Archive | December, 2012

Questions of Reflection on 2012

31 Dec

Happy New Year’s Eve! Do you have big plans for tonight? Since having children we always stay home and toast the New Year with some sparkling cider with our girls before they go to bed, and then my husband and I will stay up and watch a movie, then watch the countdown on TV and have our own toast.

The new year also brings new resolutions, and I am always excited to see what the new year holds for us. Before we ring in 2013 though, I want to reflect a little on this past year, so here are some questions of reflection. I got the idea from this post over at (in)courage, but I chose to limit my answers to 10 of those questions. Feel free to use these questions to reflect on your 2012 as well!

1. What was the single best thing that happened this year? My husband receiving a nice bonus at work, along with our decent tax return. That allowed us to: Pay off debt, Purchase our girls their first swing set/playhouse, Purchase a nice in-ground basketball goal (which we have yet to have installed!), Purchase new furniture for our oldest (we have been working on updating her room for a year and a half…um yeah, slowly), Pay for a family vacation over spring break to Branson MO, and Re-build our mini emergency fund (baby step 1, which needs to be re-built again unfortunately).

2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?  My Grandfather passing away, and my Grandmother being alone and living too far away to visit regularly.

3. What was an unexpected joy this year? We switched dance studios in the fall, and my oldest got to be in her first ballet The Nutcracker in November. It was a joy to watch her perform!

4. What was an unexpected obstacle? My husband found a lump on my back that turned out to be a benign tumor, and I had surgery to have it removed. Thankfully it was benign, it could have been much worse!

5. Pick three words to describe 2012? Fast, full, good

6. What were the best books you read this year? Sigh…unfortunately I haven’t finished a book this year. I have read parts of several books, but haven’t finished one. That is something I want to work on in 2013!

7. With whom were your most valuable relationships? My family and my friends. I don’t know if I am supposed to be more specific than that?

8. What was your biggest personal change from January to December this past year? I fell out of love with my photography business.

9. What was your single biggest time waster this year? The computer (facebook, email)

10. What was the best way you used your time this year? Volunteering at my girl’s schools, teaching a Girls on the Run group in the fall, doing a women’s Bible study in the summer and another in the fall, and playing women’s recreational volleyball with my friends.

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Christmas 2012

27 Dec

This is my favorite time of year, from October 1st to January 1st, and Christmas is my favorite holiday. This Christmas has had all the magic that I could hope for. As we pack up our decorations until next year, I wanted to tell you a little about our Christmas day.

We started the morning with the girls waking us up at 8:00am to open presents. Stockings first, as we always do, and then on to the presents under the tree.

After presents I made this for breakfast, yum!

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Mid-day I started cooking Christmas dinner (really lunch), and as if the day wasn’t wonderful enough it started snowing. For Christmas dinner I served the following: Glazed Ham, Whiskey-Glazed Carrots, Creamy Herbed Potatoes, Rolls, Deviled Eggs, Sparkling Cider, and Eggnog Custard Pie. It was heavenly!

We watched the snow fall all day, and had a white Christmas…a rare thing in this part of the country. What a treat!

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I hope your Christmas was as memorable as ours was, and we wish you all a Happy New Year!

 

Gingerbread Village

26 Dec

Every Christmas I buy a gingerbread kit for me and the girls to make together, this year it was a gingerbread village. We have done gingerbread houses, a gingerbread train, and a gingerbread Christmas tree before. The girls always have fun with it, but I’m thinking next year I may try a more homemade approach.

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I hope you and yours had a very Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

Preschool Christmas Party Treats

25 Dec

For my youngest, I volunteered to take on the snacks and goodie bags for her class’s Christmas party at school last week. I made Snowman Soup for their take-home goodie bags, the directions are listed below (directions are based on making 15 bags).

Snowman Soup

You will need:
one bag of Hersey chocolate kisses
one bag of mini marshmallows
one box of mini candy canes
and packets of Swiss Miss individual hot chocolate packets.

place one packet of hot chocolate into the baggie
add 3-4 kisses
a small scoop of marshmallows
two candy canes
attach the snowman soup poem
close baggie and add embellishment. Easy!

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For the kids snack I made snowmen on a stick! You can read how to make those here. I want to add that I used orange Mike & Ike candy for the noses, strawberry Twizzler ropes for the scarf (with no toothpick…seemed dangerous for a 4 year old to be biting into?!), mini chocolate chips for the eyes and mouth, and red cinnamon candies instead of jawbreakers (again…a 4 year old eating jawbreakers?!). These were much more difficult to make than the post made them out to be, but they turned out cute and the everyone loved them.

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Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

Candy Cane Biscotti

25 Dec

My girls and I tried this recipe for candy cane biscotti last week, and as we have done a couple times already this month we shared some with a friend. My oldest picked another local family, and we left them this little treat on their doorstep one evening. I think this is going to be a new tradition of ours each December, it is so much fun for us and a nice surprise for the families we chose to share with.

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We chose not to ice our biscotti, the recipe states that you can make it either way. Merry Christmas!

 

Teacher Gifts

24 Dec

This year our list of teachers gifts grew, I guess because our youngest is in preschool and dance this year for the first time. This year I tried to be a little extra creative, and put together gift baskets for all to enjoy.

For my oldest daughter’s piano teacher. I stacked three assorted Christmas cookie tins, and wrapped them up with ribbon and a bow.

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For my oldest daughter’s two regular teachers, and her GATES teacher. This gift included a reusable Starbucks tumbler, a Starbucks gift card, and assorted holiday chocolates.

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For my oldest daughter’s specials teachers (Music, Art, P.E., and Library). This gift box had a Starbucks gift card, and assorted chocolates inside.

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For my girl’s dance instructors, all four of them. This gift basket had holiday cookies, assorted milk chocolates, assorted dark chocolates, peppermint candy, candy canes, and Hershey’s kisses.

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I forgot to take a picture of the gifts we put together for my younger daughter’s teacher, and her two assistant teachers, but they were very similar to what we did for my older daughter’s teachers. We felt so much joy putting together gifts for those we love and delivering them! Happy Holidays!

A-Caroling We Go!

22 Dec

We went caroling for the first time in a local neighborhood with a bunch of friends, it was so much fun! Each family brought a dozen cookies, and we wrapped a variety up and handed them out at each of the houses that we sang at. The adults let the kids do the singing, and everyone at the houses we stopped at seemed to enjoy listening to them. One couple even asked if they could follow us and listen as we stopped at other houses after there’s!

One of the houses we stopped at was the home of a sweet older lady, who lost her husband earlier this year. She came out and sat on the porch while the kids sang, and then afterward walked out and gave us all hugs with tears in her eyes. I could feel her loneliness, and it just broke my heart. My own Grandmother lost my Granddaddy this year, and she is so very lonely without him. What makes it so much harder is that she lives 6 hours away, so I can’t go visit on a weekly basis and cheer her up.

After we finished caroling we all ended up where we had started, at a friend’s home, and loaded up on cookies and hot coco. It was a wonderful experience for the four of us, and I hope to do it again next Christmas!

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A Nation In Mourning

15 Dec

I first heard of the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School yesterday morning, around 10:30am, as I was driving between my morning errands and listening to the radio. As the details of the shooting came out, I was filled with great sorrow for those little lives lost and the families left behind. As a mother of young children, ages 4 and 8, I can not begin to understand or imagine what those families are going through. Our thoughts and prayers are with them as they grieve, and somehow find a way to move forward again. I am so thankful for my girls, and grateful for the time we have with them. I know we are not guaranteed tomorrow, and I want to make each day we have together count.

Our Angel Tree Girls

13 Dec

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One of our family traditions this time of year is to choose two angels from a local angel tree to purchase Christmas gifts for. We always choose girls that are the same age as our two, I think that helps our girls relate better to what we are doing when they help pick out and deliver gifts for other girls that they would want themselves.

This year our angels came from a local food bank, and they do things a little differently than we are used to. Instead of the usual card with the age/gender and specific requests, we were given an age/gender and told to purchase appropriate toys and clothes. We purchased clothes and toys for both girls, and delivered them to a local church yesterday that is collecting the items for the food pantry. We wish our two angels a very Merry Christmas!

Next year I want to make a minor adjustment to this tradition, and purchase each angel four things: something they want, something they need, something they’ll wear, and something they’ll read. I recently discovered this gift-giving method from a friend, and I think it is wonderful!

Peppermint Fudge

10 Dec

This weekend the girls and I tackled another holiday treat…peppermint fudge! Admittedly, it was supposed to be Double-Layer Peppermint Fudge, but a goof on my part when reading the recipe resulted in just plain ol’ Peppermint Fudge. No matter, it is delicious!

My Littlest

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We wrapped up some of our fudge and delivered it to a family we love, chosen by my oldest, in an effort to continue spreading Christmas cheer to those around us.

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If you would like to try this recipe yourself, you can find it here! One note I will add, the recipe says the fudge will be set after just one hour in the fridge…I checked ours after one hour, two hours, three hours, and it still wasn’t set properly. I ended up leaving it in the fridge overnight before cutting it into 1×1″ squares. Enjoy!