Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Eve birthday, baking fun, Christmas celebrations, and a silly test!

I woke up on Christmas Eve and gave dinner a short thought.  I wanted to fix a side dish for the meal and settled on cornbread.  While looking for my bag of conrmeal, i spied a box of this corn muffin mix in the back. 

 With all these yummy wholesome ingredients! I can't even pronounce some of them! Being supermom that I am not, I decided to go ahead and bake up a batch of this chemically laden food.  But for my family, i knew one box was not enough and I wasn't about to go to the store to fetch another.  So I pulled out my bag of conrmeal and made another batch from scratch.

Now I had to know, which ones would my kids like better? only Yes-only I would really care about this
We had a taste test between both of them and honestly, it was split down the middle.  My one daughter who loved #1 (Jiffy Mix) was so sure that was the one I  made!  When I asked those who picked #1 what they liked better, they all said the same thing-it was sweeter.  True indeed-my version had no sugar, just some honey.  Interesting experiment, but it's not going to make me run out and buy Jiffy unless I'm seriously pressed for time!!

Next, we had to get prepared for my 7 yo daughters's birthday which actually is on Christmas Eve.  She wanted  a giant M and M cookie, which my 11 year old helped me make.  Turned out quite yummy!

We made a double batch of dough and made the rest into cookies.  After sampling a dozen or so, we packaged up the rest to send home with my oldest son, who lives in an apartment on his own.  We often get requests from he and his roommate for home baked goodies.  We're happy to comply!

We were a little behind on getting our annual Christmas gifts out to our sweet neighbors, as we've had nonstop illness over here for the past 3 weeks.  Fortunately, we hadn't planned something too difficult.  We made up a dozen jars of homeade strawberry jam (so yummy!)

We gave a fresh baked loaf of bread with each, tied with a cute Christmas ribbon!

 Simple, but a nice way to let them know how much we appreciate them!

Now onto Christmas morning!  After a yummy pancake breakfast, the present opening began.  The big gift this year?  An X-Box 360!  This is our first venture into video game land, so hopefully it goes smoothly!
 We even had a stealth spiderman among us...

And look, my handsome 19 year old even joined us before he had to go into work.  It was great to have him!

Lots of legos, giftcards, DVDs, toys, and other stuff left a big bunch of smiling kids!

 \After a yummy Christmas dinner that nite made by Chef Dad, we had a happy birthday Jesus celebration.  Everyone sang and then dug into some pie and ice cream!

What a great Christmas celebration!  We are looking forward to many more blessings in the coming year!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Band concert

My 7th grader had her band concert this week at school.  She plays the flute and it was her first concert.  Unfortunately, I was home sick with the rest of my crew, so I didn;'t get to go, but dad took some great pictures!  He said she did great.  It's not easy getting up in front of strangers and performing, so I'm proud of her!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

December birthdays!

We just love December around here.  Not only do we have Jesus' birthday-the most important one of all-but we also have 3 of our kiddos born in December.  Yes, Visa and Mastercard love us during this month!   This weekend we celebrated our now 13 year old and 10 year old birthdays.  Fortunately, they don't mind doing a combo birthday, which Mom most certainly appreciates. It has always been our tradition that the birthday child gets to have a special breakfast (translation...something really sugary and junky) that we don't normally have any other time of the year. For these two, we had a bunch of yummy donuts that everyone enjoyed gobbling up.

And no, the bakery didn't personalize our donuts. That's my added little touch.  I had some frosting left over from making their cake, so I decided to get creative and use it up!  The kids thought it was great! 

Unfortunately, my happiest donut eater woke up this morning like this....

 And no, it wasn't from too much sugar. It's just the end result of a serious virus that has ravaged our household the last two weeks.  It has hit everyone in our family, many of us more than once. This was his second time.  Poor guy.

Later in the afternoon, we had present opening time.  They received gift cards, money, a new backpack, and some clothes.  Here they are showing off a couple of pretty new shirts.

Then on to singing happy birthday and then some cake and ice cream!

 Here is the cake they asked me to make. It worked out well, since I could fit both names on the cake.  Perfect!

It was a quiet birthday celebration, since 13 year old decided she's too old for parties...and my wise 10 year old decided to forgo a party and instead apply the money toward an American Girl doll she's been drooling over.  But it was nice and fun to be able to let them enjoy their special day. Now a little break to prepare for the next birthday and also Christmas!  Come December 26, I think I need a nap!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Future architect?

If you have a boy between the ages of say....5 and 12, you may very well relate to this post!  I have an 8 year old boy who is all consumed....or should I say....obsessed with legos!  Any waking moment that is not being spent on school or doing chores is spent building new lego creations, thinking up bigger things to build, looking at pictures of other people's creations in lego magazine, thinking about what legos he hopes to purchase next, or playing with other friends who love legos almost as much as he does.  Think I'm kidding?  Take a guess as to what the theme was for his 8th birthday.  Hmmmmm....
You got it-Legos!!
Here's one of his creations-he was quite proud of this one...

And when all else fails because Mom won't let you work on your legos since you're supposed to be doing your schoolwork, well...you just hijack little brother's big mega blocks-and yes, my 4 year old is lego obsessed too!

Though it may be just a phase, I'm actually hoping he sticks with the lego building.  I've seen his creativity really bloom and he has developed a lot of concentation having to put so many pieces together.  Who knows-I may be looking at a future architect.  But if not, I'm fine with master lego builder, too!  Here's to following your passions, right?!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Happiness for 99 cents?

Okay, so money  can't buy happiness, right?  Maybe not true happiness and the joy that comes from knowing the Lord, but it certainly can help brighten a little 4 year old boy's day!  Today's find?  A spiderman cafeteria-style plate.  The price?  99 cents!  Love it!

He brought all his money (which amounted to about 12 cents) to the store to pick out something special.  Couldn't find anything he liked and was moping quite loudly about it.  Then, just as we were preparing to go, I saw a big shelf full of character plates and cups.  Reached up to the top shelf and there it was!  I've never seen him  so excited!  I fully intended to make up the difference in the amount he would owe but my 6 year old quietly gave him the rest out of her own money.  It was so sweet and made me so proud of her.  Giving out of her own heart and expecting nothing in return.  Who says that kids can't be great teachers for us adults because I certainly learned a lot today about what it means to show selfless love.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Looks can be deceiving....

We've been dealing with some serious icky cold/virus/flu/pukey thing the whole past week and a half-ugh!  Enough is enough! But hey-when you've got 11 people living in close proximity, you're bhound to pass along plenty of germs, right?  With my 12 yo daughter home sick, laid out on the couch, I figured the rest of the kiddos could at least have some fun.  We needed  something for breakfast tomorrow and since muffins are easy, we went with that.  With Christmas coming fast, I decided I better put a couple of my Christmas pans to use. My mom just sent the cutest silicone wilton pan with gingerbread men, stocking shapes, and Christmas trees. I think it is meant for little cakes or brownies, but, trying to keep it healthy since we try to avoid sugar, I decided we could try out our regular muffin recipe in it.  I went with a chocolate wheat bran , since they're darker colored and the kids don't realize they're healthy!  They cooked up great and popped right out-yay!  When they cooled, I softened some cream cheese, put it in a decorating bag and let the kids be creative!  They did well.  Here they are:
What was funny is that my older kids asked me if we were having these for dessert.  They thought they were cakes topped with frosting!  So there you go...looks can be deceiving!  A good reminder for me-all too many times I've judged others based on what I see.   How incredibly inaccurate that is and also so very wrong!  I wish I were one to assume the best in people, but sadly, it's usually the other way.  There is so much behind one's outward appearance-what is important is not what we see, but what's in the heart.  And if we never stop to dig past the surface, we'll miss it-miss out on wonderful opportunities to help someone else, tell them about Jesus, and just love on them. I  cringe to think of how many opportunities have passed me by due to my own judgmentalism.  I pray God continues to work on my heart in this area and change me-even when it is painful. I've got a long way to go-I sure am glad He is patient!!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

What we've been busy with

Long time between the last post. Life has been busy...just the day to day stuff is enough to wear me down at times! So what have our days been filled with?  Violin lessons and practicing by my 9 year old.  There is a recital coming up soon, so she's needing to be extra diligent!

 Of course there are tons of chores to do around the house-always!  It sometimes feels like no matter how much we clean, it just never seems to get, well, you know,,,"clean".   Oh well, one of those things you accept having life with kiddos!  We do our best, though, and everyone has to help pitch in one way or another.
 The kids have been doing lots of reading-I'm determined to keep their brains from turning to mush.

 And we're trying to wrap up school as best we can.  Some are already done, while others....well, let's just say they're going to have to start doubling up on some of it.  Summer is right around the corner!

We've had some time to do some baking this week.  I love trying out new things.  Some turn out great, others not so great, but that's part of the process.  I made my first marble rye and was quite impressed. The kids were amazed when I sliced it and they saw the design. They loved the taste too. 

We also made another round of biscotti.  This one was a peanut butter chocolate version.  Mmmmmm...quite yummy.

The kids indulged  while sipping tea.  Loved it.  Sorry, we're not coffee drinkers-only dad, so we find alternatives. 
Busy days, full of hustle and bustle in our big family!

Monday, April 9, 2012

A blessed Easter

What a blessed Easter Sunday I had!  It was wonderful from sun up to sun down.  I attended the sunrise (6:30!) service at church, singing hymns and praising the Lord as the sun came up. It was wonderful-my heart was so full after that experience.  Since it was a holiday, the kids and I did plenty of baking and were able to bless several of the neighbors with  the treats. 

Cake pops with colorful sprinkles..


My oldest son came over for Easter dinner, making our family table complete.  I'm still not totally used to him being gone, so it was great to have him back, even for a short time.  Dad made a spiral ham and we had sides of veggies, potatoes, and rolls.  Don't forget apple pie for dessert!  Everyone chowed down and enjoyed it.  Lots of leftovers for ham sandwiches, too!

I hope you had a wonderful Resurrection day also.  Praise the Lord!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Another birthday! This month we had two-my 14 year old last week and yesterday, my 2nd oldest son turned 17!  Amazing how fast he's grown.  He spent the afternoon at the movies and hanging out with friends, then that nite, we celebrated with pizza (thanks Dominos!)

 Then we celebrated with some triple chocolate cupcakes he requested that I made earlier that day-filled with a chocolate ganache and topped with chocolate frosting and chocolate curls.  Hope you like chocolate!

 Here's the happy birthday boy! Doesn't he look thrilled to celebrate?  I suppose that's typical teenage expression, right?

All in all, a great celebration!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Date night

 My oldest son came over tonite and watched the younger kids so hubby and I could go out on a much needed date!  We went to an afternoon showing of "The Hunger Games", which we were excited to see.  It wasn't as good as we thought, but not bad.  Afterward, we went to dinner at Outback Steakhouse, to take advantage of the $10 off coupon we had.  I treated myself to a filet, a very nice cut of meat that I never have!  Even though it was only so-so, I had to gobble it all up to get my $20 worth, right?  :-)

After we got home, we made ice cream sundaes with the kiddos, in sugar  cookie bowls that I made yesterday.  Not only was the ice cream and toppings great, how many times do you get to eat the  container your dessert came in?  Lots of fun..

Well, tomorrow's Monday, which means getting ready for the new school week.  After that's done, it's time to kick up my feet with a nice cup of tea.....enjoy the remainder of your weekend!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Food for the mind and the body

I'm fortunate that I have kiddos (at least most of them) that love to read.  Most days, we have at least a half hour required quiet reading time, in addition to their regular school reading, of course.  It gives them some time to explore their own interests, whether it be animal stories, adventure books, or,  in the case of my girls, American Girl dolls! 

Yes, they are American Girl doll lovers and my 3 oldest all have the dolls-my oldest has two.  They love the books, the accessories, and anything related to it.  Amazingly, an American Girl shop is opening right here in Houston in August, and let's just say, they are more than looking forward to it!

This week, I tried my hand at baking some kaiser rolls.  It was tricky trying to get the design on the top, but they turned out great-nice and soft and great for sandwiches!  Will do again for sure...

My 14 year old volunteered to make breakfast one morning-a blessing!  He got up at 6:00 a.m. and made everyone eggs, bacon, and toast-all by  himself. It was very tasty, too, as everyone scarfed it down!  My daughter even decided to make cute little faces out of it.  Who needs I-Hop.  We can do the same thing here!

My son even offered to make another breakfast this weekend-french toast.  I could get used to this!

Monday, March 19, 2012

A long absence....

Wow, looking at the date of the last post, it's amazing how long it has been. So much has happened over the past year-both ups and downs-and the blog was one of those things that just had to get pushed to the side. But we are still here, plugging along, living life, enjoying all that God has blessed us with! At this point, we are now down to nine kids at home. Yes, my oldest, who is 18 now, moved out to his own apartment last month. Yes, I miss him terribly, but am so happy for him to have the chance to experience all life has in stor
e for him. Fortunately, he's only a few minutes away, also, so he is able to come back and visit. As for the rest of the crew, my next oldest is now of working age and has two jobs, while everyone else is busy with schoolwork, activities, and just keeping this household running! During our day to day work, we try to make some room to have fun. So what have we been up to? Here's what we made the other nite (my little ones loved it!)
Yep! That's an angry bird pizza! My little ones loved this and it made pizza nite extra fun!
We love holidays around here and valentine's is no exception-a great excuse to bake-and bless our neighbors with lots of goodies! :-) From heart cookies....
To cookie pops...
And, to top it off, a cake! Don't worry, these treats were made over several days and shared generously with others! Otherwise, we'd be oompa loompas!
I didn't even take pictures of all the green st. patrick's day goodies....let's just say we had lots of fun with the green!
My 3rd boy also turned 14 this month-wow! Where does time go? We celebrated with a yummy cookie cake and a special dinner. Growing up too fast! This is just a short little snippet of life at our house. So much has happened and will happen for sure over the coming days-hopefully it will not be so long between posts! It is never a dull moment around here!