Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas Celebrations - Part 1

Christmas Day we celebrated our Saviors birth with the Peer side of the family. It was a very difficult day ... only our second day without my Mother-in-law. We soldiered through ... and the kids all had many gifts from Nuna to open. Most of the family ended the day with watching Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. Sarah and I stayed home (because Sarah can't sit through a movie) and my Sister-in-law and niece (my niece had the stomach flu) also missed out. Continuing on with traditions in the midst of our grief was hard ... hopefully next year will be a little easier.

Picnik collage

Photo Hunt Challenge #5

Whew!! I completed the challenge ... but I'm not happy with some of them. Oh, well. It's been a crazy month! So, without further adieu ... here's my entries:

1. Holiday Lights


  1. 2. Holiday Spirit
3. Holiday Treat

  1. 4. An Ornament

5. A Gift Wrapped Package:

  1. 6. A Window Display
7. A Winter/Holiday Icon

  1. 8. A Tree

  2. 9. A Tradition

  3. 10.Something that says Noel

  4. 11. Something Precious

  5. 12. Something Peaceful

  6. 13. Something Hot

  7. 14. Something Cold

  8. 15. Something Red

  9. 16. Something Green

  10. 17. Motion blur
  11. 18. Black & White Photo (with selective coloring)

  12. 19. Any photo using an Infrared Photography Technique (in-camera OR post-process)

  13. 20. A Macro Shot

Goals for the New Year

Traditionally, a new year brings New Years Resolutions. This year, instead of making some resolutions, I decided to set some goals in several different areas. These are things I want to try to do this year ... but if I don't get them all completed, it's not going to be the end of the world. No pressure. So here we go.

HOME:
  • Get organized!! I would like to have a place for everything by the end of this year. I'm also going to need to do some major decluttering! 2009 was a crazy year for us - and the last half of 2008 I was pregnant ... so my house needs help!
  • Get back into menu planning
  • Try 2 new meals a month
  • Make me a 'quiet corner' in the living room. A place for me to read, write, and do devotions
  • Get the living room 'decorated'. We still have NOTHING on the walls from earlier last year when we painted. I plan on keeping things simple, but I need to do something.
  • Make a hot breakfast 3 times a week.
PERSONAL:
  • Lose my baby weight. I intend to start back up with Sparkpeople when I'm done nursing in a few months.
  • Write a handwritten note or card to someone every week
  • Read through the Bible
  • Make better quiet time habits
  • Read at least 20 books
PHOTOGRAPHY:
  • Read/study at least 2 photography books
  • Get a DSLR and begin learning how to use it. I hopefully will have enough money saved up by my birthday (maybe before!)
PARENTING:
  • Shopping/girl outing with each individual girl 2 to 3 times
  • "Date" with each boy 2 to 3 times
  • Choose one area that needs work with each kid and focus on it this year. With the older kids have them help choose.
HOMESCHOOLING:
  • Focus on Bible Memory
  • Do one fun thing a week. (Science experiments, hands on projects)
  • Science, History and Art. We do great at hitting the basics, but sometimes let these 'gravy' subjects fall by the wayside. I want to make sure to complete these subjects each week
  • Complete Preschool (SL Pre-K) with the girls at least 3 days a week. Unfortunately this is something I haven't kept up with very well in the last few months ... so I hope to give them the attention they deserve!
MARRIAGE:
  • Continue Loving My Husband Fridays and Building Our Marriage Challenges each week
  • At least one weekend getaway

Do you have any goals for the new year? I'd love to hear them. Have a safe and happy New Year's holiday!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Lenore Ellen Oklak Peer

Sarah with Nuna - the first time she's held her since June!!


My MIL is in heaven with her savior. Over the last four or five years I think we have both come to love one another very much. When I look at her life, I see a life that touched MANY.

She was a Godly woman who loved to study God's word. She loved talking about what she was learning in her bible studies - and sometimes even like to argue her theological beliefs. She was very much into bible quizzing and had numerous books of the bible memorized. She also encouraged her children in quizzing, and consequently Aaron also has several books of the bible completely memorized.

She was extremely generous. Her love language was definitely gifts. If you knew Lenore, you probably received a gift from her! At Christmas she gave gifts to practically EVERYONE she knew. And the grandkids - she lavished them with gifts! In fact, last Saturday a group of her friends came over and wrapped almost a hundred gifts for her 8 grandkids. She had bought them all before she had her surgery in June ... knowing she may not feel up to shopping for awhile. What a blessing to receive Christmas presents from Nuna this Christmas. Right before her surgery she sent a gift home to my sister who had just had a baby ... she only knows my sister through me ... they've only met at a few joint birthday parties over the years, and yet she thought of her and wanted to gift her. She single handedly kept our family clothed for the first 8 years or so of our marriage!

She loved her Grandkids and had lots of trouble saying no to them! I remember when my nephew was little, she even gave him ice cream for breakfast! I remember at the time (I believe my oldest was just a baby) thinking how terrible that was. But over the years I've come to realize that a little spoiling wasn't going to do any damage to my kids - I'm so glad I allowed her to spoil my kids in whatever way she wanted. They have wonderful memories of their Nuna!

She lost her firstborn when he was just 16. Though this was a life changing event for her, she used her pain to help others who lost children. She was a tremendous blessing to numerous families who walked this very painful path. I know for me personally, she was a great comfort when we went through our miscarriage 3 years ago.

She was an energetic woman ... I could never keep up with her! She was always on the go, and never stopped moving! She loved to decorate ... and had a home that was magazine worthy!! And yet, she never got angry at the kids when they made a mess ... she just quietly cleaned it up and then loved on them!!

She will greatly missed.

Wordless Wednesday - Peek

DSCF2020

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Countdown . . . Traditions

DSCF2045


Traditions are staples for a family. They hold you together in the tough times, give fond memories as we grow older, and give stability. I think one of the ways to build a strong family is to have a tradition filled home. Christmas is a time to build many traditions. We spend Christmas with my in-laws, so we choose a day (with a free evening the night before) to have our own Christmas. So when I refer to Christmas Eve and Christmas, it is referring to whatever day we have chosen to celebrate. Here are a few of the traditions we have at Christmas.

  • The night before - our 'Christmas Eve' - we go for a drive and look at Christmas lights. We always stop and get Hot Chocolate ... sometimes from McDonald's ... sometimes from Starbucks, depending on our financial ability. (This year will be starbucks because they have White Hot Chocolate - yummy!!!). In the past I have made sippy cups of warm chocolate milk for the younger set - may still do that for the girls this year.
  • We then come home and watch "The Nativity Story". I love this movie!! I like that it starts our Christmas focusing on our savior - and the real meaning of Christmas.
  • On Christmas morning we wake up and have breakfast - it's always egg casserole, sticky buns, and fluffy hot chocolate.
  • The kids search for the Christmas Pickle
  • We read the Christmas Story from Luke 2
  • We open gifts. We open one at a time. Once you open your gift you choose the next gift to be opened, and so on.
  • For lunch we always have Cornish Game hens and twice baked potatoes.
  • We play games all afternoon
  • We have Birthday Cake for Jesus
  • We have a picnic dinner of cheese, crackers, cheese ball and beef log on the floor while we watch a movie together.
Every year we do these same things. The kids know exactly what to expect and look forward to each and every aspect. Are you building traditions in your family? How do you make your holiday special and memorable? I encourage you to make lasting memories for your family and create some traditions of your own!



Molasses Crinkles

DSCF2022


Ingredients:

1/2 Cup Butter or Margarine
2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
2 eggs
4 1/2 cup flour
4 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt

Cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.

Blend in molasses & egg.

Add flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. Mix well.

Chill 1 hour.

Shape dough into balls, dip in sugar. Place 3 inches apart on cookie sheet.

Bake at 375 for 7-10 minutes.


You can also roll the dough out and cut. I used a gingerbread man cookie cutter and made little gingerbread men.
DSCF2025


Monday, December 21, 2009

Peanut Butter Blossoms


I can't remember a Christmas without these cookies. When I was young we used to use Brach's stars instead of the hershey kiss. Then at some point they became hard to find and we switched to the kisses. Does anyone know if Brach's still make their chocolate stars? Chocolate and peanut butter together is hard to beat!

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 egg
2 Tbl. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine all ingredients.

Before baking roll in sugar.

Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes.

After baking, place candy kiss or star in center of each cookie.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Countdown . . . Coupons


No . . . not grocery store coupons! Homemade coupons!!!!!

If you're looking for a cheap, unique gift for your kids or husband (or for the kids to make for Mom and Dad), try your hand at making your own coupons. Here are some ideas I've come up with for the kids:
  • Doing something fun with just Mom or Dad
  • Staying up an hour later
  • Choosing what we eat for dinner, dessert, snack, etc.
  • Playing a game with the whole family
  • Going somewhere special (the zoo, a hike, the park, a picnic, etc.)
  • Watching a movie of their choice
  • Extra time watching T.V., playing video games, etc.
  • Bake cookies together
  • A shopping trip with just you and Mom - and pick out one outfit
  • Day off school
I'm sure you can come up with tons of ideas on your own! You can either make them all things that cost nothing but time, or things that will cost money. If you do things that cost money, be sure to set the money aside now!

I've also done coupons for my husband. I include more innocuous ideas like the ones for the kids - but also include ones of a more intimate nature.

You can either hand write coupons, make some up on the computer, or if you are crafty, craft some!

Chocolate Caramel Cookies

DSCF2028

This is another Taste of Home recipe.

Ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup baking cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup chopped pecans, divided
1 package (13 0z.) Rolo candies

In a mixing bowl, cream butter, 1 cup sugar, and brown sugar. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Combine flour, cocoa, and soda; add to the creamed mixture and beat until just combined. Stir in 1/2 cup pecans. Shape dough by tablespoonfuls around each candy. In a small bowl, combine remaining pecans and sugar; dip each cookie halfway. Place with nut side up on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake at 375 for 7-10 minutes or until top is slightly cracked. Cool for 3 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

I usually leave the nuts out - several people I make them for do not like them. They are delicious with or without the nuts!!

Loving My Husband Friday


Due to the holidays this will be the last Loving My Husband Friday until January 8th. Enjoy your time with family and friends - and try to focus on loving your husband!!!

Loving My Husband Friday is for taking the time to focus on the positives of marriage. A time to build up your marriage and your spouse. Focus on something you love about your husband, something he did to encourage you this week, or just a tip on how to keep your marriage strong. Let your husband know you're bragging on him...everyone loves praise and accolades. Try to spend the rest of your week focusing on all the great traits of your spouse...especially when your tempted to focus on the bad! And don't forget to pray for your husband and marriage as you write your post.

Add a link to your post to the link. Then pray for the marriages of the others who post, and give each other a little encouragement to keep our marriages strong!

Wednesday night Aaron was at his parents house - leaving me alone overnight for the first time since our first year of marriage. Can I just say - I really missed him. His presence gives me peace and comfort. Without him here it felt like a piece of me was missing. I love my husband!!!

And if you wouldn't mind keeping Aaron and his family in your prayers - his mother is being moved to a hospice facility today. Thank you.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Playdough Recipe

Here is the recipe we used to make the dough for our Volcano. Super simple - Caleb made it totally on his own! We added food coloring to color it, but you could also just leave it plain.

Ingredients:
3 cups Flour
1/2 cup salt
2 T. oil

Stir above ingredients and add enough water to get the proper consistency for shaping. (Make sure to add the water in small increments - you don't want too much water!!).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Volcano!!!

Last week as we finished up our study on volcanoes, we decided to make our own. First, Caleb made up a play dough recipe to form the volcano.

DSCF2027

Then he and Josiah formed the mountain around a water bottle. They decided to add green food coloring to make it a volcano with a lot of vegetation growing on it.
DSCF2034


Josiah adds baking soda and a few drops of dish detergent.
DSCF2038


Then Caleb pours the vinegar mixture (colored red to simulate the lava). The eruption was all they had hoped for!! They were very excited (as you can see from Rachel's face).
DSCF2042

Sarah - 9 months old

Sarah 9 months

Sarah is 9 months old!! She rolls all over the house and loves the attention of her brothers and sisters. I can't believe we're only 3 months away from 1 year! Man, time sure does fly.

To see how Sarah has grown: 8 months, 7 months, 6 months, 5 months, 4 months, 3 months, 2 months, and 1 month

Building Our Marriage Challenge



Ask your husband to share one of his favorite Christmas memories. Then ask him if he is happy with your families traditions. Are there any he'd like to add or delete?? Try to implement some of his ideas into your family's celebrations this year.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Countdown . . . Christmas Pickle





I first heard of Christmas Pickles in German class when I was in High School. During our first Christmas season together, Aaron and I found a Christmas Pickle in a blown glass ornament store. So, of course, we bought it!!

On Christmas Eve we hide the Christmas pickle on the tree. When we begin our festivities, the kids search the tree for the pickle. Whoever finds the pickle gets a special gift. You could use anything for the special gift - just something that any of the kids would like.

We choose to use a gift that is labeled
To: The World From: God.
Inside is the baby Jesus from our nativity. The child that finds the pickle gets to open this gift and place baby Jesus in the manger. Even though they aren't getting anything 'extra', the kids all love to be the one to find the pickle and put Jesus in the manger on Christmas morning. It is a fun tradition for the whole family.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Loving My Husband Friday



Loving My Husband Friday is for taking the time to focus on the positives of marriage. A time to build up your marriage and your spouse. Focus on something you love about your husband, something he did to encourage you this week, or just a tip on how to keep your marriage strong. Let your husband know you're bragging on him...everyone loves praise and accolades. Try to spend the rest of your week focusing on all the great traits of your spouse...especially when your tempted to focus on the bad! And don't forget to pray for your husband and marriage as you write your post.

Add a link to your post to the link. Then pray for the marriages of the others who post, and give each other a little encouragement to keep our marriages strong!

Tuesday Aaron watched all 5 kids so I could go Christmas shopping by myself. I'm thankful to have a husband who is as good with the kids as I am! Thank you, Aaron.




Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Christmas Countdown . . . The Twelve Days of Christmas+

DSCF2045

The twelve days of Christmas are the days between Christmas and Epiphany. It begins on the 26th and lasts for the next twelve days - ending on January 6. Traditionally the celebration would begin the evening before - so the twelfth day would actually be celebrated on the 5th.

Last year I celebrated the 12 days of Christmas for my husband. Each day he had a special gift waiting for him! The way I did it last year was to give him 1 present on the first day, a set of 2 presents on the second day, a set of 3 presents on the third day, etc. So, by the twelfth day he received 12 gifts. These were small things. Some of the things I used were different kinds of candies, golf balls, a set of ornaments . . . you get the idea.

On the outside of each package I had a tag that said, "on the ______ day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . . ". Then on the inside of the package I made an ending that fit with whatever was inside. For example: For the first day I wrote a love note and then placed it in a corked bottle. So my tag read "a note that came across the sea." You get a chance to use your creativity here!!

Other ways I've seen it celebrated is to give a gift relating to the song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas". So for the 2 turtle doves you could give either turtles or dove chocolates.

You could just give a small gift each day, as well.

I'm not planning on celebrating this year, but I had a lot of fun coming up with the gifts last year. I'll probably do it again sometime in the future - but I'll let some time pass to keep the element of surprise!!

Building Our Marriage Challenge


Plan a dessert for two one evening after all the kids are in bed.

Monday, December 7, 2009

I ♥ Faces - Sweet Dreams



This week's theme at I Faces is Sweet Dreams. The photo must have someone sleeping in it. I love this picture of Sarah sleeping when she was 3 months old. She had just found her thumb - and I thought it was just too cute! Make sure you visit I Faces to check out all the other dreamy entries.

DSCF2014

Friday, December 4, 2009

Loving My Husband Friday



Loving My Husband Friday is for taking the time to focus on the positives of marriage. A time to build up your marriage and your spouse. Focus on something you love about your husband, something he did to encourage you this week, or just a tip on how to keep your marriage strong. Let your husband know you're bragging on him...everyone loves praise and accolades. Try to spend the rest of your week focusing on all the great traits of your spouse...especially when your tempted to focus on the bad! And don't forget to pray for your husband and marriage as you write your post.

Add a link to your post to the link. Then pray for the marriages of the others who post, and give each other a little encouragement to keep our marriages strong!

Aaron's mom is sick again. I love seeing his devotion and support to his family. He is willing to rearrange his schedule to be there for her and his Dad when they need him. He is such a great man!! I love you, hon!



LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails