Monday, December 31, 2007

A Few Highlights of 2007

Hand Made Gifts

The girls just LOVE the little kitchen they received for Christmas. They are playing with it constantly! And I just love how darling it looks set up in their room. :)

Before Christmas, I was noticing how many other bloggers were either making all their gifts by hand, or purchasing handmade items only... I so wish I could be talented patient enough to make my children gifts! But since I had my mind set on the little kitchen set for the girls, I knew that there was no way that I would be able to take the "Handmade Pledge." HOWEVER... MAYBE, I could make SOMETHING to go WITH the kitchen...

There are so many creative women online, and I was amazed to see what they had been making! Could I possibly make something?

My dear friend Regina called me one night, and told me to take a look at some felt food she saw online. It was REALLY cute! Plus, I have worked with felt before, and it doesn't intimidate me like fabric and yarn does! :)

So... I pulled out some felt, a pair of scissors and then searched the house for a needle. (I really wish I would have learned to sew as a child!) Anyways, here are a few pictures:

I started with making a couple eggs. These were VERY easy, and a good place to start! The other day, Captain came up to me and asked me for a couple plastic Easter eggs to put them into, so they could "crack them" into the frying pan Grandma gave the girls.

Then I tried making some Strawberries. Here are a few of them:

My mom said I should add some french knots, at least thats what I think she called them? To make it look like they have little seeds on them... We'll See, maybe I will since last night when some friends were over, Sugar asked if they were chili peppers. :)

Then I got started on some sugar cookies. I worked on stitching seed beeds to pink and blue fabric for the icing, and then stitched that to some off white felt, added a bit of filling and stitched another piece of felt to the bottom. Does that look like a cookie?

Now, I didn't get near as much accomplished as I had hoped to... In fact I am still working on finishing the cookies... and they didn't turn out very good, but my girls loved them just the same. And I actually enjoyed giving it a shot!

Speaking of kitchen stuff, last night we had my Aunt Bridget, Uncle Shawn, and some friends over for dinner and games. (Aunt Bridget gave me the game Catch Phrase as a gift, and it is a BLAST! We played girls against guys, and us girls won every round :) We also played Apples to Apples and Sequence.)

Anyways, all of our guests came stocked with even more cooking supplies for our family! My Aunt & Uncle gave us a Road Trip Grill with an accessory Griddle!! We are so excited, and can hardly wait till next summer to go camping! (This will be a HUGE improvement over trying to feed our growing family with a single burner that attaches to the top of a propane bottle!) They also gave these darling mini pans to the kids, there are 2 of each, and can actually go into the oven! They LOVE them! Thank you Aunt Bridget & Uncle Shawn... You always spoil us WAY too much!

Then, Regina surprised the girls with some darling sweets! Check these out, they are so cute!




OK, OK! Before I go, the boys are looking over my shoulder, telling me I "HAVE TO" post a picture of what my little brother made for them out of some PVC pipe! They are such BOYS! :)


It is handmade! :)

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Feast of Saint John

There are many wonderful feast days leading up to Christmas, as well as following Christmas. One of them is on December 27th. It is the feast of St. John the Apostle. He was one of the sons of Zebedee, or "sons of thunder", and the apostle whom Jesus loved.

For this feast day, while hubby made dinner, I made some spiced wine and dessert.

Before dinner, my husband blessed the wine.




The following explains why this is a tradition of the Catholic Church:

According to legend, he was served poisoned wine, but survived because he blessed the wine before he put it to his lips; the poison rose from the chalice in the shape of a serpent. In his happy memory, Catholics bring wine to church, which the priest blesses, turning it into a sacramental called the "Love of St. John." Catholics use this sacramental wine for special occasions throughout the year and to give to the sick.

When it is drunk on his Feast Day, we drink it before dinner as a toast to St. John. The Father of the house lifts his glass toward Mother and says, "I drink you the love of St. John." The Mother replies "I thank you for the Love of St. John" and then turns to the oldest child, lifts her glass, and says, "I drink you the love of St. John..." -- and on it goes down the line until each has been toasted.



Snuggles especially enjoyed the blessing!  Isn't he such a cutie!?

Anyways, the wine was boiled long enough to remove all the alcohol, and Rascal was the first of the children to be brave enough to try it!

Twinkle Toes and Chiquita were brave as well... But Captain wouldn't touch it until after dinner, when he finally took a tiny sip. It actually wasn't bad. It basically tasted a lot like hot apple cider. Probably because I used the same mulling spices :)

After dinner, the children received a new book about this dear Saint to use with our Catholic Mosaic program titled Through the Eyes of John.

Rascal also drew a couple great pictures of this great saint! He is turning into quite the artist!




St. John the Apostle, Pray for Us!

Feast of the Holy Family

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family!

The Holy Family is the perfect model for us of family life.

Let us pray for the grace to always imitate their holiness in our own families. Through meditating on them, may our Lord also give us the grace to see the areas within our families in need of improvement.

Let us also remember to pray for ALL families, that they may be able to uphold the sanctity of the marriage bond which is so greatly under attack.

May the Holy Family continue to bless and guide you and your family!


Act of Consecration to the Holy Family

O Jesus,
Our most loving Redeemer,
Who having come to enlighten the world
With Thy teaching and example,
Didst will to pass the greater part of Thy life
In humility and subjection to Mary and Joseph
In the poor home of Nazareth,
Thus sanctifying the Family
That was to be an example for all Christian families,
Graciously receive our family as it dedicates
And consecrates itself to Thee this day.
Do Thou protect us,
Guard us and establish amongst us Thy holy fear,
True peace and concord in Christian love:
In order that by living according to the divine pattern
Of Thy family we may be able,
All of us without exception,
To attain to eternal happiness.

Mary,
Dear Mother of Jesus and Mother of us,
By the kindly intercession
Make this our humble offering acceptable in the sight of
Jesus,
And obtain for us His graces and blessings.

O Saint Joseph,
Most holy Guardian of Jesus and Mary,
Help us by thy prayers in all our spiritual and temporal
Needs;
That so we may be enabled to praise our divine Savior
Jesus,
Together with Mary and thee,
For all eternity.

(Recite the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory 3 times.)

Amen.

(An indulgence of 500 days. A plenary indulgence is granted, with the usual conditions, if this prayer is repeated with devotion every day for a month.)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Our Christmas

My cousin recently posted about "keeping it real." It is so true that our blogs can sometimes make our lives look perfect. I know that I for one, when looking at other blogs, can sometimes get frustrated and overwhelmed and think, "How on earth does she get ALL of that accomplished!" I then have to step back and remind myself, that I DO have 5 children under the age of 8... and sometimes expect WAY too much from myself! Then I think about a friend who left a comment here at my blog saying, "Can you homeschool me?" This made me laugh so hard... If she only knew! So, in an effort to "keep it real" I'm going to tell you the story of our Christmas this year!

It started with me waking up, Christmas Eve, somewhat sick. (Thankfully I was spared getting very sick till the day after Christmas!) We had been battling the flu and colds for a couple weeks. So, I got up and took some vitamins and then I realized I hadn't even THOUGHT about what my children, or myself for that matter, were going to wear for Christmas. I knew I had my daughters taken care of thanks to my sweet cousin. So, I tried on a few different things in my closet, all of which my dear hubby said no...no... um, no... NOTHING fit! (Still working on losing that baby weight, and in the meantime nothing fits, my old clothes are too small and my maternity clothes are too big! What does fit is VERY casual.) So, I ventured out (when I should have been making cookies!) to find a Christmas outfit! I found one!! Yeah!! It took going to a few stores, but I came home with a darling new black, gray & white paisley skirt, black beaded sweater with top and new shoes! I was set! And Hubby liked it!

In the meantime, the rest of my family was decorating our tree. I really wish we could do this earlier... Next year, we might compromise and decorate it the day before Christmas Eve and then just wait to turn on the lights till Christmas eve. We'll see...

So, it was time to get the boys clothes ready... Now, I THOUGHT this would be easy. They could wear what they wore last year... Um, nope! Captain REALLY grew this last year. Rascal could wear Captains vest and pants from last year, and I had pants for Captain, but no sweater or vest. Then there was sweet little Snuggles. Surely there was something from when his older brothers were babies... And there was, PLENTY in fact, just in the wrong sizes. At this point I am kicking myself for not checking BEFORE I went shopping. Aaarrggh! What to do, WHAT to do??

Now... Those of you that know me, know I have an obsession love of a certain children's store. Just maybe one of my siblings would happen to be in town (30 min away) and be able to pick something up for me!

I picked up the phone... YAY!! My 17 year old brother was near the mall! Don't you LOVE cell phones!?! Why did I ever give my mom a hard time for letting all my teenage siblings have their own cell phone??? It can SURE come in handy! Scott said sure, so I got on the phone and had the girls at the store searching for an outfit for Snuggles. The Christmas line had been out for MONTHS and was pretty picked over, but that was fine with me, since it was also hugely discounted. (I only shop the clearance racks at this store...) They know me well there, and Emily went into the back and found a full outfit: top, vest, pants, socks, shoes and hat! All for only $.99-5.99 (for the pants) each, as well as a cute green cable knit vest for Captain. Thank you Scotty! I could now breathe again.

Then it was nap time, the girls were too excited to nap... Then bath time... Time to get the appetizers ready to take to the Christmas Eve Party we were attending... Time to get the boys ready... Hurry and get myself ready, and TIME TO GO! (We were running late... surprised?) But everyone was set to go, and I was now ready to relax and enjoy Christmas!

We stopped at my neighbors on our way out. It was nice to visit and the kids were able to give them the ornaments they had made as well as some treats!

Then we were off to town, for the party and Midnight Mass. The girls fell asleep and I didn't think anything of it. When we got to our friends house, hubby picked up Chiquita, and said... "She wet!"

OH NO!!! NOT REALLY!!! PLEASE, NOT REALLY!!

She had. And I had not packed anything extra for her to wear. She never has accidents... EXCEPT, when shes sleeping. Luckily, when she had been placed in her car seat, her dress got caught up, so it was dry, but her tights and panties were SOAKED. I took them into the bathroom and washed them in the sink. Chris was a dear and tossed them into her dryer. Someone, I'm not sure who, put her tights back on her, OVER her diaper... And I laughed when a friend of ours, found her panties on our friends living room floor! Oops! How did THAT happen?!?

Nevertheless, we had a WONDERFUL time at the party! The boys were all especially captivated by the train under their tree!



When the party ended, we still had 2 HOURS till Mass started. Hummm... Is this really a good idea? The kids are tired and I was starting to feel even sicker. We decided to drive around and look at lights for awhile and then decide.

We saw some BEAUTIFUL homes totally decorated! And LOTS of others looking too!


At 11:15pm, we were in the church parking lot for Mass. The kids were sleeping, all except one who was saying his neck hurt... Oh, no! And then it hit me... WE PUT CHIQUITA BACK INTO HER WET CAR SEAT!" Yep, she was soaked again. I sent Rascal, my one awake child, to go and get daddy, who was in the church saving seats.

We went home... I was sad. I LOVE Midnight Mass. But for us this year, it just wasn't meant to be. Maybe next year!

Once home, hubby and I put the kids in their new Christmas pajamas, finished wrapping presents, and decorated the children's rooms until I actually fell asleep on the couch, waking up at 6:30am with more wrapping to do!


The kids woke up and were SO excited! You can read a few of their comments here.

After looking at the clock, I said to hubby, since we are up, maybe we CAN make the 8:30 Mass, instead of waiting till the later one! We decided to go for it, everyone was ready pretty quickly... In the clothes from the night before. I had washed what needed to be in the middle of the night. Then as I went back to my room and looked at the clock: 7:45. The clock in the living room said 7:15. OH NO! It takes 30 minutes driving time to get to the 8:30 Mass. We were late. So plans changed yet again and we went to a 9:00 Mass 8 minutes from home, which was actually nice! (We usually travel 30-45 minutes for a somewhat more traditional Mass.)

We had a bit of time now, plus we wait till after Mass for the kids to open their gifts, so we took this opportunity to bless the nativity and the tree!


Then it was off to Mass. Mass was beautiful! The small church was rather full, but not packed. However, our children were the only little ones in the church. They received LOTS of attention after Mass, and I could see that they brought many smiles to this older crowd!

At home once again, I set out making the breakfast I had hoped to have pre-ready! Thank you hubby for picking up that yummy coffeecake at Costco "Just in Case!" We sang happy birthday to baby Jesus, and the kids blew out the candles. They then opened their stockings while I baked Ham & Cheese Brunch Squares. (Highly recommended! They were DELICIOUS!)



It's amazing that even with all the craziness the day before, Christmas ended up being very blessed and magical! We canceled our plans to go over to my parents, and spent the day home (other than Mass) watching the kids open and then play with their new gifts.

Michael was so cute playing with his stocking... He was in heaven with his new elephant teether!


The girls received a new kitchen play set which I was able to purchase at a recent silent auction for only $40! (Costco was selling it for $139! The fridge had a few defects that hubby was able to fix. But for $100 less, I couldn't pass it up!)

Twinkle Toes also LOVES "Searching Books" and has spent HOURS searching for pictures in her new 1001 Things to Spot in Fairyland!




The boys INCLUDING Daddy have been having a blast playing with Captains Rodeo Set! Hubby's been working on a post over at his blog which I will link to when he is finished! My camera is FULL of rodeo pictures! I am a bit curious as to what they are working on?!


Ever since a trip this summer to visit some friends, my boys have been asking for Playmobil toys... Rascal was so excited to receive a new Warrior Ship!

And ALL the kids have been having fun with their new blessed toys!

My hubby spoiled me with a gift card to Barnes & Noble, and a couple new pairs of shoes! I always have SUCH a hard time finding shoes, but he always finds me the cutest pairs! Aren't they darling? He even got me a new copy of my FAVORITE CD, since my old one has been missing since our family reunion this past summer. He can be SO thoughtful!

The kiddos were so excited about EVERYTHING they were given including gifts from relatives and Godparents! We were even surprised with a set of coloring books from a couple of my Uncles Tad & Jeb! (My dads twin brothers, whom we haven't seen in years!)

Hubby & I limit the gifts we get our children to 3 each, since Jesus received 3 gifts Himself. However, when you add in the stockings, and gifts from everyone else, multiplied by 5 kids, it ends up being quite a bit... Too much in fact! :) I'm still trying to find places to put their new things... This does, however, provide an excellent opportunity to donate some of the older toys to those less fortunate.

And to make the day even more lovely, it started snowing! By the next morning, we had a beautiful winter wonderland!

Since Christmas, we have just enjoyed staying home... Since I wasn't feeling up to going anywhere, my parents and siblings came over to our house the day after Christmas to exchange gifts. We all had a blast eating homemade Chex mix and playing Apples to Apples! A local store had 2 for one games the day after Thanksgiving and so we've been having fun playing them! Captain received Stratego and loves it!

So, there you have it, our unedited Christmas! It was both stressful AND peaceful, crazy AND fun, holy and blessed, all at the same time! Plus, the children all have many new memories of this Christmas, Jesus' Birthday, the REAL reason for the season!

I hope your Christmas was a very joyful and peaceful one!
May you be showered with blessings this coming year!

Note: All pictures can be clicked on to see a larger size.