Friday night we went to my friend Kathy's house for what has become one of my favorite parts of the Christmas season the past few years...good friends, yummy food, and a time to stop for a few hours in the midst of the holiday hustle and relax and laugh and eat until we are all ill. ;-) The kids all tear around like banshees having a marvelous time (not to mention keeping the rest of us in stitches). Kathy always puts together an amazing array of food...her shrimp cheeseball has become a tradition and is one of my *all-time* favorite things to eat in the whole entire world. This year the award for the best *new* recipe went to Kathy's version of Pioneer Woman's Spicy Shrimp. Yummmm. There are not even words to describe how good it was.

I had been waiting for the perfect opportunity to make Pioneer Woman's Olive Cheese Bread ever since I first saw the recipe. For those who have seen the wonderful reviews but not tried it yet, let me just tell you...YES. It IS as good as they say it is. The one thing I *don't* agree with...her assessment of this as "Chick Food". The guys out-ate the girls on this stuff hands-down. :-D HOWEVER....I must add this...the olive-cheese mixture is actually even better *before* it is cooked than it is cooked. Absolutely delicious. Next time I'm making it as a cheese ball and serving it with crackers. (Or a spoon. Depending on if I share. ;-))

Btw...I think my olive-cheese bread picture ended up sideways. Can you tell I am way behind on blog posts and trying frantically to get a couple in before we head to church?!

Christmas Ornaments

I am *so* far behind in posting pictures...these were made week before last when we were making ornaments for the tree. We've done clothespin toy soldiers/people, decoupaged balls, painted balls with rick-rack, and a paper chain with stars (which I have yet to get a picture of). We still aren't *finished* with the ornaments we had planned to make this year...I think we will go ahead and do a last batch tomorrow so we can at least enjoy them *on* Christmas, and then have them ready for next year! (And I just noticed some serious red-eye issues in these pictures, I'll have to correct that when I have a little more time--ack!)


Nothing Quite Like It!

There is simply nothing quite like having a husband who works in the ER and brings home treats...in a Biohazard Specimen Bag! Ab-so-lute-ly *nothing*. (The cookies and fudge were great, by the way, and he *promises* me the bags are *not* recycled! ;-))


Christmas Tree...finally!!

Well, we still don't have the living room *exactly* as I plan to leave it for Christmas, but we *did* make a spot for the tree (hmmm...perhaps I should say, "*Billy* made a spot for the tree"!!), and it is finally *up*. Yay!! We haven't finished decorating it yet...but it is up, lights are on, and it does have *some* ornaments. One of my favorite handmade ornaments broke (apparently a cat had made it's bed on one of the Christmas boxes and broke several glass ornaments...grrrr!), leaving a string of red bead garland that Peter thought was very cool...so we are going to try to get some more bead garland to match, and hopefully finish all the ornaments in the next couple of days.

This is *really* late for us to get a tree up...we usually have it up before Peter's birthday. Due to the space situation and other issues, that didn't happen this year...and I've been very surprised. The kids haven't been anxious at all about it. *I* was the one stressing about not having a tree up yet.:) But it is *up*, and I will post more pictures when we have it completely decorated. :)


Sweet Shooter (aka Marshmallow Madness or the Boy's Birthday)

As I mentioned here, Saturday was Party Day for the Boy. And what a party it was! 7 boys, an assortment of sisters, and a box full of PVC pipe. Oh...and a pinata full of candy, a panful of brownies, and a mountain of cheese puffs.

Peter designed his brownie "cake", which mom made to his specifications.

Poor Dad worked all morning cutting and sanding PVC pipe. It was quite a job, but worth it for the fun the boys had with the marshmallow shooters! (The road to marshmallow shooters was pretty rocky...we spent an hour looking for the connectors we had bought the night before, only to find that they had been stuck in the *freezer* ...probably by mom...ack! Then one bag of elbow joints was the wrong kind, but Mrs. Jodie saved the day by bringing us another bag. :))
Load, blow, and shoot...
With marshmallows flying all around her, Ammah Grace was completely content playing on the slide.
Serious business!
Take my picture, mom!
My favorite shot of the day. Josh had already lost his gum in his gun (his lucky mom got to dig it out!) Here he is working up some serious velocity!
Blowing out the candles...
Clean -up Crew...
Bayley had had a *loonngg* day...
And a good time was had by all!

Oh! And in case there is a boy in your life who *needs* a marshmallow shooter (they *all* do!), the plans can be found here. If you are looking for a frugal Christmas gift for a boy on your list...look no further! About $2.00 worth of PVC pipe and fittings, and a bag of mini-marshmallows, and you're all set. :)

More on Monday...

As I said in my Ahhh....Monday post, last week was quite a full one. Today I am trying get caught up, mentally and physically. This will be another full week, but hopefully busier at home than elsewhere, other than preparation for the children's Christmas musical next Sunday. Here's the game plan for the week:

Bible Study

This week I plan to work through a short Bible Study from Revive Our Hearts on How to Endure Suffering, along with some other resources I hope to share later in the week. The children and I will be going through the Week of Prayer for International Missions prayer guide (the WoP was actually last week, but we weren't able to do this last week.) They are memorizing the Christmas story from Luke 2, and learning a variety of Christmas carols. We plan to learn the hymn stories of several of our favorite Christmas carols this week as well.

Home Blessing

I have two main goals this week. First, we *still* do not have our Christmas tree up! We still have some re-arranging to do in the living room to accomodate the tree...so we plan to work on that early tomorrow and put up our tree tomorrow evening. Second, I'm ready to get our dining room/schoolroom redo *moving*, so we are going to work hard on the remaining *prerequisite* work on that this week.

Holiday Planning

We got sidetracked last week celebrating birthdays, so this week we must get back to Christmas! I need to assess where I am giftwise, finish shopping, get the tree up, and work on the small handmade things I'm making. The kids and I plan to work on ornaments for a while each morning this week.


Some of these are *must dos*, some are *want tos*, and some have just been on my *to do* list so long I really want to get them crossed off this week!

*Get my mom's internet connected.
*Sewing machine working (I *still* have not done this and I *must*. Ugh!)
*Update blog--new header, organize sidebars and categories
*Burn photos from hard drive to disk
*Library (Tuesday)
*Paint bookcase in living room
*Practice piano!!!!! (Music for the children's musical next Sunday :))

Menu Plan Monday

*Cheeseburger Soup and No-Knead Bread
*Bacon Chicken, Cheesy Cream Cheese Potatoes, green beans
*Talarima, salad, biscuits
*Enchiladas, Rice, and Beans

To see what others are doing this week, visit Tiany at Less of Me, More of Him. Then pop over to Orgjunkie for great menu ideas!


Rarely do I look forward to Monday. But...I am glad to see Monday this week! Last week was a crazy-busy week for us, and I am ready for a day to catch up. Most of the *busy* was *good busy*...really good busy, in fact, but after a few days of running, I begin to crave time at home...to clean, putter, and curl up on the sofa with a stack of books with the kids! :)

Wednesday we were out all day and then had an extra long children's choir rehearsal (our musical is next Sunday), *and* an extra long adult choir rehearsal (our musical was last night). Thursday was adult choir dress rehearsal. Friday was *supposed* to be our big shopping day, but we never got that far. :) We took Billy to work, came home to get a few things done, and then hit the road. We met friends for lunch and then went to see the replica of the Nina with them. It was quite an experience...cold and windy (especially down on the river!), a much smaller boat than we expected, and six kids with Columbus's spirit of exploration! ;-)

This hole was at the stern (I think?) of the boat. Emlyn and Joshua kept trying to lean out the hole to get a better look at the water...causing Kathy and I all manner of anxiety until we managed to leave that area of the boat! The river from the boat.Looking down into the hold. We were all fascinated by the fact that the crew of 27 slept on the deck...we couldn't figure out where there was even room for them all to sleep!...and by the fact that the only private space Columbus had on the boat was through a grate like this one...a very small space below the deck (about 5 feet with 4' headroom, if I remember correctly), with the grate the only opening. Some of the actual crew of the replica were down in the hold reading when the kids peeked in. :)

Eskimo Ammah Grace....Emlyn...Bayley...And Peter...
After the Nina, we did a little birthday shopping...for Peter's party, and for Billy's birthday. After we picked him up at work, we took him out to dinner for his birthday. We ran into Mrs. Amanda and her family, celebrating *her* birthday (they share a birthday, 9 years apart.:)) Mrs. Amanda tried to get the staff to sing to Dad, but he escaped before they got a chance!

More shopping after dinner Friday night, and still a bit more Saturday morning. Saturday morning the girls had a GA party at church, and the rest of us worked on birthday party prep. Peter's party turned out great....despite some major setbacks during the morning (ack!) Full story on Peter's party to come in a separate post.

Sundays are always busy, but this one was especially so. Although I can't think of a Christmas musical (or any other kind, actually) that I've sung in that I didn't love, the Oak Cliff Christmas musicals the past two years have probably been my favorites ever. Last year Lyndel introduced "Keyboards at Christmas", a program he had arranged for choir, multiple pianos, organ, and keyboard. No costumes, no drama, just exceptional music, with choir pieces interspersed between keyboard pieces. Last year's was incredible, but this year's was even better. 3 pianos, 8 pianists, 2 organists, 1 soloist, and a full choir. The keyboard pieces were all beautiful, but 3 of them gave me chillbumps every time I heard them: the only repeat from last year, Katie, Hannah, and Lindsay playing an incredible arrangement of "Joy to the World"; a piano trio with Kathy, Kaitlyn, and Katie playing "Mary's Baby Medley"; and the finale for the evening, "O Holy Night", arranged by Lyndel and played by Lyndel, Lindsay, and Katie. The whole thing was a beautiful celebration of the heart of Christmas, the good news of Jesus's birth.


Teddy Bear Christmas Tea

Mamoe took Bayley to the Teddy Bear Christmas Tea downtown today. Bayley looked like a princess and had a wonderful time. She's growing up so fast and looking like such a young lady all of the sudden.

Happy Birthday!

The big day has finally arrived! Double digits at last!! We aren't finished with birthday festivities, as his party isn't until *next* weekend, but he's had a great birthday so far. He shopped with Mamoe yesterday, and spent the night with her last night. This morning he came home and got to open one gift (the others had to wait until dad got home from working.) He has wanted a parrot for over a year...he is really excited about this one!

The girls and I had fun decorating our "end-roll newsprint" wrapping paper this morning. We didn't get quite as creative as I had planned, as our time was cut short by Bayley leaving for the TeddyBear Christmas Tea with Mamoe (pics to come from that in a bit pics posted here).

Of all the fun things that we did today, I think the *most* fun of all was when Peter and Gracie popped the packaging from one his gifts. :-D (He was picking her up high and bouncing her down to pop the big inflated plastic pieces...great fun for both!)
We don't do a lot of electronic/video games, but he had really gotten excited about this plug and play hunting game. I knew he and Billy would both enjoy it, and I got a *really* good Black Friday deal on it. ;-) He was quite surprised!
Did you know that if you join the Birthday Club at ToysRUs, they will send you a $3off coupon card in the mail? And when you go in to spend it, they give you a birthday crown, a balloon, and announce your birthday over the loudspeaker. :-D Not exactly what Peter had in mind (after all, he turned down lunch and a free dessert at the Lone Star because he was worried about being embarrassed when they sang Happy Birthday to him ;-)), but he was a good sport about it...
...until reality set in. He found the biggest bag he could find to hide behind. :-D
All-in-all, a very happy *10* day.

Watch for party pics next week! :-D