Friday, December 30, 2011

A Christmas mystery SOLVED!

I was looking back at pictures taken during December and I had an aha moment.  The mystery of why I always gain weight between Thanksgiving and Christmas has been solved!  I bake more goodies during December than I do the entire YEAR.  The problem isn't necessarily the baking, it is the eating. I just cannot resist the pull of chocolate and sugar.

List of goodies made:
  • Snowball Kisses
  • Macaroon Kisses
  • M&M Pretzle Kisses
  • Dipped pretzles
  • Mint chocolate Chip Cookes
  • Gingerbreadmen

I also love that baking brings people together.  I hosted a baking day with Heather just before Christmas with 8 7 eager elves and 1 elf who wasn't feeling well.  We had a great time and shared lots of laughs and no one fell into a diabetic coma.
We put together goodie plates for the neighbors and shared with family over Christmas.  There was still plenty left over for me to pack on some extra insulation for the winter.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Twenty years ago today...

I married the man of my dreams.  
We are blessed.
The joys and challenges of life
have been enriched
by having this man by
my side.
I look forward to the 
next chapters of our life

Steve was 22 and I was 23 
on our wedding day in 
Oakes, ND
at the St. Charles Catholic Church
surrounded by family and friends.
The trees were beautifully frosted
and I remember feeling that nature
was celebrating with us.
20 years later, there is no one else I
can imagine by my side
sharing life's adventures with.
He makes me laugh;
He is supportive;
He gives me perspective;
He is intelligent;
He is an amazing father;
He can fix anything;
He is spontaneous;
His faith is powerful;
and so very much more.
  I look forward to the future
and the adventures yet to come.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Memories

Our Christmas was filled with magical moments, laughter, family & love, just as we had hoped.  We were able to spend the afternoon on Friday, December 23 with our dear friends, the Matherns, and got some snuggle time with our godson, Brac.  We continued our travels from Fargo on to Thompson, which ended up being pretty chilly as we discovered the heat had gone out in the van.  Actually, it was only the heat to the front, so while the girls were sweaty hot in the back, Steve & I were literally chillin' in the front.

We got all warmed up chowin' on pizza for supper with Russ, Kristy, Noah & Nixin.  Right after we ate, the eight of us bundled up and took the Russ Bus to the Holmes Live Nativity Pageant about 20 minutes from Thompson.
Although there was no snow on the ground, you can tell by our red noses that is was plenty cold.  Luckily, we scored some hot apple cider and enjoyed a beautiful recreation of the Nativity.
The Nativity scene was complete with everyone singing Christmas hymns, combined with the bawling of a calf, an adorable frolicking lamb, numerous horses, a very stubborn mule, and most of all the absolute spirit of CHRIST-mas.
The next morning, my ambitious brother, Russ, was busy trying to solve the heat problem in our 10 year old van. He narrowed down the problem to a defective heat actuator. Using his wizard research skills and some YouTube videos, he felt that he and Steve could tackle fixing the problem themselves.  A few phone calls were made to locate an auto supplier with the right part on hand so Russ & Steve began the mission to procure & rectify the heat problem.

Not only did they fix the van's heat problem, but replaced the windshield wipers and de-glazed the headlights.  Talk about ambitious elves on Christmas Eve!

Soon after lunch, my folks joined us in Thompson as well as Uncle Bob & Aunt Judy.  We got in lots of visiting before dressing up to attend a candlelight service together.  It was a so heartwarming to have 12 of us together, even though we were missing Randy, Anna, Makenzie, Kaleb and Logan who were in Casper, WY with the Kaups.

We had a traditional supper of several different soup (oyster, spicy potato & cheese burger) choices; followed by taking pictures, and opening gifts.

Much excitement and laughter followed including a huge surprise for Noah & Nixin of a family trip to Disney World in February!  Preparations were made for a visit from Santa and Nixin was definitely the most excited of all the kids.  He was up at 3:00 AM Christmas morning checking out what Santa had left!  The cousins played games, built a fort & watched Christmas movies throughout the day.  The adults also were busy playing games including a new card game called Squeak (or sparkle if you ask my dad); several rounds of golf; wii games and more.

We even made it in to Grandforks for a little bit of post-holiday shopping on the 26th before we headed back to Fergus Falls.  Very grateful for the time spent with our loved ones and the wonderful Christmas Memories. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Crafties

Pinterest has been a fabulous source of all kinds of Christmas crafties and gift ideas this season.  I have been able to get my craft-on with a number of fun projects.

I made this 8x8 picture as a 20-year-anniversary commemorative for Steve & me.  Got to use a cheap frame I scored at Goodwill and spray-painted black.  I love bringing new life to someone else's cast-offs!

These adorable felt owl ornaments were made for Heather & Lori as a tribute to our "owl-tastic" time in Sioux Falls.
I was able to make these recycled wine cork ornaments to commemorate some special moments with my Kathy, my Mikey and my Denise.

This cute little corner "monster" bookmark was a paper craft project created with my fabulous friend niece, Kamiryn (a.k.a. KZ). 

This little girl is the frosting to my cupcake!
My SIL, Kristy, and her sister, Kathy, spied these snowman wrapped hershey bar crafties on pinterest.  Kippy and I went to town using her supplies making this delicious little army on Christmas Eve.
 If you haven't checked out pinterest, I whole heartily endorse it and can send you an invite if you want!  Happy crafting!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Enjoying the music of the Season

Our first concert of the Christmas season was the Fergus Falls High School band Holiday Pops concert, which was just before Thanksgiving on November 21st.  It was amazing and we were all so impressed with musical talent of these kids.  Abby plays the altosax and we were excited that we could actually watch her perform this time because of our seats being upfront.  Steve, Kippy and I got to feast on some delicious pie before the concert started.  Such a great night!

Our family attended the M-State Mannheim Steamroller concert on December 10 and thought it was fabulous.  This You-tube link is from last year, but it does capture the great quality of the music.  I loved how energetic the conductor was!  Can't imagine how many calories he alone burned.  The performers were a cross section from the high school level, to the collegiate level, all the way to the community level. We really are blessed with local talent.
Angelique had two performances of the OLV Christmas program on December 16th.  This fall she began playing the flute in the Middle School band and performed "Up on the Housetop" with two of her classmates. Her 5th grade class also played "Go Tell It on the Mountain" on the chimes as well as singing several songs. It is always such a beautiful concert, full of traditional Christmas hymns.
Grandma Shirley, along with her Great Uncle Jim and Great Aunt Esther came to watch the afternoon performance.  Angelique always loves when there are special people in the audience watching her.
Our family attended the evening concert, which was simply wonderful. Music is such a balm to my soul and nothing gets me in the true spirit of Christmas better than listening to live music.

Abby also participated in a Winter Holiday Choir concert at the Kennedy Secondary School on December 12th.  It was so beautiful.  There were performances from 6 different concert choirs, but I will have to say that the 8 part A Cappella women's choir which sang "O Come Emmanuel" was my favorite and literally brought tears to my eyes.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Suprise - Lance is 40!

Denise planned an amazing weekend of fun and surprises for Lance's 40th birthday.  We were so happy to be a part of the festivities and making it memorable.  Although - I think I should have left the dueling piano bar MUCH sooner than I did!

From the friends, setting, food and entertainment ~ everything was perfect.  Steve & I even took in our first Vikings football game and even though I have rarely even watched a professional football game, there was so much excitement just being there in person.

The Vikings pulled off a win that afternoon, and although I was sleep deprived and a tad-bit dehydrated, it was exciting!  I think Lance would say his 40th birthday went down in the record books as a WIN too!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Mail call with the elves

We all performed our usual duties in terms of our Christmas mailing:  I am in charge of the printing of the Christmas photograph & making mailing labels; Steve writes our annual recap; Abby & Angelique assemble the mailing.
Such helpful little elves...

And they were almost cheerful about it as well!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Light the lights upon the Christmas tree...

 "...celebrate the season with friends and family.  Light the lights and hang the star above, celebrate the season with the ones you love."  This is a portion of a song sung at the OLV Christmas program and certainly makes me think of our tradition of decorating our Christmas tree together.
 We may not have a real tree to decorate, but we have real memories associated with the ornaments that are hung on our tree.  Abby has a beautiful collection of Barbie ornaments which now span 11 years and are a treasure from her Godparents, Lance & Denise.
 This wooden, hand-carved boot ornament was received last year (2010) from my Colorado-bestie, Kathy, to commemorate falling down her stairs due to my new birthday boots.  It also carries the memory of the help Kathy received from her dear mother-in-law, BJ, in locating this perfect memento.
 I really do appreciate the labeling I have done on some of my treasured ornaments.  There is a lot of history, love and friendships celebrated each year throughout our tree.
 And as our family tradition dictates, we all wear our Santa hats while decorating.... even miss Bella, much to her chagrin.
 Abby is giving a little love to a beloved "Hello Kitty" ornament.
While decorating our tree, we watched "Polar Express" and of course, sang along as much as possible.  Our timing worked out perfectly.  The ornaments were all in place just as the movie was ending.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Giving Thanks!

We hosted Thanksgiving at our house with some of Steve's family as well as my parents. It was a small group of 9, but what a large feast we had! Honey ham, slowcooker cranberry turkey, stir fried green beans with mushrooms, cranberry/apple squash, stuffing, garlic mashed potatoes and pumpkin trifle for dessert.  

One of my favorite features of Thanksgiving is expressing individually what you want to give thanks for. Over the years, this has taken on many different forms, sometimes we give it verbally, sometimes we write it on leaves or record it in a photo album. No matter the way it is done, it is just very important to me that we are grateful.
 So for Thanksgiving this year, I created a gratitude jar.  I actually made it a week before Thanksgiving, after experiencing a particularly exasperating day of dealing with ungrateful kids. It seemed like every little chore I asked for help with was met with bad attitudes and grumbling.  And to top it off, there were many demanding "I wants" being given.  I had had it, so I went down to my craft room, made a tag and tied it on a jar and cut up several strips of paper.  I handed 5 slips of paper to each family member and asked everyone to fill them out with what they are grateful for.  Saying, "This family needs to get rid of the attitude and get some gratitude!"  Before adding to the jar, each person read out loud what they were grateful for.  In the week leading up to Thanksgiving, we each continued to fill out slips of paper on a daily basis.  When Thanksgiving arrived, we asked our guests to add their "gratitude's" to the jar.  Eventually, we dumped out all the slips of paper and read them all out loud.  It may be one of my favorite ways of expressing our thankfulness yet!  I am certainly going to keep the jar around to help combat ungrateful attitudes in the future.

Here is a smattering of what was in the jar:

"I am grateful for Abbigail Rose.  She is quick to help out, has a caring heart, has the ability to make others feel special and is great with children.  I love her!"
"I am thankful for my cousins because they are kind and fun to play with."
"I am thankful for my daughter Angelique and that she has an inquisitive mind and still enjoys to play."
"I am grateful for my sister.  She is fun to laugh with, fun to laugh at, fun to sing and dance with, and the only person who would watch Adventure Time for hours."
"I am grateful for our little dog, Bella, that she helps us to laugh and reminds us that there is always someone smaller that may need our help."
"I'm grateful for my dad because he is a good helper, a good listener and he loves me a lot."
"I'm grateful for my wife that she has helped me to learn about true love and helping me to strive to be a better person in every way."
"I'm thankful for a warm cozy house.  It makes me realize how lucky I am to have my own room."
"I'm grateful for Rod and Rose and the family experiences we have had together and the business partnership that has created opportunities for my family"
"I am grateful for Angelique Grace.  She is warm, kind hearted, full of energy and gives amazing foot massages.  I love her!"
"I am grateful for my parents.  They both support my decisions and help me be a better person."
"I am grateful for a family who supports me trying new things like being a fitness instructor, even tho it means I am not always at home for them."

Plus lots, lots more...

Being together is the greatest gift of all.  We played Mexican train and had so many laughs.

At one point we were teasing Angelique about talking too much during the game and she got up, went out into the garage and came back wearing the ultimate silencer.... duct tape!  Such a funny girl!

Looking forward to our next family gathering and pray that we can all maintain a grateful heart!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pajamas, projects and p = Joy X 3

I went to another very.much.needed therapy session in Sioux Falls with Heather & Lori, who are so very dear to my heart. This time it was an overnight trip filled with matching owl-tactic pj's, Christmas projects and laughing so hard we cried, nearly peed and triggered my asthma multiple times. These girls are the bomb! They lift me up, advise me, teach me, encourage me, accept me and kill me with laughter.

Sioux Falls is going to miss us!  Especially Joey, the TJMax man, because he FAILED at pedicures; the four gray-haired ladies who loved our matching pj's at breakfast; the hotel attendant who received false license information from Liar-Liar-Lori yet gave us the fabulous recommendation to go to Carnaval Brazilian Grill; the gal at the Runner's Block who did our foot scans and gave us each shoe recommendations and introduced us to The Stick; the poor woman in the room next to us who coughed up a storm; the hotel cleaner who had to vacuum a lot of sawdust from our wood crafting escapades; the CherryBerry attendant who watched us sample and sample the deliciousness....  so many people, so little time.

I have to give a huge shout out to my hubby who allowed me to take flight while he manned the house plus 5 children between the ages of 14-2. He knows how important therapy is for me!

I love that we are able to mix serious with hilarity.  Can't wait until we launch our new greeting card company under our logo of Joy X 3!!

Until we get together again in February, know that you are always in my heart.