Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Christmas 2014

We awoke Christmas morning to a fresh blanket of snow. Penny would have been content staring out the window, but the rest of us were anxious to open presents.
This year, I made all the gifts. I made my mom an apron, Taylor got a locket with lipgloss inside, the girls got handmade dolls, Penny got a baby carrier, and I painted my Dad a picture of the town we lived in when we spent a summer in Italy. Our Handmade Christmas stretched my creative abilities to their limit. I have a lot of room for improvement, but I rediscovered how much I enjoy creating things. As I sewed, crafted, and painted I thought about the recipient which made the gifts feel a lot more meaningful than they would otherwise. 
Penny named her doll, Lucy, which seems to be her favorite name. A few days prior, she told me her name was Lucy and insisted I call her by her new name. Now the name belongs to her new doll.
It wouldn't be Christmas without our traditional breakfast of grease gravy and biscuits (trust me, weird name, but it tastes delicious!) This year, Aunt Debbie brought some fancy hot chocolate to add the meal--fingers crossed that it become a new tradition!

Christmas Eve 2014

My family always celebrates Christmas Eve at my mom's parents. We always eat sauerkraut, sausage, and zopf (swiss holiday bread). And we always act out the Nativity. This year, both of my girls got to be in the nativity.

Last year, Andrew took Penny home for bed before the Nativity, so this was her first time too. Andrew, who really dislikes dressing up, was a good sport and accepted a role as one of the wise men. Penny was a little angel, while Eloise, played baby Jesus.

Now, Eloise, on a good day, isn't very cooperative, and our visit to Utah made that even worse (She might have gotten the nickname "Little Horrible" while we were there..) so I warned Mary (played by my cousin, Jane) that she would probably be naughty, but she was so enthusiastic about Eloise playing baby Jesus that I let her. She did a remarkable job keeping her happy.

I was excited that my cousin Amy was able to come for part of the evening. Her daughter Ellie is a few months older than Penny and they played so well together. I wish we lived closer to each other. The girls got to be angels together and gave each other hugs and kisses.
One of my older cousins had the job of holding up the star. Penny begged to have a turn playing the star. It was quite humorous to see how seriously she took her new job.
 Her little arm started to get tired, but Penny didn't let it stop her.
After the nativity ended, Penny kept carrying around the star. Someone began playing a quiet Christmas song on the piano and Penny took that as her cue to go be a star again. She tripped over herself in her haste to return to her spot and stick up the star once more.
We ended the evening opening presents from Grandma and Grandpa. They always give the perfect present! Penny got a new stuffed kitty that has hardly left her side.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas Dresses

I love using Christmas (and Easter) as an excuse for new dresses! This year, our Christmas budget was very tiny so I found Penny a cute inexpensive dress at Ross that went well with a new (to us) hand-me-down dress for Eloise.
It's near impossible to get a picture of my girls together!
Stay tuned for more posts about our trip to Utah for Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Penny's Playful Preschool

Penny started going to preschool this year. For the first two months, she cried every time I picked her up because she didn't want to leave! On more than one occasion, she actually tried to jump in another mother's arms so I couldn't take her home. I shudder to think what Penny's teacher must have thought about her home life! Thankfully, now that the "newness" has worn off a bit, I get a nice big hug when I pick her up.
Maybe Penny needs a smaller backpack!
Playful Preschool is once a week, with only a handful of toddlers and it's been a perfect fit for my little Penny. Her teacher, Natalie, is so sweet and cute with all the kids and Penny just adores her!
Today, they put on a little Christmas program for all the parents. They sang and danced to a few songs and it was equal parts adorable and humorous. Penny loves singing and learning actions to songs. 
Even though the lighting in the picture below is terrible, I can help but love it. It really captures my Penny's sweet little personality. 
Penny is loving, thoughtful, and bright. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

I have always maintained that if I were ever going to cook a Thanksgiving dinner, I would not cook turkey. (Roast chicken or beef anyone?) But when it came down to planning a little meal for just Andrew and the girls I couldn't bring myself to break tradition. And that is why I bought an 11 pound turkey for four people, two of which are small children. I also planned half a dozen side dishes, including homemade rolls, and three pies from scratch for desert. 

As Thanksgiving approached, Andrew and I hoped to find another family to share our meal with but everyone we talked to already had plans. It was less than a week to Thanksgiving, and we had resigned ourselves to the idea of keeping the dinner a small family affair, when I decided to check if the missionaries had a place to go. To our shock, they had not been invited anywhere yet, and we were excited to have guests! Days later, Andrew ran into our neighbor, Doug, and discovered he too needed a place to go.  It was a Thanksgiving Day miracle! 

I made way too much food and probably didn't need to make so much of it from scratch, but the result was delicious and the company was even better. Thanksgiving it seems, is a case of, "If you build cook it, they will come!"
After sending home a huge bag of food with Doug, we still had enough food to eat leftovers for the rest of the weekend! After cooking for days, it was nice to relax. I discovered a great way to reheat leftovers. I put everything (except gravy) in a oven safe dish and warmed it through in the microwave. Then I put gravy over the potatoes and put the food under the broiler for a about two minutes to get the green bean casserole, sweet potatoes casserole and stuffing crispy again while the gravy warmed through and protected the mashed potatoes from getting burnt.