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!