Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas celebrations

We had a lovely Christmas. It was the first time in 11 years of marriage that we celebrated here in Memphis. I love visiting our families over the holidays, but something about celebrating Christmas in our home was really lovely. 

On Christmas Eve, we headed to church. We went to a family service (which the girls loved) and then stayed for the communion and candlelight service. Both services were great.

In my family, we always opened gifts from each other on Christmas Eve. So that's what we did when we got home from church.

Peter is shocked... It's pants and a top - not a dress!

Play food!

I thought this game would occupy Caroline for days. She had plowed through over half the puzzles in a little over an hour. Smartie pants.

Caroline is the best gift opener. She is so excited over even the tiniest things. It's really fun to watch.

This one is pretty excited over presents, too. She and Caroline both got scooters from us. She was thrilled and couldn't wait for Daddy to get the box open so she could ride it.

We fed the reindeer.

And Santa came! He brought bean bag chairs, Fur Real kitties, slippers, and stockings full of little fun things. It was "wunnerful", as Helen said.

Santa even found some little things to make Peter happy.

We headed out Christmas Day afternoon to spend some time with my family. This is my dad, my mom, K and me, Erin and her husband, and all the kids - Lila, Danielle, Ian, Helen, Caroline, Autumn, and Peter. Whew! It can get pretty crazy at times.

It was so fun to watch all the kids opening their gifts. Kind of controlled chaos.

After Erin and her crew left, these two decided it was time for a bedtime snack. Ham. Of course. Doesn't everyone eat a few pieces of ham when they're hungry before bed?

Yes, that's my 5-month-old baby, who still prefers to be swaddled at night. It took quite a bit of convincing to get everyone settled down for the night. It was an exciting, fun Christmas!

We headed out Tuesday morning for Kevin's parents to celebrate with them. Caroline has the pictures from that celebration on her camera, so I'll have to figure that out and update this post with those pictures. 

It was a very, very lovely Christmas!
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Peter: 5 months

Oh, baby boy...your smile makes my heart sing. I want to do nothing but make you smile all day long. I have a gigantic soft spot reserved specifically for you. Everyone told me there was something special about little boys and their mommies. It's so true. Happy 5 months, sweet Peter!

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The 12 Days of Christmas

Caroline learned the motions in music class at school. We've done this at least once every day since. One of my favorite things about the video is how Helen is in her own little world, doing her own little thing. So typical Helen...

Friday, December 23, 2011


Caroline came home with a paper from school that asked her what her favorite thing to do at Christmas was. She had written, "Make Christmas cookies." I immediately rethought my "no baking" declaration. Luckily, I have a super-easy sugar cookie recipe and I always have all the ingredients to make them.

We had a good time making cookies and then decorating them the next day!

My favorite thing about this recipe is that the dough doesn't have to be chilled. If I'm going to make cookies, I want to roll them out, use cookie cutters, and bake them right then! It's from Southern Living several years ago and I can't find the recipe online anymore. The frosting is a must!

No-Chill Cut Out Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder

Cream together butter and sugar. Add egg, vanilla. Mix. Sift together flour and baking powder. Gradually add to butter mixture and blend well. Form dough into a smooth ball. Roll out on a lightly floured surface (1/4-1/8" thick). Cut out with cookie cutters. Bake at 400 degrees for 6 minutes on ungreased cookie sheet. Cool and decorate.

Vanilla Frosting

2 cups powdered sugar
1 T melted butter
3 T milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract

Mix until smooth. Color if desired. (I love almond flavoring, so most of the time I use 2 tsp of almond extract and no vanilla extract.)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Happy boy

I just had to post something more upbeat. So here's my sweet, smiley Peter...

This, too, shall pass

I wish I had a post filled with all the fun December happenings and projects and baking we've got going on. But life around here looks a lot more like this these days:

That's one very feverish little girl. Peter was only a little bit sniffly here. Helen was febrile for a full week. She got better and then Daddy was sick for a few days. I was hopeful that the rest of us had escaped, but Caroline is now running a fever. Peter and I are the only ones left. I'm waiting for the next victim.

I'm exhausted. I called a good friend whose children are mostly grown. I'm sometimes reluctant to reach out in need of advice, but I needed her shoulder and I really needed her perspective. She did not disappoint. She reminded me to look for tiny blessings, to make lemonade out of lemons, as she puts it. This a chance for pajama days and movies with popcorn, an excuse to decline social obligations and take care of all of us (myself included), an opportunity to really be with my littles and enjoy them. And perhaps, she told me, the real blessing from this will come several years from now, when my children are mostly grown and I get a phone call from a young mom in a similar situation and I am reminded of how precious and fleeting these long days are.

I am taking my friend's advice. I'm giving myself a big ol' serving of grace and freeing myself from the expectations I had for baking and crafting and running around and partying. And I'm thankful for so much. Caroline was perfectly healthy until the afternoon after her last day of school. She would have been devastated to miss any of her performances or parties. (I need to post about some of those things next - much more upbeat and fun.) Helen is back to her crazy self. Peter is so soft and snuggly and smiley. They are healthy, despite little fever viruses. The Christmas tree is decorated and Christmas TV shows abound. Christmas cards keep coming in the mail. I love Christmas card season. Helen calls says the nativity angels are fairies. I had the most wonderful conversation with Caroline this morning about Jesus's birth - the coming of our Redeemer.

I keep hearing my grandmother's voice telling me, "This, too, shall pass." And I know it will.