Wednesday, December 19, 2012

New Christmas Traditions

I just love this time of the year... I love the smells, the tastes and the sights! I have been burning candles like crazy around here! I want my house to smell like Christmas. I have also been baking like crazy! (surprise, surprise) I want the tastes of Christmas in my home! And I have been decorating like crazy! I want my house to look like Christmas! I also wanted to start a few new traditions this year. I wasn't quite sure what I wanted those traditions to be. I wanted traditions that suited me and that put Christ at the center of Christmas. With those two things in mind, I came up with two new traditions.

The first tradition has to do with how we go about giving gifts to our children. Let's all be honest, our kids don't really NEED anything. And that is what I kept telling myself. But it's so hard not to buy them anything and even harder not to buy them everything! So where do we draw the line? I started thinking about why we give gifts at Christmas. We are celebrating Jesus's birth and the 3 wise-men brought Jesus 3 gifts (Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh). I researched the meaning of those gifts and this is what I found...
1. Gold - is the very symbol of riches and wealth. A gift for a King. 
So this gift is not a need. It is a want and something we might splurge on a bit.

2. Frankincense - used in the temple for prayer and was given as a representation of Christ's priesthood. So this gift is something that would encourage growth, preferably spiritual growth.

3. Myrrh - used to prepare Jesus's body for burial. It represents life and mortality. 
So this gift is something that meets the needs or wants of our physical body. 

This is what I plan on basing our kids gifts on every year. I think as they get older it will get harder. But I want to make it easier for my kids to see the connection between the 3 gifts the wise-men gave and their own Christmas gifts. I want them to be reminded constantly of the real meaning of Christmas. The real reason we celebrate! To celebrate the birth of our Savior!
The second tradition is more for fun and really enjoyable for me! We baked a different Christmas cookie every week leading up to Christmas! Of course the first week we had to do my Grandma's (now famous and well known) Sugar Cookies and let the kids decorate them! It got messy and sticky but it was so much fun! I'm pretty sure my kids almost entered a diabetic a coma by the time we were done. I had them drink lots of water after we finished. Week two we made Christmas M&M cookies. But to make it more fun and a bit of a teaching tool for Matias I had him separate the green and red M&M's. I split the batter in half and colored one with red food coloring and the other with green food coloring. We then put red M&M's in the green dough and green M&M's in the red dough! They turned out so cute and were so yummy! Week three we made Candy Cane Hershey's Kiss Cookies. Matias also got to help with this. He unwrapped the Candy Cane Hershey's Kisses and he helped me press them into the cookies when they came out of the oven. He did a great job! Now don't worry, we did not keep all of these cookies for ourselves. We kept about a dozen out for us from each batch, gave some to neighbors and then froze the rest. We will then take the frozen ones home to Illinois with us at Christmas to share with family!

Decorating Great Grandma's Sugar cookies!

What? I didn't eat any. I promise!
He is so happy in the kitchen!

Notice Matias shoveling in a mouth full in the back ground. 

Red dough with green M&M's and white chocolate chips.

Sorting the M&M's (otherwise known as "Yummy yums") This took
a really long time! He gets distracted easily. But he finished sorting them for me!
I was so proud of him!
Green dough with red M&M's and white chocolate chips.

Helping Mommy place the kisses. The pan was hot but he did a great job
of not burning himself!

I had to let go of my perfectionist tendencies and be ok with having off
centered kisses! He actually did a pretty good job!

He was having so much fun! And yes, he is still in his pajamas.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Cookies, Cookies, Cookies... and oh, Thanksgiving too!

So for those of you who know me, you know I love to bake. The perfect day for me is to spend 75% of my day in the kitchen. (Preferably without kids, but occasionally with kids) I just love cooking and baking! But this time of year I am always in the mood to bake. There is just something about it being cold and dreary outside that makes me what to whip up a batch of cookies! So I always keep the basic cookie ingredients on hand at my house... no, that does not mean I keep packages of pre-made pillsbury dough boy cookies in my fridge! I keep butter, crisco, sugar, brown sugar, chocolate chips and anything else I might need to whip up a batch of cookies at the last minute. And always butter, not margarine! I am always looking to try new cookie recipes so when we decided to go to the mountains of North Carolina for Thanksgiving to meet up with Peter's family, I decided I was going to make a few new cookies recipes! I wanted to make sure we would have plenty of sugary goodness to snack on the whole time we were there so I made... Pumpkin Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter Sandwich cookie, Berry Shortbread cookies and my personal favorite, Sugar Cookies with Powdered Sugar Glaze!

I took 2 dozen of each kind! So a total of 10 dozen!
Peter's Dad, Brother and his family and us!

Peter's Brother and Sister-in-law with their cute girls, Annie Rice (2) and Maggie Ruth (6 weeks).

Attempting for Christmas card pics! So hard to get good pics with our boys!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Easy Breakfast Sandwich

Pretty much every morning Peter asks me, "what's for breakfast?" To which I respond, "waffles, cereal, oatmeal, pop tarts, etc." He then looks at me with disappointment. See Peter is not a  big fan of breakfast food. And if he is going to eat breakfast food then he wants eggs, bacon, sausage or something hearty like that. The problem is that Peter is not a morning person. So he is not going to get up early just to make himself a breakfast like that and God knows, now that we have kids, I am not getting up early to make him a breakfast like that! (I made the mistake of doing this before we had kids) So today I created a solution to this problem! I made bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches  (12 of them) and froze them! Just click on the link above to see how to make this easy breakfast!


So I have been completely absent from my blog since February! I considered dropping it and not even doing it anymore but then I realized throughout my daily life I think in terms of blogging... for example, while cooking I will be thinking about how I would explain this recipe step by step and explain the story behind it, like why I'm making it. So I figured if I think like that I should probably continue blogging. Maybe not every week, but a few times a month. Let me give a quick explanation as to why I have been completely absent for so long. My last post was posted a few weeks before Peter left on a 6 month deployment to Afghanistan. During the first 3 months the kids and I were sick on and off (more on than off. One week healthy, two weeks sick type of stuff.) During the entire 6 months we were also traveling back and forth to Illinois to be with my parents. We were in Illinois for 2 months and then back in Virginia for 6 weeks and then back to Illinois for 6 weeks... so lots of traveling. Lots of adjustments for the kids. Lots of sleeplessness! Busy, to say the least! Blogging never crossed my mind! Plus, for the safety of me and my kids, I didn't want to be telling everyone that my house was empty (while we were in Illinois) and I didn't want to be telling everyone that I was home by myself with the kids (when we were back in Virginia). You know, OPSEC (for civilians: Operational Security). Thankfully, Peter returned back home from his deployment at the beginning of September! Praise the Lord for answered prayers! After his return we spent a few weeks adjusting back to life. At the end of September we drove to Illinois to drop off the kids at my parent's house so that Peter and I could go on a Caribbean cruise for a week! It was so great to be able to spend some time reconnecting, just the two of us! But now we are working on getting back into the swing of things around here and as you all know with the holiday season approaching our life still will not be "normal" for a while. That pretty much sums it up! That's what I have been doing for the past 8 months. Deployments stink and are never enjoyable. But God took care of us through it all and we are all enjoying being back together again! Hopefully I will be sharing some of our experiences as a family with you in the future... and some recipes as well!

Easter... When the first sickness came on.
We had to celebrate Easter a day late because Matias and I were throwing up for the 2 days  previous.

Matias turned 2 years old on April 25th! We had his party at my parent's house. It was a bubble themed party!
Making homemade ice cream!

Visiting the St. Louis Zoo!

Vacation Bible Schoo



Back together again!

Formal night on our Caribbean cruise!

Gorgeous St. Kitts!

Beautiful waters!

Back with the kiddos!

Fishing with Daddy at Grandpa & Grandma's house!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentine's Day Goodies!!!

I love Valentine's Day! I love taking any chance I get to add some pink girly hearts to this boy filled house! Here are some great Valentine's Day themed goodies! Of course you can make them any time of year and they would taste just as good!
Cranberry White Chocolate Bars (Hearts)

Cherry Donuts
Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Friday, February 10, 2012

Worst 4 days of my life...

On Tuesday January 31st both of my kids woke up with low grade fevers. Nothing that unusual this time of year, just a cold or possibly teething for both of them. They both soon had runny noses and Titan (my 4 month old) was more irritable than normal. By Tuesday evening Titan had progressively gotten worse. He sounded congested and sounded like his throat was sore and swollen. All through the night I kept a close listen on him and he slept on me in the recliner for most of the night. We kept debating whether or not to go to the ER. By Wednesday morning his breathing was labored and he sounded horrible. We all loaded up and went to the Stafford ER at 8am. They gave him 2 bronchiodialators (albuterol) and a dose of steriods but he really wasn't improving. They decided to transfer us to Mary Washington Hospital around noon. Peter took Matias home to take a nap and I rode in the ambulance with Titan.
Ambulance ride. Please excuse the bad photography. Obviously I didn't have my camera so I was just using my phone.

When we arrived at Mary Washington the doctors seemed very concerned. More concerned than they were at the ER. Thus causing me to become more concerned. It was so hard to watch him breathe. His chest would retract so much just trying to take in air. At this point, I was starting to get very nervous and I was praying so hard! The thought of losing Titan entered my mind and I just could not handle it. But I knew I had to be strong and get my child the care he needed. They gave him an IV port just in case he needed it. Praise the Lord the nurse told them that he sucks his right thumb so they put the IV on his foot. I am so thankful that the nurse told them that! It was so comforting for him to suck his thumb. I can't imagine what it would have been like if he couldn't suck his thumb! They gave him another breathing treatment but this time it was a different kind, not albuterol. He responded well to the treatment but it wore off in less than 2 hours and they didn't want to give it to him but every 4 hours.
My poor sick boy!
They were worried he was going to get worse and they could not provide the care he needed so they transferred us again. This time to VCU in Richmond. They sent a respiratory nurse and doctor in an ambulance from VCU to come pick us up. The team that arrived to pick us up was amazing! They were so sweet to Titan and helped to calm my nerves. They knew what they were doing!

We arrived at VCU around 9 pm. The doctors and nurses were there waiting on us to arrive and had everything ready for us. They were very reassuring that they deal with this kind of thing all of the time and that Titan was going to be just fine. It was amazing how quickly they put me at ease just by telling me that! I knew that God had sent us to the right place and provided this amazing team of doctors and nurses! Throughout the night Titan had multiple breathing treatments and deep suctioning. The doctors said it was just a virus and we just had to let it run its course. All they could do was treat his symptoms and help him to breathe until his body fought this virus off. By Thursday afternoon he was working extremely hard to breathe. His chest would retract a lot when he took in air. He was doing a great job of keeping up his vitals (O2, heart rate, BP) but he was working his body too hard to achieve those levels. The doctors were afraid he was going to where himself out. By Thursday afternoon the breathing treatments would only help him for about 45 minutes before they would where off. The doctors recommended that we move him to the ICU. Praise the Lord that Peter was with me at this time! I needed him!
Comforted by his thumb!
The ICU docs came to look at him and thought that he was still doing good and just needed to relax. So they gave him a sedative to calm him. After this his symptoms began to change. It started sounding more like croup. They began giving him cold breathing treatments and we saw a huge turn around! He responded so well to the cold treatments it was a miracle! By Thursday night he no longer needed breathing treatments. He just needed cold air! It truly was a miracle!

Feeling much better! And taking a bottle! He has refused to take a bottle since we have been home!
That's my little man!

They even made a name tag for him!
Thursday afternoon we thought he was headed to the ICU and going to be intubated. By Thursday night he didn't need breathing treatments and they planned on moving us to the floor and out of the higher care unit he was in. God was answering prayers! On Friday night they got the results back from his culture and they said he had a bacterial infection. He started taking antibiotics, we moved to the "floor" Friday night and by Saturday afternoon we were home! The doctors told us that day 4 and 5 of this sickness would be his worst days. I'm thankful that they prepared me for that possibility. However, I had faith that God was going to heal Titan much faster than expected and God showed us His awesome power by healing Titan and allowing us to go home by day 4! Praise God for His faithfulness! Thank you to everyone who prayed so hard for our little fighter!

Christmas Memories

We drove home to Illinois for Christmas to visit family and friends. We love being at home with our family that we do not get to see very often. However, we HATE the 14 hour drive to Illinois and then the 14 hour drive back to Virginia. But we do it every year because we love our family so much! On the way to Illinois we decided to drive through the night so that both kids (1 year old and 3 month old) would sleep... and hopefully we would not feel the need to sleep! Well that plan totally failed! Matias (1) is now forward facing and his car seat does not lean back very much. Therefore, he did not sleep well. He maybe slept 5 hours! Peter and I were exhausted and all we wanted to do was sleep. So on the way back to Virginia we decided to drive during the day and put some stuff behind Matias's car seat so he could lean back and sleep a little. This made everyone much happier...

well until Matias started projectile vomiting all over the back seat about 2 hours into our 14 hour drive! He does get car sick occasionally.
 So this was our first clothes change on our drive home to Virginia. As you can see Matias didn't really mind. I was in the back seat cleaning up the vomit the best I could. I just kept thinking we have 12 more hours to go and it is going to start stinking really bad if I don't get this cleaned up good! Thankfully, it was not too bad! Further into hour drive, I would say about half way, we stopped to eat. While I was nursing Titan, Matias and Peter ran around the restaurant just trying to let Matias use up some energy. Well Peter soon realized that Matias had filled his pants. Of course there was no changing table at that restaurant because that would have been too easy. So Peter took Matias to the car to change him. I soon get a text from Peter saying it was a bad one! Once I finish feeding Titan I go out to the car and Matias is naked again! He had poop on every piece of clothing except for one sock! Needless to say I was just happy that I did not have to change that diaper!
All in all we had a great trip! We just made some unforgettable memories along the way! The rest of our visit was less eventful. Below are some pictures!
Daddy killed a deer!

Not the best photo... but this was our live nativity. Matias was the shepherd and Titan was baby Jesus.

Getting sleepy at the Christmas Party.