Friday, December 28, 2007

Some of Our Memorable Gifts



Verna gave me this book of fabulous scrapbooking ideas - I can't wait to try them out!





This was my gift from Tami - Matt's cousin - at his family Christmas party. I first saw this gal at Women of Faith, and have read a couple of her books since then. She's a hoot! I even got Matt to watch one of the DVD's with me on the 28th!







Matt's mom made him scrapbooks for his first 4 years - they were precious! It's fun for the boys to go through them and see what daddy was like when he was a boy.




The Rachel Ray Furi knives - oh, this was cool. Jay bought these for all the gals at the office. I've already cut my finger - they are sharp, sharp, sharp! I'm just certain my cooking will improve based on these knives alone!





Guitar Hero - the picture and the title should say it all, but I must insert that it took Chance 3 days to beat the game on the "Easy" level, while Matt was stuck a few gigs back. He has played it incessantly for the last two nights - not just to catch up, no no - he must beat his 8-year-old, and prove that he can Rock better than anyone in the house. I must admit, Metallica's 'One' sounded pretty good by the end of last night.




The kitchen stool of my childhood - only I'm pretty sure ours was Avacado Green. Great job with the white, Matt - I'm not sure I wanted an exact replica, but I did want our boys to pull this stool up to the counter when they need a glass, or when they want to help mom cook - what a great gift.





The inscription on the box said "When God is in your heart, God is in your life." Thanks, mom - this is the most fabulous bracelet. I love it!!


This was my present from Colton so I could "practice my hairstyles." Matt apparently tried to gently suggest things on my list that I might want instead, but Colton would have nothing of it. He was so proud of his purchase - isn't she cute??

Thursday, December 27, 2007

We Wish You A Merry Christmas

Wow - what a week! Standby for the lengthiest of posts - we have had a fabulous Christmas season this year - laden with more blessings than we can possibly count!

It all started December 22nd - when the boys did their traditional sleep under the Christmas Tree. Every year, we drag out the air mattress, and Matt and the boys sleep under the twinkling lights of the trees - they tell stories, and Christmas wishes, and fall asleep dreaming of the magic of Christmas.


Then, the air starts to leak out of the airbed, and life doesn't seem so magical to the biggest guy on the mattress - so he humbly crawled back into our bed around 4:00 am, thinking no one would be the wiser. He forgot he was sleeping by Colton - the fact that he dared leave the sacred mattress on "Sleep Under the Tree Night" was the first thing Colton brought up when he woke the next morning.

We went to a fabulous service at church on Sunday, then headed to my parent's house for my family's Christmas celebration. Dad was hip-deep in the middle of doughnut making when we got there, and we were all salivating at the thought of fresh doughnuts. It took just a tad longer than my dad either remembered or anticipated, so we had fresh doughnuts at about 4:00 pm - but, oh what a way to ruin dinner. They were fabulous! The kids spent the afternoon sledding and 4-wheeling with Judd and Matt, and came back exhausted, freezing, and all-smiles just as it was getting dark.

On Christmas Eve day, most of us slept in - extept my hard-working brother got up at 5:00 because he had to work that day - thanks for being quiet on your way out, Juddy! Once the lazy ones got up and around, we made a couple batches of crepes, ate leftover doughnuts and sticky buns - and so the feasting began. We had so many munchies and crunchies - oh, sweet, full tummy bliss! We tried a couple new dips - one was a hit, one was a miss. The Reuben Dip from the crock pot cookbook will never, ever stink up my kitchen that way again. The Mississippi Sin Dip, a la Big Mama was so fabulous that we had it two days later at Matt's family gathering. It was a great time of food, presents, visiting, and family. The cousins were unfathomably nice to each other the entire day - this may have had something to do with the Wii, but whatever it was, it worked. Theresa took the kids carolling, and at the end of their stint they carolled our house - it was so fun to see them singing in a big group of people! What a fun, fun time. We didn't leave for home until about 11:00.

INSERT - Jake came, too! He had much fun playing with his new doggie cousin, Raleigh. We had driven the truck so that we could bring the 4-wheeler, so there was plenty of room for our favorite, four-legged friend.

We got home at 1:00 - and Santa was TIRED, TIRED, TIRED. There was still Santa wrapping to do, stockings to fill, etc. Thankfully, the boys were exhausted, and slept in Christmas morning until about 9:30!!!! Can you believe that? Who ever heard of kids sleeping that late on Christmas morning? I guess that's our reward for giving them a day chalked-full of fun on Christmas Eve!

We had a wonderful day as a family, playing with all of our Christmas toys. We had waffles with Matt's new "hotel style" waffle maker, and the Guitar Hero showdowns were quick to start. Colton drove the tracks off his track-hoe, scooping up all kinds of paper, packing peanuts, and strewn about cardboard. We left late in the day for Verna's house, and arrived in time to have a late spaghetti dinner before we opened more presents. One of Verna's presents was kind of an emotional one, which Matt had predicted might make her cry - and because of this prediction, we get one of Colton's more memorable quotes (from Shrek the Halls) . . .

"Christmas ain't Christmas 'til somebody cries!" Oh, if you could've seen his face when he busted out with this one - what a cutie!

The 26th is traditionally Matt's family's gathering - it works well, because usually everyone is done with their other family obligations and can attend. It was another fun evening of family, food, fun, visiting, presents, etc. This is where we usually take our annual family Christmas picture, and make sure we get a picture with Matt's Granny. I had a bit of a slip-up this year, and will forever be reminded by the cousins of my inability to curb my extreme potty mouth. I had the audacity to say the "S" word in Granny's house - yikes!!! I'm sure I'll live it down in a decade or two. It was great to see everyone, and to participate in activities that have been traditions in Matt's family for decades. My favorite is when everyone gathers in the living room, and Matt's uncle Sam reads the Christmas story from the book of Luke (goes well with the previously mentioned potty-mouthed side of me, doesn't it?) - there's just something magical about the words and the story - it stirs even the hardest of hearts - Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without it!


We headed home the next morning - overflowing - our stomachs, our hearts, our car. It was a fabulous couple of days. Again, we had taken Jake with us - but this time we had the car. The drive there wasn't so bad - everyone was still exhausted from the late Christmas Eve night, so all three backseaters (the boys & Jake) slept most of the way to Yakima. The way back was a different story - it was mid-day, no one was tired, and Jake was not content to lay on the floor of the very cramped car. We stopped at a rest are to re-arrange, but to no avail - a growing Great Dane cross can find no comfort in the back seat of a compact car, with two boys taking up most of the room. I'm certain he's made his last car trip. But, the cramped, eventful ride did make a great opening for Colton's next most memorable Christmas quote . . .


"Daddy? I wish we had a Chihuahua!"

Saturday, December 22, 2007

What a ride . . .

Story about Christmas!



It was the day after Christmas at a church in San Francisco. The pastor of the church was looking over the church when he noticed that the baby Jesus was missing from among the figures.



He hurried outside and saw a little boy with a red wagon, and in the wagon was the figure of the little infant Jesus.



So he walked up to the boy and said, "Well, where did you get your passenger, my fine friend?"



The little boy replied, "I got Him at church."



"And why did you take Him?"



The boy explained, "Well, about a week before Christmas I prayed to the little Lord Jesus and I told Him if He would bring me a red wagon for Christmas I would give Him a ride around the block in it."



MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!

Friday, December 21, 2007

If his teacher only knew . . .

Chance only had 1/2 day of school yesterday-a rigorous, challenging day of candy, cookies, presents, and movies - and now he's on Christmas vacation - Woo Hoo!!

When I picked him up, I said "Hey bud, was it nice to have an easy day?"

His response, "Mom, we haven't done anything in weeks!"

Me - "Chance, did you forget about the huge France project we just completed last night?"

Chance - "Well, we certainly haven't learned anything real in weeks."

And I paid how much tuition this month???? Just kidding, Amanda!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Questionnaire

I'm totally cheating today, because 75% of the 4 people that read my blog already got this on e-mail. Oh well - it's all good for posterity's sake . . .

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Some of both – but I like wrapping paper the best . . .
2. Real tree or Artificial? Artificial, plus pine scented candles to help with the fake-out!
3. When do you put up the tree? First weekend in December or so.
4. When do you take the tree down? If Matt gets the Airhogs helicopter he wants, immediately after Christmas!
5. Do you like eggnog? Yes!
6. Favorite gift received as a child? I don’t exactly remember, but it wasn’t an umbrella . . .
7. Do you have a nativity scene? I think we’re up to 5 now – by far my favorite Christmas decoration.
8. Hardest person to buy for? Usually my name drawn from either my family or Matt’s family.
9. Easiest person to buy for? This year, it seems to be Chance.
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail – the Christmas letter and picture is one of my favorite things to do all year.
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? I don’t exactly remember, but that wasn’t the umbrella either.
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? A Christmas Story. Over, and over, and over, and over.
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? In August, after Chance’s birthday. That’s the last big thing before Christmas, and I can start hiding stuff away to put under the tree.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Oh my, yes – from one family drawing to another!
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Christmas Crepes or Overnight French Toast – they tie for the best Christmas breakfast.
16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Multi-colored – not my choice, but multi-colored
17. Favorite Christmas song? Little Drummer Boy, but Colton’s also got me on to Away In a Manger – also Did You Know? By Todd Agnew
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? We change the oil in the car the week before Christmas, and again right after – does that answer the question?
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? If I sing the song . . .
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Angel
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? The whole present hoopla starts on the weekend before Christmas at Matt’s dad’s house, and presents are opened on several occasions from that day until the 26th at Matt’s Granny’s. It’s a zoo . . .
22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? The hustle and bustle often blocks the view of the cradle.
23. Favorite ornament theme or color? I do love the whole sage green, cream, and gold thing.
24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Smoked Prime Rib, a la Wilbur Ellis
25. What do you want for Christmas this year? Time to breath, or maybe even read a book.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Joyeux Noel


Joyeux Noel!
Merry Christmas from France!
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Chance's class had a "Christmas Around The World" open house last night. The kids have been working for about 3 weeks on this large project (I felt like I was in CWP again, only Chance's stuff turned out better!). They had to choose a country and research their Christmas traditions. Chance chose France (with some help from his teacher). He had to write a 1-1/2 page report, find artifacts from France to "bring the country to the classroom", learn to say Merry Christmas in their language, find music from France, construct a poster for visual aid of the facts he learned, make a flyer to hand out at the open house, and wear a costume representing someone from France. WOW!
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I was pretty intimidated by the amount of paperwork coming home at first, but quickly got in the spirit of things - anything for an excuse to shop on eBay, right?
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Soon, I had to temper my enthusiasm and, well, ummmmm, let's call it "Type A" personality, and try to let Chance actually do the project himself - without worrying about how I wanted to arrange the poster, or correcting grammar to the nth degree, or thinking things had to be just so. This was a totally easy thing for me - I mean, I'm so laid back about this kind of stuff ;-) Okay, that's a complete lie, so it was a growing experience for both of us!
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Chance did an absolutely wonderful job. I got to go during school yesterday and listen to his presentation to the class. He read through his report really well, and the kids had some good questions for him - a couple of them stumped us both! He got a little confused about French artists, and tried to pass off our $$ Store poster as a Monet painting, but otherwise knew his stuff really well! He can tell you how tall the Eiffel tower is, how many steps to the top, how big the highway is that runs underneath, percentages of religions, French capital, language, Christmas traditions, etc. It was a pretty neat deal.
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The kids all had little display tables set up throughout the classroom for the open house. When we walked in, we were handed a passport, and got it signed by each country as we visited their table. The kids sat by their displays, signed the passports, and answered questions from the folks walking through. Matt and I put up a small-scale version of the Eiffel tower next to Chance's table, which reached the ceiling in his classroom! Countries represented included: Russia, England, Japan, Netherlands, India, France, Togo, China, Hawaii, and Mexico.
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Thanks, Mrs. Anderson, for putting together a fun & challenging project, and a great evening for the kids and their families. It was a pleasure.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Amid the Hustle & Bustle

Wow - there's a lot of hustling going on - a lot of bustling, too! I have many pictures to share, many blog posts swarming in the back of my head, just waiting to get out. Somehow, though, they aren't coming to the forefront. Amazingly, thankfully, Jesus is.

We spent part of the weekend at a family Christmas party that was far from perfect, and left us all wondering. I have spent the last couple days worrying about present counts, if anyone will open an unequal amount, or if everything I chose will be appropriate and welcome - and I've been wondering. Chance has two Christmas things at school, so we've been practicing, rehearsing, singing, and preparing - and I'm wondering if nerves will get him or if he will remember all he's practiced and come through - either way, it will be far from perfect, but somehow still okay.

This world is so imperfect, yet we try to make it just right. Especially for the holidays. Our families are imperfect, but somehow during Christmas, if anytime, we want them to be just so. Our homes are far from perfect, but we pull out all the stops and decorate them, making them a perfect haven for the story of Christ. Can you believe He came into this hustling, bustling, competitive, showy world? For us?

I have always loved Kathy Mattea's version of Mary Did You Know? It's not a far stretch to imagine being that girl - an imperfect vessel to be used for the Glory of God. There was no way she had a clue as to the enormity of the 33 years in front of her - but she obeyed. Thankfully, she obeyed.

What has caught my attention more this season was brought about by a song by Todd Agnew that I heard a few times on the radio. It's called Did You Know? - but it's from Jesus' perspective. I know my mind cannot fully comprehend or even appreciate the Triune God concept - I am thankful for it, and study it, and I try, but I know it is beyond my human thinking. It's why songs like this are so intriguing to me.

How much did He know? He knew all of it before He came down - but as a 1-day-old baby, how much did He know? He was still 100% God, yet he was 100% human - and a helpless baby, at that! He is the one who told the angel to tell Joseph His name - but did they have to teach the baby His name, even though the God already knew it? As that baby looked into Mary's eyes, did he remember creating them? He knew of His impending death on the cross - of the nails that would scar his hands - yet he chose, as his trade, to pound more nails than we could imagine. Did he wince as he pounded?

I can't even fathom. But I can praise. I can sing loudly with the song and ask the questions - thankful that my salvation doesn't depend on knowing the answers, thankful for an active mind that would try to understand the enormity of His sacrifice, thankful mostly for the sacrifice in itself. Halleluiah - What A Savior!

Here's the song-------

Did You Know
Todd Agnew

Were Mary’s the first eyes you saw
Or did You remember choosing that shade of brown?

Were You surprised at the shepherd’s crazy story
Or did You know You wrote the song the angels sang?

What was this life like for You?

Did You know?
Did the cross cast its shadow o’er your cradle?
Did You know?
Did You shudder each time Your hammer struck a nail?
Did you know?
How much heaven and how much earth
Were in this baby at His birth?
Did you know?
Or did you wonder?

Did you remember the brightness of Your glory
Or did You just notice it was cold and dark here?

Did You know Your name or did you have to be told?

Were You just a baby or were You as old as time?

What was Your life like?

Did You know?
Did the cross cast its shadow o’er your cradle?
Did You know?
Did You shudder each time Your hammer struck a nail?
Did you know?
How much heaven and how much earth
Were in this baby at His birth?
Did you know?
Or did you wonder?


Merry Christmas - may each of you pause from shopping, crafting, hustling, and bustling long enough just to wonder. It'll make your season . . .

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Christmas (Program) Story



Colton's Christmas program was at the church today. He is officially on Christmas Vacation - lucky little kid. It was a great concert, filled with all the stuff you'd expect when you try to herd about 45 3- & 4-year-olds on a stage.


They got all the 3-year-olds lined up, and then the 4's marched in. One little boy, oblivious of the line, didn't follow behind the kids already arranged, but marched right in front of them - then had to scoot them all out of the way as he made his way up the steps to the back of the stage where he was supposed to stand.


The stage was still set up from our Christmas drama last weekend, so it was beautiful with garland, trees, and a manger scene in one corner. One little guy, every time a song or verse mentioned Jesus born in a manger, turned and pointed to the manger - you can imagine how many times this might happen in a Christmas concert . . .


Some kids sang loud, some sang VERY loud, and some didn't seem to know the words or want to sing at all. Maybe they had practiced them so often the last couple weeks, they were just no longer interesting.


One little cutie kept stomping his feet for emphasis on various songs. "Happy Birthday to You" STOMP - "Happy Birthday to You' STOMP - "Happy Birthday Dear Jesus" STOMP, STOMP - "Happy Birthday to you!" STOMP! There was a song in which the children actually were suppose to stomp to the beat - I think that little guys' mom was relieved that some choreographed stomping actually occurred, instead of the seemingly random stomps she had seen up to this point ;-) Many of the parents around her were trying to be comforting by saying things like "There always has to be one each year, doesn't there?" and "He is soooooo cute!" or even "Jim, videotape that kid - what a hoot!" I felt a little sorry for her - I don't think she found it as funny as they did.


All the kids were dressed in the Christmas finest - many girls had beautiful dresses on - you could tell they all felt special. One of the boys must not have liked his Christmas sweater very much - he tried to take it off during the performance! It was interesting seeing the incredulous looks on his parents' faces as he showed off his belly to the crowd, until his teacher helped him get things back in line.


They got to hold some jingle bells, and use them for different songs - Colton loved this part! You could see the gleam in his eye when the teachers were passing them out. He didn't want to put them down when the jingly songs were over, and was all smiles again when they picked them back up for the finale. I'm fairly certain rhythm instruments are somewhere in our future.

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It was great fun - Mrs. Swedburg and her crew did a fabulous job herding that many children onto a stage and getting them to actually sing some fun songs. We ended the program with cookies in the gym - just in case the kids weren't excited enough and maybe needed some sugar.
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Oh yeah, in case I forget to mention - the boy that marched down the front, then parted the Red Sea on the stage to get to his correct spot?? Yeah, that was mine.
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And the boy who turned and pointed to the manger the 6 or 7 or 111 times it was mentioned in the program? You guessed it - mine.
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The "not remembering the words" or maybe just not caring and not singing? -Mine

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The stomper? -Also mine. And, believe me folks, the comments of all the well-intentioned parents around us were not necessarily helpful. Stuff like that is only cute when it is not your child!!!

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I'm sure you're starting to see a pattern here - but the stripping off the sweater child? Yep, you're right on track here - that was mine. And yes, I did put on a t-shirt under it so it wouldn't be itchy - apparently that only added to the extreme hotness that he experienced on the stage, which led to the need to try and remove some layers.

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As for the bells - well, that was just good, plain fun. He was totally in his element by that point, participating and having a great time. His parents had yet to recover from the earlier episodes, however, and didn't enjoy the good part nearly as much as they should have. Thank the Lord for video cameras - not only will we get to go back and watch the good parts without embarrassment, but we'll have some great blackmail when he's 17.

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Colton - I love you so much! You were fantastic - 100% you, and proud of it! Can't wait until the end-of-the-year program - who knows what you'll come up with when you're 5????

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Gift

We were so blessed by our church's Christmas drama performance last night. I am so impressed by the many who put in hours and hours of work to make it a success. The play was called "The Gift" and journeyed the crowd through modern day gifts (waiting hours in line for Tickle Me Elmo), compared to the gift offered by God through His son, Jesus.

After the introduction, the play began with an arrangement of Little Drummer Boy - my favorite classic Christmas carol. A teenage boy from our church was dressed as the Little Drummer Boy, with a drum strapped around his neck, offering his gift of music to the Baby - the boy's dad sang the vocals to the song right behind him. As they finished the "Shall I play for you?" portion of the song, the MLHS Drum Corps marched down the center aisle, and joined the actor on stage for a very cool percussion solo thingy (I'm just so musical).

Colton kept saying (okay, yelling, because it was so loud) - I'm so going to play drums when I grow up mom. I'm sooooo going to play like that.

He got a little scared when The Grinch came out for a part from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas - he did the sarcastic, "It's really all about the gifts, isn't it?" Chance loved it, though, and laughed while Colton crawled in my lap, turned around and wouldn't watch during that part.

As the play progressed, our focus turned from shopping, bustle, and gifts of the season to the free gift offered in Jesus Christ, as well as the gift of adoption offered to those who would accept it, and be adopted in to the Body of Christ. The cast did a little video deal at Pike's Place Market about accepting a free gift - they tried to give away $20 bills to people. You'd be amazed at the minute amount of people who would actually take the gift, compared to the masses that they spoke with. A truly free gift seems unheard of in our day. It was a neat portion of the program.

It was a late night by the time we were done - homework had to be put off until this morning - but well worth it! I am grateful that we went, and blessed by what we saw and heard. Thanks, MLAC - you did a fabulous job!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Twelve Days of Christmas

Thanks for this fun idea, Neighbor Jane!



One holiday movie I recently watched

  • A Charlie Brown Christmas
Last two holiday websites I visited


Three favorite items of clothing

  • Aura jeans
  • Oversized hoodie
  • My yard-sale bargain fake Uggs

Four favorite things to eat

  • Steak & Lobster or Steak & Crab
  • Matt's Creme Brulee
  • Starbucks scones
  • Out

Five things I ate yesterday

  • Lucky Charms
  • Chinese Food from Tree Cafe
  • Fresh-baked rolls
  • Key-lime/White Chocolate cookies
  • Pie at Perkins

Six things I need to do today

  • Pack the boys for a sleepover
  • Pack me for a trip to Tri-Cities
  • Make a shopping list
  • Clip Coupons
  • Laundry
  • Dishes

Seven gifts I’d like to receive

  • Rachael Ray Knives
  • Anita Renfroe DVD
  • Big Picture Scrapbooking
  • A Calendar with my kid's pictures to hang at work (love ya, Darla!)
  • Beth Moore DVD or bible study
  • A Christmas Story DVD that I can watch over and over, cause 24 hours straight on Christmas Eve day just isn't quite enough!
  • The fun word game we play at Pizza Hut that I already can't remember the name of.

Eight ingredients my kitchen shouldn’t be without during the holidays

  • Sugar
  • Flour
  • Butter
  • Choc. Chips
  • Homemade Vanilla
  • Cream
  • Karo Syrup
  • Oats

Nine Christmas songs I like to hear

  • Mary Did You Know?
  • A Christmas Prayer - Jonas Brothers
  • Did You Know? - Todd Agnew
  • Little Drummer Boy
  • Do You Hear What I Hear?
  • Away In A Manger
  • Joy To The World
  • Silent Night - by The African Children's Choir
  • Frosty The Snowman

Ten memorable Christmas gifts

  • The umbrella - wish I still had it
  • Our first computer - Commodor 64
  • Presents from boys last year about why they like their mom
  • Willow Tree Nativity
  • Matt's t-shirt quilt
  • My leather coat mom bought my Jr. year
  • Christmas Stockings from Julie
  • I got Judd a poster, and it wasn't the one he had wanted, and he started crying
  • The year Matt & I tried to cap Christmas spending, and I ended up with gifts from all sorts of fictional people so he wouldn't go over his spending limit
  • My angel figure collection from Matt

Eleven favorite Christmas traditions
  • Christmas Letter
  • Family or boys Christmas picture
  • Watching "A Christmas Story" over & over
  • Christmas Eve at my parents
  • Taking pics of Matt & the Boys sleeping under the tree
  • Baking
  • Decorating the house
  • Giving gifts
  • Last minute dashes in my craft room - praying for paint, modge podge, and/or glue to dry quickly
  • Putting about 1,000 miles on the car - the miles aren't my favorite part, but the family that we get to see because of them is definitely my favorite
  • Adopting either children or families who need gifts

Twelve fun childhood Christmas memories
  • The total transformation of mom's house from ordinary to Christmas
  • Learning how to fix socks with Aunt LaVerne while mom & dad were at midnight mass
  • Grandma Gladys' house
  • Grandma Laura's inability to keep a Christmas present a secret
  • Christmas in Hawaii with Webb's - Marcia went with me to midnight mass so I would feel more at home
  • Christmas Exchanges and parties at school
  • Waiting until a couple days before Christmas to get a tree - some say we were trying to find "the perfect one", while others claim we were waiting until they got either really cheap or free!!
  • Spraying all the perfume at Mitchell's Pharmacy to find mom the perfect gift - I'm sure you loved every bottle, right mom?
  • Being an angel every year in the play at church with the same white sheet-type costume and silver halos - I think they still use them today . . .
  • Watching A Christmas Story about 55 or 1 zillion times
  • Popcorn balls and Christmas Cookies
  • Midnight Mass

Thursday, December 6, 2007

You Gotta Love The Little Ones

Colton had a report from his friend Eric's house last night.

Mom - good news/bad news from Eric's house.

The good news - they had 10 puppies. 3 blacks, 7 chocolates.

The bad news - she's only got 8 boobies.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Sometimes, You're So Far Behind . . . .

that it's just as easy to start a new race as it is to catch up. There have been so many changes in the past few weeks, and so many blogs written in my head, that I can't keep up with the all! I will attempt to run a photo catch-up post on all the changes in our little world before I start my new race.

Jake changed from this-
-to this. Sick with Meningitis the day after Thanksgiving, although it took us 4 days ant 3 vet visits to get the correct diagnosis.
-to this - a healthy, growing, getting into trouble again puppy. Isn't he getting big?




Darla went from this bubbly, young mother---

-to this. What a good sport! She dressed up as Mrs. Claus for our Wilbur Ellis entry in the Agriculture Christmas Parade. Her and the kids did such a good job!





After many hours, cold bums, hot cocoas, toe warmers, and tears, the boys went from this-




-to this at the hockey rink. They are improving so much!





The good news - only 16 weeks of hockey left. My buns should be completely frozen off by then - so there, Jenny Craig - I don't need you to make my butt go away, I just need my kids to join one more frozen ice sport . . .

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Turkey, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, yams, rolls, pie, cheesecake, leftover turkey sandwiches - we are blessed to have such a feast!
Holidays - we are so blessed to have times of celebration - to concentrate on Thankfulness, our Savior's Birth, the coming of a new year, and everything in between. It sets our hearts to think about something outside of ourselves.
Almighty God - I am so grateful for a God that is so much bigger than even my imagination. Those of you who know me well, know that at times I can be a bit controlling - sometimes, in my mind, I even think I'd like a predictable God that I can wrap my mind around, and plan my day around - thank you, Lord, that you are not! My God is great, my God is strong, my God is mighty - there is nothing my God can't do for you (for those of you without a pre-schooler, this is a song they sing - so appropriate!)
Nutcrackers - my boys are still enthralled by them. Thanks to the $$ store, we purchase a new nutcracker army each year - not for decoration or for actual nutcracking (and especially not for balleting), but to stage elaborate Christmas battles, wielding swords and axes. At $1 a piece, the fact that they are all missing limbs at the end of the season is an easy pill to swallow - they offer so much entertainment!
Kind-hearted friends - I have the best of them. I am blessed to still be in touch with old friends-Trish, Tab, Alison. It takes about 2 minutes grab a cup of tea, catch up, and feel like you've never been apart. I have made some of the most fabulous friends in recent years, and they have enriched my life to no end - Darla, Jane, Deb, Annette - I am lucky to know you all.
Family - I'm blessed to come from the best family ever, and doubly-blessed to have married the most amazing man and start my own best family ever. I hope I do as well for my children as was done for me . . .
Unrelenting schedule - many times a burden, but a blessing in that I am physically able to take on many tasks, that I am mentally gifted to handle organization, and that I can truly enjoy my rare periods of down time.
Love - "........and the greatest of these is Love." I am so grateful for a loving heart - our Lord has given us the greatest of gifts - to give and receive.

Wow, that's a lot of "blessed" and "best" - I am truly thankful for it al.

Monday, November 19, 2007

What a sport, eh?

Friday evening, as we were relaxing at home, my request for the boys to get ready for bed was met with immediate groans and complaints . . .

"It's Friday!"

"Tomorrow is stay-at-home day!"
.
"We get to sleep in - we should get to stay up late!"

I reminded the boys that we needed to be at hockey practice at 7:30 AM. While that might be sleeping in for me, it certainly isn't a Saturday morning kind of sleep in! Once they were reminded about their first hockey practice of the season, the grunt and groans greatly reduced their number - not unto extinction, but reduced none-the-less.

On Saturday morning, I went upstairs to wake the boys up to get ready to go.

"Good morning, guys! Do you remember what today is?"

Colton sat straight up in bed and said, "Mommy, I am so glad I'm a hockey player."

I'm sure later in the season, you'll endure blogs about early Saturdays, metal bleachers, and cold bums - but on that morning, I was glad they were hockey players, too!

Chance's age group got right after it, doing drills. Colton had about 5 or 6 kids in his group, with one "Patience of Job" kind of gal teaching them how to skate. It was fun to watch both ends of the spectrum. Here are some fun shots of our morning . . .

Both boys are ready to go . . .

Colt started off a little shaky . . . .

And spent lots of time here . . .

But was fabulous by the end!


Nice pass, Chance.



He shoots, he scores!!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Mine's Bigger Than Yours . . .

One thing I often find out at scrapbook retreats like the one I just went to is that when I think I have wayyyy too many scrapbook supplies, all I have to do is look around and realize that not only am I not the worst, in this group, I don't even come close!! These ladies know how to shop!


During a "dittie" on Friday evening, in which each person shared a favorite scrapbooking tip, I learned of a fabulous new adhesive system from Tracy. I could hardly contain my excitement when I went to Tracy's work station to try out this new tool - this was before Tracy was mad at me for being to nice to her mom - but that's another blog!


I just had to order one - I briefly considered adding it to my Christmas list, but knew I didn't want to wait that long. Besides that, Matt had just admitted to spending $71 on a bird hunting license, and I knew my opportunity for buying a $35 adhesive gun (with about 7.000 yards of adhesive) was now or never. At the time of this post, we are still at about $35 per goose (that's two geese killed, for those of you who are math challenged), and I'd trade a good adhesive gun for a goose any day, so all is well with the world . . .


Anyway, it came today. WOOO HOOOO! I love that UPS lady. Okay, I don't really love her, because when she doesn't have packages for me, she's actually kind of annoying - but today, I love her!!




Can you imagine having to study so intently to load some glorified double-stick tape?



Darla made so much fun of my excitement - saying I thought I was cool because I had this "Adhesive Gun 7000" or something - she ran through the room making "vrooming" sounds as I tried out my new machine. I think you can see from the picture below that she's just jealous . . .





My scrapbook gun is bigger than your scrapbook gun - so, ha! Thanks, Tracy ;-)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The answer to your question is Rice - again, Rice

Last week, we were headed to a nearby town to meet my parents, as the boys were going to spend the weekend with them. When I picked them up from daycare, we were listening to Positive Life Radio in the car. They were doing a special pledge drive called Rice for Cambodia. We have given to this campaign in the past, and I was planning to give to it again, but thought the boys would also be old enough to be involved this year.

As we were driving through town, I just let the radio guys speak for themselves for awhile. After about 10 minutes, I asked the boys what they thought about buying rice for people who didn't have food right now. Chance had a couple questions, but I think understood the concept right away. Colton wasn't so sure. I asked the boys if they would like to use their allowance or do some extra chores around the house and buy one bag of rice together - $9.00. Chance immediately said yes. Colton immediately said no.

Colton said he was saving his piggy bank for a dirt bike, and he wasn't giving any away. I tried to explain that he could leave the money in his piggy bank and do some extra chores. He said if he was going to do extra chores, then he would put that money in his piggy bank too! I tried to reason with him - do you understand that these kids don't have anything to eat? His answer - then they can just go to Wal-Mart and buy some chicken nuggets. They don't have a Wal-Mart. Well, that's not my fault!!

I'm frustrated, so I drop the subject for a minute. Chance uses the short window of silence to voice his immediate hunger and ask to go to a restaurant. We are already late to meet Grandma and Grandpa. Well, then let's go through the drive-through. We'll get something once we get to where we're meeting. (Now with tears in his voice) I'm hungry now and I want to go through the drive through!!

At this point, I may have raised my voice more than a little bit - I can't believe this!! There are children in Cambodia who haven't eaten for days! I suggested a way you guys could help them, and all you can talk about are dirt bikes and drive throughs! I can't believe I'm raising such inconsiderate children!!!!!!!

The car was silent for the next few miles. Then, Colton says tearfully - well I don't even like rice, and I don't want to talk to strangers, so I can't take those kids any rice, and I don't like it anyway!

So, we spent the next few miles explaining to Colton (who is 4), how the rice campaign worked, what happened once he gave his $$ for a bag of rice, and how helpful it would be. After many questions (and a frustrated Chance trying to help explain the concept), both boys agreed that they would like to buy 1 bag of rice.

I called in my pledge, as well as theirs - they were excited to hear our name on the radio during the song break when the DJ's were thanking the recent donors.

Once I got home, I was still frustrated with their reaction. I know they are young, but I was hoping to make more of an impact with the radio program. I told Matt of our conversation, and he suggested we have a rice dinner one night the next week.

Fast forward to last night . . . .

We got home from work/school/daycare, and I started my usual dinner routine. Colton was hungry, so Matt suggested he could help make dinner if he wanted to. I told him I had dinner on the stove, but he could set the table with bowls, spoons, napkins, and glasses.

What's for dinner?

Rice.

What else?

Rice.

That's all?

Yes.

The boys were pretty surprised, but ready to be good sports. We said the blessing, then talked about the decision the boys had made to buy a bag of rice. The bag they bought will feed a family of 4 for about 4-6 weeks. I had set out some seasonings, and told everyone they could have as many servings of rice as they would like, with whatever seasonings they wanted. But, there would be no dessert or snacks after dinner.



Chance - so, do they have this for dinner every night?

Yep.

What do they have for breakfast?

Rice.

Lunch?

Rice.

Every meal is rice?

Probably.

Wow - that's a lot of rice.

By the end of dinner, I think all of us had a better appreciation for what the Cambodians are eating. I realize that we are so fortunate not to have to experience the hunger that these people experience - where the rice is not boring, bland, or yucky to them - it is just simply a blessing. It was a great lesson for all of us.

Thanks, PLR, for hosting the campaign. Thanks, Musicianaries for feeding a hungry nation. Thank you, Lord, for the food in our bellies, and for the opportunity to help others put food in theirs. Thanks . . .

Monday, November 12, 2007

Scrapbook Retreat

We had such a fun time at Mountain River Lodge this weekend. It's always a great time of relaxation, rejuvenation, and accomplishment. I got 40+ scrapbook pages done, as well as a couple of extra projects. I think the most pages was awarded to someone who did 101 pages!! So, a lot was accomplished in 3 short days.


It was kind of different this year - I don't know if it was Matt's illness the week before, or just life catching up with me, but I just didn't have the staying power I usually do. Many times, you'll find Darla and I still up at 4:00 am, and setting our alarms for 7:00 the next morning to wring out as much creative juice as possible during the 3 day stint. This time, I was heading to bed about 10:00, and not setting an alarm at all. It felt great - maybe I didn't feel the pressure to "get my money's worth" - or maybe I just felt my body needed a break - regardless, it was nice to relax, I still got a lot accomplished, and can't wait to do it all again!


Some of the more memorable quotes from the weekend:


Heather - "What do you mean you're having dinner upstairs so you can keep working? You just spent like 7 hours cutting out flowers - if you needed some extra time, I would think you could've cut back on that!!" -in response to Verna ditching us for dinner on Friday night.


Sonia - all I have to say is "ATV Horses"!!


Heather - "Anita, can I get you some coffee while I'm downstairs?" "Anita, would you like some ice for your water - I see Tracy isn't offering to get you any . . ."





Tracy - "You're going down, Heather - paybacks are hell. Just wait for the barrage of comments on your blog . . ."


Julie - "You've never been so Sydney's Creations? You have got to go to Sydney's Creations!" (She was right, BTW)


Darla & Heather - "Alyson & Tiffany - you are going down!! Just cause we're old doesn't mean we can't still whoop your young butts at ping pong!" (Oh, and whip them we did ;-)




Heather - "Darla, you're not going to try on your gift????"


Alyson - "Yeah, he's a schmuck, but I'm thinking maybe I should just hook up with him."


Darla & Heather - "Let's review - he takes out the garbage without being asked, he takes you out to dinner in Coeur d'Alene, he asks if you want to stop at the scrapbook store when you pass one - schmuck or not, grab him while you can!!!"


Cali - "He's just a friend . . . ."



We had such a fabulous weekend. Thanks, Deb & Jane for hosting a fun, fun weekend. I wouldn't miss it for the world. You guys are the bestest.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Hiatus

Okay, the blog will be pretty quiet the next few days, because I am going on a little vacation. I will be going here . . .









To do lots of this . . .






Thanks to these wonderful gals . . .



If you live in the Northwest, or have the blessing of unlimited funds to get yourself to the Northwest, Deb & Jane's scrapbook retreats will be the best time of cuttin', pastin', laughin', eatin', and just plain funnin' you've ever had!

If you don't believe me, I'll regale you with stories of the madness next week. Standby . . .

Monday, November 5, 2007

CBC with a Chem-7, STAT!

When I used to watch the show E.R. pretty regularly, it seemed every patient through the doors needed a CBC, most of them needed the additional, mysterious Chem-7, and all of them needed it STAT! I marvelled at the medical jargon, and left each show with a new vocabulary word for the week.

This weekend, Matt got very sick. We weren't in the ER, but we were in our clinic Friday, Saturday, and Sunday - and I heard the words CBC and Chem-7 - not in conjunction with an abstract patient on a TV show, but about my husband. An entirely different feeling, let me tell you.

Apparently, either a staph or strep infection found it's way into a cut on Matt's hand, and decided to just make itself at home in what is presumed to be a weak spot in his left elbow. Thursday night, his elbow looked like it had a golf ball attached to the end of it, and was feeling kind of warm. Matt spent the evening trying to figure out if he had bonked it or something.

By Friday morning, he wasn't feeling too well, and decided to go in and see the doctor. Since he usually stays at home on Fridays, this meant finding last-minute daycare for Colton (have I mentioned lately that Tina is a saint?), and getting to work late. I will here and now admit that by the time I got to work, I may have uttered a few words about how wimpy guys are when they are sick, about how I still keep the kids at home when I'm sick, and how I couldn't believe we were paying for daycare on a Friday - not that I'm bitter or anything. Anyhow, I completely retracted all such statements later on Friday afternoon--after all the CBC, Chem-7, STAT jargon . . .

Now, back to our regularly scheduled story . . . . Matt called me at work to say he could not drive himself to the doctor, and could I come get him and take him in. Yes, yes, you evil people, I was still saying he was a wimp at this point - don't you think I feel guilty enough???? Anyway, I head home to taxi him into town, and found my poor, usually tough, macho man sicker than I'd ever, ever seen him before - including the great "Red Tide Seafood Incident" of 2000. It was at this point when the guilt from my sarcastic remarks hit me full force, and I turned into "turbo nurse" in less than 60 seconds. I think at that point I looked something like this . . .



We spent the better part of the day in the walk-in clinic, where some very competent nurses administered IV fluids, antibiotics, anti-nausea medicine, and just plain good care - albeit on a 4' medical table meant for 15 minute visits - Matt's 6'3" frame didn't fit too comfortably. When we were finished, it was off to Safeway to fill more antibiotic prescriptions, to the school to pick up the boys, and them home to the couch, with instructions to return in 24 hours for another round.

So, we all trudged through the next few days - monitoring temperatures (which ranged from 97 to 102.8!), pushing fluids, timing antibiotic doses, worrying, coaxing food, quieting boys, worrying, monitoring sleeping, getting little sleep, checking temperatures again, worrying, pushing more fluids, and taxiing to the doctor. By Sunday, I didn't even care to look like the above nurse, I had turned into this one . . .



Alas, on Sunday, I think we turned the corner. He still didn't feel great, but all that medicine was starting to do its job. His appetite was back, and he even changed his clothes to head into the doctor.

For the last 3 visits, he would sit on the bed, freezing as the cold IV made its way into his blood stream, trying unsuccessfully to spread the paper-thin, white, clinic issued blanket in such a way as to actually be conducive to warmth. All the time, his warm, soft blanket was in the car waiting for him. He had said it was hard enough to look tough walking into the clinic with his "puke bowl" each day - he just couldn't see carrying his "wubby" too!!

Well, my mom made Matt his "wubby" earlier this year. She also makes his favorite - Pecan Pie - pretty much every time we come visit. I told him if he was too proud to carry in his love-laden blanket, then I'd tell mom she just didn't need to ever make him anything again, including another pecan pie!

Either the threat worked, or he was just plain tired of shivering all the way through the IV antibiotic treatment, because by Sunday, he left the puke bowl in the car, and brought this in instead . . .


Isn't he cute?? I can say that now - since I know he isn't going to die - and he's still too weak to chase me down and beat me up ;-)

Thank you Lord, for giving us the strength to get through the weekend, for giving the doctors wisdom, and for healing Matt. Thank you friends, for all your prayers. Thank you, Darla, for driving all over the countryside and watching my boys. Thank you, mom, that Matt had a "wubby" to take to the Dr's office! It's been quite a weekend . . .

Friday, November 2, 2007

Favorite Ingredients Friday - Cookie Edition


O'Henry Bars

Terri Crabill


2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup Karo corn syrup
4 cup rolled oats
½ teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons vanilla

Topping:
1 cup chocolate chips
½ cup peanut butter

In a mixing bowl, combine vegetable oil, brown sugar, corn syrup, salt and vanilla. Add rolled oats; mix well. Press oat mixture into a greased 13-in.x 9-in.x 2in. baking dish. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.

For filling, mix chocolate chips and peanut butter in a double boiler. Cook on medium-high heat until mixture is melted. Spread over oat mixture. Cool 10-15 minutes before cutting into bars. Cover and store in the refrigerator.

Yield: about 4 dozen

Head over to Overwhelmed with Joy for more great cookie recipes! Have a great weekend . . .

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Family Resemblance

Colton got to have "Let's Pretend" party at pre-school yesterday. He was so excited to wear his skeleton costume to school, and reminded me about 100 times that I didn't need to pack a snack, because they would have lots of treats at their party.

It was close-out day at work, so I didn't take the time to go in (I know, Darla, I should have gone - but that's another post!), so I was excited to hear how his day went. Matt saw his teacher later in the afternoon, and she relayed this story . . .

All the kids had gotten their picture taken in their costumes, and they worked on an art project to frame them at put them up on the bulletin board. Late in the day, Pam saw him at the board, staring at his picture, very sad and kind of whimpering.

What's wrong, Colton?

It looks like my brother.

But Colton, that's the picture we took just today - see, that's you in your skeleton costume!

I know it's me, but it looks like my brother.




Later, after all of the tricks and treats, we were back home to get settled in for the night. I was unpacking Colton's backpack, and found his cute picture frame.

Great picture, buddy!

Look, mom, it's a magnet - we can put it on the fridge.

That looks so cool!

It looks just like my brothy.

I think it looks just like you - a cutie patootie.

I think it looks just like my brothy, and I would rather look just like me!

I'll let you be the judge - I see many similarities in them, but their personalities are so different, it's not hard for me to tell them apart. They are definitely brothers, but each so unique. Here they both are, each about 4 1/2 when the picture was taken . . .











Wednesday, October 31, 2007

In Which I Grudgingly Admit I Was Born In The Right Era, Cont. . .

"Well," I say slyly, "many of your family members do not have RV's, so I assume those of us that do have RV's will bring them - leaving the cabin beds open, right?"


Lucky for me, that was a correct assumption. We brought the camper. Score 1 for the "Modern Day Pioneer Woman" - portable running water, facilities, and adjustable heat stove and oven ;-) It is at this point that I decide a true Pioneer Woman would have used every advantage possible - I am no worse off by using modern conveniences when I can - she would have if she could have, believe me!


It ended up that three families (us included) spent the weekend. We all brought our RV's (yep, bunch of cheaters, we are!), and socialized and ate together in the cabin - pictured here . . .





I found out (the hard way) that the whole wood cook stove thing is a learned art - one that will take more than a mere weekend for this Pioneer to master. This was our cooking apparatus . . .




These are the things I will admit to specifically about the wood cook stove - I can get a roaring fire going in that tiny, little box. I can boil a mean pot of water for cocoa, etc. I can cook bacon atop the burners of said roaring fire - crisp, crisp bacon. I am humble enough to admit defeat, and offer to take Chris' egg casserole to my temperature-controlled camper oven, so that all campers could have an e-coli free, well-cooked breakfast. While I love the look of the old stove, I'm thinking the following electric option from VanDyke's Restorers is a better option for my skill level . . .



In red, of course!!


We had a most fantastic time - working, playing, and exploring. We had a pumpkin carving contest on Saturday night - here are the entries . . .


It was tons of fun to carve them - Jake found out that he likes pumpkin, and loved being under the table waiting for stray eye and nose cut-outs to make their way down.

Yeah, you read right - it was Jake's inaugural camping trip. And he did great! He's shaping up to be a pretty darn good pup. I'm sure there's an update post on his ever growing frame coming up in the near future.

To sum it all up - I love the old, Pioneery kind of stuff. As long as I have my bathroom, thermostat controlled oven, and a heater to plug in that doesn't necessarily require midnight fire-stoking adventures. The cabin holds so many memories for Matt, which he is passing down to our boys - and this makes me love the place even more.

Maybe after next year's trip, I'll be able to report near expert skills on that wood cook stove, and, like Matt's granny, be able to say I baked a cake in that oven! But, don't count on it - if you want to hear of feats such as this, you'll probably have to read it from the real Pioneer Woman!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

In Which I Grudgingly Admit I Was Born In The Right Era . .

For the past few months, I have been secretly, and sometimes not so secretly, coveting the life of a certain Pioneer Woman. I don't know what combination of her skills has intrigued me so, but her blog hits on so many of my basic likes, I find myself at one of her sites almost daily - she is a terrific writer, loves to take photographs, she cooks, she lives on a really cool cattle ranch (in which I find the farmhouse and the views much more appealing than the actual working of cattle), and she can write a romance novel as well as Nora Roberts!

So, for the past quarter-of-a-year, my family has heard the mantra - When the kids don't want to work: You know, Pioneer Woman's kids have to get up at 4:30 every morning to work cattle - even the little ones!; When I'm behind on the laundry - Pioneer Woman is getting a whole new laundry room to deal with all the laundry she has to do!; When I'm trying something new for dinner - Well, Pioneer Woman says this is Marlboro Man's favorite sandwich, so I thought we'd try it, too!; When Chance wants to drive the car by himself - Well, Pioneer Woman lets her girls, who are the same age, drive F250's with loaded hay trailers in the back, so surely it won't hurt to let Chance drive to the mailbox . . .

You get the picture.

Finally, Matt had had enough. "Who is this Pioneer Woman, and why is she invading my household? Although we live pretty well in the middle of nowhere, we do not run a cattle ranch, we do not haul trailers full of 1-ton rolls of hay, and although I liked the sandwich, can't we name it something other than another guy's favorite sandwich? Actually, here's the deal. You think you want to be a Pioneer Woman? Let's test that out . . . . Last weekend of October, we will head to the family's cabin in the mountains - hours (or minutes) from civilization, no running water, wood fireplace for heat, and wood stove for cooking - we'll see how you do as a 'Pioneer Woman' "

Tune in tomorrow to see how I fared . . .

Friday, October 26, 2007

Favorite Ingredients Friday - Apple Dumplings



This one is a fall favorite in my family - I don't make it near as well as my mom, but it's always good! Sometimes, when I'm feeling extra lazy, I substitute Pillsbury Crescent rolls for the dough portion, and just roll the apples up in that - still turns out excellent!




Apple Dumplings

Sauce
2 c Sugar
2 c Water
¼ c Margarine
¼ t Nutmeg
¼ t Cinnamon

Mix together and boil 5 minutes.

Dough
¾ c Shortening
2 c Flour
½ t Salt
2 t Baking powder
2/3 c Milk

Cut shortening into flour, salt, & baking powder. Add milk. Roll out to ¼ in. thick.

Filling
4-5 Apples
Cinnamon
¼ c Sugar

Peel & grate apples—spread over top of dough. Sprinkle with cinnamon & sugar. Roll up like cinnamon rolls. Cut & lay flat in 13 x 9. Pour sauce over top. Bake at 425 for 35 minutes.
Head over to Overwhelmed With Joy for more Friday recipes!