Monday, January 31, 2011

Today is Trusting

Today is the 1 year anniversary of this blog. I was hoping to write what I’ve learned so far about my life in blog land, but that’s not going to happen today.

Today there are other things more weighty on my heart. Today there are tears of sorrow. Today there is wrestling with what is The truth and returning to that over and over. Today there is standing firm because God said to. Today there is trusting.

I’m just going to throw out the verses that God keeps bringing to my mind, my heart to heal, to comfort, to know.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5,6

“Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel. In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed.” Psalm 22: 4,5

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities- his eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Romans 1:20

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26

“For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh.” Philippians 3: 3

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6: 10, 12

“I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go.” Genesis 28:15



Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Best Gig

So you’ve been reading over the past year about my nieces and nephews and the crazy fun we have together. I won’t recount them to you, but if you look over on the right and click the we are family tag, you can get all caught up on how much I love ‘em.

I think being an aunt is the best gig. Of course, I haven’t been a grandma yet (and I’ll patiently wait) and from what I can observe from the grandmas in my life, I’ll be just as nuts, psycho, overjoyed as they were. But I’m an aunt and that’s pretty awesome.

And guess what? I’M GONG TO BE AN AUNT AGAIN!!!!


My sister, Beth!!! In August!!!

So now this post will be in two parts: 1) How, I, the older sister, knew my sister was pregnant before she told me (thus making me the all-knowing older sister) and 2) How this pertains to this blog (beyond because it’s mine and my life).

This is how I knew Beth was pregnant before she told me.

Back in December, I asked Beth a question and she gave a weird answer. Then I asked her if she was pregnant and she answered “I don’t know”.  An older sister never forgets odd answers and though I never pursued it further, I kept that tucked away for later. (You never know when you will need to use that kind of stuff.)

A few weeks back, Beth mentioned that some kind of food just sounded so yummy (filing away more weird info).

THEN, three weeks ago, Luke and I stopped unexpectedly at her house to hang out for a while. We weren’t hardly even out of the car when Beth pops her head out the front door and declares she and the girls are leaving. She has a doctor’s appointment and we have to leave. SLAM! Uh, ok. C’mon sisters. Your sister tells you all her doctor’s appointments from the miniscule “I took the kids into the doctor because they weren’t fighting with each other and I was pretty sure they had a virus” all the way up to “the female issues” and everything in between. If your sister said she had a doctor’s appointment and then was not forthcoming with the reason, you would assume the exact same thing, wouldn’t you? I thought so. I went home that night and told Bill I thought Beth was pregnant.

Then nothing. Silence. You don’t really press.

But I couldn’t stand it. So last Monday, Beth, Jess and I took all the kids sledding and while we were standing around, I looked at her directly and ask her if she had any news to tell us. “No. Well, I guess Winston did get promoted at work.” Me- “Really? That’s all? Nothing else?” Her- “No”. Me- “Okay. Fine.” I mean that’s great and all, Winston, congratulations, but that’s not what I was hoping to hear. I let it go (on the outside!). You know how you have to be careful around these things.

Last week, Beth calls to say she and the girls are coming down for a while and she’s stopping by DQ, do I want anything. Me (feigning non-interest)- “Oh, just get a chocolate cone for Luke, nothing for me.” La de dah, skippity dee. I totally know she’s pregnant! She’s just got to be! Who else craves ice cream at 11:30 am?!! Who else craves it above all else- purposely going out of their way to get it?!

Well, Chiara and Ariana got to break the news to me. Mostly Ariana because Chiara was having a hard time remembering what the “present” was (she started with chocolate ice cream and that she’s got teeth; 2 1/2 year olds are adorable). I jumped up and down. I screamed! I jumped up and down and danced around. The girls thought Aunt Minny was funny!

I was right! I was right! I text Bill and he said “You nailed that one.” Oh, who cares about Beth now. It’s all about how me, the older sister, was right!!! Yay, I’m going to be an aunt again!

How this pertains to the blog.

The other day Beth and I were having lunch together and she told me that they were asking Chiara what was in Mommy’s tummy. Chiara’s answer was a giraffe. Babies in mommies tummies are the farthest thing from a 2 1/2 year old’s mind, especially one who is fascinated with having teeth and others having teeth. I laughed, saying Beth has to write these things down. Then, in yet another moment of being the ever great older sister, said that I would write them down; that I would blog about that cute little snippet. Instantly I realized I MUST blog about Beth’s new baby!

I have yet to come up with an appropriate tag label so you can follow along, so for now it will just go under the we are family category. I’ll take suggestions though. It’s going to be fun! 


Monday, January 24, 2011

S’mores Quesadillas

It was cousin day here again this Friday. I didn’t have time to go all out this time around. The kids played with Hot Wheels tracks and marble runs. But I did manage to have a fun snack. I found this snack while staying at my sister-in-law’s, Tia, mom’s house last Christmas. Follow that? I snatched it from a barbeque cookbook Rosalie had on her shelf. I don’t remember the name of the cookbook or the author. The recipe name is also mis-leading.

This is confusing. Let’s get on to the fun snack.

Smores Ingredients

See the ingredients? Honey teddy grahams, chocolate bars, mini mallows and flour tortillas.

Heat a tortilla in a pan, adding the chocolate first, then mallows, then the grahams. When the chocolate has started to melt and the mallows start getting puffy and soft, fold the top over. That’s it!

In the Pan

You could use one tortilla and place the ingredients only on one side and fold over. Or you could use two tortillas and add a top but then you would have to flip it over to heat the second tortilla. I think flipping tortillas is a messy, complicated job, so I opted for the first version.

On the Board

Cora helped me make them. What do you think, Cora?

Smore Cora

Your thoughts, Gavin?

Smore Gavin

Yep. Yummy.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

More Organization

While I was taking pictures of the cabinets, I decided to take pictures of my kitchen drawers.

Utensil Drawer

Silverware Drawer

Bill’s cabinet clients come to our home for the design process and our cabinets are his models. Bill consistently hears comments about how organized my cabinets are. So here’s how I do it.

I went through one drawer at a time and pulled everything out (and cleaned the crumbs out, too). Then I really evaluated exactly what I used. If I used it all the time, I kept it. If I only used in once in a while, I put that in a different pile to decide on later. If I never used it, I got rid of it. A sample of what I got rid of: spatulas of various sizes and flexibilities that I NEVER used. I have been cooking and baking for Bill and I for almost 16 years. I know what I use! So, toss it.- it’s not worth the space and ease of accessibility.

I have really big drawers and I don’t like it when things slide around (no matter what the drawer size). I had seen these great drawer organizers in Target (kitchen section). I liked the fact that 1) they were stylish (not white plastic), 2) they were big for those large utensils 3) they had various sizes to be consistent in the whole kitchen. So I just purchased a bunch and got to it.

This is all I have! I don’t have another box or drawer or any other place holding my kitchen stuff. Strike that- I do have a utensil container holding my most used spatulas and wooden spoons and a knife block, both on the counter and I have another drawer with some miscellaneous items such as my rolling pin and kitchen scale.

How this really works for me is that I don’t like a lot of gadgets in my kitchen. I don’t have a garlic press or a quick chop Pampered Chef thing because if I’m chopping garlic, chances are I’m chopping something else that neither of those two items can do. I have a knife and a cutting board. This system also helps the kids (and Bill) find and put away things more easily.

In the “junk drawer” I don’t have junk. Those two round containers are from World Market and hold rubber bands and paper clips. Nothing else gets put in there. Pens and pencils are on the counter in something else. But again, all the pens work, all the pencils are sharpened. I get rid of it if it doesn’t work.

Narrow Drawer Left

I stay on top of it all, but it’s not hard to do. When Bill’s client come, I want them to see his cabinets for how great and functional they are, not for the junk inside of them. I don’t worry about the insides. I mostly work on wiping off the gunk on the outside that has been encrusted by 1 – 4 children. Smile 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Tupperware Happiness

I’m going to share with you a little secret you may or may not know about me… I love organizing!

Now I’m going to share with you how my cabinets look like this…

Upper Cabinet Right

I have a sister-in-law who sells Tupperware! And right now, Tupperware is having a sale on their Modular Mates for 40% off!!!

Let’s scan my pictures and see what these are holding… the big ones on the bottom are holding chips, second row: egg noodles, macaroni, spaghetti, lasagna noodles, third row: pecans, chinese noodles, marshmallows, raisins. And there’s more behind the front ones since this cabinet is extra deep!

Next picture (sorry it’s out of focus)- spices on a turnable rack, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder; second row: chicken and beef bouillon, toothpicks; third row: cinnamon chips, coconut, extra kosher salt, turbinado sugar, cornstarch; upper shelf: various baking chips or melts, cookie cutters, pastry decorating bags, tips.Upper Cabinet Left

But that’s not all. I have the cereal containers holding not only cereal in the kitchen, but borax powder and washing soda in the laundry room. I have square containers holding different kinds of flour in the kitchen and batteries in the mud room and hair clippers in the bathroom. I have a round one for syrup in the kitchen and smaller round ones holding band-aids in the bathroom. Oh, have I mentioned, thanks to Jessica and the 40% off, I have Tupperware in every room of my house except the kids’ rooms?

Why the obsession? Is it organizing? It is this certain plastic? It is the fact that the different shapes and sizes all work together (a 1 size and a 2 size equal a 3 size, etc.) AND that they will not change over the years. Other brands may work, but are you going to find them in 5 years when you decide to re-do your cabinets? Probably not. And that is a bummer. Plus, they really do seal very well and keep your items fresh. Not necessary for batteries, I realize, but soggy marshmallows are no fun at all!

Now, I’m just telling you about it because I love it and because they are on sale RIGHT NOW!!

This is how you can get started on your own Tupperware Modular Mate obsession happiness… follow this link to the Tupperware catalog and see what the possibilities are. If you are unsure of how to get started, Jessica can help you. In fact, she has customized kitchens and can do that for you if you’d like. To get a hold of her, first email me and then I will send you Jess’s contact info.

Meanwhile, I’m going to go through the house and see if I need any more… (watch me skipping away)


Monday, January 10, 2011

Getting Away From It All

So Bill and I got away this past weekend. It was romantic. We went to Kansas City. We picked up a motorcycle. woohoo

No, seriously. We went to Kansas City and we picked up a motorcycle! The bike that Bill won Christmas Day on Ebay was in Texas and the seller was able to get it to Emporia, Kansas so we went down and got it. The bike’s fine. It’s orange. It’s nicer than Bill’s (so he says). It’s in our garage now.

Now, for the getaway. Let me tell you, it takes a small village for parents to get away for a weekend. Six different families helped drive or take care of the kids! Thanks for helping us out.

Here’s what we did. Bill found us a nice hotel, Hyatt Place in Overland Park. Newer, modern and stylish, it fit us just right. I also loved the color scheme- brown, orange, blue.



(I felt like PW when snapping these shots.)

On Saturday morning, after sleeping in (with no one knocking on the door to ask when we were getting up or what was for breakfast Smile) and our continental breakfast, we headed to find the American Jazz Museum. We only got in as far as the 18 minute video when Bill’s stomach started growling. We asked the lady at the desk where a good place for bbq was and she said Arthur Byrant’s and, good news, it was close by.

If we were walking, the last two blocks would have drawn us in like a vortex, sucking us to the restaurant with it’s hickory scent hanging in the air. As it was, we drove and we could smell it the second we opened our doors. I ran across the street to take a picture. Bill is standing at the front door, thinking “Woman, do you want to take a picture or eat?” The people in the restaurant probably thought I was nuts also. Enter in; nothing to impress you. Linoleum tables, vinyl chairs and it’s clean. Get in line, hand them them your plate through the window and shout your order to them, pick it up at the cash register and help yourself to the giant jar of dill pickle slices. If you want to sit a large party together, just make sure you tell the waitress how you want to sit exactly, ‘cause once she, puts the tables together, you sit there, you like it.

Bill and Bryants

Let’s get to the food, shall we? Bill ordered the sliced pork sandwich. Mostly the bread is there to sort of keep your fingers from getting all saucy as you eat the mound of meat and fries. I ordered the burnt ends which are the burnt ends of meat all tossed together with sauce.I would describe as being similar to Hickory Park’s Saucy Southerner but much more meat and just better altogether. I got a side of beans and they were good. The chili powder hits your taste buds first and nice chunks of real meat make it a happy medley. They have three kinds of sauce: Original, Sweet Heat and Rich & Spicy. Our favorite was the Rich & Spicy. The original is good and you will probably like it. I just thought the Rich & Spicy melded together better without being really spicy. I got some on the sleeve of my sweater and I didn’t mind at all. Why, yes, I did take pictures of our food. Bill was salivating. “Are you done taking pictures so I can eat now?”


I could not eat all of my food. It was a lot! Generous portions, indeed. So our take home bag was a sheet of brown butcher paper and you wrap it up and stick it in a brown paper bag! I loved it! I should have taken a picture, but didn’t until I got home and ate the leftovers today (and they were very good, still)

We spent the early afternoon looking through the American Jazz Museum. A good museum to get a start at your early jazz roots listening library. In the same building is the African American Baseball Museum but we did not tour that. Then we drove around the downtown Plaza shopping area, but did not shop. (I know! No shopping?) We did go to the Nielson Atkins Art Museum. It is free admission, though you have to pay for parking in their ramp and for any special exhibits. We enjoyed the modern art, some of which we got, others which we didn’t, and others which we didn’t care. We can’t say we know that much about art to begin with, so our opinion doesn’t mean anything. The museum is quite big and in the older section, it it is amazing how much is in there. Two things: 1) guards freak me out a bit in any museum 2) museums are much more enjoyable without young kids, who can do things that make guards watch you.

For our evening, we decided to take in a movie. Bill found a theater, which happened to be near a large shopping area in Overland Park. But before the movie, we sort of needed supper. I chose the restaurant “Ingredients”. We could use one of these in Ames. You choose your own ingredients (get it?) for your salad or sandwiches or omelets and they put it together for you. Fresh food and flavors. Again, generous portions but this time no nifty take home containers. Then we saw “True Grit” after having a discussion with our friends, Byron and Angie. We’ve never seen the original movie, but besides a non-congruous ending we like it a lot. The Coen Brothers’ way with words along with good casting of characters make this movie. (But again, we don’t know that much about movies and can’t remember that last one we saw by ourselves in a theater.)

Sunday was less exciting except for one thing and it involved shopping! I had seen at the shopping center that we were at the night before that there was a Dean & Deluca store. Dean & Deluca is a specialty upscale food store. The only one I’ve ever heard about is in New York and though I hadn’t thought about it before, I didn’t really consider that it could pop up in other metro shopping districts. There’s one in Overland Park, Kansas and we went to it!! I just wanted to see, to peruse the shelves, to possibly taste all the cheeses and buy some very expensive handmade truffles or ceramic dishes or other things that are impossible to find in Iowa. Bill was impressed how much was in there for such a small store. Then we tasted some cheese. Oh my! Cheese heaven. We don’t know anything about cheese but we would be willing and eager students. Mr. Dean & Deluca cheese counter man had us try a semi-hard goat cheese called “Midnight Moon” and we fell in love (with the cheese). We didn’t buy any and really regret it. I got some other things though, a multi-grain health bread, some French green lentils and some black olive paste.


After lunch at “The Elephant Bar”, a Pan-American meets Applebee’s restaurant, we headed to Emporia to pick up the bike. That’s it. We talked all the way there and then back to Iowa. The whole weekend was great, but probably the best time was the driving/talking time. We just don’t get enough non-distracted time to talk and to talk about bigger, deeper things. And we just need to be together. More than what a little date night every once in a while gives us. That’s what our weekend away, no kids, no texts, no schedules to keep, gave us. It was good getting away from it all.


Friday, January 7, 2011

What Will This Semester Hold?

So you may be wondering what has become of our student, V, who was living with us last semester. Well, she’s back with us for the rest of the school year!!

Now let’s start with some basics. Her name is Victoria. We call her Victoria but friends here call her Vicki. She’s from Rosebud, South Dakota, which is an Indian Reservation. She is here because our church is doing outreach ministry there and we said we’d take her.

Our first semester has been filled with trials on many levels as we all have learned to adapt to a stranger living with us. We have had some desperate times where we didn’t think anything would change and that it wasn’t going to work out. And we were pretty much ready to throw in the towel. We had a hard time with hope.

You’ve seen a little progression of things here, shoeboxes and Halloween. And the thing is, these things are just ordinary, every day things. But suddenly they weren’t so ordinary because to one, she had never experienced them in light of Hope. On the rez, there is no hope. There is no purpose to receiving an education because you will not go to college, you will not get a job, you will not leave the rez and escape the darkness that resides there.

But by us just saying yes, we have brought one girl out of it all and into hope.

We get many opportunities to answer who, what, why she is here. I’ve been almost tongue-tied at how to answer. Over and over I have prayed that God would help me learn how to answer succinctly. If I said she was here for education purposes, that wouldn’t be exactly right. If I said she was here to share Christ with her, that would be more correct, but a little put offish and just not encompass the whole thing. It is both and more.

She is here for HOPE!

That’s it!! That’s the answer!

Amazingly, I don’t have a great verse to go with that. But think of the word hope and what it means to you in your daily life. What hope has been given to us by Christ’s gift to us. It is this word, hope, that we hope Victoria will embrace as fully as possible this next semester.


I took this picture of her at Christmas. She was reading this little book Bill’s parents gave her. I didn’t even plan it. How perfect is that?!


P.S. When I was pregnant with Audrey, my grandma shared with me that she always thought the name Victoria Rose was beautiful. I was like, *gag* ‘That’s nice, Grandma.’ Heh!- only God knows what He’s doing. (her two children’s names are Linda and Robert- go figure)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cranberry Chicken

Now when I was engaged to be married to Bill, I received from the ladies at my home church a cookbook filled with recipes from all the ladies. In it were great recipes, including this one from Bonnie Walker. You might have a cranberry chicken recipe in your arsenal already, but here is the only one I have and if I do say so myself, it is good.

Cranberry Chicken

  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 c. butter
  • 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 c. fresh cranberries (but she notes she has used frozen and cranberry sauce before)
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • dash ground nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar (opt.)

Combine flour, salt and pepper- dredge chicken in mixtures. In a skillet, over medium heat, melt butter and brown chicken. Remove chicken and keep warm. Add rest of ingredients; stir and cook until cranberries burst (maybe 5 minutest). Return chicken to skillet; cover and simmer over low 20-30 minutes until chicken is done. Baste occasionally. Serve with rice or egg noodles.

Doesn’t that sound good? You can buy cranberries when they are in season and on sale and freeze them to use later on. If you don’t have the red wine vinegar, you don’t have to have it. If you do have some red wine handy, though, you can use that instead. Or just forego the whole red wine/vinegar thing.

Bill is reading this and he says there was a Bonnie Walker in his church, where I also got recipes from, so I’m not exactly sure which church, which Bonnie Walker this recipe is from. I doubt it matters in the outcome of this recipe.


She Came Over

I want to introduce you to a new friend of mine. Her name is Amanda. She is another blogger and this is how we met.

Almost every week at church we take time at the beginning of the service to greet others beside us and I met her and her husband, Micah. That’s about all there is time for. But after the service they struck up a conversation with me. For some reason that day, only Ben was in the service with me and as his typical self, the faster we get out of large crowds, the better. In between all his tugging and demanding that we leave, I discovered that Amanda used to go to Iowa Weslyan College in Mt. Pleasant (which is near Bill’s home and where his mom used to work). I then learned that she was a music major (vocal) and then that she was a blogger. Triple exciting. Ben was being a huge pain and I mentioned jokingly to them to seriously consider before having kids. They were all like, haha and I said I was joking. I go home and check out Amanda’s blog and discover that she has a section on infertility. Um, open mouth- insert foot. IMMEDIATELY I called her and apologized profusely!! I really was joking but having gone through a couple years of infertility myself, I knew how painful it was. She forgave me. And we’ve been friends ever since. Sort of- a few emails, and random meetings at church again. (and I’ll never say anything like that again!)

Then the other day when I was working on all the Christmas pictures, I went over to Facebook to comment about how long Blogger took to upload pictures. Amanda hopped on and said that I should use Windows Live Writer because it was so much faster. I barely know how to make the header at the top of my blog and so I suggested we get together so she could show me this new fangled program. So she did! She came yesterday to make her focaccia bread for me and show me the blogging light. So if you were on around 11:30ish yesterday you may have noticed funny things going on. Pictures of a Paris café showing up, then not. We were experimenting.

From what Amanda tells me, WLW let’s me do all my picture adding, linking and formatting in a much bigger space and I can see it all on my screen. Blogger (though free) gives you a tiny window to do all those things and then you have to preview it, etc. Also, you have to pretty much be online with Blogger. Not so, with WLW. You can do all that stuff, then publish it and then BAM! it’s done! Or so Amanda says. I’ve got big expectations and I’m leading you to believe the same. I don’t know though. Does anyone else use WLW? What do you think?

It’s all random here. Who knows what you’re gonna get, right? One day I’m writing about a recipe that you really should try, then next about something Luke said, then off I go off for a week about music stuff, meanwhile, you’ve only read about Bill’s cabinets once and you wonder if he even exists anymore. Then I go on about some personal reflection stuff and really all you want is to see more pics of the kids!

Where were we? Oh yeah, Amanda. Well, she is a blogger who writes about vegan food. I can’t admit to having tried any of her recipes, yet. But her focaccia that we had yesterday was good. The fam all enjoyed it along with lasagna for supper. We didn’t take any pictures of our time together (that’s weird- bloggers take pictures of everything!) mostly because we were getting to know each other. Today she starts a job in Des Moines teaching music to middle-schoolers. She’s a bit nervous. I would be too. But I know she’ll do great and it sounds like she has a lot of support from the staff. If you stop by her blog, give her an encouraging word.

Amanda, I’m glad you came over yesterday. This is my very first post using WLW and it has been nice to see everything. Your focaccia was good and I would suggest dipping it in olive oil as you eat it. I’ve been thinking about you all day and hoping 1) that you made it up and got to work on time and 2) that the kids all love you (and love music Winking smile). I’ve been praying for you and Micah as you journey through life together. God has not allowed difficulties in your life to bring you down but to draw you to Him, to his love, forgiveness and grace in all things. I hope that we will be able to get together again soon.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Bill's Family Christmas

On the Monday after Christmas, we loaded up (including the snowmobile) and headed to Bill's parents in SW Iowa for time with his family. Aunt Denise was there and Bill's brother and family came up from Texas for some white Christmas. 
After unpacking (including the snowmobile) we headed to the slopes which means the hill by the pond. WooHoo! Lots of fun! But no pictures, save one. One perfect picture that says it all.
That is Bill, totally wiping out!!! Truthfully, this is the next day, but he also biffed it the day before by trying to run and jump on the sled and instead face-planted right into the hill. I haven't laughed like that in a long time! 

So what's going on here? Grandpa on the saucer sled?
 Kids on the 4-wheeler?
 Backwards on the snowmobile?
 Bye! Don't hurt Grandpa!
 Jabin, that is some serious hat head!
 Us girls prefer bulk food store/Oriental food store shopping, and some quiet crafting. 
Present time here lasts for a long time. I repeat a long time. Get a present. Open it. Give one present to another person. And the wrapping isn't done bulk style. If there's a set of checkers, well, they are individually wrapped. One by one. Okay, maybe not, but we start right off in the morning and mid-morning rolls around with another cup of coffee or Mt. Dew, and a handful of Christmas cookies. The kids won't have it any other way.

What's this? Who are these rascals?

Audrey, again, took these shots and I love them.

Mindy's Family Christmas

Don't you want to have Christmas with these cuties? (Audrey took the pictures)

We went to my sister's house with my side of the family for lunch Christmas day. After lunch it is present time. It is mass chaos. You get to open your present as soon as you get it. 11 cousins. Multiple gifts. Paper everywhere. Presents buried beneath mounds of paper. Fun!
We usually draw names and this year we just exchanged kid gifts. Then there is always the "extra" gifts. One year my mom got the boys these tremendously noisy trucks and now she thinks it is her duty to buy one obnoxious toy for the kids every year. One year, my sister Beth and her husband, Winston, thought marshmallow popper guns would be perfect. We were finding little green foam balls for months after! 
Okay, I contribute to it also. :) 2 years ago: giant plastic light saber swords that reverberated when you hit them. Last year: whoopee cushions. Hilarious!!!! This year: goofy face glasses. 

Then you can't keep 11 kids cooped up for too long, so outdoors they went for sledding and a snowball fight.

Athan, coming in so soon?

 Luke, you look a mite cold. Want to come in?

Other pics
Aunt Jessica with her camera (that's exactly like mine except for that new fill flash and that she knows what she's doing)

Audrey and Cora. These two are cousins but more like sisters. They are the oldest in their families with a mess of boys behind them. They just sat in a corner and giggled over their gifts. And were goofy.