Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Girl's Rite of Passage

All Sarah really wanted for Christmas this year was to get her ears pierced.
Here we are on the big day.

Here she is having mark made where the earring will go. I hope they're even!

This picture isn't the greatest, but here is the big moment. I was surprised how calm Sarah was. I think I was more nervous. I can't believe how much she has grown up in the past year.

They look great Sarah! You are becoming such a beautiful young woman. It is a privilege to be your mom. I love you!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bekah's First Hair Cut

We had planned to have the older girls' hair cut for the holidays. I hadn't considered having Rebekah's cut. I really didn't even think she would sit still. Well after watching dad, mom and her two older sisters all get their hair cut, Rebekah was not going to be left out. So here are some of the pictures from her first hair cut.

She was so good. She sat still the entire time and actually enjoyed the attention and primping. My mother-in-law tells me I finally have my girly girl. I am not sure about that, but she is our littlest princess.

Rebekah and the whole family look great. Thanks Selena for the hair cuts. It's great to have an awesome friend how just happens to be an awesome hairdresser as well.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Candy

It was time again for Little Explorers annual Christmas candy making. This is a lot of fun, but also really messy. Think plumbs of powdered sugar everywhere!

The kids are getting old enough to do most of this project on their own, with just adult supervision. Above Sarah and Shannon mix the first batch on the stove. Below once it has finished cooking and they have added the flovoring and color it is poured into pan to start to cool.
Then comes the fun for everyone. Someone with tuff skin cuts the candy into long strips from the pans. The strips are tossed into the piles of powdered sugar on the table. All the other little hands cut the strips into bit size pieces. You need to work fast before the candy cools. If it does you can't cut it. You can break it, but you get sharp edges. Once the candy is all cut and tossed in the powder sugar, shake off the excess sugar. We tossed all the flavors/colors in a large turkey roaster. You can see it in the picture below.

Here is a jar of our hard candy! It is so yummy!

Homemade Gift Tags

The girls and I had a wonderful time making gift tags for all the Christmas packages. The kitchen table was covered with paper, stamps, ink pads, paper punches, ribbon and more. Everyones favorite technique was the gold embossing. Check out the snowflake on the tag in the middle. I think the tags came out great! It was a great way to spend a snowy afternoon.

We plan to keep things simple and old fashion this year. We will be wrapping gifts in plain brown paper with red ribbon and our tags of course. I'll post a picture of some of the wrapped gifts soon.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Caroling

The girls and I had a wonderful time Christmas Caroling with our friends, the Ness family, and their church. It was the first time the girls had ever been caroling, and it had been years since I had been. Hannah wasn't sure she wanted to go. She even asked her dad if she could go to work with him. Turns out she had the best time of all of us and probably sang the loudest too. Sarah thought we should have stayed out longer. She really enjoyed herself and the time with her good friend Hannah. Rebekah didn't sing at any of the houses, but sang the entire way back to the church for service. Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of the group singing. I had to carry Rebekah as we had just gotten some snow and her little legs just can't keep up yet. Everyone was warm and gracious even if we were a little off key some of the time. Caroling was such a wonderful way to share the joy we as Christians find in the Christmas season and all year long in the loving arms of our Savior. Hopefully we were able to touch the hearts of some of those who heard us sing.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dinner - Sister Style

Sarah has been working hard at coming up with a dinner to cook for the family at least once a week. This week she planned Hamburger Steak with Mushroom Gravy, Fried Potatoes, and Peas. Of course her sisters have seen how much fun Sarah has been having in the kitchen and wanted to join her. Sarah was a great big sister and let them help.

Here Sarah and Rebekah mix the ground beef and turkey along with all the spices and bread crumbs. Rebekah wasn't prepared for how cold it would be. She really wasn't sure about the feel of it either.

Rebekah's hands weren't big enough to form the "steaks" so Hannah stepped in here. Behind the scenes Hannah cubed potatoes and Sarah sliced mushrooms.

Sarah took over when it was time to cook everything. She really enjoys being in the kitchen and it developing into a wonderful cook. Just take a look at her yummy dinner below.

Hamburger Steak with Mushroom Gravy
Desperation Dinners ~ Beverly Mills & Alicia Ross

  • 3/4 pound ground beef
  • 3/4 pound ground turkey
  • 3/4 cup find dry bread crumbs
  • 2 1/3 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp seasoning salt, such as Lawry's
  • 3 tsp olive oil
  • 12 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine the ground meats, bread crumbs, 1/3 cup of the milk, the onion powder, and seasoning salt in a large bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands.

2. heat the oil over medium heat in a large ( we need to use two) skillet that has a lid. Mean while, shape the meat into six 3 1/2" patties about 1/2" thick, adding them to the skillet as you make them. Sprinkle the mushrooms around the patties, then cover and cook for 5 minutes.

3. Meanwhile combine the remaining 2 cups milk and the flour in a container that has a lid. Shake well until any lumps disappear. Set aside.

4. Uncover the skillet after the 5 minutes; the juices should have risen to the surface of the patties. Push the mushrooms our of the way, if necessary, and carefully turn the patties over. Continue to cook, stirring the mushrooms often, until the meat is cooked through to personal preference, 4 to 7 minutes. Reduce the heat if the meat begins to brown too quickly. Place each patty on a serving plate and keep warm in the oven.

5. Shake the flour-milk mixture again and pour it into the skillet with the mushrooms to make a gravy. reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring constantly and scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet, until the gravy is heated through and reaches the desired thickness, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper, spoon the gravy over the patties and serve.

Laundry Lessons

Hannah, I'm ready for my laundry lesson.

Hannah hates to fold the laundry. So she convinced Rebekah it would be a lot of fun to learn.

Hannah decided to start with socks. She thought those were the easiest. Match them up and fold them in half.

See how easy it is to fold socks, Rebekah. I think you are ready to give it a try on your own. What do you think?

So Hannah, what's the big deal. Folding socks is easy and a lot of fun. I don't know what you are complaining about.

Well, little sis the job is all yours.

Rebekah really does enjoy helping with the laundry. She has been helping me put the cloths in the washer and dryer for quite a while now. She also helps carry the basket with the dry clothes from the laundry room to the living room. And now she folds socks and ALL of her diapers.

A little training, a little responsibility go a long way to raising a child who loves to help out her family. Rebekah is so proud of her new chore. And we are proud of her. Of course now we need to find another chore of Hannah. She''s not getting off the hook that easily.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

We're not really models, we just play them on the Internet

Any of you know us, know how thin and tall our Sarah is. It is so hard to find clothing that fits her. Well a couple of months ago I ordered matching jumpers for the girls and I from Ringger Clothing. Well I have to tell you I was more than impressed with their service and quality. I email Mrs. Ringger with my concerns and Sarah's measurements. Not only did she email me back promptly, but after exchanging a few emails she called me and we worked out a size that would work for Sarah. The jumpers arrived in no time at all. They are beautifully made, wash wonderfully, and are comfy. All the girls and I just love them. Here is a picture of all of us in our new jumpers the day they arrived. (If you look closely at the Christmas Party pictures you will see we all have our jumpers on then too!)

Jump forward to today. I email Mrs. Ringger to find out what she suggested for Sarah when it came to a skirt. Once again I sent Sarah's measurements and what Sarah would like. In no time I had a response from her outlining exactly how to order complete with fabric suggestions and more. In one of the emails I sent today I included the above picture. Well, with our permission it is now on the Ringger Clothing site! The girls thought it was really cool to be the models for a clothing website.

Stop by and take a look at us as well as all the beautiful clothes that Mrs. Ringger sews.

Thank you Mrs. Ringger for the beautiful jumpers. We hope to order again soon! Dresses this time!

Too Cute!

Sarah snapped this picture of Rebekah when she came down after her bath tonight. I thought it was too cute not to share. Of course she didn't stay wrapped up in the towel for long. She just had to do her n*k*d dance around the living room. We did snap a few pictures of that. Unfortunately we wont share those. They will be put away until some daring young man comes to ask for her hand in marriage.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Little Explorers Christmas Party

The annual Little Explorers Christmas Party started with a feast of finger appetizers and delicious deserts. As always there was more than enough food.

Everyone had a wonderful time eating, playing games, and just being merry.
A game of Christmas pictionary soon got out of hand as everyone wanted to draw and the guessing was more of a screaming match!

Next was the Yankee swap. This year we tried something new and didn't open until everyone had picked and switched. It went great and everyone was excited to open their first Christmas gift. The girls got a snowman fondue pot and a bag of yummy chocolates.

Thank you Kelley family. This will be a great winter treat!

We ended the night with a couple of games of musical chairs. The children went first and had a great time. The game came down to two sisters. You guessed it - Hannah and Sarah!

The adults were next up. That was actually a funnier site. I wish I had taken some pictures, but alas I was playing. We had two dads hit the floor and one broken chair. I'm proud to say musical chair champs must run in the family. Yes, I WON!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Cutting the Christmas Tree

One of our favorite family traditions is heading out to cut our Christmas tree. for the second year we headed out to Chamberland Farm. They have such beautiful trees and the owner is a great guy too.

Here Dad and the girls head out to find the perfect tree. Of course this is not a quick or easy process. Everyone seems to have a different idea of what the perfect tree should look like.

Out in the middle of the field looking for that perfect tree. There were so many to choose from. I don't know how you decide. If we had room, I would love to have more than one tree.

Hannah's tree received the thumbs up from everyone. Now it was time to cut it down. Sarah was the holder as Dad sawed. Hannah and Rebekah stood back to yell "Timber!"

Sarah tried to help carry the tree out to the van. I don't think she realized how heavy a 7 foot tree is. As you can see the job fell on Dad's shoulders. It is a good thing Dad has such broad, stronger shoulders.

As Dad was trying the tree to the top of the van the girls and I enjoyed a cup of steaming hot cocoa! A perfect way to end our tree cutting trip!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Little Explorers Ornament Making

Little Explorers annual ornament making was a huge hit again this year. Each family brought a different ornament or Christmas craft to make. Everything from hand sewn felt gingerbread men to gift boxes made from old Christmas cards. I think each child went home with at least 10 different projects!

Above Rebekah carefully applies glue to the head of her snowman so she can attach the googly eyes. She also had fun stringing the beads on the candy cane ornaments. Unfortunately she had lots of fun cutting the Legend of the Candy Cane card that she was supposed to bring home.
Mrs. Kelley and Hannah are putting the finishing touches on Hannah's 3D star ornament. Hannah said the best craft was the gift boxes made out of old Christmas cards. They are the perfect size for the jewelry she makes.
Sarah and her friend are busy sewing their felt gingerbread men. Sarah thought the snowflake window clings were best. You can find the directions for them in this month's Family Fun magazine.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Indian Food

We thought it would be neat as part of our study of India to try some Indian food. None of us had ever had Indian food, but there is an Indian Restaurant in town that gets rave reviews. So we figured we would give it a try.
We decided to get a vegetarian appetizer sampler. These were actually quite tasty. There were four different varieties. Vegetable Pakoras (fresh-cut vegetables, deep fried with chickpea flour), Aloo Tikki (potato patties with mixed vegetables deep fried in chickpea flour), Vegetable Samosas (deep fried mild turnovers, stuffed with potatoes and green peas) and Paneer Pakoras (homemade cheese mixed with nuts and shredded potatoes, deep fries with chickpea batter)
Next we tried two of the Indian breads. Roti, a thick wheat bread baked in the oven and brushed with oil, is shown above. We also tried Nan, an unleavened bread similar to pita bread. I personally liked the Roti, but the girls liked the Nan better.
We ordered a lunch special because it came with Dal (lentil) soup and rice. The rice was well rice. Everyone liked it. The lunch special the girls picked was Sagg Vegetable Tikka. This is spinach, mixed vegetables, chunk of white chicken mixed together with a little cream and curry. Well, I think the girls couldn't even get past the site of this. Spinach is one of their favorite vegetables, but not creamed like this. I actually thought it was quite good, although the texture was not what I prefer.
Hannah's face says it all. The deal was that they had to try it. And they did. I don't know if we will be getting Indian food again in the near future, but we did have a lot of fun.

Indian Sari for Kit

The girls have been studying ancient India this past week. Sarah always is very interested in the clothing of the cultures we study. This time instead of making a costume for herself, she decided to make a Sari for her doll Kit. This was a good choice as a Sari for a woman takes about 12 yards of fabric. Wrapping that much fabric around ones body is not easy, even doll size, so we went in search of some help. We came across a site that had simple directions explaining how to wear the Sari. You can find the directions here
The hardest part was making the pleats and tucking them into the petticoat. Believe it or not, that is how they hold all that fabric up! We also found a video on youtube that was really cute and helpful. Unfortunately I can't find that link anymore.

Well, here is Kit in here finished Sari.

Sarah you did a great job!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Rebekah's Nativity Scene

I was so excited to find this wooden nativity scene. I had looked last year and couldn't find any that I like within our price range. This year I started the search again. I love the wooden pieces that are the perfect size for little hands. I wanted Rebekah to have a nativity set she could play with for years to come. Children learn so much through play. What a great way to learn about the blessed birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, than through play acting the story. All the girls have had a wonderful time playing with this set. Sarah and Hannah are teaching Rebekah all about Jesus and his birth. Rebekah loves to make the sheep kiss baby Jesus. She also sings while the angle flies above. And every night she lies all the figures down to go to sleep. Oh, it warms a mother's heart to see the joy her children receive as they develop a relationship with our wonderful Savior!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Advent - Preparing for the Coming of Jesus

Today the girls and I put together our family advent wreath from the boughs we cut during our snow shoeing adventure yesterday. Here you can see Sarah help Rebekah place the Christ candle in the center of the wreath.

Below is the finished wreath. I think they did a beautiful job. It truly is lovely. I am looking forward to the start of advent on Sunday.

This year we plan to use the advent wreath as a way to enjoy the season as we prepare not only for the birth of the baby Jesus but also in preparation for Jesus' return. It is so important for us to instill the true meaning of the Christmas season in our children's hearts. Especially when the world is doing its best to fill their heads and hearts with fleeting, worldly desires.

Each day we will light the appropriate candle, read a passage of scripture, share a simple devotion, sing a Christmas hymn and close with prayer. Every day a different child gets to participate as the advent helper. They choose the hymn, light and extinguish the candle, and read the scripture. Being involved get the girls excited about advent and helps them focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

For another look at how one family uses an advent wreath as well as some tips to get you started if you are new to this check our Molly's blog at
She has some wonderful ideas on making the Christmas season focus on Christ along with ways to include all your family.

Why not start a new Christmas tradition this year. You'll be making sweet memories for you and your children.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Thanksgiving has always been a favorite holiday here. With a family that loves to cook, loves to eat, and has so much to be thankful for what else would you expect. Here Rebekah shows off her place card that Sarah made. Sarah did a beautiful job on the place cards and napkin rings. They were a surprise she had been working on in secret for the past couple of days.
Of course everyone had to have a hand in the feast preparations. Here Rebekah helps her dad with the onions. Yum! They are a favorite with everyone, yet one of those dishes we seem to have only on Holidays. Go figure!

I'm not sure what these two are planning, but it looks like something serious. I some how missed pictures of Hannah making the green bean casserole. She did it all by herself and it was delicious! Below dad carves the 23 pound turkey. It was one of the best turkeys we have had! Perfectly cooked and oh so juicy.

The table is set, the food is hot, and all that is missing is mom. Oh she is behind the camera as always. She really did help cook as well, but you'd never know it if you were looking for photo evidence. The picture doesn't do justice the amount of delicious food we had. Not to make anyone envious but here's the menu: Roast Turkey, Sausage Stuffing, Red Skin Mashed Potatoes, Giblet Gravy, Green Bean Casserole, Butternut Squash, Turnips, White Onions, Sweet Potatoes with Maple Sugar, Orange Spice Cranberry Sauce, and Apricot Cream Pie. I don't think I need to eat again until Christmas.