Friday, December 31, 2010

Sweet Samuel.

Samuel was born beautiful.  He just was.  Olive skin.  Dark, fluffy hair.  Snuggly.  As a baby, he simply wanted to be held.  Now he just wants to be with you.  He turned 6 today and I can't believe it.  We had a breakfast party.  About 8 families came, around 30 kids plus their parents.  It was a beautiful day.  The kids played outside, moms and dads chatted over coffee, and Samuel thought he had the biggest birthday party ever.  There are few things I like more than my home filled with people.

Taking it all in.

He makes this face when he knows it's all about him.

I love the younger ones interacting with the older ones.

My trusty helper ;)  

Samuel's love language:  playing sports with friends.

I really can't believe you're so old, Samuel.
You amaze me with your quiet, yet strong spirit.
Can I be your mommy forever?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Photo Shoot

Chris does NOT like to take family pictures.  When I say, "let's try to get a picture of all of us," he gives me this look.

But once a year, he gives into my psycho picture taking habit.  We did these in Lubbock near Papa's office.  Quick and easy.  We got everything we needed except what we came for:  a good family picture.  We have an okay one, and will send it out for Christmas, New Year's, okay, just after New Year's.

So much of their personality in these.

Especially this one.

Notice the tear.  That is NOT a tear of joy.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What's been going on at our house.

The kids have been PLAYING all day, going from one thing to the next.  Lately, their favorite has been putting on some sort of "show" in which they get out every plastic animal we have in the house, line them up, and play with other toys in the middle.  Messy, but imaginative.

Lucky for me, they are old enough to pick it up themselves.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Close Enough

So I really only made 23 cookies, but isn't that close enough?  I just didn't want to make any cookies on Christmas Day.  And so I didn't.  The house and the kitchen were busy enough, and I just enjoyed the day.  The kids were so sweet about their gifts.  We played and ate and rested.  It was wonderful.

This is most of them.  Some, in the general chaos of Christmas, were eaten too fast to be saved.

Santa brought sugar cereal.  My kids have never had those little boxes, so this was a hit.  And an easy breakfast!

Eating with his stocking gifts all lined up beside him.

Love this one.

We gave my parents a shutterfly calendar.  What grandparent doesn't love a calendar full of pictures of their grandchildren?

Opening presents and eating a ring pop.  Does it get any better when you're 2?

This year we did something different that I think we will continue for years to come.  We gave the kids each 4 gifts... something you want, something you need, something to play with, and something to read. We gave less than in past years, and I felt like the kids were more grateful.  They knew just what to expect, and were even (somewhat) happy about a box of socks.  Then we made the stockings from Santa.  It was simple.  In past years, we have agonized over finding a "big Santa gift" for each child.  We skipped that this year, and they didn't even notice.  $6 worth of sugar cereal in the Christmas tree, and they forgot all about it.  Thank you to some sweet friends who passed on this idea to me.

Friday, December 24, 2010

They say it better... Who is Christmas for?

Some thoughts on Christmas.  I hope you're encouraged by THIS as much as I was.

Christmas 2008.

25 days of cookies {Cookie 23}: Chocolate Chip

Merry Christmas Eve everyone!  It's finally all done.  Presents wrapped under the tree, stockings ready to be filled (waiting until everyone is good and asleep), dishwasher humming, 5 little boys in their jammies, listening to Christmas music on the coach with Chris beside-- he on his phone, me on the computer.

"Santa" wanted some chocolate chip cookies today.  Classic.  Chocolate chip cookies may be my favorite.  Just straight up chocolate chip, the recipe from the back of the chocolate chip bag.  I love them.  Chris loves them.  Everyone loves them.  Especially Santa.

Aren't they all so handsome?... including the cookies.

Could there be any more cooking going on.  Samuel & Chris making a Chocolate Chip Pecan pie (gasp), Grandma making soup, me making cookies.  Love hanging out in the kitchen together on Christmas Eve.

Have I told you how much I love my Pampered Chef scoops?  You don't have to touch the dough at all. And it's quicker.

For Santa.

We opened presents from Grandma & Grandpa last night.

I love when they get in that intense new-toy play mode.

Samuel loves playing "money."

Asher got to his art project right away.  I took him to Hobby Lobby the other day for the first time and he said, "Mommy, this is the best store I have ever been to.  Can you even believe all these art supplies in here?"

Camera man.

Christmas Eve dinner.  With their very own can of grape pop.  Yeah, we say "pop."

Chris & Samuel's pie.  The first thing I have ever seen Chris bake.  Ever.  And it was amazing.  Although he did ask in the process:  "how in the world do you figure out what half of 2/3rds is?"  Scott, Doug, someone, please make fun of him for this.

Our dinner guests thoughtfully brought each boy an envelope with a crisp $5 bill in it.
A good Christmas Eve was had by all.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugars.  Add vanilla and eggs.  Add dry ingredients.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Bake at 375 degrees for 7-9 minutes.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

25 days of cookies {Cookie 22}: Soft Ginger Cookies

Greetings to you and yours on this Christmas Eve eve!  We are having a splendid day making Soft Ginger Cookies.  This recipe would make great gingerbread men too, but I don't have a gingerbread man cut out.  Maybe I will try to snag one of those on the 26th.  We had a wonderful time making these.  The boys enjoyed making their creations.  I like how decorating cookies is something both boys and girls like to do.  Putting sugar on top of sugar is fun for boys, girls, moms, and dads alike.

This is Asher's special creation.  He is very proud of this one.

You make the dough, divide it into 3 parts and chill.  I chilled mine overnight.

Roll dough onto floured surface.

He LOVED doing this.  This may be his love language.

Our decorations.

Our pretty plate.

Asher really wanted you to see this one up close.

View on my counter.  Want to come over and get some?

The kids' creations. 

Soft Ginger Cookies
(from this cookbook)
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup molasses
1 cup buttermilk
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 allspice
1/4 nutmeg
7 cups flour

Beat butter.  Add sugar.  Then add egg and beat well.  Add molasses and buttermilk.  Stir in dry ingredients, adding flour last.  Divide the dough into thirds and chill thoroughly.  Roll out dough on floured surface and bake for 6-8 minutes at 375 degrees.  I baked mine for 6 minutes.  For buttermilk, I added 1 tbsp vinegar to 1 cup milk.  Decorate as desired.