Happy Christmas!

Surprise! We spent Christmas Day the exact same way as everyone else, but I am going to throw some pictures up here anyways!

stockingsChristmas morning, kids were up at 7am (two hours earlier than they have been up all Christmas break!) We do things a little crazy here… Stockings are at the breakfast table and the kids sit and open stockings and we eat breakfast before diving into the present opening. This makes sure mommy has coffee, we aren’t starving and we can relax and enjoy the gift opening. Bowser even got a stocking this year and was very happy with it!

We then had a bunch of this action:

presents

 

Gift opening is such a traditional family thing. I’ve been talking to some friends this year and it’s really amazing all the different ways that families open their gifts on Christmas morning! I keep all of the gifts hidden, including the ones sent from family, the only gifts under the tree before Christmas were some I had received. Then on Christmas morning there is the big surprise reveal with a mass of gifts all mixed together. Then everyone opens one at a time so we can all ooh and aah over each gift. It can take awhile, especially when we have a big group of our family together. One Christmas it was my mom and dad, two brothers, my sister, my aunt and her two boys, and the four of us. You couldn’t see the floor in my moms living room and we were opening presents for HOURS. But I love it. We get to relax and it isn’t a mad rush of tearing through the gifts in 10 minutes.

Anyways, all of this eventually led up to my gift that Omar had sent me that I was saving for last. I really thought it was a pair of shoes because the box was just the right size:

cameraNope, it’s my new baby girl! I was SO surprised and wish he was here to give it to me in person! I am in LOVE with this camera. Although I am still such a sentimental baby that I can’t give up my Canon quite yet. I have had that camera for FIVE years, we have been, literally, all over the world together! It’s like an extension of my hand! Switching from Canon to Nikon is a little crazy, got to figure this new one out but so far I am having a blast!

We spent some time the rest of the day doing some cookie business, well the kids did anyways while I made a big ol’ dinner just for us.

cookies

 

Dinner was great, well that mac and cheese could have been better. Mckenna got all dressed up and put on some of her new makeup courtesy of Mimi! I got a huge kick out of this dumb little Lego figure I had picked up for Omar’s stocking. You didn’t know which one it was going to be and it ended up being good ol’ Hamlet with poor Yorick. Perfectly suited for a five year old, right? I, however, love it!

evening

 

We had a really good day with just the three of us. We were missing daddy BIG time though. Glad that this is one more big holiday over and done with and we can cross it off the list! Just counting down the days!

 

 

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Seriously, Self?

Today I had a busy day of Family Readiness Group training. It was a really informative day, I learned a ton of information and I had a great time with my board members. I am REALLY excited to actually start with all of the activities and fundraisers we have planned. We are going to have an awesome FRG and hopefully have a great turnout from spouses!

So in my rush to get out the door this morning I left my keys inside. Our door has a lock that turns from the inside even if it’s locked, and as I was shutting the door I was looking inside my purse for my keys so I could turn the deadbolt. No keys. Mckenna had run to get the mail the day before so I am solidly blaming the entire mess on her. Well I knew there was no point in doing anything then so I waited until we were on the way home to call, what was supposed to be a 30 minute wait for maintenance turned into an hour and a half and probably would have been longer had one of the resident service office employees taken pity on me after repeated calls, so she went and grabbed the keys herself. I need to take her cookies or something.

Well that ruined my afternoon and made me grumpy and cold and it was raining outside so I decided to skip football practice. I know, horrible of me, but come on! It was raining, what are my kids supposed to do? Just sit in the car for an hour and a half? Miserable. So I am a team flake. Terrible. I’ll try and do some conditioning on my own time to make up for it!

Lesson learned, one I haven’t had to learn in DECADES. Keys in hand BEFORE you close the front door. (And if you take the keys out of mom’s purse, put them back!)

Tomorrow we are planning to go see Rise of the Guardians and I am DETERMINED to get my last few things purchased AND mailed off tomorrow. I am so very close!

Commence Baking!

This month is flying and I mean FLYING by! As much as I am not ready I am being pulled into the holidays kicking and screaming. As usual I am a HUGE procrastinator when it comes to holiday stuff. My bestie Janelle reminded me that this was my make it or break it week.  Friday is the last day of school for my kids so I needed to get as much done as possible while juggling all my normal stuff as well as a gingerbread house party and two Christmas parties. No problem! I work best under pressure!

So tomorrow is the kids last day of school and I wanted to send some cookies in with their teacher gifts (I’ll post a pic as soon as they are done) so I pulled out the KitchenAid and put that bad boy to work. My favorite newish cookie, Bars Bars. I have my old standard favorites that I grew up eating and have to make every year so it feels like Christmas, but this is one I’ve only been making for 7 or 8 years. I got it from someone I used to nanny for from an old cafe recipe book she had. I love them. They have made their way into my annual cookie plates and are here to stay.  Baking this morning reminded me that this isn’t a chore I have been dreading. I love it!

Does the phrase “Cream butter and sugars together” make anyone else’s heart flutter? Because that is poetry right there.  Also, I get some sort of sick satisfaction from having obscene amounts of butter, brown sugar and chocolate chips in my pantry.

But here is a fab cookie recipe that I recommend you try. And as always if we are friends in real life I have first dibs on bringing this to any joint social function. That is the law with recipe sharing.

Bars Bars:

2C butter

4C brown sugar

4 eggs

1T vanilla

2t baking soda

4 1/2C flour

6-7C quick cook oats

Chocolate Layer:

2T butter

1 can condensed milk

1t vanilla

2C chocolate chips

 

Cream butter and brown sugar. Add vanilla & eggs. Mix well. Add flour and baking soda. Mix well. Add oats. (you guessed it) Mix well.

Spread 2/3 of the dough on a 1/2 sheet pan (12×17) (I like to line mine with parchment for easy removal/cleanup)

photo (11)

Melt the ingredients for the chocolate layer in a double boiler and spread over dough.

photo (12)

photo (13)

 

Drop the remaining dough over the top. Bake at 350 for about 25-30 min. These are pretty rich so you can cut them smaller than a normal bar cookie.

photo (14)

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These are SO SO good. So now I have cookies to send in tomorrow (should probably get started on the cake pops I promised Mckenna I would make for her party) and there should be plenty left over to send some to Omar as well. I am waiting for my Christmas cards to get here so I can start baking and giving cookies and cards to all of my local friends here.

I am rockin’ this week!

Avoiding the Christmas to do list…

I am feeling VERY overwhelmed by Christmas this year.

I LOVE this holiday, I love decorating, shopping, baking, cooking, all of it.

For some reason I am just not getting excited this year. Maybe its the fact that this is the first year that I am working outside of the home full time… That plus school is just making me wonder where on earth I am going to find the time to pull everything out and get the shopping done.

I keep seeing facebook posts from my friends who got all their shopping done on Black Friday and had their decorations up this past weekend. Good for you, I am hoping to have my tree up before Christmas and hope everyone I have to buy for has a wish list on Amazon.

Maybe once I get my decorations out I’ll feel a little more into the season, but at this point I am feeling very grinchy toward Christmas! Isn’t Santa supposed to take care of all the kids toys anyways?