Faith, Family, Friends, Fellowship, Food, and Fun

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Just Wondering

Do you have any New Year's traditions?
Do you eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Day?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas 2008

Pictures will be posted ASAP!

We managed to have a wonderful 1st planned Christmas at home. Last year my parents came here because Abby was less than a week old. In all years before, Christmas Eve was spent with my parents and Christmas Day we'd go to my uncle's for the BIG family get-together. Even though Stephen and I have only been married 5 years, he too looked forward to this get-together after just the first one. All my aunts and uncles would come and most of my 8 cousins plus their spouses and children. The table would be filled with Christmas goodies, there were plenty of Christmas 'spirits' and music would be playing. Everyone would mingle and visit until it was time for the kids to open their gifts. Many years ago we would all bring our instruments and play Christmas carols. I was disappointed that we couldn't make it last year. Little did I know that we would not continue this tradition this year. When I finally accepted that no one was going to have the big family party, I started planning new traditions of our own. I can only hope that one day my home will be the one that my family looks forward to coming to for Christmas.

Christmas Eve was busier than I had planned. We decided to go to 7:30 mass instead of 5:00 because believe it or not, Lauren naps until 5:00 and she'd probably sleep longer if we didn't wake her up. I just didn't see how we would be able to unwrap presents, eat breakfast, get dressed, and be out the door for mass on Christmas Day. We had dinner at 6:00 and left by 7:00 to get a good seat. The kids didn't make it through half the mass so we took our places in the Narthex and I hate to admit it, but we left after communion. It was already 8:40 and we still had much to do before putting the kids to bed. We finished decorating Santa's cookies, we made reindeer food, and we read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. Next year I'd like to watch The Polar Express. The kids were in bed by 10, Stephen and I stayed up until almost 1 making sure everything would be perfect Christmas morning.

It was so nice not being rushed to get dressed and get out the door. We didn't even change clothes. We just let the kids unwrap and play with their toys all day long. I'm not sure what it is but it brings us so much joy to watch the kids open each and every present. Their reactions and the looks on their faces are priceless. We enjoy watching them play with their gifts throughout the year and remember who gave it to them.

We went up to Fort Worth on the 26th to see our parents.

The 27th was spent with Stephen's family and I was thrilled to see Lauren, Caleb, and Abby play with their big cousins.

The 28th we went to see my aunt and uncle. My cousin, Nick, was actually home from overseas and I actually got to visit with his girlfriend. The kids made up their own games in the backyard and collected pinecones. At one point Lauren hugged the enormous pine tree and shook with all her might to see if she could get anymore pinecones to fall.

Each day that we were there, we called IKEA in Frisco to see if our baskets were in. Each day they were not. See, back in June we rented a trailer and went to IKEA in Round Rock (2 hours away) to get our shelving units plus 10 baskets. We went back in July to get more baskets but when we got there, they were out!

Late Sunday night the IKEA gods must have heard my pleas because when we checked online, more baskets had come in. So we took a 45 minute detour north before coming home yesterday. We even found some nice sturdy shelves to hang above the fridge for more storage. And I am one happy momma that got to reorganize all the kids toys in the playroom today! That means that tomorrow I'll be bringing up all the new toys from the living room and we'll be reorganizing the living room. Then we'll make our way to the kitchen and hopefully I'll have one organized house before Abby's birthday party on Saturday. Then I'll get to start all over!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Gingerbread Houses

Last year a good friend at work told me that when her 4 kids were little, she would spend the day after Thanksgiving planning out 25 days of Christmas fun to do with her children in December. I thought that was a fabulous idea so I made a list of my own. This year I added making a Gingerbread House with my kids. I was surprised at how well they both did. The only thing I had to do to help was hold the house still so it didn't slide as they were pressing the candy in. Caleb concentrated until it was all done. He told me I had to add "snow" all around the ground. Looks like he will be just as detail oriented as his big sister.

Adventures in Jean Shopping part 2

I have jeans! More than one pair and more to come! I went to Steinmart to buy the jeans that my friend, Lily, got her butt compliments in. I didn't find those jeans but I liked some Nine West and bought them. When I got home, Lily called and said she had just gotten a Steinmart coupon for $10 off any purchase of $50 in her email and she sent it to me. So I couldn't wear my jeans until I took them back. Which was yesterday. Meanwhile, I checked out a few other places and was surprised to find that I could wear a smaller size in all the different brands I tried on at Steinmart. As a matter of fact, I didn't have to shop in the Women's section there, but I did at the other stores. Who wants to buy a bigger size? When I went back to Stein Mart yesterday, I found the good lookin' butt jeans so I got those. I had my weekly shower this morning (just kiddin' about that, I shower at least twice a week) and put on my new jeans and new shirt, styled my freshly cut hair, and thought I was lookin' pretty good so I even put on make-up. All before 9:00.

I am not finished jean shopping. I still have more wonderful ideas from my bloggy friends AND my dad might get me some too. My dad always asks us for a wish list so he doesn't get us something we already have. He likes to buy us something we wouldn't buy for ourselves.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

One today

My sweet Abby is one today!

Here is what we were doing this time last year. What a precious little girl she is. She has been on her feet for a few months but suprisingly hasn't started to walk yet. She just learned how to go down the stairs. She doesn't have any teeth but sure can chew off bits of pizza crust. She loves to wave and say, "bye-bye." She loves to pat her brother and sister on the head and if they get close enough to her in the bathtub, she'll reach over and scrub their backs, it's so cute. She even tries to wash herself with the washcloth. She loves to lay her head on daddy and me as well as cuddle her dolls up to her face and give everyone sweet OPEN-MOUTH kisses. Yummy! If she finds a hairbow, she tries to stick it in her own hair. When she gets ahold of a comb, she tries to comb her sister or brother's hair. It'a amazing what she has learned in one short year.

What I love most these days is to see how her big brother and sister take care of her and even let her play their big kid games. I look forward to watching them all grow and play together. It's amazing how much love children can bring into our lives.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Finally- Pictures from last week's snow

Woo Hoo

I am going shopping tonight and armed with great information from you all about where to get the best jeans and for the best prices. I am not sure if I'll have time to go to every store with 3 small kids who will at some point insist on eating but I will hit Lane Bryant (yes Heather, my snowman shape is admittedly a voluptuous plus size), The Gap, Old Navy, Steinmart (suggested by my roommate after 2 co-workers told her that her butt looked good in her jeans- who doesn't like being told that?).

Speaking of jeans, I never mentioned my experience trying to return jeans to Motherhood about a month ago. I went in on a Sunday and the lady helped me find the right size and length. I wanted panel jeans, I love those, but I was quickly told that they don't make those anymore and the lady gave me the newest rave in jeans-whatever! They have that panel material all the way around and I could stretch it all the way up like a tube top. Isn't that a pretty picture? Would've saved money on the nursing bra I bought...can't wear a bra with a tube top. So I tried them on, bought them, and when I put them on a few days later, they would not stay up. I mean I was a cool, hot, saggin' mama. How on earth do those kids wear their pants like that?

I took them back within the 10 days that is not only stated on the receipt, but you have to initial that you understand their return policy. I told the same lady who sold me the jeans that they won't stay up. First she said maybe I got the wrong size and she asked what size I normally wear. Because I LOVE telling everyone what size I wear I told her I know I wear an XL, this is my 4th pregnancy in 5 years. She still insisted on asking me what size I wear when I am not pregnant. I told her as nicely as I could that I bought a size L with my first pregnancy and quickly found out that that was a mistake by my 6th month. I reiterated that I am a plus size. I SQUEEZE into a 16. I am sure that XL was the right size. Then she went on to add that everyone loves these jeans, only 3 people have returned them. So I told her that I am number 4! No, I didn't do that but it sure crossed my mind. She finally agreed to take them back and said she'd have to give me a gift card. Like yah, I know!

I won't be buying any sagging jeans tonight!

For those of you who have actually read this far, let me tell you about my exciting night last night. I thought it would be fun to crank up the Christmas tunes and make a little Christmas candy with the kids. So they pulled up some chairs to the mixer while I put Abby in her high chair. Lauren ran upstairs to get their chef's hats and aprons that Grandma gave them last Christmas. We all got into gear and started chopping the pecans. Next came the powdered sugar.
Oh yes, can you see it now? And the housecleaner was just there 4 hours before. By the way, don't try to clean up powdered sugar with a wet sponge. Then you get icing!

Then as I went into the pantry to throw the trash away, I saw Caleb grabbing an ornament. A breakable ornament. It was on the floor in a million pieces before I could turn around. So I carried Lauren and Caleb out of the kitchen and set the gate up so I could sweep, sweep again, sweep with the sweeper, and mop the area. The kids knocked the gate down and started dancing on it. Oh yes, Mommy was not having as much fun as the kids were, that's for sure. I got them all upstairs for a bath. They bathe in our tub, it's bigger and taller. Abby is in a safety seat at the back of the tub and Lauren and Caleb play closer to the front of the tub. I ran to get everyone's jammies but heard Lauren screaming for me. She was screaming Abby's name too. When I got into the bathroom, Lauren was trying to pick Abby up out of the water, they had knocked her seat over while trying to "swim". Lauren started crying and saying she was sorry and she didn't want Abby to go to Heaven. So I calmed the situation down and took Abby into our room to dress her. Then I heard Caleb crying. For crying out loud, what could it be now? He was standing in the tub with blood dripping from his mouth and 2 nicely cut marks in his bottom lip. So I put Abby down and let her cry, got Caleb out, and the rest is just a blur. Somehow I managed to get them all dressed, teeth brushed, and into bed without anything else breaking or anyone else getting hurt. We do have fun at our house.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Another 'Just Wondering'

These last 12 days of school, we were given the gift of wearing jeans. That's a big deal for teachers. Except, I don't really have jeans. I've been waiting to "lose weight" and fit into a smaller size, ha ha ha. Well, I do have 2 pair of maternity jeans and one pair of jeans that I've had for at least 7 years. They are a bit tight...I've had 3 babies since they fit me right. My how the curves just shift around with each pregnancy. Ya know how people say they are shaped like a pear or an apple? Not me honey, uh-uh, I am a snowman!

So the old jeans are starting to ware around the pockets and seams, but I am wearing them today anyway. The only other pair of jeans I have are capri...and flare (or is it flair?) at the bottom. Okay fashion police, I need your help.

How many pairs of jeans do you have? Where do you buy them?

While we're on the subject of clothes, how about shoes? I've never been a woman who ooed and ahhhhed over shoes. Give me some sandals that match everything and I'm happy. I mostly have open-toed or open-heeled shoes because 9 out of 12 months it is warm in this town. I can't justify spending a lot of money on shoes that I'll wear for less than 3 months. But my feet are cold! Are you a shoe freak? Do you have lots of shoes that are the same color? Or do you survive on a good ol' pair of sneakers?

Just wondering!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Just wondering

Last year my parents came here for Christmas because our sweet Abby was only a few days old. Mom arrived on the 19th to watch Lauren and Caleb while we were in the hospital.

Like most of our mothers, she started asking why I do certain things the way I do. For example, when she arrived, I started putting the gifts she brought under the tree. She told me I should wait until Christmas morning so it would REALLY look like Santa had been there. Okay, that DID sound like a good idea.

Then, she insisted that we put some unwrapped presents under the tree. I just found that odd, except for the exceptionally large gifts of course.

So it got me to thinkin', anyone else out there put unwrapped gifts under the tree?

Monday, December 15, 2008

New recipes

If you haven't been to Aggieland Mommy Cooks lately, stop by for some fabulous Christmas sweets recipes. I am trying to post new recipes daily so return often. Also, I still have recipes on this blog that I haven't had time to transfer.

The Twilight Zone

Things have been pretty strange here lately. For example, yesterday morning when I blew my nose, there was black in the tissue. When the kids woke up, I noticed they all had a little soot inside their noses. Stephen too. Even the WHITE dog had a tinge of black on her fur and she spends most of the time under the bed. Then I noticed this soot covered the baby gate downstairs as well as upstairs. And Abby's toys downstairs. The only explanation I have is that we lit a different candle in our room and let it burn all day. Isn't that gross? Will I ever wipe away all the soot?

So you know that we had record snow here in Aggieland last Wednesday. Then we were again wearing our shorts Saturday and Sunday. Last night I was even tempted to run the air conditioner again. This morning I woke, dressed for warm weather, ran out to the van for my make-up, and quickly ran back inside to change clothes. The temperature was 34 degrees and the wind chill was less than 30! That's pure craziness right there.

And not so much Twilight Zone strange but Aggieland strange...the college students are gone and I made it to work in less than 10 minutes! Wow. I really liked that since I slept late and it should have taken me closer to 20 minutes to get here.

Sincere gratitude

When Stephen and I moved to College Station, we knew we were leaving a huge support system behind. We were both born and raised in Fort Worth and had years of involvement in our jobs and churches. I do miss all the get-togethers our friends have back at home but Stephen and I have agreed that College Station is the place for our family and just in the passed 2 years, we have even started to make new friends. Friends from church, dance class, and work. Friends with the same beliefs and values that we have. Friends whose children we want our children to grow up with. We don't get together as often as I'd like but that's what happens when you have small children with crazy schedules.

I had no idea that we had such a wonderful support system here until I needed help last week. I just can't tell you all how grateful Stephen and I are for the friends who put their own routines and schedules aside to volunteer to watch our children. All 3 of them! It's not easy for us and we know it wouldn't have been easy for our friends with small ones of their own. We were blessed with prayers, phone calls, and email sent from friends we've known for awhile and blogger friends we've never met before. I can't explain the peace it gave me to know that we were not alone and that we DO have a support system here after all.

Thank you does not seem to encompass what my heart is feeling but THANK YOU friends! Your love was felt and we have been comforted.

Peace and blessings to you and your family this joyous Christmas Season!

With love,
Stephen and Stephanie

Friday, December 12, 2008

To Post or Not To Post

I have been trying to decide whether or not to write about this topic since Tuesday. So I asked myself, why do we post our thoughts on blogs? Well, sometimes we post to share celebrations with friends or family who live far away. Sometimes we post to vent. Sometimes we post to inform. Somtimes we post to share our experiences. That's what this post is.

In October Stephen and I found out that we were expecting another baby. Since our youngest will be one on December 20, we were surprised at first and then overjoyed because we knew we wanted 4 and we knew we wanted them somewhat close in age. We want to take family trips when the youngest is old enough to enjoy them so being pregnant so soon meant we could start those family trips sooner. It also meant that we would both go back to work full-time sooner. So...we became very excited. We told Lauren (our 4 year old) and she quickly asked questions about "new baby." She knew that Mommy was tired a lot because of new baby. She must remember what "new baby" means from my pregnancy with Abby.

We decided not to tell ANYONE until Christmas and we were trying to find a way to make the announcement fun.

Last Tuesday was my first appointment with my doctor. When she started the sonogram, I immediately noticed that the sac was empty. There was a tiny spec at the top and the doctor said it probably was a blighted ovum. I was 12 weeks along. The doctor told me that as a precaution, she wanted to do bloodwork immediately and repeat it the next day to make certain that my HCG levels were going down. She said I would receive a call at that time giving me hospital instructions for a D&C on Friday. I started thinking about who would care for the kids while I was in the hospital. Then I had to face the fact that my mom would have come down immediately if she hadn't passed away in April and the tears started falling. All of my stay-at-home-mom friends have very young children of their own so I thought maybe I should find a different home for each of my kids. I always feel like I am burdening others, that's just the way I am. I could only think of 2 moms and they both answered immediately that they would help. Then one mom took her small ones to the doctor and was faced with an ear infection and I think bronchitis. I sent out an SOS email to the moms in the mom's group at church. A co-worker mentioned that one of my old babysitters might be back in town because she is moving home. Her mom is a teacher at my school so I rushed over to ask her if Rachel was back in town. She said Rachel was coming back over the weekend but she would call her and see if she could come in to help out. She left a message and said she'd let me know ASAP.

Back in my classroom, I received an email from E, the mom who was watching Lauren. Without hesitation, said she'd watch all 3. Now, I have no doubt that she could do the job but I just couldn't imagine her taking care of her 3 and 4 year old boys, 18 month old daughter, and my 3, and NOT go insane! Seriously, picture 6 children aged 4 and under running amuk, oh, the possibilities. Also, it hit me that we'd have to wake the kids up early and then my friend, E, would have to wake up early as well. I I didn't think it would happen but if Rachel could come into town, that would probably be best for all.

All of this was going on yesterday while I still had not heard from my doctor's office. That's a story for another post! Grrr!

At 2:30, my co-worker called and said her daughter would drive in right after work and be here at whatever time we needed her. How amazing is that? We realize how much people care when we are in times of need.

This morning we were at the hospital at 7:00. The paperwork and EKG took an hour and a half. Then they took me to pre-op, told me to change, and left me there all alone. Then it hit me...I was going to be put under. I could bleed out from this procedure, Yes, it is done all the time. Yes, many of my friends have had this done and some of them have had it done 2 or 3 times, but the thought of never seeing my children and husband again set in and the tears began to fall. After hooking up my IV, they let Stephen back in. They took me to the OR at around 8:40, gave me the "margarita cocktail" and I was out until 9:40. I talked my nurse's ear off and was released by 10:50. Once we returned home, Lauren asked me where we went. I told her the hospital. She immediately asked, "Did they take new baby out of your tummy?" So, after long thought, we told her that new baby did not grow and yes, they took new baby out of my tummy. And she saw all my band-aids and kissed every boo-boo and with tears in her eyes asked if it hurt.

I'm perfectly fine. I took a 2 hour nap and am headed out the door to buy an ornament for Lauren's dance class ornament gift exchange. Then we'll eat and go see Santa at Christmas in the Park. It has been an emotional week but I have closure and I am at peace knowing that our bodies were designed by The Ultimate Creator to release something that may not have developed normally. And for those of you who may not know, 1 out of 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Snow in Aggieland

*******Pictures to is at the house and I am at work********

I am serious. It not only snowed in Aggieland, but it actually stuck and there was enough to make snowmen. BIG snowmen, like when I was a kid in Fort Worth. When I woke up around 4 am yesterday, I could hear the sleet hitting the windows. It continued until I left for work. Then it melted.

At 3:00 I was walking from the main building out to my FREEZING cold portable- I'm serious, the heater was on all day and didn't ever make it to 68. Anyway, at 3:00 it starting sleeting again. When I left school at 3:15, it was heavier and seemed to be mixed with some snow. Now, you Northerners (Yankee cousins too) don't laugh because not only does Texas not get much snow, but we are talking Aggieland! South central Texas y'all!

The snow didn't stop. By 4:30 it was starting to accumulate. It just kept on snowing and snowing. The flakes got bigger and bigger. I held off as long as I could from waking Lauren up to show her. Then we all went into the girls' room where I put all the kids in the crib so they could watch the snow. It was so beautiful and peaceful. Some flakes were as big as cotton balls. The snow continued until almost 8:00. We had about 2 inches in our yard and on the roof.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas Survey

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? wrapping paper

2. Real tree or Artificial? artificial for now

3. When do you put up the tree? Day after Thanksgiving

4. When do you take the tree down? After the visit of the three wise men (January 6)

5. Do you like eggnog? Love it

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Baby Alive from my grandfather

7. Hardest person to buy for? My dad

8. Easiest person to buy for? My children

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Can't remember

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? The original Miracle on 34th Street

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? a few months before

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? No

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Homemade Candy

16. Lights on the tree? Yes, lots

17. Favorite Christmas song? I can't pick just one, I LOVE Christmas music

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Home this year for the first time.

19. Can you name all of Santa's Reindeer? Yep

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? A bow this year...long story

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas morning.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Not having enough time to get it all done

23. Favorite ornament theme or color? This year we have our own tree downstairs and it is red and green

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Turkey, stuffing, potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls, & lots of pies and candy.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? Haven't thought about it much

26. Who is most likely to respond to this? Everyone

27. Who is least likely to respond to this? who thought of this question anyway?

I am adding my own questions (SA)

28. Favorite coffee/creamer flavor? Pumpkin spice

29. Favorite pie? Bourbon Pecan Pie

30. Do you attend Christmas services/mass? Yes

31. Favorite Christmas candle scent? Apple cinnamon but it gives me migraines so we have candy cane right now.

32. What do you do on Christmas Eve? Last year we tracked Santa on the internet, made Santa's cookies and reindeer food. Then my mom read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas right before we put the kids to bed. A memory I will always treasure now that she is gone.
33. Do you have an Advent Wreath in your home? Yes

34. Have you already sent your Christmas cards? Yes-amazingly

35. Do you hang lights on your home? Yes

36. Favorite school memories: All the fun arts and crafts, especially those with glitter and sequins

37. Favorite memory: When I was a little girl we always spent Christmas Eve at my grandmother's. We went to midnight mass, opened one gift, and went to bed in anticipation of Santa. I remember hearing sleigh bells after mass and one year as Uncle Chris was tucking my cousins and I into bed, he showed us Rudolph's nose (the light on top of the water tower). I hope to make Christmas memorable for my kids like they were for me!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

5 Wonderful Years

July 4, 2003 5 years and many pounds ago!
2005 Pregnant with Caleb 2006
2007 Pregnant with Abby. Anyone starting to see a trend?

That's right, it's my fifth anniversary. For those of you who don't know, I met my husband in a car accident on March 26, 2003. If you really need help getting to sleep, you can read the story here. We were engaged on June 1. We were married on December 6. We had our first baby on August 24, 2004. Hey, that's really rude of you to "do the math." Lauren was 5 1/2 weeks early by the way. Her due date was September 29 for those of you who must know.

We were so blessed in the past to have my mom in town so we could go out for an anniversary dinner but Mom passed away in April. It just so happens that our trip to see The Polar Express happened to fall on our anniversary weekend and we will be with the people who best know our children. So they have graciously offered to watch the kids so Stephen and I can celebrate alone.

We've been through so much in 5 short years. It's amazing that we already have 3 children. Who knows, maybe we'll have another one next year ;) Stephen has changed his jobs/work schedules so we could be at home with our kids at all times. He started out with a normal 8-5 job, went to working nights and weekends, then went to working 3 am-7 am and is now working 4 pm-9pm. That has to be hard on a body.

Even though we don't get to see each other much right now, we are a team. It takes a team to raise 3 small children WELL. I am blessed that Stephen is a great dad who not only takes care of our 3 little ones, but he also runs a business from home and takes classes online. Not many men could do that. Not many men WOULD do that. I feel we are so blessed to be watching every minute of our childrens' lives and molding them along the way. He is a great husband too. We have always liked to do everything together. Yup, even shopping. He helps with housework and brings me my super cold water each night before bed. I am blessed to be married to my husband and I look forward to all the changes we will face in the future. Happy Anniversary, Honey. I love you!

Friday, December 5, 2008

All Aboard!

This is where we'll be tonight! I am so excited. Besides being a much-needed get away for us all, I have loved the story of The Polar Express since long before the movie came out. I am a teacher and on the last day of school before Christmas Vacation, my class always wore our jammies and I would play the tape while I showed the students this book. It came with a bell which I would hide in my pocket and ring at the end. It is just a magical story and I have to admit that for some reason, there would always be a tear in my eye at the end.

When the movie came out, we bought it right away and it quickly became Lauren's favorite. That's all she wanted to watch. For months! Last year Caleb was old enough to catch the Polar Express fever and we've purposely kept it hidden until tonight. We have not even told them we are going. Kids are encouraged to wear their pajamas but Stephen and I are wearing ours too. So are my aunt and uncle, they are meeting us there. That adds to the excitement. We are very close to Aunt Joanie and Uncle Paul and the kids have a wonderful time with them. They were the first ones to take our kids in a car. We never worry when the kids are with them. We only wish they lived closer!

After the PE ride, we are going back to their house for the weekend. They have an indoor pool which the kids will love. Stephen and I even get to have some private time to go out and celebrate our 5th anniversary tomorrow night. I just can't wait!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I outran the PO-leece

I can not believe I did it but it's true.
Yesterday I left the messy house behind, loaded up the kids and ventured out to find Stephen an anniversary gift. Saturday we will be celebrating 5 years together. For my local readers, I will use street names...just so you'll know where NOT to speed. I was headed North on Wellborn Road when I passed a DPS officer. This was only the 2nd time I had passed any authority since we moved to the house 7 months ago. I looked at my speed and noticed I was going 65. The speed limit is 55. I checked my rearview mirror and realized it wasn't red Christmas lights on the officers tail ma'am. They were brake lights. He was ready to spin around and come after me. I had a little time on my side because of all the traffic, he couldn't turn around. So what did I do? Did I keep going and wait for him to come after me? No way! I turned right on Barron Road and hurried to the next street where I took another right, realized it was a cul-de-sac, went to the end, parked, and turned off my lights. Yup, that's what all 36 year-old moms with 3 little ones would have done, right?

Lauren asked, "Mommy, why are we here?"
Hmm. "Well, because Mommy was going too fast. Oh, look at those pretty Christmas lights."
Thank goodness that ended that conversation.

And we made it out without a ticket. Whew!

We found an anniversary gift. A table saw. It wasn't exactly what I had in mind but I knew he wanted it so I bought it. Besides, traditional for 5 years is 'wood' and it cuts wood so it works for me! I convinced Lauren to keep it a secret. Then I realized I had another problem on my hands. I couldn't lift it. Which meant it was going to sit in the back of the van until Stephen had to go somewhere today. So after he got home from work, I told him he could have his gift early. Besides, we are going out of town tomorrow and there's no sense in it taking up all that space in the van. He brought it in the house and followed my strict orders not to open it until after the housekeeper had come.

This morning when Lauren got up (I was already at work), she started saying, "Oh no, Daddy! Oh no! You're not supposed to see that" (as she pointed to the table saw box in the living room).
She did a good job with her secret I'd say.
The Things Kids Say:
Sunday School was cancelled last week due to the Thanksgiving holiday. When we told Lauren that she didn't have class, she started crying and said, "Oh no! Who will teach me about Jesus?" It was really sweet. We're proud of our girl and her thirst for knowledge about our Lord.
The other night I was reading our new Christmas story about The First Christmas. We got to the part where they placed Jesus in the manger. The book explained that a manger is a place where they put animals' food and Lauren asked, "Will they eat baby Jesus in the manger?" And if you think about it, that really is a good question.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


A few months ago we found this book at the Christian store in our mall. I have incorporated it into our bedtime routine and while I don't think the kids understand much right now, it is also a way to make myself take a few minutes in my busy day to reflect on the true meaning of the season of Advent. It has scriptures, prayers, and stories for each day of Advent. There are also craft ideas. It is just one of many things I plan on doing together as a family in preparation for the coming of our Lord.

We have the Advent wreath set up on the dining room table but haven't found the candles yet.

We buy a new children's book each year and I let the kids pick which one they want me to read to them. This is what we have so far.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Our Christmas Pictures

Well, here they are, our 2008 Christmas Pictures. The quality isn't that great because I took the images off the photographers' website and of course they don't want you to be able to print your own. We're pretty pleased with how they turned out considering the wrestling match that went down with our sweet Caleb. He will not sit still for pictures. If you look in his hand you will see of my bribery ploys that worked for maybe 3 seconds. In all of the family pictures, Stephen was wrestling with Caleb. I even had to throw my hair behind my shoulder because he kept grabbing it.

We were so proud of Lauren. We really practiced smiling before arriving because at our last session, she would not hold her smile long enough for the picture. We would get her to laugh and she'd laugh so dramatically that she'd throw her whole head back. Doesn't she look like such a big girl?

Don't let this picture fool ya. There is no innocence in this boy!

Abby was the best of all if you can believe that. I was disappointed that they didn't take more shots but I know that they were behind schedule because of Caleb so we'll take her back for her official 1 year pictures later this month.

Monday, December 1, 2008

5 Days Wasn't Enough

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We sure did. Just like most of you, we had a list of things to get done on our 5 day holiday.
Wednesday we started out looking for matching clothes for our Christmas pictures. Note to self: next year start in October. We went to Target, Kohl's, and the mall. We also made it to my favorite store, Hobby Lobby, to buy ornaments for a new tree. The kids are getting their own tree and we have another tree downstairs which we decided to decorate in red and green. We were so busy that the pies didn't get made and the laundry wasn't touched.

Thursday was the most easy going of all. We stayed in our jammies while I prepped the stuffing, casserole, rolls, mashed potatoes, and turkey. Oh the turkey. It was still frozen! We put it in the fridge Monday morning. Another note to self: put turkey in fridge Sunday. I gave the turkey a cold water bath until Mr. Bird came to the right temperature. Then I gave him a nice rub down with the herbed butter I made on Wednesday. I even got under his skin a little. Then I stuffed him with an onion, pressed garlic, and some sage and rosemary I found growing at the school where I teach. We watched the Cowboy game and then we watched the Aggies. We knew it wasn't gonna be pretty to watch but Aggies are dedicated to our team, win or lose. The turkey dinner was later than planned but so yummy. I was shocked that Lauren loved everything except the green bean casserole. She ate as much cranberry sauce as we'd give her.

Friday we were back out the door first thing. We started out dropping off a meal at a friend's house. She had a baby Thanksgiving morning. Then we continued looking for a shirt for Caleb and more ornaments at Hobby Lobby since they were half off. How many ornaments does it take to decorate a new tree? We left early in the morning and kept the kids out til they were napping in their carseats. Stephen had already put away all the Thanksgiving decorations before I woke up and we spent the rest of the day trying to get the Christmas decorations up. Stephen spent most of the day hanging lights on the house. We were so busy running around that we didn't even get the trees decorated.

Saturday seemed like a repeat of Wednesday and Friday. Up and out the door first thing in the morning. Home for naps and back to Wal-Mart guessed it, Hobby Lobby. We took back the ornaments that we didn't like on the tree and decided on a bow topper and ribbon to match. Then it was dinner at Ci-Ci's. We love to take the kids there. They really eat well. It was cute to see Lauren dip her carrots in the Ranch and give them to Caleb. It worked too.

Sunday was all a rush as well. We went back to Target to return the tree topper we didn't like and to get Caleb some shoes to go with his Christmas outfit. Then I had to return some jeans at another store and it was off to Sam's. I just love Sam's. There is always something new to see there. We got the kids home late for their naps and woke them up early to go get our pictures made. Home for the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers (which Lauren still loved), baths, and then the kids finally got to hang some ornaments on their tree. I snuck away to hang and fold laundry and I even put most of it away. It had been sitting in baskets on my side of the bed for almost a week.

We still did NOT mark off our list:
other Christmas decorations like tablecloths and knick-knacks
4 more loads of laundry
start wrapping presents we have to take to my aunts this weekend
reorganize the kitchen cabinets...glassware up and out of the reach of Abby
print labels for Christmas cards
sign and stuff Christmas cards
buy stamps for Christmas cards
pull toys that need to be donated
plan Abby's birthday party
fill out invitations for Abby's party

Oh, the fun 5 "vacation" days.
And that's why we can't go home for Thanksgiving. We wouldn't have gotten anything done.