Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas 2013 recap

Well ---Christmas 2013 has come and gone. 
A fun time was had by all. 

I wanted to do a quick recap of our Christmas festivities.

On Monday, Rebecca, Jacob and I baked cookies for Santa. 
Rebecca helped me make the sugar cookie cutouts, and Jacob helped me make M&M cookies. 
Both kids had a blast decorating the sugar cookies. 

Tuesday, Christmas Eve, Hubby had to work in the morning, but then was off from noon until Thursday morning. After he came home from work, we all got dressed up and went to my in-laws house for Christmas Eve lunch and opening presents. We had a fun time and were spoiled by my in-laws. The kids got a lot of clothes, toys and fun stuff. Bill got a brand new coat! And they bought me a beautiful Nativity set that I can't wait to put out next year.

After Christmas Eve festivities, we headed back home and arrived back in our town around 6. We stopped at McDonald's as a treat for the kids for dinner and brought it home to eat. When we arrived home, we found that Santa had already stopped by once and left a few presents under the tree. He left new PJs for everyone in the family and the book "Twas the Night Before Christmas" for our annual reading of it before bed. The kids were exhausted, and in reality so were Bill and I. After the kids went to bed, Bill and I put out the Christmas goodies and we had stocking filled, presents out and were in bed by 10pm. LOL

Christmas morning, found the kids having full stockings and presents from Santa and Mom and Dad. Rebecca enjoyed getting a tiara from Santa, the game Operation, books, puzzles, a school sweatshirt, and s Spongebob Snuggie from Mom and Dad. Jacob loved getting more super heroes (Thor, Iron Patriot and Wolverine) from Santa, books, puzzles, coloring things, a Spongebob shirt and a Superman snuggie from Mom and Dad. Benjamin loved his Bubble Guppies toy car that he received from Santa. And he was more interested in messing with his siblings things than opening his own presents! LOL.

The gift that the kids LOVED the most though was a doll house and set that I was actually given for free from my former boss. We gave it to the kids as a group gift from Santa. My former bosses' daughter only played with it a couple of times. The kids opened it first and played with it for a good 20 minutes before they opened their other gifts. And they have been playing with it everyday since. 

I got Bill several DVDs, including a box set of all the original Star Trek movies. He really enjoyed his gifts. 
I got a couple very practical gifts...a new computer chair with a back to replace the one that I had been using whose back fell off over a year ago. I can now type with no pain in my back! He also got me a Shark cordless sweeper, which I LOVE and which I have already used many times. He also got me a blu ray player which we actually ended up returning because my mother bought one for Bill and we don't need 2! Bill also got me a new Joel Osteen book to read which I have already started reading and is a really good book. 

After spending the morning and afternoon, just relaxing and enjoying Christmas at home with just us, we went to my parents house for Christmas dinner and to open more presents. It was a fun time there, with my parents, siblings, Sister-in-law, niece and nephews. The kids received more clothes, and toys! Bill received his blu-ray player and "Star Trek: Into Darkness" on blu ray to watch! 

I received several practical gifts from my parents. They gave me gift cards to use toward an eye exam and new glasses! This was a much appreciated gift. They also gave Bill and I several gift cards to different restaurants and a local grocery store.

 They also gave us 1/4 of a hog. They had a half of a hog processed and split it between my brother and his wife and Bill and I. Our freezer is now loaded with LOTS of pork---ribs, roast, a huge ham, sausage patties and ground, and bacon!  I cooked some of the bacon a few day ago and it is SO much better than what you get at the grocery store. 

We had a lovely dinner there, with ham, turkey and way too much to eat. And by the end of the day, Benjamin made us all laugh because of all the new toys he had to play with...this is what I found him doing....

He was loving taking all the pop cans out of the container and just moving them around my parents' kitchen floor. 

Overall, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were wonderful days with fun times with family and lots of laughs and memories. We were blessed above and beyond with gifts and are so grateful for these blessings. Our kids had a wonderful 2 days and are still having LOTS of fun with their new toys! 

How was your Christmas?
Did you receive special or useful presents this year? 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Gratitude Sunday #8

Life is so precious and I have been feeling overwhelmed with everything that is going on that often I am not taking the time to be grateful for what I do have and the good things in life.

Now is the time to change that.

I hope to come back here every Sunday and tell things that I am thankful for....


This week I am grateful for: 



THAT MY CHILDREN GET IT--We gave gifts for the first time to a needy child in our church. Rebecca helped to pick out the gift. I also have been diligent about having my kids put coins in the Salvation Army's red kettles. The other day Rebecca explained it to a friend why we did that.

THAT WE FIGURED OUT WHAT HAS BEEN CAUSING BILL'S STUFFY HEAD IN THE MORNING-- apparently my hatred of dusting has led to an allergy buildup for dear Hubby. Well I spent the majority of yesterday deep cleaning our bedroom and this morning he woke up feeling great. :) 

FOR TIME OFF OF WORK---I have the next 2 weeks off. While it is unpaid, I am grateful for the time to spend with my hubby and all the kids.

FOR CHRISTMAS MOVIES--- We have been watching lots of Christmas shoes at night..."The Grinch, Rudolph, etc. I am grateful for the change in programming from the regular TV that the kids watch. 

FOR MY BLOG READERS-- There are a few that comment a lot and make my day with their comments---I won't name them in case I leave someone off. But know that I am grateful for each and every one of you dear readers. I hope that you have a very Merry Christmas and if you don't celebrate Christmas, that you have a wonderful holiday of your choosing. 

Overall it was a good week, with lots to be grateful for. It is really in the little things that I am finding gratitude and I hope that you are as well. 

What are you grateful for this week? 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas presents from work

This week has been kind of a blur---as the last week before Christmas vacation usually is when you work in a school. Tuesday night, Rebecca had her school Christmas play performance and it was beautifully done. Each year the music teacher writes and directs a new Christmas play. Last year, the play was loosely based on a Harry Potter type of theme. This year, the play was centered around WWI and the fact that the soldiers stopped fighting on Christmas Day. It was called "Christmas in the Trenches." It was very well done, and Rebecca's class was the choir of children and they did a great job!

Typically there is only one day of school after the play, but this year there was 3 days of school to get through. It was a very busy 3 days, with a LOT of kids in our after school program but that is okay. Job security right?

Part of the reason for the business, was that I decided to make kolacky for my coworkers. Kolacky is a Czech cookie. The recipe I use was passed down from my Great-Grandma who immigrated from that region.  The cookies were a hit with my co-workers and their families.

Today was our last day at work for 2 weeks. Rebecca doesn't go back until Jan 6 and that is when I return to work as well. It will be nice to have 2 weeks off.

Yesterday and today, I was presented with some yummy treats and presents from some of our after school care kids and from our parish family.

First off, from my after school care kiddos---
Yummy chocolate dipped pretzels and money
Local honey, tea and candy

homemade caramels and peanut brittle
Tim Horton's gift card

This was another one of my gifts that was very cleverly wrapped. Here it is in it's wrapping....

And here is what it was made of....

Today I also received a couple more chocolate dipped pretzels, a card, a huge marshmallow dipped in hot chocolate and peppermint, and some fudge. 

AND if that wasn't enough, there was a $20 bill stuck in my pay stub as a bonus from the school that I work at.

AND....I am not sure what to think about this, there was also an envelope waiting for me at work addressed to my husband and myself. I waited until I came home to open it, and Inside there was a card and $240 cash!! It was signed from your church family. I don't know who put this together, but it is such a blessing at this time of year. 

Overall, I am very blessed working where I am and I have such great kids and parents to work with and I feel blessed beyond measure to be associated with our church. 

So all in all it was a very blessed week! 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Cookies and Christmas Play preview

A short sweet post today as life is crazy busy....

Made over 300 cookies with my mom on Sunday and am making more today for work....

Rebecca's school had their Christmas play last night and it was awesome as usual!

Will be back with more info about each of these hopefully tonight or tomorrow, but for now I must get cookies in the oven!

Hope everyone is having a great day!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Gratitude Sunday #7

Life is so precious and I have been feeling overwhelmed with everything that is going on that often I am not taking the time to be grateful for what I do have and the good things in life.

Now is the time to change that.

I hope to come back here every Sunday and tell things that I am thankful for....


This week I am grateful for: 

FOR BLESSINGS THROUGHOUT THE YEAR THAT ALLOW US TO BLESS OTHERS--This year we were able to pick a name off of our church giving tree and bless a child with a couple of gifts for Christmas. We were able to show our kids that giving back is important as we have been shared many blessings.

FOR YUMMY TREATS---On Monday, we had our rescheduled staff luncheon....and there was yummy treats (veggie pizza on crescent yummy!) and good conversation and just a feeling of goodwill. 

FOR A CHRISTMAS BONUS---On Monday, I received a $25 gift card to Walmart as a Christmas bonus. It may not seem like much, but it helped to buy diapers and a couple of other things when I had to go to Walmart on Friday.

FOR CHRISTA--- We have one college girl that works for us that will be leaving after January to begin her life as a teacher. She worked everyday last week during finals week and was a real God-send as we had people out sick and she kept the kids busy and entertained, even bringing in her future sister in law to do some ballet demonstrations with the kids. She is going to be working as an intervention specialist and she will be awesome! 

FOR BENJAMIN NOT GETTING HURT--- On Thursday morning, Benjamin fell out of his crib while I was taking a shower before getting the boys up for the day. He did not cry, nor did he have any signs of being hurt. I am VERY grateful that he was not hurt, although I was nervous for the next couple days after watching him very closely! 

FOR BEING DONE WITH MY CHRISTMAS SHOPPING--- I was able to pick up the last thing this week, so I am all done! Now to just wrap and get things together. 

FOR SNOWY WEATHER--- Saturday brought snow and some rain to our area...Bill was home all day as the game he was supposed to cover got cancelled so he was able to take the kids outside and they built their first snowman of winter! 

Overall it was a good week, with lots to be grateful for. It is really in the little things that I am finding gratitude and I hope that you are as well. 

What are you grateful for this week? 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas Yumminess!!!

Each year around Christmas, I start to find some of my favorite seasonal foods in the stores. Well today I thought I would share with you some of that Christmas yumminess!

I re-discovered the Diet Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash last week and I LOVE it! It is so yummy and reminds me of Christmas.

The Hershey Kisses are their peppermint ones. OH SO GOOD!!!!

And the Clancy's dipped peppermint pretzel stars are a new find. I had to take desserts to my staff Christmas luncheon. I make pecan tarts, peanut butter cup tarts and then filled the tiers with these dipped peppermint stars and iced gingerbread cookies. Well I took the leftovers home and these pretzels are so addictive. I bought them at Aldi's on a whim and they are SO GOOD!!!

So there you have it. Just a sampling of Christmas yumminess!

Do you have any special treats you only eat around Christmas? 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas decorations

Over the weekend, I was able to finish decorating the inside of our house. Really it is mainly decorating our living room.

We put the tree up on Friday.

Then Saturday I set out to put up our knicknacks and other Christmas themed items. I started working after we got our new to us furniture set up.

I made the nativity scene the focal point of our mantle, as I do every year. I would love to one day have a larger one, but the one that I have is the first one that dear Hubby and I got when we were married.

On one end of the mantle, is a lighted Christmas tree that we have never been able to use because the light was stuck in the inside. Well this will be our 10th Christmas together and this is the first year we were able to get the light out and actually use the tree. I love it, as it reminds me of one that my Grandma had at her house. Since we do not have end tables anymore, I set all of my Santas on the other end of the mantle and I love how the grouping turned out.

I also put our wreath on our front door and switched out the artwork in our downstairs bathroom to a snowy scene artwork.
I love how festive our house looks. And I love how our living room looks with our new to us furniture and all the Christmas decorations!

Have you decorated your house yet? 
Do you have a favorite Christmas decoration? 

Monday, December 9, 2013

New to us furniture

A couple of months ago, Bill and I were talking and we decided that in early 2014 we were going to use some of our income tax return money to buy a new set of living room furniture as ours was showing it's age. It was Bill's before we met, and then has had to withstand kids! One of the cushions no longer zipped closed and has to be held together with safety pins, it was sagging a little, the foam cushions weren't as sturdy as they used to be, etc.

Fast forward to last week.  I received a text from my mom asking if we wanted their living room set as my parents had just bought a new set.  This question could not come at a better time. So of course I said YES!

This is what we had before: 

Well Saturday my brother loaded up the couch and love seat and brought them over to our house in his truck. And hubby and my brother took our old set out to our garage and brought the new set in.

And this is what we have now: 

We now have more seating and furniture in better condition! I think it looks a lot more put together. I feel so blessed that we received this generous gift.  Now we can use most of our tax money to pay down debt!

Have you been gifted anything recently?
How long have you had your living room furniture?  

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Gratitude Sunday #6

Life is so precious and I have been feeling overwhelmed with everything that is going on that often I am not taking the time to be grateful for what I do have and the good things in life.

Now is the time to change that.

I hope to come back here every Sunday and tell things that I am thankful for....


This week I am grateful for: 

MY IN-LAWS-- They set up an activity for the kids to take part in, where they got to meet Santa and have some fun. We may not always see eye to eye and may live differently but I know that they love my kids. 

FOR THE COLLEGE GIRLS AT WORK--- Where I work, we have several work study students from a local university who work for us. They are all great to work with and a couple of them I have come to know very well over the last 2-3 years. We are getting ready to lose most of them because of graduation or school schedules, so I have been so blessed to be able to work with them. 

FOR WARM WEATHER FOR REBECCA'S FIRE DRILL-- Tuesday Rebecca's school had a fire drill during her gym class. Thankfully she took pants for gym and it was a little over 60 degrees outside. Perfect time for a school fire drill. 

FOR SECRET SANTA SHOPPING--- Rebecca was able to go secret Santa shopping at school and bought gifts for her brother, dad and I. I am grateful that she has this opportunity to make her own choices without my input.

FOR MY HUBBY--- I say this every week, but he does things every week that shows I made the right decision to marry him. Thursday I was elbows deep in cake making and it was lunch time and he went to get McDonald's for the boys and I so I wouldn't have to deal with making lunch in our tiny kitchen. Then he went on Saturday in the snow and bought me a broom since I broke ours and while he was out he got me a package of cordial cherries because he knows I like them and just because. I am so grateful he is my husband. 

FOR A SNOW DAY--- We had a snow day from school and work on Friday and we got to spend a nice family day together. This was a treat as usually Bill or I has to be at work, etc. 

FOR MY PARENTS--- They gave us "new to us" furniture since they bought new furniture. We are grateful for their generosity. 

What are you grateful for this week? 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Cakes, St. Nick, weather and putting up our Christmas tree

So I got all 10 of my cakes baked and frosted....took 8 of them into work with me yesterday and put them in the walk in cooler in case of bad weather today. Last night I frosted the last 2. Then I made peanut butter tarts to take in to my work party today......

Well don't you know that Mother Nature had other plans. Got a text this morning at 5:40 that school was closed today, meaning staff meeting was cancelled as well. Our surprise luncheon will now take place on Monday....Got an email that said that the St. Nick dinner (were the 10 cakes needed to be) was going to be decided around 2-3pm depending on weather. Most of the day we just had light snow showers, although there was a thin layer of ice this morning, which I believe is why they cancelled school. Got the call a little after 3 that they were postponing the St. Nick dinner for a week until next Friday, so I really hope that these cakes will freeze with little problem.

So instead of working and taking cakes into work, I got to spend the day at home with the whole my husband was taking his last 2 vacation days of the year yesterday and today. We had a lovely day.

It started out with the kids finding some goodies in their shoes they left out for St. Nicholas last night. We have decided to start this tradition in order to incorporate this Saint into our Christmas celebrations. The kids each got a new ornament that represents their year, and Jacob and Rebecca got M&Ms too. Rebecca's ornament was a girl softball player, as this was her first year playing softball. Jacob got a batman ornament as he has gotten into the super heroes. Benjamin's ornament was a "Sofia the First" ornament, as that show keeps his absolute complete attention when it is on. He LOVES the show.

Rebecca was happy that we got to have a whole family lunch (I made frozen pizza and the kids had oranges).

After Benjamin went down for his nap, we moved the toys in the living room to another area of the downstairs to make room for the tree. Then Bill, Rebecca and Jacob got to work putting up our Christmas tree. There was a funny moment when Rebecca referred to the garland as "Garlic"...LOL

While they were putting the tree up, Rebecca requested to watch the "He-Man & She-Ra :Christmas Special " that I had bought a couple of years ago as a joke for Bill for Christmas. Then we watched "Miracle on 34th Street." while finishing up the decorating of the tree and putting the stuffed animals in front of the tree, to hopefully keep the kids (especially Ben) from taking ornaments off the tree.

After dinner, we watched Rudolph and then Frosty, as the snow continued to fall outside. Then we did the kids' advent calenders and read a Christmas story and the kids went to bed.

Overall, it was a very nice day.

Tomorrow I hope to get the rest of the house decorated on the inside at least. Not sure when we will get to decorate outside, as they are calling for really cold tomorrow, then more snow and ice on Sunday.

Have you put your Christmas tree up yet? 
Did you get any winter weather from Mother Nature today? 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I'll be in the kitchen....

For the next day or so, if you need me I will be in the kitchen.....

I have 10 cakes to make for my daughter's school's St. Nick dinner Friday night. And yes I volunteered to make them out of my own free will. It is an easy way for me to get volunteer hours and I really don't mind.

AND I have to make pecan tarts and peanut butter cup tarts for a surprise work party on Friday. My boss and I are throwing a surprise Christmas lunch for our staff during our regularly scheduled in-service time. I am in charge of desserts....

Yes I know that I am insane, but that is okay I guess.

So if you need me in the meantime...I am up to my elbows in flour, sugar and butter in the kitchen!

Have you done any baking lately? 

Meeting Santa 2013

On Sunday, we had the opportunity to go to my In-laws community and to go see Santa Claus. Every year, their community hosts a get together for the kids where they can do crafts and things and then see Santa. Well this year every time slot filled up in less than 3 hours. We are fortunate that my sister in law is on the community board of directors and signed the kids up early.

You first went into a building that was all decorated for Christmas and the kids met Frosty and Rudolph.

 They were able to do crafts and get some snacks while they waited. We also took a family photo on a sled.

Then we went on a sleigh ride to the other side of the park where we were to see Santa. The kids loved riding on the horse drawn carriage sleigh.

As we were walking up to see Santa, the kids were greeted by "Scotty Pine" the talking Christmas tree. They had it set up with video and a microphone where the adult could talk to the kids and interact with them while being completely hidden from view. He told the kids some knock knock jokes and even commented on Rebecca's kitty earmuffs!

Then it was time to see Santa. Rebecca told Santa what she wants for Christmas ( a princess tiara).

Jacob did not want to go near Santa, unless I was right next to him. He would NOT sit on Santa's lap for anything.

Benjamin didn't mind sitting on Santa's lap, but at the same time, he is very laid back about everything so I was not surprised.

After we left, we then took a carriage ride back to the first side of the park and we left to go to my in-laws house for dinner and to celebrate Rebecca's birthday with them.

Overall, it was a great day! I am so grateful that my sister in law wanted to do this for my kiddos. They had a great time and I am sure will remember it for a long time.

Have your kids been to see Santa yet? Do you take your kids to see Santa? 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thanksgiving Recap 2013

On Thursday, we spent Thanksgiving morning at home watching the Macy's parade on TV. The kids LOVED it this year. Jacob and Rebecca loved seeing the balloons and the different floats. Jacob keeps talking about the different floats he recognized. LOL

In the afternoon, we went to my mom and dad's house for dinner. There were 14 of us there this year...our 5, my mom, my dad, my sister and brother who are still young enough to live at home, my brother, his wife, and their 3 kids. We had a great dinner cooked by my parents with a lot of good conversation and laughs. 

stuffing, green beans, corn casserole, turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, roll and peach wine! YUMMY! 
We also celebrated Rebecca's 7th birthday that day, and my niece Lacie's 9th birthday which was a couple of days before Thanksgiving. I made each of them their own we had birthday cake for dessert :)

We took a lot of family photos! 

Hubby and I during dinner! I love this photo of us! 

Benjamin LOVED his food! Especially the sweet potatoes!  

Birthday cousins! 

The 4 kids...we took almost 10 pics of us and these are just a few....My brother Josh (13), my sister Mary (17), Me, and my brother Joe (29). I am the oldest of the 4. 

The original family....Joe, Me, my dad, my mom, Josh and Mary.

My parents and the grandkids... (from left to right---Alex (6), Jacob (4), Ethan (2), my dad, Benjamin (1.5), my mom, Rebecca (7), and Lacie (9). I think this is the first picture they have ever taken with all the grandkids together in it. 

Overall, it was a great day! Good food, good company, and lot of love to go around! 

How was your Thanksgiving holiday? 

2019 Christmas Parade

Sunday afternoon the kids walked in our town's annual Christmas parade. Usually it is held the Sunday following Thanksgiving, however th...