Friday, December 21, 2012

State of Affairs

An update is long, long overdue I suppose.  To anyone still reading, I must admit that my blog is no longer much of a priority in my life these days.  I will post soon on the new direction in which I'm being led, but for today, I'll just take time to share some photos and some of what we've been up to the last couple of months.  

All of the following pictures are from my IPhone, so not the best quality, but I seem to always have it handy, and it's so much easier than dragging out my big DSLR.  You've probably seen most of these if you follow me on Instagram or Twitter :)

We've been doing lots of things to celebrate the season.  The boys each received a personalized video from Santa....here they are watching their videos!


If interested, you can check out their website at www.portablenorthpole.com 

After the boys made their own individual ginger bread houses out of graham crackers, Emily made us a  real one....


The homemade ginger bread is SO much better than what you get in a kit, and we were actually able to eat the house instead of just throwing it away!

Matthew lost his first tooth, but it came out in a bite of food, and he unknowingly swallowed it!  So he wrote this note to the tooth fairy ;)


Our Elf on the Shelf has been up to no good....


We found him in our fridge one morning with a half-eaten cup of pudding!

Jacob sang in his preschool Christmas concert.  So sweet :)


Our precious little angels :)


Buddy, our elf, found yet another unique hiding spot....


And Jacob finished his first season of basketball!!  He loved it and is looking forward to playing again next year.  We were so impressed with his skills and his ability to dribble the ball when all the other kids just raced down the court with the ball tucked under their arms ;)


Sophie's passport came in the mail last week.  She's headed to Africa in March with my parents.  More specifically, she's going to Tanzania on a safari!!!  If you've been reading here for a while, then you know that my parents have pledged to take each one of their grandchildren on a trip anywhere in the world that they want to go (within reason, of course!).  Emily went to Ecuador several years ago to the rainforest, and Allie went to Paris and London the summer before her senior year in high school.  


Since raising 8 children doesn't allow us the opportunity to travel outside of the country, or even to fly anywhere at all, we are very thankful for this gift to our children!  Josh is already planning his trip and is considering places like Borneo, Alaska and Italy :)

Caleb found some fun hand-me-down Christmas jammies, and he absolutely LOVES them :)  It's so cute to watch him wear the hat the entire time....he's a hat kid!


Our church gave us a way to remember to keep Christ as an important part of our holiday season.  We are lighting a candle and placing it on our front porch to burn all night after reading scripture relating to Christ bringing light into our lives.  The very first night we lit our candle, we chose to light it in remembrance of the victims of Sandy Hook.


Speaking of scripture, the boys are each responsible for writing and remembering a bible verse each week.  This past week, I decided that I wanted them to learn the 10 Commandments....5 at a time.  So Matthew had a lot of copy work to do ;)  This picture is of the sheet that I wrote for him to copy....his isn't quite so neat ;)

We've been busy with our holiday baking.  On this year's list: 
gumdrop cookies
gingerbread cookies
chocolate thumbprint cookies
chocolate almond biscotti
peanut butter fudge
chocolate fudge
peppermint bark
frosted sugar cookies

Emily did most of the baking, and I was happy to let her :)  I did quarter 4 cups of gumdrops for the gumdrop cookies however....a VERY tedious job!


Here's the biscotti.....just YUM :)


Josh is finishing up his finals today.  I snapped this shot of all the girls helping him study for his history final the other night.....it takes a gang ;)


Here's a shot of the pile of sugar cookies we made....we will spend today frosting them, and I'm going to post my best frosting recipe at the end of this post for anyone interested!


A final shot of just some of what we've made....


That's it for pictures, but I wanted to give some updates about some other things too.  

It seemed like it took forever for Allie to finally land a job, and now she actually has TWO!  She was hired on initially as a cashier at Kohl's, but it was only for the holiday season.  Knowing that she wouldn't have anything come January, she went ahead and applied to Panera when they were hiring, and she was able to get a job as a cashier with them as well!  She's currently juggling both jobs, working full-time at Kohl's while training part-time at Panera.  Her last day at Kohl's will be Sunday, and then she will have a break until the first of the year to join us on our family vacation.  We have missed having her around, but are thoroughly enjoying the stories she comes home from work with each and every night.....WOW....people are crazy ;)

Speaking of vacation, we are so excited to be heading north to Tennessee the day after Christmas.  We will be staying in a log cabin for the week between Christmas and New Year's, enjoying skiing and snow tubing....oh, and just relaxing!!!!

And we'll need the rest, because when we return, we will begin to pack up our house once more.  We are officially in our lease through March, but my husband is in the final stages of interviewing with 2 separate companies and is expecting to have at least one job offer within the first 2 weeks of January.  One job will keep us here...one will take us to Chicago!  

We are very hopeful for the job here, as we love the area, love being close to the ocean and love the mild weather.  We do miss the snow, but we can get our fix in Tennessee when we really need one ;)  We also love our church and are very involved in the children's ministry, so it will be nice to stay.  We have already found a house here and are putting an offer on it today.  It will be contingent on Zack getting the job here, but it's a place to start.  We're really excited about it as it's way north of our current location- that means out of town and out of traffic!  It's also on 3 acres with farms all around.  You can see and hear the cows just across the road :)  We're ready for some real space.

We bought our first gun over the Thanksgiving holiday, and we are about to become official members of the NRA....can't wait for the comments I know are coming on that one :)

Well, that's all for now!  Don't know that I'll post again before Christmas, so let me wish you all a wonderful Christmas!

And, in case you happen to be frosting sugar cookies in the next few days, let me leave you with this fabulous recipe for frosting:

1 cup butter
1 cup shortening
1 tsp vanilla 
1 tsp almond extract
4 tablespoons water
2 lbs powdered sugar
2 tablespoons meringue powder (Wilton- can get at Michael's)

Mix butter and shortening in mixer until no chunks- add all liquids-add powdered sugar-add meringue powder

I double this recipe, but then, we need LOTS of frosting ;)

Enjoy!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Let's talk truth

I found the following on Facebook & wanted to share as I firmly believe he speaks the truth.

Note: this took place BEFORE the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook.


COLUMBINE STUDENT'S FATHER 12 YEARS LATER 

Guess our national leaders didn't expect this. On Thursday, Darrell Scott, the father of Rachel Scott, a victim of the Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colorado, was invited to address the House Judiciary Committee's subcommittee. What he said to our national leaders during this special session of Congress was painfully truthful.

They were not prepared for what he was to say, nor was it received well. It needs to be heard by every parent, every teacher, every politician, every sociologist, every psychologist, and every so-called expert! These courageous words spoken by Darrell Scott are powerful, penetrating, and deeply personal. There is no doubt that God sent this man as a voice crying in the wilderness.. The following is a portion of the transcript:

"Since the dawn of creation there has been both good & evil in the hearts of men and women. We all contain the seeds of kindness or the seeds of violence. The death of my wonderful daughter, Rachel Joy Scott, and the deaths of that heroic teacher, and the other eleven children who died must not be in vain. Their blood cries out for answers.

"The first recorded act of violence was when Cain slew his brother Abel out in the field. The villain was not the club he used.. Neither was it the NCA, the National Club Association. The true killer was Cain, and the reason for the murder could only be found in Cain's heart.

"In the days that followed the Columbine tragedy, I was amazed at how quickly fingers began to be pointed at groups such as the NRA. I am not a member of the NRA. I am not a hunter. I do not even own a gun. I am not here to represent or defend the NRA - because I don't believe that they are responsible for my daughter's death. Therefore I do not believe that they need to be defended. If I believed they had anything to do with Rachel's murder I would be their strongest opponent

I am here today to declare that Columbine was not just a tragedy -- it was a spiritual event that should be forcing us to look at where the real blame lies! Much of the blame lies here in this room. Much of the blame lies behind the pointing fingers of the accusers themselves. I wrote a poem just four nights ago that expresses my feelings best.

Your laws ignore our deepest needs,
Your words are empty air.
You've stripped away our heritage,
You've outlawed simple prayer.
Now gunshots fill our classrooms,
And precious children die.
You seek for answers everywhere,
And ask the question "Why?"
You regulate restrictive laws,
Through legislative creed.
And yet you fail to understand,
That God is what we need!

"Men and women are three-part beings. We all consist of body, mind, and spirit. When we refuse to acknowledge a third part of our make-up, we create a void that allows evil, prejudice, and hatred to rush in and wreak havoc. Spiritual presences were present within our educational systems for most of our nation's history. Many of our major colleges began as theological seminaries. This is a historical fact. What has happened to us as a nation? We have refused to honor God, and in so doing, we open the doors to hatred and violence. And when something as terrible as Columbine's tragedy occurs -- politicians immediately look for a scapegoat such as the NRA. They immediately seek to pass more restrictive laws that contribute to erode away our personal and private liberties. We do not need more restrictive laws. Eric and Dylan would not have been stopped by metal detectors. No amount of gun laws can stop someone who spends months planning this type of massacre. The real villain lies within our own hearts.

"As my son Craig lay under that table in the school library and saw his two friends murdered before his very eyes, he did not hesitate to pray in school. I defy any law or politician to deny him that right! I challenge every young person in America , and around the world, to realize that on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School prayer was brought back to our schools. Do not let the many prayers offered by those students be in vain. Dare to move into the new millennium with a sacred disregard for legislation that violates your God-given right to communicate with Him. To those of you who would point your finger at the NRA -- I give to you a sincere challenge.. Dare to examine your own heart before casting the first stone!
My daughter's death will not be in vain! The young people of this country will not allow that to happen!"
- Darrell Scott

Friday, December 14, 2012

Praying

My heart is breaking as I watch the death toll of young children continue to rise.....up to 18 now.  Please join me in praying for these families that won't have their babies with them this Christmas.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Gingerbread houses.....gang style ;)

Since we're now an official homeschooling family, it's my job to make sure that my kids are exposed to all the sticky, messy, chaotic  fun crafts that they would normally get to enjoy in school ;)  And there's no better season for crafts than Christmas!

Enter kid-friendly gingerbread houses.....


Several of the kids have done these in school, so it wasn't hard to come up with the idea.  All you need are some graham crackers, frosting, sprinkles....and a little patience :)


I recommend heading over to Michael's for some decorator icing...it's much stickier than a homemade frosting and perfect for holding all your pieces together.


The boys needed a little help getting their sides put together!


And Sophie was a pro at putting "snow" on the roof ;)


In preparation for our upcoming batches of sugar cookies, I got lots of fun sprinkles....also perfect for mini-gingerbread houses.


And it doesn't hurt to have a whole set of decorating tips for bags of frosting from my cake decorating days!


Caleb liked the sprinkles....


and the icing!


Noah REALLY liked the icing ;)


And here is what we ended up with!  

Caleb's


Noah's


Jacob's 


And Matthew's


The whole village :)



Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Home videos

I love that my kids find fun ways to entertain themselves, and I love the fact that the bigger kids continue to interact with and enjoy the little kids!  Allie has always been a fan of making fun videos with the boys, and I wanted to share one that she did yesterday. This was choreographed and directed by Allie ;)  Enjoy!






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