Friday, December 27, 2019

Christmas Day Memories ~ 2019

Christmas morning was a magical one filled with anticipation and excitement especially for this little one.

I go back and forth at my age, sometimes longing for a little less stress.  Santa can be a double-edge sword, but in the end, I know that these years are fleeting.  I'll just cherish the magic of it all.

My greatest gift received this year was probably how she slept in (so the entire house slept in) until 6:45am!

A special gift was given out from Sarah to her sisters.  She gifted the girls with these sweet bracelets, a way to ask them to be in her wedding.  Aren't they pretty?  There are a couple more of these boxes wrapped up waiting for friends. :)

We had a delicious Christmas morning breakfast of fresh fruit, bagels, and Christmas quiche.  It was so good!  I love all the yummy food on holidays, Christmas especially.  This was an easy quiche recipe that Stan helped me prep for the night before.  I'll put it up on the blog soon. :)

As the family has changed, so do our Mass times.  We use to go to Christmas Eve children's Mass for YEARS!  That's slowly morphed as the older four have grown up.  This year, we attended late Christmas morning Mass. It was beautiful morning celebrating the birth of our Savior.

Miss Mabel felt like we were having the best Christmas ever with the real tree and with the decision to serve an actual Christmas dinner - at dinner time.  She said it felt like a Felicity Christmas (from American Girl).   With a late dinner planned, we had a lite lunch after Mass.

There were veggies & dip, crackers with spinach artichoke dip, and a meat & cheese tray.  Gosh! That was so easy and just the right amount of food.

We ended up eating our scrumptious dinner around 6:00pm.  Our table was set and the food was so flavorful.

David smoked a turkey and a ham.  We served green beans, creamy corn casserole, and praline sweet potatoes.  Oh my gosh!  We were so full after dinner that there wasn't a lot of room in our tummies for dessert.

We made a little drummer boy cake this year and served peppermint ice cream with it.  The idea came from Clementine's sacrament prep class.  We talked about how the little drummer boy had nothing to give to the infant Jesus except for the gift of himself.  How that little drummer boy played his heart out for the Baby Jesus!

With a board game after dessert, we called it a day.  I needed the slower pace this year and was enjoying the breathing room it brought.  We also missed family very much on Christmas day.  With both sides living so far away, it can be difficult.

With that, we are preparing for some exciting times during what remains this holiday season.  The sun is calling and Santa is ready for a tropical vacation!  (Even if the forecast is calling for rain.)

May all the beauty and blessing of the Christmas season fill your heart with endless love and may the coming year bring you warmth, peace, love and joy into your life.

Merry Christmas to you all!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Christmas Eve Memories ~ 2019

On Christmas Eve morning, Miss Mabel got up bright and early to make her homemade cinnamon rolls.  They tasted like a little bit of heaven!  And I'd like to just say here that she makes THE best cinnamon rolls.  Yum!

As I started pulling out the Christmas cookies from the freezer, I was pretty impressed with all the different varieties we were able to bake before Christmas.  Until we looked at all the containers of cookies sitting on the kitchen counter, we really hadn't given it much thought.  There were seven kinds in all!   And I still have a freezer full of cookies.

Do you set your holiday dinner table the day of?  The night before?  I usually set it the day of (because that's why my mom would do).  Once in a while I set it the day before and boy does that help.  Speaking of holiday dinner table, I love our Christmas dishes.  We all have a different set.  Way back here, I wrote a post about our family tradition with Christmas dishes.  Next year I am going to buy a new set for our daughter's fiancee. :)


Miss Clementine was going to bust with excitement waiting for her daddy to open up the (fishing) gift she bought him with her own money.  There was no waiting until Christmas day for her. :)

On Christmas Eve, the kids always open up their gift exchange gifts.  They draw names on Thanksgiving day.  I love how much thought and effort they put into the person they draw.  And they do this every year.

Miss Mabel drew Emma's name this year and picked out some charming accessories from Francesca's.  Emma is my dancing queen and loves to kick up her heels at the local dance halls.

Miss Emma drew Stan the man's name.  He LOVES air soft guns so Emma found this target for him.  He promptly set it up in the backyard and went to town.

Stan the man drew Miss Clementine's name.  You know how rough it is to always buy for a girl?!  Being the only brother, that can get so dull. ;)   He doesn't complain though.  He purchased a Chelsea doll with pony.  Clementine was very happy.

However, y'all know siblings can fight, even on Christmas Eve.  That photo on the bottom right was hours after a little incident between the two.  Notice how forced the sibling love looks?!  Good grief!  I do not know how my parents survived raising nine kids. :)

Miss Clementine had Sarah's name this year.  She drew a picture of a fish.  In fact, it was a Betta Fish.  Shortly after they opened gifts that afternoon, they headed to the pet store where Clementine bought the new fish for Sarah.  It was so sweet!  She helped name the fish, too.  Dash Jr. (after Sarah's fiancee).  Ha ha!

Sarah drew Miss Mabel and knows just how much Mabel loves Dunkin Donuts coffee.  She snagged a cute Dunkin Donuts ornament to go along with a gift card.  (Dunkin Donuts definitely has the best coffee out there!)


Every Christmas Eve, my children request homemade vegetable beef soup with a loaf of homemade bread.  Every. Year.  Even when it is 70 degrees outside, like it was this year.  

I also made this fresh punch recipe.  It is so easy and not as sugary. 

We had a very low-key Christmas Eve this year.  I needed it after Mabel's illness.  It was into pajamas fairly early and then we set about to watching Christmas movies.  This little one did NOT want to go to bed.  

It is such an exciting night for children who can hardly wait for the arrival of St. Nicholas!  After setting out a couple of cookies and a glass of milk for St. Nick, she eventually made her way into bed.  (Yes, she has a pink-lit tree in her room this year.)

She sleeps with her Christmas stocking every year.  What can I say?? This child is filled with joy!

And then it was time.

 Santa was in the house.

By midnight, there was a stillness and quiet that fell over the house.  We waited to celebrate the birth of Jesus yet again.

O Holy night! The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
'Til He appears and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks, a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees; O hear the Angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born
O night, O Holy night, O night divine!

Merry Christmas From Texas! 2019

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

What a Short Fourth Week of Advent! 2019

How grateful we are to have had the chance to embrace some joy and happiness that comes during this beautiful season of Advent!  This past Sunday, we loaded Miss Mabel up and headed over to our very dear friends to celebrate an early Christmas.  It was a great way to kick off the fourth week of Advent and it was a welcome distraction for our girl.


Monday brought a successful final procedure for Miss Mabel and we celebrated with ice cream!

What a very long journey she had been on and was she happy to put it behind her! She is one, tough young lady.

With the last of our baking completed, we decorated cookies while watching Christmas movies (and drank a lot of wine).  I told a friend after Mabel's procedure was finished that it felt as though a heavy curtain had been opened and a flood of excitement for Christmas came pouring in.  Finally.

And morning arrived quickly, as it always does, delivering Christmas Eve day.  Wasn't it just Christmas Eve not too long ago?


Sunday, December 22, 2019

Surgery & Marriage Proposal for the Third Week of Advent 2019

This girl.  She has had a really rough Advent this year, suffering greatly.  Back here and over here, I wrote about what was happening with Maria.  Last Monday at her follow up appointment at the urologists' office, she had a full blown attack - again.  They immediately transferred her to Dallas where she had surgery to have both kidney stones removed.  One was impacted near her bladder, the other was way up in her kidney. It was a long and painful day since they couldn't get her in an OR room until 5pm.  She still has one more out-patient procedure tomorrow and hopefully, we will be seeing some relief for this young lady.  In your charity, please say a prayer for her so that she will experience a more comfortable Christmas. God bless you.

Since she has been home bound for three weeks, she made these Italian Christmas Cookies :)  She is so sweet!

In the midst of all of this, our daughter Sarah became engaged!

David and I are so excited to announce her engagement.  We are thrilled to be gaining a son-in-law in Dash.  He is a very selfless person who not only loves our daughter very much but also works hard at his job as a Dallas fireman.  God bless Sarah and Dash!

This happened the same day that Maria needed surgery. 

Sarah, Dash, and Emma (the chaperone ;) were up in the OK mountains for a get-away.  We suspected an engagement was coming since Dash had spoken to David over Thanksgiving.  It was quite the manly thing to do, asking David for his blessing. 

We didn't want to ruin their special moment, so when Emma called to see how Maria's appointment went, we said, "Great news! They are taking the stones out."  I mean, how else can one walk that tight rope juggling a surprise surgery for a child on one hand and an engagement for another child on the other hand?!  I certainly needed a stiff drink. Ha ha ha!

Sarah and Dash have known each other for 4 years and have been seriously dating for 1 year.  They plan to get married after her nursing boards in 2021 and look forward to nailing down the exact date.  The wedding coordinator at church is currently out of the country until the New Year.

As today marks the beginning of the fourth week of Advent, I recall as a child how I LOVED having short Advents because it was all about the presents for me.  As a mom, I would take a long Advent season over a short one any day, especially since our life has been CRAZY this year.  I've tried to finish up everything by today, wanting Sunday as my day of rest and tomorrow brings who knows what news for Mable.  But Christmas is coming, and we continue to try and carve out time to reflect and pray as we anticipate Christ's birth.

May you find these last few days of Advent fruitful even in the brief moments and chaos of each day.  May you find some time each day to quiet the noise around you and listen for the peace that this season promises.


Sunday, December 15, 2019

Second Week of Advent Activities 2019

On the feast of The Immaculate Conception (December 8), I tried something new this year.  I have read for a couple of years now how some families dine on an all-white dinner to celebrate this special feast day.  So I made an all-white dinner & dessert.

We had chicken with Alfredo sauce over some pasta (that was already in the pantry) with a side of Roasted Garlic Cauliflower.

I tried a new dessert recipe, Cream Cheese Mints.  Some of the family liked them, the others thought they tasted like the "toothpaste-flavored mints you get at a restaurant".  The woman who I got this idea from said that after the feast of The Immaculate Conception, she will drizzle green and red candy melts over them and serve them at Christmas.  We shall see if the candy melts will add to them.  Otherwise, I probably won't make them again.

Moving on...

For the feast of St. Juan Diego (December 9), we baked Mexican Wedding Cookies.  I grew up calling these delicious morsels Russian Tea Cakes up in the Midwest.

And on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (December12), we made warm Snicker doodles and I bought the kids Jarritos soda to go with their dinner that night. :)

As I'm typing these post, I realize that I need to add the recipes to these two cookies under my recipe tab.  They're both so easy and delicious!

The Catholic faith is SO tangible!  We have so much fun living it out at home in a variety of ways.

On the feast of St. Lucy (December 13), it is a Swedish tradition to serve cinnamon rolls for breakfast.  Let me just say, I don't have time to make homemade cinnamon rolls on a weekday morning.  I feel no guilt baking from a can, or I make the Rhodes cinnamon rolls that you can find in the freezer section at the grocery store.

Emma and some girlfriends came over that night to bake two more kinds of Christmas cookies, Dark Chocolate and Mint Morsel Cookies, and Chocolate Crinkles.

The feast of St. Lucy is the night that we traditionally go out to look at Christmas lights.  While Emma was baking at home for me, I was able to take Miss Clementine out to view the lights.  Win-win.


The week had been a stressful one medically speaking.  You see, once upon a time, David and I had health insurance that we LIKED and could AFFORD.  Then Obamacare happened.  Being brutally honest here, that ruined it for us.  We could NOT afford our insurance anymore and switched over to a health share.  This was the only alternative to Obamacare.

If you hadn't read, our Mabel was in the hospital last weekend.  The issue wasn't resolved and we were given a follow-up appointment with the Children's hospital in Dallas.  Last Monday, when I called to confirm the appointment with the urologist's office at the hospital, we were told since we are a health share, they would not take us and immediately cancelled her follow-up appointment.  I said I would pay cash - up front.  They said, sorry.  No can do.  Let me restate here, her issue was not resolved.  We were left hanging in limbo.

You could have knocked me over with a feather!

Long story short, after much stress, countless phone calls, we miraculously got her in for an early appointment tomorrow but will be paying an obnoxious amount up front.  Stressful is an understatement.


Today is the third Sunday of Advent, and we will find the JOY this week as we trust in Jesus, set our fears aside, and make space in our hearts for the coming of Emmanuel.


Last evening, we hosted an American Girl movie night for girls from Kinder - third grade.  We use to do this with our older daughters many years ago.  In lieu of a sleep over, we'd invite the friends to come in the pajamas with favorite dolly in tow.  It was successful movie night with this sweet bunch of friends :)

So much joy last night!  May you and your family find the JOY this week as you celebrate the third week of Advent.


Thursday, December 12, 2019

New Christmas Ornaments for 2019

Tell me I'm not the only one who loves to collect ornaments.  Do you ever collect any from where you may have travelled to?  That is one of my favorite hobbies.  They bring back so many fond memories when I unwrap them and place them on the tree.

These first two came from my birthday trip back in the spring.  David and I went with dear friends of ours down to Fredericksburg, Texas for a 50th birthday celebration.  German settlers developed that area in beautiful Hill Country.


This darling camper ornament was a birthday gift to me from Stan the man :)   He was so excited to give it to me.  I thought it was such a thoughtful gift being that we purchased the new camper this year.


You may remember that our oldest daughter studied abroad last spring.  The gorgeous ornament on the left is from Krakow, Poland.  (She LOVED Poland and really wants to go back there after her college graduation.) . The ornament on the right is from Lithuania (another beautiful country).  It has amber on the bell that hangs inside the horseshoe.  Amber can only be found in the Baltic Sea or the Dominican Republic.  Again, they were such thoughtful gifts.


I love this little guitar ornament from Nashville, TN.  Emma and I flew into Nashville and then rented a car and drove through the Smoky Mountains to get to her Seton Home Study School graduation in Front Royal, VA.  What a great mother / daughter trip!  We had such a great time!


Miss Clementine helped me pick out this cute Yogi Bear camping ornament.  :)   We took Stan and Clementine (and met friends) back in June at Jelly Stone Park (& Camp) Guadalupe River.  We made so many great memories there!  I would love to try and get back there next summer for a few nights.


My little sister Jane brought back this hand-painted ornament from her trip to Europe last summer.  I was so glad that she thought of me.  Which reminds me, I need to let her know that it is currently hanging on the tree.


I purchased these at Hobby Lobby this year because they reminded me of the beach.  We love to get to the seashore as often as we can (May, July, and August (part 1 and part 2).  And this cute, little camper will always remind me of the year we purchased the new camper.  It has allowed us to (affordably) travel a lot and to enjoy life as much as possible.  We have had so much fun in it.


Lastly, this guy.  Just because. :)

I'm sure most of you have your Christmas tree up and decorated now.  I wish we could put into a happy pill all the happiness that comes as each ornament is unwrapped and hung on the tree in homes all over the world.  Imagine what a wonderful world it would be!


Wednesday, December 11, 2019


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