Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas work party & neighbor gifts


We made cinnamon roll popcorn for our neighbors this year. My family is huge popcorn lovers and this was awesome! cinnamon, brown sugar, butter, chopped pecans and almond bark to name a few ingredients :).

 We packaged it up in these cute Christmas boxes with a copy of the movie "Joy to the World", the bible story of Christ's birth, and a movie we watch each year around Christmas.
 There wasn't much popcorn left over so I made a candy cane popcorn for the family to eat after family home evening that week. There was enough that we packaged some up for their school teachers as well.



This is a random picture of Nora. Most nights when she goes to sleep at night, if she's wearing feet pajamas, she'll strip down to just her onesie; she can't usually get it off her feet :).
 We had a Christmas work party at our house with the three guys that work with scott and their families. Two are married so they brought their wives and the other brought his girlfriend. We've gotten together a couple of other times so it was fun to spend time together again. Jane helped me make sugar cookies in preparation for the party. We did the decorating during the party which was fun. There were some pretty cool looking cookies.
 These are one of my favorite cookies. They are a shortbread cookie sweetened with pure maple syrup(no refined sugar), dipped in melted carob chips/coconut oil/maple syrup, and they have equal parts brown rice flour, whole wheat flour and white flour. They are so yummy!

 We made a lot of foods for the party and everyone brought a couple of things to share so we had a TON of food and everyone took leftovers home. I love yummy leftovers!
 We did a white elephant gift exchange and Elisabeth and Charles got to participate. I previously bought a couple of little gifts for Annabelle and Jane so they would have something to open as well but I thought they might cry if someone stole their gift so that's why I kept theirs separate.

 The guys from the office: Stephen, Jesse, Manville and Scott.
 And this is a fake candy cane we keep in our tree and Nora always brings it to me wanting me to open it and let her eat it even though I continually tell her it's not a real candy cane...she just doesn't get it and it's very upsetting to her :).
 Monday before Christmas when the kids were off from school we decorated the gingerbread house that we got as one of our white elephant gifts(I actually put two gingerbread houses in the pile of gifts because I knew my kids would want one and I wanted someone else to be able to take one home as well). I love these Costco gingerbread houses that come with everything you need all packaged up nicely. It sure makes our job easy!



Thursday, December 19, 2013

2013 Christmas Newsletter


 
Twas the week before Christmas when Mommy remembered

Family pictures hadn't been taken since before last December.

Too cold for family pictures, too late to mail newsletters

An executive decision was made, the result, an e-letter.

 

Our biggest news when considering the past year,

Has been our out of state move, which caused us some tears.

Leaving behind friends and neighbors is never easy to do

Though we've found wonderful people here in Colorado, too.



Nora is one and was walking in May of this year,

Climbing tables and counters causes mommy to fear.

Nora has no fear, she's full of smiles and kisses,

She loves the outdoors, helping mom sweep and do dishes.

 

In March of this year, our Jane turned three,

she loves to play with friends and bake with me.

She learns quickly by watching her sisters and brother,

running fast, drawing and gymnastics are just a few she's discovered.

 

Annabelle is five and began her first year of school

A broken collar bone in May was really uncool.

Fairies and Princesses she plays with sisters and friends

Art is a gift, she'll draw for hours on end.



Charles is seven just a month shy of eight

He's excited for February, his baptism date.

Piano, homework and sports are what fill his schedule

Protective big brother eats granola as his main fuel.


Nine year old Elisabeth excels in all that she does

Gymnastics, piano, student leadership are a few that she loves.

She hums while she works, accomplishes tasks so cheerfully.

She is blessed with a giant heart and a love for her family.

 

Elisa tries to make home a heaven on earth

Scott loves to be home so I guess it must work.

Ten years of marriage we celebrated this July.

While visiting family in Washington, the time seemed to fly.



We are so very grateful to our Savior Jesus Christ

For His life, His love and His atoning sacrifice.

We hope this e-letter finds you healthy and alright,

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

 

Love,

The Smith Family

Scott, Elisa, Elisabeth, Charles, Annabelle, Jane and Nora

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Artist, home sick and a quilt

 
I occasionally can't get a picture to rotate, like the one above. 5-year-old Annabelle drew this picture of a nativity scene while in church. Not having a picture around to copy, I think she did a great job and I was surprised at her ability to notice and remember details, like Mary's blue dress and head piece, Joseph's beard and brown clothes, Baby Jesus' wood manger with hay. Annabelle is our little artista. She really is. Unlike her siblings, she favors drawing to doing just about anything else. If she can find a little scrap piece of paper, in the car, at a store, in a drawer, wherever, she will fill it with pictures.

Elisabeth was sick one day last week. She threw up a couple of times in the night/morning, so we kept her home from school that day. In the morning she slept in the van and shopping cart while I ran a couple of errands(that sounds mean of me to take her out when she's sick but there were a couple of things that had to be done that morning) and then at home for a little while, but around noon I could tell she was feeling better because she started doing gymnastics with her sisters and then, unasked, she pulled both baskets of clean, unfolded laundry down and with the help of her sisters, they folded it all, put it all away and then Elisabeth deep cleaned her room(she shares with Annabelle and Jane) and Charles and Nora's room and vacuumed upstairs! :) Afterward I told Elisabeth that I might call her in sick more often :).  Little sweetheart.

Jane is standing here showing off our new bed covers. Scott and I got bed covers a year or two ago for a really low price but we did not like the way they felt. When Scott and I would get in bed at night, we'd pull the sheet up and over the top of the blanket so that the blanket material would not touch our skin. It was a polyester fabric that was not soft at all, kind of scratchy, and dry clean only. Not a good combo, probably why it was so cheap. Anyway, this time we did some research and we decided to go with a cotton quilt and a separate light fleece blanket underneath for the Winter months. It was a little more than our last set but still a great deal and I love it! This may sound weird but one of the reasons I love it so much is because the fabric colors and designs remind me of my Granny Dorothy who loved all things pink and floral, and we have several pink squares on here. It jut makes me feel all warm, and cozy and loved whenever I see or touch this blanket.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Field Trip and Christmas Traditions

 Annabelle's kindergarten class went on a field trip Friday to see the play, "No Dogs Allowed". I was able to go along and help supervise the children. Annabelle and I got to sit on the bus together. We took some pictures at the beginning of our bus ride, but then I started to feel a little motion sick so we stopped :). Man, I sure have a wimpy tummy. But I am grateful to have a healthy body, wimpy tummy and all! :)

Sunday after dinner I was sitting down at the table with Nora on my lap. 3 year old Jane asked if she could take our picture. I said 'yes', but Nora was not in agreement. Jane took one anyway. Notice Nora's grumpy face?
 Then Jane looked at it and decided to take another picture. That's when Nora lost it! :)
Can you believe that Christmas is in less than 10 days?! We are very excited around here and really getting into the Christmas Spirit. Our usual Christmas traditions are still in full swing which you can read about on a post here from a couple of years ago. I hope we all remember the reason for this season and that is the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, who gave all, so we should be giving too. Our family has come up with a couple of ideas for 'giving' this holiday season, some of which we've already done, some of which we will do next week. Giving doesn't have to be anything big, or even planned. Even if it's giving a smile, or lending a hand to someone who looks like their hands are full (I understand that my arms are almost always full, but I wasn't implying myself, I promise :)). As busy as I am with my 5 children, when I go out,  I try and observe, watching and listening to see if there is anything I can do to help lighten someone else's load...in short, I'm just trying to be a Christian(and yes, Mormon's are Christians!). Enjoy this time of year, be cheerful; it's contagious! Until next time.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Random Pictures

Before I get into the pictures I want to give a shout-out to my dad who turned 87 yesterday! Happy Birthday Dad! We love you!



Nora loves all of her siblings though seems to favor Elisabeth. Probably because Elisabeth likes to take care of Nora. She helps get her dressed, she gets her breakfast in the morning if I'm not in the kitchen yet, she picks her up and snuggles with her often and on and on.

We had a ward 'variety show' at our church Christmas Party last week. Elisabeth sang Silent Night while Scott and Tom played the guitar. It was beautiful.

 Nora will kiss on Command but ONLY if I make a fishy-face first. :)
 Nora loves salad. In fact, all my girls do. While we were cleaning up dinner, Nora climbed on the table, grabbed a plate that had been left behind and the salad and piled it on her plate and ate.

She is a girl who knows what she wants and will do what it takes to get it :).

Monday, December 9, 2013

Freezing Cold

We had some freezing cold temperatures this past week. Monday started out really nice at 62 degrees and sunny; I even took the girls for a walk to the park.
 

 
 
But by the next day the temperatures really dropped. The rest of the week the hi's were in the low double digits and the lows were in the negatives! And it snowed 4-6 inches! My kids enjoyed sledding and other snow-related activities, though they didn't last long out in the cold, well at least not as long as they normally would've in winters past that we'd had in Utah. Wednesday was a hi of 13 and a low of zero, Thursday was a hi of 11 and a low of -3, Friday was a hi of 12 and a low of zero and Saturday was a hi of 13 and a low of 6. So the snow we got in the beginning of the week never did melt. Our neighborhood street is covered in a hard layer of snow.
 
 We get all bundled up before we go out of course, but any skin that is exposed starts to feel numb very fast. While checking the mail, I took my glove off to put the key in the mail box and open it and from the time I took my hands out of my glove to turn the key, grab the mail and then put my glove back on, I could barely feel my fingers and they were a lot harder to wiggle around and move until they warmed up again a minute later.
 The kids faces and cheeks come in beet red and freezing cold! And then they need hot chocolate to get all warmed up again. I've put a limit to one cup of hot cocoa a day because if they could, they would go out several times a day and each time they come in they would like to have a hot cup of cocoa. We're going through our cocoa cans really fast.
It is definitely beginning to feel a lot like Christmas! Only a couple more weeks! If you do something nice for someone, it'll feel even more like Christmas. I love this time of year!
 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Thanksgiving Break

The kids got an entire week off of school for Thanksgiving which is different than we're used to and much appreciated! Coming from a year-round school that has a three week break every eight weeks, this traditional schedule felt like we were in school forever! It was so nice not having to rush to get everyone breakfasted and all ready for the day so we could be out the door at 8am. The kids still did their regular chores, had school time, did an extra chore and practiced piano each day, but many times we did that in our pjs or just over a much longer period of time. And we still had plenty of time to go to parks, play games and just enjoy each other's company.

And of course there was Thanksgiving and all the food to prepare for that event. We got together with the Roger's family,  who are our neighbors along with another couple and Sister Murphy who is Annabelle's church teacher and whom all of my children love. She's the one who knitted all of them those darling winter hats.
 
For the Thanksgiving feast we brought sweet potatoes, a couple of holiday salads (one quinoa with green onions and nuts etc, and one green salad), stuffing, cranberry sauce and 4 desserts. Scott made a caramel apple pie, I made pumpkin cheesecake (same as last year), we made Oreo turkeys and we bought a pecan pie(my personal favorite).  I love Chef Brad's version of sweet potatoes so I made those again this year. They have a layer of quinoa for added nutrition that you can't really taste, plus a yummy topping made with chopped walnuts, coconut, butter, brown sugar and flour.

 The girls enjoyed helping make the Oreo turkeys. Elisabeth's job was to stick frosting in half of the Oreos and attach 5 candy corns inside for the turkey feathers.
 Annabelle and Jane's job was to unwrap all of the peanut butter cups.
I gave Nora a nap while we worked on these which was perfect because knowing her, she would've been on top of the counter and table snacking on everything in sight. She did enjoy eating a turkey once they were all done.
 Aren't they cute? We got this idea from Our Best Bites cookbook. Love those cookbooks and that website!
 And one of my personal favorites were the salads. This is a new Holiday Quinoa salad recipe I tried out, tweaked and loved. Such a nice combination with the quinoa, green onions, craisins, toasted pecans and gorgonzola cheese with a homemade dressing . And yummy as leftovers. I'll post this recipe on my food blog....hopefully this week.


 Friday morning we went out to a local Christmas tree lot and picked out an 8ft fresh one. We normally use our 6ft artificial tree we've had for 10 years, but we thought it might look a little wimpy in this front room. It's the one we bought our first year of marriage for $20, and though it's still lovely we decided to switch things up this year.
 Turning on the lights made it feel so magical in that room. We also took out all of our Children's Christmas books that are packed up with our Christmas stuff and laid them under the tree as is our tradition. We enjoy snuggling up on the couch and reading the Christmas stories throughout December.
 Saturday I took the three oldest girls to the new Disney Princess movie, Frozen. It was good. I, of course, cried....twice. I cry in a lot of movies. Tangled, for example. And the Lion King. And the list goes on and on. I guess I am just very sympathetic :). Even for cartoon characters :). LOL!
Nora likes to climb on daddy's feet and give him a big hug.
 I love this sweet little face! Seriously. I love to cup her cute face between my hands and kiss her soft cheeks and touch my nose to hers.
 I put the December calendar up on the white board December first and this is what it looked like on that very first day of the month. And to think it's just going to get fuller and fuller as the days go by.
 Well, we sure loved having all five kids home for an entire week and we LOVED having dad home for an extra couple of days. He got off a little early Wednesday to help cook and then had Thursday, Friday and of course Saturday and Sunday off. That to me is like Heaven on Earth! And now it's back to work and school. But only for three weeks and then we'll get our 2 1/2 week long Christmas break! Wahoo!