Thursday, December 22, 2011

Nativity by Abby

Abby sketched Mary and baby Jesus one night after she was tucked into bed. I had to share.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dear Rachel (#5)

Dear Rachel,

Your sister is now officially a teenager. Thanks so much for the book you sent her. She's heard it's a great read. Of course, she also loved the crazy-fun hat from Grandma Stoker. Her friends can't decide if it's a monkey, a giraffe, or a zebra. What do you think?
These cute cupcakes were delivered to our door this week--Reindeer at the North Pole!
I can't believe it was 70 degrees in Atlanta when I called you this week. It's been so cold here in Utah that I'm breaking out all the soup recipes. I made your Stoneless Stone Soup recently--love that one. This time I used spicy sausage and it warmed are bodies from the inside out. (I even posted it on my Salads and Such blog which has been ignored a bit lately.)
Since you weren't able to come to Travis' Christmas Concert this year, I've brought it to you. Enjoy your brother and the rest of the Percussion Ensemble playing Trepak from The Nutcracker. It was my favorite.



Love,
Mom

Friday, December 16, 2011

Popcorn Balls

Making popcorn balls as a family is a tradition we TRY to keep each December.
While the syrup reaches "soft ball" stage, we pop a huge bowl of popcorn with our ancient air popper. It really is a group effort when it's time to pour the hot syrup over the popcorn and stir to coat each piece. Many hands dig in to form the balls. (Cold wet hands work best.)
Of course, the best part of the process is the eating. They are delicious!
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My dad is the one who started this tradition. When he was a boy his family would make popcorn balls, wrap them in red or green cellophane and hang them on their Christmas tree. When friends or neighbors stopped by during the Holidays, they each would receive one of the homemade treats to enjoy.

We miss my dad very very much, but luckily, my kids have sweet memories of making popcorn balls with their grandpa.
Here is his recipe:

Popcorn Balls
2 c. sugar
2/3 c. white corn syrup
2/3 c. water
1/2 lb. butter
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla or maple flavoring (We actually used both.)

Cook all ingredients except the flavorings until the mixture forms a soft ball in cold water. Add vanilla and/or maple and pour over popcorn. (If you only use one type of flavoring, make it maple.)


Friday, December 9, 2011

Coca-Cola Crate Advent Calendar

I acquired this Coca-Cola crate when Brian and I were first married. I really have no idea how old it is--perhaps vintage 1960s or 1970s? The crate was left alone for a couple years until a friend suggested I turn it into an Advent calendar to count down the days until Christmas. I jumped on that idea since I have quite a fascination with Advent calendars.
There were, coincidentally, 24 compartments, which would take us through Christmas Eve. It was quite a fun treasure hunt finding small Christmasy knickknacks that were just right the size for the cubbyholes.  
Each trinket is concealed within a square of red or green tissue paper until it is "opened" on the appropriate day. The fat plaid ribbon has adorned the box for years. I suppose I could change it up, but my kids might rebel at the thought of altering our traditional holiday decor. 
There it is. A snapshot of Christmas at our house. Happy Holidays!

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Linking to:
The Shabby Nest
Funky Junk's Saturday Nite SpecialLink PartyTip Junkie handmade projects
Home Stories A2Z

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dear Rachel (#4)

Dear Rachel,

I can't believe it's been a month since my last blog letter to you. Did you get your Christmas tree all adorned Monday night? If so, I need pictures, please. Most of our decorations are up. Travis will work on setting up the train this weekend.

What do you think of this centerpiece? I already had everything so I was pretty happy.

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Now that I am finally starting to feel better, here are the pictures of Thanksgiving I promised:
It was so wonderful having BOTH grandmas with us AND Renee & Haley, AND Kirk & Beverly & kids. A rare Thanksgiving gathering indeed.
(Renee, Kirk, and Beverly)
There was lots of cousin time:
(Haley, Abby, Emmeline, Seth, and Isabelle)
(Haley and Abby straightened Emmeline's hair)
(before church)
(Abby and Isabelle)
We missed you a TON, but SO glad you were able to have Thanksgiving with Harold and Barbara. Have a good rest of the week.

Love,
Mom

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Connecting the Freckles

Ever feel so sick that all you can do is lie in bed and stare at the freckles on your arm?

I have. I am.

I started connecting those freckle-dots in childhood during my numerous strep throat infections. The habit reappeared for the first four months of each of my pregnancies. This week the visual exercise returned due to a cold that is perhaps the worst I have had in my 47 years.
You'd think that by now I would have already entertained all the cold viruses out there, but noooooo. This one had to introduce itself on Thanksgiving night. I ignored it the best I could. Family was in town for one thing!

Monday, however, it tackled me hard and once again I lie staring blankly at those freckle-dots feeling like I was going to die.

A few rounds of solitaire is just about the only thing I can muster in between freckle staring.
My sick bed companion doesn't have freckles. Trying to find something to count on him gives me an even greater headache.
Come on antibodies. Do your thing. I'm sick of being sick.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

All Tucked In

There is a certain 12-year-old at my house who still insists on treating our cats like her own personal dolls. One morning before she left for school she tucked them in all nice and cozy at the foot of her bed. She must have done a good job because they actually stayed put and snoozed away.
After taking a quick peek to see what I was up to, Lucy resumed her sweet slumber. Linus, of course, wasn't phased in the slightest.

I'm sharing today at

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Art of Asking

He'd already gone to bed on his 16th birthday when there was a knock at the door. No one was there. Yet, the doorstep was not empty. Attached to two green helium balloons was a small white Cupcake Chic take-out container and a note.
An embarrassed yet happy grin appeared on his face the next morning when he discovered that he had been asked to the Sadie Hawkins dance. Clues written on the balloon strings were quickly deciphered as he figured out who his date would be.

"How are you going to answer her?" his mom queried. "I don't know. That's why I have sisters," he replied.

The next night his reply found its way to her doorstep--a red velvet cupcake from The Sweet Tooth Fairy complete with homemade "YES" flag.

Luckily this asking/replying interchange was relatively simple (not to mention delicious.)

Do they do this where you live?

Often the "asking" can be quite elaborate in these parts, and it really is only done for the bigger school-sponsored dances like PROM, MORP, Homecoming, etc. The concept was foreign to me until I came to BYU as a college freshman. Once again I live in Provo, and the practice is as strong as ever.

Anyone know how and when this even started?

"Curiouser and Curiouser"

Friday, November 4, 2011

Dear Rachel (#3)

Dear Rachel,

What does Fall look like in Atlanta? Take some pictures and post them on your blog when you can. Here's a peek at our yard this year. You know I love all the red. :)
(Our apples are few, but the ones we do have are big and beautiful.)
(burning bushes in the backyard)
(Too many leaves! We are waiting for a windstorm to blow them into the Ogden's yard--just kidding!)
(Virginia Creeper edging up the front of the house)
(Remember the little bird nibbling on the apple in my last letter? This blue bird is finishing the job.)
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Abby had the toughest time deciding what to be for Halloween this year. In fact, she wasn't even sure she was going trick or treating until the very last minute. She wore her poodle skirt from last year to school, but when she got home, she got to work on her original idea--a Rubik's Cube. She cut, designed, and painted it all by herself.

The kids' pumpkins were pretty spooky. Travis' toothy snarl was especially intimidating.

We love you and miss you--especially since it was the first year we didn't get to see you in your traditional "poor sailor boy" costume. Have a good weekend!

Mom

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Startling my Mother Heart

My mother heart caught its breath, stared, wondered, and smiled as I listened to their exchange, then witnessed it with my own eyes. Travis was successfully helping Abby with her Algebra homework!
These two have had quite a history. They can be the best of friends, and then . . . let's just say they know exactly how to "push each other's buttons." Travis' first attempt at helping Abby didn't go very well. Her frustration at not understanding took control and she was in no mood to be teachable. At that point I intervened and insisted she move to a different room and work on her Utah Studies homework for a while until she cooled down.
When that assignment was complete round two began. I sat quietly in a neighboring room listening to their interchange. I was utterly amazed at how well it went. Travis was calm, patient, and perfectly pedagogical. He asked Abby questions to gauge her understanding and rephrased explanations when she didn't get it. Abby did her part too, by listening and keeping her tone in check.
I peeked around the corner and snuck a picture. It was awesome. I love it when the rewards come.





Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dear Rachel (#2)

Dear Rachel,

I think it's time for another pictorial update. Abby followed your lead and has made a number of headbands since you left. The majority haven't been very successful, but this one made her very happy. She created it completely by herself. She did end up with a nice hot-glue gun blister on the tip of her finger, though, which she nursed for several days.
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Cross-country has officially ended for Travis. I had no idea what a cross-country meet entailed until this Fall. The number of runners in this invitational in Murray was particularly overwhelming. I tried to capture the scene with my iPhone.
Travis loves running now and has improved significantly over the season. He basically PR'd (set a personal record) at almost every meet. These pictures are from Regionals where he ran Varsity. It was a cold and rainy day, but he had a great morning.
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Guess what I saw outside our kitchen window today? I grabbed my camera and shot these through the glass and screen. It made me smile.

We miss you and love you lots!

Mom