Wednesday, December 26, 2007

After Christmas Blues

Here is Ben setting out cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve right before bed.

Next, here is after Santa delivered the drums he was so badly wanting, with Collin watching him bang away.

Here is Ben and Logan playing with their pretend leaf blowers, that broke after very little use! And then when we got home, Ben had to try out his roller skates...another request from Santa!

We had a great Christmas this year. We did miss having family around, but it was fun, since this is the first year Ben has really gotten the whole "Santa" idea. He was super excited. He woke us up at 6:15 on Christmas morning, and we opened gifts, then we went to his friend, Logan's house for Christmas lunch. They had a great time playing all afternoon. At the end of the day, both Ben and Collin were exhausted, especially Collin!! Now it is all over, we have put down the tree, and it is a little sad until next year! Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, here are a few pics of ours!! Angela Grace, I had to put these pics of Collin in here because I know you will love the outfit!! Now you can make fun of Earle for letting him wear a John John.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Rockin' Out

Here is a little clip of Ben performing "Jingle Bells" with his toy guitar.

He had two programs this year, one at church, as a shepherd, and one at school as a reindeer. At church, he simply walked onto the stage and right down the steps to me. At school, he got on stage, spotted me and started crying and at the end of his class song, he dramatically ran off the stage to me. But he has them all fooled, he is not a shy boy. The lighting wasn't the best and our flash didn't help too much. Sorry for the dark picture. Enjoy!! Happy Holidays!!

Here is just a token picture of Collin...he was there to watch Ben's performance...but we just can't leave him out!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Greatest Gifts, An Abundance of Blessings

Okay, I want to reflect with everyone some of the greatest blessings of my year.

There are more than a few people who I would like to thank.

I want to thank the Postpartum Unit, Labor and Delivery, and NICU at St. Elizabeth's hopsital in Belleville, IL, for all of our care over our extended 5 weeks there. This is one of those circumstances when I truly felt humbled, and I was so overwhelmed with a sense of appreciation, I did not even know how to express. Chris, in post partum held my hand through some horrible times, made me laugh at myself and made life bearable. Kira did a manicure for me in the hospital bed, and many other nurses made me feel like a human, when I felt no where near human. Also, thank you to the NICU for caring after Collin as if he was their own. I am so indebted to you all. They took care of Collin and I in such an amazing way. They were truly angels tending to me. It is so strange, I got to know them, and strangely enough, when Collin and I were both released, I was sad to go because I had to say goodbye to these people, knowing, I will probably never see them again. What a gift they have given me!! Thank you to my parents for helping me with Ben during that time, and also, helping with our move. Thank you to the Starbucks people at Hart Food and Drug for always being so kind to me when I felt horrible and Ben was screaming in the Starbucks! Thank you to all of my friends in Illinois, who helped me this year. Angela, Becky, Jana, Jenny, Michelle, Debbie, April, etc....Thank you for the 2 weeks of "Carrie" goodbye get togethers that you gave me before we moved...that really made me feel loved and special and gave me strength to put myself out there when I moved here to Louisiana. Thank you to all of you new Louisiana people for accepting me as your friend...Angela C., Rachel, Whitney etc... Thank you Rochelle, for sticking in there for the past 13 years, I think! Thank you to Earle for still loving me through the gross pregnant stages...and there were some really gross ones this last time, and the crazy post pregnant phase which also included "crazy moving to a new state Carrie". Don't forget Ben, who makes me laugh, and Collin who calms my soul. I am so blessed by you. I am also so blessed each day when I hear from a friend or family member through this blog or facebook, that I have not heard from in years. That is truly a blessing. Through everything, it is so great and humbling to reflect on this years blessings. God is good. Here are a few pics of the boys, that did not make the "Christmas Card Cut"

Monday, December 3, 2007

Food for Thought on Holiday Cookie Exchanges...

Yes, it is that time of the year, gifts for everyone, decorating, Christmas parties, and lots of Cookie Exchanges! If you are anything like me, you enjoy these evening or afternoon events, if you can muster the energy to get out and enjoy yourself after a day of work or a day of chasing after your little elves. Here are a few tips I have figured out to help the Cookie Exchange season run a little smoother.

1. Pick recipes that require only a few ingredients that are special. (Too many special ingredients require a pretty big grocery bill)
2. To make the most of your time, bake a few times for one event and freeze them (I try to do it during nap time for Ben and Collin).
3. Make your cookies or candies smaller so that they will go much further.
4. After you go to the exchange don't feel like you have to share all of these goodies in your home, take them to church and school programs and parties, so that you don't have to keep baking.
5. If watching your waistline is important to you, remember that the freezer is your friend. I know I am much less likely to take the rock hard frozen sweet treats out of the freezer and bite into them than thawed out ones...don't get me wrong, you will try this, but after a time or two your teeth will hurt too bad!! Plus your husband won't eat them all this way.

Here are a couple of recipes that I am going to use this year. I have 18 dozen cookies to make, and the ones I am doing this year are the same as last year because...we all of you Louisiana people haven't had them yet!!

English Toffee Cookies--------------This is my grandmother's recipe

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup margarine
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
2 giant Hershey Bars( I use the Symphony Bars with Toffee bits )

Cream together butter,margarine, and brown sugar. Mix in egg yolk, flour and vanilla. Bake at 375 until it is a golden brown, about 18 minutes. Spread Hershey Bars on top while hot and let cool. I double this recipe and make it in a half sheet baking pan. It makes quite a few depending on how small you cut them, and they are rich.

Oreo Truffle Balls

1 Package of Double Stuff Oreos
1 Package of Cream Cheese
1 Package of White Almond Bark
1 Package of Choc. Almond Bark

In food processor, mix together the oreos and cream cheese. Roll them into small balls and then put them into the freezer to let them get hard. Next, get the oreo balls out of the freezer, and follow the microwave instructions on the Almond Bark package, and dip them into one of the Almond barks and completely coat the balls, then after the dipped ball has set a little, with the other color, dip your spoon in it and drizzle over the top for a decorative finish. This is a great one to let the kids help with the dipping of the Almond bark. Then you just freeze them until the day of the party!! They are really tasty!

So anyway, hope you enjoyed the post. I would love to hear anyone else's easy and inexpensive holiday tricks!!! Have a good week!!