Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Part Two: I Didn't Burn My Kitchen Down and No One Got Food Poisoning = Success!

Well, well, well, I'm proud to say that Sal Gal and I managed to pull off our Christmas meal cook-off and it ended up a success. But even bigger than that, is that we actually ate on time. This is HUGE for my family. I can't remember the last time we did anything on time. It's just not us. If we're early or on time people ask if something's wrong. But for some reason, Christmas dinner began exactly when we planned and we were all shocked. And so what, if maybe I secretly missed getting to walk around rolling my eyes waiting for the food to be ready, like I usually get to do.

On Christmas Eve, M to the Izz-A, Kate, and I attended our church's candlelight service. It was a special time to share with our church family (whom I absolutely love, by the way). Then we headed home to get ready for Santa. We put out the cookies and even attempted to leave our stock pile of pacifiers for Santa and his reindeer, but Miss Passy wasn't having it. At first she was excited, but then bedtime rolled around, and what had once seemed like a grand idea suddenly was not.

The whole weekend was one big Christmas activity after another - having Christmas with all the different sets of our family. It was a busy time, but I believe it was our best Christmas yet. Thank you, Lord, for blessing us with a great 2009.

She really loves the closing-my-eyes-while-I-smile thing right now.

She cannot deny that I am indeed her mother. We both have fingers for toes - super long.

I told myself I was going to buy some Christmas pj's this year. Obviously I didn't follow through. I blew it. I guess I'm still hung up on the problem I had with Christmas pajamas when I was younger. I think I've shared before that it seemed that every pair I had was made of that cheap material that always got caught on my dry heels and caught static electricity like no other. I walked around sounding like a bowl of Rice Krispies, snap, cracklin', and poppin - whether it was from the gown getting caught on my heels or the electricity. Either way, it seems to have made a lasting impact on my opinion of Christmas pj's. I do realize that their are other, softer fabrics available, and while in my heart I've moved on and forgiven the pajama industry for their lack of concern for people with less than soft skin, my heels have not.

This game, Elefun, really is so much fun - especially if you wear your Dora skates and doctor's stethoscope while playing it.

Kate and cousin, Kennedy

He's either saying something really profound or really weird. I'm going with weird. Either way, he's got their attention.

My sis, Sal Gal, and Kate

Some of you were able to see the name written on the baby bump in my tablecloth drawing from my last post. Talk about having some 20/20!
I thought I'd go ahead and share it you. After all, you're my bloggin' family, right?
Hamp Aaron

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Part One: And so the tradition continues...

For the past two years, one of the most enjoyable parts of Christmas day dinner for our family has been participating in our tablecloth tradition. For those of you who were not following my blog this time last year, you may want to go back and read about the details of this particular family tradition, which started with M to the Izz-A's granny.

It was fun to look back at what we drew from the year before. And since my Granny (my dad's mother) passed away this year, it was special to see where she signed her name and remember that last Christmas we shared with her.

You may remember that the markers I chose last year were less than stellar to say the least, so this year we used different ones (good ol' sharpies) and they seemed to work a lot better. Although last year's drawings were pretty impressive, even if I do say so myself. Seriously. Click here to see for yourself! I decided to take it down a notch and go with stick figures this year. And if you look closely at my drawing, although somewhat smeared, you may see a sneak peek of our lil' baby boy's name. :-)

We'll continue to fill up this particular tablecloth until it's covered. I just keep thinking what a sweet family heirloom this will be one day.
I'll post more pictures of our Christmas tomorrow. I've got plenty to share!! You're not surprised are you?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

'Tis the season

I'm not sure how much blogging I'll be doing the rest of the week. Christmas is right around the corner and for the first time ever, my sister (Sal Gal) and I will be totally responsible for cooking our family's entire Christmas meal...from appetizers, to main course, to desserts. I've always been responsible for a single dish and that's it. And on top of that, I usually volunteer for the easiest side dish, too - like green bean casserole, or if I'm really lucky, I'll be in charge of bringing the rolls! But this year, I'll be married to my kitchen for a couple days in hopes of producing an edible Christmas dinner for our family. I'm excited (and a lil' nervous) to see how it all turns out. Wish me luck, my dear friends. I will need it, fo sho.

A few pics from last Sunday:

Last night we took Kate to see Santa and she was so excited! Thankfully, a lot different from last year, as you may recall.
She hopped right into his lap and proceeded to tell him what she wanted for Christmas. She explained to him that she wanted (s)tickers and a new baby. When asked what else, she simply replied, "more 'tickers." Sweet. I think Santa can handle that. Stickers? Easy. Baby? Oh we've got you a baby comin' alright - in about five more months to be exact.
I was a good girl last night, too. I ate dinner 'buffet-style' for M to the Izz-A, after our visit with Santa. And you all know about me and buffets. We have a love/hate hate/hate relationship. But, 'tis the season for giving (germs), right?
This morning Kate wanted me to take a picture of her holding her pic with Santa.

I absolutely cannot believe how grown up she looks in this picture.

Now I must finish making that grocery list that I started this morning. I enjoy cooking, just not shopping for all the ingredients.
Has anyone ever heard of a grocery store that you can call ahead or fax in your grocery list and they'll have it all bagged up and ready for you when you get there....maybe even in a drive-thru window? Seriously. Would that be a money maker or what? Did I dream this up or does this store exist somewhere?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

All in a year's work

Sometimes life teaches you things when you're not looking. Here's a glimpse of what I've learned this year:

A two-year old really can have just the right words to make a bad day 100% better.

Investing in people is more important than investing in things.

Kate likes brussel sprouts and collard greens. Weird and awesome at the same time.

You can smell like a million bucks for free just by getting two or three free perfume samples every time you go by a Sephora and starting a collection.

Dryer sheets damage the heating coils in your dryer and make your dryer less efficient. Liquid softener is all you need. (Gain Original scent or Downy with the pink top smell the best.)

Sometimes your iPhone's autospell doesn't recognize southern slang.

Putting peppermint mocha creamer in your coffee in the mornings can help you pretend you're driving to the snow-covered ski slopes in Colorado instead of driving to work. It can also lead to your students commenting on your noticeable 'better mood.'

God wants you to pray BIG. Don't 'dumb down' or 'easy up' your prayers by only praying for things you know will probably happen anyway. Pray for the deepest desires of your heart, pray for the things you think are 'impossible' and sit back and watch God be God. He is Almighty and is in no way constrained by the ways of the this world.

It's completely okay not to be good at everything.

Watching So You Think You Can Dance can make you wish you would have stuck with Buddy Sherwood's School of Dance, even if you couldn't stick that back bend during your recital routine to Kenny Loggin's "Danger Zone"... even if you did visibly move your lips to count your dance steps. It can also make you want to be best friends with the host, Cat Deeley, so you can borrow her clothes.

You still get nervous about having a newborn your second time around.

Time spent with family may not always be perfect, but it's always memorable.

December 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gettin' Sugary With It

Tonight the fam and I hosted our first annual Christmas cookie decorating party. I just added the 'first annual' part, because I'm hoping to make it a tradition. We invited our family and friends for an evening of cookies, icing, and sprinkles.

I think we even ended up with sprinkles between our toes.

Last night I used refrigerated sugar cookie dough and just cut out Christmas shapes using cookie-cutters. To my surprise, my local grocery store had enough dough for about 4 dozen cookies. I usually can't depend on Dirty Harvey's for anything. (Note: Actual store name = Harvey's. The store before it was Big J, but I lovingly referred to it as Dirty J. All they did was change the sign out front, the inside stayed the same = dirty. So....until they give me a Publix, Harris Teeter, or in my dream world - a Whole Foods Market, I'll just refer to them as Dirty _____.) Ah, but I digress, I really was happy that I didn't have to make 4 dozen homemade sugar cookies.
And actually, truth be told, M to the Izz-A and Kate baked most of them while I went on a late night Wal-mart run to gather up a few last minute items. He makes me looks good. He really does.
Everyone showed up with their favorite cookie toppings and we went to town!

The cookies turned out even better than I imagined! Not too shabby!

Now, as to whether you'd wanna eat them is another story. I think the toppings are made of equal parts sugar, icing, and saliva! The kids licked their fingers at they went along!

Last week Kate and I decided to bake Daddy some homemade chocolate chip cookies using a recipe my sister, Sal Gal, told me about: Carol's Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chippies. I'm a really big fan of refrigerated cookie dough, but the holidays always get me in the mood for baking homemade goodies (in small amounts). Plus, Kate loves to help out in the kitchen and I thought it'd give us something to do other than stare at Wow, Wow Wuzzby on the T.V. The cookies were pretty simple to make and I have to tell ya, they must be fool proof, because Kate poured some extra baking soda into the dough and they still turned out. I mean really, how can a little extra baking soda harm a mound of sugary, chocolatey, cavity-inducing goodness? The answer is: it simple cannot.

M to the Izz-A is still working hard in our laundry room remodel. He's almost finished! Update with pics to follow as soon as it's complete...

Besides baking, I also think the holidays are a great time for crafts. However, when you child is only two, you've gotta think simple. Wait. Make that extra simple.

We've been doing a few crafts together in the evenings after dinner and so far have managed to make our house look pretty festive!

Our first craft was simply making a wreath out of her hand prints. They won't be that little forever....

Next, we wanted to get a little messier with the glue. The only thing this 'craft' (so simple it may not merit being called a craft) involves is tearing up all colors of construction paper and letting your little one glue them onto a Christmas tree...anywhere, no pattern, no rhyme or reason. It ends up so colorful. This was Kate's favorite activity so far. Add glue to the equation and you're sure to get a smile.

And last we made a snowflake using gumdrops and toothpicks. This one is always a hit because you can eat as you go along!

Now that I've crammed way too much into this post, I'm off to bed. I only have three days left and then I'm off work for the holidays...until January to be exact!
I told M to the Izz-A to remind me to have him take a pic of this belly I'm developing. He's now snoring in bed, and I have no picture. I'm gonna try to get it tomorrow. I'm 4 1/2 months already! Time flies when you're having fun...and eating everything in sight!