Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: A Year in Posts

To put it mildly, 2011 kicked my boo-tay. I've learned so much this year and have tried to enjoy what I could amongst the drama and heartache that defined this past year for me. I'll be talking more about that soon, but first I wanted to take a look at the twelve posts that I feel best define what 2011 was for our family. These aren't necessarily my favorite posts from each month or the most popular posts from each month, but they are the posts that I feel best commemorate this year in our lives. I hope you enjoy.


This Time Last Year: Hollyn's First Birthday Post

 Like Mother, Like Daughter


A Patriotic Moment


The Appointment That Shook Our World


First in State, Ain't It Great

Splishin' and Splashin'

Not Sure the Runway is Ready for This


Being a Better Mom, Attempt #16: My Letter to Libby


How Do I Want Them to Remember Me?


The Girl Really Gets It


The Sun'll Come Out Tomorrow


Holiday Traditions

Are you reflecting back on 2012?
If so, I'd love for you to share a link to your post in my comments.

Happy New Years to you and you and you.
May God bless you in 2012, and here's hopin' 2012 makes 2011 look like small potatoes.

Today I'm linking here and here and here. Gotta love that last minute linkin'.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Peppermint Bark: A Way to Use All Those Candy Canes

I kinda feel like I'm swimming in left over Christmas candy.
You too?

Well, here's what I plan to do with the candy canes that are swallowing my kitchen whole:

Bloggers, meet my peppermint bark.

What you'll need:

-wax paper
-a large bowl (microwave safe)
-a large spoon
- 2 cups rice krispies
-one package almond bark
-a dozen or so candy canes, crushed or chopped

Spread the wax paper flat on your counter. You may need to tape down the edges if they aren't cooperating.
Melt the almond bark (aka white chocolate) according to the package directions.
Once it is melted, quickly add the rice krispies. Add them a little at a time and stir, stir, stir. Once the rice krispies are coated in the chocolate, spread them out onto the wax paper. Once it has cooled some but not all the way, sprinkle the crushed peppermints over the rice krispies/chocolate mix.

Let cool.
Remove from wax paper.
Store in an air tight container.

Eat and enjoy the heck out of it.

This is always a HUGE hit with my family and friends.
In fact, my grandmother requests it every year.

What's your favorite holiday treat?
You know, the one you look forward to eating every year?
Pretty sure mine is peppermint kisses of the Hershey variety.

2011: My Favorite Blogs

2011 has been quite the year for blogging.
I've read some that made me laugh or giggle,
some that made me mad and want to unfollow,
some that I totally related to,
some that left me longing for more,
and some that challenged me to be and do better.

Here are some of the blogs I've enjoyed the most this year, in no particular order:

What is YOUR all-time favorite blog?
I'd love to find some new reads for 2012.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2011: A Year in Movies

Lee and I watch a LOT of movies. Seriously, I think we might keep Netflix in business.

Here are the movies we saw that came out in least the ones I can remember.
 It's been a long year. Don't judge.

Also, you'll notice some serious variety amongst these selections. What can I say-- opposites attract.

I've ranked them the best I can on a scale of  one to five stars.

Transformers ***
X-Men: First Class ***
Thor **
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II *****
Captain America **
The Green Hornet *
 Green Lantern ***
Water for Elephants ***
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides **
Super 8 ***
Fast Five ***
Rango *
The Help *****
Rio **
Battle: Los Angeles **
Cowboys and Aliens **
Limitless **
Crazy Stupid Love ***
I Am Number Four ***
Season of the Witch **
Take Me Home Tonight *
Beastly **
Bridesmaids ***
The Adjustment Bureau ****
Just Go With It ***
Source Code ***
The Dilemma *
Gnomeo and Juliet ***
Bad Teacher ***
Prom ***
The Eagle **
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules ***
The Lincoln Lawyer ****
Zoo Keeper **
Horrible Bosses **
Something Borrowed ***
Soul Surfer *****
Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer ***
How Does She Do It **
Courageous *****

Top  picks for families:

Love this movie's message about choosing how to handle the bad things that life sometimes brings and to rely on and trust in God always. Warning: the shark scene is a little scary for young viewers. Libby was fine, but Libby is not overly sensitive. It might bother young children, but to me the message warranted the one scary scene. We avoid bad language and kissing scenes and anything violent, but this real life story was well worth the message it sent to Libby.

Again, this movie sends a great message. However, it too has some real-life grown-up scenes. Libby hasn't seen it yet, but once we get a chance, we will watch it with her and explain to her about how the family worked together to overcome their heart-breaking situation. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it, but be sure to have plenty of Kleenex.

Overall Favorites:

I like movies that keep me on my toes and get my heart racing. This movie reminded me of a John Grisham story, and Matthew McConaughey didn' hurt either.

It's rare that I think the movie does the book justice. This one was filmed in Lee's hometown, and I absolutely adored it. I highly recommend it if you are one of the last people out there who haven't yet seen it.

Love. Love. Love. Perfect ending. That's all I have to say about that.

Overall, 2011 was not my favorite movie year. 
Most every movie seemed to be overflowing with bad morals and terrible decisions.
 I hate the fact that I have to tell my kids to leave the room or change the channel or push pause in almost every film that came out this year.  If it wasn't the raunchy scenes,
 it was the language or the drugs or the skimpy clothes or the violence. 
 Am I the only one out there who wishes there were more movies
 about families trying to be families?
Fingers crossed for better films in 2012.

What was YOUR favorite movie that came out this year??????
I'm sure we missed some.

Christmas 2011 In Pictures

1. The stockings were hung...
2. Libby and my hott, hott Momma
3. Libby and my G-momma
4. Hollyn, the girl who took twenty minutes to open each present

1. Hollyn and her Santa stash
2.  my present from Libby, which she wrapped all by herself
3. Hollyn and her daddy-- not sure who was more sleepy
4. Libby, the girl who thinks that new toys are a great reason to go to bed late and wake up extra early

What was your favorite Christmas moment this year?
Can you believe it's over?
I can't...but I bet I'll be closer when the Christmas stuff is no longer sitting in my den.....

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Love, Love, Lovin'

One of the many things I love about Christmas break?
'Free' time to catch up on some good reading.

Here are a few of my favorite posts as of late:

Love this idea that I found here.

 This idea is adorable AND looks yummy. Check it out here.

Wish I'd found this one sooner! I'll be adding it to my birthday gift ideas. You can get the details here.

I think this mantel that I found here is divine.

Tonight's the big night!
Here's hoping Santa makes a stop at your house.

Merry Christmas Eve to you, you, and you.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Last Minute Dipping

Still looking for that perfect last minute Christmas appetizer?
I got this.
Friends, meet my corn dip.
Corn dip, the friends.

It's literally my favorite dip of all time, and I don't use that term lightly.

The best part: NO COOKING! You just mix and go.

Here's what you'll need:

-1/2 cup mayo.
-1/2 cup sour cream
-2 cans Mexicorn
-4 T chili powder
-1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
-1 can chopped chilis (the cans are tiny and are found with the enchilada sauce)
-red pepper to taste

Just mix and enjoy. I usually chill mine before devouring it, but you certainly don't have to, and you can serve it with whatever kind of chips you like. My favorite is the tortilla scoops; Lee likes it with Frito's.
You're choice.

But get ready; it's some kinda good.

Are you ready for the big day yet?
Tomorrow morning, we'll be opening our first round of presents.
Raise your hand if you're excited......
that makes two of us.

Holiday Traditions

Well, hello there!
If you're visiting today from the blog hop, I am so glad you're here and hope you like what you see.

I have always been a traditions kind of girl.
 I love everything there is to love about holiday routines and the things we all look forward to with each new season of the year, and I fully believe that no part of the year carries more traditions than Christmas.
From the food to the family, we all want the holiday season to be special and fun.

Only sometimes it's not.

Sometimes we are instead so caught up in who's giving who what
and who we are mailing Christmas cards to this year
and baking that one last thing for that one last person,
 that Christmas becomes nothing short of an exhausting, big hot mess.
That's soooo not the way it's supposed to be.
Good. Let's be friends.

Here are a few of our favorite family traditions that help take our minds off of the Christmas hustle and bustle and help us focus on the true meaning of this very special holiday.

A few weeks ago, Libby jokingly said, "Mom, I think we have more Christmas books than we have Christmas ornaments...."
The funny thing is, I think she's right.

I LOVE Christmas books for two reasons:

1. Since they're only read one time a year, they are special and something different.

2. Sometimes the books say things in a way I just can't quite master. They tell the true meaning of Christmas and talk about baby Jesus in words that are just right for my little ones. What could be better than that?  Some of our favorites are Mary Engelbreit's The Night Before Christmas,  The Crippled Lamb, The Cajun Night Before Christmas, and Llama Llama Holiday Drama.

Every year, we pick out two ornaments to add to our tree: one for Libby and one for Hollyn.

We try to find ornaments that somehow relate to something we did that year or something the girls were interested in that year.
We always write the date on them, and Libby can't wait to see her special ornaments each December. The plan is to not only help them remember special moments from their childhood one day, but when they one day have homes of their own (sigh.), they'll already have a head start at ornaments to decorate their own trees.
This year Hollyn's ornament is a Santa Claus. Since she's learned to say Ho, Ho, Ho!, we thought this was fitting. Little did we know she'd be terrified of him when they met in person last week.....oops.

For many people, Christmas correlates with yummy treats.
We are some of these people.
And for my girls, it means Christmas cookies.
This year we invited friends to join us and had
Not only did we get to eat some yum yum gingerbread men (and women, according to Libby),
but we had a great time making the biggest mess my kitchen has ever seen.

Every year, Lee and I take our families out to dinner.
 By this I mean, my family + his family= twelve people.
 It's our treat, and it's one of the few times each year that our girls have both sets of grandparents at the same place at the same time. We go to the same restaurant every year (Lee's fav.), and it's one of our very favorite traditions. No presents, no stress. Just families being together.

This is a touchy subject. So many people have differing views on Santa, whether or not to 'do Santa', what Santa should bring, and so forth.
 Here's what Santa does at our house:

Since Libby was born, Santa has brought three gifts to our house.

We do this for several reasons:

1. My kids are two toys away from being spoiled rotten. Between their aunt and uncle and two sets of grandparents, they neither need or want for anything.

2. As the kids get older, their Christmas lists are bound to get more expensive. If we've always done three gifts, they will never feel like they're getting less when their gifts one day cost more.

3. The best reason: Baby Jesus got three gifts. By giving our girls three gifts, we help relate Christmas at our house to Christmas in Bethlehem.

Our girls know they are getting three, and Libby loves relating this to Jesus.
We usually break it down into three categories: something big, something educational (games, books, puzzles, etc.), and something they want.

Santa also brings stockings, in case you were wondering.

And this, my friends, is my favorite thing my family does each year.
On Christmas Day, we celebrate with Lee's parents, and while his dad is a top-notch cook, this is our dessert of choice each year. Not only do we eat birthday cake, but we also sing.
 Favorite. tradition. ever.

What are some of YOUR favorite family Christmas traditions?
I'd love to hear....

Only two more days. Are all of your presents wrapped? If so, please feel free to come on over and help me wrap mine. I'll be watching Elf and sipping hot chocolate if that's any motivation....

Happy Friday to you and you and you.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

This One's My Favorite

Of all the photos we took during our recent photo shoot, nothing say MERRY CHRISTMAS to me like this one does:

Are you getting excited? Only THREE MORE DAYS!

And don't forget to come back tomorrow--I'll be posting about traditions and on how to make the most of the holidays.

Sleep tight til then, mkay?

P.S.) I'm linking here. You should too. All the cool kids are doin' it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Boo On That

By noon yesterday, here's what I'd 'accomplished':

-I overslept, giving me twenty minutes to get ready AND get Libby and Hollyn ready.
-I misplaced the shirt I wanted to wear today, and seeing as how nothing else was clean, I had to scramble to find ANYTHING I'd be warm enough in today. Hate it when that happens.
- I lost Hollyn's pants somewhere between her room and my room. Fabulous.
-I had to park in Europe this morning since I was late and all the spots relatively close to work were taken. - I lost one of my all-time favorite pearl earrings.
-I totally forgot that Hollyn needed diapers today and that Libby needed lunch money......
-I forgot to put on makeup before coming to work this morning.
- I thought Hollyn had her doctor's appointment tomorrow, but it's today. This is fine except it puts a major kink in my dinner plans.....
-I yelled at the dog and at Lee this morning before leaving the house, neither of which did anything to deserve being yelled at......
-I changed purses this weekend and left my classroom key in my old purse.
-I spilled all of my very cold water on my shoes trying to quickly walk into work this morning.

HOWEVER, despite all of this, I have graded ALL of the research papers for the whole senior class in a week. And today starts Christmas break. And for those two reasons alone, I am one happy girl today.....despite the fact that I still have a ton of Christmas presents to wrap, goodies to bake for our neighbors, and a house to clean. Where are those darn elves when I need them?

And one more thing before I say goodnight. So you know how in blogger you can see what searches on Google led people to find your blog? My most popular are searches for things like cake batter dip and reading fair projects. Well, this morning someone searched 'naked little girls' and ended up here... on my blog. I think Google recognized this post and pieced the words together to have it end up in a search for something so vile.

I have two thoughts on this:

1. Sorry, dude.
 Never will you ever find nudie pics on this here blog o'mine.
Hate to disappoint.
Wait. No, not sorry....although you should be.
Don't bother coming back around these here parts; you're not welcome here.

2. I am praying for you.

And that's all I have to say about that.

And now let's end the day with a few more photos from our Christmas card shoot, shall we?

Happy Tuesday to you and you and you.
The Christmas countdown is o-fficially on, and I have to ask:
what are YOU most looking forward to this holiday season?