Tuesday, November 27, 2007


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Tradition. I can't hear that word without my mind breaking into a rendition of said song from Fiddler on the Roof (you can sing along inside if you would like...). Since getting married and having children Rick and I have talked about so many different family traditions. Which ones we liked. Which ones we wanted to establish as a part of our family. Some of them are rather simple. Some of them more involved. But they all involve a yearly ritual of sorts in an attempt to pull our family together and establish a bond that just maybe our children might carry on into their own families.

Curious as to what our traditions are? We started out with grand ideas for some.

Tradition #1: Chopping the family Christmas tree. I had always had a live tree. No fake tree in our house. My mind quickly began to change on this point the year of the praying mantis'. Yes, bugs. And lest it sound too minor I will use the word...


Fortunately now it is a fun story to tell. They did look so innocent and cute (at first). And I'm sure it was great fun to be one of those little bugs on the wall watching me chase each and every last one down from our cathedral ceilings with the vacuum cleaner hose. All ornaments off the tree. Yank the lights off. Haul the tree outside. Pesticides. Time outside to freeze. Should have taken care of the problem. But there were two nests. So back they came. My little mind began to toy with the idea of a plastic tree of sorts. Pre-lit. So this year our search for the family tree will be traipsing down to our basement to haul the box out of the corner and stick the branches into the trunk.

Tradition #2: Christmas breakfast and dinner. A special breakfast of some yummy French toast. Dinner must involve ham. And more sweet potatoes since we didn't get enough of them at Thanksgiving. And lots of other yummy food. But those are the necessary pieces. Oooo...and eggnog. I'd be shot if we didn't have that.

Tradition #3: Stay in pajamas all day Christmas day. This sounds great until Christmas falls on a Sunday and you can't exactly go to church Christmas day in your pj's. So you change, pretty up, and then lounge the rest of the day after church. This has become one of my favorite family traditions. We had some friends of ours that do this and we pulled it in as one of our own. I NEVER stay in my pajamas past 8ish. Can't stand not taking a shower. But surprisingly enough for Christmas pictures I'm looking not so pretty. And I'm ok with that. :)

Tradition #4: Molasses cookies and milk for Christmas Eve night. And we open ONE present (which is always the same...new pajamas...when do you think the kids will catch onto this one?) These are Grandma's molasses cookies. Can't miss these. Or having the kids look nice for pictures in the morning. :)

Tradition #5: Celebrating advent. This has been done differently each year. We've had an advent log and celebrated each day, and more recently used a wreath with a candle for each week. But we really enjoy this aspect of getting ready for Christmas. We try to do a devotional each night. Sing together. And just enjoy it together.

Tradition #6: Making some sort of cookie mess. Must involve sugar. Lots of sugar. Roll in it. Colorful sugar. Sprinkles. Any sugar will do. By the time Christmas has come we will have more cookies than we know truly know what to do with. But we will eat them.

Why do we try to establish traditions with our family? How do we envision our family in the future? With 4 kids...prospective spouses...numerous grandkids...it's all a little mind boggling. But mostly, I want our children to desire to be together. Spend time together. LOVE to be together with our family. And continue traditions in their own families as a means of developing relationships. Christmas is such an amazing time to establish traditions - it's a season that is ripe with options. But really, so is the rest of the year: Popcorn night Sundays, movie nights, game nights...I'm sure that we all have something we do together as a family during the year. I think most important to me ... in addition to developing close relationships within our family ... I want to draw our kids closer to Jesus. But that doesn't require a "tradition". That's truly our everyday life, isn't it?

So..what are your traditions? I'm just curious...and would love to hear what you all do as a family. So, please share - and I'll try to compile some of them into a future blog (and maybe add some more to our list of traditions!!).

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Chocolate Cake for Everyone!

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Little boy Kaleb turned one on Saturday. Personally I'm having mixed emotions about the whole thing, but really can do little to change it right? :) Knowing that Kaleb is our last little one is bittersweet. I don't have any desire to go back to the baby stage, but as he outgrows clothes, everyday loses a little more of that "baby face" and just plain grows up, it's a little sad mixed in with sweet. Just a year ago he was a little thing - not quite 6 pounds. Such an amazing blessing to our family. Anticipated for many months. Desired with all our hearts. And safely delivered to our eager waiting arms...and all the additional little people arms too!

And now he's one. Look at this little face...

We were blessed to have Rick's parents visit from New York along with our niece Brianna. Maria (who was with us when Kaleb was born) and her daughter Cassie also were part of the bunch celebrating Kaleb's big day. The siblings were very excited about his presents (and he really loved the butterfly book which only later I discovered was on sale for a good reason: the first page is English and the rest is SPANISH!! sigh)...

ripping open a present

playing with a little wooden barn

Other than the cookie he so eagerly mauled the other night, this was his first cake. and chocolate. If I had to clean up a mess, might as well make it fun to see! There were some great cake pictures - the looks on his face in some of them deserve some great captions! Here is the cake before...

...a first grab

almost done....

Satisfied with chocolate!!!

Another quick family picture too!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Looking up to Daddy

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Kaleb loves music, as do all of our kids. It is so much fun to see him bopping or clapping to music that he hears. Rick was getting music ready for Sunday worship and had his guitar out and Kaleb was over investigating, so of course I had to take a few pictures. I just love the little look on his face as he looks at his Daddy.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Kaleb and the Cookie

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Just letting you all know that AFV {America's Funniest Videos} emailed and asked me to remove it from my blog. :)

I'll keep you all posted when the video will be airing on the show!!

We thought we'd try to teach Kaleb to take little bites of something, rather than trying to cut up food for him constantly. We made the mistake of trying it with a cookie. And yes, it did have chocolate in it. :)

Turkey cupcakes

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...no. Not with turkey in them!! That might be rather gross. Colorful turkeys ON them. :) These are some cupcakes that I made last year for McKenna's birthday using mini pepperidge farm cookies, candy corn, fruit roll ups...just piled on the sugar. Too much for me, but the kids could have cared less. I would much rather eat the cookies all by their little lonesome selves.

Thanksgiving Quick Fix

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Running late for making Thanksgiving dinner? Here's a quick fix for you.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Post of a Most Personal Nature

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If you are a member of the male persuasion, you just might want to skip on over this post.

Seriously. You've been warned, so if you proceed, I hold no responsibility for your take on the nature of this post.

I never (repeat NEVER) thought that I would post about this, but I am so happy with this product that it really seems a shame not to pass along the information. And while it's a little more, um, personal in nature I am so thankful that I have a friend that passed the information along to me.

I am one that has an extremely difficult time during a certain time of the month. I'm going to jump right in and say the 'period' word. There. I said it. And by difficult, I mean it isn't a pretty time and despite the fact that there are ginormous 747-style pads and super-sized tampons, it does little to help. And really, I'm not one for embarrassing situations, but I will tell you that there has been more than one moment in my life where I'd have loved to hide somewhere far, far away.

And years ago I would never have believed that the Diva Cup would be something that I would be interested in much less use.

But oh.my.word it is wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. And I have gone from spending ridiculous amounts of money each month on products to $1 for itty bitty pads. And had no leakage whatsoever during that time of the month.


I won't post all the details here about how to use it (there are detailed instructions that come with the Diva Cup), but I would most highly recommend checking it out and seeing if it is for you and something you might want to use.

And that, dear ladies, is something that works for me. :)

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The answering machine

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My mom called the other day and McKenna answered the phone (which she isn't supposed to do unless asked to). When she answered, my mom asked, "Are you supposed to answer the phone?"

McKenna answered, "Umm...this is the answering machine."


I was showing the kids some funny video clips from Hoops and YoYo on manners (too funny). They show the right and wrong way to do several things. Later that night Zachary needed to apologize to Laurianna and wouldn't take his hands off his face. So we had a little talk about his manners.

Me: "Zachary. Remember Hoops and YoYo? They would say you need to take your hands off your face so others can see your face and hear you." (A last ditch effort, I know...)

Zachary: "But they can't say that. They're in the computer."


It's probably a good thing we're homeschooling. I believe that my 3-year-old would have been suspended from school after the little song he was singing in the car today. Zachary started out singing "The Wheels on the Bus" and began adding his own verses, completed by "The guns on the bus go shoot, shoot, shoot..."

For some more great Tiny Talk, head on over to Mary's by clicking on the Tiny Talk logo below.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Consumed with food...or consuming food?

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Lately it feels that I am consumed with food...or consuming food...sigh. It never ends. I'm still working on the hidden stash of stuff that I have from the kids Halloween candy (don't tell Rick it's hidden in the bottom drawer). Fortunately it's all in small little packages, but it's still sugar, I still don't need it and it equals trouble.

It's fall. Like any good mother, I should of course be BAKING. And I am. Pumpkin this. Pumpkin that. Cookies, cookies, and yes, more cookies. And now comes an entire day dedicated to food, and leftovers, and more leftovers...and don't you know, if I spent all the time making this yummy food with gobs and mountains of butter, enough sugar and marshmallows to wallow in...I WILL be one of the first in line eating it (right after I cut up food for all the little people). Even if it must be in excess. I will sacrifice myself like that.

Today as I was naming off stuff for the dinner, I realized that pretty much everything that I'm making falls into a light tan or orange color category. The beautiful colors of fall. Coincidence? I think not! Not a green vegetable in sight...green is the sign of spring. Life. So then, are all the fall food colors not a good sign? Turkey, sweet potatoe casserole, rolls/bread, pumpkin pie, stuffing...all fall into the brownish, tanish, creamy colored category. Oh! Wait, I forgot the cranberry freeze - that is red - still a fall color, but at least we are branching out a bit!

Our newest addition

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In the never-ending quest to organize, re-organize and drive myself endlessly crazy, we made an addition to our house (pictured below). You need to understand that we have 7 people currently living in our house, jackets aplenty, and shoes that seem to breed during the night while we sleep and then overflow from the entry closet. For the 7 of us, we have an entry closet that is 2 feet wide. To hang everything. Heaven forbid we should have to WALK to get a jacket. But with 4 kids, a jacket for every possible season, shoes for play, church, nice, etc...it all gets a little overwhelming - and then the closet won't shut.

We've talked about getting a bench for the entry way and I found one last week at JCPenney - a lovely bench it was - marked down from $650 to $250, included a wall shelf with baskets and cubbies and cushions. With a nice little coupon code - it was $251 delivered to my door by the nice man in brown. It came Friday and I was so excited - it only took me 45 minutes to put it together (and yes honey, I read the directions). and hopefully it won't fall apart. Without further ado, here is the nice little addition

I also included a picture of the lovely turkey (yes, that is a green, aparently pre-plucked turkey...or one with the mange) lovingly crafted by the hands of Zachary. The kids all made turkeys at church and they needed a "home" - so now they are on hand to greet all of our company. Check out the Lazy Organizer website too. :)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Gobble up some good stuff...

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Karla at Looking Towards Heaven is hosting a recipe swap of sorts, so here are some Thanksgiving staples in our house.

Cranberry Salad
(a recipe from my lovely friend Crystal's mom!)


1 16 oz. can whole cranberry sauce
1 12 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk (you can use fat free too)
1/4 - 1/2 cup nuts
1 8 oz. tub cool whip (whole, light or fat free)


Soften the cool whip and mix all the ingredients together. Freeze in container of your choice. You need to pull it out a little bit before the meal so it can soften just a little, otherwise getting a spoon into it can be a fun chore. :) We usually serve this along with dinner as a side dish. The kids love it!

Sally Lunn Bread and Blackberry Butter


2 envelopes active dry yeast
1/2 c. warm water
1 1/2 c. milk
3/4 c. sugar *
1/2 c. butter *
1 tsp. salt *
2 large eggs
5 cups flour


On stove, heat milk, and * ingredients over medium heat, stirring until butter melts. Cool for 15 minutes. Combine yeast and warm water in a small bowl and let stand 5 minutes (to activate yeast). Beat yeast mixture, milk mixture, and eggs at medium speed until blended. Gradually add flour til blended (mix will be sticky and soft). Cover and let rise 30 minutes, or til doubled. Stir down dough and spoon into well-greased 10-inch bundt pan. Cover and let rise 20-30 minutes (doubled). Bake @ 350 for 35-40 minutes. Remove from pan immediately. Serve with honey butter mix or Blackberry Butter (1/2 cup softened butter mixed with 2-3 Tbsp. of seedless blackberry preserves. YUM!)

Friday, November 16, 2007

All the leaves are falling

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These little leaves keep blowing over from our neighbor's yard and I finally remembered in a quiet moment today, to take my camera out with me and get a picture of a few of them. It never ceases to amaze me how creative God is. I can't say that I would have thought about having leaves turn such amazing colors and creating such beauty.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What do you think?

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I have obviously been playing around again with my blog colors and all. And I'm curious - what do you think? Like it? Hate it?

Yes, I have better things that I could be doing, but rather than focusing on the fact that it's Thursday night again...and there are certain shows on that I would like to watch...but I'm not, so the end result is a new blog look.

That, and I'm avoiding doing other stuff too. *grins*

Safe Turkey Handling

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So here's a good laugh for you as you gear up for Thanksgiving. :) It does, however, make me want to go disinfect my entire house along with my being. I think I would throw my clothing out...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Season of Destiny - Part 2

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It's looking like this might be a three part series...I suppose that depends on how long-winded I get (I can hear you snickering, so hush up). :) If you are reading this post and wondering about part one, you can click here to catch up - assuming you are interested and all.

Ladies retreat has come and gone and right now with all the crying going on in my house, I sorta wish it was here. *grins* (and a big sigh). Having actual time to myself and being able to reflect on things that God was impressing on my heart was wonderful...that and not having to cut up someone else's food and also being able to eat my food while it is still hot...but I digress. :)

We were asked to bring two pictures with us to ladies retreat (one when we were a little girl and one when we were a young woman) and during our evening session we broke up into small groups and spent time sharing our pictures and praying for each of the ladies in the group. Saturday morning was done very similar with our 'young woman' picture. The small group time and sharing about our pictures was very interesting in and of itself for me - just more amazing stuff from God and mainly it tied into my role as a mom.

Saturday evening is when it got even more fun. Each of the ladies at retreat received their own prophetic word - there were over 100 women at retreat. In addition, all the ladies at home that weren't able to make it to retreat received one. Saturday evening was so much FUN! Some of the words were shared to the group as a whole and then we broke up into our small groups again and each were given an envelope with our words. One word to sum each one up: AMAZING. As the women around the room were opening their envelopes, you heard laughter, quiet, and crying. The words were truly amazing. Each one was such an encouragement to the women. I am going to post mine here for you to see - and to me it was such a confirmation of what the Lord had been speaking to me (and yes, I cried).

To explain a little about the words...each one included a picture from a magazine or the internet that related to that word. So...here's mine:

Since you more than likely can't read the handwritten part on the bottom or the top part, here it is:

"There was no wind today, but the kite flew higher than ever. Of course, the look on my daughter's face sent me soaring as well. My dream is to be a hero. Only, who knew it would be through the eyes of a six-year-old.

It won't be by might or by human power or understanding - but I will do amazing things in your life as a Mom, Jolanthe...things that will amaze you and your children.

Live in freedom and joy in this place of Motherhood, and I will carry you higher than you ever thought possible....and bring you more joy than you ever dreamed....and I will cause your heart to soar."

This word was such an amazing encouragement to me and really "bookended" quite a few things that had been in my heart and prayed over me previously.

'Nuf said for now...check back for part three in this long-winded post.

Sleeping Like a ... Baby

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I think that this picture pretty well says it all. Don't you wish you could sleep like this?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Lesser Known 8th Dwarf...

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During McKenna's birthday party, we were trying to name the 7 dwarfs (or "dorfs" as McKenna chooses to call them). We had Sleepy, Sneezy, Doc, Dopey, Happy, Grumpy, and were trying to name the 7th when Zachary piped in: "Poopy!" - yes. The lesser-known dwarf, Poopy. That's who we were missing. Any wonder why he would have been forgotten?

The kids were talking in the van the other day and this is the conversation I overheard.

M: When I was at preschool, we went for a walk and saw a HUGE bear. But it was ok. We killed it so we were safe. (funny, I don't remember THAT making the newsletter....huh.)

L: Did you bring it back and eat it? I hear that bear is rather tasty! (and where pray-tell did she hear that. Bear is such a staple in our house....)

M: No. We left it out in the woods for the other animals to eat. You know, the ones that eat bears.

You can check out some more fun kids conversations by clicking on the picture for Tiny Talk Tuesday.

Monday, November 12, 2007

She's Officially Five

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Today was the official big day for McKenna! It's hard to believe that 5 years have gone by so quickly. We watched a lot of our home movies this morning together with Daddy (who stayed home for the special day). It was so much fun seeing the girls so small - and trying to remember that they used to be that small! Where does the time go?

McKenna was princess for the day and chose our breakfast menu (some lovely chocolate covered donuts) and the dinner menu of english muffin pizzas (don't you wish you were at our house?). Since we had the big party on Saturday, I only made cupcakes today and McKenna helped me decorate them with some lovely sugar sprinkles. Sugar, sugar, sugar. Yum!

We started a new (and hopefully we'll continue to remember) tradition of taking a family picture before we opened presents. So here's the well-fed crew waiting to see the presents. Amazingly, the first picture taken was the one that was the best, but of course we didn't know that until 15 pictures later. Some of the other pictures were so worth taking though - just for the look on the birthday girl's face.

After dinner, she was more than happy to open up her presents:

A dollhouse and people from daddy and mommy

A Snow White wig from Grammy

A beautiful Snow White dress from Oma and Opa to complete the ensemble

(and match the cute shoes and tiara from the Fawley family on Saturday!!)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Monday Giggle...

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Here's a fun video to start your Monday morning off with a laugh (or late Sunday night depending on when you are visiting me). :) A cute clip on parenting.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

5th Birthday Party

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Happy Birthday, McKenna!! Although Monday is the "official" day, we celebrated McKenna's 5th birthday today with many of our friends (shhh....don't tell her, but I think the grown-ups even had fun!!). We invited 3 other families over for a total of 14 kids between us all. Sound crazy? It truly didn't seem it at all.

McKenna was so excited to see Charis and Selah (and Reagan) pull up. "They're here! Charis and Selah are here! ... and they have a PRESENT!!" Somehow, the present factor hadn't filtered into her mind with the party idea yet.

As Elias and Micah pulled up, the present recognition was a lot quicker. "Micah and Elias...they brought a present too!"

When the Fawleys all began piling out of their vehicle...ahhh....at last the PRESENT!! :)

But truly, all they all wanted was cake. Lunch hadn't even been served...can we have cake now? Wait five minutes....can we have cake now?

Hot dogs, chips, yogurt (had to have something somewhat "healthy" right?) and macaroni and cheese was the menu for the day. Here are all the kids enjoying lunch.
....clean up...and then present time! McKenna was so excited with the gifts she received. Thank you again to all you lovely mommies!! She got a new Dora umbrella,
a FUN design-her-own purse (with fabric glue and all....hee hee, Leanne!), and a crown and dress up shoes to match the dress she doesn't know she's getting yet. Laurianna wrapped up one of her old stuffed animals to give to McKenna too.

After presents, one must have cake. McKeanna wanted vanilla cake with chocolate frosting - and she wanted the cake to be polka-dotted (so no, the cake isn't sick). I searched hi and lo for Necco wafers so that I didn't have to color and cut out fondant icing. Thank goodness I finally found them.

Overall, such a fun time with the kids and the parents had fun and actually were able to eat and talk too (thank you so much to Katie, Kimberly and Corbin for their help with all the little ones!).

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