Saturday, December 31, 2011

It's Been A Decade

10 years ago tonight I looked into Randall's blue eyes for the first time at the back door of my cousin Hollye's home in Memphis. A blind date set up by Julie and my mother-in-love (click here for Julie's refelction on the arrangement). For that date I am forever grateful. I did not want to go, thought my sister had lost her mind and was crushing on another boy. Boy, boy, boy...did I ever change my course when I looked into those blue eyes standing at Hollye's backdoor!

(The night of our engagement)

Well I lost my heart on the day we met But I gained a lot that I don't regret

(one of our favorite engagement photos)
Then I hung around til you said 'I do' Knew I wouldn't have nothin if I didn't have youWell, it changed my thinking when you changed your name Neither one of us will ever be the same And I swear I'm never gonna be untrue Cuz I wouldn't have nothing if I didn't have you

(5 year anniversary in Cancun)

If I didn't have you I'd long ago been left in the dark, out in the cold Blowing around from town to town like a feather in the wind If I didn't have you I know I'd be Floundering around like a ship at sea Lost in the rain or a hurricane, that's where I'd have been

(Still kissing with no itching at 7 years)

But I didn't get lost cuz I saw your light Shining like a beacon on a cold, dark night And the sun came up and the skies turned blue Oh I wouldn't have nothing if I didn't have you

(Those blue eyes looked at me just right)

Well, I count my blessings Every night I pray That the lord lets me keep you just one more day Every day he does, cuz God knows too That I wouldn't have nothing if I didn't have you

(Walking into a new decade as 3)

Well, I've already said it but I swear it's true I wouldn't have nothing if I didn't have you

Randall used to sing this Randy Travis song to me all the time. He still says it is "our song". I would like to say "our song" was something with a little more class, but it is what it is and it works. I love it. It makes my heart smile.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Food Friday

We spent our third Christmas at home this year. As I have posted before, we decided we would always try to have Henry in his home for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. I was always at home growing up and Randall wasn't. He said it was not enjoyable and wanted to ensure that Henry have the experience I had and the one he always wanted. I think Randall loves it more than anyone. He is finally getting to have the Christmases he always wanted. It makes my heart happy. We do love the calmness of it and the fun of getting to make our own traditions.

One of those traditions is having my mother-in-love in my kitchen with me on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Randall's parents come to stay with us on Christmas Eve and wake up with us on Christmas Morning. I love having Molly help me prepare our dishes and she always praises what I serve. I love some praise and some help in the kitchen...who doesn't?!

I am working on finding the recipes we like a lot and want to serve each year. This was the third year for a few things and a new year for a few. Maybe in a couple of years we will have a set menu for our Christmas meals. I love variety and new things maybe not! I also want to tie in our old family traditions with the new ones. It is fun to put it all together.

I thought I would give you a little summary of what we cooked up for our Christmas Eve supper, Christmas breakfast and Christmas lunch.

On Christmas Eve I made a "weenie ring". It is not called that but I thought I would be redneck a little bit since my stone was beyond tacky looking. I should have put it on a tray to serve it but after our Christmas Eve service and preparing our dinner, we were some hungry kin folk! There was no time for presentation. I loved the bell pepper wreath. It was so cute. I made a mix of cranberry sauce and bbq sauce for a dipping sauce. It was yummy stuff. Just lil' smokies wrapped in crescents. The stone was empty when I went to clean up. We ate every one of them...along with redneck caviar, sausage cheese dip and a cheese ball!

I failed to take a photo of breakfast due to having a toddler and Santa coming. We had cream cheese danish casserole and sausage balls. It was super yummy.

Christmas lunch was yummy stuff also. We cooked a truducken - a turkey with a hen and duck stuffed inside. It was really good. We bought it ready to go into the oven. No prep work. I loved the duck in it a lot. I am glad Randall picked that for our main course. It was a hit. We had hashbrown casserole, green bean casserole, dressing and yeast rolls. We also had my Meemaw's chocolate pecan pie and Molly's famous coconut pie. I am still full.

I prepared most of the dishes before we left for Fort Smith and froze them. Planning and preparing ahead of time makes for an easy and enjoyable Christmas. I am so glad I just had to heat and serve most everything. We now have great leftovers!

Happy Food Friday

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Santa Claus Came To Town

Santa came and came big. Before he came we had to soak up the real meaning of Christmas. We went to church on Christmas Eve and Nana and Papa came in time to go with us. We got to sing and light glow sticks...Henry loved it! He got to go in the service with us and he did great. Christmas at our new church was such a treat this year. I reflected on things I had never really thought of. I love taking away new little nuggets of truth. I always enjoy a Christmas Eve service. It puts the rest of the night and the next day into perspective.

Keeping with our Christmas tradition, we wore matching pajamas for the third year in a row. We wore Sesame Street themed pajamas this year. It was fun times. We love doing Christmas at home now that we have Henry. It is so peaceful and fun. We stayed in our pajamas all of Christmas Day. Nothing like a day in the pajamas. Those are rare for us these days. It was bliss.

Christmas with a 2 year old is fun and exhausting. Capturing him on camera is difficult these days. We were thrilled to get him sitting still looking into the camera. Marmie got him the Elmo shoes. Such a cute added touch. I sure do love this little Christmas cutie!

Because Henry was such a good boy this year Santa visited him in a big way. Santa had 4 helpers that worked hard putting it all together. Henry got his own house, mortgage paid! He also got an extra large dump truck and a work bench. His Nana and Papa gave him the Mickey Mouse bike. His stocking was busting at the seams too. Santa likes Henry a lot!

This was Henry's reaction to Santa's gifts. His little smile and squeal were priceless. My camera was on its last leg so the photo was really poor quality. Thankfully my in-laws saw fit to gift me with a new camera and I opened it soon after this photo was taken!

He ran to his house first. He was overwhelmed I think. I know Santa was just as excited as he was to watch his face light up.

He spotted the dump truck from his house and had to check it out. He ran to get his old one and to compare the size. He was funny sizing them up. It is about 3 times the size of his old one. I think he has pushed it into every room of our house. Poor thing is ready to play outside again. He loves pushing his trucks and filling them up with all his little stuff. He is so funny.

Next he had to check out his work bench. He will have lots of projects to work on I am sure. He loves to push the button and make the saw cut. He even tried to lick it while it was on. Randall quickly gave him a lesson on safety while at work. We might have to call Mr. Sam and have him do a safety inspection (Melissa's husband is a safety man).

Henry loves his Mickey bike from his Nana and Papa. If he can get the pedaling down he might just ride on down the road. He loves to go!

Henry wanted us to visit him in his house. He held me hostage for a while. Daddy gave me my rations and communicated with me through the window during the stand off. Henry finally let me go and that was nice. I would let him hold me hostage in his house all day if he wanted.

Henry also had fun with our gifts. What is mine is his these days...and what is his is not mine! So true and funny. He loved climbing on the cooler his daddy got from Nana and Papa. I think he thought it was a toy box. Christmas is so fun with Henry. I love sharing the joy of the season with our baby boy.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mama's Family Christmas

Christmas with Mama and Julie is always a huge highlight at Christmas. We do it a little early now that we have Henry and choose to be home on Christmas. Mama and Julie's family still do their exchange to each other on Christmas Day, but the ones to us and from us are ripped opened and enjoyed while we are in town. As you can see in the background of this photo...Randall is almost elbow deep in his Jelly Belly's. He was making all sorts of "recipes" with them and refused to share the good ones with us.

My pretty girl with her new red sweater dress. She loved it and wore it to church on Christmas Day with her knee boots. Mama said that Anna is me made over but looks just like her mother. Nothing brings me more pleasure than to know my sister is raising me! Hee Hee. She is a leader and not a follower. She is a wealth of knowledge and shares every bit of it with you! She also has great common sense and sense of style for a 7 year old. She is a lot like me and that is not all that bad, really. :)

The reaction from the twins when they opened their Otter boxes was priceless. Seeing pure excitement on their faces and hearing them exclaim about it was one of the best responses toward a gift I have seen all Christmas. Heaven knows they deserved it...sweet boys! This picture almost makes my aunt heart cry. I adore their hearts and smiles sooooo much.

If you gave this boy a stick he would have that same smile. "Smile Sammy" is shouted by all the girls for a reason...just sayin! (He doesn't read this. If he did I would be a dead Aunt Abby. HA!) My sister has done stellar raising these children. Samuel is such a cutie with his new Arkansas shirt. He also asked for waterproof matches and I think they actually excited him most. So funny!

Little Henry was a bit overwhelmed and unsure about all the ripping of paper, shouts of excitement and stuff...lots of stuff. He would take 5 baths a day to play with this new Elmo sub if we let him. He loves it and all the other things his Juju, cousins and Marmie gifted him.

Henry calls his Uncle Stephen "Bruder Seben" and I love it! I also love this "gift apron" Anna gave him. She found it in Mama's kitchen. Someone had made it years ago and mother thought it would be a great gift for Anna to give her Daddy. She couldn't wait until Christmas morning, she was so excited. He filled it up with all his goodies. Hilarious! I love Christmas with Stephen and the child-like fun he brings to the festivities.

We are blessed to have our Mama. She and Daddy did so well teaching us the real meaning of Christmas and to be thankful no matter what. Gifts are from the heart and love is not measured by money, things or presentation. We are teaching her 5 grandchildren the same thing and it is precious to watch. God is so good to our family in the valley and peaks of life.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

All Aboard The Choo Choo Train

We all headed "home" for Christmas last week. Riding the train at the park during Christmas is always a fun family outing for us. This year we were so glad it was not as cold as it has been in years past. It was cold enough for it to be festive and that was great. We really are a handsome group. Mama always loves having all of us together at Christmas.

Henry loves a choo choo. He had been looking forward to the train all week. He was so excited!

Riding the train with family and friends makes Christmas in the Fort so much fun.

Anna rode with me. I am so blessed to have a beautiful niece who loves me like crazy.

Henry soaked up all the lights with his Daddy. He smiled the whole way around the park.

Going "home" for Christmas is extra special because of the times spent with my best friend and her family. She has the cutest boys...even Sam looks pretty swank with his Christmas beard. (My man grew a Christmas beard also...not sure what all that is about) We were so glad they rode the train with us again this year. We got to go eat at George's and see all sorts of folk after the train ride. Julie also ate at George's with her bff at the same time. It was extra good times, for sure! Anna and Marmie went to McDonald's instead. Anna has Marmie wrapped around her finger.

After the train and George's we went to have a sleepover with Melissa and her boys. Henry loves all these boys...and so do we! We had a fun time visiting with Melissa and Sam and watching the boys run through their house. Melissa is such a fine hostess, just like her mother.

Luke and Henry are 5 months apart and so super cute in their footed pajamas. I can't wait to see these two grow up alongside one another. What a blessing it is to have God give us these sweet children. Christmas is so much brighter with all these little people!


Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Snapshots

Christmas means getting in the truck and traveling to see family who live afar. Sharing the season with them is what makes this special season so special. Here is a snapshot of what our travels looked like Christmas weekend.

Mama's couch is always a soft place with her girls and their babies on top of it. She loves having us all there with her. It is one of my favorite times. We have been blessed to do it a few times this year. Having the kids all together at Mama's makes memories that will last them a lifetime. Julie's kids are at the age where each time together is marked in their memory bank. I cherish these sweet times so much.

I love any excuse to spend time with my sister. Being at Mama's makes that time extra special. We love to laugh at the same things and we have the same outlook on life for the most part. I love sharing history with her. We know each other better than anyone. Doing life with her is the best. We sometimes look nothing alike but I think in this picture we look a lot alike. I am always fond of our hair looking alike. If only the world only knew looking alike is a treat for us. I love osmosis and Jesus for making us alike.

This is my pretty girl. Sissy is my prissy gift from above. Having her brings such softness to our family full of boys. Who knew our all girl family would become dominated by boys. Granny must laugh from above at the boys that run about down here. I am so glad Anna is here to share all of our family traditions with. She will carry them on, without a doubt. I love this pretty girl to pieces.

If you ask Stephen who his favorite nephew is he has to say Henry. It is all he has. If you ask Henry who his favorite uncle is he will have to say "bruder Steben" because it is all he has. I love that these two are stuck together.

Being with our only living grandmother is precious times. We have seen her several times this year and that is rare for us with her living in a different state and us all living in different places here in state. I have loved each hug and laugh with her this year. She is a wealth of wisdom and love. We become better women with each moment we spend with her.

Being all grown up with my sister and our men folk is so nice. I remember the days of wishing and hoping and now those days are here. What a funny picture and what funny times we have. I love the way we love each other in sunshine and rain and we are always there to lift the other one up. We rejoice in the happy times and cry together in the sad times. Life is so much sweeter because of it.

Sharing love with Randall's grandmother is also part of what we do at Christmas. Randall's maternal family is quite a bit different than mine, yet they love in the way that works for them. We may not see his Grandmama all that much, but we make a point to go and see her at Christmas. The visits are short but to her they last a year. Henry will know her and she will know him and that makes Randall's big heart happy...and in turn makes mine happy. I think the smile on Grandmama's face speaks novels.

A Christmas hug from my favorite hillbilly is always a treat when we go visit Randall's Grandmama. Randall's uncle makes me laugh like no one else. Tim is a funny, funny man and is a true teddy bear. We were both blessed to have married into the family. We stick together! He makes me laugh and laughing is my favorite.

All the visiting has wore my little present opener out! We have Skutt Family Christmas still to go. It is cousins, grandparents, gifts and kisses all over again, little buddy!


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Our Very Own Christmas Baby

I posted this photo on purpose...Daddy is no longer a Rebel fan since they gave Houston the boot. He doesn't read this much anymore so he won't know unless someone tells him...don't tell him! This photo was taken at my house in Mississippi. Sweet and skinny times :)

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

Merry CHRISTmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

It's Ho Ho Ho Time

Just because.....

Friday, December 23, 2011

Food Friday

This Christmas cutie has lots of fun teachers and friends that needed some Christmas goodies from our kitchen. So, Mama got to work and we made some fun things to take to church and school.

We made these for his friends at church and his former teachers at daycare.
You take a Nutter Butter and dip it in chocolate bark and sit it on wax paper with a Popsicle stick on the back. Place mini chocolate chips for the eyes and a red hot for the nose. Break a round pretzel in half for the antlers. I put them in small clear bags and closed them with ribbon. They were so cute and so much fun!

We made smores kits for his friends at school and to add to our neighbors goodie tins. The card attached said, "Have SMORE fun this Christmas! Love, Henry". We put a snowman Peep in the clear bag with 2 graham cracker squares and a small Hershey bar. I tied them off with ribbon and attached the little card by punching a hole in it and running it through the ribbon.

Henry will miss his party at school this week due to our travels, but I wanted him to have something to give to his friends anyway. He loves his little school friends so much!

Because I was tapped out in creativity and time after making teacher gifts and our annual holiday candy to give neighbors and family, I gave my pals at work these wrapped candy boxes for little Christmas happies. I got the $1 movie candy boxes and wrapped them with this cute little wrapper I found on Pinterest. It was easy, cheap and made them!

Our little foodie has been so busy getting ready for Santa. He and his Daddy went to shake some of their wiggles out at the park. We made Henry wear his ski bibs because it was so cold. He looked like Ralphie's brother on the Christmas Story after we added his jacket and gloves. Sweet little Henry!

Happy Food Friday!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Beavers Academy Christmas Party

Julie sent photos from the Beavers Academy Christmas party and like a good sister and aunt I have to post them for all to see. The children in her school are 4 of my most favorite children in the whole wide world. Watching how they do school is always so much fun. Their school administrator, teacher and nurse rocks!

Beavers Academy had a school Christmas party. Isn't the student body adorable?! The handsome teenage student had just gotten in from duck hunting. The look alike students had been playing in the ditch and the prissy student was still lounging in her pajamas. I love the students at Beavers Academy, don't you?!

Their party spread looked so yummy. They went to a lot of effort with the cheeseball and celery boats, etc. The student body at BA has a great home ec teacher, that is fo'sho! The Skittles on the Christmas plate is my favorite dish of all. The little grin on that face in the background is the best part of this picture though. I heart that face!

The party ended with root beer floats made by Daniel. Anna Kathryn sure is a cutie enjoying her float at the Beavers Academy Christmas party. What fun their beautiful mother has with them at their home school!

Aunt Abby