Butter a Cracker, Make a Memory

"Just butter the crackers, Lizz."

That is what I've told myself this week as I've been tempted to get overwhelmed at all I want to do before Christmas morning.

You see, my grandma almost always served butter with crackers as an appetizer. She isn't much of a cook. I love her dearly and say that with a heart full of love.

Despite her culinary challenges, my grandma and grandpa's house was always open to us. I don't remember what she served for dinner. I have no idea how much of it was from scratch or how much of it was simply heated and tossed onto her own dish to make it look homemade. I don't recall what else was served as an appetizer besides the old standby of butter and crackers.

It doesn't matter.

My children likely won't remember (or even know this year for that matter) if the cupcakes to celebrate Jesus' birthday were made from scratch of if I bought them at the Target bakery. They won't remember if we had homemade cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning or a quick breakfast of waffles and scrambled eggs.

Will they recall if the packages were perfectly wrapped with tidy little bows?

I doubt it.

Yet, will they remember the time we spend together playing games, baking cookies, and visiting the most festive parts of the city?

I dare say they will.

So, if in order to make Christ-centered family memories , I have to serve butter on crackers, so be it.

If my children feel half as loved in my house as I felt in my grandma and grandpa's, I'll say our Christmas was merry indeed.


Inquiring Minds Want to Know

Since I have visions of sugar plums, (whatever those are), as well as a to-do list dancing through my head, I thought I join in on the fun of a Christmas Survey that has been circulating.

In fact, I've lost count of how many times I've received this little survey via email. I've noticed it posted on blogs and was even tagged on Facebook with it. So...

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both. I'm starting a new tradition this year with my two oldest children. We went to the store and they each picked out a roll of wrapping paper. Their gifts will be wrapped in the wrapping paper they chose.
2. Real tree or artificial? Artificial. Is there any other kind when you have young children?
3. When do you put up the tree? Sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas. (Usually closer to Thanksgiving)
4. When do you take the tree down? Sometime between Christmas and New Year's.
5. Do you like eggnog? Occasionally.
6. Favorite gift received as a child? A My Child doll. She had a blue dress and that is about all I remember.
7. Hardest person to buy for? Most of the males in my family.
8. Easiest person(s) to buy for? Ann because if it is adorned with a princess, she likes it.
9. Do you have a nativity scene? We have one and it is the Fisher Price one. I'd like to add to it.
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail.
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Decline to answer because it was given by someone who may read this. (Ditto to my friend's answer here.)
12. Favorite Christmas movie? Elf
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? It varies.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yup.
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Nothing in particular.
16. Lights on the tree? White.
17. Favorite Christmas song? Holy Night.
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? We do both during the season.
19. Can you name all Santa's reindeer? Um, I sometimes get my kids' birthdays mixed up.
20. Angel or Star? Star
21. Open presents Christmas Eve or in the Morning? Christmas morning. However, we do open up new jammies on Christmas Eve.
22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? The unrealistic expectations I put on myself followed closely by my kids' constant sugar high.
23. Favorite ornament? This year it would have to be the ornament with Tony's picture when he was 4, Ann's current age.
24. Favorite Christmas dinner? Anything involving shrimp.
25. Favorite Christmas Tradition: Advent Calenders. I have 4 different ways we're counting down to Christmas this year.
26. What do you want for Christmas this year? A watch and a date with hubby.
27. Who is the most likely to respond to this? I don't want to put that kind of pressure on anyone. :)
28. Who is least likely to respond? Well, if I was emailing this, I'd have to say my brother.
29. What does Christmas mean to you? It is Jesus' birthday. I can't think of anything better to celebrate than God sending His Son to save us!


A Christmas Open House (Sort Of)

Welcome. Come on in. The halls are as decked as they are going to get.

I'm a little late to Boo Mama's Christmas Tour of Homes, but hey, better late than never.

So, please do come in. Would you like some sugar cookies? Oh wait, the kids and hubby ate those. What's that? You didn't want any anyways. Good deal,I'll just get you some coffee and Peppermint Mocha creamer. Feel free to bring it with you as we take our little tour.

You've already seen the wreath on my front door. It isn't fancy, but it is the first wreath I've ever had. I bought it the first Christmas my husband and I celebrated as husband and wife. This is the fourth home it has hung in seven years of marriage.

Did you notice the bells hanging near the door? There is no rhyme or reason to them other than they match the house. They are probably meant to hang over a door knob, but I like them where they are so there they stay.

As you came in the house, you probably noticed the tree to the left. We decorated it with the help of three children four and under. Can you tell?

We always used to have a real tree. Then we had children. We purchased the cheapest artificial tree we could find. Sometimes I wish we had a fancier tree. However, I do think it will be interesting to see how long this 40-dollar beauty lasts. This is its fifth Christmas.

I keep things pretty simple around here, so we don't have much more to see. Would you like more coffee first?

Next is the mantel (obviously). I put up some garland. I bought it last year from my beloved Tar-jay. It was already decorated. All I added were the gold berries. I keep thinking I'll add lights as well. Maybe next year.

The stockings are almost hung. We need to add one more hook since our youngest was born after last Christmas. I can't bring myself to hang only four stockings, so they sit waiting.

Here is a blurry close-up. The striped stockings belong to my husband and me. The floral and brown ones were made by my step mom and belong to my oldest daughter and my son respectively. The pink felt one is simply a placeholder until the baby's homemade stocking arrives. Rumor has it that the stocking is already made. It may even be in the mail. Thanks Grandma C.!

Our nativity (sitting on the hearth) is of the Fisher-Price variety. All three of the children enjoy playing with it. Baby Jesus is hiding in a basket in the kitchen until Christmas morning.

The only other Christmas decoration we have is this Snowman night light. We only have one, so it is hanging out in the kitchen. The kids enjoy turning him on and watching the bubbles.

Oh wait, there is one more thing. I did a little decorating this afternoon. I put a strand of berries on the light hanging over the kitchen table. I'm hoping this can be a year-long decoration because I'm really starting to like it.

Okay, that's it. Feel free to stay as long as you'd like. We love company. Please be sure to leave a comment so I can come visit your place. Also, don't forget to stop by Boo Mama's to find the list of other Christmas Tour of Homes participants.

Merry Christmas!



The Christmas tree lights cast a lovely glow as my husband plays Christmas music on his piano. The baby is playing quietly by his feet. The older children are in bed. I'm in awe.

Five years ago today, I didn't know if I'd be able to have one baby, much less three. That day, my first pregnancy ended in miscarriage. My heart broke that morning.

Meanwhile, my heart still breaks. It breaks every time I hear of a woman who lost her baby before she had a chance to meet her little one. It is for those women that I pray today. If you happen to read this post, would you mind stopping and doing the same?


Do They Stay or Do They Go? (A Couch Makeover)

There is a scene in the movie Along Came Polly where Ben Stiller's character begins to take a knife to all of the throw pillows on his bed. My husband and I frequently joke about that scene.

You see, I wouldn't mind a bed adorned with decorative pillows. My husband is an engineer. His motto is "function over form." Need I say more?

He is very gracious to let me have my way with most of the house, but I do believe too many pillows on the bed would be crossing the line. Enter the couch.
For the last two years, it has been sporting some plain old cream pillows that I got for under 10 dollars total. They have served their purpose, but they are blah. (They are also filthy.) See for yourself.

So, today as I meandered my way through Walmart, I found myself in one of the home decor aisles. Okay, I walked there on purpose, but whatever. My couch now looks much better, don't you think?

Isn't it amazing what a simple thing like pillows can do for making a room cozier?
Did you notice the tags are still on the pillows? That is because I'm having a hard time justifying buying new pillows. I wouldn't exactly classify them as a need. Not to mention that it is the season of giving, and I'm pretty sure that doesn't mean giving to oneself.
Besides that, my husband is still an engineer.


It's Cold Outside!

So, since it is cold outside, we have been trying to keep busy inside. This time of year makes it easy to find fun things to do in the kitchen. Baking cookies is always a hit with my crew.

Though technically, they are interested in all aspects of cooking baking except the actual baking part. Waiting 10 minutes seems excruciatingly long if you are a preschooler.

Their favorite part of making cookies is decorating them. I'm pretty sure this is because they like to lick the frosting off of their hands. Still, they like to make their cookies as festive as possible.

Thanks to my aunt, I now have new way to let my kids frost their cookies. Instead of a knife, I'll be letting them use a decent size paint brush. The stiff bristles are perfect for "painting" the cookies. I tested this tip on my two-year-old and it worked like a charm. He was able to more evenly spread the frosting as we made our first Gingerbread Tree.

Now, if only they made frosting that tasted awful while you decorated the cookie and then reverted back to its sugary goodness once mommy stashed the cookies in a hard-to-reach place, cookie baking would be a frequent activity at my house.

I can only handle so many days of being cooped up with children who've ingested too much frosting!

For more tips, please visit Rocks in My Dryer.


The One Where I Get Deeply Cheesy

I'm already a week overdue on writing Baby Jane's 10-Month Letter. However, I'm guessing only my mom and possibly my husband eagerly wait for those, so it is still on hold.

As I contemplate that post in my head, I have to laugh. Every single time, and I do mean every single time I reflect on Jane's babyhood, I hear a little soundtrack. (And I do understand if you write me off as crazy and stop reading right now.) I always think of the song "You are My Sunshine." It is cheesy, I know. I can't help it.

The other thing that I always think about is my guilt. I sometimes have guilt over enjoying Jane's first year so very much. I don't love her any more than my other children, still I feel guilty admitting that I've enjoyed this year so much.

I know part of it is that I'm at ease with being a mom of little babies. I mean I've practically been that for four years straight. But, the other thing is that Jane is the most easygoing baby I've ever met. Sure, she is getting to be more of a handful now that she moves and gets into every. single. thing. Yet, all things considered, she is much easier to care for than Ann and Chris were at this age.

There, I've said it. I do feel a bit better about being honest. No one ever told me about the guilt of having an easy baby. Moms frequently see me with just Jane and comment about how their babies would never sit and do such and such. I never know how to respond without feeling like I've been a bit disrespectful to my other children. I mean, saying "I've paid my dues," doesn't seem right.

Besides, high maintenance babies don't mean those same children won't turn out to be lovely. They are simply babies who cry a lot. We mamas don't love them any less.

Perhaps it can all be summed up by what my grandma used to say. She sometimes said that "she loved us, but she didn't always have to like us."

I don't always have to like the stages my children are at, but I will always, always love them. Who knows, Jane might be a bit of a challenge as a toddler. I reserve the right not to like that, but I will love her. I might even kiss her while I put her in time-out.

This motherhood business is a tricky thing.

Now that I've written this scattered excuse for a post, maybe I can write guilt-free about my days enjoying Jane's first year. After all, there are less than two months until she turns one. I won't get started on that. I'm tempted to boycott her first birthday party because I'm in denial that my baby could be so old so soon.

I do believe that is enough rambling for one day, don't you think?


I Think the Pictures Say it All

In other words, we had a crazy but fun time making gingerbread cookies today.


Waiting For a Moment

I keep waiting for the perfect moment to sit down and blog a bit. Throughout the day, I think of things to write. I know I have pictures to share and I'm due to write my baby girl's ten-month post. However, that moment hasn't arrived yet.

Perhaps it is because, in my mind, the perfect blogging moment is a clean and quite house. I see myself with a hot cup of coffee or cocoa in my hand as I leisurely write a few posts and read some of my favorite blogs. Um, yeah.

So, I'm settling for lukewarm coffee and a slightly messy house. The kids are happy and we've had a good day. Now that I think about it, it may just be the perfect moment.

As I sat down to write, I realized that it has been a year since I started blogging. So, I have a favor to ask. If you read this blog at all (and I know some of you who do) would you please kindly leave a comment. I'd love it. And little brother, I'm also talking to you. I love getting your comments. They truly make me smile.

And now, I leave you with the first post I wrote. I originally posted it on December 1, 2007. That was before I even let my mom know about my blog.

I thought I'd start out by explaining my blog title.You see, as a mom of a three-year-old girl and an 19-month-old boy, I'm usually quite busy. Add to that the fact that I'm sporting a pregnant belly and you'll be able to imagine that I can make quite the entrance into a public place.Usually, I'm holding a preschooler by the hand and clutching a squirming toddler on my hip. I'm also desperately wishing I had a free hand to put my maternity pants back in place.

Once we reach our designated spot, which is more often than not a super center of sorts, the fun begins.

First, I wrestle the toddler into a cart or stroller and work to convince the preschooler that staying with me is a good idea. You can probably guess how the rest of the trip goes.

Usually both the children do great, but even so, rarely does an outing go by that someone doesn't make a comment.

First, the person typically glances at my obviously pregnant belly, then at my two children, and finally says something like, "my, you have your hands full."Yes, I certainly do, but you see along with full hands is a very full and blessed heart.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

As I reread this, I realized that some things haven't changed. People still tell me my hands are full and I still wouldn't have it any other way.