Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Projects #2 and #3 - And the end of the year...

OK... I should have saved Project #2 until later. Or, I should have done it a long time ago. Actually, I don't think it really matters when I do's just not fun. I'm revamping our "Must Have Papers". I made a Power of Attorney for Health Care in case Roger or I are ever needing someone to make health care decisions for us. That's always fun to think about... I am also in the process of making a Living Revocable Trust. Having gone through the death of my mother and my grandmother, I am appalled at how much it costs to put a will through probate. So, by making a Trust, our estate won't have to face the courts, judges, or lawyers. Even though it's a good thing to do, it is still sobering to have to answer questions about guardianship for the kids...etc... And, since we're doing a Trust, we also have to update our wills. Fun... Anyway, I got 1/2 of my project done yesterday and will try to finish today. Our computer is SO it's hard to get my groove back and get it all done. And, our printer is having problems, so everything is just saved instead of printed out.

But, Project #3 is looking much more enjoyable. I'm going to reorganized my stamp room! Doesn't that sound like fun! It does to me... I'll try to remember to take some before and after pics. I'm figuring out that some of the really fun blogs that I follow seem to always have their camera with them and can post fun pictures. I'm trying to train myself to carry my camera, and then remember to use it! I read a post on a friend's blog about taking the kids out for a treat in their pajamas and I thought it was a great idea. So, on Monday night, around 9:15, I rang a bell and we got all the kids up and into the Beast and went to Sonic. They were so funny... I wish I'd taken a picture of all 7 (well, I wouldn't have been in the picture) of us loaded into the Beast...the kids in their pajamas, smiling ear to ear in anticipation. We are sure enjoying our Christmas vacation and I'm beginning to feel the noose tighten as we head towards the weekend. Real Life is just around the corner...

We're hanging out here at home tonight...Hope you all have a super New Year Celebration as we look forward to 2009. God Bless...

Monday, December 29, 2008

My Week of Projects -- #1

We had such a lovely Christmas. Now, how can I make the most of our little vacation before we have to start school again? I have my list, and I'm checking it twice, of projects I'd like to try to get done before Jan. 5. Today was Project #1. I went to an auction last Sunday and I "won" a new freezer. I know, I know... Roger reminds me that we didn't really "win" anything... "We're paying for it, aren't we?" But, it FEELS like you win... Anyway, today, my Project was to get the garage cleaned up and rearranged so we can put the new freezer in it's spot. It's so beautiful! (The freezer, that it...) It is a commercial freezer and, quite frankly, it's a lot bigger than I realized it would be. It didn't look so big in the shop where I won it...but it's big in my garage. I'm so excited.

So, I got Project #1 completed early this afternoon since the weather was so gorgeous. I'll let you know how my other Projects go...

Did I mention one of the other reasons our Christmas was so great? Granddaddy has arrived! He's been in Siloam for about 3 weeks now and is working on getting unpacked. He's been over many times and we were able to spend Christmas Eve with him, and then Christmas Day with him and Roger's sister Grace and her family, the Davises. We are so very blessed to have him close.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

I'm Mother of the Year with this one!

Ahhhh... Christmas. I am pleasantly tired from our lovely day of celebrating. I must say that I'm rather happy with the way our gift giving went this year. We scaled back on the presents and I think it went really well. We got one large (expensive) gift for the whole family and then each child received 3 presents. Jesus only received 3!! Limiting the number of presents really helped relieve a lot of pressure as well as saved us money! Of course, they also received gifts from extended family, so don't feel sorry for their seemingly small number of gifts. I'm just tired of buying stuff just to buy stuff!
There was one gift worth mentioning. Zane has been wanting some sort of pet of his own for several years now. We got one of our dogs on his birthday hoping that would fulfill his need for pet ownership. Unfortunately, it didn't work. What he really wanted was some sort of rodent, like a rat! Or, a snake...even worse. I can't believe I agreed to this, but we got him a snake. It's a female corn snake...about 8-10 inches long. Even with my aversion to all thinks remotely slimy, scaly, or slithery...she is sort of cute. She has red and white stripes/dots and a little pink tongue. Roger has been keeping her at the office for the last 2 weeks and the staff has sort of adopted her. One of the gals at the clinic named her Shelia and Zane has decided to go with that. If your name is offense intended. Before we discovered she is a girl, I thought we could call her Satan...

If you click on the picture, it will enlarge and you'll see her pink eyes... ugh!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Chocolate Peanut Clusters! YUM!

I know, I know...I've slacked off with my December Photo Project. The truth is, I just didn't have any pictures that I thought were really interesting. They weren't "blog worthy". But, today's pictures will make up for the last few days! These are definitely "blog worthy".

Have I told you about my new BFF? It's the Crock Pot Lady. She doesn't know that she's my new BFF, but she is. If I knew where she lived, I might stalk her. I am a crock pot junkie and I'll be sad when she stops posting every day. Anyway, Roger has a party at the office this afternoon, so I thought I'd make a little "something something" to send to the shin-dig. I decided to try Crock Pot Peanut Clusters. They are sooooo easy. Here's how I made them.
Crock Pot Peanut Clusters

-- 3 16 oz. jars/cans of peanuts (I used "Party Peanuts" and the Crock Pot Lady says to used "lightly salted" peanuts -- I'll address this in a moment
-- 24 oz. milk chocolate chips
-- 8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
-- 8 oz. unsweetened chocolate

Put it all in the CP (I used a 6 quart size) and cook on high for 1 1/2 hours, or low for 3 hours. Here's what it looked like...

It doesn't look much different after it's cooked than it does when you dump it all in. Don't be fooled though... and don't open the lid "just to make sure it's working". It really is melty gooey...

After it's cooked, you can mix it all up with a wooden spoon. You'll have to put a little muscle into it...
Then, I took one of those ice cream scoopers that is really for melon balls and I scooped out little lumps on to waxed paper.

Let them harden for quite a, over night. Or, you can put them in the freezer to harden them quickly. If you don't let them harden nicely, they are really messy...

Here's what I discovered: The "party peanuts" are salty. I don't really care for a lot of salt on things, but I love the peanut clusters. Perhaps the combo of sweet and salty makes it OK for me. Now, here's the greater discovery... my kids were not crazy about this. They thought it was too salty! WHAT! So, if you're looking for a yummy candy to make that you won't have to share with the kids, this is what you've been waiting for!!
I made them a little bigger than I should have... I ended up with 113, some of them big. Here they all are on my kitchen island...they look like little soldiers all lined up, waiting to be eaten! Yum!

Friday, December 19, 2008

We've Adopted!

Well, I'm doing much better today. I had a mammogram follow-up yesterday and today I got the results...everything is fine and I don't need to go back for a year. Talk about an emotional roller-coaster... Anyway, enough of that!

Here is my picture for my DPP. This is Emmanuel. We selected him at Isn't he precious? We went to the website and looked at page after page of children waiting to be "chosen". We wanted a little boy, and, we wanted someone that has to deal with the epidemic of AIDS. He doesn't have AIDS, but it's a good bet that someone in his little world has it. His page indicated that he'd been waiting over 6 months for a family. He is from Rwanda and is 5 years old. His parents are farmers and he is one of 4 children. We're crazy about him! I just love his little, round face. There are several reasons I like I'd like to encourage you to check it out. This has been yet another opportunity to take the focus off of ourselves and allow our children to take part in expanding their world. We're writing him a big letter with a picture of each of us. He and Nate are about the same age, so I hope he feels a little connection. We hope we can help him have a merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

No Picture Today :-(

It was a long day...I'm really tired...thanks for understanding...I'm going to bed!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

He is Sam!

Hot chocolate... mmmmm.... just saying it makes a gal feel warm and cozy. I've never been a coffee drinker. I love getting hot chocolate (with whipped cream of course) at Starbucks. And, with all of our great Christmas mugs, I feel obligated to dring hot chocolate out of each one at least once during the holidays. I guess that's where my kids get the idea that one of the many traditions of our Christmas is hot chocolate. And, with weather temps below the freezing mark for the last 3 days, hot chocolate becomes our beverage of choice. So, every night, the kids get to split a package of hot chocolate. Here's Sam with his special mug. The picture at the top of my blog is also Sam... about 2 years ago. I keep thinking I need to change that picture, but it's just such a great representation of Sam. He's such a happy guy!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What a Motley Crew!

December Photo Project...Dec. 16th.
Isn't this a cantankerous looking bunch! This picture may not make you think of Christmas, but this is what we did while at Silver Dollar City this weekend... the kids had a ball!

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Inside of an Apple Pie

Several times today I stopped to thank God for shelter... The high today was about 22 degrees. School was cancelled because of ice. We had a fire going all day. Since there was no reason for us to cancel home school, we went ahead and did our work. It's amazing how quickly we can finish on days like this. Anyway, for my December Photo Project, I'm showing you what I cooked in the crock pot today. Katie had brought home a bunch of apples from her American Girl Book Club last week, so I figured I needed to use them. I went on to The Crock Pot Lady's blog and found a recipe for homemade applesauce. I used my Pampered Chef Apple/Peeler/Corer/Slicer. The apples were slightly over-ripe, so it was not quite as easy and usual... a little mushiness makes the peeler difficult to use. But, I pressed on! I put the whole batch in the crock pot, added a little brown sugar, some cinnamon, and a little water. I cooked them on low for about 7 hours. The house smelled fabulous! After they were cooked, I took my potato masher and mashed them all up. For a snack, I served it to the kids with a dollop of whipped cream. It tasted like the inside of an apple was a hit... and once again, my kids think I'm a kitchen goddess!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas in Branson

Well, we're back. We left Friday evening and spent 2 nights in Branson. We used the last of our free passes to Silver Dollar City. We'd not been there during Christmas before, so we decided to face the crowds and go on Saturday. It wasn't bad... at least it wasn't bad at first. The lighting ceremony was at 5:30, and then it was crowded. So, we left. We'd been there since 2:00 that afternoon and we were ready to get back to the condo. I had taken my crock pot and there was chicken and veggies waiting. So, for my DPP photo for Dec. 14, here we are at Silver Dollar City.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Wise Men are Coming!!

For my December Picture Project today, I'm putting up a picture of our wise men. They're on their way to the manger... They're currently in the dining room, on their way to the windowsill in the living room. This is the first year we've done this and the kids are intrigued.
I'll be out of pocket tomorrow, but will be back on Sunday...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Zane's Christmas Stocking

After a relatively slow, calm, peaceful week...tonight was not. The kids had a band concert at the high school tonight. We were there from 6-8:30. And, there was a parent meeting afterwards about an upcoming trip. So, I just got home about 15 minutes ago! How is it that sitting in a fine arts building listening to lovely Christmas music can just zap your energy? Our youngest muffin slept through about an hour of the concert.
So, I was trying to decide what kind of picture to post for my DPP. As I gaze around the house, I came upon one of my very favorite Christmas items. It's Zane's Christmas stocking. My mother was a avid cross-stitcher...and I picked it up after many years of watching her sit in her rocker with her needlework on her lap. When Zane was a baby, he used to sleep with one arm over his head. Sometimes he'd sleep with his arm over his eyes. When I saw this pattern, I knew I had to do it! It looks just like him! Well, it was a ton of work, and I had to sew the stocking together...ugh! But, it turned out beautifully, and he's worth it! He loves to have something that is his and no one has anything like it. I think it's kind of nice that he has something special...just for him.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A quiet day...

Today was nice. It's pretty cold outside, so the fire in the fireplace today was delightful! No big plans tonight, so we finished up our school this morning and then had a nice afternoon. However, after dinner, I got a little motivation to go downstairs. I worked on some Christmas cards and listened to Michael Buble... how fun! Now, I need to clean up the creativity!
What a lovely mess...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

New "Christmas Trees"

This is definitely a rushed post... I'm ready for bed!! As I was thinking about pictures that will show what is going on at our house this Christmas, I thought about how we love the traditions and pulling out the familiar stuff, but was there anything new this year? And, did I really WANT to try to incorporate anything new. Then, I realized that we did have something new this year. We have 2 beautiful hibiscus plants that I brought in for the winter. I have already posted about my aversion to gardening, but container plants are more my speed. These had bloomed and grown so faithfully this spring and summer, so I didn't want to lose them to the cold weather. So, I brought them into the house to see if I could keep them alive. I added "watering the plants" to each child's chore schedule so the plants will get watered every other day. Well, they have continued to bloom...and are doing great! And, since the lights we used on the Mustang for the parade we just lying around, we decided to light up our new trees. So, here they are...with lights off, and then the lights on. And, having these in the house gives us a place to put any ladybugs we find in the house!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas the Cat

What would Christmas be without animals? The truth is, I'm not what you would call an "animal lover". Don't get me wrong...I like animals, but I'm not someone that's going to treat an animal like my baby, let it eat from the table, buy it a burial plot, etc... Not that there's anything wrong with that! It's fine, if that's who you are! But, it's not me. However, I do love having a cat sleeping at your feet. If contentment had a sound, it would be the sound of purring. So, for my December Photo Project, here is a picture of our cat. His name is Christmas. We call him Chris. We got him on Christmas 5 years ago. I was looking at the blogs of other people doing the DPP and came across a gal named Clare who had a picture of her cat on her blog...he looks just like Chris! The funny thing is that we joke that Chris has his "other family", because he will disappear for a day or two...then show up and stay with us for a few days. We joke that he goes to be with his "other family", but he always comes back to us. So, I showed the kids the picture and I emailed Clare and explained that we think she may be our cat's "other family". She got a kick out of it. It would be quite a trek for Chris since Clare lives in another state! Anyway, here he is... our Christmas kitty.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

More Chirstmas traditions.

For my DPP Challenge, Dec. 7.

Here's a picture of what we do every morning during the month of Dec. This is our advent calendar. In each pocket is a little pillow boy or girl, representing children from countries all over the world. I find it interesting that it has children from countries like Brazil, France, Canada, China, Russia, even the USA, etc... but there is only one child that represents the entire continent of Africa. Anyway, on the back of each pillow is a little piece of Velcro and it attaches to the wreath around the earth. There's also a couple of angels, a trumpet, a heart, and a dove. I got this about 15 years ago and it's beginning to show some wear. When it finally begins to come apart, I will have to put aside my aversion to sewing and do everything humanly possible to keep it together. My children love this thing and have even had discussions about who gets it when Roger and I die. It took me a couple of years, but I finally figured out how to keep 5 kids from fighting over who gets to take the next little person out of their pocket. I wrote each name on a piece of paper and every morning I draw a name. That person gets to pull out that day's little person. Seriously, every morning when I come down the stairs, there is at least one child that will immediately ask me to draw a name and see which lucky child gets to be the chosen one today.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Everyone Loves a Parade!

Seriously there anything more "feel good" that a small town, home town Christmas parade? I've been to "big city" parades before. While the effects may be magnified by the big corporation floats, and the numbers are always larger...well, I'm just a sucker for the smaller version. I love to see floats from the companies where my friends work. How about the bands? Usually just one or two...and I know the children/parents of about 1/2 of the group. In our parade there are no less that about 20 floats from local churches. No hiding behind "Happy Holidays" around here. It's a full blown "Merry Christmas" many times over. So, my DPP for Dec. 6 is actually a video. It's an awful video... it came out way too dark when I uploaded it to YouTube. But, I think you'll get the idea. The holidays have officially started in Siloam Springs. This is a video of our local high school band with the 8th grade included. My 2 oldest are marching...they're the best in their row! Enjoy. (You'll need to click the pause on my music if you want to be able to hear the band perform...)

Here's a video of me in the Mustang advertising for the body shop that fixed her up.

I may as well add a pic of my smallest muffin...he watched with Dad on the sidelines.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas Puzzles

It's 11:30! I'm cutting it close... Here's my pic for Dec. 5.
Each year I get a Christmas puzzle for us to work on at our leisure. Sometimes I get an easy one for the Littles and a more challenging on for the big kids and adults. Right now it's on our dining room table, but I usually put it in the living room on a card table that allows us to work on it whenever we feel like it, but our table bit the dust this fall and I haven't replaced it. There's just something about a puzzle...sitting together, looking and trying pieces...I think it allows for conversation to flow. No pressure...just working on a puzzle.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Candles of Christmas

Wow! I've posted for 4 days in a row! I'm feeling some pressure now... But, I've enjoyed keeping my eyes open for Christmas snippets... Today's picture is about my candles. I imagine that everyone loves the look of candles. I like candles too, especially at Christmastime...but they really need to have a good scent for me to really love them. Lately, I've been a little disappointed with my Yankee Candles. I don't smell anything unless I'm really close to them. Anyway, I'm sharing some pics of my all-time favorite brand of candles. These are sold by Partylite. Why do I love them? For one thing, they burn clear. Once you light it, and let it burn for a little while, the whole thing turns to liquid wax. It's just so pretty. That leads me to another reason I love them... since they turn to liquid when they burn, that means they burn straight down... so when the candle is done, there's nothing left. Finally, the smell is fabulous. I'm a baking scent kinda girl...I like vanilla, cinnamon, cinnamon roll, etc... I like a few other scents, like lavender or anything citrusy... but baking scents are my favorite, especially around the holidays. So, here they are...
You can see a little before/after in these shots. The tea light below heats the wax above. (Ignore the center of the wax where my son poked his finger during the last time it cooled down.)
In the second set of pics, I wasn't patient enough to take the picture after the candles had completely melted... but hopefully, you get the idea.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

She'll be comin' around the mountain...

What is it about trains? All of my children have gone through a train stage at one time or another. Actually, I think they like just about anything that "goes"... cars, trains, planes, trucks, tractors, rockets, etc... One of the best investments we made when Zack was about 1 1/2 was a beginner set of Thomas the Tank Engine Tracks. Over the last 15 years, we've added to them and have quite a collection. Nate has pretty much outgrown it, so the whole set is packed away very nice and neatly in the attic, waiting future grandchildren that will think I'm the coolest grandma because I have the best toys.
For my Christmas picture today, I have a picture of a train that is set up around our Christmas tree. Truthfully, I'm not crazy about having trains in the way of the presents, but our kids love it. And, since Thomas has been put away for a while now, having a running train is a novelty to my boys... We weren't sure it was going to work... it's an old track and is held together by lots of black electrical tape. And, the battery connections were corroded, so even after fresh batteries, it wouldn't go. But, thankfully, dad can fix anything! After a little cleaning, our train is running it's route without any trouble. Thank goodness!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It's Begun!

It's day number 2 in the Christmas Picture Challenge. Here's what I dealt with today.
The Christmas goodies are already stacking up...and it's only Dec. 2!! The cake in the pan is the last piece leftover from my daughter's 3 birthday cakes! I used to feel sorry for people that had holiday birthdays, but I'm not feeling so sorry anymore. Since her birthday usually falls on or around Thanksgiving, we usually have a family celebration on her actual birthday. Then, we celebrate again with our extended family when we get together on Thanksgiving day. But, she doesn't have her party with her friends until later because they're all busy with their families. So, she gets to have a week long celebration. That's why she had 3 birthday cakes...and she made 2 of them herself :-). In the picture is also a brownie leftover from some purchases at a bake sale, a baggie with homemade pumpkin bread. The plate has leftover goodies from our secret pal party last night. The other 3 items are gifts from my secret pal...Miss Maita (who was a super secret pal, by the way). So, I'm being very agreeable when the kids ask for dessert these days because if they don't eat it, I will! They're able to work it all of much easier than I am. Of course, I could just throw it all away...but I wouldn't want to be wasteful, now would I? :-)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Christmas Pictures

Dec. 1 -- Day 1

The sweet owner of The Homespun Heart blog has invited her readers to participate in a Christmas Picture Challenge. I'm going to give it a try...but no promises that I'll be able to post every day. I hope to post a pic that will give a glimpse into what's going on with us this Christmas. And, hopefully it will help me to keep my eyes open to the little things that mean so much... If I had been on the ball, I would have taken a picture of the snow this morning. For us to have snow that actually left a thin blanket of white on the ground...and to have that snow on Dec 1...well, that's just not normal around here. There was much delight at our house. But, it melted before I could take a picture. Instead, I took a picture of something that I crock pot. I love the smell of dinner cooking throughout the day. I made a big pot of chili. It was perfect on this cold day. So, that's my first picture. My crock pot. Perhaps not very Christmas-ee, but definitely a cozy, feel good feeling as we went about our day.