31 December 2015

A Blessed Year

Taking silly pictures while staying up, waiting for midnight. Bonus points if you can guess what movie we watched.
2015 has been a blessed year. Our family expanded, prayers were answered, challenges were met with the Lord's help, goals were accomplished, friends were made and blessings were received.
Being cute.
We spent the day enjoying each other's company and working around the home before enjoying an evening snacking, playing games (like Jack challenging me to a bubble blowing contest...which I won. Easily), taking silly pictures and watching movies. I'm sure we'll all need a nap tomorrow but having a memorable evening is always worth it.
Jack thought he could beat me at a bubblegum blowing contest? Please...
Wishing you a happy, prosperous and blessed 2016!

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25 December 2015

The Thrill of Hope

Pre-Christmas with some of the cousins!
The Christmas season has been in full swing since the day after Thanksgiving. We've had our fill of Christmas parties, concerts, gatherings, food, music and lights. However, every year, we count down the days until we can make the trek to visit family and friends during the break.
Evelyn's school concert.
 Before we left though, we had some business to take care of. While pregnant, Jack helped me out with the horses a bit and trained Dancer for me while I was too great with child to ride. For the most part, she was good, but once in a while, she got a wild gleam in her eye and took Jack for a gallop. His meniscus paid a small price and right before we left on vacation, he had a small tear repaired. He's been basically an invalid ever since. And loving every minute of it.
I get to play nurse!
The drive from Indiana to Nebraska can be long and arduous. With four kids, a temporarily disabled husband and a dog, it can be a lot of work for me. We left in the wee hours of the morning, saying a prayer that everything would go well and sped off, hoping no one would complain.
Enjoying a beautiful sunrise.
 We didn't even make it past Evelyn's school before Kate asked if we were there yet.
We brought Hannibal with us in the car.
In all seriousness, the trip couldn't have gone better. We watched movies, everyone napped, snacked and played with their sticker books.
LOTS and LOTS of stickers.
Kate, the Picasso dog.
By the time we made it to The Promised Land (a.k.a. Nebraska), hardly anyone had whined about the distance. It was a Christmas miracle.
The light at the end of the tunnel!
Once we arrived, there were plenty of challenges still to face: taking care of Gimpy Jack meant I had to meet his every whim, from fetching his pills and ice packs in the middle of the night to bringing him breakfast, lunch and dinner in bed (I told you he liked it!), there were meltdowns, spit up, fights, overeating, staying up too late, crying, dog bites, racing around town to see family and friends, guilt about not being able to see everyone, an unfortunate chicken murder, my mother having to work out of town ON Christmas (boo!), among other trying experiences that come with the holidays. But, those pale in comparison to all the fun of Christmas.
Great-grandma Deaton meeting Henry.
 Great-grandmas met great-grandbabies.
I got to hold Tuck the Genius and Henry, the Coolest Baby Ever.
Aunts meeting nephews.
Such a Happy Henry!
Baby blessings.
 Naps!
Naps!
Jenny and Henry!
And MORE naps!
Star Wars...in love seat recliners!
Games with family.
Balloon animals!
Learning the "old lady arts" from grandma.
Nothing says Christmas like hamburgers and hot dogs!
Grilling out just a few days before Christmas??? You betcha!
Another Christmas miracle.
And still getting a white Christmas??? You betcha!
Driving around to see Christmas lights.
The season has been very good to us and we've enjoyed it all, the good, the bad, the ugly, the bloody, and the beautiful. Most importantly, we've been reminded of "the thrill of hope" because of the babe born in Bethlehem and the peace and hope He brings to the world.

Merry Christmas to all!

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24 December 2015

Hot Ham and Swiss Sliders

 
My sister frequently brings these to family gatherings and they're always a hit. They're easy to assemble so you can spend time with family and still enjoy a delicious meal without being stuck in the kitchen. Serve as the main dish, an appetizer or as part of a buffet.

Ingredients:

24 dinner rolls (try Hawaiian rolls--yum!)
24 pieces honey ham
24 small slices Swiss cheese
About 1/3 cup mayonnaise
About 1/3 cup miracle whip
Poppy Seed Sauce
1 Tablespoon poppy seeds
1 1/2 Tablespoons mustard
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 Tablespoon minced onion
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Cut dinner rolls in half. Spread mayo on one side and miracle whip on the other. Place a piece of ham and cheese on each roll. Put rolls together and place on a 9x13 jelly roll pan. Mix all ingredients for poppy seed sauce together and spread evenly on top of rolls (you do not have to use all the sauce if the rolls are getting too soggy). Preheat oven to 350F and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and sandwiches are hot.
 Enjoy!
Thanks to Chef in Training for the recipe inspiration!


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20 December 2015

Without Claire

Make a wish!
Recently, Claire celebrated her fifth birthday. Her birth marked the beginning of my adventure as a stay-at-home mother, gave Evelyn a playmate and me a child in my image (yes, I was once a blond like her!). She was (and is!) a ray of sunshine, with big, blue eyes, dimples to die for and a smile that is constant and stretches from ear to ear.
Claire: our favorite Halloween decoration.
I've been trying in particular to savor this year with Claire. Next year she'll be off to school with Evelyn and though I know she'll blossom and have all kinds of fun without me, I will miss her terribly.
A sampling of Claire's style.
We've had a busy year with all the girls. Claire was at the forefront of a new hairstyle after she got gum stuck in her hair, she learned how to lose graciously when her costume wasn't chosen at a Halloween party, gave us some beautiful smiling photos, and mastered hay hopping.
Claire's got eyes bluer than the sky. Seriously.
And, of course, she gave us plenty of laughs.
Her movie star attire.
More than the average child, I do believe.
Googly eyes.
She repeatedly show us how clever she is, like when she uses her engineering skills to draw, cut out and construct three dimensional animal creations.
Waiting her her homemade cat mask for Evelyn to get off the bus.
To the extreme. 
Cuddling our neighbor's cat who came for a visit.
Though at first, she wasn't quite sure what to make of Henry's arrival, saying she'd rather help out by loading the dishwasher or feed all the animals than hold him, he and she have become fast friends. I see mischief in their futures. I guarantee it, in fact.
It's impossible to imagine life without Claire and it's exciting to see where life is taking her. I'm so happy to be able to stand by and watch what amazing things she'll accomplish.
A mid-summer pumpkin.
Her day was made special when after church, we decorated her (what else?) pink kitty cake, ate her chosen birthday meal of salmon, Brussels spouts and biscuits, and opened a mound of presents picked just for her.
Her happy kitty cake.
Only five, yet it seems like we've known her forever.
 Happy birthday sweet, smiley, happy, kind, wonderful, beautiful Claire!

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19 December 2015

Reuben Dip

It's the time of year when parties are going full force. My sister shared this delicious dip an it's a good one. It adds a nice balance to all the sweets and is as tasty as Reuben sandwiches without all the work.

Ingredients:

8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup sour kraut, drained
6 ounces Swiss cheese
6 ounces corned beef, diced
2 to 3 Tablespoons Thousand Island dressing, or to taste

Mix all ingredients together and put in crock pot. Heat until warmed through and cheese is melted. Serve with crackers, bread or toast.

Enjoy!
(Thanks for the recipe, Jenny!)
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15 December 2015

Butterhorn Rolls

I've had these rolls for many-a-Thanksgivings (but let's be real--they're delicious all the time) and they're always a crowd favorite. They're really buttery and light with a slight crunch. Serve with butter or jelly and enjoy!

Ingredients:

3 teaspoons yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter plus 4 Tablespoons extra
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, beaten
5 1/2 cups flower

Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup warm water with a pinch of sugar. Melt 1/2 cup butter with milk. Add sugar and salt. Stir in the eggs (add a bit of the warm milk to the eggs and stir to prevent eggs from cooking). Add together. Incorporate 1 1/2 cup flour, then yeast mixture. Mix in, then knead 4 more cups flour. Cover and let rise one hour. Divide dough in two and roll out one section into a circle. Melt four extra tablespoons butter and spread half over dough. Cut into 16 wedges and roll up like croissants and place on baking sheet. Repeat with second half of dough. Let rise and bake at 350F for about 10 minutes, or until lightly golden.
A pan of deliciousness!\
Enjoy!

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14 December 2015

Just Give Me That Milk

My cooler runneth over.
After Jack came home from scout camp, he taught the girls the following chant:

Don't give me no pop, no pop!
Don't give me no tea, no tea!
Just give me that milk!
Moo, moo, moo, moo!
Just give me that milk!
Moo, moo, moo, moo!

Honestly, I have no idea where this silly little song originated but it's so catchy that the girls are constantly singing it, including when I ask them to put my bags of milk in the freezer.

Since having Henry, and having such a positive experience donating milk when Kate was still nursing, I decided to donate again to the The Milk Bank. I'm a firm believer that everyone can donate something--blood, hair, marrow, money, time, talents or skills, food, work...there are so many ways that being truly charitable will help another who is in need. Since I've been blessed with more milk than Henry will ever need, it's going to fragile babies who are struggling for a variety of reasons.

Just give 'em that milk.

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