and just not give up, ever.  My life will always be better with my husband than without...

We kiss (much to Macy's dismay!) and hold hands and joke and truly love spending time with each other-he comes first on my list of who I would rather be with or talk to or share with.
I think back to our wedding and remember being scared, very scared-but not of being married or of spending the rest of my life with this person, just of the ceremony, worried that I was going to do something stupid like trip or mess up my vows.  The wedding was flawless...thankfully.

One of the gifts we received was a time capsule and throughout our first year, I saved things from our life-receipts, playbills, ticket stubs, newspapers, etc...and remember sealing it to be opened WAY off in the future, on our 20th wedding anniversary.  My goodness, time has flown by & we are closer to that distant milestone than we are to that first year.  It seemed so long ago then that I couldn't wait to open it, but now, we are almost there & I think I want to wait even longer...maybe at our 25th, or even longer, just to see how much things will have changed.  See, I still feel like we are those two kids, now with our own kids, but not feeling that much has changed.  Reality is...I can see that time has definitely passed when I observe a teen interacting with me.  I'm not young anymore!!  THEY can see it, even if I can't...I get that "ma'am" respect instead of being a cool grown-up.

So, happy anniversary to my husband of 15 years.  Looks like we made...look how far we've come together, I'm glad we didn't listen...look at all the fun we'd be missing.
*family photos courtesy of Cliff Lawson.  Lyrics from Shania Twain.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

'Tis the Season

December is a very busy month with parties & lots of festivities.  Macy had a Christmas recital this month...even though she was nervous, she did a great job.  The "new" has worn off the piano lessons & we do have to remind her to practice, but she does enjoy it & seems to be good at it.

Waiting her turn

We also had our school Christmas play-the fifth graders have parts & the rest of the grades get to sing as supporting cast.  You can see the excitement in the pictures...and these were the best I had to chose from.  Being in Montessori, Jack sang a couple of songs at the beginning & then came & sat with us...or actually crawled under the chair in front of us & watched from the floor at someone's feet.  Afterward, there was cookies and hot chocolate to enjoy-YUM!

Decorating the tree...brings memories of loved ones to mind.  With the exception of the glass balls, not one of our ornaments was purchased by us-all were gifts from family & friends that love us.  Some are from our first year of marriage, 2 that we picked from my parent's tree to place on our own...some are from Grandma Dovie's travels...but the majority are from a tradition we started with some of our closest friends.  Every year we mail ornaments to each family & wait with excitement to see what each has chosen...and every year it's fun to reminisce as we pull out the ornaments.

Some years are traditional...
Some years are funny...
And, some years are just beautiful...     

Some ornaments remind us of friendships that have changed, friends we don't have much contact with but still love...

Some are stark reminders of how fast time has gone by...

And all together they make for a very beautiful, love-filled tree.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Rest of the (Thanksgiving) Story

Wrapping things up...we spent most of the day Friday with my family.  There was a lot of love and play between the cousins and lots of conversations and laughter with the grown-ups.

Lily Bug & Landon

This little buddy is the funniest thing...he can hold a poker face better than anyone I know!  And I am DIGGIN' his Elmo pjs!

This is a strong desire for milk (or "munk" as she says).

Someone coerced? begged? convinced? Aunt Bethy (or she planned it because she is just that sweet & loves us so!) into making biscotti, but not just any biscotti-THE BEST biscotti ever.  It's so fresh and yummy and perfect with coffee or milk or plain.  I'm not going to lie to you-there were lots of hand-slapping (from her directed at us) and sneaking (of us when she wasn't looking) of the dough, but we didn't take so much to mess up the recipe & we each got to eat enough of the half-baked ends to gain a pound or two.

 We couldn't get by without the drama, of course!

All the other children were present and accounted for...I think they were just good at avoiding the camera!

This is the special Nana baths...where as space is the key to Grandma's, cramped & out-of-the-ordinary is the special-ness of Nana's.  All the kids love to bathe in the utility sink on the back porch and it's a sad day when you finally realize that you have outgrown it (speaking from experience!  I can remember taking baths in here too & how much I loved it).  As a momma, it's the bomb because it's such a back-saver.

We also gave Ava cakes her very first hair cut.

We took some time on Friday to visit my grandmother, who was in the hospital, and my great-aunt Dolores.  This is her, at 95 (or more?) years of age...she was the one who watched us from the time we were little until we were almost in high school.  As a person of the Great Depression, the woman saved everything and wasted nothing.  We spent our summers with her & we rode the bus to her house after school on the days my mom worked...she would take us to the Dairy Queen for ice cream & the Pizza Hut for little personal pan pizzas every Friday during summer and she would let us drive her car up the drive way, starting when we had to sit on her lap to see.  Sometimes we would stay the night with her and sleep on this tiny, tiny bed or the other "big" bed that had a ton of hand-made quilts on it.  It was hard to see her decline in health...just this summer she was still able to remember who I was & you could have a conversation with her on paper.  Her mind has always been so sharp, but she is fading...she did love to see all the kids & kept talking about how beautiful they were & that Lily smelled so sweet.  Memories to hold on to...

After Friday, things went downhill so to speak...one by one family members began to get a stomach virus.  Yuck.  Not the best ending, but a very fun holiday none the less.