Thursday, December 31, 2015

The week leading up to Christmas, and Christmas Day

Another year has come and gone, and tomorrow will be 2016! Tonight we're going to a friends' house to bring in the New Year. I'm going to bring these sugar-free Blondies to share. They are whole grain, vegan, sweetened with dates and so yummy. I've posted the recipe on my food blog, which you can find by clicking here, and I've included a gluten-free variation which is how the original recipe read. I've seriously made a batch of these 3 times in the last two weeks because our family likes them so much, and I'm trying to lessen the sugar intake around here which is high because of the holidays. 
I love having the kids home with me when they have breaks from school. The older kids have helped out several times with dinner preparations which makes the task a little more fun and interesting for me :). Here Elisabeth is helped shred the chicken to go into a soup...after doing it she said she's going to be a vegetarian like mom. Well, she was a vegetarian for about 2 days before she started eating some chicken again :). But I get it; it is gross taking meat off a bone and seeing blood and fat and bones. I'm vegetarian because I don't like the taste of meat, and I think the whole idea of it, of eating flesh, like Elisabeth, grosses me out a bit. I'm much rather get my protein and all the nutrition I need through plants, grains, nuts, legumes and seeds and I have for years. 

Charles on the other hand loves meat and loves holding a chicken leg in his hand and literally licking it clean. Here he is chopping up some veggies which will also go in our soup.
These were our neighbor gifts this year:
One night, like last year, we took the children out to look at Christmas lights. We always try and go to a house where the lights are dancing to music on a specific radio station. That was this house:
A couple of nights before Christmas we watched one of my personal favorite Christmas movies: Scrooge. I love this heart warming story. I love several of the songs, like "thank you very much".
Elisabeth and I made english toffee on Christmas Eve and gave some out to several friends. The first batch we burnt :(. So we had to start all over again. I probably should have just stopped there and thrown the burnt ones in the garbage because, you see, toffee is not good for you.

 But we made more and in the end it turned out just right. I ate too much of it though, and got sick on Christmas morning with lots of stomach pains. I think it was a combination of too much sugar and the high dairy content (4 1/2 stick of butter!) in this toffee which has always been hard on my stomach. Scott's stomach was hurting Christmas morning as well, but not as bad as mine, and it didn't bother him for too long. 

We decided not to do pajamas this year on Christmas Eve since most of the children have way too many that get passed down them so instead we let them open their sibling gifts: each child picked a name from a bowl that had one of their siblings names written on it, and they got a gift for that sibling.
New slippers for Jane from Elisabeth, new pajamas for Charles from Nora (he was the only one that really needed new pjs because he grows so fast and doesn't have anyone handing them down), new adult coloring book for Annabelle from Jane, a lunchbox for Elisabeth from Charles (her old one is all ripped), and crayons and a sketchpad for Nora from Annabelle.
Christmas Eve we had stombolli and salad for dinner again, which has become a tradition. It's basically just a braided pizza that you dip in sauce (usually you don't put sauce inside the braid).

After dinner we acted out the nativity, which is another Christmas Eve tradition.

This year the kids wanted to sleep together in the same room. I wasn't sure if that was a good idea, I was afraid they'd be up all night, but it actually was fine. We didn't have them go to bed until around 9 and then it was pretty quiet.
Scott and I had previously wrapped all the presents, so we just made up and set out the stockings,  we brought the BYU gift bags out to add to the other gifts under the tree, and we brought out the two unwrapped family gifts which were a pogo stick and a pull up bar. We told the kids not to get up before 6 (though usually Scott and I don't sleep well either and we end up getting up much earlier than that), but for the first time ever, the kids all slept in until 630am and Scott and I woke up a little before that and had time to read scriptures before they were up, so the time wasn't even an issue this year. We're normally early risers, with myself and Scott getting up between 5-530, so even though 6 may seem early, it's really not very early for us. It's actually sleeping in for us.

We had a very white Christmas. If you're going to be snowed in, Christmas is the perfect day because you don't have to go anywhere and you can just be cozied up in the house with your family.
Here are the family gifts:
We had our Easy Egg Chile Frittata (casserole) and cinnamon rolls for breakfast christmas morning. Well, I should say the children did, because Scott and I didn't eat much of anything with our rumbly tummies. I made two pans of cinnamon rolls a few weeks ago for our ward Christmas party and I froze 7 of those cinnamon rolls and saved the leftover icing in the fridge, so that I didn't even have to make them Christmas Eve, but instead, I just pulled the frozen rolls out of the freezer and let them thaw over night on the counter. I think I will do this again in the future, make a batch a week or two ahead of time and freeze them, that way I don't have to make them on Christmas Eve when I'm wanting to do other things.

Christmas Eve, Scott also got a couple of family gifts: the sheet music to the Forgotten Carols musical, and star shaped ornaments that each have a different name for the Savior on them.
For dinner we made tamales, which has become another Christmas tradition along with our traditional breakfast and Christmas Eve dinner. We like doing dishes from our heritage, both Italian and Mexican. 

Charles got another nerf gun this year, which means he has two now, so we had several nerf guns wars throughout the day.
The day after Christmas we were feeling much better and we took the kids sledding nearby.

We love sledding together (as long as the hills are too terribly steep and long) and doing things that are active. I'm grateful for the bodies the Lord has given us, and for the knowledge and understanding he's given us to help us keep our bodies healthy and strong. I know that sometimes accidents happen, and that sometimes you're in poor health and it's not your own doing, but for a good many of us, our daily choices in foods and activity will determine how we feel and how well our body can function. If we're unsure as to what's good and healthy, you can find answers through prayer and meditation and through the scriptures because the Lord knows all and wants to bless and help us. How grateful I am to know that we're never left alone, but that He's always there to lift and help and guide.

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