Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy Birthday, Kora!

I have been a mother for 12 years. My brain can hardly wrap around that fact. But here in the house we have a girl, nearly as tall as I am, who proclaims the truth of this amazing fact. Kora begins her last year before becoming a teenager today! Happy 12th birthday!

Kora loves horses, loves to read (especially about horse and dragons), is an incredible help to me, and amazes us with her growing maturity and understanding of her faith. She and I can now share shoes. And she was a really cute baby too. Wanna see?

Kora at 6 months old.
Kora at 1 year.
Kora at a year and a half.
Kora at 2.
Kora at 4.
Kora at 8.
Happy birthday, Kora!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Stickin' Close to Home

Unusually, no one in our family has left the house much in the last few days. Kelly has been off from work, which is a good thing since he and Brynna have had a Christmas cold that they have been doing their best to spread to the rest of us. Kora, Aubrey, and I have all been fighting off symptoms, but so far we haven't given in. Lauryn and Hailey seem to be okay so far. Ashlynn is not sleeping very well at night, which isn't helping Kelly or I either one.

So between the fevers, coughs, runny noses, and new toys, no one has wanted to go much of anywhere. We've watched a lot of movies, played some games, and put away most of the Christmas stuff. While I love Christmas trees, Advent calendars, etc., once Christmas is over, I can't wait to get the extra stuff out of my house. A house with six children in it has enough clutter.

So, no stores, no after Christmas sales, nothing. But starting Monday, assuming this cold bug doesn't get the better of me, I am starting in on some house cleaning and organizing. Usually I do that over the summer, but I was too busy recovering from childbirth. Oh, and redecorating. I also need to do some school planning for the next semester.

Hopefully I won't be taking care of anymore sick kids instead!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Amazon makes it too easy

This is what I got for Christmas! My husband is so spoiled by Amazon: a couple of clicks and my gift is ordered, wrapped, and delivered two days later.

My girls gave me a gift certificate to order accessories for my new iPod, that I am still learning how to operate. I wanted it mainly to listen to audio books. There are so many accessories and such that go with it that I am a little overwhelmed. I know I want some sort of docking system with a speaker system, so I don't have to listen with the ear buds or headphones. I am also debating whether I need the arm band if I have the speaker system. And isn't there some sort of device to make it play in your car's speaker system?

If you know anything about these things, I could sure use your help...

Picture from Amazon.com, my husband's best friend. :-)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Whole Hearted Mother Conference

Don't forget about the Whole Hearted Mothers Conference coming up! Don't know what that is? Well, let me tell you about it...

Every year, I am privileged to attend a conference that encourages me in my calling as a mom while providing a fun getaway with some of my friends. It is called the Whole Hearted Mother Conference, and registration time is upon us! If you are interested in finding a conference where you can hear Sally Clarkson speak, check out the dates and locations below! Every year I come away blessed. I'd love to see everyone at the Texas conference!


January 23-24, Charlotte, NC (Church at Charlotte)
Conference Early Registration Deadline:
Friday, DECEMBER 26 (Save $10)

Hotel: The Marriott Charlotte SouthPark
Room Rate: $109/night (guaranteed through December 26)
Reservations: 704-364-8220


February 6-7, Irvine, CA (Crowne Plaza Irvine Hotel)
SPECIAL Early Registration Deadline: Friday, NOVEMBER 14 (Save $20!)
Early Deadline: January 9 (Save $10)

Hotel: The Crowne Plaza Irvine
Room Rate: $85/night (guaranteed through January 23)
Reservations: 949-863-1999


February 20-21, Irving-DFW, TX (Dallas Marriott Las Colinas)
SPECIAL Early Registration Deadline: Friday, NOVEMBER 28 (Save $20!)
Early Deadline: January 23 (Save $10)

Hotel: Dallas Marriott Las Colinas
Room Rate: $83/night (guaranteed through February 6)
Reservations: 972-831-0000

Click here for info on the Texas conference.

Click here to register for the Texas conference.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Don't you know what causes that?

We just got back in town from another trip to our home town. The past several years, my family has celebrated Christmas together the weekend before Christmas. Sometimes it was hard for the sons-in-law to get off enough time to travel to Odessa on Christmas and it was getting harder to coordinate everyone's schedule. So a few years ago we started setting aside that weekend as our time to get together.

Even though it was an extremely short trip, it was a good one. We always enjoy way too many pies. And my sister Sarah make the best fudge EVER. Seriously, no contest. It is the best. She even makes some with a dark chocolate topping just for me.

I just had to share a funny from the weekend. Almost 7 years ago, when I called my youngest sister to tell her I was expecting another baby (our youngest at that time was only 8 months old), she immediately turned around to tell her husband. From the background, he said, "Good grief! Tell them to stop sharing toothbrushes!"

Ever since it has been a family joke.

Fast forward to this weekend. We are exchanging gifts and Sarah hands Kelly and I our gift from them. A movie, and...

a new toothbrush.

We all died laughing. Except for the kids, of course, who could not understand why all the grown-ups were laughing about a toothbrush.

(By the way, this in NOT an announcement of any kind. My sister just thought it would be funny, and I wanted to share our laugh for the weekend.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New Christmas Tradition

In spite of travel, sickness, stress, and other factors, we are holding to our Christmas traditions this year.

This year we are reading Bartholomew's Passage. Who else is reading one of these three Advent stories? (The other two are Jotham's Journey and Tabitha's Travels.)

We added a new cd to our Christmas music this week. Last week, a friend sent us link to this and I just had to buy the cd.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The First Conversation with a Four Year Old

The other night at dinner, the girls were all speculating on what Ashlynn's first word would be. We had two camps: those hoping for "mama" and others hoping for "da-da."

And then Lauryn had to put her 2 cents in:

"I hope her first word is 'bad tricycle'!"

No, Kelly and I Have no idea where she gets this stuff.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Catching Up

I cannot believe that I am still fighting this bug. I just today started wrapping presents and have let a thousand little things go this season. I just hope I am back to normal soon!

In the meantime, here are some things that I have missed blogging about lately:

Aubrey played her first offertory at church yesterday. Of course I wasn't there, so I sent the camera with Kora. I instructed her to get a couple of pictures of Aubrey warming up before church. She followed my instructions to the letter, but I realized after I uploaded the pictures that I failed to mention that I wanted one of them at least to be of her face!

Here are some pictures with faces: on the 6th, the girls performed in the studio's Christmas recital. Aubrey played "What Child is This?" and Kora played "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring."

Kora and Aubrey found this hat that goes with some "Baby's First Christmas" pajamas and have been putting it on Ashlynn nearly every day. At least someone around here is getting in the holiday spirit!

Isn't she just the cutest thing ever?
Tomorrow: the first edition of Conversations with a Four Year Old!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

It's a good thing I'm done Christmas Shopping

I was sick two weekends ago, and Thursday I started feeling bad again. Feels like the same thing, and my husband and one of my kids have had the same thing. I don't know if I caught it again or if this is a relapse, but here I am with another wasted weekend on my hands. Fortunately I only have one gift card left to get and I am DONE with Christmas shopping.

Here is yet another good reason to start Christmas shopping in January - you never know what December will bring. Whether it be health issues or financial issues, any kind of hiccup in your lives can really cause problems this time of year, especially if you have a large family to organize gifts for and/or a limited budget in which to do it.

So after Christmas, make yourself a chart with everyone you need to buy for next year, and set a goal to buy/make a certain number every month between now and next November. Jot down ideas for each person and keep a look out for great gifts and you'll be surprised at how often you'll find a sale or coupon for them. And buying some every month will cut down on stress next Advent season!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I'm curious...

So what's everyone asking for Christmas?
One of my favorite pictures from last year.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tex-Mex: Baked Chile Rellenos

If you are like Kelly and me, there is nothing in the world like good ol' Tex-Mex food. And certain dishes are harder than others to recreate in your own home. One of these is chili rellenos, a pepper stuffed with various ingredients (usually ground beef, onions, sometimes potatoes and cheese), breaded, and fried. YUM!

This is a little time consuming for everyday cooking, but I recently came across a baked chili rellenos recipe that comes pretty close to the real taste, but with the ease of everyday cooking. After some tweaking, here it is:

Baked Chili Rellenos

3 large poblano peppers
1 pound ground beef
1 small onion, diced
10 oz. Monterrey jack cheese (or more)
2 T butter, melted
5 eggs, well beaten
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1/2 t cumin

1. Rinse peppers and cut off stems. Remove seeds and dice. In a skillet saute peppers in about a tablespoon of olive oil until soft. (If you want to be more authentic, roast them over the grill before dicing.)

2. Brown meat and onions. Drain and set aside.

3. Spray an 8 in square casserole dish with oil. Then layer half of the peppers, half the meat, and half the cheese. Repeat.

4. In a small bowl, mix beaten eggs, butter, and spices. Pour over pepper mixture. Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes. Serve with spanish rice, and your choice of veggie.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

I'm going to a cookie exchange tonight, and I made these cookies. The only change I made was adding more chocolate chips than called for. Very yummy! Crisp on the outside, soft and chocolate-y on the inside with the heartiness of oats. So if you are in the mood to make, go check it out!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Lauryn riding the horse at my parents' house

It's not what you think.

Giddy-up, horsey!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Pants

When my youngest sister got up to roast my dad, she told one of her favorite stories. When she was in junior high, my dad had these pants. She describes them as M.C. Hammer pants, but they weren't quite that bad. But, my dad had the temerity to wear them to the mall with my two sisters in tow. They went to a music store, where some rock music was playing. My dad then proceeds to start two-stepping to this rock music in the music store! He tried to get my sisters, who were about 14 and 17, to dance with him, but they wanted to crawl under the carpet and hide. And he did this while wearing these pants:
My mom had found them in a closet a few weeks ago and set them aside for my sister to use as a visual aid at the roast.

Unfortunately when it came time for the party, my mom couldn't remember where she had put them! Even she got a good laugh out of her "senior moment." Of course, my sister found them under a bed at the house a day or two after the party!

So for Thanksgiving, my dad modeled them for us. We decided they were the perfect Thanksgiving pants - the flaps Velcro closed at the waist and are completely adjustable. Perfect for making room for that extra piece of pumpkin pie!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My Dad's Surprise 60th Birthday Roast

I really did intend to get a post up on Saturday, but I got sick over the weekend. I was doing well to get from the sofa to the computer just to check email. I had a long list of things I wanted to get done over the weekend - including a haircut - and none of it was done. So I am still playing catch-up.

So anyway, about a year and a half ago my mom came up with the idea to have a surprise birthday party for my dad, who turned 60 in November. So for months we threw around ideas of what to do. When my mom went to their church to reserve the facility for the party, the preacher's wife suggested making it a roast. My mom knew a good idea when she heard one and we were on. The preacher was asked to be the emcee, their Bible study group was set to bring side dishes, and my mom was providing the meat.

My two sisters and I were each contributing 20 presents so that he would have a grand total of 60 presents to open on his 60th birthday. If you've ever wondered what 60 gifts looks like, here it is:
While the sons-in-law took my dad off for lunch and a movie, my sisters and mom decorated the church. My youngest sister, Sarah, decorated the cake.

My mom had spent several hours on a picture board filled with pictures of my dad, from baby pictures to pictures of him holding each of his 10 grandkids.

Can you guess who he's holding in this one? My mom had made us matching outfits.
My mom had led my dad to believe that the girls (meaning my sisters and me) were preparing a special dinner at the house as he had been given strict instructions not to come to the house until my mom called him. So when everyone had assembled, she called my dad to help her with something at the church before going to the house.

And in he walked.

After eating, their preacher started in on the official ceremony: the mourning ceremony for my dad's youth. :-) Their preacher was hilarious and utterly ruthless.
In between speakers, my dad opened a few of his gifts. These are tassels for his bicycle (my dad is a serious bicycle rider, logging in hundreds of miles a year).
Here are Kelly and I saying something extremely witty and funny.
My mom told about the night they met on a blind date and how my dad drove off from the drive-in movie theater spot with the speaker still hooked to the window of the car.
I'll post more later, as this post is already very long. But it was a great evening. My sides hurt from laughing by the time it was over. Love you, Daddy!