Thursday, December 29, 2011

christmas eve

the last few years we have let the kids open their gifts to each other on christmas eve.
this year they gave each other ninjago legos, they are so into them right now.
while chris and i were cooking for brunch the next day, they were building.
it was great.  they had so much fun putting them together and we got our stuff done.

i didn't know how we'd get it all done...
all the cooking, then cleaning up the kitchen, feeding the kids, getting the luminaries ready, ironing shirts, curling two heads of hair, keeping the house clean and tidy, and getting to mass not only on time but early (the list could really keep going!).

but somehow we did.
chris helped so much with it all, i couldn't have gotten it all done without him.
and in fact, we were early enough to mass that we sat in the second row...

usually we're in one of the last rows of the hall.
it was so wonderful to be up close with all of our good friends surrounding us.
here are the kids with john's godfather (below).
we were so happy to have mark and lori's sweet family behind us.
it was one of the most beautiful masses i have ever been to.
the singing, the homily, the was all so wonderful.
we wished some of our family had been there to share in it with us.
but were thrilled we had so many friends there...
then it was back home to light (or rather turn on- love the battery candles!) the luminaries.
i wish i would've gotten a picture of our street, it looked so beautiful.
we whipped up the guacamole and gathered the gifts to take to grandma & grandpa's.
the kids always have a great time seeing cousins they don't get to see too often.
and the food is always fabulous thanks to my mother-in-law.
too bad i didn't get more pictures of the entire extended family...maybe next year.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

happy birthday, pop

yesterday was my dad's birthday.
he would have been 71 years old.
we lost him unexpectedly 4 1/2 years ago.
he is pictured above with christopher (1yr. old) at his most favorite place, laguna beach.

we went out to dinner and a movie on his birthday, two of his favorite things to do.
this was something we did together as a family many times growing up.

we saw hugo in 3d.
it was awesome, he would have loved it & would have loved taking his grandchildren to it.
he took them to the movies several times when they were little, and they remember.

didn't anticipate i would have a hard time on his birthday- with 4 kids to distract me.
i was fine the entire day, but lost it while talking to my brother on the phone after the movie.

i told him how much he would have enjoyed the movie.
he told me how much he loved reggae music after our trip to the caribbean one summer.
he would come in when pat was getting ready to dj and ask if he was going to play any.
so, he was going to dedicate his dj gig last night to him and play lots of reggae in his honor.

it has been 4 1/2 years since we lost him and we still miss that man like crazy.
happy birthday, pop.  
we love you!

Friday, December 23, 2011

getting ready

for christmas day brunch at our house.
the kids helped juice oranges from our tree.
there's nothing better than fresh oj.
especially on christmas morn.
john couldn't wait for his turn to juice.
and he did a real good job.  3 year olds are pretty good at helping out...sometimes!
they did some vacuuming too.
still lots more to do, but that's a good start.
then out to the fresh air for some fun.
and here comes dad with some groceries and flowers for ella and i.
yes, it's been a nice morning.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

christmas craft

we made these adorable, fun and easy ornaments last year.
the kids all really enjoyed making them.
all you need is:
-styrofoam balls
-small pom poms
simply pin the pom poms into the ball.
pin a ribbon to hang, and whoala you have a lovely homemeade ornament.
it does take some time to finish the whole ball.
we enjoyed sitting and doing this together while listening to christmas music.

the kids each made one for themselves.
and some of them made one for their godparents.
above christopher is making an oregon colored one for his godfather who went there.
and he made this 'c' one below for himself.
they are really so cute and so easy to make.
and the kids were all so proud to hang them on the tree.
i'm hoping we'll have time this year to make ornaments together again.
any suggestions?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

easy spaghetti sauce

i used to make my own sauce all the time when chris and i were first married.
after a few kids, i just got out of the habit. (costco has that great organic marinara sauce!)
but it is so easy to make. i had the urge to make some to go with our baked shells.

here is the recipe:


  • 1 teaspoon olive oil 
  • 1 cup chopped onion 
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine or 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar 
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 
  • (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained (you can substitute crushed or whole)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

  • Preparation
  • Heat oil in a saucepan or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in wine and next 6 ingredients (wine through tomatoes), and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, uncovered, about 15 minutes. Stir in parsley.

  • easy peasy recipe.
  • i didn't even have any garlic, and i always have garlic.
  • so i was a bit worried it wouldn't have enough flavor.
  • but, even without the garlic it was delicious.

  • now i just have to keep the canned tomatoes and paste on hand so i can make it more often.
  • and i've already stocked up, who doesn't love spaghetti for dinner?
  • always a safe back-up to have on hand for nights you just don't know what to make for dinner.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

baked shells

we had them for dinner last night.
it was the first night in awhile we've all been home for a nice sit down dinner.
chris has been swamped at work and basketball schedules have taken over most nights.
ella helped me stuff the shells.
we worked side by side. i loved having her next to me.
she is pretty darn good in the kitchen.
it is an easy recipe and it was fun to make.
-first you cook the shells according to the box (get the jumbo shells)
-then drain them and let them cool.
next is the fun part, stuffing the shells:
-combine the following ingredients:
1 egg
1 24 oz. container of cottage cheese
1 cup grated cheese (i used mozarella)
1/8 cup grated parmesan cheese
-scoop mixture into shells.
-pour 1 jar of spaghetti sauce over stuffed shells
  (i made my own sauce.  i'll post that recipe tomorrow)
-sprinkle with additional 1 cup grated cheese and 1/8 cup parmesan cheese.
-bake at 350 for 25 minutes.
add a salad and some bread and there's dinner.
it was a nice change.  something different.  something i'd never made before.
i liked that the shells were stuffed with cottage cheese and not ricotta.
i'm not a huge ricotta cheese fan.

and it sure is fun using our christmas plates.
i have a whole assortment of them (thanks aunt julie!)
everyone gets to pick one to eat on each night.
they are all different and different sizes too.
it's a simple, but fun way to add some festivity to this special time of year.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

greek play performances

were put on by the 6th graders yesterday.
i was amazed at the confidence and memorization skills of these kids.
so wonderful to see them so comfortable around each other and in front of an audience.
they're really a great group of kids.
there were about 5 groups.  each put on about a 15-20 minute play.
they were all ancient love stories with a bit of comedy mixed in.
romantic, interesting, and entertaining stories.
and they were all very good actors and actresses.
after each one john would ask, 'can we stay for another one?'.
i know i've said it before but it's just so neat seeing these kids grow up together.
it has sure flown by...i remember meeting each of them in kindergarten.
some we even knew before that.
i cannot believe they are half way through the 6th grade!!
i think i might need a tissue...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

little visitor

st. nick stopped by our house monday night leaving treats for the kids.
headbands, bubbles, baseball & basketball card packs, granola bars & fruit strips.
he knows we still have so much candy left over from halloween!
i keep telling the kids to put handfuls of it in their lunch and pass them out to their friends.

after john checked his shoes he ran to the stockings thinking there'd be more treats to find.
oh, the fun of the season.

Monday, December 5, 2011

4th grade field trip

was last week at pioneer village.
we got to see how the early arizona settlers lived.
this was the blacksmith shop.
he gave a great presentation and demonstration for us.

the church was so sweet.
they still have weddings there.
andrew thought that was pretty cool.

it was way out in the desert, but actually only took about 25 minutes to get there.
it was one of those super busy weeks for me.
not a day of the week at home to get all the things done that i need to.
and so it crossed my mind not to go on the field trip.
i went with christopher's class when he was in the 4th grade.
and i'll go with ella's because we'll she's my only girl.
and i'll go when john is in 4th grade because he is the baby...
so, i quickly got the thought of not going out of my head.
i needed to go for andrew, my middle child.
even though he said, 'mom, it's ok if you don't go'.

i had a dr.'s appointment early that morning.
it has been booked for a year.
i was trying to figure out how i was going to do it all that week.
but i just made my mind up that i would make it work.
and it worked out perfectly.
john and i pulled up right as the school bus was arriving.
it was cold and windy and i held my fourth child tight to keep us both warm.

there is so much we mothers have to keep up with at home.
but having a day out away from the house in the fresh air takes all that stress away.
we got home with enough time for me to clean up the kitchen before heading out to pick up from school and go to christopher's basketball tournament.
they put on a gun show to end the field trip.
(first they talked about gun safety-
made the kids repeat some very important things to know)
john sat there plugging his ears for at least 10 minutes straight anticipating the loud noise.
it was really a relaxing and fun day.
and i am sure glad we went and spent this special time with andrew.