Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cold hands, warm heart

Last Saturday we had a miserably cold, freezing day outside at a Christmas market. We took the train to Deidesheim with friends and had crying children within minutes of exiting the warmth of the train. Despite the bundling and layer upon layer of clothes, the 5 degree weather got the best of us. I won't go into the gory details, but it wasn't pretty. Out of the seven kids between our two families, these two (the youngest ones) were the toughest ones. Here they are recovering at home once a few million layers were removed. She is 9 months older than him. They have both learned to say each others names now. So cute!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Left Overs

I love left over turkey! I love making dishes with it, especially soup. This Christmas, I made some soup with the first of the left over turkey. I added my creamy potato casserole to make the soup a little creamy. This year I tried something else with rest of the turkey, the extra unbaked pie crust, and the left over sweet potato casserole. I used the pie crust for the dough to make some sweet potato and some turkey empanadas. The girls loved them, but Isac was less than impressed. I made some queso for dipping, but only Genna and I (the big dippers of the family) used it.

So I was just wondering what you make with the Christmas left overs?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Our Jesse Tree Swap

This is a little late in coming since the Jesse Tree is already finished this year, but I waited so I could get some pictures of the ornaments on the tree for this post. I chose some of my favorites for pictures, but I had trouble getting good photographs of some of them. The first ornament here is one of the two that I made for day 19. The brick wall is to the wall of Jerusalem to represent the returning to Jerusalem. Here are the scriptures for this ornament.

Nehemiah 1:3; 2:18; 6:15-16
And they said to me, “The survivors there in the province who
escaped exile are in great trouble and shame; the wall of
Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.”
And I told them of the hand of my God which had been upon me
for good, and also of the words which the king had spoken to me.
And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened
their hands for the good work.

So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul,
in fifty-two days. And when all our enemies heard of it, all the
nations round about us were afraid and fell greatly in their own
esteem; for they perceived that this work had been accomplished
with the help of our God.
Revelation 21:10-14
And in the Spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain,
and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of
heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most
rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall,
with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the
gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were
inscribed; on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the
south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of
the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of
the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

In case some of you have never heard of a Jesse Tree, let me begin again by explaining a little of the background of the Jesse Tree. Originally, the Jesse Tree was represented in Catholic Churches as early as the 11th century. It was a sort of family tree (Jesus' family tree) represented in art in the actual church, not at homes. It traced the royal lineage of Christ back to Jesse, father of David. Typically, it started with Jesse at the bottom of the picture/painting and had a tree sprouting up above him with many pictures of Jesse's descendants (the number varied, but some larger works of art could include all 43 generations) leading up to Mary and then Jesus at the top. Nowadays, many Catholics have a version of this in their homes during Advent to teach children the lineage, prophesies, and Biblical history leading up to the birth of Christ. The ornaments hung on this kind of tree are not pictures of people, as they used to be, but symbols of the people, stories, and prophesies. For example, an apple represents the fall of man or a sling shot represents David and Goliath. There are slightly different versions of this with different stories emphasized over others, but all lead the children from the creation to the birth of Jesus. You add a new ornament with a reading from the Bible about that ornament each day of Advent. Some start on Dec 1st instead of the first day of Advent.

Last year I cut out pictures and hung them on the tree with ribbon, but I wanted a nicer collection of ornaments for our Jesse Tree...something that would get the kids more excited. I should mention I got this idea of the ornament swap from the article in Faith and Family. I co-lead a Catholic Mom group locally and thought I would try to see if we could gather enough commitment to do this swap . Since our group isn't quite big enough, we decided to try to combine with the other Catholic groups in our community. I was able to get MCCW and the Catholic homeschooling group to join in this search. And after a few of us doubled up on ornaments we had our very own Jesse Tree swap going. It was much easier to manage than I anticipated, and I was overwhelmed by the faithfulness of all the moms who made their ornaments on time and got them to the official swap meeting. Now we all have complete sets of ornaments for our Jesse Tree. My kids really enjoyed doing it this year. I am so thrilled to be able to teach them Jesus' ancestry in such a fun and historic way.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

More Alpine pictures

Here are a few pictures that my husband felt needed to be shared as well.

Our Hotel

Our Vacation

We went up to Garmisch again for 4 days before Christmas. It is in the Alpine mountains and there was even more snow than we left behind at home. We had wonderful family time and picked extraordinary restaurants. My favorite place had pumpkin seed crusted schnitzel and pumpkin seed pesto spaghetti. Yum! I can't wait to try to replicate them!

Oberammergau is a 15 minute drive from Garmisch and is the home of the Passion Play. This town is known for the beautiful murals on the sides of buildings. They have millions of shops with wood carvings ranging from Nativity scenes to the Lord's Supper to individual statues. So beautiful! We will be going back in the Spring and purchasing a few things for sure.

We changed hotels for the last night to a hotel up on a mountain in which the only way to reach the hotel is by cable car. This is not my style, being afraid of heights and all, but my sweet husband was so excited about it that I agreed to give it a shot. I closed my eyes on the way up taking a few peeks. On the way down, I was a bit braver looking out the back window. This is a huge improvement for me. I very clearly have a memory of getting on the skyline at Disney and trying to convince the guy running the ride that the people taking me on the ride were not my parents and were kidnapping me. I was 7 years old and I was holding onto the sides of the door making a loud and embarrassing scene. I lost that battle and so clung to the floor of the cable car without moving until it was over. I also have many other memories of trying to overcome my fear of heights and failing. Another one that sticks out in my mind is standing on the high dive at camp with the life guard blocking my way down the ladder while all my friends chanted Chicken over and over. I usually won those battles by waiting them out. This cable car was much much higher by thousands of feet! When Brian asked Hannah what she thought of it, my little clone responded with trepidation in her voice, "What if it breaks and we fall all the way down there?" That's my girl! To her credit she didn't complain or cry, just wondered about the whole falling thing.
Here's the cable car...

Here we go down...

The kids inside the hotel...

At dinner in the hotel, I taught Hannah how to sew with her plastic needle and plastic grid. She's a natural!

Brian and Genna played a game with the coasters. I don't think Brian really understood the made up game, but Genna didn't notice.

Here's the frozen Gorge below the hotel.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Baking

On the day before Christmas we woke up and got straight to making candy. All three of us girls still in our jammies made peppermint bark, truffles, and honey florentine. We made a package of them up for our neighbor/landlord. Then we took the rest to our potluck after Mass. As you can see, they thoroughly enjoyed this. Genna's mouth just cracks me up!

Isaac felt left out, so he got to pretend bake with us. He even learned how to climb up and stand on a chair from this experience by copying the girls. It would have happened sooner or later, I guess.

This was definitely his favorite part though...

Look at that tongue!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Eve and Morning

Christmas Eve Mass
We had a lovely Christmas Eve Mass with a potluck following. We tried after Mass to get a new picture in the pew of the kids, but, alas, Isaac did not share our desire. So here's what we got before we gave up...our beautiful girls minus their handsome brother.

Christmas Morning
The kids sort of slept in this morning. Isaac did his usual early wake up, but went back to sleep on daddy until 7:30 and the girls and I slept until 8pm. Amazing Christmas present for me, right? Genna got dressed in her Christmas Eve dress before she even came down stairs. When I asked her why she changed already she just said, "I was so 'cited to wear my pretty dress again!" (I had told them the night before that they could wear whatever they wanted to on Christmas Day. Hannah came up with a very interesting ensemble that completely did not match.) We first put baby Jesus in the manger and then the kids were anxious to open the gifts that overnight appeared under the tree, not from Santa, but from me (the mom afraid to risk Isaac opening them early). Here they are all lined up in a row to open their first gift which happened to be from Aunt Leah and Uncle Kent.

Daddy got them all backpacks.

Isaac did pretty well opening his own gifts, a big difference from his first birthday. He got a recorder from his Mimi and Papa Boat. He's been blowing on it a lot. Thanks, by the way, Mom and Dad for that (ahem) noisy gift! ;)

Here they are with their quilts...

Isaac loves "bootball."

(I love that my bundles of joy are all tucked safely in the quilts that I made them out of love as I write this.)

We had some wonderful faithful friends over to celebrate Jesus' birthday later on. I made a turkey, sweet potatoes, hash-brown casserole, cranberry orange dressing, and a bourbon pecan tart drizzled with dark chocolate. We sang Happy Birthday to Jesus, and Hannah said that was the highlight of her day. Genna's high was the brownies and ice cream that our friends brought over. You win some, you lose some, right? :)

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Purification of Barbie (and my quilts!)

I know. I know. You say it can't be done. But I am going to try my hardest. I loved Barbie when I was young. As I grew up and had girls of my own, I couldn't wait for them to be old enough to get my very special Barbie dolls that I had saved so many years ago. Then the time came, and I got them out of the attic at my parents house. I looked at them and didn't see the same toy I once saw. I saw an unnaturally beautiful doll with immodest clothes. I was heartbroken to think my girls would be denied these hand-me-down dolls that I saved so many years ago. So I had a mission to make these dolls holy. I sorted through the clothes and threw out all immodest clothing, keeping mostly the ball gowns and handmade clothes my mom had purchased from a friend. Then I went to the store and realized that they pretty much don't make modest clothing anymore for Barbie, if they ever did. I made a new plan, and that plan was to make my own clothes for them...

I am no expert seamstress, I assure you. Plus, I was in a hurry with this particular batch to get them accomplished (as well as their quilts and bows) before Christmas. Upon close inspection you would see the flaws. But these are kids who don't know any better and, hopefully, will appreciate the gift since their mommy made it. I had no pattern just a website with a pattern for a full sized Jedi costume that I used for inspiration. The nun costume turned out shorter than I had planned (I had wanted it to hit the floor,) and the head piece is just a rectangle with a white band of fabric and some Velcro sewed onto it. The night gowns were made in similar fashion, and I added embroidery around the collar and the girls initials on the front (can't be seen in my pitiful photos.) Then I made matching pillows with ribbon sewed onto the edges. I also made a tutu which is not shown.

I know I can not fix the unrealistic proportions of the dolls, the tattooed makeup, etc., etc., etc. But I sincerely hope this helps to at least convey the modesty and holy living that I want the girls to learn. I have lots more clothes planned (like a monk outfit for Ken doll,) but this is all I completed in time for Christmas because of...

Hannah's quilt
I made this from handkerchiefs in her favorite colors. It is much bigger than the other two and was quite a bit easier.

Genna's quilt
I made this one from a kit, and only slightly adapted it when I messed up a couple of squares. She is my princess pink girl and will love this.

Isaac's quilt
I made his from a kit as well. But there was a mistake in the kit and there was not enough of the backing fabric, so I had to go fabric hunting in my generous friend and neighbor's super amazing sewing room to come up with a matching rust colored fabric. It matches the helmets perfectly.

All in all, I am pleased with the facts that they look pretty good and that I actually started and finished these in one week while still being a mom everyday. Still don't know how that happened. Partly due to my recently returned husband, and in part because Isaac had a miraculous string of days that week where he napped longer than usual. The photos I took of the hair bows did not come out well, so I will take pictures of them when they are being worn since they will be cuter that way anyway.