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.