Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve....


Our little cheerleader is celebrating the
new year a bit early with her new pom poms
(which she affectionately calls "rah-rahs")

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas recap...






Christmas Eve ... a sweet time of quiet, beautiful snow, candlelight Christmas Eve service (complete with a drive to church in blinding, blowing snow), yummy snacks and eggnog, presents, Christmas dresses, Christmas jammies and wonderful family togetherness.

Christmas Day ... playing in the snow on a true Texas white Christmas, family time in pj's, delicious Christmas lunch at Gramma and Pa's house, more presents, naps and more wonderful family togetherness. Bliss!

Monday, December 28, 2009

I learned a new trick this year....





...put your gingerbread house together with hot glue instead of that gloppy frosting that comes in these kits. Save that to put on decorative candies. Hot glue helps assemble the house in a wink - and it's sturdy in no time at all and ready for little hands to decorate!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day...

O come, all ye faithful,
joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye, to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him, born the King of angels;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation;
O sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God, all glory in the highest;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Yea, Lord, we greet Thee,
born this happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee be all glory given;
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing.

O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve...

Silent night, holy night,
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and Child.
Holy Infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, holy night,
Shepherds quake at the sight;
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born!

Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, love’s pure light;
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.

Silent night, holy night
Wondrous star, lend thy light;
With the angels let us sing,
Alleluia to our King;
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born!

Christmas Letter 2009...

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14

This year has been full of both delight and fun as well as change and sorrow ... but through it all, we give thanks to God for His grace and for sending His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross to take away our sins. What an amazing gift!

E continues to fill our days with joy. She started preschool at our church this fall and adores her teacher and classmates - her class is very small and is all girls! Such fun! She continues to be very interested in reading, books, drawing, crafts and all kinds of dramatic play. We often find her dressed in creative costumes of her own making, combining a firefighter helmet with a feather boa, a purse, sun glasses and a 'baby' in a stroller. You'll often also find her in the midst of a pile of books, "reading" to herself or commenting on the pictures. She also loves to figure out jigsaw puzzles...an activity she and hubby both love and often work on together. Her creative mind, sweet spirit and outgoing personality are a delight! She has almost mastered writing her name (and that's a long name!), and is already trying very hard to read. She also proudly graduated to a "big girl bed" this summer, (after hanging onto her crib much longer than other kids her age - she loved that crib!) She is very proud of her "new room."

In July, we traveled to San Antonio to visit bubby's family, attend a family reunion, visit with my life-long friend Jennifer and her family and go to Sea World. We enjoyed staying with hubby's sister Lucy and her husband Alan in their beautiful, new home! E loved the dolphins and sea lions at Sea World, and still fondly remembers the trip when she plays with the two stuffed penguins that Daddy bought for her as souvenirs. The trip also gave E her first opportunity to 'swim' in a big pool - something she adored! Immediately following our trip to San Antonio, we were stunned to learn that Hubby's mom went home to be with Jesus just a few days after our visit. We are thankful that we were able to visit with her and all of her extended family at the family reunion we attended during our time there. Those days - and the photos we took there - will always be extra precious to us. We will always miss Hubby's mom, but are grateful that she knew of the saving grace of Jesus Christ our Savior.

In October, we traveled with my parents to Branson, Missouri for a fun vacation full of fall color, a trip to Silver Dollar City, a live music show, a visit to a butterfly exhibit, a wine tasting and winery tour, lots of great food and delicious frozen custard and so much more! E thought staying in a hotel was such a grand treat....she still talks about the fun we had there. We think she thought the hotel was the vacation...the sightseeing was just a bonus! Though the days were filled with lots of rain and cool temperatures, the trip was definitely one of fun-filled family togetherness!

Hubby is working a physical therapist position for a contract therapy company - an opportunity that places him in different assignments across the Metroplex. He has had some amazing assignments allowing him to meet a wide variety of people. Whether working far from home and commuting via train, or working close by with a quick 15-minute car commute, we are thankful for his steady employment and opportunities that this position provides. Hubby also continues to serve as president of the church’s men’s group and also dutifully serves as church secretary, something that allows him more involvement in major church decisions and gives him a new and deeper level of involvement with the church leadership.

I continue to enjoy the opportunity to do freelance public relations and writing work from home, while also focusing on being a stay-at-home Mom. The past year has brought of a variety of unique writing opportunities and project PR and marketing work, which can be stressful at times, but very rewarding, as well. Taking advantage of more time at home, I have also enjoyed being involved with E's class at school, and always enjoys piddling in something new...whether trying new recipes, exploring new crafts, blogging or trying to figure out Facebook!

Our kitty Victoria - now 18.5 years old! - gave us quite a scare in September...she was so sick we actually had an appointment scheduled with the vet to put her to sleep....but the night before her appointment, she woke me at 2 a.m., perky as ever and begging for food. Although she has some health issues from time to time that require liquid antibiotics (something that neither she nor her humans like very much) she is back to her mouthy, stubborn, perky self. She has developed a very special affection for Hubby and snuggles with him morning and night. She even tolerates E and will accept loving pets and tasty treats from our sweet little girl, much to E's delight.

We continue to be blessed by our involvement in our church and are both thankful for the Christ-centered, Cross-focused teaching that we receive there. Although we face many trials and this year has been full of challenges, we are thankful that we have God's help and guidance through it all. We have so much to be thankful for...our family...our health...our Savior Jesus Christ. We look forward to 2010 with grateful hearts.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Only in Texas...






...is it 73 degrees on December 23...
...with a projected high tomorrow of 40!

Christmas lights...



Each year, we pile into the car to go gaze and Christmas lights in a beautiful neighborhood near our home. This year, E really enjoyed the display (while being cozy in her jammes and slippers, munching on popcorn and hanging out with Daddy in the backseat while mommy drove...) The neighborhood we visited has several homes with light displays set to music, but we found a new treat this year too - a trumpet player outside one of the homes. Such fun!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Comfort and Joy...

The past year has been a somewhat dramatic one for our family. Job trauma, family struggles, the death of loved ones and so many other challenges have been trying. So this Christmas, instead of getting caught up in all of the hoop-la, we are simply seeking peace. The peace that comes with celebrating the birth of our Savior. The peace that comes from knowing of our Salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord. The peace that comes from simple family togetherness. We didn't put up a lot of decorations this year. We kept the tree simple. I didn't over-do on holiday baking. We didn't feel like we had to accept every party invitation. Instead, we're enjoying and reveling in simple holiday evenings together at home. Below is a sample of one of our happy nights at home (the video is dark, blurry and fuzzy, but you get this idea.). This impromptu music session had hubby and I cracking up and E dancing with glee. The cat was not impressed - or very happy with the fact that her nap was messed up by our racket, but that's typical! This video is a glimpse of a silly moment....but these silly, simple moments are what are bringing us joy this holiday season. Joy and much needed peace.

Monday, December 21, 2009

That's what Christmas is really all about...

E enjoys playing with her L*ttle People nativity....she's had it since she was born (see past year's stories here and here.

This year, my mom and dad got her the L*ttle Drummer Boy set that accompanies the basic nativity. She's been having so much fun with this. It's so sweet to watch her.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday School Christmas program...

The kids did such a great job at the Sunday School Christmas program at our church! The older kids had many, many parts to learn, verses to memorize and songs to sing. And the wee ones recited a few verses and sang many songs too. The favorite of course was "Away in a Manger" - it was such a sweet, pure moment, showing how much these little ones love Jesus - I am not ashamed to tell you a cried - a lot! (see video from a rehearsal session here.)

E, twirling in her pretty dress before the program:

E, after the program, with best bud, Hailey:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Little Tree....Big Tree...



Again this year, E has her very own Christmas tree, a tradition she loves. When I was pregnant with E, someone gave us a set of felt Christmas ornaments featuring all of the "cast" of the nativity....animals, shepherds, kings, Mary, Joseph, Jesus and even a star. Sitting in the "shadow" of our big, family Christmas tree, E loves to decorate and re-decorate her tree with these gems. (And there are a few S*same Street characters thrown in for good measure!)

Friday, December 18, 2009

School Christmas party and program



E's class did an amazing job during their preschool Christmas program this morning -- and the sugar and gift-laden party afterwards was so much fun! The children's gifts to their parents made this mommy cry....such sweet memories!

Taking a break...

Sometimes, after all of the wrapping, crafting, partying,
decorating and fun, you need a little of this:


Complemented by a little of this
(my mom's amazing homemade fudge):

BLISS!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas cookies...


Each year, my mom and I set aside a day to work on these amazing cutout cookies. My Granny made quadruple batches of them when she was alive (and decorated them all herself! - amazing woman!) Mom and I always work on the frosting, decorating and sprinkling in early December. It was such fun to sit and visit with my mom and work on this annual tradition again this year!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Overheard...

..."Mommy, did you know Christmas trees have 'noodles'? They are kind of like leaves, but different!" (It took her a while to say 'needles', not noodles...)

...(singing) "Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel... REJOICE! REJOICE!" Mommy, I really like that song, I think that is what Christmas is really about!

...(eyeing the presents I was wrapping and learning that none of these specific gifts were for her, but were instead for relatives and friends...) "Mommy, do you think any of those will ever be for me!?" (Yes, sweet girl, I think you might get just a few...)

Wonder and joy...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

No mommy...


...I am not tired, I do not need a nap! (said a certain little three-year-old to me....even though this mommy knew that all of the programs, parties, festivities and fun were wearing her out. Do you think I was right? Hmmmm....sometimes Mommies do know best!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Advent Wreath...


E's class made Advent Wreaths at school on the first day of Advent....her beautiful creation is residing next our family Advent Wreath. We've been lighting the candles each night during dinner. Love this!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Domestic Diva Experiment: No Turn Omelet


No Turn Omelet

8 eggs, lightly beaten

2 cups cooked crumbled sausage or cubed fully cooked ham (I used ham)

2 cups cubed process cheese (Velveeta)

2 cups milk

1 cup crushed saltines (about 24 crackers)

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped green pepper (I omitted because we didn't have on hand)

1/4 cup chopped sweet red pepper (I omitted because we didn't have on hand)

1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Pour into a greased shallow 3-qt. or 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish.

Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Yield: 8-10 servings.

This dish may be prepared in advance, covered and refrigerated overnight. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Advent Calendar and Advent Chain


Before E was born, my mom found this neat Advent Calendar that features all of the characters in a nativity scene. E enjoys placing an animal or person on the scene each night, slowly creating a picture of the story of Jesus' birth. It's a special tradition she's enjoyed since her very first Christmas. This year, we've added to the fun with an "Advent Chain" that E made in her preschool class. Each night, we tear a ring off the chain, counting down the days to Christmas. Such fun!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Special friend...



E has many treasured stuffed animals and baby dolls. But this mouse is her current favorite. My mom gave 'Mouse-y" to E on our recent vacation to Branson. E has slept with Mouse-y ever since and often carries him around the house during the day. Last week, I caught her showing him the Wednesday-morning snowfall out the window in our entryway. Sweet glimpses of my girl!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas jammies...


E actually has two sets of cute Christmas jammies this year...these cute flannel jammies from my mom and a warm, fuzzy fleece set. These are so cute, warm and cozy, E loves to wear them on "home days" when we have no where to go.....and what goes better with cute jammies than a big, cheesy grin?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Domestic Diva and Little Domestic Diva Experiment: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins



Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

4 eggs
1 (16 oz) can pumpkin
1/4 cup oil
1 cup applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
Dash of cloves
1 tsp salt
1 – 12 oz package semi-sweet chocolate chip morsels

Mix all wet ingredients in large mixing bowl, then combine all dry ingredients in another bowl. Add dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Then fold in chips.

Cook in 400 degree oven for 14-17 minutes. Makes 2 dozen muffins.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Domestic Diva Experiment: homemade pumpkin puree






Since the season for pumpkins is now behind us, I took three of the pie pumpkins that had been decorating our home and experimented with making my own pumpkin puree. E's preschool teacher had mentioned that she does this, and it inspired me to give it a try. I cooked the pumpkins (halved with seeds scooped out) in the microwave. After each was cool, I pureed the insides in my food processor with a few tablespoons of water. I also roasted the pumpkin seeds for a tasty snack. The end result was three big baggies of pumpkin puree - perfect for making muffins, pies and other tasty treats. This process wasn't quite as messy or involved as I had expected (although it IS still easier to crack open a can of pumpkin from the store!) But since we had them on hand, I figured 'waste not, want not'....and gave it a try!