Got Butter?

This picture cracks me up!  Paula Deen would be proud.

J was in charge of distributing the butter for dipping crab legs at our Christmas Eve feast.  This is what happens when I let him loose with 2 cups of it…

Continuing the Christmas Recap

Hello, folks!  I’ve returned to the land of the living after getting slammed by a nasty stomach bug.  Cutie Pie got it too.  We were waylaid for a day and a half then the weekend hit…  We’ve been doing all sorts of fun things from a nighttime bon fire to a day’s worth of beach fishing.  Because what else are we going to do with all this freakishly warm weather we’re experiencing?!  I finally managed to run the boys out of here so I could clean and thought I’d catch up on my blog while my floors are drying from a much needed mopping.

Back to the Christmas recap!

Right!  So, the boys each had classroom Christmas parties on their last day of school before winter break.  Both parties were pajama-day events laden with sugary treats and fun games.

We hosted our annual dinner party with our friends on the Thursday evening before Christmas.  Big Red and his kids, B and her family and our across-the-street neighbors joined us for some good cheer and good food.

The children exchanged Christmas presents and wouldn’t you know it…  Big Red bought our kids and B’s kids whistles…  For some reason, J found the shrill, ear-splitting whistling uncontrollably funny.  I’ve hardly ever seen him laugh so hard.

 

We hosted a Christmas Eve dinner of crab legs and ginormous shrimp for our family before heading to candlelight service at Nana and Papa’s church (the church where J and I got married).

After church the boy’s slipped into their pajamas then headed outside to spread a little reindeer food on the lawn.  Then they came back inside to prepare a plate cookies and a glass of egg nog (with nutmeg, of course) for Santa.  There were carrots for the reindeer too.  It was hard to get them to finally go to bed for the night but somehow we managed!

Now, you’re not going to believe this after my two-post holiday season recap, but I did not take a single photo on Christmas Day!  Unbelievable…  It was a day filled with family, friends, good food and presents.

(Insert Norman Rockwell scene here)  🙂

Um, Merry Christmas?

I really have no excuse for why I’ve been an absentee blogger except to say that the holidays did, in fact, swallow me whole and just now spit me out the other side…  Do you feel that way?  We had some kind of craziness or activity every single day leading up to Christmas.  All good things but all serious time drains.  I’ve got a ridiculous amount of photos to share that I will now dump into this post.  I want to end this year by remembering all of the amazing things we did this holiday season yet I know this isn’t the most appropriate way to present this information.  But what am I gonna do?  I simply ran out of time to post each story individually…  Perhaps things will be better in 2012 in terms of blogging consistently?  Well, better in terms of everything would be really nice too.

Let’s see, I left off blogging on December 13th…  What happened next?  Oh, yes!  Our city’s annual Santa-on-the-fire-truck tradition.  He came zooming by our house at 9:30 PM on December 15th.  We’d been hearing him since 6:30 pm and had waited outside pretty much the entire time.  At 9 PM, I finally had the kids get into bed thinking he was not coming down our street after all.  Then the music and sirens got louder and louder.  The boys shot out of bed just in time to see Santa go speeding by our house!

I also invited Cutie Pie’s preschool class over for lunch during the last week of school before winter break.  We had a yummy assortment of preschool-friendly foods with plenty of pizza, salad and sangria for the moms 🙂  Then the kids camped out in front of the television to watch the new Ice Age Christmas movie on DVD.

Cutie Pie’s preschool Christmas program was on Friday, December 16th.  It struck me while sitting in the audience surrounded by all of the loving friends and family that this will be our last Christmas program at the preschool…  Cutie Pie will be entering Kindergarten in the fall and Eastminster will become a distant memory for him.  Bittersweet, indeed.  And see that little girl with the white fur trimmed dress in the first picture?  Her mom informed me that their entire family will be moving to Shanghai with her husband’s work in March.  It’s an exciting adventure for them but it will be so sad to see them go.  Wildman was in the three’s class with her middle son and Cutie Pie is now in VPK with her youngest daughter.  It’s funny how lives overlap and you get used to seeing the same familiar faces everyday and then one day they’re gone for whatever reason.  You realize how much you enjoyed their company over the years.

Saturday, December 17th brought the Satellite Beach Boat Parade!  It was our first time participating.  We were so excited to be a part of this cool Florida Christmas tradition!  We left the dock with Big Red, his kids and our across-the-street neighbors at 5 PM.  The parade began at the north entrance to the Grand Canal at 6 PM.  The weather could not have been more perfect- clear with wonderfully mild temperatures.

On Saturday night, after the boat parade, we quickly changed into our best vintage polyester and headed over to our friends’ Disco Funk Christmas Party!  What a crazy fun evening!

The Sunday before Christmas brought sugar cookie decorating with the cousins and breakfast for dinner!

We delivered Christmas goodies to the neighbors and hosted a little family party for Wildman’s 7th birthday on Monday, December 19th.  He insisted on an Angry Birds cake from Publix and was thrilled with all of his amazing gifts including a sweet child-size kayak from J and I.

On December 20th, we hosted a little beach bonfire for Wildman’s classmates to celebrate the last day of school before winter break and also roast s’mores in honor of Wildman’s birthday.

This post has grown much too long!  Looks like I will have to break it up into two.  Stay tuned!

A Surprise

It’s not secret that my dad and I don’t have a relationship.  So, it came as quite a surprise when a huge package arrived from him on our doorstep last week.  I know he’s trying to reach out to his grand kids and I’m trying to keep an open mind.  It really was a thoughtful gift considering model trains are his hobby.  The boys were over the moon to receive a train for around our Christmas tree.

I’ve always wanted one too.

Advent Calendar Activities

This is the first year that I’ve put together a list of advent activities to help the kids count down to Christmas.  We’re about halfway in and I’m loving how this list has helped us slow down to truly enjoy this magical season.

So, here’s my list.  I left the numbers jumbled up so the kids can make a game of finding our next activity.  I had grand plans of placing the activities into some kind of advent calendar but I simply ran out of time.  Maybe next year I’ll make something like this.  Until then, a plain printed list will have to do.

13- Watch a Christmas movie as a family

22- Drive around to look at lights

5- Make hot chocolate

25- Light a fire in the firepit

4- Listen to Christmas music during dinner

9- Make our own ornaments

6- Wildman’s School Program!

8- Christmas paint by number kit

22- Have Christmas dinner party with friends

1- Put Christmas Lego set together

21- Decorate cookies

19- Take treats to neighbors

23-Walk Verbenia Ct.

16- Cutie Pie’s School Program!

7- Write a letter to Santa

15- Watch Santa come by on fire truck!

24- Have Yaya, Nana, Papa and Uncle Chris over, sprinkle Reindeer food on lawn

18- Make fudge with mom

11- Family game night

17-Participate in the holiday boat parade

10- Buy a gift for someone in need

20- Read a Christmas book

2- Go in the hot tub

3- Plant Poinsettas in front flower bed

12- Make candy cane reindeer

I snapped a few photos of the boys (and J) working on their Christmas paint-by-numbers:

Christmas Goody Bags for Preschool

I put together these Rudolph-themed goody bags for Cutie Pie’s class.  The antler headbands are from the $1 bin at JoAnn Fabrics.  B and I whipped up the reindeer treats in the test tubes for our craft fair in November.  We had a few left over so they were added to the goody bag as well.  The bag toppers were from Hobby Lobby and are leftovers from last year’s projects.  I found the big jingle bells to tie on the top at the dollar store.  Not too shabby for a relatively inexpensive gift for preschoolers.

Here is the poem that I printed to go with the Magic Reindeer Food:

Homemade Vanilla

Because I loved and completely used up the homemade vanilla from Bethany, I decided to follow her instructions for how to make my own.  What an awesome little gift for people!

I ordered 25 Tahitian vanilla beans from a supplier on ebay.  The 4 oz. bottles came from here.  The vodka was a 1.75L bottle from ABC.  I’m pretty sure the brand doesn’t make much of a difference.  In fact, you can make vanilla extract with other liquors like rum but vodka is the preferred alcohol because of its neutral flavor.

I used two beans per jar.  I cut them lengthwise then crosswise and stuffed the eight pieces into the Boston round bottles.

Cutie Pie lent a hand pouring 1/2 cup of vodka into each bottle.

We capped the bottles right away and put them in a dark place to steep.  Ideally, they should steep for at least 2 months so I put that on the labels that I placed on the jars- “Best when used after 2/3/2012”.

You can use amber bottles to protect your vanilla extract from degradation from UV light.  I figured this stuff is going to be stored in a cabinet so UV exposure is not really a big deal.

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