Saturday, December 27, 2008

Homemade Christmas

I love homemade Christmas. Who am I kidding? I love store-bought Christmas, too. But every year for I don't even know how long (2 years, max) I've made gifts myself, in some cases - and bought them, in others. Christmas crafting is a way for me to try out a new craft and get it out of the house. (We have a small house overflowing with all my creative projects gone to give is a blessing! Yes, that is the reason...) Of course, there are those homemade gifts I wish I could have kept, but didn't because I couldn't (after-all, I wasn't the intended recipient!). And then those I did keep because I did. Keep them. And no one knows but me who would've gotten this blanket if I didn't absolutely LOVE curling up with Fussy every morning by the fire wrapped in our Santa wrap with my Target Jingle Bell slippers all keeping us toasty. And snoozy.

Isn't he handsome? And right at home there on my leather chair - I mean my husband's chair. Whatever. I made four of these - three for my honey's employees and one - the original - for a nondisclosed recipient. Now he's mine. All mine.

My other pride and joy is this little pillow. I came up with idea myself. By reading Martha Stewart. (Again, whatever.) And I bought the printer-fabric-paper-stuff myself and printed the photo and Nester'ed it up with stuff we had around the house and some fringe (the real Nester'ing). I love this pillow. I'm sure my mom will never notice if I steal it back and place it in my own home next to him (see above).

And this is a treasure. My husband did homemade Christmas this year, too. And he made me this:

It's my blog! All printed out - into TWO HUMONGOUS volumes! Forever! Ever since I started typing out these posts, I've said I would print it out one day. And he did. He printed the whole thing and then took it to Kinko's to have it bound for just a few bucks! For me. Love him.

So, there you have it. Just a little look into our Homemade Christmas!

More Christmas to come in days to come...!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


I am the reason for this season.
Yes, I am.

I am a sinner. I am insignificant yet a giant mess-up. I falter. I fail. I stand, and then I fall again.

A baby came to this earth to create a bridge between me, my big fat imperfect self, and my glorious, amazing, and loving God.

He came to save me from my mistakes. From my mess-ups and my mishaps. If I were the only person here, He still would have come. I am the reason He came.
I am the reason for this season.

Thank you, Lord.
Thank you, Baby Jesus. Thank you for the man you became.
For the Savior you are.

We in this house believe.
We believe in Jesus.

Happy Birthday, Jesus.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Cookie Cookie Cookie (x3)

This year we decided to invite friends over for a cookie party one Saturday afternoon. I placed the calls. (No time to send invitations --- that's not how we roll...) I desperately searched for children's aprons. Oh, yes, I planned to doll everyone up with personalized aprons and baker's boxes to take goodies home from the exchange plus the yummy treats the children would deck out in their frosting finest. And I tried to do it all in four days.

Then I realized you can't decide to have a party, plan a party, clean for the party, buy for the party, and have the party all in four days when you are looking at the likes of 16 children gracing the halls of your humble abode plus their moms (and perhaps a stray dad or two...I know my husband was planning to be 'busy' that day...). Instead, we canceled - or postponed, as it were - and, rather, each child old enough to talk was given their own party and invited their own friends over for their own special day.

T invited his friends over on a 'late start' day of school - when moms dropped them off, the boys stayed outside to play, then came in to make cinnamon ornaments, spread some frosting on prebaked cookies, and head off to school, fully loaded on sugar and fun. Two days later, when the ornaments were dried, T delivered them to his friends' homes, complete with Santa hat adorning his red head.
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Meiners and I invited our friends over for a relaxed Friday lunch and playtime. The boys ate the sack lunches their moms brought for them. I rolled cookie dough onto individual sheets of parchment paper for each boy the night before, and after their lunch, the boys chose their cookie cutters and went to town. While they played in the playroom, the cookies baked, and the moms enjoyed lunch of homemade soup and salad. Then the frosting came out, and the fun ended with sweet smiles on their little boy faces.

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Pookie's party was last (but not least!). She chose her party on an 'early release' day of school. Her friends were greeted with individual stations of dough and oodles of cookie cutter choices. They played dress up while the cookies baked, then tried their hands at real decorating tools, making rosettes and outlining their snowflakes before sprinkling colored sugars and sprinkles onto their creations. Before they left, we nabbed a print of their thumb to make unique ornaments. We'll be delivering those this weekend.

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I hope all the children enjoyed themselves! We certainly loved having them join us in our cookie fun!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Here's the how-to on the origami boxes...and, literally, the truffles are as easy as:

melt 8 squares of Baker's chocolate per instructions on the box (microwave for 30 seconds, stir, etc.)

add one 8 ounce package of cream cheese

blend, refrigerate

roll into balls, refrigerate

melt chocolate chips

dip balls into chocolate

I think MamaV's measurements on the truffle box were 8 1/2" x 8 1/2" for the top which means the bottom was 8x8 --- however, with these dimensions our gargantuan truffles only fit three into the box, so we up'd the box size to 8 3/4" square for the top making the bottom 8 1/2 square and we rolled the balls into about a 3/4 teaspoon size balls vs. 1 teaspoon size...

Enjoy !!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I am THAT mom

I am the mom who suffers from a great deal of anxiety. I don't think you'd know it that much if you met me --- I don't even think my dear husband knows how often I suppress my anxiousness and muster on my way. I remember exactly in college when I began my Freedom Prayer. That is when I say, "Well, God, we've done the best we can [to prepare]. Now, Lord, please help me just do the best I can [to finish]..." This has worked with exams. Flute solos. Preschool parties...yesterday's post was a little tongue in cheek mixed in with a little bit of me...tongue in cheek.

In addition to this unveiling of my soul yesterday, I am here to tell you I am this mom, as well. Yes, I am the one who INSISTS the kids MAKE the teachers their gifts. I read once that these are the best gifts...It is a rare occasion that I head over to the Bread Co for gift cards, yes indeed (unless they're to myself...but that's another addiction I mean blog post).

This year, I sat down with the laptop in the comfy chair, fire blazing in the fireplace, and called each kid over one by one to peruse the Family Fun website to decide what they would be making for their educators this year.

They chose well. Now, getting them to make the gifts...well, my husband told me not to be that mom if I didn't want to be that know. The one who yells at the kids cuz they aren't finishing their teacher's gifts and the party is tomorrow. That mom. *sigh* Oh the irony of it all...

Oh well! Here's what Pookie finished tonite for Mrs. L. ~Pretty, no?

I don't know if you can see it in the photo, but there's an 'L' embossed at the bottom of the velvet. Very pretty, YES!

And the boys...well, I'm loving what they did, as well. Both of their teachers are dog lovers. Doesn't this look yummy?

It's made with carob chips - a chocolate-like food that is safe for dogs. We found the dog bark recipe here. And we added doggie pumpkie cookies. The recipe for those is here.

Meiners showed some skillz as he made Miss Jen's puppy, Hank, some tasty treats.

T went a little nuts...

But they turned out fabulously!

And for the humans, we made truffles. My friend Vonda is my Martha (Stewart, that is...) Her recipe for truffles includes three ingredients: 8 squares of Baker's chocolate, 1 package cream cheese, and melted chocolate chips for dipping. Y.U.M.! And her trick to make them look pretty without losing your sanity ... leave them to set with the dipping toothpick still stuck in the bottom. In her words, "You're too busy oohing and aahing over how pretty the smooth tops are to notice the bottoms have big dents..."

Oh so true, MamaV, oh so true!

So, it's all about presentation, isn't it? Here's tonite's unveiling...(and I don't mean any additional deep dark secrets about myself...except that I love chocolate. In big ways...)

A little note to warn the Pet Owners which treats are dog friendly and which aren't...

And (drum roll, please...) The origami boxes my boys made (oh yes they did!)...

And one more thing checked off my list...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Preschool Party

I have been feeling no peace lately. I'll just tell you that. I have an anxious heart and I hate that. Anxious? About all the To Do's. Isn't that unfortunate? I'm just telling you. Because you're out there, and I know you understand.

Today was our first snow day of the school year. And no offense to my youngest son, but I sorta hope tomorrow is too. See, it's preschool party day tomorrow. And even though I have the whole thing planned out from who's going to help the kids stamp their fingerprints onto dried Paperclay ornaments to who's going to lay out the snowman yogurt cups with Christmas M&Ms to who's going to read the stories and yet...I still get nervous. I mean, they are preschoolers. They eat moms for breakfast. Don't they? Feels like it.

Do you think parties were this tough for our moms? I mean, I talk to the other moms in class. No one wants to be the room mom. There are entire Kindergarten classes with no room mother. For the Christmas party, for Heaven's sake (well, call it like it is --- the Winter Party nowadays). What is that?!

I'm telling you. They eat moms for lunch, too. And probably for dinner.

I'm scared. Very scared.
Look at him over there on that sidebar. He's licking his little reindeer lips on the inside. He and all his ravenous little friends...

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008



Peace comes to me most in those evenings when my husband is traveling and the kids are all fast asleep in their beds. Is that bad of me? It's not to say that I don't love my family with every ounce of my being. But, peace? That comes with quiet solitude.

And, lately, it even comes early in the morning, when it's still dark outside. That's usually when Little S wakes up and screams her presence to the rest of us. I leap from the warm comfort of my bed to the side of hers as fast as Santa's reindeer on the rooftops to avoid any other little footprints coming wandering down the hall. Then, Little S and I return to slumber in Daddy's leather chair. Which sits in front of our fireplace. That we just last week turned into gas logs. And every morning. S and I find peace.

She's so funny. Now when we sit together in that comfy chair, she points towards the fireplace and says, "ah!" Which means, of course, "turn that baby on and let's snuggle, Mom."


It is new every morning.

Monday, December 8, 2008


This word - Simplify - greets me as I open the door to my hall closet. Simplify. One doesn't need 27 towels in 28 colors crammed into a space fit for, well, let's be honest - about 5 towels and 6 washcloths. That's what it simply reminds me. One just doesn't.

One doesn't need 7 boxes of Christmas decorations in a house that fits two per room, either. One doesn't need Christmas aplenty.

I don't know what it is about this time of my life. This time in my life of plenty. Plenty of mouths to feed. Plenty of homework to check. Plenty of soap scum lining my shower. Plenty of sleepless nights. Plenty of toys. Already. Plenty. Anyone have a sign in their linen closet that says 'Plenty?' Anyone?


He came to us as a baby. He came to us in a manger. A smelly, slobbery, nasty feed trough.
And He simply loved us enough to do it.

This year I've left most of my decorations in boxes. I've left most of the toys at the store. I've left this on my shelf, an almost...bare...shelf. As a reminder.
That He simply is.
So that I might simply be.

In Him,
When the song of the Angels is stilled,
When the Star in the sky is gone,
When the Kings and the princes are home,
When the Shepherds are back with their flock.
The work of Christmas begins.
To Find the lost - to Heal the broken - to Feed the hungry
To Release the prisoner - to Rebuild the nations -
To Bring Peace among brothers and sisters -
To make music in the Heart.

~Howard Thurman.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Crafty St. Nick

OK, I can post my latest craft now cuz it's St. Nick's Day, and the gift has been delivered. Before St. Nick's Day, I wanted to post this craft, but that would have given away the gift. And a girl can't do that!

My friend K has four boys and a manly man husband. He's off to Australia for a business trip and K's running things back home at 'the bachelor pad,' as she calls it. So what's a mom of four to do for her friend who's a mom of four boys? Help chickify her Christmas tree for her, of course. But in a semi-masculine sort of way...

These are my Christmas version of the Halloween sillhouettes I made. I enjoyed being sneaky with my friend K's kids by snapping the four boys' profiles while Mom looked on (well, 3 of them - and Dad snapped a secret profile of the youngest for me! - Thanks, M!). I'd tell you how to make them, but Kimba's already done a fabulous job! Just one thing I might change that'll save you an extra step of cutting. After I'd done the mantel, I read a tip to just cut out the photo and paint the back of the photo paper black. I'll admit - I painted the front of the photo on one of my gifts just to make two boys face left and two boys face right. Worked just fine. And then I sprayed the whole block with a clear matte finishing spraypaint. I thought they looked great. And my friend gushed. I love that. Makes the whole process that much more rewarding! (Glad you liked 'em K. *mwah!*)

And here the kids are delivering the boys' cinnamon ornaments they'd made at the cookie party this week AND the gift for my friend...

I love it! Peekaboo!

Hey! They're here!

Yes, those kids ARE wearing shorts in 30 degree weather. All Boy.

Happy St. Nick's Day!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Crabby Cakes

It was a busy day!

We started the day off doing this:

and ended the day with this:

But as we prepared for the morning event and time ticked menacingly close to party time and Mommy needed a shower - bad - I turned into Crabby Mommy. You know the one? Have you been her too? I sure don't mean to be. I tend to wake in the morning resembling a tossled but relatively Happy Mommy. I mean, give me a coffee and look at all the things I can do - lick snowflakes from the sky, shine a flashlight on mossy mold and all! Yet, Crabby Mommy swoops in to ruin the pristine childhood memory-making, cookie-decorating party scene. I left a message for Becky tonite asking if God allows childhood amnesia for those Crabby Mommy moments. How, really, do you balance the necessary with ... the necessary?

Monday, December 1, 2008

If You Give a Mom a Mocha

If you give a mom a Mocha at 7AM, she'll have the kids dressed and fed on time. And then, she'll return home from the daily drop-off line and throw a load of laundry in.

On her way back up from the laundry room, she'll see the toys on the floor and bend down to straighten them. In the midst of picking up, she'll take a phone call and run upstairs for a pen. Talking on the phone will remind her that she needs to schedule her daughter's appointment by 10:00. She'll be on hold on the doctor's line until then.

While waiting on the line, she'll throw her second load in. She'll open up the garage door and wheel out the garbage bin. Taking out the trash, she'll notice snowflakes falling to the ground. She'll cradle the phone on one shoulder and her son on her hip. She'll take him out barefoot to catch snowflakes with their lips.

She'll come back inside to find the dogs have captured the baby' binky. She'll holler and yell and give them commands like crazy. Realizing her technique isn't working, she'll train them correctly, instead. With jubilation that the puppies are fixed, she'll let them outside and catch a glimpse of the clock. Now calling her son to be dressed to his shoes, she'll race to the van to gather her daughter from school.

The doctor will say all is fine. All is good. So it's off to McDonald's to get the kids some food. And back to the school she'll deliver her dear. And back home she'll return, glad that naptime is near.

As she gathers the young ones and brings them inside, she'll notice the trees by the door have no lights. She'll come back to the basement to find extension cords. But soon she'll remember she has all of those loads. She'll remove one from the dryer and one from the wash. She'll toss the cords in the basket and bring them all up at once.

Out on the porch in just stocking feet, she'll arrange the tree branches, spraying on touches of snow. She'll open the door to see dogs peeing on the floor. She'll shoo them outside and grab up the spray. Cleaning the floors wasn't on the list of to dos today.

She'll take another call and sit down to send email. The baby will cry and pull at her diaper. She'll sigh and turn on TV for a break. Changing the baby, she will then take and put her to bed with the middle one in tow. "Go back and watch TV. It's your favorite show."

She'll sit down beside him and fold while he watches. And together, they'll climb down the stairs for more boxes of clothes. A total of 7 for the day. Loads go down dirty but they don't stay that way.

Same goes for toy rooms. At once such a clutter, together the two will make less of the matter. She'll clean and he'll play and take out what she picks up. And soon they will notice the time on the clock.

Out the door they will run up to the bus stop. To gather the children and one extra for sup. "Mom," he will say, "my vocab test isn't today. But the day after tomorrow, so after we pray at dinner, can we practice the words?" He wants to learn all of them, not just a third.

She'll begin to drill him while she makes them their meal. Daddy won't be home for a while it feels. "Mommy," she says, "I need paper bags. Tomorrow we're doing cave art with Miss Mims." So she'll gather the children and overdue books. She'll take them to the library and then off to Schnuck's.

Upon returning home, she'll go back outside with the oldest. To show him the 'mold' growing from the tallest of trees. (A vocab word, you see.) "It's moss," Dad will say and she'll silently count to three. Off she will go into the cold night to find 'rust.' Hands-on learning while cramming for tests is a must.

When finally the kids are all off to bed, she'll sit down to the computer before resting her head. She'll sip of the wine that's been awaiting her since six. She'll smile and remember her early morning fix. Tomorrow reveals much of the same. It's called the stay-at-home mommy game.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Christmastime is full of tradition. Tradition for me includes trimming our tree each year - usually the weekend after Thanksgiving, much like my mom did when I was a child. I tend to decorate my tree much like my mom did when I was little, as well. I particularly follow her tradition of using strands of silver tinsel. Perhaps one day my kids will also purchase a coveted 12 foot rope of shiny silver garland to adorn their own trees on the weekend after Thanksgiving, much like me - their mom. Or, maybe they will stray from tradition and decorate before Thanksgiving as I did this year. Maybe, too, they will forget to place the tinsel on the tree as their kids cheerfully toss tissue paper aside to reveal ornament after precious ornament in their own collection boxes, and the kids will begin piling their ornaments onto the tree before all the pre-ornament decromentation has fully occurred (like the tinsel), as I did this year. And then, when Thanksgiving ends and they all sit merrily around watching the lights sparkle, perhaps their own Sass will say, "Mom, when are we putting the tinsel on the tree?" And everyone will realize we missed a step. And it won't matter. Because the tree is beautiful this year just as it is. Chock-full of character ornaments left over the years by St. Nick on his special day, and handmade ornaments brought home from preschool, and bits of paper with strings lovingly tied to hang on branches because the older siblings have more ornaments than the younger ones, but the younger ones still want to keep decorating with the older ones... And then, in the back of the heavily decorated, slightly jaunty tree which leans towards the side that all the kids can reach and will see from their perch on the couch, I place my own little collection. Mom's special ornaments. They include these...

given to me by my mom, a Precious Moments angel flutist - with the instrument's end broken - she now plays a piccolo (I paid for much of college on a piccolo scholarship - bet you didn't know that about me!!!)

a snowflake crocheted by my paternal grandmother and given to me as a child

my mom's Santa from an era when paint was in short supply for nonessential things like ornaments - being used, instead, for planes and other matters of national safety

an ornament from my father's tree from my childhood

the ornament we bought at the Grand Canyon after becoming engaged

the ornament I bought in 2002 to ring in a new year - the same kind hung on a tree in the hospital where Pookie spent much of her first year of life

There are many more. Yet, these are a few of the ones who shine a little brighter, are hung a little higher - there on the back of the tree, where the little ones can't reach. In their special place of honor. Hanging with them, the memories of Christmases past, this present Christmas, and those Christmases to come.

God Bless you in this Holiest of Seasons.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pack Rat, Anyone?

I've shared that a GIGANTIC organization frenzy is gripping me and my house right now, right? I mean, the closet's still clean, the 7 year-old's under-the-bed area is spotless, the toyroom shelf remains unhindered with abundance (well, at least one out of the 12 of them...). But, Readers, tonite I have realized something previously unknown about myself.

I. am. a. photographic. pack rat.

We are blessed in our little house to have ample amounts of storage in our basement, as seen here:

Doesn't it look all nice? I mean, had you seen it Saturday, you couldn't see the floor in front of the shelves because the shelves had exploded from the very edges of every plywood sheet and onto the floor! Seriously? The stuff on that shelf as of Saturday filled TWO ROOMS in our basement when we removed it for a very necessary cleaning! And now I am faced with the task of putting it all away (after ridding ourselves of - hopefully - at least some of it).
But here's what I've discovered as I'm returning the best things and purging the rest of the things.
...I like to take pictures.
Now that's a revelation.
But, apparently, about the time I started having kids, I stopped scrapbooking. Prior to kids, I completed 19 scrapbooks - and they are all tenderly placed back onto those freshly painted shelves. But what about all these pictures? (And that doesn't even COUNT the ones since the digital age...!!!)

My goal for this school year has been to organize my little home enough that, come February/March when we're all going a little stir-crazy from winter and we're needing to spread our wings a little, my family doesn't go through it's now-annual ritual of looking to buy a bigger house. My goal has been to make this house work for us. Bigger families have lived in smaller houses! We should be able to stay here - for at least a few more years.
This weekend, we took a major step in accomplishing these enumerated goals of mine. It looks realistically like I will be able to accomplish my major organization rehab by New Year's. My adjusted goal for the remainder of the school year will be taming the Picture-Taking Beast.
Obviously, that means my picture piles -not me.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


What makes a mother go from wringing her hands and wildly flinging unused and unwanted(?!) toys from under her 7 year-old sass-pant's bed to feeling the peace and awe of the miraculous season that is just days from descending upon us?



And this:

And the house is becoming more organized by the bed - and by the hall and by the basement and...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Purge before the Binge

I have been instructed by my sweet husband to clean the toyroom before we can invite new toys into our home this Christmas season.

You see, in theory, I don't have a problem with that. After-all, this is what part (or the majority - whichever) of our toy room looks like...

(Seriously. Who keeps it more 'real' than that?)

However, there's a little story I'd like to share with you about my Pookie. At one time, she was very attached to a cute little pink dog she'd received as a gift as a newborn. Under most circumstances, giving this miniature woof-woof a new home would not have been a problem. Pookie would have been none the wiser - she was, as it were, a baby at the time. Though I am often astounded by my children's memories - beloved stuffed pets from infancy don't seem likely to transcend the depths of their "Remembory Mind," as they call it. Yet, perhaps I do not give them credit. As, their mother (me) enjoys photography. And has been known to snap evidence, shall we call it, such as these:

So that, on the day Pookie reviews her baby book and happens upon these photos, with her somewhat obsessive 7 year-old passion for stuffed animals, she wonders where this cute little canine has gone. To her dismay - and mine - I chose to be honest. "We gave it away." And then commenced the afternoon of crying. Seriously. Hours. Howling better describes what ensued. Which might explain why, when my husband encourages me to clean the toy room up/out before Christmas, I hesitate, knowing the tears - or the lies - that destiny will bring me.

Nonetheless, he is right, of course. And much of our basement chaos MUST be uncluttered before Jesus' blessed birthday celebration, or we will be unable to dig out. And blog posts will be written from under 20 feet of Build-a-Bear wares...and Mickey Mouses.

Alas. Now that shelf looks like this:

And I've invested in a ear plugs.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mickey Mouser

This is Benn.

Benn is a good cat.

Evidently, Benn is not a good mouser.
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