Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve

After recovering from the post-Christmas stomach bug, we had a small get together for New Year's Eve with some old and new friends. A great time was had by all but I must say I don't think I'll ever buy fireworks again. We made shakers, had a balloon drop and pop and popped 16 yards of bubble wrap. All the popping made just as much noise as fireworks and totally wore the kids out! 

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Traditions

Earlier this month, Cavett's teacher sent home a blank sheet asking about traditions in our family during the month and then we were to make a "snow globe" of how we celebrate. I didn't shy away from telling it exactly how it is at our house. Ok, maybe I left out the part about telling our kids that Santa was a real person, but that he doesn't still travel around the world and pop up and down chimneys and that instead everything we have and get comes from our Lord.  And Jesus' name will be found on some of the tags underneath the tree.  We have surely been blessed! 

Since he would be learning all about Kwanzaa and Hanukkah and we can send anything to public school, I did. What follows are our Christmas Eve and Day traditions that we will be doing tonight and tomorrow morning.

Merry Texas Christmas, You All!

The Hill family celebrates Christmas and focuses on Jesus' birth. During Advent which begins four Sundays before Christmas Day, we light an Advent wreath while we have dinner. The wreath has 3 purple candles and one pink candle. Each Sunday we light an additional candle until Christmas Eve when we light the white candle in the middle--the Christ candle. Every night we read a passage from the Bible and discuss it or have an activity that illustrates the passage.

On Christmas Eve we have Gumbo for dinner--a dish from Louisiana that is like a soup with sausage and shrimp over rice. Afterwards, we attend our church service where we light candles and sing "Silent Night." Our bedtime story that evening comes from the Bible telling about the birth of Jesus Christ from Luke 2.

The first thing we do on Christmas morning is a dance. We turn the stereo up really loud and dance to "Merry Texas Christmas, You All." It was my Dadoo's favorite Christmas song. Next we open our advent calendar to find the clue for our scavenger hunt to find Baby Jesus. He has been hidden all of Advent. After we find him, he is returned to the Nativity Scene and we sing "Happy Birthday to Jesus." Breakfast then follows. It is a Christmas Bread with origins dating back from the late 18th century in the Scandinavian countries. It is based on the legend of St. Lucia and typically celebrated on December 13th which used to be the winter solstice on the Julian calendar. It is a celebration of light--of which Jesus is the light of the world.

After opening presents and hoarding our wrapping paper, we then have a gigantic "snowball fight."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Advent By the Numbers

I've been on a bit of a dry spell. Not because I didn't have anything to blog about, but because I hadn't the time in which to get it done and accomplish all that needed doing. I feel so behind that I don't even think I could back log it all. Here's the solution. Advent by the numbers:

1 Advent workshop attended with many ornaments and an Advent wreath made

Cavett's Girlfriend at school, Sophia

6 volunteered hours at Cavett's school

1 gingerbread house made and much candy eaten
3 BSF lessons taught
2 Children's Sunday School lessons and 1 Adult lesson taught

1 family consisting of a 9, 7, 3 year old helped
6 Doctor visits
2 surgeries (yes, I even got in on the action and had a biopsy done on a concerning skin spot)

3 concerts, 1 ballet and 1 pageant attended with a very cute Christmas cow

6 friend dinners/parties

12 loaves of Christmas bread made and 11 given away

5 neighbors caroled to with Oreo Cookie Balls given

2 batches of gingerbread cookies made

2 parties at our house-1 for the Office and the other for Amber's graduation

7 overnight guests

1 Birthday Dinner for Mom at Rick's

an ungodly amount of dirty underwear changed (you don't want a picture of this one!)

countless gifts bought and wrapped

5 candles lit

1 Christ Child worshipped

Even though the list is long and all of these didn't have to be done. I was able to do it, only because I centered on putting Jesus first and giving my day over to Him to prioritize. The glory is all His and that is what this season is all about as well. Advent may be coming to an end, but my Advent will continue through the year as I look forward to His second coming.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Bread

Here is a repost from December 2008. Many of you have asked for the Christmas Bread Recipe.

Happy St. Lucia Day!

I'm sure many of you are saying, "Happy what?" Also known as St. Lucy's Day, December 13th was a Church feast day together with Advent, marking the beginning of the Christmas season. Before the reform of the Gregorian calendar, it also marked the longest night of the year. This is probably the reason why the tradition has lived on in the Scandinavian countries, since the nights in the winter are very dark and long and the idea of light overcoming darkness is appealing.

The meaning of Lucy or Lucia is "light" stemming from the Latin-"lux." In one of the stories associated with her legend, she was working to help Christians hiding in the catacombs. In order to bring with her as much food and drink as possible, she needed to have her hands free. She solved this problem by making a wreath to wear on her head on to which she attached lights. Thus she managed to see in the darkness of the catacombs.

As the tradition goes, the eldest daughter of the family dresses in white and wears a candle wreath while serving a sweet roll and coffee to her parents. Now, for some reason in my family, it was the 2nd daughter. I think Candace served it one year in a white dress with the actual candle wreath, although not lit. Our family typically makes this bread (which we call Christmas Bread) for gifts to family friends and then we also have a loaf for Christmas morning.

This is not really a hard bread to make, but it is quite involved making many dishes dirty and 2 risings. Today I delivered my last batch. That was 16 loaves and I still need to make one for our family to enjoy.

Even if this day has roots in pagan celebrations of the solstice, think again. As you see light this Christmas season, may you remember that it is Jesus that comes to overcome the darkness and illuminate us.
"The light shines in the darkeness and the darkness can never overcome it." John 1:5.

Here is the recipe:

1 c. sour cream
1/2 c. sugar
1 t. salt
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. warm water
5 t. of yeast
2 eggs
4 c. flour

2-8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
3/4 c. sugar
1/8 t. salt
2 t. vanilla
1 egg

4 T. butter
2 T. milk (maybe more for consistency)
2 t. vanilla
4 c. powdered sugar

Melt butter in the microwave. Add sour cream, sugar and salt to it and stir to luke warm. In a large bowl sprinkle yeast over water and dissolve. Mix in sour cream mixture. Add 2 eggs and flour. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight. Or, let rise 1 hour on counter.
Divide dough into quarters, thirds or half depending upon how big you want it. Roll into a rectangle. Spread filling being careful not to get too close to the edges or it will ooze out. Roll into a loaf or a circle, pinch and rise for 1 hour.

Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes. Cool and ice.
This recipe can make up to 4 loaves.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Blessings

My children, end of discussion. 

If I have nothing else (other than God), it is these two little miracles. 

And of course, my dear husband.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Raising a Resilient Hard Worker

For the past year and a half, Cavett has been receiving an allowance. He received 10 cents for every bed made, dishes unloaded from the dishwasher, clean clothes returned to his room and trash collected. Each week he received somewhere between 90 cents and $1.50. From this he gave about 20-30% to church and then typically saved the rest.

His goal has been to buy a Nintendo DS. We told him that if he saved half, we would buy the other half. I didn't think it would happen this fast. By Sunday he had $66.75. We decided that since he was having surgery on Tuesday (today), we would go ahead and spot him the $3.25 and get the DS. His activity is to be limited for the next two weeks.

He was as proud as he could be of his saved up wad of cash. And, I'm not afraid to admit that I am ultra-proud of him for working so hard and saving for so long, as well.

Cavett was very excited about today, even though we had explained everything that was to happen. It was still like Christmas morning to him. Lime and Strawberry Banana Jell-o was served for breakfast. After, Cavett and I went to Pediatric Surgery Center in Plano. As we walked in hand-in-hand, he said to me, "This is kind of like a date." Well, sort of. Maybe he was just in need of some good one-on-one time since school has started.

Everything at the hospital went smoothly. Cavett was calm and cool. The surgeon laughed with him and drew a smiley face on his "outie." And off they went. After waking up groggy and uncomfortable, his comment was, "That wasn't as fun as I thought it would be." We were in and out in 3 hours.

The most important thing is that I couldn't have done it by myself today (while Stephen was at work) without Nana and the prayers said for us. Nana came last night and kept Kendrick today as well as helped with all the cooking. And, I totally felt extreme peace and calm while Cavett was in surgery, even though I was alone.

By 4 o'clock today it was as if nothing had ever happened to him. Go figure. But, I am completely thankful for the ease of it all and the Master Surgeon's hands.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

School Thanksgiving Activities

Kendrick was first to have his school's Thanksgiving celebration on Thursday. I went up to the school that day and volunteered cutting and peeling apples for almost 2 hours. But, it was worth it to be able to see him all dressed up in his Indian outfit giving thanks on the floor for lunch with 60 other kiddos. It wasn't really a "parent come and oogle over your kid" thing. It was just a feast.

Walking to the fest with a bubble in his mouth, and holding a little baby turkey.

There was also a pretty cool pilgrim village where they saw the Mayflower and signed the ship's log book, learned about planting and growing corn, how they built houses then and the first Thanksgiving meal.

On Friday, we enjoyed Cavett's school Thanksgiving Play.  He was dressed as a pilgrim, others were turkeys or indians.  (Of which I volunteered on Tuesday about 3 hours helping them make the Indian pillowcase vests.)  There was a story read and each time one of the characters were addressed, lines were spoken as a group.  For example the Pilgrim women said, "Mercy me!" in the sweetest voices.  Pilgrim men:  Bang! Bang!  Indian Men: Big and brave.  Turkeys: Gobble, gobble. 

Just as we were getting into the story, Cavett leaves his place on stage and goes with another little girl to the microphone on the side.  He had a SOLO that he had kept from us until this morning on the way to school when Stephen heard a hint of what might be to come, but didn't quite get the story straight before Cavett left the car.

It was awesome and I was so proud! 

Now, the chicken dance on the other hand was just plain hilarious!  If this doesn't make you laugh out loud, there is something wrong, especially the last 45 seconds or so.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Best Part of the Weekend

Not only did we enjoy great peanuty times this weekend, but there was much to be said for family time in the country as well. 

Between the nutty times we squeezed in some tractor-ing and wood splitting.  The boys absolutely loved pulling on the lever to move the wood splitter in and out.  Boys and thier power tools....   The adults did the majority of the heavy lifting.  This was especially fitting since this is one of the things I remember doing with my Dad quite often and it was his birthday.  He loved to chop, cut, split and burn wood.   If only I could get over the "don't get your clothes dirty, kids" part, but all the grease came out anyway. 

Then there was the long wait in between the spreading of the peanut butter and the laying of the top piece of bread when Stephen discovered that the Main Street boot shop, Mistletoe, is going out of business next month and they had their boots on sale and I mean big!  $10 for the boys and Stephen and I both got a pair for under $100 each--python and ostrich! 

There was the final All Saints service at church where Cavett went with Grandmama to put the rose on the alter to remember Uldene.  (We celebrated Gran last week in Shreveport, but the camera didn't make it with us.)

And of course there was great time with Uncle Austin, Aunt KK, Stanton and Grandmama.  At every chance they could get the boys wanted to be next to Uncle Austin and I couldn't agree anymore, he's a great guy!

At the end of it all we got a few great pictures to "boot."