Monday, December 31, 2007

Cooking up a storm!

Well, a winter storm warning is in effect this evening around here, but we created our own * cooking* storm today!
I started out by making some homemade stuffing for our turkey. I was going to run to the store and get some mix, but our dinner had to be earlier so I needed to get the turkey in asap. Thankfully I had a good mixture of dried bread around. :) Yum, it tasted just like my grandma Lancaster's!
I then moved on to preparing two batches of homemade bread. One for dinner rolls and the other to make loaves out of. Next came no-bake cherry cheesecake for our dessert tonight.
Zak stepped in and helped me make ham dip for our New Year's Eve party. I made spinach dip.
I then got started on homemade cranberry sauce for dinner and peeled a half a bag of potatoes before Al relieved me. :)
Dyl made the mashed potatoes and gravy, and I finished up dinner by making some Maple glazed steamed carrots.
Dinner was on the table by 2 pm so Al could eat with us before work.

After dinner, Naomi made a cake for Manny's birthday. She also made homemade frosting and a *Larry Boy* out of fondant. Very cute. I made an apple pie and some crockpot chili for tomorrow. Zak made a batch of fondue.
Now we await some of our party fare finishing up in the oven ( ham dip). Time to go get the rest of the spread on the table. The aforementioned ham dip, spinach dip, fondue, taquitos and guac, chips and dip, shrimp cocktail, christmas cookies and cherry cheesecake.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

THANK YOU NAN ( and Granpa and Irene!)




A vote was take on what to buy with our generous Christmas checks from Nan and G'pa and Irene.
Since our tv was showing signs of biting the dust, and since watching sporting events and Veggie Tales dvds are such a vital, important part of family life around here ( cough, cough).....by almost unanimous vote a new tv was chosen.
The dissenter was allowed a stipend to buy herself....er...she and the littles, a yearly pass to the zoo! :)

More pics of the boys enjoying their new Christmas train and Jed with the coveted *King Car-nivore!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Despite wearing two different earrings to Christmas Eve Mass......










( a hoop and a dangling one, no less....good thing I wore my hair down!) we had a lovely evening.

Picture #1- Ella with cute new hat from Aunt Becky.

Picture 2: Manny with his new train set from Mee Maw and Papa.

#3- Jax, George and Manny waiting anxiously to open gifts.

#4- Christmas Eve dinner prepared by the boys ( and table set by them too! isn't it loverly?)
Chicken wings, homemade blue cheese dressing, soft onion breadstix ( homemade) greek salad and Christmas cookies for dessert. It was all ready for us when we got home. The older boys went to midnight mass at Grotto.

#5 Ella with new Christmas coat from Mee Maw and papa!

#6 Before mass

#7 Jed and Mom ( let's ignore those messy wardrobe shelves--who left the door open anyway? :)

#8 Ella with birthday jumper from Mee Maw and Papa!

#9 Christmas cheer!


Hmmm- no pictures were taken on Christmas day itself :) but we had fun anyway!

Christmas breakfast menu:
Sausage/hash brown/egg casserole
home made bread
strawberry freezer jam
fresh pineapple and cherries ( suprisingly cheap at Randazzo's! :)
cider and hot choclate

Christmas dinner:

Marinated Roast beast
smashed red potatoes and gravy ( thanks dyl!)
green bean casserole
fruity jello
rolls
homemade limeade
fresh ice tea made with my new ice tea maker! yahoo!
and the hit of the meal---we tried a new dessert, fried ice cream! frozen ice cream balls rolled in cinnamin corn flake crumbs, deep fried very quickly ( you have to freeze the balls for several hours to get them extra firm) and then drizzled with honey. Terrific!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Was it really 1 year ago today............






.........that Tim and I got up before the crack of dawn for the long drive to the hospital?
I can't seem to remember the weather. Probably cold, but I don't think it was snowing.
We checked in, went up to our room, got prepped, and at 8:30 am Gabriella Ruth came into the world.
What a mixture of joy, relief and thanksgiving! A new daughter! Only our second and after 12 years since our first daughter was born. Such fun to get pink out again. Healthy! After so many worries and cautiously, carefully moving through the pregnancy with our dear Dr Greene's help.

A year later our joy has only increased as she has grown. I can't say how many times just the mere thought of her has jolted me out of a glum mood. She is sweet, fun, darling, yummy and OURS! Thank you God! It is her birthday today, but she is still *our* favorite present.

The Christmas *Ideal*


My mom gave me some old pictures this year in her quest to *purge* their house in order to (hopefully) move at some point. One I kept and framed was a picture of me as a toddler, sitting on Santa's lap with the most ridiculous look of terror. My mouth is wide open as if I am screaming in pain, and poor Santa looks a bit taken aback. :) ( She had two such pictures).
I often look at that picture and chuckle. In some ways I have that sort of feeling about this Christmas. It has been one of those years and it seems like it just keeps coming.
For instance this morning I awoke to the kitchen ceiling leaking in two places, the basement floor with a puddle on it ( and it is carpeted), the dishwasher not working ( how did we do without one for years?) a 2 yo with croup, a baby and 4 yo with runny noses that threaten to turn into full blown colds and a teen with bronchitis. And that is just the easy stuff to deal with! :)
The other day ( in a weak moment, of course :) I was dialoging with God and rather chippily asked Him the dumbest question of all. WHY?! Why now, why at Christmas time? Why can't we have a happy, peaceful Christmas?
Of course it didn't take long for Him to answer me *Why not?*. *Why* is it we expect Christmas time to be pain-free and stress-free? Could it have something to do with being constantly bombarded with commercials and magazines, newspaper articles, etc. that portray the picture perfect Christmas? You know...the one where the house is perfectly decorated, the table is perfectly set and loaded with scrumptious dishes while family members sit about laughing and chatting merrily. The *Christmas Day* scene where gifts are piled under the tree and exhuberant, happy children are opening their gifts ( and of course, they got EVERYTHING they desired).
I am often reminded that Jesus was born in a barn. Duh. Do I really reflect on that? I am sure the barn ( or cave, or whatever it was) wasn't pristinely clean. It may have smelled. Mary may have been mighty chilly, probably very uncomfortable and she certainly didn't have a cushy ride to her place of delivery.
There wasn't a top notch spread waiting for her, Joseph and whoever else showed up after the birth ( or even top notch medical care). There was much uncertainty in their lives at that brilliant moment when God became man.
Yes, Christmas is a feast day AND it should be a celebration of this wondrous fact, yet there are other things to ponder along with the celebrating.
Jesus suffered, Mary suffered, Joseph suffered. That moment of birth, however terrific for us all, also started another ball rolling. The one where Jesus showed us what life should, could, will be for those of us who follow Him. Not always pain-free ( even at holidays) not always comfortable, smooth, ...in other words, easy.
That is not to say we should always celebrate suffering, but we should accept it, no matter what time of year :).....and know that like in His life, it always leads to a greater good.
My friend Marie has a great quote:
"Life is not how it is supposed to be, it is how it is......
how you deal with it is what counts" ( paraphrased from Aquainis)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

We are ready for the big day!





Perhaps the funkiest advent wreath ever :)


Thanks to IKEA and the fact that I didn't feel like going up to the attic and looking for the one from last year. :) As it turns out, this one has been GREAT. Very simple, easy to transport from table to table and fairly durable!


Streams of consciousness from a mother of 10 who usually can't collect her thoughts and finds commas a nuisance.