Saturday, December 21, 2013

Settling in for Christmas

We had a really busy week! Doctor appointments, Christmas programs, airport pickups and clubs. Phew! I'm ready to slow down and enjoy some chill out family time.

Here is Theo at his Christmas program dress rehearsal. Nope, he wouldn't wear the antlers! 

We had some beautiful weather this week, a real gift from God! The kids enjoyed time to play out back...and look who LOVES to swing now!! Max used to panic at the sight of it. 

Theo is getting SO big! I wish you could feel how SOLID he is. I never guessed the little bag of bones we met 3 1/2 years ago would turn out to be a bruiser.

Finally, Richy and Heather are here so we can put up our tree! The only thing that would make for a nicer weekend would be for our Robert Wesley to be home with us. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sunday Funnies

Getting 10 kids, plus mom and dad, ready and off to church on time is a tall order. Sometimes we make it on time, and sometimes we make it on time with everyone appropriately dressed, but we normally make it right on time. Every single week is a circus.

We always sit in the same spot, a carefully chosen back pew, mere steps from the exit if some emergency were to arise. My goal for the little boys is to learn to sit quietly for a period of time and they are getting pretty good. When we stand they stand. When we sit, they sit. No toys. No coloring pages. It's just easier without distractions. And I don't end up crawling under the pew in front of us to retrieve dropped crayons!

Today Max swiftly and deftly snatched the purse if the lady in front of us! Before I knew it, he had a purse in his chubby little hands! 

After a wonderful service, with amazing Christmas music from our choir and orchestra, we took the kids to Sunday school. Zhen has a new Sunday school helper! I could just sing! Zhen needs a firm hand to help him in Sunday school...his behavior is challenging. I've been with him every week since I can't remember when. Today, Zhen's helper said that he was comfortable enough for me to leave. I might have sprinted out of the room! I actually went to my own Sunday school class with my own husband and I think they remembered me.

The most challenging part of the morning is walking down the halls with our crew in tow. After Sunday school lets out, I'm generally loaded down with coloring pages, take home pages and stuff. It's pretty dangerous for me to not have free hands. It was bound to happen, but today Theo finally grabbed someone's behind. I wasn't fast enough to catch him.

That wasn't enough embarrassing enough. Nope. Ralph, who swaggers and draws attention wherever he goes had a treat for everyone in the lobby. He was wearing his special Christmassy cowboy shirt, with the fun pearly snaps. In the middle of the lobby, my boy decided to rip those snaps open in true flasher style. I had papers in one hand and Theo's hand in the other. Dad was pretty far ahead of us and didn't know what was happening. I was helpless as my little sweetie strutted through the lobby holding his shirt all the way open. 

Dad must have been feeling the Spirit today. After church he said, "lets do something adventurous." You guessed it, we took all the kids into the grocery store with us to pick out lunch meat and chips for lunch. Yup, that is his idea of adventure! 

Are your Sundays ever crazy, too? 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Waste not...

Grandma grew up in the depression era. Half of her siblings did not live to see adulthood. Her mother died while she was still young. Life was hard.

So hard that she didn't want to remember, didn't want to share. She didnt like antiques, they reminded her of old times, hard times. 

Even though grandma didn't share much about the old days, I learned some of her tricks for getting by. For one thing, nothing goes to waste. 

I buy chicken thighs to feed my family. The price is right and it's really easy to get all the meat off the bones. The bones and skin go back into the pot to make broth. After the broth is chilled it's easy to lift virtually all the fat right off the top.

What do you do with that chicken fat? Into the trash? Heck no!

Sometimes I will mix a few spoons of chicken fat into dog food for our puppies. But this week, while I was pulling chicken meat off the bones, I found myself thinking about gram. I often think of her when I am working in the kitchen. I had my hands all chicken-y, thinking of gram and a little secret she shared with me a long time ago. 

Shhhhh...chicken fat makes really soft and delicious cookies. 

Here is the secret: You can replace half the fat in your cookie recipe with chicken fat. 

(Maybe you already know this, but I prefer to think of my grammy's wisdom as mystical and rare.)

After I lift the fat off the broth, I put it into a clean pot, add water and boil to remove any leftover particles. Chill it again, lift the fat off the water and keep in the fridge until you are ready to bake. 

My kids thought for sure that our chicken fat sugar cookies were going to be gross, but they are begging for more! 

Have you tried this before? If not, I dare you. This is the perfect time of year to try a new thing with cookies. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Smart little stinker

Here is Ralph this morning...watching Fireman Sam on the iPad. On YouTube. In German. 

I had a YouTube app on this iPad, but Ralph was watching all sorts of weird stuff. I deleted the app so that he could focus on his learning apps. However, he simply figured out how to find YouTube through the Safari app. Little stinker. Smart little stinker. 

He regularly watches his favorite videos in other languages. He has a Chinese count to 100 app that he really likes. I'm not sure whether to worry about his indifference toward language, or celebrate it!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Days of December

The days are flying by, oh, so fast. Concerts, programs, luncheons, parties! It's getting absurd. Would you believe we do not have a tree up? Our house is the saddest, most neglected (decoratively!) on the street. No matter.

Ms. rose had a concert at the grade school last week. It was fun to be able to play for the other children who wouldn't normally attend an evening concert.

 Ruby had her first dance recital. She didn't cry or get scared in front of the huge crowd. 
From the gathering area, Ruby and her friends spotted Santa upstairs! Look at those faces!

Ralph and Ruby sang in church last week. Some of you will totally get it when I say how extremely relieved I was that Ralph did not attempt to play the drum set or any of the guitars that were waiting for the worship band. Phew!

We had a great time Sunday afternoon making these cookies! Marshmallows covered in royal using are  so very sweet and so yummy!

Can you believe that it's been a whole year since I met Max?

I totally missed this anniversary!

My, how we love this little one!

He is a total goofball!

Max loves to hang out on the back of the loveseat where he can see out the window. This is his perch. It's his favorite spot! He waits here for the school bus everyday...even on the weekend. 

Monday, December 2, 2013


Nine days was a very long Thanksgiving break for Max and Theo. Poor Max spent hours perched on the back of the couch looking out the front window. Occasionally he would say, "buh!" as in, where's the dang bus?!

Max enjoyed his first American turkey dinner. He REALLY enjoyed the pie. Don't you love the whipped cream mustache? He is signing "play" in the photo...his approximation anyway! 

Ruby was super spoiled while grandma was here. Those two!

In other news, I am expecting...a new daughter! On Saturday afternoon, Richy proposed to Heather, a really special girl that we all love already. She said "YES!" 

Can't wait to take our circus on the road for a California wedding! Won't that be an adventure?!