Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas 2009

family pic taken by my mother-in-law (it's a good one and we're all coordinated!)

Christmas was a very busy time for us, but a blessing too. We spent Christmas Eve at church. We helped decorate the fellowship hall and put some table decorations together for the Christmas day dinner. We went back for the 4:30 service and then worked in the nursery during the 7:30 service. It was a busy day, but a wonderful day. We also squeezed in time for ice cream cake to celebrate my birthday! We got to bed so late that night and were thrilled that the kids slept until 8:30 the next day! We opened presents and ate an enormous breakfast and then left to go to Fredericksburg for a Meadows family dinner.

Dinner was delicious and time with the family was precious. The children did a program for us and then there were more gifts to open. Then we went back to the family farm and opened gifts with Mark's immediate family. We do family/ homemade gifts. It's always fun to see how creative everyone is. The cousins get along so well and they play beautifully together. They played so hard all weekend that we barely saw them! We also spent some time with Mark's grandmother. She had some gifts for the kids and she let them choose treasures from her curio cabinet. They were so excited to choose whatever they wanted!

Coming home has been nice too. We've had a few days of sleeping in late, waking up and playing with new toys, watching some new movies, eating meals together, running a few errands, etc. There is no pattern to the day, just lots of poking around! We woke today to a dusting of snow, about 1.5 inches, and so it's a jammies day!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Gingerbread Houses - Round 2

Liam's preschool class invited the older siblings to come to the class this week to decorate small gingerbread houses. The teacher had hot glued graham crackers together in the shape of a house and had all kinds of candy for decorating them. They loved decorating their very own houses! They also really enjoyed eating cookies and other goodies afterward!

More Christmas Fun - Mrs. Claus Tea

We had tea with Mrs. Claus this week. It was a very sweet and special event for the children. She read several holiday books and then everyone had the chance to sample delicious cookies and drink hot chocolate. The adults enjoyed a holiday tea blend. Mrs. Claus answered all of the children's questions about her famous husband and told them that she had to fly back home to help him prepare for Christmas day! Peyton and Liam really enjoyed the stories and cookies. There was one story about a little girl who received a steamroller for Christmas and we all really liked it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Gingerbread Houses!

Peyton really wanted to make a gingerbread house this year

The snow from the "Blizzard!" We were so glad our neighbor plowed our driveway for us!
I cannot believe Christmas is in 2 days! I am so not feeling festive this year. I cut down on the amount of stuff I baked this year and didn't have much pressure to have to go buy gifts. We ended up making a lot of our gifts this year. But for some reason, I just don't feel excited about it at all. I am hoping tomorrow will be a great day to help me get fired up! We are going to church in the morning to decorate for the community Christmas meal and then we'll attend the 4:30 service and help in the nursery at the 7:30 service. We're eating both meals out tomorrow too!

Peyton saw the gingerbread house kit at Target on Tuesday and asked if we could buy it. They had a great time decorating it. Liam had help with his icing, but Peyton did her own icing and decor! It is quite a house and looks very festive sitting on the counter. They also decorated little houses, made of graham crackers, at Liam's preschool today. I'll post pictures of those later. The preschool class hosted the big and littler brothers and sisters and all the kids got to decorate a house. Plus there were loads of cookies to eat. We also had tea with Mrs. Claus today, which was a special treat. I'll post that as well, later. Gotta run and get the laundry done before it's too late!

Blizzard 2009

We traveled to Richmond over the weekend, during the "Blizzard of 2009", to spend an early Christmas with my family. We left Friday afternoon just as the first flakes started to fall. It hit hard and fast and about 40 miles outside of town we thought about turning back, but decided we were committed and kept going. The trip was fairly harrowing. The snow was covering the roads fast and there were a lot of cars traveling. We made pretty slow progress and about 15 miles before our exit to Richmond, we had an accident. The car beside us started to slide and came into our lane right in front of us. Mark kept his cool as we bumped her, and then she kept going into the guardrail and we stopped on the shoulder. We exchanged information and had contacted the state police, but after 15 minutes or so we decided to keep going. We had no food or water in the car and the snow was falling very fast. As we turned onto the street that leads to my brother's house, the police called my cell phone and said they were trying to get to us, but that troopers had to keep stopping for other accidents! We told them we were okay and that the other driver had decided to stay and wait for her parents to come get her, but that we had made sure she was okay with us leaving.

We had a quick dinner with my brother, dropped our dog at his house, and then drove to mom's house. The drive to her house was incredibly slow going and we saw about 10 cars abandoned on the sides of the road. There were 6 cars on the exit ramp as we got off the interstate to go to the house! A trooper was there with a flashlight looking overwhelmed. I was so happy to finally be there, safe and sound. What normally is about a 2 hour trip took 3.5 hours! In hindsight it was pretty stupid for us to go. We should have stayed home, but we did enjoy the weekend. We opened gifts on Saturday and played in the snow. Then on Sunday we went to the mall for the annual Santa picture.

Going home Sunday wasn't too bad. The interstates we had to take were fairly clear, but we couldn't believe all of the cars on the road. The plows had plowed up to their roofs! I can't imagine how busy tow trucks are going to be digging out all of the cars left behind! We are expecting freezing rain this week and if there is even a hint of nasty weather, we are not traveling on Christmas Day! I told Mark I'd rather stay home and eat leftovers than put our family at risk!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Making Marshmallows!

Liam LOVED licking the spatula and was covered in sticky marshmallow goo
Our finished product
They are delicious in hot chocolate!

I received a great holiday issue of Taste of Home magazine about 2 weeks ago and found several recipes that I hope to make, but the one that stood out to me was the marshmallow recipe. I remember watching a Food Network special that featured a family that makes and sells homemade gourmet marshmallows. I wanted to make them and had found recipes online, but never got around to it until this past weekend. It was surprisingly easy. The hardest thing was waiting the 6+ hours for them to set up so that we could decorate them. I have never worked my Kitchenaid mixer so hard either. I had to whip the ingredients for 15 minutes on HIGH!

We decorated them with powdered sugar, colored sugar, cinnamon sugar (notice a theme here?), cocoa powder, sprinkles, nuts, and crushed candy canes. The candy cane ones are my favorite. They give hot chocolate a hint of peppermint and it smells and tastes so good. We have packaged up some of them and have given them away and we still have a bunch left. I think we'll do it again. It was fun and simple and it's cool to know that I can make something at home that tastes better than what we buy in the store. I don't know how long they would last versus store-bought, but so far so good. We'll have to try to roast them and see if they hold up on a skewer!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Liam funny and our Christmas so far

I was unstrapping Liam from his carseat yesterday and we were talking about having lunch when he said, "If we eat, we'll hit God on the head." I asked him what he meant and he said, "Well, if I eat an Oreo, which is heavy, it will hit God on the head." So I said, "Well how, where does God live?" And sweet Liam replied, "He lives in my belly!" He was very concerned that his food would hit God on the head. It was so funny!

I have been trying to do less this Christmas, bake fewer cookies, do fewer activities, and it's been great, but next week is going to be crazy! I have to provide cookies for Liam's preschool class, so I'm going to buy them (ACK!) and I'm going to buy some premade pie crust for the apple pie I'm taking to the family dinner on the 25th (HORROR!) and I am making 2 dozen or so muffins for a church activity on the 24th. The 24th we're spending the morning at church decorating and prepping for the dinner the next day. Then the kids are singing at the 4:30 service, so we have to have Peyton there by 4:15. Then I'm working nursery for the 7:30pm service. It will be a very busy Christmas Eve, but I wanted to spend that day, my birthday, serving my church family, so I'm excited about it.

We still don't have our tree. We have two possible places to go look and we're hoping to do it this week. There just seems to be too much to do for Christmas, plus the regular housework, laundry, etc. I'm plodding my way through it and trying to put all my focus on the reason I celebrate. I don't want to have my big party without inviting the birthday boy, Jesus, to attend. We have been lighting our Advent candles and reading Scripture each night. The kids have been taking about it in church and Sunday school and we're trying to reinforce at home that it's not about the gifts and the lights and the tree, but it's about God coming to the Earth and taking on human flesh, experiencing the same things we experience, ministering to those in need, those who were lost and broken, and then dying for them and for us, so that we can have communication and a relationship with Him, the Creator of the universe. It's just awesome to think that God, the Creator of the whole universe, can offer us forgiveness if we just ask for it. I am awed by this daily and humbled by it and that's where my heart is this holiday. I desire to help others and to reach out to those in need, to minister to their needs and to celebrate Jesus

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dear Kindergarten

"Dere Kindorgordin i wud like you to cume to my culas-sow you can red books and play with furens"

Translation - Dear Kindergarten, I would like you to come to my class so you can read books and play with friends.

Peyton left this note on the white board and I thought it was precious. Her reading is taking off and she often reads the complicated words but mixes up the easy ones like it and if. She is so curious about spelling and mostly spells phonetically. She will ask for help once in a while, but really wants to do it herself. We let her read our Advent reading last night and I couldn't believe how well she did. Only 4 days of school left until her winter break! Liam has preschool next week Monday - Wednesday and then he's off too. I'm so looking forward to having us all at home!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas program and snow day

He's holding a penny for the old man's hat

Liam ate the snow and ice off of the stick

Liam's preschool had their annual Christmas program on Friday night. His morning preschool class sang "Christmas is Coming" and did a poem about a snowman. All of the children were precious and funny. They don't really sing so much as yell their songs. I have a feeling the music teacher told them to sing loud so they did!

We woke up Saturday morning to snowy skies. It snowed all day and we ended up with about 6 or so inches. It was great packing snow and we had a snowball fight and built a small snowman. We also rolled down our small hill. The kids were so excited to see snow and they had a ball playing in it. It snowed all day on Saturday and stopped that evening. It is supposed to be warm this week so I have a feeling that by mid-week the snow will be gone.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

Peyton finally stopped biting her nails and this was her reward- a trip to the salon! We did this just after school got out on Wednesday afternoon. A special treat before Thanksgiving.Breaking the wishbone - such concentration
Peyton took this crazy picture of us

Celebrating Mark's 35th birthday

Nonna had bowling coupons so we took the kids bowling on Thanksgiving Day and the day after. They loved it and Peyton did really well.
Just a few pictures from our Thanksgiving weekend. We spent a few days in Richmond with Nonna and then went to Northern Virginia to see They Might Be Giants with the kids! That was an experience. I'll load my pics from that later and post about it.