Thursday, December 30, 2010

Last Post of 2010

Well, our blog has come full circle. I started it, forgot the password to get back into it, stalled out...and then finally found it again so that I could blog about a trip to Hawaii. And now--here we are off to Hawaii again : ) Yep, you guessed it. That's our Christmas present from the Tractor's. My folks and all my bros and my sis-in-law are (and us) are headed to Hawaii for a week of fun in the sun. The kids are over the moon. Only one more day to wait.
For are a few last glimpses of the Season.
Nora went outside to play with the kids Christmas Eve morning and ended up taking her morning nap on Daddy's back. Look at that smooshed up little face.

Christmas Eve we had the privilege of hosting good friends for dinner and visiting. There is nothing I love so much as setting a pretty table and having fun with festive food. I got the camera out to take pictures and then found it sitting lonely on the counter when it was time to go to bed much later.
The kids slept fairly late Christmas morning, but woke up in time to open presents, of course. This time of year seems over the top with Ezra's birthday and Christmas only a week apart. With grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and parents these kids end up with quite a haul.

See what I mean?

We left the pretty table decor out from the night before and enjoyed it with a Christmas morning breakfast. Mmmm...apricot stuffed french toast with bacon and hash browns.

Ezra got a motorcycle jersey for one of his birthday gifts. I think he'd wear it every day if he could. He even wore it to the dirt track near my parents' house last week so that he could splash some mud up the back and wear it in proper-like.
And now we're going to take this show on the road. Sorry to everyone else on the plane : ) I'll understand if my family pretends not to know us!
From playing in the snow today to playing in the sand Saturday!
And finally, some of the funnies spoken around these parts today and yesterday:

Caroline as she fell off the step-stool in the bathroom today "Oh my STINKIN' word!"
Caroline as Ezra was about to give their sled a push down the back deck steps "This is not going to be healthy!"
Ezra "The olden days went on for a lot longer than these days, huh? And now we're living in the New Testament."

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas at the Tractor's

My family up and flew to the Bible Conference in Burbank, CA this year. We decided to stay home. The memory of a violent stomach flu was still pressed firmly into our minds. So, the week before Christmas the kids and I packed up and spent a night and a couple of days back in Gig Harbor. We wanted to exchange Christmas gifts with Grandpa and Grandma before they left...but also, we had to vacate the house because...wait for it...there were guys coming to put texture on the walls! Yes! All the wallpaper is down--even the painted over stuff(thanks to Tadd, not me). And now the non-textured walls have texture. We wanted it done before Tadd had time off for Christmas and New Year's so that he could use some of those days to paint the drywall primer over the texture. We also have started painting the ceilings. The whole house basically "needs" to be painted. It's not a true need, really just our preference. As soon as we can get the ceilings done and the primer on we can move on to the hardest task--choosing colors. The kids rooms are our first target. We'd like to get them officially moved into their own rooms. But, back to Christmas at the Tractor's... Here is Ezra opening a package of Legos. Between his birthday and Christmas he has amassed quite the collection of Legos. I'm pretty excited about that. It brings back many childhood memories for me. Also, it really keeps him busy for long periods of time. And they are creative and spatial. We are going to try to make Legos a toy for only in his room so that Nora isn't always choking on them. Not that anything ever stays where it is supposed to around here.
What did Caroline get???? Ah! An Easy Bake Oven. And excited doesn't even begin to describe her feelings.

As per typical of a 10-monther, Nora needed nothing more than a fun ribbon to make her Christmas a dream come true. But, there was a gift under that ribbon.
Grandpa and Grandma opened their gifts too..
And Nora found her Baby Glow Worm.
Grandpa put on a pretty good show of being surprised by his tie picked out by the kids. The surprise was somewhat ruined when Caroline started handing out wrapped gifts and said "And here's your tie, Grandpa."
Little Missy also got this swim suit.

Those are some happy kids.
We had to break out the Easy Bake Oven right away, of course. Uncle Brett set to work putting together the Legos--he's very good at that in case anyone else needs a Lego-assembler.
Each cookie took 10 minutes to bake and 10 minutes in the "cooling chamber" before she could decorate them with frosting and bright pink sprinkles.
She was very patient and sat their for the whole batch of 4 cookies. She was also generous, giving away the first cookie to Ezra and the 3rd and 4th to Grandpa and Uncle Brett.

Thanks for a fun Christmas Grandpa and Grandma Tractor. Their gift to Tadd and I will be posted about later. It's super exciting. Even more so than Legos or even an Easy Bake Oven : )

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Monster-Truckload of Fun

We were able to reschedule Ezra's party for a few nights later. We were minus a few guests, but still managed to have a lot of fun. Ezra had seen a picture of a friend's birthday cake a few weeks before his birthday and wanted me to copy it. I was so happy that he requested a cake where I had a picture to copy : ) Copying is so much easier. He requested that the cake be chocolate with chocolate frosting...I was happy about that one also.
We ate his requested meal of flank steak (but I wanted "real steak" not "fake steak"!), creamed corn, bread, salad with carrots and guava juice. I thought he made some delicious choices!

Daddy drew up a monster truck for us to use in the bean bag toss. I had planned to mount it on cardboard and cut out holes to aim for...but as usual, I ran out of time. So it was a simple black and white picture and I just wrote different point values on different parts of the truck. I had sewn the bean bags a couple of weeks before, thankfully.

He had been waiting and waiting to take his monster truck down the course. Finally! These are the trucks you got him, Grandpa and Grandma Idaho.

Daddy was an extra big helper, running the games and cutting and serving cake with the help of Mr. J. Thanks J family for making our evening lots of fun. I wish I had gotten pictures of all the dressing up the kids were doing. Someday I'll put down the baby and pick up the camera more often!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Trying to Find the Beginning

Sorry to drop off the face of blogger-land. Life and death gave us the one-two punch and it clean KOed me. Now I don't know where to begin. Or if I should scrap it all and start with a clean slate. I am going to attempt to play catch up with a flurry of posts this week, I think. I am afraid all those DIY posts for before the holidays are a lost cause. I'll just have to show a few of the results and then we'll try for the actual "how to" posts next year.

Instead of making our goodies slowly over a long week and taking pictures, we made them all quickly in one day to get them out of the way before Uncle Mike's burial and memorial. We wanted to get our neighbor gift bags assembled and passed out early. I was planning on sharing these recipes with you...I still might.
Salted caramels...a good gift to get out of the house...dangerous to keep around!
Pecan fudge. Same goes for this one.
Iced gingerbread men and other shapes, compliments of a Mrs. Fields recipe. These cookies are soft instead of crisp and crunchy. Paired with the simple powdered sugar icing they are the perfect holiday treat. They are also a blast to make with the kids. I think this is the recipe I'll goes:

Mrs. Fields Gingerbread Men

3 1/4 C all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 C salted butter,
3/4 C dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 large egg
1/2 C unsulfered molasses
1/2 C raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 325. Whisk together dry ingredients--flour-cloves.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer cream butter and sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add egg and molasses, and beat on medium speed until smooth. Scape bowl and add the flour mixture.
Separate dough into 2 balls and flatten into disks. Wrap each disk tightly in plastic wrap or bag and refrigerate 1 hour or until firm.
On floured surface with floured rolling pin, roll dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out men and place on ungreased cookie sheet 1/2 apart. (Put raisins on now if you wish).
Bake 9-11 minutes being careful not to brown. Transfer to cool flat surface with a spatula.

2/3 C confectioner's sugar
1-2 tsp. milk
Whisk sugar and milk together in a small bowl until mixture is smooth but liquid. If it seems dry, add 1/4 tsp. more milk. Spoon icing into a pastry bag fitted with a small piping tip. Decorate men as desired.

*Or, you can do like I did and make double the icing and simply spoon it onto the entire cookie. It is much quicker, easier and tastes pretty yummy.

Below you will see the results of my homemade garland. It stayed up on the stair railing for one week. One week--and this is how many needles were covering the carpet and floors below.

It was pretty and it was fun to make (and not that hard) but I don't think I'll be repeating that with real branches next year.

I much preferred this mantel in the family room. I simply piled on the branches and added some cheap clip-on poinsettia flowers and a red candle. It was my favorite decoration.
Evening jam/dance sessions with daddy's guitar are a big hit around these parts.

Little Miss Developing Personality.
She looks a lot like her big evidenced. She says what we think sounds like "Ezra" quite often.
On Friday, December 17th we buried Uncle Mike with family only at the graveside. What an incredibly hard thing to do. It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, Mt. Rainier and the Puget Sound were glistening. His grave is very near to his dad's. Burying a loved one gives me a panicky feeling. I hate it. Everyone hates it. The finality of it just about crushes your chest. And yet, we know it's only a finality for his frail earthy body. Forever is yet to come. In Heaven. The rest of the story will be so much better.
The next day, December 18th we had the memorial service. They estimate 850 people came. It was a lovely memorial. I struggled through hearing my dad and his siblings tell about their memories of their brother. Friends and co-workers talked as well. Everyone who was ever coached by him stood at two different points in the ceremony as a lovely tribute. And then there was the photo slide show that did me in. We are thankful to all who helped pull that day together--and there were many of you. Thank you also for continued prayers.
Unfortunately for Ezra, December 18th also happened to be his 5th birthday. He put on a brave face and didn't even get mad that we canceled his party. He had a blast with his cousins in the nursery during the memorial. We let him open some presents before we left for the memorial. And we had cinnamon rolls for breakfast at his request...except they were the kind you buy in a roll at the store rather than the good homemade kind. Oh well.
A baseball mitt and a fishing pole from his daddy and his Grandparents Idaho, respectively.
When we woke up he came down the stairs from his room laughing. He says with sparkling eyes "Do you know why I'm laughing??? Because I'm FIVE!"

Kurt did a great job of sitting quietly and playing with his i-touch in the nursery.
Our kids had a blast in the church nursery during the memorial service. We weren't expecting to leave them there, but ended up being so thankful that we did as the service went about 2 hours.
Ezra took this photo of Tadd and I...even got both of us in the frame.
Ezra and Caroline love playing with Kira and Kurt. We were thankful the cousins had a chance to be together.

Hopefully there will be more to come tomorrow...