Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Advent: The Candle of Hope

A few years ago, we started celebrating the 4 Sundays of Advent in our home.  This is something the kids look forward to each year.  After church on Sunday, the kids take turns with a simple Advent reading and then light the candle/candles for that day.  After that, pieces from our Nativity set are hid around the living room.  The lights go out and one at a time, the kids use a flashlight to find a figure to put in our manger.  By the last Sunday of Advent, our Nativity set is complete and baby Jesus, is placed in his bed.
 We were happy that our cousin, And'rea, got to spend this first Advent celebration with us.  She took part by hiding the 4 Nativity pieces for the kids.  The kids enjoyed playing a few games with her afterwards!
For anyone interested....here is the simple reading for the first Sunday of Advent....

First Sunday of Advent
Today is the first day of Advent.  The word 'advent' means coming.  So this is a time to think about Jesus' coming to earth as a baby.  Advent starts today and ends when we celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas.  There are four Sundays in Advent.  We'll light a candle on each on those Sundays.  Each candle stands for a special idea about this holy time of the year.

  The first candle we light is the candle of hope.  People were looking for a Savior to come and help them.  When Jesus was born, that hope came true.  Jesus was the Savior of the world, and He came to teach them and save all people everywhere.

Bible verse for today:
"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord."  Luke 2:11

  Dear God, as we begin Advent, help us to learn the true meaning of Christmas.  We want our hearts to be ready to celebrate the birthday of Jesus.  Amen.

Our Thanksgiving Week.....

It all started with a good price on a spiral slice ham at Aldi's.  I decided that we would have a Thanksgiving Meal on Sunday afternoon.  I spent Saturday baking and cooking.  Sunday after church we sat down to a meal of ham, glazed carrots, green beans, potato salad, coleslaw, deviled eggs & homemade bread.
And for dessert......my own version of this recipe and sweet potato pie.  I'd never had sweet potato pie before and this tasted just like pumpkin.
 Our Thanksgiving Meal at home a few days early!
 Another close-up of this yummy dessert.  I'm thankful to Angie for sharing the recipe for this.  It was a hit at our house.  For my version, I substituted blueberries for the raspberries.  Added spices to the cake batter and sprinkled both chocolate and cinnamon chips on the top along with a handful of chopped pecans.
 And then it was on to getting ready for all the kids' Thanksgiving parties.  Here we are along with 400 cotton balls, a sheet of construction paper and globs of glue to create a sheep for Simon's costume.
 I was amazed at how fast the 400 cotton balls disappeared when we glued them down.  I thought we'd have tons left.....we actually ran out and had to use a little white batting for a small section on one side.
 The morning of Samuel's party I jumped out of bed after realizing we had forgotten to create his  potato for the 'best-dressed potato' contest.  We threw this together in a BIG hurry at little after 7:00AM!!!  Samuel picked out the sweet potato to use and we created a 'mouse' per his instructions. 
 I poked the toothpicks into the veggies and he put them on.  He also insisted we put glue on the top and roll the potato in salt!!!!  I should mention that a BIG bunch of the crumbs slipped off the plate and made their final resting place in the backseat of Daddy's car on the way to work that morning!!  The potato safely arrived at school and even won a prize. :)
 I still have not figured out WHY my pictures sometimes rotate the WRONG way....Any help out there??
Anyways....here is David with his harp(the 5 minute rubber-band harp idea I had, turned into an hour and a half of work for my father-in-law....no wonder people go running when I mention my ideas!!!!) and the 400 cotton balls sheep!  Did I mention that the sheeps' head fell off before he presented his costume for the contest.  He simply told the judges that is sheep was dying!!!! LOL  He tied with another boy for Best Biblical Costume....
 I took my camera along for our Thanksgiving time with my family and didn't manage to take one single picture!!!  It was a fun time.  Lots of food.  Shopping with my mother and sister-in-law.  Enjoy lunch out at a gluten-free recipe where we ate some incredible pizza!!!  My SIL also bought me some GF choc. chip cookies that I have been enjoying!!!  And she also baked me a loaf of GF bread!!!  She's a great sister-in-law!!!!  I enjoyed not one, but two yummy breakfasts while staying with my parents.  It is wonderful to have someone else cook!!!  My dad made the best eggs one morning...I'm gonna have to try to duplicate them here one day. :)  We arrived back home late on Friday, thanks to the use of my parents' washer unpacking was a breeze.  It is sooooo nice to bring home all clean clothes!!

Saturday morning, we decided to put up the tree.  Of course, I decided the attic needed to be cleaned out and organized before decorating for Christmas.  The kids helped me pull out everything in the attic and we sorted through and organized everything.  I have a load of things to take off to the Salvation Army.  This will make load #18!!

We turned on Christmas music and shaped branches......the job that makes me cranky every year.......:(
 Our 2010 Christmas tree....Simon wanted to put on all homemade ornaments this year....so that's what we did.....I'll admit I wanted to put up my beautiful musical ornaments on the tree this year....oh well....there's always next year!!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

A perfect day until............

Have you ever had one of those absolutely perfect days that happen once a year or so?  Today was one of those days.  I got up.  Had a load of laundry washing BEFORE 7:30AM!!!!  Around 8:00AM started the housecleaning.  Callie and I vacuumed carpets, washed floors, walls, chairs, swept down cobwebs(yes, I cleaned these up just for you, Sarah), made beds, cleared clutter, put away clean laundry.  By 10:15, the house was clean and we were getting ready to leave on Callie's 'field trip'.  We had planned a trip to the mall.  They have a small indoor playground that she loves to play on.  As a bonus, we stopped and picked up a few cuts of Christmas fabric at Jo-Anns.  Then it was a stop for a GIANT cookie slice at the Cookie Co.  This was Callie's first cookie from this place.  She was over the moon.  She spied Santa and wanted to go see him.  While there, she got a coupon for another FREE cookie(now WHY didn't we go there before I PAID for a cookie???) and a cookie cutter.  Next stop, was the indoor playground.  After that, she chose to go to Burger King for her lunch.  Everything was perfect.  She was listening and having fun and BEAMING from ear to ear!!!  After lunch, it was on to the bank to get some cash for our groceries.  I hit pay dirt and found 2 GIGANTIC homemade-style pepperoni pizzas at Aldis for $1.99!!!!  They were on clearance.  The expiration date was not until the end of next week.  I was over the moon with this find.  I had wanted a pizza dinner for the kids.  Two grocery stores & one pony ride later, I decided to swing by Family Video and rent a special DVD for the kids as a surprise tonight.  It was one they had put on their Christmas list.  I was feeling on TOP of the world. 

Wellllll..................let's just say that came to a SCREECHING halt on the way home from school.  I had decided NOT to go to the library for the SECOND time this week.  Apparently one 10 year old boy had his heart set on going to the library and proceeded to gasp in dismay and slink in his seat and sulk as we passed by without stopping.  This is where I made my BIG mistake #1!!!!!!!  His attitude made me feel terrible and I decided to go around the block with much complaining on MY part and go BACK to the library.  I shouldn't have given in...but I did....I know it was wrong...I made a mistake....Well, I decided to take what I thought was a shortcut.  It looked like an alley that went ALL THE WAY through.  I should have realized when my van started driving on concrete and not blacktop that something was amiss.  I even wondered what in the WORLD the metal poles that I was dodging were doing in the road.....but did I STOP.....NO!!!!  Not until I realized the end of the 'alley' was a drop-off curb into the parking lot at the courthouse!!!!  I pondered momentarily driving OFF the curb and bumping onto the parking lot.  I'm glad I DIDN'T for there walking out the doors of the courthouse was a police officer.  He stood there at the doors staring at me and my van and my predicament.  How was I, the girl that doesn't like to back up, going to back around all those metal poles!!!  Not to mention once I backed up and pulled forward. I realized that there was a GIGANTIC Christmas tree set up with cables holding it down.  I was just going to do a u-turn.  Well, all the cables coming off the tree prevented that.  So it was back up a little bit....pull forward a little bit....back up a bit more....pull forward a bit more until....at long LAST I had my van pointed in the right direction!!!!  Oh, and I should mention that I did pause in all my backing up and pulling forward to roll down the window and apologize to the police officer.  I told him, "Sorry, I thought this was an alley!"  He just shook his head.  I'm VERY thankful he didn't walk over and ticket me!!! 

 By the time, I FINALLY arrived at the library, I'm sure my blood pressure was sky-rocketing.  Not to mention, my heart was literally thumping over the entire close counter with the law!!!  Well.....we parked at the library.  Two men were standing right beside the entrance smoking away.  Now what happened next, I can't explain.  All I can think of is that I was slightly stressed, and when I starting inhaling smoke, something just snapped.  My super-woman pillar I had set myself up on for the day was rapidly crumbling at this point.  I marched right up there and told them VERY firmly that it was against the law to smoke that close to a public building.  I then asked the poor librarian, who was down on her hands and knees gathering up books from the book drop, who I could call about the two men smoking!!!  Goodness....I'm embarrassed of my VERY childish behavior. :(  Seth reported that within a couple minutes the men walked away.  They were probably afraid of what the 'crazy' woman would do upon leaving the library if they were still there!!!! 

Upon leaving the library, I had to back out of the parking space.  It is extremely difficult to back out after school.  People come RACING through the parking lot and nearly hit you as you try to back out!  Well, I checked BOTH ways for cars coming.  It's a one-way street through the parking lot, but occasionally someone goes the wrong direction.  I even check for back-up lights on the cars parked behind me.  Nothing.  I start to back out.  Am almost out far enough to put the car in drive again, when ANOTHER car behind me quickly whips his tiny little red car out of his space and nearly backs into me!!!  I honk the horn in hopes that he won't back up any further.  He doesn't.  By this time....I'm ready to have my 12 year old start driving for me.  Surely that won't be any more of a stress on my already frazzled nerves!!!

It's hours later, I've calmed down and realized the error of my ways.  Oh, if there were just an un-do and a re-do button for things that happen!  Now the pizza, is ready....the kids are happily eating....after a near catastrophe when a certain 5 year old raced through the living room bearing a plate with an enormous slice of pizza.  You can about imagine what happened when the hot slice slid off his plate and skittered across the CARPET!!!!!!  There were tears and  a very frustrated mommy that is trying so hard to have more patience, but it just isn't coming fast enough!!! :)

The night is still young....it surely can't get worse...right?  And tomorrow will be another day........

Friday, November 12, 2010

It's never too late to carve a pumpkin!!!

Yep....I know we're just a bit late around here carving a pumpkin....but...better late than never...Right?
Can you tell this boy is just a little happy that mommy is FINALLY going to carve his pumpkin!!!!
Samuel took a field trip to a pumpkin farm last week at school and they each got to pick a pumpkin to take home.  I wasn't really surprised when I saw he had picked out the BIGGEST pumpkin he could carry!!!
 Pulling off the lid to see what awaits us inside...
 There was a whole lot of "Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeew gross going on during this process!!!"
 Drawing the face for mommy to carve out....
 All carved and ready for a candle..
 All lit up....
 Another picture..just because I love this pumpkin!!!
 Callie wanted to pose with Mr. Pumpkin.
 And what do you do with all the ooey-gooey seeds you took out of Mr. Pumpkin?  Why you make sugar & spice roasted pumpkin seeds to snack on!!!  They smelled sooooo incredibly YUMMY roasting in the oven.  The kids were just a bit hestitant to try them.  Once they did, I couldn't keep them out of the dish!!!  I'm tempted to go find another pumpkin to carve just so I can roast some more seeds!!!!
Sugar & Spice Roasted Pumpkin seeds
1 cup washed pumpkin seeds
1 T. Olive Oil
1 tsp. cinn.
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. allspice

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.  Place on a foil covered cookie sheet.  Bake at 300 degrees for 30-40 minutes stirring occasionally.  Remove from oven.  Allow to cool slightly.  Place in a bowl and start snacking!!!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A whole lot of catching up....

So it's been a looooooong time since I've posted any pictures.  I just didn't feel like breaking it up into a bunch of separate posts so hang on.....loads of pictures ahead!!! :)

My new favorite way to make shirts!  I been terrified of painting the shirts I sew.  Way too scared of ruining the fabric.  I couldn't believe how easy it was to stencil this on.  I printed out the Ben10 logo from a website online, traced it on to some freezer paper, cut it out, ironed it on the shirt front(before I sewed it up of course), and painted away.  I actually painted both shirts on a Sunday afternoon, while the boys were safely tucked away in their rooms.  I didn't want them to see one of their Christmas gifts!! :)

This one is for Simon....I tried it on just to see how it would look on and couldn't believe that it fit me!!!  There's just something disturbing about the fact that my 10 year old boy is almost as big as his mom!!!
 This one is Samuel's shirt.  We are VERY low-key with Christmas gift giving at our home.  Our children are blessed with so much throughout the year, that we decided many years ago to just give each child something made, a book(or something educational along that line) and one small toy item.  So, I have crossed off 2 homemade gifts for my kids this year.  I can't wait to see the look on their faces when they open them up!!!
 Both shirts hanging up....just turn yourself or your computer sideways!!! LOL  Still haven't figured out how/why Blogger rotates some of my pictures this way.....
 A couple close-ups of the painting job....
 Oh, and did I mention these shirts were made out of other older t-shirts we were getting rid of!!!  I love being able to turn something we were just going to give-away into some neat for my kids!!!
 I usually do NOT. EVER. SHOW. pictures like this.  This is what I've spent the last 3 weeks of my life doing.  Well, let's back up just a bit and give a little background......
Once upon a time there was a momma who had a really rough year.  It started with her oldest being in a sledding accident.  From there it just kinda snowballed.  She kept avoiding things.  Hiding away at home.  Wasting time doing meaningless things.  Randomly searching on the internet.  Sewing, sewing...and sewing MORE.  She did the barest of the bare necessity's to keep up her home.  On the outside her home looked fine, for a while.  Then all the sudden, all the things that had been stuffed away in every drawer, closet, cabinet, shelf, started having a mind of it's own and would stay hidden away.  The momma knew she needed to do something.  But what?  She started looking around online for ways to organize her home.  What she found sent her into further depression.  She saw beautiful pictures of other mom's homes with beautifully organized homes.  Every nook and cranny was PERFECT!!!  She realized she could NEVER, no matter how hard she tried, get her home looking like that.  That made her feel like even MORE of a failure!!!  You see....for YEARS she struggled with perfectionism.  She stressed about living up to expectations ona daily basis.  Now her home was a far cry from anything but perfect.  How in the world would she EVER begin?  She read something that made her stop and think....."When organizing an area of your home, you must get rid of things before you EVER can have it organized."  A light went on.....You see every time she would try to organize all the precious possessions junk stuffed in drawers, closets &; cabinets, it would be all be un-organized in just a day or two.  She realized that just pulling out everything and putting it back in a 'new' place was just not going to work again.  She set a goal.  To clean out one small area in the house each week day.  So one Monday, almost 4 weeks ago, she started out with this simple task.  She started with one dresser, then a closet, then some drawers.  Before she knew it, she was on a roll.  Each weekday, she would attack a small area, bag up all the things they just didn't need and give them away to others that could use them.  There's still lots more spaces to clean out in her home, but she's happy to know that a small step has been taken in the right direction.  She's letting go of things that have cluttered up her home  and life for far too long.  She's happier than she's been in months and it just started with one small space.
So anyways....this was a bunch of stuff I pulled out of some drawers in my music studio.  I guess I should have taken some 'after' pictures.  :)  I have donated a BUNCH of fabric that I would never use.  Some decorations that haven't been used in YEARS.  Re-sorted all my patterns.  Got rid of the ones I'd never make again.  Threw out some other junk.  This was just one of the many projects I've tackled over the last 3 weeks.
Just an example of one of the 15 loads of stuff I've hauled away.  Can you believe I got rid of 8 bags of just MY CLOTHES!!!  It was shocking to see how many clothes I've just hung on to, thinking....oh one of these days I'll be able to wear that again!!!  I'm thinking I'd rather do a whole lot of other things with my time than all the exercise it would require for me to become a size 0 again!! :)
Our church had a Halloween Alternative one COLD night in October. 
Simon and his friend show off their face/hand painting they chose for the Halloween Alternative at church.
Thought you'd like to see what my sewing space looks like.  This sewing cabinet houses a vintage Singer machine(pictured at the top of my blog).  I LOVE to sew on this machine. 
My sewing wall.  I made covers to put over my serger, coverstitch maching & another sewing machine.  You see, this is along one of the walls in my dining room/living room.  It's one VERY LARGE multi-purpose room.  The covers made Duane happy.  He would haven't to stare at my large collection of machines when they weren't in use!!! :)  The baskets underneath the tables house serger thread, and other sewing accessories.  The oval wood bowl was a gift from my brother-in-law from the Philippines.  I have some old antique wooden thread spools in it now.
Can you guess what this is???????
It's DUST from inside my serger!!!!!  I thought it looked pretty neat though!! :)
We celebrated Duane's 38th. b-day on October 25th.  Callie was excited to carry in all Daddy's presents.
My good-lookin' husband posing with his cake!!!  Before you ask.....I am waaaaaaaaay younger than he is!! :) LOL
He requested a brownie and ice-cream cake.  I made it gluten-free so I could have some!!!  It turned out YUMMY and no-one could even tell it was gluten-free!!
We had a pounding for our Pastor.  Here is a re-usable fabric grocery bag I made with some of my favorite fabric I had been hoarding filled with food for them.
Seth had a school program.  He's really growing up!!!  He's the handsome boy without glasses!! ;)
He's playing his trumpet with the 5th. grade band.  I promise....he does have a trumpet behind that music stand!!
With his choir singing....
And if you've made it through all that.....bless your heart!!!! :)  Now to go play 'catch-up' on my house in the last hour before picking the kiddos up from school. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Making me smile...

Callie was going through the house saying this poem.  It made me smile and amidst all the craziness of the day, I just had to take a moment and record it.  She is VERY dramatic!!  One of these days, I'll take the time to write a proper blog post to share what has been going on.  But for now, I leave you with this. Enojy!! :)  Oh, remember to hit the pause button on my playlist(to the right) before listening to the video....