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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas Happenings - Part 3

So, this happened right before Christmas....on the 23rd.

Blerg!  I have a man now.

So excited for him to open his gifts.

Our little neighbor J-boy, even made him something special.  It has something to do with Star Wars, but I don't know exactly who it is!

Some of his favorite treats...

A hand made calendar, complete with all our special days, birthdays, etc., and a coupon book for things like making him a special snack or to watch a t.v. show together.

 A-man went half home made...with the mask of....someone....from the new Star Wars movie and some Darth Vader socks that have an actual little, teeny, tiny cape that hangs off of your ankles.  It is the cutest thing ever!

A-girl went retro Star Wars for him.

L-girl went with some Star Wars socks.

Rainman and I went with a boring, grown up birthday gift for D-man.  Paying his commitment fee to the University of Georgia.  Woo Hoo!

For his cake (which we did NOT have on his actual birthday, but Christmas Eve), I made a cheesecake.  I haven't made one in probably 16 or so years, so I was nervous.  The top got a little overdone, but it didn't crack and  it was yummy.  He loved it and we decided that this will be our new tradition for his birthday cakes!

He was excited....can you tell?

Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas Happenings Around Here - Part 2

We got home late Sunday night from our drive to Indiana and our activities began bright and early Monday morning...with these two heading out for a guy's day, seeing the new Star Wars movie.

A-man even dressed up for the occasion - Nerf gun included!

Meanwhile, the little girls that I usually babysit weren't feeling well, so, their mom took the day off and stayed home with them.  Normally, that would have made me really sad to have to miss seeing their cute little faces.  But, this time, it mean that instead of just dropping my girls off at the gingerbread house party planned by my friend, Miss B and her husband Mr. J, I got to stay and be with them. 


They took the time to premake all the houses for us, so they would be nice and sturdy when the girls put their graham crackers and candies on.

But, first, we had lunch.....Miss B even had ginger bread shaped cheese for our sandwiches.

Anybody else think S-girl in her little pearls is just adorable?!?

A-girl and L-girl were the official gingerbread house helpers, but when the little girls were done, there was still one house left undecorated.  However, the little girls had used up just about all the candies and special, colorful things.  So, they went for a more rustic look with Cheerios, saltines and graham crackers with one life saver wreath on their door.  Personally, I love their Cheerio sidewalk.

After they finished their masterpieces, Mr. J. had a surprise for them upstairs.  Trains and castles and parachuting little men (he is a former paratrooper).  Totally cool things everywhere you look.

But, guess what the girls had the most fun with?

His drum set!  Those girls banged and boomed and performed rim shot after rim shot after rim shot on those babies.

Plus, the cymbals.

You can't forget the cymbals.

Just take a moment to imagine those 5 little girls being given unlimited access to all things noisy.

It was a cacaphony of giggling and "music".

Miss B and I escaped downstairs while Mr. J just stood back and smiled at the obvious joy the girls were getting from being let loose with the drums.

Suffice it to say, they had a ton of fun and I was glad that I got to be there to watch the magic happen.

Their friends, CB and ZB hitched a ride home with us because their mom wasn't feeling well. So, the party continued in our van for the ride home. (which also meant that the wheeling and dealing and trying to get the parents to agree to keep the fun going and let them come in and stay and not just drop them off was constant.  Nobody cared that one mom was exhausted and the other mom wasn't feeling well.  They just kept saying, "It will be okay.  My mom won't mind."  LOL  I had to laugh at their tenacity and optimism.)

More Christmas coming soon!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Not Just A Sunday Thing - Week 10

Did you miss me last Sunday?  I was traveling home from Indiana and I am not tech savvy enough to post from the road.  Maybe when I get a smart phone, right?

I sat on the remote this morning when I sat down in the dark with my first cup of coffee before church.

Totally scared myself.


Charles Stanley was on reading this scripture.  John 3:17-21,

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

I decided in my head that God really wanted me to hear that verse, if he helped me time my getting up, my kitchen busyness before I sat down...and then the actual sitting down upon the remote.  (Little secret:  I have so much padding, I didn't "feel" the remote.  I realized what I had done after it turned the t.v. on!)

I made a note of the Bible verse and went on with my morning getting ready and attending church.  The sermon today was based on Galatians 4:1-8,

What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces[a] of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.[b] Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba,[c] Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods.

Here is what I took from both of the scriptures today:

God loves us.  He really, really loves us.
He truly does think of us like his children.

Then, I went to my Sunday School class where we are still talking through Jen Hatmaker's For The Love.   

We had kind of a sobering talk about the post modern world and raising children, especially Godly children, in a post modern world.  A world where there are really no rights and wrongs and things are all shades of gray, with no black or white.  Where is there room (or reason) in that kind of world for God?  The God.  My God.

Our discussion ended up boiling down to really just trying to love like Jesus loved.  In Jen's words:  The best we can do is to give them Jesus.  Not rules.  Not behaviors.  No entertainment.  Not shame.

It gave me something to think about today.  I came home and asked my kids if they felt like they were living in a post modern world.  Once I explained to them what I meant by that question, they said that they did.  That most of the world seemed to think that nothing is wrong.  No choice.  No behavior.  Anything goes.....unless it is something that they think is wrong.
We talked about how sad that was.  Not that we wanted to be all judgmental and tell people what is right and wrong, but that the concept of right and wrong was such a foreign concept to most people.  It made me scared for our world.  It made me afraid of who my kids are going to end up marrying.

Then, I had to stop myself and remember not to live out of fear, but of love.  

I am going to go try to be the light that Jesus was when he first came.  To love the way a parent loves their children.  I will really, really try to do it in a way where it makes it look attractive to be  a follower of Christ.  Where it doesn't look like something only hypocrites do.  Where it doesn't look like drudgery.  Where my face reflects joy and not a pinched face of condescension for people who aren't like me.  

What do you think?  Are we living in a post modern world where there is no room for actual "right" and "wrong"?  Will our kids all fall away from church and a relationship with Jesus?  Is there a better way to....(I hate to use this word, but)....."market" Christianity?

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas Happenings Around Here - Part 1

If I was a good blogger, I would have done a lot of things differently this December.  I would have posted more affiliate links leading up to Christmas.  LOL  I would have documented our fun stuff, as we went along, instead of throwing it all at you after the fact.  I would have taken pictures of my food and posted recipes.  I would have had a fun giveaway of my favorite Christmas present.

But, I am just me, so, you get late reports and updates on what we did.  And, you get someone that forgets their camera and even when her camera is sitting right next to her, forgets to take the annual here we are in our Christmas Eve finery/standing in front of the tree pictures!

The weekend before Christmas, we took a quick (but long) trip up to Indiana to see some of the cousins.  It was a 10 hour drive.  We went up Friday and came back Sunday.  See?  Quick, but long.

(I just love that 3 of my 4 kids that are in this picture are taking care of a little one...and the 4th is being a goofball in back!)

I will be honest, even though I absolutely LOVE Rainman's family, I didn't want to make the trip this year.  I was feeling busy and rushed trying to get all my "stuff" done for Christmas and spending 20 hours driving to and from Indiana couldn't help me get that stuff done.

But, I did it because I love Rainman and I knew how excited the kids were to see their cousins and their Grandma R.  And, once we had moments like this:

and, especially this one.....

(I love how Grandma R is looking at D-man while we sing Christmas Carols)

.....I knew I had made the right call to head up to Indiana....convenient or not!  

The only bad thing about being around Rainman's extended family and seeing all the kids running around and grown ups just visiting, reminded me of how long it has been since I have been able to be with my family (my mom, sisters, brother, etc.)  for Christmas.  Too long...and unfortunately, too unrealistic of a goal for us (that is an 18+ hour drive for us).

Don't worry, I got all my Christmas "stuff" done though.  I will share the pictures that I remembered to take later!

Monday, December 21, 2015


Yup....totally forgot to post about our Thanksgiving.   My computer was in the shop getting fixed (if by getting fixed you mean....losing everything that is on there and having to get another new hard drive installed - 3rd one in 2 years.  Don't even get me started on what pictures were lost - since my external hard drive that I was backing everything onto also crashed and burned) 

Anyway, not sure if you will even care about our Thanksgiving, but here it is.  Rainman was off work, so we had a quiet, Thanksgiving day with just us, at home. The girls and I got to watch Hallmark Christmas movies.  It was awesome.

I watched the parade while I got things going in the kitchen.  My little girls helped me make yeast rolls (we should have halved the made waaaaay too many)

I made two pies (apple and pumpkin) and my friend made an extra pumpkin chiffon pie.  We we were good for a few days.

I love my island.

My sweet friend, Alex made us some homemade mac & cheese (pretty much all A-man ate!) and banana pudding too.   Yummmy!

I actually made a box of Stove Top stuffing this time, not my usual homemade, and guess what?  I should have been making Stove Top all along.  LOL  It was fantastic.  We also wised up about our favorite holiday salad....Tequilaberry's salad (named for an old restaurant in Minnesota we used to go to)....instead of making one huge bowl of it that would get soggy(you put the dressing on top and then mix it all up right before it gets served), we just divided it into two smaller bowls, so the second one didn't get soggy.  Brilliant move that I am not sure why it took us so many years to think of.

As I move into Christmas week, I wanted to reiterate how thankful I am for these people and this life I am getting to live.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Despite the usual craziness this time of year, I had one of those rare quiet moments where I found myself smiling and having a moment of clarity that I was really content.


Granted, with the number of people I am living with, it didn't last super long, but I am claiming it nonetheless!

It had been a pretty busy day, school drop offs/pick ups.  Babysitting handsome little boys.

(Seriously?  Could he be any cuter in his little jacket?!?!)

Volunteering at my church, handling office duties, during their staff meeting.  Helping a friend try out my beloved Jamberry nail wraps.

(I am sorry, but if those aren't some of the cutest little gingerbread fingernails, there is something wrong!)

I had made dinner.  Nothing fancy.  Just oven roasted chicken thighs and canned green beans.

I washed pots and pans (the usual 3 sinkfuls or so....).  Rainman was in the living room with the littles playing Sequence discussing the difference in a one-eyed Jack and  a two-eyed Jack.  (By the way, I should have added that one to my gift ideas post!)

My three bigs were volunteering at the Operation Christmas Child warehouse.

I did have a moment during my evening where I thought about the fact that we were separated like in my dreams (although in my dreams, Rainman was always with the bigs, so I figured we were safe from both gorillas and aliens)

Anyway, at one point, I found myself wiping down the kitchen counter and having that moment.  The moment where I realized that my bigs were off doing good things. Rainman and the kids were playing a game.  I had succeeded in feeding them a good dinner.  I had filled my day with good, worthy things.  And, my kitchen wasn't completely trashed.

I really did just stop and smile, all by myself in my kitchen.   It was a good feeling.  Just simply content.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Stuff My Kids Like

If you need some last minute gift ideas for kids in your life, here are some tried and true ideas from my experiences with my off spring.  I will focus on younger kid ideas in this 10 and under.

My kids have always loved to play doctor....even back to when D-man and A-girl used to deliver baby stuffed animals for each other on our couch in Minnesota.  We have had toy doctor kits (and the old Fisher Price one at my mom's house is still a big hit)

But, for about the same money, you can put together a real doctor's kit with a stethoscope

and an otoscope (the thing used to look in ears and noses)

Toss in some tongue depressors

These are grape flavored!  They come in cherry too.  You could also just use popsicle sticks, but sometimes those splinter, so you have to be careful.

Throw all of this stuff in an old duffle bag you have laying around, and you have a doctor's kit that you can actually hear a heartbeat with!

Another hit at our house, and we got this as a gift years ago, but is still used a lot is the Electronic Snap Circuits.  There are other kits available, but this is the one we have.

You can build an alarm or a radio....and, well, over 300 exciting projects!  LOL  It is pretty cool and has kept the kids busy.

How about the tried and true walkie talkies?

I cannot even tell you how many pairs of walkie talkies we have owned.  From top to bottom, they have been a hit with my kids for years.  The problem is, you can't really use them if you only have one and inevitably someone always loses one, or leaves it out in the woods. adds it to her gift list again.

My sister. Karen,  had this when I was a kid and we both loved  creating stuff with this...even into our teen years.  It was sort of mesmerizing to see what you could create just by going round and round.

You also can never go wrong with Play Doh.  We all get excited (even us grown ups) to crack open a new container.  That smell.  The smooth tube of doh.  Mmmmmmmm.

Yes, you will probably end up with dried bits of Play Doh scattered around, but, Rainman and I have decided it is worth it.

You probably have cutters and stuff you can use around your house and don't necessarily need these next things, but they are still fun.  Can't really go wrong with the old Fun Factory...extruder...thing.

I do recommend at least getting some rollers, because that is the most frequently fought over piece of Play Doh equipment at our house!

Our family likes to play games.  Here are a few of our favorites that even the younger ones can play:



Apples to Apples:


So, there are a few of my ideas for younger kids.  I will try to put together an ideas list for teenagers and older kids too.

If you have any great gift ideas, let me know.  I am not quite done with my shopping yet either and my brain is running out of steam!

Full disclosure time:  This post does contain affiliate links, which means that if you click over and actually decide to get any of the stuff I showed you, I may get a commission.  Your purchase price won't change though, so, don't worry.