Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fun at the Outlet Mall

With Grandma K here we had to do a little shopping. Of course, every time you go to anything like a mall, Jaden has his favorite spots!

The rides....
And the park!!! Grandma and Jaden had a fun time riding the motorcycle!!!

Library Story Time

Recently, one of Jaden's favorite weekly activities is story time at the Library. We try to go every week but occasionally miss. When Grandma went with us we actually got some pictures of the fun!

Story time always starts with singing action songs. This is Jaden's FAVORITE part and he especially loves the days they pass out balloons and sing the "I can bounce it on my ____" song!
There are always 2-3 books on a different theme. Jaden loves books and will sit still for DOZENS of books in a row at home. But, at the library he tends to have trouble sitting and listening for the whole time.

Then, there is a craft. Often they are too hard for 2-3 year olds and I wish they would improve that since it IS CALLED "Toddler story time". But, Jaden always loves to do the crafts and enjoys getting help from mommy. We'll see how easy that works with a baby along too!

Alivia Grace

Well, in case you missed the news posted elsewhere, we have a new member in our family! Alivia Grace. I'll post pictures from the last week full of joy at this new addition to our family soon, but I just had to share this picture from seconds ago as she sits next to me as I work on some last minute Christmas gifts from the computer.

Her name, Alivia, has a meaning in Spanish. Combined with her middle name, Grace, her name means "soothing grace" or "relieving grace."

We did just like the name Alivia because is sounded nice and seemed to fit this precious girl. But, we appreciated the meaning that it held as well. We are truly blessed to have the assurance that through our Savior, Jesus Christ, whose birthday we celebrate at this special time of Christmas, we are given the greatest gift - God's grace. His grace truly does relieve and soothe our souls as he wipes away our sin and sets us free from the bonds of death for a joyous life in Him!

It is our prayer as parents that both Alivia AND Jaden (and any other kiddos that may come - no promises or suggestions just yet though!) as well as all that our lives may touch will KNOW and have peace in this precious promise from God.

Christmas Stockings


We all know that things are just THINGS and not really most important in life.
However, have you every had a THING that was just immensely special to you?

Maybe it was handmade for you. Maybe it carried with it a special memory. Maybe it was given to you by someone very special and your attachment to it was more about the person who gave it rather than the thing itself.

Ever since I can remember, my Christmas stocking, handmade for me by my Grandma (my dad's mom) has been something that I LOVED! She passed away when I was fairly young
(elementary school) but during summers when I would visit for a week I began to learn things like needlepoint from her.
This stocking, and a few other homemade Christmas decorations, from her have always been among my favorites at Christmastime. I remember telling my mom OFTEN that "When I get married and have my own house I get to take my Christmas stocking, sorry, but it's MINE!" ;-)

I was also determined to make matching ones for my family members (my mom and dad had some made by my Grandma that always hung with mine as well).

SO, back in 2009, with a little boy of my own already about to celebrate his 2ND Christmas, I decided it was time to get started. I tried to find pattern books that my Grandma had used and asked other family members to send pictures of stockings my Grandma had made them for ideas but....didn't have much luck. I also couldn't find any red burlap so I decided the boy's would have to be in brown. Since I didn't have a pattern, I traced around mine to get an approximate size.
Then came the hours of stitching, figuring out the designs, drawing out sample objects on graph paper....
It quickly became clear that I should have started Jaden's BEFORE October if I hoped to finish by Christmas! So, it became a goal for Christmas 2010, and Daddy's too.

Sadly, as we were traveling and I was carrying my stocking around to use for ideas while making Jaden's, I lost mine somewhere in SD. After searching and searching and never finding it I determined I was just going to have to remake it the way my Grandma did and was SO happy I had a picture (that I had taken so I could blog about the process of making Christmas stockings) that I could use to remake it exactly the same. THAT will have to be my project for Christmas 2011, along with a red stocking for our NEW family member, Alivia. Girls in red, boys in brown - that's the way the tradition will be in my family I guess!

Around Thanksgiving, with Stephen's stocking top not yet finished, and a new baby due to be born any day, I thought I was probably going to have to give up my goal of getting the stockings done. But, since the baby was a bit over a week late, Grandma K was around and let me work on stockings a little bit, and yesterday Grandma H came over to help sew them together......

THEY ARE READY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jaden was very interested in this sewing machine thing!
And, here they are!
As you can see in the picture above, my stocking was just random designs. Since I was making up the pattern for these new ones I wanted to try to do two additional things:
1) Include something special and personalized to the person I was making it for and
2) Include a religious symbol. Christmas stockings are often associated only with Santa and the more secular points of Christmas. However, since JESUS IS the reason for Christmas and I want that to be something that is clear and remembered by my family at all times in our celebrating, I wanted to include reminders of that in the stocking design.

Stephen's stocking has the trumpets and the music notes to reflect his love for and talent in music. IN keeping with the musical theme, I chose the word "Gloria" and the Angels that announced Jesus' birth as the religious symbol to appear. After a lot of thinking, I decided that the best thing to do, to reflect the reality of our world, our family, and our ministry, would be to have multicultural angels!
Since discovering trains, Jaden has LOVED them! So, even though he may grow out of them, there will always be a reminder of that early love on his Christmas stocking. Out of all the words I could have put on his stocking I chose "JOY" I guess because of the joy that he brought to my life. Truly, the "JOY" represents that which we have because Jesus came to be born and live among us to accomplish our salvation. Since we are a bilingual family (sort of - or working on it) I made sure to include the Spanish translation "Gozo." Little did I know when I chose that in 2009 that in 2010 "Gozo al Mundo / Joy to the World" from the Mariachi San Pablo Christmas CD (that Daddy sings on and wrote/arranged several things for) would quickly become one of Jaden's favorite Christmas songs! I also included the manger, star, and the gifts that the Magi brought to baby Jesus as a reminder of the REAL reason we have JOY at Christmas!
Again, I know it is not THINGS that bring true joy in life. But, I can't put into words HOW HAPPY it makes me to see these stockings and know that I get to hang them up in my house every Christmas from now on (well, until maybe my kids steal theirs to take to their homes). I hope that these little tokens of my love will be at least a fraction as special to my family members as mine from my Grandma has been to me.

And, I can't WAIT to get started on Alivia's and mine for next year!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Can I Paint?

Lately, Jaden has been making the easiest requests. It makes me happy to see him noticing game/project/play materials around the house and deciding that is what he would like to do.

Last night he wanted to paint. So, I whipped up a little freehand drawing of a Christmas Tree and a Snowman on some construction paper, and away he went!

Then, he wanted Daddy to help - which was fun because Daddy is usually at work when we are doing such projects!
And, now adorning the refrigerator.......

Decorating the Tree at Church

Jaden has been LOVING Christmas decorations. This Sunday he got to help the youth group hang decorations on the church Christmas tree before Christmas program practice.
With a little help from Grandma too!
Just about every meal and every night we have to include "Thank God for Christmas tree with lights" or "Christmas tree with decorations" in our prayers!

Stuck

Jaden LOVES to climb on the couch....well, ANYTHING really....
But, his bopping cushions get stored back there. Recently he climbed around enough to work a hole between the two of them and now, every once in awhile - he'll get

STUCK!

Advent Calendar

Grandma found this Advent Calendar for a good price and had it sent here.
Jaden was immediately interested because he has the matching Nativity Set.

Each day we take one character out of the numbered pockets and put them into the stable. We're only on day 7 and for 4 days already Jaden has recounted every step of the story with us. Each day we review. He points out each of the characters and tells us what they are. Then we ask questions like.....
Who is Mary? - "the mommy to have a baby"
What is the baby's name? - "Jesus"
Who is Joseph? - "Mary's husband." Then he started adding, "and Daddy is YOUR husband mommy. And grandpa is YOUR husband grandma!"
Who rode the donkey? - "Mary"
Where did Mary and Joseph go? - "to Beth-el-ham"
Where did they stay? - "In a stable"

The last few days have been stable animals like cows, a horse and a goat. Tomorrow is the angel and the next day is the star......so we'll get to add a few more pieces into the story.

It amazes me how much he remembers and how clearly he understands and can explain it just through our simple little 5 minute activity and prayer.

Praise God!

I want to be Mary

On Sunday Jaden went to his first Sunday School Christmas Program practice.

As the teacher explained to all the students what they would be doing Jaden listened quite well. Then the teacher asked who wanted to be Mary. Of course, there was only one little girl there who really could have done it - but she had asked.

She didn't hear Jaden who, after thinking about it for a second said, "I want to be Mary."

After she talked to the little girl about being Mary she continued to ask each of the children what they wanted to be and gave them suggestions. When she got to Jaden she asked him if he wanted to be a shepherd. He said, "No, I'm going to be Mary." She tried again and asked if he wanted to be an angel instead. He said, "No, I'm going to be Mary!"

They tried to convince him that a girl had to be Mary and that he was a boy. Daddy worked to convince him that little boys could be angels or shepherds, then when they got bigger they could be a king, or maybe even Joseph.

I hear this persisted throughout the rest of the practice AND when he got home and Daddy told us Jaden was going to be a shepherd in the program Jaden said, "No, I'm going to be Mary!"

Hmmmmm.........

Puzzle Fun with Grandma

Grandma and Jaden had fun putting this farm puzzle together yesterday afternoon.
This kind of puzzle is just a tad above the right skill level for Jaden. It is a bit too tricky for him to do on his own and takes almost too long for his attention span.
But, he LOVES working on it with someone special and, he is really good at figuring out where the pieces go!

Silliness

Tickling mommy
kisses
hugs
and talking to baby sister
What a great way to start the day!

Decorating the Christmas Tree

I LOVE LOVE LOVE my Christmas ornaments. Mostly the ones crocheted by my Grandma B and the ones stiched by my Grandma K.


And Jaden had a fun time helping!

Talking to Santa

As we pulled out the Christmas decorations Jaden found a new best friend. But, for some reason, I guess he felt his friend needed to be cleaned a little bit.



A trumpet playing, jingle bell singing, dancing Santa Claus whose pants refuse to stop sagging!

Oh - and yes, while he was in the washing machine Jaden was telling him stories!

Christmas Tree Craft

So, as we unpacked the Christmas decorations we uncovered a foam craft kit I bought last year on clearance for something like $1. Jaden was SO excited he kept asking to make it.

Totally easy, totally fun! And, we still have 2 trees left we can make!

all of the decorations are foam stickers that you just punch out. There is also glitter paint, glitter, and tinsel that you can add. Maybe we'll tackle those on the other trees.

Here you can see the star on top of the finished one in the front of the pic.
Shopping those post-holiday craft deals is DEFINITELY worth it! Even if it lives in a box in the garage for a year!!!!

My Handsome Little Man

Enough said!
Ha - are you kidding? Did you REALLY think I could put up a blog post and not WRITE anything!?!??!

The story behind the suit is....
Stephen got ready for church in the morning and put on one of his new (black "Saturday" specials) sportcoats.
I asked Jaden if he wanted to wear a suit like daddy.
He was VERY excited.
When I took it out, I wasn't planning on the tie.
He saw it and said......Can I wear THAT?!!!!!!!
And there you have it. Good thing you can't really see the tennis shoes. They are the only shoes he will wear.
I'm still hoping I can convince him of something different for Christmas!

The BEST Pecan Pie EVER!!!!!!!!

No joking folks. Absolutely everyone that tasted this pie agreed. Whether they were pecan pie lovers or not really a fan but wanted pie at Thanksgiving, everyone said THIS was GREAT pecan pie.
I can only take the credit for baking it. Pioneer Woman has to have the credit for making the recipe.

I did cheat and use a Pillsbury Pie Crust - but it DID NOT MATTER. This pie was SOOOOO good! I'm SOOOOOO glad I made two!

Trust me...this is now a holiday requirement for my table! I'll probably have to make 10 for Christmas to feed the whole clan....but it's happening!

Here is the recipe in case you don't follow the link above.

Pioneer Woman’s Pecan Pie

Added by Ree on August 16, 2009 in Desserts, Pies

Prep Time 15 Minutes
Cook Time 50 Minutes
Servings 12Difficulty Easy

Ingredients

  • 1 whole Unbaked Pie Crust (I Use "sylvia's Perfect Pie Crust" Recipe
  • 1 cup White Sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • 1 cup Corn Syrup
  • ¾ teaspoons Vanilla
  • ⅓ cups Melted Butter (salted)
  • 3 whole Eggs Beaten
  • 1 cup (heaping) Chopped Pecans

Preparation Instructions

First, whip up your pie crust using “Sylvia’s Perfect Pie Crust” found on Tasty Kitchen.

Next, mix sugar, brown sugar, salt, corn syrup, butter, eggs, and vanilla together in a bowl.

Pour chopped pecans in the bottom of the unbaked pie shell.

Pour syrup mixture over the top. Cover top and crust lightly/gently with foil. Bake pie at 350ยบ for 30 minutes. Remove foil, then continue baking for 20 minutes, being careful not to burn the crust or pecans.

NOTE: PIE SHOULD NOT BE OVERLY JIGGLY WHEN YOU REMOVE IT FROM THE OVEN. If it shakes a lot, cover with foil and bake for an additional 20 minute or until set. Required baking time seems to vary widely with this recipe. Sometimes it takes 50 minutes; sometimes it takes 75!

Allow to cool for several hours or overnight. Serve in thin slivers.

Happy Thanksgiving

We made these as cards and sent them to Gma & Gpa K in MN and Great Gma & Gpa B in SD!


I would share the link that I printed the turkey parts from but in my opinion it really wasn't worth it. I could just have drawn them just as well.

The turkey body is from a tracing of Jaden's foot and the hands are tracings of his hands. I would recommend this craft for a bit older of a kid. There were too many steps that Jaden couldn't do and he didn't want to color the feathers to make them more colorful. He also got tired of the gluing before we were finished so mommy had to finish up!

Materials Needed:
Various colors of construction paper for feathers (at least 3)
brown paper for tracing foot
scissors
pencil
cardstock or white paper for backing

Steps:
1. Have child stand on paper and help them trace their foot.
2. Help child trace their hand print on various colored sheets of construction paper.
3. Cut out pieces
4. Children can color the feathers for added effect.
5. Trace outline of turkey body (foot) on white paper as a guide. Glue handprint feathers in a fan around the outside.
6. Glue on turkey body.
7. Glue on or draw eyes, beak, wattle, feet.
8. Write message
9. Display or send to someone special.

Too Tired for Dinner

I can't remember what we had been doing all day this day - but it was clear by dinner time that Jaden was ready for bed. Of course, I wanted him to eat something first. Turns out...that wasn't in the plan.
I thought he was just being silly and curling up on his chair but, when he didn't move for several minutes it was clear that he was 100% OUT.
While my son is NOT much of a sleeper (as in, he doesn't really like to go to sleep and will fight naps and early bedtimes with every silly thing he can think of), he WILL sleep anywhere when the need finally catches up with him!

Bus Station Dedication

In the neighborhood near the church the city recently opened a new bus station and asked the mariachi to play for part of the dedication ceremony.I had a doctor appointment that morning so Jaden got to tag along with Daddy until I got there.
He was having a GREAT time because there were buses AND mariachi music!
It is always an amazing blessing to me that the mariachi gets to play both popular and Christian music at public events like this. What a wonderful opportunity to share the message of Jesus!
A new, clean bus was there for checking out. Jaden HAD to climb on and go for "rides" with his trains!

Pumpkin Patch Family

So, finally, a Halloween picture!

We had a plan to make Jaden a Scoop the Digger costume (from Bob the Builder) but, when it came right down to it, we didn't have time. And, he decided that he wanted to be a pumpkin.

We went to the store to find a pumpkin costume and he decided that he wanted to be a glow-in-the-dark pumpkin! Then, mommy found pumpkin shirts for both her and daddy so we got to be a Pumpkin Patch!
Jaden and Daddy needed a little help with their pumpkin tummies - but mommy's was already sufficiently large!
After a night of partying at the church's Fall Festival and spending LOTS of energy jumping in the jumping balloon Jaden borrowed Daddy's pumpkin tummy for a little rest on the ride back to the car!

Trumpeter in Training

This fall I have been going to a Bible study every Tuesday night. That means that Jaden has been going to mariachi practice with Stephen. One night, his water bottle that turns into a bell when he goes with me to handbell choir practice became a trumpet so he could play along!
No matter what music is playing Jaden seems to be interesting in joining in!