Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye 2010!




I did this last year, here. Abby did this last year, here. It was fun to do, and even more fun to look back on today. Here are our combined answers for 2010:


Julie:

What did you do in 2010 that you had never done before?
J- I don't know. Check back, maybe I'll think of something.

Did you keep your New Year's resolutions and will you make any this year?
J- I looked back to see if I made any resolutions publicly. And I can't find any. I'm sure I resolved to lose weight, read my Bible more and be more patient with my kids. If those were my resolutions, then NO, I did not keep them!

Did anyone close to you give birth?
J- Sadly, no.

Did anyone close to you die?
J- No, but I did attend funerals for a few that I was close to the family of. (wow, that was a rough sentence!)

What places have you visited?
J- Disney World!! It was great!

What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
J- My answer last year was patience. So, I will repeat last year's answer and add a clean house!

What date from 2010 will remain etched in your memory?
J- July 23. The day Daniel broke his arm. It was quite a day!

What was your biggest achievement this year?
J- 2009 was a tough year, 2010 was better. That we remained solid, together and loving the Lord is my achievement this year. And also that we survived two kids with mono, one with a double ear infection, and one broken arm in the same month. We survived!


Did you have any illnesses this year?
J- I didn't. But my kids did, see above. I'm hoping 2010 was the only year we have a July like that!

What was the best thing you bought this year?
J- Goodness, I can't remember. I'm sure it was something terribly cheap at A&E's. Born shoes for $5? Oh! Our van! I've gotten over the things it lacks, and have embraced it as it is. I really, really like it. Abby should get one too. Oh! and I got a Cricut, love.it.

Where did most of your money go?
J-Besides groceries and the new van, I'd have to say shoes and jeans for the boys.

What song will remind you of 2010?
J- Tonight by Toby Mac. The boys fell in love with Toby Mac this year. And I, of course, have felt that way for quite a while. Don't tell Stephen!

What do you wish you would have done more of?
J-Tell others about Jesus, and cleaned house.

What do you wish you would have done less of?
J- Re-living past wrongs. I mean God forgave, why dwell on it?!

What was your favorite tv program?
J- I've started watching reality shows. Like American Pickers, 19 Kids & Counting, Toddlers & Tiara's, and of course the cooking shows, Top Chef and Next Food Network Star.

What was the best book you read this year?
J- I got a Kindle for Christmas last year ( have I told you that before? HA!) and have read so very many books. I can't keep track.

What was your favorite film of the year?
J- I loved Toy Story 3. It made me cry. I just saw True Grit last week and really like it. Those could quite possibly be the only two movies I saw this year.

What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?
J- For my 40th birthday I went to Fort Smith and had a family birthday party. It was great! I got to see Mamaw and Uncle David, Aunt Janet, Uncle Mike, the cousins, friends. It was great. And I got my first pedicure. I'm in love!

What political issues stirred you the most?
J- I wouldn't say I get stirred. Some bother me, but I shan't write about them here.

Who was the best new person you met this year?
J- I'd have to say Angie. She is so quiet that I almost missed her. But she is so sweet and talented. Can't wait to get to know her more.


***************************************************


Abby:


What did you do in 2010 that you had never done before:

A- I quit a job without having one and stayed unemployed...with a smile! I also threw a birthday party for my own child. I have always looked forward to that. I have SO enjoyed the "firsts" this year with my sweet boy.


Did you keep your resolutions and do you plan to make any this year?

A- I don't think I made many, but I do plan to make a few this year.


Did anyone close to you give birth:

A - yes, my best friend Melissa Jane gave birth to her third son, Luke.


Did anyone close to you die:

A- Thankfully, no.


What places have you visited:

A- Outside of the normal visits to see family in Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Texas I visited Minnesota for the first time this year. We did not do much extra travel as a family this year. I hope to change this in 2011!


What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010:

A- Discernment and a filter - I would like to make better decisions and not trust every tom, dick and harry with the details of my life. I would also like to shut my mouth when it needs to be shut and open it when it needs to be open.


What date from 2010 will remain etched in your memory:

A- June 16th - The day I quit my job.


What was your biggest achievement this year:

A- Learning that the simple things are the happiest things. Blowing bubbles in the driveway with Henry, while waiting for our little Daddy to get home from being on the road...pure bliss. I am really proud of this sweet little lesson.
Did you have any illnesses this year:

A- Thankfully, I did not have any major illnesses this year and neither did anyone in my family. Henry got RSV and a few other little viruses that scared us, but we are blessed to have a healthy family as we enter 2011.


What was the best thing you bought this year:

A- Our cozy brown couch in the den. It is so nice to have couches in both sitting rooms. Why did we wait so long?!


Where did most of your money go:

A- Formula, diapers, wipes and yogurt melts...lots of yogurt melts. Most of our money went to cover, clean and feed Henry.


What song will remind you of 2010:

A - Head Shoulders Knees and Toes....just sayin. If you were looking for some great Carrie Underwood hit or a Beyonce tune, wrong! I will also think of the Revelation Song and be reminded of our blessed first Easter with Henry.


What do you wish you had done more of:

A- Relaxed. I wish I had let loose more and not worried about the details. I plan to do that in 2011!


What do you wish you had done less of:

A- Complain about all I "had to do" when really it was nothing important, and in return just truly enjoyed my lazy days with Henry.


What was your favorite TV program:

A- I made a choice to stop watching Grey's (see last years post) and a few other shows that I started feeling convicted about. Being a new mother to a child in our fallen society has made me a bit more aware I reckon. So, I guess my favorite these days is Pickers or The Middle...I just love that Brick kid.


What was the best book you read this year?

A- Isaiah. I have attended BSF this year. It is the hardest book I have ever studied, yet so full of blessings. Outside of that it would be What To Expect The First Year. I have read that book many, many late nights in hopes of finding the golden answer!


What was your favorite film on the year?

A - I have not seen a movie in a theatre this year, nor watched a new release on DVD that is not a Veggie Tale. I cannot answer this one.


What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?

A- The weekend before my birthday Randall took me to LR to shop and go out to eat. Henry stayed with his Nana. We ended up shopping for Henry and then talking about him all through dinner. He should have just come with us! Then, on my actual birthday Randall took me to eat Mexican for lunch while Henry was at daycare. We then played pin the tail on the donkey that night with Henry's help. It was great fun! I turned 32.


What political issues stirred you the most?

A-I am not one to get real stirred by politics, but the mid-term election in our state was fun to watch.


Who was the best new person you met this year?

A- This is a tough one. I got to know a few girls I already knew a lot better this year, and I feel like I have a couple of great new friendships due to that. So, I will have to say my BSF group leader, Liza is the best new person I have met this year. She is such a sweet person who is genuinely transparent, and a friend.


So, there you have it....Happy New Year from the sisters!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Part 2

We stayed in Fort Smith through Christmas day. The kids were so excited to get to spend Christmas there they could hardly stand it. Last year we stayed home and they were less than thrilled with that. They love the busy-ness of going from place-to-place and having grandparents surround them for the holiday. At home, its just business as usual for them.

We did our usual Christmas traditions. We went to a candlelight Christmas Eve service, which the kids love. And then headed to the in-laws for the evening.

Once we put the kids to bed, Santa got to work. He didn't have anything to put together this year and we loved that! The boys got Lego's and Stephen commented that this year we didn't have to put anything together, the kids have to put their own toys together this year.

Finally!

Christmas morning was great fun! The kids took turns opening presents. They got to see what the others got and they practiced patience. And they didn't seem to mind. Gotta love that!

The big news is I GOT A CAMERA!! I know! Evidently my in-laws think that I can be held responsible for this camera. It isn't the one I asked for, obviously the responsibility they feel I have has its limits! But it is cute and pink! I can't wait to take pictures with it.

We then headed to mom's for more presents and brunch. It was great getting to sit down at her table. I miss eating at her table. The kids got everything they wanted. Well almost, we have Christmas part 3 coming this weekend and that is when it will be official, they will have received everything on their lists.

Crazy, but good!!

What did you get for Christmas??
Julie

Monday, December 27, 2010

What We Have Been Up To

This past week has been a busy and fun one for us. Here is a recap of some of our festivities.

We headed to the Fort to celebrate with Mama and Julie's family. We all rode the train at the park. We love that train. It was Henry's first train ride. We did not let him ride the train at Zoo Lights earlier in the month so this could be his first train ride. He smiled the whole way and was mad when we got off.
Henry finally got to meet our Aunt Donna. It was one of the best parts of Christmas this year. I loved how they looked at each other. It was an instant bond.

I got to love on my first babies for a wee bit. Julie's kids make aunthood blissful.

We then came home to have Christmas in our matching pj's. We had so much fun.

Nana and Papa came to celebrate with us. We enjoyed having them with us Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Santa came and Henry is now in toyland

Daddy is now giving lots of wagon rides around the house


And I am sitting here trying to remember all the wonderful things we have received so I can write thank you notes.

Our Christmas is not over yet. We have S Family Christmas this weekend. I can't wait to see my Daddy and the rest of our family. This Christmas will be complete once we celebrate with them. I like spreading the love out for a week or two. Christmas is so much fun!
Abby







Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Birthday, Daddy


Today is our heavenly father's birthday and we celebrate big..real big! It is also our earthly father's birthday. Our grandmother had a baby on Christmas. I can't imagine how incredible and inconvenient that must have been for her. Our Daddy shares a birthday with Jesus and Barbara Mandrel (Yes, we are reminded of this every year...all our lives we have heard this). We always have a little pity for him because everyone sort of forgets about him to praise Jesus. He loves Jesus also, so he looks past it. Bless him. He usually gets robbed in the presents department too. It is always easy to wrap one gift in blue paper and call it a birthday gift (not that we have ever done that....just sayin). Poor old man! We are so glad Wilma had him all those years ago on this super special day. It does have to be pretty cool to know you share a birthday with Jesus!!


Happy Birthday, Daddy!
We love you
Your girls

Friday, December 24, 2010

Food Friday


This week is a little food for the soul. My hope is that you have a meaningful Christmas, full of the love of Jesus. No matter where you are, who you are with, or what your your woes or praises may be this year, know that God loves us just the same as always and this season is about that love...Jesus!



Luke 2
The Birth of Jesus


1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.
Jesus Presented in the Temple 22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”[
b]), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”[c]
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss[
d] your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”
33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four.[
e] She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.
The Boy Jesus at the Temple 41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”
49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”[
f] 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.
51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.


Happy Food Friday

&

Merry Christmas

Abby

Christmas in the Fort








Yesterday Abby and I did Christmas together.

We hate not being together on Christmas day, it goes against our sisterly bond, but since we're married now and have children, somethings must change.

It was such fun watching Henry "do" Christmas. He probably wasn't awake much last Christmas, but this year he was awake and ready to participate!

I know Abby wanted perfect Christmas pictures, but he was playing with wrapping paper and bows, he didn't much care to stop and smile. Although he did, because he is such a good boy!

My kids got just what they wanted and were itching to go outside and play, but waited patiently on the adults to finish opening presents. Then they were playing hard!

Abby has left to go home now and will spend Christmas day at her house with Randall's family. We will go home Christmas afternoon. And next weekend we head to our Dad's to have Christmas with him.

I love dragging Christmas out over so many days. I loved it as a kid, and still do. I'm pretty sure my kids do too.

I hope all of you have a very Merry Christmas! Please don't think for a minute that we don't celebrate the true reason of Christmas. The fact that God sent His Son to the world. because He loved us, to save us from our sins is an indescribable gift that we cherish and are so thankful that we know.

Merry Christmas!!!
Julie

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

HO HO HO

My little Santa baby. I let him wear this to school one day this week. I am surprised he was still there when I went to pick him up. I think he was passed around and made over all day. I am humble, but I must say, he was pretty stinkin cute in his Santa suit! I love the under shirt. Every good Santa wears an undershirt to conceal his arms....and every good Santa wears gloves.

I learned the undershirt and glove lesson the hard way as a little girl all dressed up in her plaid Christmas dress waiting to go on the Santa Show. Who from the Fort is reading this, smiling and saying out loud, "Oh, the Santa Show!!", with a big smile on your face? Yep, I see ya! :)
That was the last year I truly believed in Santa. My Daddy had worked for the TV station and knew all the people there, back doors, etc. I was escorted in a door that the other children did not go into. In return for my Daddy taking a shortcut to the studio, I saw Santa getting dressed...only his bare arms. I knew he was not real. Santa would not yell "Hi, Bob" and my dad yell a salutation back to this man and not call him Santa, but call him by his real name (because it was habit, he had no idea what he was saying was making a lasting impact on his curly headed baby girl). I also knew Santa would not get dressed behind a curtain at Channel 5...and Santa doesn't wear a watch. I did not admit this reality for two more Christmases. I was too scared to admit it...and I still never tell my Daddy I don't believe Santa is real because I think he would cry... and people, I am 32!

So, now I have my own child and I find myself a lot like my Daddy. I love the magic and wonder of Christmas and I want my boy to believe forever! Santa is such a fun way to allow children to use and develop their imaginations. I love it. I remember asking my Daddy why Santa's sleigh was not in the parking lot of the mall and he told me he parks it on the roof because it would get in the way of all the cars. I would always look at the roof after that in hopes I could see it. I trusted it was there.

Santa is a little scary for kids, but so magical. It is really odd if you think about it. They love Santa, but he makes them cry. Henry had never seen Santa until this week. He liked him until we walked away for the photo to be taken. I guess a hairy man in a big red suit might be a little much for a little tike like Henry. He will grow into it.


Henry loved the candy cane Santa gave him though. I love that Santa still gives a candy cane after all these years. The $5 Santa photo is now $15 or higher and the quality is much less than it used to be. I am so glad the candy cane has held on tight!

Abby

Monday, December 20, 2010

A List

I love a list! Hope you do too.

***I love the women at my church. We had a Christmas party Thursday night and had almost more than the house could hold. We laughed, and talked, and ate. Oh my! We ate. We laughed. We exchanged ornaments. What a great time!

***Friday I was privileged to go with our Student Minister and his wife shopping with three teenagers that deserved a great Christmas. We shopped for hours and had fun bonding with them and seeing God's love made known to some kids that needed it!

***I missed out on our Deacon and wives dinner Friday night because I was sick. I started feeling bad when we hit the first mall that day and didn't get better until Sunday afternoon. Man, I don't know what it was but I texted Abby and my mom a few times and let them know that I was dying! It wasn't pretty. I'm not a good patient.

***I will finish up my Christmas shopping tomorrow. Well, I plan on it. I know some people enjoy having it all done before December 1, but I love the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season. The crowds, the traffic. Strangely, I love it. This was not inherited, Abby and my mom do not share this love.

***I'm looking forward to a week full of visiting family and friends. Some I don't see but a couple of times a year. Can't wait!

***I saw three facebook friends while shopping today. How fun! I haven't seen one of them in years. I mean years, since he was a kid, years! Now he's all grown up and cute as a button. He must be having to hit those girls with a stick to keep them away!

***I missed church Sunday morning. The Sunday before Christmas! Stephen told the congregation, from the pulpit, that I had stayed home to watch a Hallmark movie. Although I did watch a Hallmark movie, it is not the reason I stayed home. The though of getting the kids & myself ready made me want to cry.

***The puppet ministry at church had a blacklight show Saturday night and Sunday night. I'm always amazed how God gets his message out to people. Who would have thought that neon paint and black clothes could proclaim the message of God's love and convict?!

***Last night I got to go out with a couple of friends for dinner. What a fun time we had, sharing stories, sharing memories. Such a great time.

Well, I'm sure you are needing to wrap presents or watch a Christmas movie. Go to it! Merry Christmas!!

Julie

Let's Go Caroling

I always loved caroling as a child. I miss it. I am like most of you, I love Christmas music. All kinds. Growing up in church and school choirs, I learned a lot of different songs of the season. It brings back so many neat memories to hear the holiday music on the cable access channel (yes, I am lame. But I like it), Randall's satellite radio, the local radio station that plays Christmas music all the time and the CD's I have in my car CD changer. Each year a few songs stand out to me. Ever year those songs are different than the year before. I decided to share a few of them with you in this post. I could have added much more than this but decided that this was plenty! These are the ones I am listening to a lot this year, for whatever reason.


I love this!! Makes me cry. A lady in our church sang it Sunday before last and it made me tear up there too. Such an amazing story. After 33 Christmases, I never get tired of the story of Jesus. Each year has its own nugget of truth and wisdom.


Henry and I rock out to this all the time in the Maxima. It is number 9 on our CD and he loves to watch me dance to it. I am sure the people driving around us do not find it near as cute as my Henry. I love being able to share Jesus in a fun, happy way with my child.


Oh, I can hear my Daddy singing this to me. I heard it on the radio this week and texted him and told him that Christmas songs like this make me think of him...and my Daddy being the witty man he is texted back and said, "Well, that is nice darling, but I think of you many times a day, not just when I hear Christmas music!" Seriously, this song makes me forget I am an adult who is jaded a bit when it comes to the magic of Christmas because it takes me back to Christmas Eve night when my Daddy would sing this, filling me with all the magic and wonder a little girl could ever ask for.


This IS my song, people! Every year this is on my top 5. It is number 7 on my CD. It is a miracle it still plays. I love, love, love it. I remember trying to reason with Randall a few years back on why I should sing it at church...this is when we went to a small church and they had me sing just about every other Sunday. Randall won that battle and I sang Amy Grant's Heirlooms instead. Anyway, this can make me tear up sometimes if I am in the right mood. Randall is so sick and tired of this song. Each year I just have to Bless him through it.



And a sassy girl like myself could never grow old of this one. This became very popular when I was a single gal dreaming of the day I would have me a man sitting with me by the fire at Christmas in the snowy mountains, showering me with diamonds and kisses. Well, I got my man, no snowy mountains because soybeans don't grow in the mountains, we got us a fireplace and we fire it up from time to time, He has given me a few diamonds, and we make time for some kisses.....just not near as romantic as that scene this song played in my mind. I love it though...it is such a fun song and makes me think of all the fun Melissa and I had listening to it in her Honda cruising around the Fort at Christmastime. And I can now sing this song and think of my Randall...what a deal!


And this is the ultimate...I. LOVE. IT! I did not discover this song until about 3 Christmases ago and I think all those closest to me wish I had never discovered it. Henry loves to watch me sing it and do a little country dance to it. He claps for me. I am glad to have someone else besides me appreciate a little "Bells On" (as we like to call it around these parts.).


Christmas music...what a delight!
Abby

Friday, December 17, 2010

Food Friday

Whew, I am tired of cooking. I admit it. I am about to close the kitchen for Christmas and make Randall get Christmas Eve supper at Pizza Hut and Christmas lunch at KFC! I am only partly joking too...don't tempt me. Ha! I have made bread, cinnamon rolls, candy, cupcakes, a cake and pumpkin butter this week for gift giving...along with cooking dinner for my family each night. Can a girl get a little "atta girl" love??!! I hear ya...thank ya! Love all you bloggie pals.

These are the mini cupcakes I made for Henry's class party. I used a tartlet pan. It makes the perfect size for their little fingers and mouths. The local grocery store by my house gave me the little elf picks. The sweet bakery lady was unable to make the little cupcakes for me, as I had so hoped, so in return she let me wheel my cart back into the bakery and go into cake decorating heaven. I was overwhelmed with choices. I came out all smiles with these little elves and the reindeer you will see below. She also gave me a big hug and told me Merry Christmas. I love a local grocery store....the monster chain stores would have never, ever given a girl an elf or a hug...just sayin!

I made this little cake and used the adorable reindeer my fabulous bakery lady gave me. I took it to Henry's previous class because we could not let Ms. Maribeth and Ms. Stephaney feel unloved at Christmas. Henry still makes a daily visit to their class because he is a rotten mess!

I gave his teachers these little happies, each in a sassy Belluvah tote bag. I gave them a loaf of my bread and my homemade pumpkin butter (recipe below). I also painted them CD ornaments. I had so much fun making all of their little happies and seeing their smiles and hearing about the yummy bread and butter. We are blessed with such great, devoted teachers who love our boy and appreciate some of his mama's bread and butter!
Pumpkin Butter
1 (29 ounce) can pumpkin
3/4 cup apple juice
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


While I was cooking all this up my little walker came in to see if he might get to taste test for me. He loves the bread. I think he would eat a whole loaf if I would allow it. He is also very fond of the cinnamon rolls...just like his daddy.

I was wrapping up cinnamon rolls to take to school, friends and family. I had them all over the counter. I also had Henry in his counter seat eating yogurt melts...or so I thought. I looked up and that little foodie of mine had reached over and grabbed a cinnamon roll out of one of the pans and was in mid bite...priceless! My camera was on the counter and I was able to get a snapshot of the foodie in action. He ate that whole roll all on his own and cried for more when he finished. He comes by it honest, I reckon!

Happy Food Friday!
Abby

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Oh, The Christmas Craze

Julie and I had all these great ideas for December posts. We were going to do a post a day on our favorite things, activities and memories. Well, that ain't happening, folks! I am chasing a little walker, being a domestic diva who is now married to a sourdough bread starter, trying to fit in quality family time before Henry goes to bed, and then trying to decide what to buy the man of the house so I can be finished with my Christmas shopping...that I just can't gather my thoughts at the end of the day for a decent post.
I know Julie is just as scattered these days also. So, if we go a few days without posting...we are alive, just not coherent enough to post anything worth reading!

Seeing the wonder and excitement in little Henry's eyes this year is so much fun. I realize he is still too young to understand it all, but compared to last year we have come light years, people! He slept during the month of December last year, yet we loved having that baby asleep under our tree and thought it was the best thing EVER.

Henry has several Christmas outfits he has been sporting this month. This is one my best friend Melissa passed on to me. Her two oldest boys wore it. We love wearing it. Everyday he is either a reindeer, a Santa or an elf. His teacher at school always calls him one of the three, depending on his attire that day. Honestly, he is the only child in his class decked out in holiday wear each day...the girls don't even have him beat. Henry will kill me later in life, I am sure. But boy howdy, he is a cutie in his festive wear isn't he?!

I gave up my snowman and Santa sweaters a few years ago. Sometimes I regret doing it but I was the only one left in my age bracket who did not teach school still wearing them...so, I figured I best before the Christmas fashion police paid me a visit. I wear red and green shirts with sweaters....and I do have a sporty snowflake vest I got on clearance last year and 2 sporty, festive t-shirts. I miss the snowball zippers on my sweaters though...just sayin.

We carried on tradition at our house and took Henry to see the Lights Of The Delta again this year. We took him last year...he was unaware, of course. This year he was alert and curious. It was so much fun to watch him react to all the lights. I saw the magic and wonder of Christmas in his eyes for the first time as we drove through the light show. Randall and I both beamed from ear to ear for a bit. It was so heart-warming.
They set the lights to music and since I like to take the lead on most songs when traveling with my family, I sang our way through the light display. The family does not always find it fair, attractive or fun though. I love Henry's expression as I belt out a familiar carol in his ear. It is though he is looking at Randall and saying, "Really, is she gonna do this in my ear the whole way through this light show, Daddy?!"
A few nights after we went to the light display we decided to take Henry to Memphis to Zoo Lights. Randall and I had great fun going in the past. We were both so anxious to take Henry and start another tradition. Randall promised me 1, and only 1 family photo that night (I am sporting the snowflake vest mentioned in the above paragraph). What a pal! I am so glad it ended up being somewhat decent. He says I ruin the fun by always having a camera in my hand. So, I am trying to compromise with my sweet man and learning to take fewer, more meaningful shots.
Henry and Mama at Zoo Lights. It was colder than a well diggers behind, but we survived....well, barely. Henry had a major meltdown about 30 seconds after his daddy took this picture and we were at the very, very, VERY back of the zoo. People, it was not cute. Randall had to carry him all the way to the truck, screaming and kicking. Henry refused to sit in his stroller. At one point Randall looked at me, as I pushed the empty stroller, and said, "My arms are so sore I can't feel them anymore. Tell me if I drop him." I did not laugh at the time, but now I am laughing.
Henry Patton was snoring in his carseat before we got out of the parking lot. Oh, to be a baby! His daddy and I decided a long car ride at supper time, going out to eat, and then taking him to a place that overly stimulated him right at his normal bed time was a bad idea. We may or may not carry on this tradition. We will revisit it next year at the terrible twos and see if it is worth the drive. His daddy is still recovering from the outing. We are so your typical first time parents. We are fully aware. No need to inform us.

Here is our 2010 Christmas card. I just love it. Lindsey has done our card for the past 4 years. I tell her what I want, how much I have to spend on printing, and then 3 days later I get a box of cards shipped to my porch. I really am a rotten mess of a friend, I know. We are so glad she loves us like she does.
Randall and I started doing photo cards the year we married, in 2003. It was a wedding photo. Each year we have done something different. We have had a year or two of us just standing in front of our tree, but the last few years I have been a bit creative. I used to order 115 cards and sent every one of them. This year I decided that was excessive and only ordered 75. If you read this and did not get one and normally have in the past, I am sorry. We are in a recession. My mother assured me those who did not get one would not miss it...she always helps me keep it real. Love her honesty....and she is probably right.
I have also done the proverbial Christmas letter with my card since 2006 but this year I did not do one. I thought it would be a relief because so many people make fun of those of us who do letters. Yet, Julie was upset with me for not doing one, but I sat down to do one this year and nothing flowed. Maybe next year I will have time to sit and gather my thoughts...but I am doubting that!

So, what fun things have you been up to and what fun things do you have in the hopper?

Abby

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A love story

I've decided to tell you a story.

She was 12. A boy she knew rode his bike in front of her house while she stood outside. He yelled, " will you go with me?" She yelled, "no" and ran into her house.

She was 15. A boy she knew from church and school became her friend.

She was 16. A boy she knew asks her out on a date. She says, "no!" (she is dating someone else.) This scene plays out again and again for the next two years.

He leaves town to go to college. She stays home.

She spends time with him at church activities during the summers.

He sets her up on a blind date with a friend of his one summer.

She picked up his girlfriend and the blind date and they drove across the state together to see him and attend a concert.

He began sending her letters and spending time with her when she was in town.

He kissed her at a New Year's Eve party they hosted.

She became involved in a serious relationship.

He was also in a relationship.

She felt the Lord lead her to break off the relationship she was in and wait on him.

She spent the summer working during the day and hanging out with him at night.

He spend the summer working during the day and hanging out with her at night.

They spent the summer flirting, laughing, getting to know each other and falling in love. But never holding hands, hugging, or kissing.

He left for college.

She stayed home.

They wrote letters and their hearts grew fonder for each other.

He came home for Valentine's Day.

She was excited.

He asked her daddy for her hand in marriage.

She didn't know.

He asked her to dinner.

She said yes.

She went to dinner with him.

She said yes again!

They were engaged.

He went back to college.

She stayed home and planned their wedding.

Six months pass

They are married in a lovely God honoring ceremony with gorgeous flowers ( I mean Gorgeous!), hideous pink bridesmaid dresses ( I mean hideous!) and over 300 people.

They now have four children and have been married 17 years. And have never been happier.

Julie

Friday, December 10, 2010

Food Friday

I hope you are enjoying the tastes of the Christmas season. It is always fun to get out the old recipes we use each year and make cookies, candy, casseroles and drinks that our family and friends expect from us at the holiday. Those dishes are each filled with memories of their own. I just love it.
Just this morning Henry and I were starting our candy tins we make for friends and family.....ok, he was eating Ritz crackers and I was working on the candy. Anyway, I have 3 tins full of fudge sitting on my kitchen counter and I am working on finishing my goo-goos and Ritz Mint Goodies. I know several men in my family who are awaiting the arrival of their candy tin!
This wassail is a Christmas favorite.

My mother (yes, Julie's mother too) served it for years and now I make it each year for my parties and such. It has become a tradition. I love traditions! The bowl was dry after my ornament exchange last week. I always love to see my friends enjoy a family favorite. I thought you might like a warm drink to serve if you do not currently have one on your holiday menu. It is soooo good!

Christmas Wassail
2 quarts apple juice
2 cups pineapple juice
1.5 cups orange juice
3/4 cups lemon juice
1 cup sugar
5 whole cinnamon sticks
1 tsp whole cloves
Combine all and bring to a boil. Serve hot. Serves 25-30 1/2 cups...no one will drink just half a cup though!

Look what the little foodie made this week.
Henry's first gingerbread kit. I chose a train for him this year. He was actually asleep when it was made, but he woke up just in time for a photo with the finished product. I keep it in the fridge and pull it out for him to look out while he eats at the kitchen bar. His little face lights up. I am enjoying watching him discover the sights, smells and sounds of Christmas. I love my Christmas foodie!


Abby

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The After Picture

I lost it. It has been one of those days. It started off fine. I read my Bible. I had a chocolate doughnut for breakfast. My hair looked good. Ran a few errands.

And then came home and lost it. With my kids. It was awful.

I will admit that I yell. They are used to that. But today was different. I really yelled today.

I called Stephen to confess. Not that a man can forgive me of my sins, but they are his kids too and I thought he needed to know how his kids were treated.

I prayed and asked God to forgive me. I am assured by His Word that I'm forgiven. Now, I must go to my children and ask their forgiveness. It won't be the first time and I'm sure it won't be the last.

I could have written to you today about how great our morning went and how we were all smiles, and we had such a good time. But, I get tired of reading that on all the blogs I read. Some times I just want to read that sometimes they failed on the "mother front" . Sometimes I would like to see the look on the kids and dads faces AFTER the picture was taken.

So, today I gave you the After picture of us. It isn't pretty, but its real.

I hope I'm not the only one with an after picture like this one!

Julie

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Our Little Big 1

The last monthly picture...what a guy! Those photos got harder and harder each month. What a fun memory to have in his baby book though.


We were so excited to throw our baby boy a party to celebrate his big 1!






We even decorated the Christmas decorations on the porch in honor of our birthday boy!


The mantle and hearth tree were in full birthday mode. We also had a little slide show running on the TV.

The kitchen was party central. I had so much fun making everything, with the help of my graphics pal, Leslie. She designed the banners, invitation and hats for me. I then printed them and made them all, and the goodie bags. I also made the cakes, cupcakes and cake balls. The cookies on a stick were made by the ever-so-talented, Amy C. of the Fort. It was such a fun undertaking!


I painted the ones for both cakes.


Posing with our birthday boy in clothing that matched the theme. Randall is such a sweet man to allow me to go overboard with my party planning. Bless him.


Henry loved his blue vanilla cake. He was very laid back about it. He was not sure about everyone lined up against the wall staring at him while he ate his cake. I am sure that had to be a bit odd for him.


He got excited when Grandaddy and Marmie tried to take some of his cake. Cake then starting flying and landing on the floor. Fun, fun.
He loved opening presents. He was also unsure about this activity, but enjoyed seeing what was under all the wrappings.


The fun than begin with all our little loves fighting over the toys. Henry gives up easily. I laughed at how he basically gave his toys away and refused to fight for them. I am sure that will change, but I am glad he seems to share so well!



We were so grateful for all the family and friends who drove a long way to celebrate our birthday boy.

The birthday boy pooped out after it was over. He did so well during his party. We were so proud of him. We gave him 2 naps that morning to prepare him...it worked!
His Juju came the night before with 3 of the Fab 4 and spent the night with us. We had a big time!

The party was over and the real world was back in full swing when Henry had to go to the doctor for his 1 year shots. He was such a trooper. I was so glad his Daddy was with us to help wrestle him with the help of our sweet nurse. I am not good at that, so much. I have other strengths and abilities in the mothering department. He is in the 80th percentile in overall growth and just perfect! We feel blessed beyond measure to have such a happy and healthy 1 year old!
What a year!!

Abby