Saturday, December 24, 2011

Our "Snowball" Fight

Christmas Activity #3 Completed! (If you are wondering where Memaw Rose was during the fun, she suddenly had to go to Kroger's for some grocery shopping. Hmmmm! ;)  Of course I can't really say much.  I chose to operate the camera!

Well running the video didn't keep me totally safe!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Activity List #11: Daddy's Special Dinner

Before Alpheus and I were married, during his bachelor years, Alpheus found a love for cooking.  On our first official date he grilled shish kabobs and other delights on Skyland drive.  It was raining and I was sitting in his truck while he cooked over the open flame holding an umbrella over his head.  Thankfully on that 4th of July, the sun reappeared and we enjoyed our hike and the view of the fireworks from Red Oak Mountain.  It may have been our first official date, but I had learned two very important things.  #1  This man would go through a lot of trouble to please me. #2  His culinary skills were greater than mine!

During our first 4 years of marriage he did much of the cooking!  In recent years, I have been working on my skills and teaching the girls.  Then this past year, Memaw Rose moved in and has taken care of the cooking since then!  But when we made our Christmas activity list, Alpheus wanted to do a special dinner for all of us. 

He did all the shopping and cooking.  Rose and I napped and relaxed while he made a delicious dinner for us!  Pork roast wrapped in bacon, with a parmesan/garlic/apple topping, seasoned red potatoes, broccoli with cheese, shrimp and a fancy salad! 

That is sparkling white grape juice in our glasses. The girls loved the fancy shaped cups which were actually plastic! :)

Oh, yes, I forgot to mention the humongous yeast rolls with butter!

But he didn't stop with dinner.  He also made the best parfait I have ever tasted!  The cream part is made from marshmallow cream and cream cheese.  He layered it with strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries!

Thank you DH/Daddy for a wonderful dinner!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Gatherings

One of the most enjoyable parts of Christmas for me is getting together with my family.  I remember as a young girl, when my older brothers and sister would be living on their own in various states and how lonely my twin brother and I would be at times.  But usually everyone would come back to Mom and Dad's for the Christmas Eve/Morning sleep over and Christmas party.  I have very fond memories of sleeping on mattresses on the floor of rooms at the Lakehouse when trying to close off some rooms and save on the fire place heat.  We would talk and sing in the night hours until we finally all drifted off. I think I know many Christmas hymns by heart from these sing-a-longs!  Then when my brother and sister-in-law had the first grandchildren of the family it added a completely new side of Christmas for us all.  I am so thankful we have the year of the puppy on video and many other special Christmas memories.

Grandmom with Sarah's gift to her.  We missed getting the Christmas tree Hannah got her, and also Granddad with his traditional gifts of raisinets and a Christmas mug.

Every once in a while we would even have a holiday spent with extended family.  I loved being with my aunts,uncles, cousins, and grandmoms (my granddad's had already passed away before I have any memory of them)!  Such wonderful times to hear my parents reminisce of their childhood days and to see them with their siblings teasing and loving each other.  I was raised in a very happy and God-fearing family, so these times are blessed memories.

 Grandmom Short and Memaw Rose enjoying a chat.

I am so thankful to be doing the same with my children.  I remember the first Christmas Alpheus and I were married.  We celebrated with Dan and Lorilyn, but it felt really strange not being with our parents.  I am sure we were there a few days before, but for some reason (maybe Christmas was on a Sunday and we couldn't stay?) we were in the parsonage the first year.  I think I would have been really sad if I hadn't had at least one sibling there!  The next three years were full of babies and my parents living with us or near by.  Then we moved to Florida.  During the 7 years that we lived in FL we sometimes had family down for Christmas.  Sometimes we came back up to VA.  Sometimes we just celebrated with our church family.  But in each case, our children were blessed to spend time with people who loved God and them and remembering wonderful times together. 

Sarah getting a picture of me with Mary and her new dolly.  She has gotten 4 just like this one in her eight years of life.  We keep putting the "all loved up" ones away for memories!

As my children get older I wonder what they will remember about our family gatherings and what makes them the most happy.  I would ask them now, but they are asleep.  Maybe I will post their answers later.  On Monday, everyone who could, traveled to my parents' home to visit and let the children open the presents from Grandmom and Granddad.  As usual there was lots of delicious food!  There was also  a lot of teasing and talking as we tried to play Mexican Train.  I sat by my nephew Ben, who was featured on a recent post! :)  It was so wonderful to spend more time with him and everyone.  My girls enjoyed playing with their cousins, talking with various family members and guessing at what might be wrapped up under the bear trees! ;)  The only thing we didn't do this year was sing any Christmas hymns. Sharon even made fruit cake for my parents.  (Yes, we have nominated her for an award!)  It was a wonderful time!

Lydia with her doctor kit.  She was so thrilled. She doctored innocent bystanders all day today!
Keeping with the medical theme (sort of), Lydia was just as tickled with the Buzz operation game.

When we finally all gathered in the living room to watch the presents being opened, the girls were so excited and happy. But what really makes them happy isn't the toys, but the love they feel from these people who care about them all year round!  I know that years after they have forgotten what the toys were they will remember the grandparents, aunts and uncles that loved them.
What doll loving girl doesn't also want a spyware set! :)

Sarah holding her own copy of Kung Fu Panda 2.  She also received a lovely pink heart watch.

Ariana sporting her new Alvin the Chipmunks hat!  So pretty!

Hannah (with Memaw helping) holding up her new long awaited for art supplies!

Lydia was so excited to play her new games that she could hardly wait until after breakfast.  We all sat down to play the first time.  This was a new twist on an old classic with doctor and specialist cards and money for retrieving the endangering organs.  We had loads of fun, especially Daddy who won! 

Last night as I walked passed the older girls room out of the corner of my eye I noticed a strange shape in the room.  Hannah had set up her easel and was all prepared to paint as soon as she woke up.  This was painted before breakfast at 9AM! :) 

We really missed having Ed, Traci, Brandon, Logan, Kamryn, Jacob, and Aaron and Bryce at our get together this year! (Though I hear someone is turning 50 and we will be seeing Aaron and Bryce at that party in a week! :) )

I pray, dear friends, that you are able to spend this Christmas with family.  Whether you have blood relatives or in-Christ's-blood relatives ~ enjoy being with ones you love!

With All My Heart~

Sunday, December 18, 2011

My Cup Runneth Over!


We went to Grandmom and Granddad Short's house for our annual Christmas cookie party!  It was great!  We made the cookies the day before and then packed them up for travel.  We (I can say "we" because I handed ingredients, LOL) also made fudge!

 This was a regular treat in my childhood home and it is funny how just certain sounds and smells bring back such wonderful memories.  Lorilyn and I both noticed the tap-tap-tap sound when Mom had stirred the fudge and was then getting the excess off her spoon.  In that moment, it was like I was 8 years old again waiting for the fudge to be ready! :)

Lorilyn was present, just not photographed! :)
We enjoyed rootbeer or cherry coke floats with our treats too!  It was a delicious compliment!  The girls had not had a float before and they really enjoyed them!  After dinner we headed off to see my nephew, Ben, in the Christmas band concert.  Isn't he handsome?! So hard to believe he is graduating! (My other nephew, Brandon, is also a senior and shares the same Short good looks!)  

We really enjoyed the concert though I would have liked more Christmas music!  Lydia is now enamored with flutes and Mary wants a trumpet even more! :)


It was so nice to have Daddy home!  He headed off to study at the church and we cleaned house before heading out to the pool.  Oh how we have missed the swimming, sliding, jumping and splashing!  (It is so frustrating to pay a membership and not have time/ability to go!)  Since Mary's eye is all healed and I am feeling more mobile, it was nice to go back!  That night the girls were blessed by a visit from Aunt Leah!  She brought a Christmas surprise including chocolate chip cookies, craft kit, and Kung Fu Panda 2!  She even left her copy of the movie so the parents could watch it when we came home! ;)  We were playing at Due South for the evening.  It was a great night of gospel bluegrass and bluegrass Christmas!  We met some people from Eastern VA, Vermont, Ontario, and even South Africa!  That was really neat!


The girls spent the morning playing Poptropica!  This is an online game they love, but it takes so long to play that I don't usually let them play except on vacations.  They were very excited! It is too hard for Ldyia to play so I signed her in to a new site she had never played called Kabongo.  She loved this!  It is also free and educational.  We then spent the afternoon watching The Sound of Music.  My family was sweet enought to put up with my signing along! :)


Sundays are the best day of the week!  Together with my whole family and our closest friends to worship God and to encourage each other in faithfulness and holiness!  This time of year it is also special because of the children's Christmas program and our church family dinner. Since I broke my ankle in early November, the program was quite short, but very sweet!  One of the things my girls loved to do at our former church was to play in the bell choir.  Memaw Rose ordered a set of bells and all of the girls really loved it!

After dinner we all enjoyed some delicious food and warm fellowship! 

I gave Sarah the camera and she snapped a few shots for the blog.


Oh, I forgot to tell her no picutres of me! LOL

Then our church did the annual "pounding" of the pastor and family.  This was a tradition started years before we came and we are so blessed by their giving.  They abundantly gave to fill our pantry to the brim!  It is even more special because we know it is motivated by great love for God and His servants.

Here is the table loaded down with the goodies!  There were even treats for our doggie! :)

As usual, I am so moved by God's gracious love and care for me and my family.  We have been blessed to be a part of three wonderful churches and feel great love during and even after we were called elsewhere to serve.  It reminds me that in Heaven we will really be united in Christ as His precious Bride.

With All My Heart~

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Baking Christmas Cookies

One of the things I have very little patience for is cookie decorating!  I don't mind making cookies if it means we throw the ingredients together, slap it on the sheet, and bake it for 10 min or so.  If it requires making icing, coloring icing, fluting icing and teaching all this to others, I am not there yet.  Maybe it is something you get when you become a grandmother! 

Memaw was the leader of today's Christmas fun and without her we would not have accomplished nearly as much.  She made the icing from scratch and she showed the girls how to make the fluting bags.  (Btw, if I am using an incorrect term, please forgive the decorataing novice!)  She bought the cookie dough.  Next year I think I will contribute by making the dough from scratch since that is what I enjoy! :)

Hannah reshaping a few cookies after tranfer to the sheet.  Unfortunately we couldn't find the cutters we had last year. 

Mary taking our cutters etc. to the sink! 
Almost time to bake and decorate!

Whoops!  We made ours a little big and too many on the pan!

Super Memaw showing the girls how to make the icing bag from wax paper.  Then we made nine colors with our food coloring.

Here are some of the finished ones.  Top left is Mary's giant snow man.  She meant to put them together but we didn' realize how much it would spread! :)  It is upside down, but the white with blue is Hannah's igloo shaped cookie.  The bottom middle was supposed to be a wrapped present. Come on now, use your imagination! LOL
We had a few sprinkles too!
Here is a better veiw of Hannah's igloo.

Here is the baked Christmas tree.  It lost some of its shape when baked, but Hannah did a good job decorating it to give you the idea!
Mary's bell.  I love it!

Messy but great fun!

With All My Heart~

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Birthday 11 for Sarah!

Sarah's day of celebration started quite early!  She asked for an alarm clock for her birthday which she recieved at the party last week.  Last night she thought she set it for 8:30, but somehow it was 6:30AM when it went off!

At 8:30 when they actually got up Memaw treated her to her favorite breakfast - pancakes! We also had the special treat of hot chocolate to drink.   Then Sarah wanted to watch a movie which had been lost for a while -The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything.  An appropriate movie for our lazy day!

Sarah made pizza rolls (canned biscuit dough, pepperoni, and cheese) which they dip in pizza sauce for lunch.  We have done many variations of this pizza bread. We have used homemade french loaf bread dough, tortillas, and canned biscuits.  You just can't go wrong either way.  I prefer grilled chicken, mushrooms, peppers and onions in mine!  Mmmmm!

After lunch we made personal pinatas for each girl.  We used the easy method with brown lunch bags.  I put the candy in the bag and then folded down the top and stapled it to keep it a surprise.  Sarah wanted hers to look like a party hat. 

Sarah preparing the fringe for her pinata.

Some of our supplies!

The stuffed bags.  Don't really know why the cup was there. LOL Mary was taking these pictures.

Lydia wanted hers to look like an igloo. 

Mary working on her fox!

Lydia with her igloo.  Can you see the "door" we tried to put on?

Mary with her fox.  I love that the fox has white legs!
Sarah wearing her party hat pinata! :)

Hannah, giving her horse a ride.  I didn't get a great shot of the very cute face, but I love the bow on the tail! :)

At dinner we enjoyed tacos which is another favorite of Sarah's.  I also coudn't let a birthday go by without some kind of treat.  InAShoe had a recipe for Cheater's Fudge.  I am no fudge maker but I thought I could handle this.
The recipe only called for chocolate chips, sweet condensed milk, and vanilla.  My mom always added peanut butter to our chocolate fudge (per Baldwin family recipe) and so I added some of that too.  The recipe only said to heat until melted. 

Sarah thinks it tasted pretty good out of the pan!

She also had first dipping rights into the fudge that was still to soft.  :( I guess next time I need to cook it longer.  It did taste good but definitely not the texture of fudge.

Enjoying the party favors from the pinatas.  I have no pictures of us actually hitting the pinatas because I just couldn't see destroying them yet.  We cut a small slit in the bottom.  Who knows, we might fill them up again for Christmas! ;)

We love you so much, Sarah Noel. 
We are praying your 11th year is full of blessings!
With All My Heart~