Sunday, December 30, 2012

Alabama Christmas...

We packed our bags, loaded up the car, and embarked on a long drive December 20 that ended around 2 am December 21 when we finally reached our destination.  My sister's house.  It was well worth the drive from our small Ohio farm to her home in Alabama.

Two words.  No.  Snow. 

It was awesome.

When we had finally made that crossing after seemingly hours of never ending driving from Tennessee into Alabama, I cried.  I was tossed into a tempest of emotion that I can't fully put into words.  
I got my wish.  Christmas.  With my sister.  
There was of course other family, my step mom, whom I've always referred to as "Mama", her boyfriend, my brother in law, my sister in law, and all of our children.  Eleven of the 14 grands to be exact. 
That's a lot of kids!!

The end of our visit, and prepping to come home, was bittersweet.  We both knew we'd had our visit out, and were both ready for a bit of normal, but we also knew our leaving marked the beginning of an unknown length of time until the next visit.
We didn't squander our time together.  We cooked, we cleaned, we chased kids, we shopped, we exchanged gifts, memories, we laughed, we cried, and we said our goodbyes, promising eachother and ourselves that it would not be another 10 years.
More posts of our Alabama Christmas to come. 
Happy New Year!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Infernal Icicles

I will get straight to the point - I loathe tinsel.   I do not find it pretty.  Not.  At.  All.

I find it to be messy, annoying, and it irritates the dickens out of me to be picking up those infernal strands of shiney silver slivers (say that three times fast - I dare you) when it's Fourth of July.

Those lethal silver shards of metallic plastic haven't been in my house for years.  Until this year.   Now that retro classic of Christmases past graces my tree....and I'm cringing everytime I look at my disco ball wannabe of a tree.  *shudders*

It's my friend D's fault. All.  Her.  Fault.

It started with the delivery of cookies and pies.  To D's house.  We sat down to a friendly and lively chat over coffee....and the youngest of the littles discovered the icicles hanging from the pine branches draped down D's stair railing. 

I'm convinced it was a conspiracy. 

So while D and my sweet husband raved on about how great that crinkly crap is, Squeakers was walking around, draping the pieces that had been knocked to the floor onto the pine branches where she thought they should be.

And loving it.

Thus ended the Tinsel Drought.   

This morning, my husband talked me into picking up tinsel.   He then said in his cute-I'm-talking-to-the-baby voice "tell mommy you want tinself" to Squeakers.  Sink me.   That man just knows how to melt my heart. Every.  Time.

It also helped their mission that tinsel was on sale. For 50 cents.  They got 2 packs.  Two packs of 2000 silvery shards that I will be picking up until next Halloween.  Craptastic. 

But I must admit, she was absolutely adorable and it kept both her and our youngest son occupied for HOURS.  Tinsel may have just found a way to redeem itself.....

I might be convinced to buy extra packages to put back for next year. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Last night we sat in a school auditorium to watch and listen with great pride as our eldest child played her trumpet in the Concert Band Christmas program.   So blessed, we were, to be able to sit there and celebrate, enjoy, and marvel over our child and the talent she displays. 

How blessed we are.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

What I believe happened in Heaven yesterday....

The messenger approached the Father, in reverent adoration.  "Father, they will be arriving soon."
"Yes," replied Father. "Please tell Son I'd like Him to meet them, bring them to the Great Hall.  I want the milk and honey on tap."

"Yes, of course, but Sir," the messenger glanced in direction of the gate. "Your Son is already there, waiting."

Father lifted His gaze toward the pearly gate, glistening, and there indeed was His Son, waiting.  "Very good.  I should have known He would be waiting, without haste. I will see you in the Great Hall?"  It was more a statement than a question.  The messenger nodded his agreement as he watched Father prepare to open The Book.  The messenger slipped out towards the Pearly Gate, just as trumpets began to sound, one at first, then another and another, and soon the entire Heavens were filled with the crescendo of a hundred thousands trumpets, announcing the arrival. 
The Son stopped His pacing before the gate, and turned just as it began to open.  An Angel stepped through, nodded, and moved to the right.  Behind him, eighteen small children walked in a single file line, awe filling their faces.

The Son dropped to one knee, spread open His arms, and simply said "Come."  The children didn't hesitate, they broke their formed line and ran to The One who offered comfort.  The Son wrapped His arms around as many of the children as He could, angels pressed in around them, finishing the circle. 

"Welcome, Dear Ones." Tears glistened in the Son's eyes, but His smile beamed at the children. "We have been expecting you.  My Father has prepared a great feast in your honor, so let us go and find your seat at the banquet table."

"Will our parents be there?" a small voice asked.  

The Son pulled the small child to Him. "I am sorry, not yet.  Your parents are still on the Earth, for their work there is not done. We have sent the very best of our Comforting Angels to help them, to be with them, and guard them.  Do not fret, Little Ones, we have not forgotten those still on Earth."  He smiled again, and looked around the group of little ones. "I do believe your teacher will be there."  Smiles lit up their faces, and excited chatter passed through the group.  "Come, let us go see."

They began their walk toward the door of the Great Hall, the messenger led the way, while the Son walked admist the children, smiling and chattering with them. 

Suddenly the Heaven's shook.  Thunder rumbled, lightening flashed in the Great Sky, and a booming voice filled the Heaven's as judgement was pronounced. 

"What was that?"  The children asked. 

The Son looked at them, a grave expression on his face, and He replied, "Judgement, for the one who brought you here. Come, we will think of him no longer. Let us continue to our feast." 

They had just made it to the door, when the trumpets began again.  The Son lifted His gaze to the messenger, who shook his head.  

"Children, continue on, I will be there in just a bit."  He ushered the children toward the door, and motioned the Angels to settle them at the Banquet Table.  

He rushed back to the gate, as two more children were escorted through the Gates.  He wept as He again dropped to His knee and swept the two children into His arms. 

"You are safe, Little Ones, safe. "  He smiled into their sweet little faces. "No one will ever hurt you again. Come, while it is a grievous event that brings you to us, we must celebrate your arrival.  Precious Children, come."

He stood and took them both by the hand, leading them to the Great Hall, where the other children waited.  

Soon they were all settled into their seats, and The Father joined them.  Suddenly, the Hall filled with a chorus of Angels.   They broke into song, singing first "Jesus Loves the Little Children" quickly followed by "This Little Light of Mine" and others.   

Moses entered the Hall, saw the sight before him, and wept with joy. "Welcome, welcome dear children!" 

Other inhabitants of Heaven began to pour into the hall, welcoming the children, hugging them, kissing them, assuring them that they were forever safe, and no one would ever harm them again.  After the greetings, a prayer of Thanksgiving and Rejoicing was said to the Father, and the Great Feast Began. 

The table was laden with every food imagineable, and every child's favorite dish was served as well.  It was a time of Great Celebrating, and all traces of tears and sadness were wiped away.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Random stuff

I picked up cranberries today.  Not to cook, not for any kind of edible dish, but to string. With popcorn.  Originally I thought we'd hang our string of popcorn and cranberries outside on a tree. To feed the birds.  I think we're going to hang it as a garland on our tree in the house instead.

I got a few more gifts wrapped today.

Want to know how to upset a four year old?  Tell him he can't watch you wrap presents.  Instant melt down.

This is the box I chose to wrap my Secret Santa gift in. I am mailing it out tomorrow, and I hope the mom I'm sending it to enjoys what's inside!

This girl has had way too much fun playing with ribbons and bows on the presents I wrapped.
For dinner I made homemade panini's. I don't like mine cut in half, and we use provolone instead of mozzerella.  It's nom nom nom.
The kids are now settling down for the night. Count down to vacation has begun, and I'm not entirely sure who's more excited, the kids or me?
Earlier today a local Amish friend was up to put his horses in our pasture.  They're logging across the road from us (which DH says will mess up the hunting for next weekend) and needed a place for their horses to stay close by the next 2 weeks.  They've offered to bring enough hay to feed our animals as well as his horses as payment for allowing his horses to stay here.   DH agreed, so they're here.  HUGE draft horses.  The one named Barney has hooves as big as my head!!
Thankfully, they should only be here a week or so, so it's all good.
Just a few more gifts to wrap and the work bench for the boys to finish, and then we're ready for Christmas!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Lazy Day

Today we had a lazy Sunday.  It was great not having to bake, unless I wanted to, or have to load up in the car and go somewhere.

I wrapped a few presents.

I love this Cinderella wrap!

I also played with my Jacquie Lawson Alpine Advent Calendar that my friend Becca sent me.  It's sits on my desktop in the form of a snow globe, and then opens up as a beautiful village, complete with my own cottage with a tree in the window.  I have even hung stockings on the mantel with all of my children's names on them.  It's a lovely little advent calendar and I've enjoyed it tremendously!

The youngest little is still mesmerized by our tree. Notice the haphazardly placed candy cane ink pen?  uh, yea.

I was very happy to pick this up last night.

I traded three dozen cookies for it.  I'm not kidding.  It's like the deal of my year, and I plan to create the rest of her play kitchen to match it.  We picked her up a Disney Princess tea set to go with this.  We'll give it a fresh coat of white paint, and I'll probably replace the two doors with a homemade curtain.

We finished our weekend off with dinner, after which we watched a Christmas movie. Then it was baths, jammies, and bed for the Littles.

Hope everyone had a good weekend.
Tomorrow it's back to business as usual.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Long Week..

I would have to be honest and say, I am so glad this week is coming to a close.   It has been a long, long week.

Not only did I have several cookie orders, that made for several long days of baking, but we have had a week of ups and downs.  One of the biggest downs, my little yappy dog wandered into the road and sadly, hit by a car.  She couldn't be fixed, so we had to put her down.

One of the best ups was getting a fantabulous deal on tires for our car. Whoohoo!!

Snowman Sugar Cookie Cutout I decorated.
 I delivered cookie orders last night and today.  This evening we attended the 80th birthday party of a dear friend of ours.

The highlight of the day, a package arrived from our friend in Indiana at Heavens Door Acres.  The kids insisted that we place the gifts under our tree and take a picture before they ripped everything open.

This Mama has had a long week.   I hope the rest of you have had a good one!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Birthday

This morning we overslept.  The sun was already creeping up in the day, and my husband and I were disapointed that we have over slept.  We had planned to get up early and tromp to the back of our property.

I was going deer hunting for my birthday. 

The view over the back hill is beautiful.

Didn't make it completely to our spot, when an 8 point buck jumped up and bolted.   Three shots fired, three shots missed, but I was still thrilled to have seen him!   I did get some other "shots" though.

 This was the carpet under my feet this morning.  It's crunch was terribly delightful.  Sadly, a layer of snow would have been more ideal for silent waltzing up on deer.

This was a small pine that has been scraped up by a buck. Possibly the one that got away this morning, as the scraping was fresh and sap was oozing from this little white pine.

A hoof imprint in the soft soil.  Hard to see in the pic, but there all the same.

I am not even sure what is up with this tree.  My husband calls it the "butt" tree.  Um, okay...
The kids helped me with the usual farm chores and we did a little extra cleaning and laundry.  Then I got all gussied up, because my husband was taking me out to dinner! 
We didn't go far from home, but he had made reservations at a local bar/grill called Ja-Lins. Formerly known as "The Opera House".   We had never been there to eat before, and have lived in the area for years and had never even been inside the Opera House.  Until the Annual Craftshow on small business Saturday. 
Everyone was super nice, and I think every employee there must have come by our table and wished me a happy birthday!  There are two things that I feel made it even more enjoyable:
1.  They were not crowded.
2.  Close enough to home that we weren't out until an ungodly hour.
We started out with drinks, and I had a pina colada while E tried a frozen strawberry margarita. Two sips in, and he traded out the margarita for a rum and coke.

We both decided on their grilled pork chop dinner. He opted for fries, and I opted for onion rings.  They started us with our salads, and brought our appetizers shortly after.

The owner was nice enough to take our picture for us. :) 
Our main course! :)  Usually the meal comes with 2 pork chops, but they only had 3 chops left, so E got 2 and I got one. They discounted my meal as a result. Lucky me! :)
My main course..

E's main course. (notice his rum and coke in the top right? lol)
 The portions were large for the price, and we ended up with a box of leftovers to bring home.  On our way out I snagged a few pics of the interior.  The chandeliers are absolutely what caught my attention.  They were fabulous, and just really dress the place up!

They had a beautiful Christmas tree with a fireplace beyond it, and all of "their stockings were hung by the chimney with care...."

Of course no birthday is complete without cake, so after dinner it was back to home for a triple chocolate decadant cake (from a box mix) with the kids.  And yes, I'm not two, but I wasn't too keen on risking a cake engulfed in flames by putting "enough" candles on the cake LOL.

After cake, I took a nice soak with some calgon and the current book I'm reading. (or is that re-reading?)
Over all it was a fantabulous birthday! I couldn't have asked for a better day.  Ok, there is one thing that could have made it better, but we'll remedy that in a few weeks!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Shopping, Sadness, and Santa ...

I am either really brave or really crazy, but I went to town with all six kids by myself today. Not "town" town, but the little local town that meets enough of my needs in a day that I don't have to drive 45 minutes with six kids in tow.  I had to run errands, and since it's still deer season, I was on my own.

The kids were pretty good. No melt downs, no begging for things, and no asking to go out to eat.  Mom, on the other hand, had a serious melt down. 

At the feedstore.

I am not kidding. Feed prices have gone up AGAIN.  I bought ONE bag of chicken feed and two square bales of hay for $34.  My chin smacked so hard off their counter top, it echoed in the valley.  She handed me my reciept and I exclaimed, "$34 are you freaking kidding me?"  except freaking wasn't my choice of wording at that moment. 

I sucked it up, loaded up, and finished my other stops.   Returned home, unloaded the groceries, and completed the animal chores.  

Then I tromped into the house and made a serious decision to sell off some of those free-loaders out there.  It's always hard, but I crunched the numbers. I can buy eggs from my BFF at $2 a dozen and I would be saving money.  I am not kidding. 

One of my other stops was at the Dollar Store.  I like this store for some things, not so much for other things, but something really interesting happened there today.  I learned that you can now pay for your purchases at DG with paypal.

Yes, that's right, you can pay using your paypal account at your nearest DG store.  How convenient, right? 

Yea, well, it really gave me a moment of pause.  We hear people talking all the time about "one world currency" or how we'll eventually not have "paper money" and everything will be done electronically.  Yet there are people who don't believe it will happen.

Well, paying with paypal at the DG seems like a big step towards "everything electronically" to me!  I'm sure most people are thinking more along the lines of how it will make check out faster, and so much easier now that you can use your paypal account!    Yep, that's exactly how they're suckering everyone into the "electronic" payment system...they dangle words like "speedy checkout" and "easier to pay" and like the sheeple we are we just blindly accept it because we have made everything about our existence to be focused on the fastest means to an end. 

In this case,  less time in the store checkout.  

If it worked, that is.  I must have stood behind the gal infront of me for 30 minutes while they tried to figure out HOW to use the "pay with paypal" button on the debit machine.   The natives were getting restless and I was barely able to keep them chained standing next to my cart.  Finally, they realized she had to "link up" her account from home before she could pay with paypal (omg really?!) and the woman whipped out her debit card as fast as lightening and paid that way. 

My inner grouch was screaming.  My ice cream was melty and on the verge of dripping on the floor. My kids at this point had successfully blocked several customers coming in and going out, plus hit every noise making button on the display of toys at the front of the store.  That will teach them to keep a mom with 6 kids - who were over the shopping and ready to go home and have lunch - waiting.

It was finally my turn, and I was happy to take my time carefully setting my items on the belt in an organized manner as I informed the cashier, "It's on the belt the way I want it bagged."  Yes, I'm that anal.   I then paid with cash and waltzed out to my car in less than half the time the chick who wanted to pay with paypal did. 

So much for quick and simple. ;)

Overall I was pleased at how smoothly the trip into town went. The kids weren't terribly behaved and I was done and home in just under 2 hours.  I think that's a record.

The worst part of our day was saying goodbye to our furry friend of 12 years.  Earnhardt was a Blue Heeler cattle dog.  My husband, who never brings home 4 legged friends, carried him home to me in the crook of his arm as a 6 week old pup.  I was days away from delivering our second child, and it was the day after the Nascar race that claimed the life of Dale Earnhardt Sr.   Hence, we named our new pup Earnhardt.  

Earnhardt has been one of the best dogs ever. He was a guardian, a protector, and my kids loved him.  Tomorrow, we will bury him in the back yard.  Since my husband left before daylight to hit the public hunting grounds, he wasn't here when we found Earnhardt.  I couldn't in good conscience bury our friend without my husband being able to tell him goodbye.

We will not be replacing him. I don't really think there is a dog out there that COULD replace him.

When my husband arrived home after a full day of hunting, we spiffed up the kids (sorta...boys can be quite unspiffy!) and swept them off to Christmas at the Lodge and to meet Santa.  We were one of the first ones there, so we were towards the front of the line for meeting Santa, which was great!  Early enough, we even beat the Big Man himself there!

Fist bumping with the kids waiting in line so they can tell him what they want for Christmas.

Um, yea...this seems about right.  I was disappointed that Squeakers reacted so badly. Until she was actually ON his lap, she was cheerful, happy, and craning her neck around the people in front of us to see him.  Once on his lap, it was like someone flipped a switch.  We even tried it with me holding her and Santa standing, and she still caterwalled!  So, one crying baby, one pouting son, and another with a fat lip from falling off the slide....

 After telling Santa if they had been good or bad (as if any child is going to admit to being bad), they were given a goodie bag of candy, crayons, and activity book and a Ty Beanie Baby. Squeakers was given the pumpkin. She loved him and hugged on him the whole way home.

After their visit with Santa, there was food!  Italian sausages for adults, free will donations.

 For the kids they had free hot dogs, cookies, and hot chocolate.  It was Kid Heaven. 


It was a fun evening and I think a huge success. The kids were trying to decide how Santa got there, since his reindeer were no where in sight. 

My favorite picture of Squeakers from today, snapped while everyone was getting ready to go...

Yep, she is already a "reader". My little book worm!  :)