December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012

From our home to yours...warm wishes for a very Merry and Blessed Christmas!

December 20, 2012

Weekend Plans

Well, it is almost here...Christmas! The presents are wrapped and delivered, the cards are mailed, the refrigerator and pantry are full, and we are waiting. Waiting for Baby Jesus ...waiting for Santa...waiting for the joy that is Christmas. Friday evening we have no plans at all, so the kids have requested a Christmas movie night. I am planning on some simple homemade macaroni and cheese with bread and butter for dinner and then some Christmas Confetti popcorn with our movies.  It is popcorn with pretzels and m&ms covered in white chocolate and Christmas sprinkles. Soooo good! We have yet to watch Rudolph this year, so I am sure that will be on the schedule!

Saturday is also free during the day, and I plan on getting all the school uniforms washed so I can get all my ironing done Saturday night. I just love having all the uniforms washed and ironed and put back in the closets before Christmas. That way we don't have to even think about going back to school until we have to! The same goes for backpacks. We get them all emptied and cleaned out and then stored away for 12 whole days! I also plan a quick cleaning day on Saturday. We will dust and vacuum and quick clean the bathrooms to get the house all clean for Christmas. We will attend Mass on Saturday evening and then have a simple dinner of sloppy joes, chips, and fruit.

Sunday is our last day before Christmas Eve, and we have no plans, except the Steeler game in the early afternoon. We finished our baking last weekend, or at least I thought we did until I read this post by Mama Leigh. Now I think we may whip up a batch! They look so good! I am planning on baking a small ham for dinner with some cheesy potatoes. That will give us some ham for sandwiches for Christmas Eve Day lunch.

As I type this, the rain is beginning to fall, and will shortly change to snow. We are under a winter storm warning from now through Saturday evening for 8 to 12 inches of snow! Looks like a white Christmas after all! The kids are hoping for a snow day tomorrow. That would be a great way to start vacation! Well, that is our weekend. I hope yours is cozy, and Christmasy and fun...whatever your plans may be.

Flynn on our way to Grandma's house...

What I've been enjoying with my afternoon coffee this week! A sweet gift from a sweet friend...

Our annual order of these yummy apples came! I order these every year and they are delicious! And I don't even like caramel!

Rhett enjoying an early Christmas gift...thanks Marian! : )

December 18, 2012

Christmas Baking 2012

Last Saturday we baked our holiday cookies together. We baked five different types of cookies in all, and had fun baking and sampling each kind. After they cooled, we packed some up to deliver to friends and put the remainder in the freezer to enjoy during the Christmas season. This year we made chocolate chip (with Christmas chips), M&M's, peanut blossoms, snickerdoodles, and chocolate crinkle. Yummy!

chocolate chip and M&M"s

peanut blossoms, snickerdoodles, and chocolate crinkles
Guess which ones we sampled most?! : )

All packed up and ready to deliver... : )

Christmas Baking Day 2012...success!

December 16, 2012

Christmas Eve Preparation

Christmas Eve is a week away, but in an effort to have everything ready early so we can sit back and enjoy this beautiful season in a calm and peaceful way, I organized and double checked everything to make sure it is ready to go. I love Christmas Eve and always have. It is a day of waiting, anticipation, and wonder. I remember as a child, attending Mass and feeling so content and happy sitting in that long pew among my sisters, with my mom on one end and my dad on the other. We were dressed in our Christmas outfits, listening to the beautiful sounds of the choir singing as we waited for Baby Jesus to be born. Even today, I can't listen to Silent Night without a tear in my eye and a longing in my heart to be little once again, waiting on Christmas Eve.

These are the memories I hope to create for my own children. Like many others, we have special traditions we celebrate every Christmas Eve. I gathered everything together and made sure we were ready. And now we wait. We wait for Baby Jesus. We wait for Santa. We wait for the quiet and calm that is Christmas Eve. We wait for the noise and laughter that is Christmas Day. We wait and wonder because it is almost here...Christmas!

We light this candle every Christmas Eve morning. It burns all day, until we put it out for another year.

This is our Christmas Eve Dinner. The kids are always too excited to eat a large meal, and we are busy getting ready for Mass, so this is a fun and easy dinner to eat before we go. We don't have pop in the house on a regular basis, so the Raspberry Ginger Ale is a festive, special treat.

After Mass, Steve takes the littles outside to sprinkle the Magic Reindeer Dust for Santa!

Then it is inside to change into the special Christmas Eve pajamas I surprise them with. They always act surprised, even though we do this every year! I used to get them all matching jammies...miss that!

We sit down together, and read our beautiful book...The Night Before Christmas, like so many other families everywhere on this special night.

This is a special family came right from The North Pole and Santa himself!

We set out cookies and milk for Santa and his elves,

and hang our stockings.

Then it is off to check the NORAD Santa Tracker one last time before we say our prayers and head to sleep on the best night of the year!

December 15, 2012


On my way to Mass tonight with sadness in my heart. I will be praying for all those lives lost, and all those who are left behind, with grief so unimaginable it breaks my heart.

December 13, 2012

Weekend Plans

Well, we are right in the heart of it, aren't we? How can that be? I think it is all passing too I will suddenly blink and it will all be over. Well, let's just hold on and enjoy it while we can! This weekend is a busy Christmas one for our family...Friday night we will wrap our gifts for the loved ones in our lives. We do this as a family and we have a good system going. I always have the gifts organized...I know...big surprise there...and  Steve is the master wrapper. I swear he could get a job at the North Pole! The kids help with bows and tags and then I get them again to reorganize into bags and boxes for delivery or for mailing. We will have an easy dinner and then watch a movie to round out the night.

Saturday is our annual Family Baking Day! My mom usually comes up and we bake several kinds of cookies to share and to keep. Each of the kids picks a different kind to make and we spend the day measuring and mixing and sampling too! When we are all done we pack up some tins to deliver to a few special people in town. We always give a tin to the sweet older woman up the road who likes to have them with her tea, and a wonderful man who creates the most beautiful light display in his yard every year. I also plan on taking some to my dad's old roommate, Marshall. He has no grandchildren, so he adopted my children as his own! Dinner will be takeout pizza and then we will attend Mass at 7:30, where Rhett will be serving. He always looks forward to that!

Sunday we will travel a little to attend Steve's family Christmas. Steve is the youngest of seven, so there are quite a few of us. In fact, this year we are having the gathering at a hall and having it catered. Works for me! After the party, we will come home, unwind, and relax before beginning the last week before Christmas. Well... that is our busy family weekend. I hope yours is happy and jolly and cozy, whatever your plans may be!

Flynn was all smiles on our way to "Rhett's school" last week for Rhett's Christmas play.

We are enjoying our December cupcake delivery...the best one? Cookie dough!

Madison and Ryan all ready for The Snowball Dance last weekend.

They were all set to dance in their matching Converse!

Me and my did she grow up so quickly? : )

One of our special holiday bedtime snacks...white chocolate cocoa with peppermint oreos...yummm!

December 11, 2012

Grilled Cheese And Tomato Soup

Yes. You read that right. I am actually writing a post about having grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup for dinner. I realize that this is not a new idea. Most everyone knows how to make a grilled cheese sandwich and heat up a can of soup. But I just wanted to let any young, busy mom out there who may be reading this to know that it is alright to have soup and sandwiches for dinner. Sometimes when I watch television or read magazines,  I see meals that take hours to prepare and include ingredients that I can't pronounce, let alone find. Yes, I am a meal planner. Yes, we do sit down to dinner at the same time every night. That does not mean that every meal at our house is a meat and potato meal. We don't always include all the main food groups. Sometimes we have soup and sandwiches. And truth be told, that is one of my family's favorite meals! So when I know we will be having a busy night, I plan on heating up the oven (that's my makes them nice and crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside...) and popping open a can or two of soup. (Tomato for some of us, plain old chicken and noodle for the rest.) Easy clean up too!  : )

December 9, 2012

This Makes Me Happy...Christmas Cards

I admit it. I love writing out our Christmas Cards. I love getting my spot all set up at the table and my holiday coffee poured. I love listening to the sounds of Christmas playing on Pandora in the background. I enjoy writing the ages of each of the kids on the back and thinking about how much they have grown. I enjoy thinking about each person or family I am sending each card to, and how important each recipient is to us. There is something so calming and comforting about this most simple of tasks. I love receiving Christmas cards too! I love seeing how each family has changed and grown. It may seem simplistic, I know. But Christmas cards make me happy.

December 6, 2012

Weekend Plans

Well, December is moving along rather quickly, don't you agree? The weekend is here already! We have a quiet weekend for the most part. And I am glad! Friday evening we will attend a Vigil Mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Afterward, Steve and Rhett are going to camp for one last visit during hunting season. Steve is really hoping Rhett will be successful in his first year of hunting.

Saturday morning I will not be visiting my father in the nursing home because...He is home!! For good! We found out last week that he is independent enough to live at home with just some help from the wonderful community nurses. It has been almost a year since his brain surgery, and he has made remarkable progress. Our family is truly blessed! Saturday will be a quiet day and then we will attend Mass in the early evening. I am putting some beef in the crock pot early Saturday morning for beef pepper steak and jasmine rice for dinner. Madison and Ryan are going to the Christmas dance at school...The Snowball Dance...and they are eating at a friend's house before. She is very excited and her dress is gorgeous!

Sunday morning I have brunch planned. I am planning Christmas confetti pancakes, sausage, scrambled eggs, toast, and fresh fruit. After brunch, we will probably watch the Steeler game and relax. Sunday evening is free. When we have a big brunch, we usually have a light supper like sandwiches or pizza. I will probably be working on my Christmas cards too. Then it will be the usual Sunday night routine of baths, showers, backpack packing, and an early bedtime! Well, that is our December weekend. Hope yours is jolly, whatever your plans may be!

We started our Advent calendars last week. I have gotten these for the kids since Madison was little.

Flynn loves finding Zip every morning. He sure is tricky!

Peyton made a sample batch of Christmas chocolate chip cookies. Because we had to make sure they are good enough to share with the neighbors, right? : )

I took this picture with my phone and sent it to my oldest sister, Mary. She made this darling jumper for Madison when she was three. It is thirteen years old, and I am so thankful I get to use it again!

I was so excited to find these on our shopping trip this week. I thought the girls woukd enjoy making a special treat this weekend. I had never seen these before!

December 5, 2012

Christmas Schedule 2012

If you have read this blog before, you know I am an organized person. I can't lie...that is just how my brain works. So it should come as no surprise that every year around this time, I write out a schedule for Christmas. And by write, I mean write. By hand. With markers and stickers. Because, again, that is how my mind works. After having taught second grade for so many years, I think my mind is stuck there permanently. Not that that is a bad thing! : ) Anyway, at first glance it may seem like I am even trying to micromanage Christmas. Really, that is not my intent. I began doing this several years ago because there is just so much to do... shopping, wrapping, and baking, and so many things happening at school... plays, dances, and dress down days, and all the other things that need to be done... haircuts and Christmas cards that I knew without some type of schedule, it would not be enjoyable. It would be chaos.

It really isn't anything more than organizing all our events in one place and adding a few stickers to make it look nice and festive! The real reason I do this is that I want this time of year, which always passes so quickly, to be what it should be for our family. Quiet. Calm. Cozy. Fun. We are, after all, preparing for the birth of Baby Jesus on a quiet, calm, holy night. Therefore, I strive to have everything completed by December 17 every year. That way, we have a whole week to prepare, to enjoy, to relax and take it all in. Here is our simple Christmas schedule. Happy Planning!

December 2, 2012

Deck The Halls!

Well, it is finally here...Christmas...the best time of the year! We decorated our home for Christmas on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. I could barely wait until the turkey was cooled to pack up my autumn and Thanksgiving decorations so the holiday decorating could begin! When all the autumn decorations were packed away, we gave the house a good dusting and got to work. Here are some pictures of our cozy country home all ready for the holiday season!

This is the table in our mudroom. The bowls are for keys and the basket is for Kirby's leash.

This is our kitchen table all decked out with the dish of red and green Hershey kisses!

The sideboard has the replica Santa cookie jar just like the one my mom had.

Here is our Kitchen Christmas tree. I actually keep this up all year.

I love this new little sign I got off of Etsy. And sadly, it is true!

Another favorite...and also true!

The open cupboard in the kitchen holds some special teacups that belonged to my great-grandmother.

Our sweet little snack plates...

and our everyday holiday dishes. These were a gift from my grandmother many years ago.

 Some special mugs perfect for afternoon hot cocoa!

And just because I was standing kitchen sink!

This is the hearth room...a favorite spot this time of year.

Our Christmas mantle

This is the sweet little tree in the hearth room. I keep it up all year as well. Now it is decorated with snowmen.

This is a wall near the kitchen and family room...

This is our main Christmas tree. It is in the family room.

Underneath...the beautiful manger scene Steve's parents got us for a wedding present.

Also in the family room...our bucket of Christmas DVDs and videos.

Here is Steve's tree. It is in his den. I actually just got this for him last Christmas.

Here is our dining room table.

And our last tree...the tree for the kids. This tree is in the basement and is the one the littles put their ornaments on. This is also where Santa leaves the presents!

And tucked underneath...the Little People nativity. So sweet!

Last but not least...our Home for the Holidays candle which burns every evening in our Holiday home.

Happy Christmas Season!