Guess who is turning one....

At this time one year ago, we were about to be blessed with our sweet Jacob. It’s hard to believe that 12 months have passed since that night. We are extremely lucky to have our little boy in our lives. He is so full of joy, so inquisitive, and so loving. My heart is filled to overflowing. Happy Birthday, dear Jacob!


Merry Christmas!

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

~Luke 2:10-14~


'Twas the Night Before Christmas

*Anna reading Doug's childhood book "'Twas the Night Before Christmas"*

Santa  called this evening much to the girls' delight.  He told them he was getting ready to leave the North Pole and wanted to make sure they had some cookies and milk waiting.  Anna asked him if he would like cheese with his cookies, how old he was, and if he was fat.  Lauren had figured out how to access the Guitar Hero 2 tutorial and agreed to pause it only long enough to talk to Santa.  I think she felt she needed to get a good word in for herself since she told Anna the other day she was pretty sure she was on the naughty list.  She told Doug she was worried she might get a lump of "cold" (as Lauren calls it).  So, we rolled out our cookie dough and decorated just enough cookies for the jolly old elf.  We'll bake the rest tomorrow.  Speaking of tomorrow, I got most of my cooking for tomorrow done today.  Again, Jacob was super helpful.  This is what my floor looked like by the time I finished my baking. 

I kept foiling his cooking attempts so he moved on to the tree and decimated a few ornaments.

I finally incarcerated him just long enough to finish things up....much to his dismay. 

After all, he was just trying to help.  He couldn't believe the injustice of it all.
Mean old mommy.  If he could just get to the phone to call Santa, Mommy would be the one gettin' the lump of "cold" this Christmas.  Hmmpf.


Let's Talk Gingerbread

Remember this?

This was last year.  See how idyllic, serene, and full of Christmas spirit it all appears to be??  Well, apparently, it was a fluke.  I think I may be experiencing gingerbread rage, similar to road rage but with sugar, frosting, and gumdrops.

Last year after a failed attempt at making gingerbread house ornaments for my tree, I  finally gave up the notion of baking my own gingerbread houses for the kids to decorate and purchased a pre-made kit.  I really must have lucked out and bought the all-time best pre-baked kit for novices....ever.  It was so easy and fun...last year.

It was so much fun in fact I thought we would do it twice in 2009.  I picked up some Halloween gingerbread house kits for us to decorate back in October.  It was a disaster.  The frosting wouldn't stick and parts kept breaking off the gingerbread panels.  We chunked it all in the garbage and I vowed to not buy that brand again at Christmas time.  So, I did a special search and brought home what I thought was the same kit as last year's.  It turns out I bought the exact stupid kit I had purchased for Halloween but now it was dressed up for Christmas.  I decided I probably hadn't taken my time back in October and headed into this thinking, "If I just go step by step, I can do it....no problem."  That's what I thought.   Tyler and Doug headed to the mountains to snowboard today and the girls were bummed about staying here at the house.  I offered the gingerbread kit as a diversion and had them both sit down at the table to get ready to decorate.  It was then I realized that the geniuses at Wilton apparently believe we have countless hours to spare on gingerbread insanity.  They wanted me to frost one section and let it dry 1 hour....followed by the second section and another hour of drying....followed by the roof and 2-3 hours of drying.  I backed the girls off and started mixing the frosting.  At Halloween, it wouldn't stick and so the directions said to add a tbs. of powdered sugar if it was too thin.  After 6 tbs of sugar, it was better but still not thick enough (I later learned). 

I spent a ton of time standing there waiting for one wall and the front of the house to stick together.  They would not.  I finally gave up and decided to hot glue the SOB (Seriously Obtuse Baked product).  It worked wonders and in a matter of minutes, not hours, the girls were happily decorating, except for the fact that the #$@%^ frosting wouldn't get hard and all of the gumdrops and candies kept sliding down the house, and roof, and doors, and windows.

We finally finished and the girls had fun.  That's what really matters.  However, next year, I will not purchase a Wilton kit.  They're on my naughty list...perhaps I'll send a lump of coal their way.

Where, you may ask, was Jacob during this time?  Well, my friends, he was helping in his own special way.  He climbed under the Christmas tree, chewed on Grandma's present, and then ripped and ate part of the paper from Tyler's gift.  He then emptied the cabinet of all its pots and pans and attempted to do the same to the kitchen garbage can but was derailed when he shut his fingers in the cabinet door.  He decided he was having more luck at the tree and so motored back over to pull down a few ornaments prior to attempting to eat some fake snow from the gingerbread house yard.  Like I said, very helpful. :)

Having said all of this, I do make a mean gingerbread cookie....but apparently, that's about it. :)  Have a happy day.



So many projects, so little time...  Here are a few of the items on my workshop table...ahem... (dining room table).

Grandma, the kids, the dog, and I are all sick.  Doug is the only one left standing at this point in the game.  Grandma Ruth actually went into the hospital on Monday as she was feeling so ill.  The doctor told us he felt it was just the flu and dehydration.  Yesterday they "quarantined" her because they received a positive H1N1 test result.  Doug had to wear a virtual space suit to see her last night.  As of today, apparently the prognosis has changed and they now say she does not have H1N1.  She is feeling very tired and I'm sure anxious to get home.  Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.  It just doesn't feel like Christmas around here without Grandma.


The Singing Christmas Tree

For the past few years, we've taken the kids to see "The Nutcracker". This year we thought we would try something a bit different. So, last night we drove to Sacramento to see "The Singing Christmas Tree". We really had a good time. The singing and the costumes were amazing. The girls particularly enjoyed the parts when the actors ran through the audience and the angels danced in the aisles. Jacob watched a little but he was much more interested in emptying the contents of the diaper bag. He pulled each toy out and flung it as far as he could causing the folks in front of us and behind us to gather our bits and pieces to return to us. Afterwards we headed to our favorite Turkish restaurant, The Anatolian Table. Their food is out of this world. We're always there at either lunchtime or for an early dinner. Last night we sat down around 7 pm and were surpised to see a belly dancer begin her act. She was fantastic and Anna decided she wanted to be her (she also wanted to be the angel at the top of the tree at the performance). Lauren stuck money in her belt. And Jacob? He was mezmerized by the jingling of her belt. It began with a stare, then he started to point, and by the end he was swaying in his high chair. It was a good evening!


Our Little Wallflower

Our sweet Anna is so shy. She doesn't make friends easily and she never has much to say. You put her on stage and she just shuts down...no charisma, no flair, no color. Yeah...right! Take a look for yourself.



Our Christmas card picture--the story

This card was totally inspired by the crazy talented Chea Lamb of Chea Lamb photography in Arizona. She did it first and she did it best. I saw the idea last year and fell in love with it. I had completely forgotten about it until I came across Jacob's outfit. The outfit and the idea just seemed to go together. It was then that the insanity started. I went on a search for the girls' outfits, a Model A, and a chicken.

The girls' outfits were easy. The Model A and a chicken were a different story. I started by looking on flickr and the web for abandoned cars in fields in the area. I found something in Bodie, CA but couldn't convince Doug to drive 4.5 hours to get there. I attempted to make contact with a few folks on craigslist that were selling old Model A's but received no response. I began to give up hope that I would find one and so I screwed up my courage to ask permission to photograph the kids in front of an old patchwork barn I had seen near our home. There were "No Trespassing" signs everywhere and a long winding road to the home where I would need to ask permission. I telephoned Doug to let him know where I would be as I kept envisioning scenes from Cujo and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It didn't make me feel any better that as I neared the home there were signs that read, "Beware of the Dog" and "If you can read this, you're in range." As it turned out, the family living there were super friendly and agreed to let us come out and take a photograph that weekend.

Of course, immediately after this I made contact with a friendly gentleman that had not only one 1929 Model A but two and he was willing to let me use them but he wasn't available until the following Monday. As I had just purchased a chicken from a farm in Loomis (off of Craigslist) that very day, I was concerned about what to do with said chicken in the interim. In the end, we just took the picture at the patchwork barn. I decided that I couldn't handle two occasions of photographing three kids and a chicken so we didn't drive out for the shot with the Model A. It also worked out that the owner of the patchwork barn already had a flock of chickens and was happy to welcome another one. The kids had already named our little hen "Cabby Woodstocka" and were sad to see her go but I was relieved to have found a good home for her. Sometimes I get so caught up in the idea of my photo, that I forget important things such as "what do you do with the chicken after the picture is done??". A funny side note is that I later found out Doug's mom thought we had purchased the chicken for Thanksgiving dinner. Later in the day when she realized the chicken was no longer in our garage, she assumed we started to feel sorry for her and gave her away.

There were a lot of funny moments during the afternoon photography insanity. Jacob wouldn't stop eating the apples. Everyone's hats kept falling off. The chicken wouldn't pose properly. All three children would never look at the camera at the same time and if they did, one would have a crazy look on their face. It was cold and Anna kept making a break for the truck. The owner's herd of cattle came over and stood in a line watching us. The kids were so busy looking and moo'ing at them, I couldn't get their attention back. In the end, it was a miracle I got anything at all.

So, without further ado, here is a look at a few of the 200+ pictures I took to try and get 1 decent shot of my three kids with a chicken and a basket of apples.


Times Are Hard...

Wishing you this holiday season an apple in every tree....

And a chicken in every pot!

Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

Come back tomorrow for our Christmas picture story and outtakes! 
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