We had a lovely Christmas. We always let the kids dig into their stockings before we get up. It helps to hold them over. This year, I added an electronic thesaurus to their stockings. They have been wanting one since watching Mr. Pudewa with IEW. I thought it would be a nice investment. One was free with the Swagbucks I saved, so that helped.
Daddy read us the Christmas story from Luke and we gave thanks for our gifts and many other blessings he has given us throughout the year.
Donnie likes comic books like his daddy, but I don't care for them. I make sure his are geared towards kids and doesn't have any bad language or scantily dressed women. I got him a few Spiderman comics and the Good and Evil Bible comic by No Greater Joy. The Good and Evil book was actually drawn by a Marvel artist, so that made it even better. I have been eying it for a while, so when they had it for 50% off, I snagged it.
MaryEllen is into fantasy right now. We dug out our Chronicles of Narnia series that was in her Aunt's attic last month and for Christmas, I got her the Peleg Chronicles. Little did I know that she was looking at these in a catalog as something she would like to read.
Daddy got us all mp3 players! Donnie and mine are the same (the one on the right) and MaryEllen got a smaller version, but it holds more. This is SO great because now I can listen to my sermons while I iron and I don't have to worry about bothering the kids while they are trying to study. I know a lot of times, the radio is a distraction for them and I try to put it as low as possible so that I can still hear it. It is hard in the summer with the air conditioner running (window unit) or the dishwasher. So, this is a wonderful gift. The kids can now listen to their music and books on tape too.
We got MaryEllen some carving tools since she has shown an interest in wood carving. I don't know anything about carving, so I think this book will be great for beginning and the tools too. We need to still purchase some safety gloves.
I think Donnie, if cultivated, could become a photographer one of these days. If not for profession, than for a hobby. He enjoys taking pictures and fiddling with the different setting on my camera, so I got him his own. Actually, I found the one I gave him in my closet many months ago. I was tempted to open and use it, but I didn't see the need since I already have a camera and thought it would be a good gift. Well, when Christmas was upon us and I was thinking of gifts, I remembered it...perfect. It also does video, which he enjoys too.
MaryEllen got me a Nancy Drew mystery game. I have enjoyed Nancy Drew games for about ten years now. I am now on #26, Tomb of the Lost Queen, which is the one she gifted me. Usually these are gifts from Don every Christmas, so I was surprised to get if from MaryEllen. Don did get me some other PC Games, puzzle type games, the ones I enjoy. I don't spend a lot of time playing games, but I do enjoy one now and then. I do include the kids with Nancy Drew because they enjoy sleuthing too.
Donnie got Don a movie, Total Recall. Don had this one on his wish list, so it was a nice surprise for him.
Later, we decorated the popcorn balls Auntie Reff sent us. It was interesting. You wouldn't think it would be hard, but I guess I have no imagination. lol! Here are a few the kids decorated.
Don grilled us steaks for dinner and I made some asparagus and ramen noodles. We didn't feel like the turkey thing this year. We ate our popcorn balls for desert.
Earlier this week, I did try my hand at eggnog. It came out pretty good. I do want to try a few more recipes to see which we prefer. I even found a vegan eggnog that I want to try. I haven't made the fudge yet. When I went to the supermarket, I forgot to get chocolate chips and I bought sweet milk instead of evaporated. Oh well, maybe later.
We had a peaceful time together and finished off the day by watching The Nativity and some of The Gospel of John, finishing it the next day. The Gospel of John is acted word for word, it is pretty neat.
I don't usually post many picture of myself, especially in my pajamas, but here is one of me and Don. The kids didn't want me to post any pictures of them. So, maybe if I post more of me, they will be more willing.
Aren't those bunnies cute? MaryEllen drew them for me. She even colored them using Photoshop Elements.
CHRISTMAS IS COSTLY
It cost Mary and Joseph the comforts of home during a long period of exile in Egypt to protect the little Babe.
It cost mothers in and around Bethlehem the massacre of their babies by the cruel order of Herod.
It cost the shepherds the complacency of their shepherd lives with the call to the manger and to tell the good news.
It cost the wise men a long journey and expensive gifts and changed lives.
It cost the early apostles and the early church persecution and sometimes death.
It cost missionaries of the Christ untold suffering and privation to spread the good news.
It cost Christian martyrs in all ages their lives for Christ’s sake.
More than all this, it cost God the Father His own Son—He sent Him to the earth to save men.
It cost Jesus a life of sacrifice and service, a death cruel and unmatched in history.
Amongst the hustle and bustle, may we meditate, not only on the baby in the manger, but of what that birth really meant and still means today. Jesus came to die, isn't that amazing? It sometimes is too much for my little brain to register, but I am glad and forever thankful he did.
This month has been pretty mellow as far as school goes. We basically have been doing Bible, math and reading. I began reading [amazon_link id="161293112X" target="_blank" ]A Christmas Carol[/amazon_link] with the kids. We are just about finished. I have always wanted to read it, but never have. It is pleasantly enjoyable.
We also watched some Christmas classic cartoons. When the kids were small, we had a VHS of The Stingiest Man in Town, based on A Christmas Carol. It was my favorite to watch with the kids. I searched, but only found it available on a [amazon_link id="B001H9N1AO" target="_blank" ]Classic Christmas pack[/amazon_link]. So, I bought it and the kids and I have enjoyed watching these old time cartoons. This week, we will watch [amazon_link id="B003UORGGE" target="_blank" ]The Nativity[/amazon_link].
Baking has gone slow this month, with chocolate chips and sugar cookies. MaryEllen made the sugar cookies and Donnie joined in with the decorating. We left some for the mailman along with his Christmas card. He is such a great mailman, always has a smile for us.
This week I am going to try my hand at fudge and eggnog. Can you believe I have never made either before. Today I made peppermint bark. It came out good. I think I made it too thick because it was hard to break. Next time I will make it a tad thinner. It made a lot, so I think I will surprise the mailman with another goodie tomorrow.
I wasn't sure how fine to chop the candy canes. I did the Ziploc method with my rolling pin. Some pieces seemed to stay big and others were turning into powder. This recipe didn't call for peppermint extract, but I think I will add some next time. MaryEllen, who likes peppermint, thought it needed more of the peppermint taste. I did too. The chocolate was over powering.
I was late with getting our Christmas cards, but they are sent now. We were late with starting our Advent reading, but I am not stressing over it. We are just reading and enjoying.
Christmas will be just us this year. We will be celebrating our Savior's birth on Christmas Eve because Don works on Christmas Day. The kids like that because usually we celebrate AFTER Christmas, this year we will celebrate before. We plan on decorating popcorn balls, a gift sent by their Auntie Reff. This will be a fun family time and we get to eat our creations. Thanks Auntie Reff!
Valentine's Day in our home is basically another excuse to indulge on sweets...chocolate being the main indulgent. Don and Donnie went out one day last week, and unbeknownst to me, got gobs of candy that they so sweetly arranged in a heart shaped basket. They surprised MaryEllen and myself on Valentine's Day morning. MaryEllen's has the white roses for purity and mine are red for love.
Although I loved the gesture, in the back of my mind I was thinking, 'Oh my!' I tried not to show it on my face as I accepted the gift. I am thinking of burying all the candy under my bed where it will be a pain to get to if the urge for junk arises. Now, none of this would be going through my mind if it were just a box of chocolates, but these baskets were full and there is still more that did not fit in the baskets.
The kids and I didn't bake sugar cookies because we got hooked on pound cake. I made four loaves in the past week! And to top it off, I even baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies. WHAT WAS I THINKING!! I am still trying to figure that one out.
We did go out to eat as a family since Don was off from work and he so kindly suggested I not cook that day.
We ended the evening by running some errands before going home and watching an episode of Emily of New Moon before going to bed.
Valentine's Day is around the corner. Although not an official holiday, many like to make it a special day. I enjoy making a batch of sugar cookies, heart shaped of course, and frosting them in Valentine's Day colors. The kids also enjoy a small box of chocolates from Target or Walmart.
Using a little imagination, you can make your Valentine's day a little more fun and a lot less expensive. If you want to add a little personalized romance or if you don't have the time or money to buy all the pre-made things in the store, here are some ideas to help you make the day special.
For The Kids:
My mom always made a great but inexpensive Valentine's Day treat for us. She would take construction paper and cut a big heart out of it. (About 8x10 inches). She would staple the edges together and write our names and an I love you on the outside. Then she would fill the heart with candy, purchased on clearance after Christmas. It was very inexpensive but we loved it!
Have a Valentine's Day treasure hunt. Leave little notes around with the last one leading back to the kitchen table with a heart full of candy.
Leave sticks of red gum in their Valentine's Day cards.
For The Lunches
Make heart shaped Valentine's cookies. Cut the kids (or hubby's) sandwiches with a heart shaped cookie cutter. Add a few Valentine's chocolates and put a note in red with a big heart on their napkin.
Serve anything red for the day. Serve red Jello, red pudding, red apples, toast with strawberry jelly, tomato soup, red applesauce, red Kool-aid, strawberry milk, or red frosted cookies. Use powered food coloring from the cake store to get the deepest shade of red. Serving all red things at a meal will really have wow factor even if it is something as inexpensive as red jello and tomato soup.
Make red heart shaped cupcakes. Make cupcakes as usual but place a marble down the side of the muffin tin between the muffin tin and each cupcake cup. This will make heart shaped cupcakes.
Make hearts out of chocolate chips in each of your pancakes.
Things To Do With Or For Your Honey
Mail your pre-addressed and stamped Valentines to Loveland, Colorado and they will postmark them and mail them for you. Send them to: Postmaster, Valentine Re-mailing, 446 E. 29th St., Loveland, CO 80538
Make a treasure hunt for your spouse. Start by mailing or e-mailing him the first clue. Then leave clues all over the house, yard, car or his office telling him where to find the next clue. End the hunt by making a picnic in the back yard or going to a park for a picnic. Use your imagination and have fun. The simple things are the ones people remember.
Go to a bookstore together and enjoy the silence and browse. Get a cup of coffee and make a date of it.
Celebrate Valentine's Day AFTER Valentine's day. Everything is half off.
Mail a love letter to your hubby's work.
Send your spouse a sexy email message.
Leave "Why I love you" message all over the house. Buy a package of the cheap Valentines. Leave a message on each one and hide them all over the house for your honey. They will get to enjoy the gift for months!
Use lipstick to make hearts and love notes on the rear view mirror, car windows, bathroom mirror or windows of the house. Leave a kiss on his napkin for lunch or dinner.
Make a bunch of hearts out of construction paper. Put a love note on each one. Paste them all over the front door or car before your hubby or kids come home from work.
If you don't have money to go out, have a picnic on the floor. Use some candles and lay a soft blanket on the floor. Put on some soft music and have a romantic Valentine's dinner on the floor. Use some white Christmas lights for additional romantic lighting!
Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the authors of the Dining On A Dime Cookbook. Dining On A Dime will help you save money on groceries and get out of debt, by cooking quick and simple homemade meals. For free tips & recipes visit http://www.LivingOnADime.com