Monday, December 31, 2012

Pictures of Christmas

As I post these pictures I am reminded of a Christmas program our church did when I was a teenager. It was a slide show and my dad narrated and put music to it. Not powerpoint but with an actual slide projector. We listened to that recording over and over and each time I hear the music I can hear my dad's voice. "Christmas, what pictures that word brings to our mind. When we think of Christmas we think of many things at once...." Here are a few pictures that will always come to mind for family.

Christmas brunch at the adult table.


For gift giving we exchange names adults and children alike and it is a lot of fun to find out who had who. Although, I knew who everyone had by the end and not by trying to figure it out as one of my children likes to do. When you have 6 children shopping for different people that takes a large part of the mystery away. And then others ask me what a certain person wants which takes more of the mystery away. But in the end it was so much fun!

To make it last longer we start with my Grandpa receiving his gift and working our way down to the youngest.


This year we were able to trick George and confuse him so thoroughly he had no idea who had him which was great!


I love when people say "Oh, ____ had me!" This year my nephew had me and he puts such thought into his gift. I got baking pans (that he reluctantly gave me) but he picked out two necklaces all by himself that had to be just so. He knew what colors I liked and that I didn't need earrings to match. So sweet! I even got a gift from the "Secret Shop" from school.


John was making fun of me as I wanted them to take their time giving the gift so I could get a picture. Love his expression! What a goof! 


Missy finally got the cash register she has been asking for. Now she can play store to her hearts content! And maybe learn some math along the way.


Tank and Seppy were there but I didn't think you wanted to see pictures of every gift exchange. :) Here is Zippy doing one of his favorite things this Christmas season. Reaching for the ornament. We worked hard with him so he is a little better at just touching with one finger. Of course there is still the occasional grab and throw.


When my sister and I were little girls we made up actions to the The Twelve Days of Christmas and liked to perform them each year. And for me it has to be to the Dinah Shore version my Dad always played from a record. We haven't done that for awhile but this year revived our act much to the enjoyment of our children. They cracked up on the 6 geese as we pretend we are laying eggs and plop our bottoms down and make a noise. Of course we were cracking up too and remembered what a workout it is by the end. John videoed it but I am not going to share that here. :)

Two turtle doves...


...and a partridge in a pear tree.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Our Christmas Part 1

I am going to start with the big snowstorm from last week which the kids were so excited for! Last winter was not very snowy so this year they are hoping for a lot. Well, they were not disappointed as we got dumped on. It is funny how only 20 minutes away from us they hardly had any snow. And as my Dad drove out here to check out our snow he said that we even had more at our house than in town. But John always says it has to do with us being up on a hillside and then down in the valley. No matter, it is amazingly beautiful! If I didn't mind the cold so much I'd be out in it as often as the kids. We no longer needed to dream of a White Christmas. 


This was Zippy's first time "playing" in the snow and he loved it! It certainly was a hard thing finding winter gear in his size among our collection. You can't see it but he is wearing a mix of things. One pink mitten and one blue mitten to say the least. That's what happens when you are the 7th child I guess. All we need are smaller boots so he can actually walk! :)

Christmas Eve began with a beautiful candlelight service. There is simply nothing like a congregation gathered together in worship adoring the Light of the World who came to save us. Heavenly!


I didn't dare hold a candle with Zippy around so I took a few pictures. I asked Missy why she was so serious and she told me she was concentrating and watching all around because she remembers the year her friend's hair started on fire. And here I thought something more profound. :) Glad she is aware!


Getting ready to blow out the candle


As always we gather with my Dad's side of the family. My Grandparents are no longer able to host us but I am so thankful they are still able to be with us!


Re-Pete and George practicing for a guitar duet.


My sweet sister and nephew. Can you tell they are related?


He thought it would be fun to act out the Christmas story with my kids and got together all of the props and such. As my Uncle read from Luke 2 the kids gave us a glimpse of the story. Zippy did not want to be left out and wandered in and out. He wanted to pet the "sheep".


Lest you think our family pictures always turn out here is a crazy one. It didn't help that everyone decided they needed to take a picture so none of us really knew where to look. I only got two with my camera so picked the one where my parents looked better.


By the end of the night and after countless amounts of cookies stolen Zippy was a little crazy.


And the celebration continues on this weekend when we gather with my Grandpa, parents and sister's family. Here is the winter wonderland out my window. Simply stunning!


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas 2012

Merry Christmas from Our family to Yours!


And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

Christmas Chalkboard

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Me and My Camera

I was thinking this week about something I could not live without and one item is my camera. I'll get to the reason I was pondering that in a minute. I love my camera! I have always enjoyed taking pictures. I  remember when I was little using my grandma's long rectangular camera with the disposable flash that attached. And when I was in middle school I got my very own camera. I have no idea what kind it was. Some type of point and shoot from "back in the day" (seems to be a catch phrase I hear often lately) again with the disposable flash. Wow, we have come so far! And so have my pictures. I have learned and grown along with each new camera.

But alas, my camera (Canon Rebel Xsi) bit the dust. Which got me to pondering how I could possibly survive without it -- especially with Christmas coming up. The screen was black with a dreaded Error 99. After a bit of research and trying out a few suggestions nothing worked and everything pointed to it needing to be sent for repair. Well, I had it sent for repair last year after a lens got stuck (I actually found that post still as a draft and just published it) and broke some connecting pins. I was none too happy then as it was right after Zippy was born. Well, I was not happy this time either knowing it takes at least a month to get it back. And too, do you put money into repairing it yet again when you could be saving for a bit of an upgrade? Repairs aren't exactly cheap.

Well, Canon had a great sale on refurbished cameras last week. They are already slightly discounted but there was a deal on top of that. Yes, but still more than we wanted to spend now. John and I talked it over but I didn't think he would agree to it and was trying to come to terms with just fixing what I had but then I saw an email in my inbox from John saying "Merry Christmas!" with an order from Canon thanking John for his order. And I was so excited to the point of tears! Maybe I love my camera a little too much.

My new camera arrived and is so much fun! I notice the advancements in this one right away. I am very excited about the higher ISO and my indoor pictures without flash look so much better and I can actually see the real color of my kitchen walls. With my old camera it never came through with the light green it really is. The pictures also seem a tad more crisp which I have been really desiring. This one also has video capability. I have so much playing to do I can't wait. Merry Christmas to me! And Thank You so much John!!!


One of my favorite subjects. Although he doesn't often stay still lately which equals not as crisp but still nice. Caught him doing one of his favorite things lately -- playing with the tree!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Perfect Tree

Over the years of having children I thought I had left my "perfect" tendencies long behind which reminded me of a post I did when I first began blogging. Times haven't changed as much as I thought they had. I usually try to set my expectations for things quite low so as not to be disappointed. But I am finding out that I still might have a bit of wanting everything to be just so.

We set out last Monday to find and cut down our Christmas tree. We decided to go back to a tree farm closer to home since I no longer need to have a huge tree (they don't have huge trees). John got off of work early to get there before dusk and we all were eager with anticipation. I cannot recall ever picking out a tree where the temperature was a balmy 50 degrees or so and we were wearing just a light jacket. The kids were excited as we got onto the tractor hay ride out to the field.


We watched all of the trees passing by pointing out some along the way. We had in mind to get a Fraser Fir this year as my parents always get them and they seem a little hardier with maybe sturdier branches than the typical Balsam we get. Well, this was harder than we thought. It seems everyone wants a Fraser and all of the nice ones we found were a bit small or misshapen.


John kept telling me he found some really nice ones already cut in the pole barn. You don't go to a tree farm to pick an already cut one! But after much walking and contemplating getting a funny shaped tree we agreed to go look in the barn. One of our boys was very hesitant about this. He was looking forward to the chance of cutting the tree this year. And I really, really wanted that for him. But upon entering the barn he looked at me as we knew that the best trees were in here. My heart sank. What do we do? We want a nice tree but I knew how much he longed to have his chance to cut a tree. We debated going to another tree farm but it was too late that day so we ended up getting the tree in the barn. His disappointment was great and I understood that and we talked about it quite awhile. Always a lesson to be learned. Life is not always what we want it to be.


The tree ended up being a bit smaller than I had wanted but it would do. George and Tank did pretend to cut it, although not quite the same. :) The kids had fun wrapping it in netting.


I was so thankful for my helpers with the lights this year. Pete and Re-Pete went through each set to make sure they were working and replaced bulbs as needed. (I should have taken a picture!) Then they handed them to me and kept everything moving. It made the task go much faster. The ornaments went on and soon we began to notice that our tree did not quite look the same as it had. The branches now hung low which made it harder to hang anything on. And so we didn't even finish hanging them because it doesn't really work. I skipped the beads too because it would add to the problem.


I saw my Mom and Dad's beautiful tree last night and I must say I was a tad jealous. It's branches hang straight out as they should and the ornament spacing is just right. Ahh, it may just be the "perfect tree". I have had thoughts of going out and cutting a new one but what is the point of that?

And through the past few days a song by Ray Boltz plays through my head about the "Perfect Tree".

The perfect tree
Grew very long ago
And it was not decked with silver
Or with ornaments of gold
But hanging from its branches
Was a gift for you and me
Jesus laid His life down
On the perfect tree

Christmas is not about the tree or decorations and many other things we associate with this time of year and I am glad my "weeping willow fir" as John calls it, has reminded of that! I know I can still get hung up on wanting things, especially at Christmas to be just so. I want to make memories that the children will remember. But I don't need to orchestrate each event and each story read or cookie decorated to make memories. All we need to do is live and love together. And to always put the focus where it should be. Not on ourselves and our desires but remember that it is all about Jesus. He needs to be our focus. Let's worship and adore Him!

With all the celebrations
Sometimes the truth is lost
That every step this baby took
Brought Him closer to the cross

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Garden Cake and Dirt Cake

I know, a little over a month behind. But....For Missy and Seppy's birthday party I thought we'd go with something easy and make two dirt cakes. I planned that Missy's would be in a cute pot with flowers on top and Seppy's would be in a pail with gummy worms. Well, Sep went along with my plan but of course Missy Blue had plans of her own. I was a little surprised that she wanted an actual cake as she does not especially like cake but "everyone else does". Admittedly I was a little irritated in the beginning because her plans would be much more work. But I am truly thankful that she has a creative little mind and is able to express that. And in the end many hands made light work. Somehow I forget that everyone here likes to be creative so I don't have to look far for help.

Missy wanted to have a garden cake. A friend of theirs had entered one in the County Fair and so we went online and found some ideas. That along with the Hello Cupcake book from my sister and we had our design.

The cake was a chocolate 9 X 13 cake made with a recipe and a half so that it baked higher. I had planned on making two layers but it was much easier this way.

We covered it in a light layer of chocolate frosting although in hindsight that wasn't really necessary. and we could have used all green. The dirt was made with crushed oreos which worked perfectly with Sep's dirt cake. The arrangement of the veggies was done by Missy of course.


The kids all shaped the veggies out of Starburst and Airheads candy. Although the orange starburst is not anything close to the color of a pumpkin so I added a bit of orange food coloring to it and mixed it. Lettuce is cornflakes mixed with melted butter, marshmallow, almond extract and green coloring (like Christmas wreath cookies -- yum!) and topped with an M&M.


The carrots were made out of portions of candy corn. The original carrots were shaped out of starbursts but looked so pale that we turned them into potatoes and rolled them in "dirt".


Pete added his own creative touch in making cobs of corn (something we didn't see in any examples). And then he went on to pipe the "grass".


Seppy really liked Missy's cake and decided that next year he will have a cake that is more fun too! But he definitely thought his tasted better!

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