Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A Very Merry Christmas

This was a more relaxed Christmas season for us, I feel like. We took the week before Christmas off of school, as well as this week of Christmas. That really helped. There's always a lot going on leading up to Christmas; it's hard to do school and parties and activities and baking.... All the Christmas doings are more enjoyable with a little extra padding of time. 

Liz Photo Creds
Elizabeth got her driver's license!! 
The first place she drove to was an old abandoned house about 5 minutes away. She had to take someone with her if she was going to explore, so she took Jonathan. I've been there with her before ~ it's a neat looking little place. I'd love to know its history. There are two buildings on the property; the one pictured is made of stone.

Phoebe and Charlize on Christmas Day. They are growing up!
Elizabeth made the sweater for Phoebe.

Liz Photo Creds
Elizabeth also likes to wear the sweater she made for Phoebe.

Since we are off school and have some time on our hands, Phoebe got out all the cards she's been saving from over the years and read them. I do the same thing periodically. I had a big box of letters that I kept for a long time. I went through it finally and whittled it down to a small shoebox of letters. 

New pajamas!

Ah! This was a lot of fun. 
A homeschool friend put together a time of caroling at a nursing home. I've been wanting to do this, but I'm not usually one to lead the way on this type of venture. I also have memories of doing it as a kid, and I'd always thought it was kind of useless. "We aren't professionals. There's nothing special about how we're singing these songs that would be especially enjoyable. We're awkward when we try to talk to the folks listening. Why are we doing this?" Maybe our kids are thinking these same things. 

But I had a totally different perspective this time around. I saw the little, bright-eyed lady in her wheelchair singing along with us. She shook my hand and told me I sang beautifully and that she used to sing in her church choir. Each seemingly non-attentive person we went around to in the sitting area lit up when we hugged them or patted them on the shoulder and had a little something to say to them. 

We walked down the halls singing to those who were in their rooms. One lady called us in and we sang Silent Night. She cried. Who knows what thoughts were going through her head. 

One old timer, when I shook his hand, said, "Well, hell! *chuckle, chuckle* I mean, hello!" He was quite jolly and funny. All the folks wanted to give Harrison a pat or hold his hand. They love little kids.

Thank you, Cil, for putting this together! 
People just want a touch of humanity sometimes. It doesn't have to be professional.

My sister sent this picture of Jordan eating his new candy cane. Wow! This is just a classic Christmas picture, in my opinion. I love it!

Mimi and Papa were here for the weekend. We watched "A Christmas Carol" with George C Scott. Very classic and nostalgic. Harrison discovered that he loved that cozy spot between the couch and the Christmas trees. 

I wanted pie for Christmas dessert. But I couldn't decide what kind. We had seven mini pie plates and a new pie crust recipe in Cooks Illustrated......

Went to church at Cornerstone Sunday morning. It was their Christmas Eve service even though it was morning time. I really enjoyed their music ~ a choir and a brass section.

And the lighting of the candles! 
There were about 4,000 people there. It's really neat to see that many points of light in the auditorium. 

The preacher talked about something I had been thinking on this year: Lights on the tree came about to show that Jesus is the Light of the world. He said Martin Luther started the tradition. Now it has become a common cultural practice ~ to light your house and tree around Christmas time. Even if they don't know it, people the world over are testifying to that Light. We want light. It's delightful and beautiful. We drive around to catch the best displays of light. What a great parable that can point to Jesus.

And Mimi took Phoebe to get her ears pierced at Claire's just like Elizabeth a few years ago. Very exciting times in life. :-)

Christmas morning! 
Harrison was bucking around and dancing. He was so expressive about his excitement. You just can't beat a little kid at Christmas time.

Dinner is served.

Too much food, as always. But we will have leftovers, and that is a good thing.

Seven mini pies. 
The chocolate mint pie got the most votes. Phillip liked the pumpkin best. Mimi liked the cran-raspberry. I liked the tart lemon best. It was a fun endeavor. However, I told them to document this well, because I will probably not do it again. :-) I enjoyed it though.

Sharing Christmas memories around the table. 

Playing Clue which Mimi and Papa got for the kids. Nobody won. We all guessed wrong. We'll have to try it again today.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Snow in San Antonio after 30 Years

Cracks me up, because I just blogged that it's been pretty warm so far this winter. And the very same week we get snow. Unexpected. Exciting. Absolutely thrilled the children.

This was the next morning. 
The snow was gone by lunchtime, but the kids spent hours in it the night it snowed and the next morning.

All the neighbor kids came out to see it and spend hours in it 
~ trying to make snowmen and snow angels; throwing lots of snowballs, I'm sure.

Poor Harrison came in that night crying because of cold toes. We were woefully underprepared for snow. My mom had given us a whole bunch of one-size-fits-all gloves. Although they are cloth and get wet, the kids would periodically come in and get a new pair of warm gloves. But I didn't think to check Harrison's socks and shoes situation (after initially calling him back in to change from flip-flops to socks and closed-toed shoes). We had a big 'ole wet, muddy mess when it was all over. But we had fun! 

Elizabeth turned 16!!!! No way. Just.... no way. 
I remember that little Liz toddler who would throw a fit when we tried to leave the library (really, that's the only time I remember her throwing fits) and who was constantly on the move with her army crawl (didn't walk till she was about year and a half) and who loved getting into my art supplies, my bathroom cabinet, the baking supplies, the book shelf. She's still busy as ever. Very productive and independent......she made that gorgeous birthday cake.....we kind of like you, Liz. :-)

Phillip has this thing about NOT decorating for Christmas until it is December. And so we wait until December to decorate. A friend who moved away last year gave their tree to us. Since we also had our little one, we thought we'd put the two of them up with just lights and have a little cozy scene for our Christmas decor. 

And we put the Christmas decorations and some garland on our computer desks. Phillip's got quite the eye for these things. I like it. That book on my desk there is one that I won in a give-away, but I want to recommend it for anyone looking for an Advent reading for themselves or the kids. "All Creation Waits" by Gayle Boss. Each chapter tells of the hibernation or winter habits of a different animal; how they wait for spring. There are 25 chapters. The pictures are pencil drawings and beautiful. The whole book has a classic feel to it. The language is beautiful ~ lyrical. I'm not reading it every day. We got it late and I hadn't planned to do a daily advent reading. But I do pick it up to read it when everyone is hanging out, but not doing much. It takes about 5 minutes to read a chapter, so it's not a big time commitment. 

Phillip and I went to the New Braunfel's church Christmas Party with a "Down on the Farm" theme. Any excuse to wear your cowboy hat and boots!

So three days after snow, we're back in our shirt-sleeves. We tried this neat little Pinteresty project; made a bird seed "gingerbread" house. The birds won't eat it! I'm so disappointed. I thought it was real pretty. They do eat the bird seed we throw on the ground. 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Warm Winter So Far

Although, I guess it's technically still autumn, isn't it. We've had a couple of days of jacket weather, but it's mostly been the air conditioner that runs around here.

Boerne had a Christmas evening deal going on. It was super crowded, so we just walked around a bit and then went to Dairy Queen for a snack. Liz drove home so she could get some night driving hours in (you have to have 20 hours of day driving and 10 hours of night driving before you can get your license). 

"Snow" in Boerne. 
I think Elizabeth is the only one who remembers anything about real snow. 

Santa Clause waving from an upstairs window.

There were a lot of solo and duet instrumentalists outside the shops along Main St. 

Look how bright and sunny it's been around here! 
This Lantana bush was full of butterflies. 

And a bit of nature around our house. 
I sit on the floor of the garage to do school with the kids individually. The garage door is up so that we can enjoy the outside. We throw out little handfuls of birdseed and listen to the sparrows and grackles peck, peck, pecking while we school. 

I just put a teensy picture here because it's a little gross. But it's also fascinating. We saw what looked like a palmetto bug taking a bite out of this long white grasshopper-looking thing. Later on when I came outside, the white bug had resumed the shape of a palmetto bug and was eating its brown shell. So it had been in the process of molting when we first saw it. So weird. It had really looked like a grasshopper, minus the jumping legs. 

Friday, November 24, 2017

Thanksgiving at Home

It was just Phillip and I and the kids at home this year for Thanksgiving. Consequently, I didn't go crazy with food prep. And I paid more attention to food prep than to taking pictures, so there's slim pick-in's in that regard. 

I wanted to make a recipe from the Cook's Illustrated magazine that I receive, and brussel sprouts won out. I've learned to like this tiny cabbage-like veggie. I was just telling my mom on the phone yesterday that I used to surrepticiously rid my plate of the brussel sprout when I was a kid. There weren't many foods I didn't like, but brussel sprouts and grapefruit juice were two of those that I distinctly remember sneaking to the garbage. But this year, this dish was just for me. No one else wanted to be near them.

Burnt dessert. 
It's a cherry bar dessert. And it actually didn't taste burnt at all. Just a little toasted. I'd definitely make this again, minus the "toasted" part.

We each had our own little Cornish hen this year! I used to enjoy making these for Phillip and I when we were first married. But then we decided it was a little more work than it was worth and a little messy too. But I wanted the kids to have memories of having their own Cornish hen, so I decided to do it this year. Hard to think about, but Elizabeth may be leaving home in a couple years, so if I want to make memories with all my children under one roof, I have this time now to do that.

Phoebe helped me prep the hens. She enjoyed reminding everyone as they were served that she'd "had her hands all over those things!" I'm sure her siblings loved the thought.

Harrison hasn't watched Shane since he was a baby, so we had a Shane viewing in the afternoon. Good movie. Highly recommended.

We talked Phillip into a game of Monopoly (there are few games we can talk him into). Jonathan and I were out first. Phoebe and Phillip battled it out, and Phoebe was at last the victor. 

Elizabeth worked on two cookie orders she has to fill this weekend. The avocado sugar cookies are for Avocado Cafe where she works. They're pretty cute!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Austin Weekend

This is not Austin. 
This is the kids adventuring down the dry Cibolo Creek-bed at Evans Street so Liz could get some photography practice. There was a colorful newly-vandalized train bridge foot that she used as a background. Also, it's just kind of fun to explore a dry river bed. I'm not sure why, but Texas seems to have a lot of distinct layers in its river rock. Lots of sea creature shells and fossils imbedded there. Lots of dinosaur bones discovered. History and science and exploration.

Some friends from New Braunfels had the Gore's and the Casey's over for lunch. Lots of kids and lots of fun. Their home had metal/country decor that I quite liked. 

Harrison for Halloween.

Phoebe for Halloween. 
They used their costumes from last year, which delights me to no end, because #thriftiness. 

Phillip's parents were passing through on their way down to winter in south Texas, and they indulged us with a weekend away to Austin while they watched the kids. We stayed in a tiny house from AirBnB. I don't think I'd want to live in a tiny house, but it was fun to try one out for a weekend.

The capital of Texas. 

I just had to try out a food truck since Austin has a lot of them. But I wasn't hungry when we were nearby a street of food trucks and the food costs a little more than I wanted to pay when I'm not hungry. So I settled on a cherry slushie so that I could at least say I bought something from a food truck. Was it worth it? .....sigh.... I'm just not sure.

This picture is to commemorate by husband's awesome patience and persistence in getting me to Bat Bridge on Congress St. We drove around probably for a good hour looking for parking. We were going to take a boat tour, but there was absolutely no parking available around the area. We drove in circles and finally found some parking a little ways away. We walked down to the bridge. And someone walking in front of us was saying that the bats don't always come out..... And the bats may have migrated already.... And, you guessed it, there was not one bat that showed its cute little mosquito-eating face. But, just so I wouldn't feel so foolish, I took a picture of all the other people standing on the bridge waiting with us.

Here's what it should have looked like: 
Photo from Austin City Guide.

Detail from our tiny house in Austin.