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Wednesday, December 28, 2011


I finally caved. After years of the kids begging and finally Kelvin guilting me into it encouraging me that it was a good idea, I agreed to get the family a dog. I told Kelvin I would get to pick the breed because I would be the one staying home with him/her the most. After discussing what I did and didn't like and researching a bit, Kelvin suggested we go with an English Springer Spaniel.


We have some friends who foster golden retreivers, so we thought it would be a good idea to adopt a dog from a rescue group. I didn't want a puppy. This mama is just too tired to go through all that's involved with raising a puppy. Who knew this process would take soooo long or be so involved?! We've been waiting since Thanksgiving. I didn't realize I would have to complete an application or have a home visit. I really wanted to have the dog for the kids by Christmas, but this did not happen. Since the rescue group is run by volunteers, they do as they can. We're hoping they can make something happen soon so the kids don't drive us batty asking when the dog is coming. We'll be sure to post photos of our newest addition as soon as he/she arrives!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Card

So, it's that time of year. Time to take the perfect family photo, make it into the perfect Christmas card, and mail it to all of  your friends and family. Only our family photo will never be perfect again, because one of the members of our family is no longer here to smile alongside us. It's hard this time of year. It's hard during a lot of times of the year. It's hard learning how to keep on moving through life when all you want it to do is stop. I haven't had the energy the past couple of years to send out Christmas cards (or New Year cards as I'm better known for.) Maybe this will be the year. Maybe. Until then, please know we love you all so very much. We appreciate your kindness, your love and your unending support. Thank you. We wish you all the merriest of Christmases and the most blessed new year.

Meals and crafts

So, my ENTIRE day was spent wrapping up lose ends on the Christmas list. I didn't have time to cook the tomato basil soup for today. I barely had time to push through the crowds at the grocery store to get stuff to make chili cheese dogs, which is what we ended up having for dinner tonight. Maybe next week I can fit in the soup and sandwiches that were on the menu for tonight...we'll see. Or maybe we'll fast next week since we've all eaten so much JUNK!! The kids made the adorable sugar cone Christmas trees with one of our precious babysitters today. They also made the cinnamon star oranments from the Truth in the Tinsel Advent e-book. It smelled soooo good when I walked in the house from the retail zoo.

Yes, Cora's nose, hands and anywhere else she could stamp herself is red. She loves putting stickers and stamps all over her body! She got extrememly upset with me when I tried getting the stamp off her face this morning. Carleigh loves anything that has sugar in it, as is demonstrated perfectly in the photo of her licking the butter knife. Love those kiddos!

Hope you're anticipating the birth of Emmanuel, God with us, as much as we are. Trying to decide what the perfect birthday breakfast would be on Christmas morning...a birthday breakfast for a King. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Menu for the week of Christmas

******edited to update*********
Here is the menu this week.

Sunday I found some chili in the freezer, so I thawed it and added some roasted tomatos, black beans, pinto beans and spices and had dinner for Monday. Don't you love it when that happens?


pasta with chicken and squash and a little pesto

Tuscan Tuna and White Bean Salad  Rotisserie Chicken Salad Sandwiches

I chopped up some rotisserie chicken, slivered some almonds, added some mayo, Dijon mustard, a dash of curry powder and a dash of ginger, and stirred it up really well. I spread it on some honey wheat bread and put some salad leaves on each one. It was pretty yummy. It wasn't the Tuscan Tuna and White Bean Salad (recipe below), but it filled our bellies just the same. It was a busy day in the Texas Medical Center yesterday, and I didn't have time to go to the store for groceries. Emma's Hugs gave out over 330 days of parking yesterday!

Ingredients for main dish
  • 30 oz. cannellini or white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 6 2/5 oz. chunk light tuna in water, (sold in pouches rather than cans)
  • 1/4 red onion, finely diced (1/2 cup onion)
  • 1 Tbsp. capers, chopped if desired
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 lemon, juice only, 1 Tbsp.
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper, or to taste
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped (or use fresh flat-leaf parsley)
Ingredients for side dish - GARLIC TOAST
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (s)
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic, (about 2 cloves) (s)
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt (s)
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh or dried rosemary (s)
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional) (s)
  • 6 slices sourdough, French or challah bread (s)
Ingredients for side dish - GRAPE OR CHERRY TOMATOES
  • 4 cups grape or cherry tomatoes (s)
  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing or other dressing or dip (s)
In a large serving bowl, combine the beans, tuna, onions and capers.
In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, lemon juice and pepper, pour it over the tuna mixture, and stir thoroughly to combine. Gently stir in the basil and serve it immediately or refrigerate it for up to 3 days before serving. (Prepare the Garlic Toast, if you are serving it, while the salad chills. The salad is delicious on top of the toast).
Scramble Flavor Booster: Add a little lemon rind and/or red pepper flakes to the dressing mixture.
Cannellini beans, like many other beans, are low in fat and high in protein. They are known for their off-white color, smooth texture and nutty flavor. You can substitute great northern or white navy beans for cannellinis.

SERVE WITH GARLIC TOAST & GRAPE OR CHERRY TOMATOESTo make Garlic Toast, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, combine 3 Tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp. minced garlic (about 2 cloves), 1/4 tsp. kosher salt, 1/4 tsp. fresh or dried rosemary, and 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional). Cut bread, such as sourdough, French or challah, into 1/2-inch thick slices (you only need about 6 slices). Brush the olive oil mixture evenly over the top of the bread. Bake it for 7 - 10 minutes until it starts to brown.
Serve it with grape or cherry tomatoes with your favorite dressing or dip, such as ranch or hummus.

English Muffin Pizza Joes
Ingredients for main dish
  • 6 whole grain English muffins, split
  • 3/4 lb. 95% lean ground beef, turkey, or meatless crumble
  • 1 cup red pasta sauce
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced (1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 yellow onion, finely diced (1/4 - 1/2 cup)
  • 1 Tbsp. dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 head Boston, Bibb, or other soft leaf lettuce (s)
  • 1 cup red grapes, halved (s)
  • 2 Tbsp. goat cheese, crumbled (s)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (s)
  • 3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar (s)
  • 1 Tbsp. honey (s)
  • 1 Tbsp. grainy Dijon mustard (use wheat/gluten-free if needed) (s)
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher or sea salt (s)
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper (s)
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray or line it with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Put the English muffin halves on the baking sheet, and bake for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, brown the beef over medium heat for 8 - 10 minutes, breaking it into smaller pieces as it cooks. (Meanwhile, prepare the salad, if you are serving it.) Add the pasta sauce, bell peppers, onions and Italian seasoning. Continue cooking for 5 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender, stirring occasionally.
In a small bowl, combine the cheeses. Top each muffin half with about 1/4 cup of the beef mixture and 1 Tbsp. of cheese. Bake it for about 5 more minutes until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately.
Do Ahead or Delegate: Make the beef mixture, combine the cheeses, and refrigerate both.
Scramble Flavor Booster: Add some minced garlic or garlic powder to the meat when browning it.
Tip: If you want to preserve the texture of an English muffin (the "nooks and crannies") when halving it, try splitting it open as opposed to slicing it. You can do this by gently inserting your fingers or the tines of a fork about a 1/2 inch into the side of the muffin and then slowly pulling the remainder of the muffin apart.
In a salad bowl, combine 1 head Boston, Bibb or other soft lettuce, cut into bite-size pieces, 1 cup grapes, halved, and 2 Tbsp. goat cheese, crumbled. To make the apple-Dijon dressing, whisk together 1/3 cup olive oil, 3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar, 1 Tbsp. honey, 1 Tbsp. grainy Dijon mustard, 1/4 tsp. kosher salt, and 1/8 tsp. black pepper. Toss the salad with 2 - 4 Tbsp. dressing and refrigerate any remaining dressing. (The dressing should make enough for about 2 salads).

Tomato Basil Soup with grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches

Seafood Gumbo for Christmas

I also made an apple crisp  with some vanilla ice cream for dessert last night. It was goooood! I hope to get around to making these cute little sugar cone Christmas Trees.

Luke really wants to make some gingerbread cookies, so I'm buying the ingredients for these chocolate orange snaps today.

 Hope your home is full delicious smells and tasty treats!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

the shepherds

Why the shepherds? The first group of people that we know of that were given the most important birth announcement of all time were the shepherds. They weren't known for their wealth or their high place in fact, just the opposite. They were a group out in the fields, away from the crowd, raising animals that would probably be used for the sacrifices at the temple in nearby Jerusalem. Why did God choose them? Why not the crowd in the city? Were they too busy to hear from Him that night? Were they too preoccupied? Too worried about the census? Too busy taking care of family and friends visiting for the census? Or was God more concerned about telling the world, that His son had come to the earth as a baby, wrapped in clothes and was lying in a manger? That His kingdom would be for all, even the lowly shepherds. I don't know what the answer is. Our pastor mentioned the shepherds this morning, and it made me wonder why them? I'm glad it was them. I'm glad He came and provided salvation for all. That we don't have to be of high status or have extreme wealth to know Him. I love this season we get to spend time reflecting and praising Him for his sacrifice.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas vacation

The kids are officially on Christmas vacation! I'm looking forward to the kids and I catching up on their Truth in the Tinsel Advent projects. They have looked so forward to doing them, and the evenings have gotten away from us with different activities. I like how they are focused more on Jesus this Christmas.

I still haven't finished decorating our house. I just don't have the energy and excitement I once did. Before Emma passed away, I never understood how someone could be blue at Christmas, but now I do. I hope tomorrow is the day of completion though. My other children would like to see the halls and walls and shelves and everything else decked out for Christmas.

I got something at the Nutcracker Market this year.(Actually they were sold out, so I had to order it later. It just came in today. I was like a giddy school girl opening the box from Twelve Timbers!)  I am so excited about it. I think it is beautiful. It is simple...perfect.

All I had to take a photo with was my cell phone. ugh!

So, this is it...

the reason we celebrate and anticipate.

A child...wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father, the Prince of peace.

He is Emmanuel, God with us.

I wish for you a weekend full of hope and peace. A time for quiet reflection. I time to remember the child...Emmanuel.

Winter Snow
by Audrey Assad

Could've come like a mighty storm
With all the strength of a hurricane
You could've come like a forest fire
With the power of heaven in Your flame

But You came like a winter snow
Quiet and soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

You could've swept in like a tidal wave
Or an ocean to ravish our hearts
You could have come through like a roaring flood
To wipe away the things we've scarred

But You came like a winter snow
You were quiet
You were soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

Oh, no, Your voice wasn't in a bush burning
No, Your voice wasn't in a rushing wind
It was still
It was small
It was hidden

You came like a winter snow
Quiet and soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

To the earth below
You came falling
From the sky in the night
To the earth below

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Christmas Story

I saw this on Jessica's blog. Isn't it the most adorable thing ever!? I love their sweet little voices. Enjoy!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Good Weekend

Did you have a good weekend? We did. Friday Kelvin and I got to do some shopping with Cora. It was fun spending some time together with just her. We survived the Houston traffic, ate some yummy Mexican food, and even bought a couple of things. Then we headed home, got the big kids, took a breather, and headed back to Houston for a night with the kiddos. We ate at a quaint little Italian food place in Rice Village that we like called Gugliani's, and got some hot tea and hot chocolate after dinner to enjoy some of the Christmas lights in the area. Good times!

Saturday was the last football game and last time Carleigh would cheer for the season. It was a brisk morning, so we were all snuggling and trying to stay warm for the 9 o'clock cheer session. By Luke's game at 11, the sun began peeking his head out, so it was as cool. The kids did a great job! Luke is an awesome rusher! He made some incredible plays and scored a couple of touchdowns too.

Saturday afternoon we got to spend time with the Dunnam family. Kelvin's aunt and uncle have the perfect set up for our big ole group. The kids had a ball riding in the barrel train, on the camo golf cart, climbing up into the tree fort and riding the horse! Of course, I forgot the camera! Kelvin's cousins have children a little older than ours and some a little younger than ours, but they all had a good time playing together. I wish we could spend more time hanging out.

Saturday evening was spent saying our good byes for now to one of Kelvin's former bosses as he and his family head over to China (not China, Texas) to start up a new plant there.

Sunday was spent resting the morning away. The kids wanted to make a popcorn garland for their new little Christmas trees for their bedrooms, so I made a batch, and we started threading.

I think Cora ate more than Carleigh and Luke strung!

What a doll!

Finished product on Luke's tree
After all our hard work, we got dressed and headed to a Christmas parade. It was so much fun seeing friends and watching all the fun floats go by. Carleigh and Cora loved the candy. Luke's not such a fan...of candy or parades. He came around though. Next year I'm taking along a thermos of wassail!

Sheer delight!
 Cora was so excited to see the parade start! It's so much fun having a little one around during Christmas. Everything is so exciting and it should be.

Eagerly awaiting with bag in hand ready to load it with candy!

Cora's boyfriend, Hudson. Michelle and I are planning the wedding now. ;)

Carleigh, Michelle and Cora

cool float
The kindergarten center's float...Christmas in the Jungle

As I was catching up on Facebook yesterday morning, I learned my friend Clarissa's little Haylee is in the arms of Jesus now. She had Batten Disease like Emma. Though I know Clarissa is comforted by the fact that Haylee is in the arms of Jesus and running and jumping and playing, there is still a great sadness. Will you please say a prayer for Clarissa and her sweet family? Thank you.

Wishing you a week full of the Love of Christmas.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior,
who is Christ the Lord.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

2000 Decembers Ago

by Joy Williams

Did it feel like a night any different
Than at least a million before
Was there an air of expectation
Like there was some kind of something in store

Did the sky have to hold back the thunder
Did the moon find no reason to glow
Could the children somehow sense the wonder
2000 Decembers ago

Were the sheep as amazed as their shepherds
At the new Son that lit up the sky
Did the willow trees whisper excitement
To the rivers and streams passing by

Did the joy ricochet off the mountains
Till it filled up the valleys below
Did all the world sense love abounding
2000 Decembers ago

Was anyone able to look at the stable
And not see a child but a king
I wish I could hear back over the years
As heaven and nature sing
Heaven and nature sing

Did the walls of the barn start to tremble
With the glory they could not contain
Did anyone wake with the feeling
Of peace that they could not explain

Oh, the love must have been overwhelming
As it warmed everyone in its flow
For all of the earth is still telling of
2000 Decembers ago

Was anyone able to look at the stable
And not see a child but a king
I wish I could hear back over the years
As heaven and nature sing
Heaven and nature sing

I love the lyrics to this song. Can you just imagine? What must it have been like that night 2000 Decembers ago? I can't imagine giving birth in a stable. I wonder what Mary's labor was like. She was so young. I wonder if Joseph was a comforting coach or if she was completely alone giving birth to the Savior of the world. I was blessed with Kelvin by my side the entire time, encouraging me and wiping my forehead. We opted for an all natural birth for all of our children, so he was a crucial part of my success in carrying that desire through. I wonder what it was like to give birth to the very one who was there when she was created. I wonder what it was like to look deep into his eyes, knowing they had seen her before. I wonder what it was like to nurse the babe who created the very body from which he came. I wonder how it must have pained her so to see him some 33 years later hanging on a watch him die. I can imagine the whole in her heart, the depth of her despair. I wonder how overjoyed she must have been when he didn't need the grave clothes anymore!

I love that we were given such a precious gift. That it is so very and completely different from any other offer...

Unto us a Savior is born. He is Christ the Lord.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas time is here

Luke played football this year, and Carleigh cheered. We have had such a good time watching them on Saturday mornings. Today was their last practice, and Saturday is their last game. Luke has had a blast. He is an awesome rusher, and you should see him cutting back and forth for a touchdown! Carleigh has done an awesome job cheering. She got the star for leadership last week, and it was the perfect description for her. I am so proud of both of them.

We finally got the tree up the day before yesterday. The kids kept asking if we were ever going to get the Christmas decorations out this year! We're nowhere near done, but at least the tree is up and somewhat decorated.

If you are a friend of Kelvin's on Facebook, you heard the funny story about our lime orange tree. When we bought it, the lady told us it was a lime tree. For years we have tried using our awful limes. This year we left them alone more because we were too busy to harvest them than anything. Anyway, as you can see, this year, our limes made some really lovely oranges!

Our neighborhood is known for the beautiful lights. Last weekend the neighbors helped each other install arches over the street. Everything is so pretty at night.

Our house.

 We have enjoyed some cool weather. The kids and I have been snugglin' by the fire with our hot chocolate...not much better than that!
Hope you're having a blessed Christmas season.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I'm so excited about this

click on the picture for lots more!
I can't wait to start making Christmas memories with my kids this year. What do you like to do for Christmas with your children? For Advent? Can't wait to hear and see all of the cool ideas.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Merry Christmas

Hope you all had a fabuloso Thanksgiving. We did. Way too much food, per normal. Maybe one year we'll get it right. Our family spent the long weekend at the deer lease. My mighty hunter boy gave it a good try, but there was no deer for the shooting this go around. We'll give it another go after Christmas. He was so cute though. He sprung up out of bed ready to go, even though it was 6 in the morning! One morning, he wasn't as quick to spring out of bed. Kelvin asked him if he was tired and Luke responds, "I'm so tired, I couldn't even hear the people in my dreams talk!" He keeps me in stitches!

I am trying to get in the mindset now of enjoying every moment of the Christmas season. Carleigh sings at our town's historical museum tonight. I can't wait to see her in her choir dress and white tights.

I'm looking forward to Advent this year. I had a box in the porch waiting for me when we got home last night. I can't wait to share it with the family.

click on the photo to read about this Advent wreath

Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful day 13

I am thankful for time with my boy in the kitchen today. He helped me make the cranberries for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. He was awesome with the zester tool! I think he might be a future Iron Chef.

I am thankful for girls singing to Christian radio in the backseat...and for a two year old that mocks everything they do.

I am thankful for the time the big kids got to spend with Kelvin at the gun range yesterday and for what a wonderful job they did!

I am thankful...
I've never had to miss a meal
for parents who loved God, each other, and their children (in that order)
for a husband who is patient with my ups and downs
for children who say I love you
for my little doll in Heaven
for my aunt who is demonstrating what it means to "honor your mother" so beautifully
for friends who lift me up
for a break in the everday to focus on the extraordinary...because isn't it all?

May the Lord bless you and take good care of you.

May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.

May the Lord look on you with favor and give you his peace.
Happy Thanksgiving.

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