Sunday, December 25, 2016

A white Christmas and lesson of love

 Living on the coastal plains of southeast Texas, one never dreams of a white Christmas. This year while visiting our son & family, we woke to a brilliant white Christmas morning in Utah! It was supremely magnificent to celebrate the birth of our Savior on the Sabbath day. 
We had a lovely musical church service with my daughter in law Rhiannon singing in the choir. They sang "Do You Hear What I Hear", "I Saw Three Ships", "Candelight", and Vivaldi's "Gloria".  Each song was preceded by a "biography" of origin which I found fascinating, and meaningful.  
The real miracle of this snowy Christmas day was the lesson I learned from of the father of a handicapped child.
We sat behind a family of five children, all tall, and beautiful, capable, and "normal" in our world, except one. 
A little boy about 8 or 9 who possibly has a form of autism was snuggled right next to his dad. During the service he would randomly speak out loudly or fuss about something he wanted. I marveled at the tender patience of this father. There was angelic love on his face as he smiled upon and calmed his son. He rubbed his back, ruffled his hair, whispered in his ear, and wrapped his arms around this precious boy.
 As the congregation stood to sing Silent Night, the boy loudly shouted out a few words to join in the singing. I could not stop the tears. The heavenly love from this father was sweet and constant no matter the actions of this young boy. Never once did even a hint of frustration cross his countenance. It seemed his whole purpose was to comfort and to love with all of his heart.
A window seemed to opened to heaven and I clearly understood how God feels about us, his children. We may not be quite whole, our understanding or intellect stunted, we may fuss and complain, shouting out in awkward moments. With our limitations, Heavenly Father still smiles on us with tender love, showers us with compassion, and extends a glorious mercy we rarely deserve. My enlightened understanding of this perfect love was magnified by the poignant Christmas melody we were singing..."Silent night, Holy night. All is calm, All is bright. Round yon virgin, mother and child. Holy infant, so tender and mild.".....
I could feel the holiness of the day and imagine the serenity of Christ's birth in that lowly manger. I keenly felt that we are wholly loved in spite of our deficiencies. This father reminded me that small and simple acts of love matter the most. 
What a joyful Christmas day! Indeed, a magnificent lesson on a snowy winter day from a tender father. This sweet boy will be whole in body and mind in the world to come. His mission in this life is to teach those around him to love, to be like Christ, whose birth we celebrate this day. I do not know the father of this remarkable boy. He will never understand the gift of love he gave me this day...a Christmas of pure white...which has turned out better than I ever dreamed. 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Poppy and the dinosaurs, a Christmas gift drama

I had the best of intentions, really I did... in buying 5 adorable Poppy dolls for the granddaughters, and a giant cuddly dinosaur for Ethan. It didn't quite turn out that way.
Here's the story...

We sat the children down with eyes theory:) 
I laid a Poppy doll and the dinosaur on laps 
and happy chaos erupted! 

At first Scarlett was excited about her Poppy doll, until she saw Ethan's dinosaur. It was then she changed her mind.
I watched the video in slow motion and experienced this 3 year old's tragic emotional journey in just a few seconds. 
This screen shot of a dejected Scarlett with 
her head down is so funny and sad:) 

"Graaaammie I don't waaaaaant a dinosaaauuuur"

Scarlett found comfort with Mommy while Grammie 
& her daddy tried to come up with a solution to 
her Christmas gift woes.

Meanwhile the other children were roaring, and 
smiling, and dancing around with joy!

Christmas shopping this year involved a few late nights on Amazon with every thing shipped directly to Keith's house. As usual a few extra things were ordered to cover emergencies which was especially fortunate today! 
I had ordered a set of dinosaurs for Ethan, but then 
found his daddy's childhood dinosaurs in my attic. Travis showed Scarlett a picture of the plastic set we had, and a soft blue one we could order.
Happily for our Christmas family peace she chose the set we had, and as you can see, she was pleased as punch. 

In the moment of Scarlett's renewed happiness we had a tearful drama with Ethan who now wanted Scarlett's dinosaurs...hahahaha

We were pleased to have another family Christmas tragedy averted with Scarlett's usually generous and sweet sharing nature. She and Ethan are usually buddies and as we 
now know, share a love of dinosaurs!

Hallelujah....the happy angels are singing again, peace on earth is restored in the Crossly household least until the next gift opening round:)

Merry Pink Princess Poppy & giant dinosaur Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Sugar Cookies and the Christmas mob

Part of being a grandparent is knowing you are being conned, and yet, not caring that you are being conned:) Savannah is so sweet and polite it is easy to be distracted from the con...
"Should I eat this" 
"Should you leave that much on there so I can eat it" 
"Should I lick both of those"
"Should we open presents right now"
Should we play in the snow right now" 
Should I? or should we?... as Grandad observed, is 
always a con:)

How could I be expected to resist the plea to lick the beaters? I have pleasant childhood memories of my dad sneaking us a bites of cookie dough when mom wasn't looking, so I have been one of "those moms", the kind that worries less about the dangers of cookie dough eating and more about the joy of family baking:) 
As you can see Ethan agrees with my political position on cookie dough:)

This sugar cookie has been happily tried and passed the test of our entire family as the BEST sugar cookie recipe ever!

Brittany's Sugar Cookies

1 1\2 cups butter, softened
3 cups of sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla (I do 3)
5 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Cream butter and sugar together 3-5 minutes 
(less time leaves the dough grainy) 
Add eggs and vanilla (Mexican vanilla is my fav!) 
Hand mix salt, baking powder and flour together in separate bowl. Add flour mix to creamed mixture.
Chill for at least 1 hour-overnight.

Roll dough onto a floured surface and cut with cookie cutters.
Bake @ 375* for 6-7 min.
Do it the easy kid friendly way and...
Press the dough into a cookie sheet. Bake @ 375* for 15-18 min till top is golden. Cut the sheet of cookies with shaped cutters immediately after baking. Leave the cut dough to cool a few minutes before removing cookies from the tray.

4 Tbsp butter softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp almond extract OR 1 tsp vanilla
2-3 Tbsp milk
3 drops food coloring (optional)

I originally had grand visions of baking & decorating Christmas cookies with the mini mob, however my practical side prevailed and I took the path of least frustration, and sanity preservation! Dough was whipped up without helpers & pressed into cookie sheets to bake instead of the whole flour covered kitchen with 9 children thing:)

Seth had a serious method for cutting and removing the cookie cutters:)
Big brother Cy was instructed by Seth in the cookie cutting procedure. 
Place the cutters as close together as possible to get more cookies than scraps.
Savannah did a great job lining up the cookies in shape piles. One of the important things about projects with the mini mob is making sure everyone has the same number of cookies!
We put the cookie "scraps" into a bag and they disappeared very quickly.  

On to the cookie decorating! Plastic table clothes, paper plates, ready made icing, and 3 kinds of sprinkles...along with mommy helpers set the stage for a few minutes of sugar heaven with the littles.

Savannah kept adding layers and layers of frosting and sprinkles to the same cookie:)
Annabelle is a serious cookie decorator, even doing multiple space designs with the sprinkles.
Everything with Charlotte is exciting:)
Madeline spent most of the time licking the icing:)
Josh has a great love for sprinkles s as you can plainly see:)
No matter how fun it might be to decorate sugar cookies, the children all know the best part is to eat them!

Ethan seems to be plotting his cookie eating approach!
Scarlett plays "puppy" most of the time...guessing this is puppy licking those sprinkles?

Madeline absolutely loved the whole experience!
Happy sugar cookie baking,
Merry sugar cookie decorating,
Joyful sugar cookie eating:)

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Glitter mugs and a silent night

I had some glittery crafting time with my friend Wendy this week! We serve in our ladies church group and wanted to give them something handmade for Christmas. As often happens with first time craft projects there were a few bumps alongs the way:) 
The saying Wendy found on Pinterest was "All mama wants is a silent night" which is fun, but not applicable to all of our ladies, so we penned "I'm dreaming of a silent night"....and oh how true this is...right? Christmas can be a stressful time as we, the women in the world make Christmas happen! Shopping, wrapping, cooking, entertaining, cleaning, baking, gift giving, card making, gathering family...this list is endless! I submit that we probably all need a bit of chill time with a cup of hot chocolate in a silent living room under the Christmas lights twinkling in the dark! 
It took me years to realize I could scale back on Christmas, that the real meaning of Christmas needed to triumph over the frantic race for the perfect gift, beautifully decorated tree or flawless party. I learned the hard way that my stress affected the Christmas spirit in our home and no presents, ornaments, or even baked goodies could bring back a merry mood if I was out of sorts. 
Our family holiday has less presents and more activities these days, which has put more merry and more meaning into our Christmas celebration!

Project materials-
Mugs (large from Target, small from Dollar Tree)
Sharpie marker-new (We tried paint pens first...not good!)
Painters tape (would be easier than masking tape!)
Martha Stewart glitter (no other glitter can compare)
Martha Stewart mod-lodge (durable for the dishwasher)

1. Clean the mug with alcohol.
2. Write your preferred saying or name on the cup 
    with a Sharpie. 
3. Bake for 30 min at 350*
4. Cool completely
5. Tape a line on the cup.
6. Brush Mod-podge in the area below the tape line
    and sprinkle generously with glitter
6. Remove the tape immediately and let dry overnight
7. Gently brush the extra glitter off (which we didn't do for the pictures!)
8. Mod-podge a second layer over the glitter area and let dry overnight
9. Let glitter cure for 28 days BEFORE using in the dishwasher

***Glitter is NOT microwavable EVER!

This was such a fun project and could be tweaked with different ceramic wear, glitter, and colored sharpies. I can see a project with the grandchildren happening soon...will let you know how that shakes down:)

Silent nights don't happen by accident....
So....make your list but check it more than twice to see what can be toned down, scaled back or even ...gasp...eliminated from the list. A baby who would save mankind was born in a mean and lowly stable. I often wonder what He thinks of our over the top holiday trappings. "I'm dreaming of a silent night" takes on more significance when we contemplate the actual silent night, when Christ was born.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Pinterest trees and a holy night

We are a DIY maker family and as a result have a bit of a creative hoard stashed in the attic, Michael's work shop, and a closet here and there. He thinks it is all me:) Michael has been building bunk bed extravaganza's lately, so the scrap wood pile was out of control! No problem I said...Pinterest will take care of that. I told him I could keep him busy building things like this indefinitely, to which he snarked "I'm sure you could!" hahahahah

This was the picture on Pinterest I showed hubby Michael in the morning. When I came home that afternoon he had 2 trees waiting for me and a 3rd in process. I love, love having a handy hubby! The wood trim for the trees below has been languishing in our attic for 20 years, yes 20! That is when we built our home and the extra trim was stored in the attic just in case. Honestly I don't know how people throw things like this away...much to my husbands dismay:) Today I am totally justified in the beautiful trees built from 20 year old trim!

Silver and gold won the paint decision struggle. I do love that song...Silver and Gold:) My baby tree became white to tie in the mantle. Picture taking of projects is a blogger must and having a cute baby in the picture is always a bonus, so I sat Madeline in the picture. She then ran away but kept coming back sitting down and smiling at I kept snapping!

So this is Christmas 2016. Neutral and simple. This is our "off year" from hosting the family festivities which makes for a quiet December...silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright!

This metal tray was a wedding gift. Much like our almost 34 year marriage it is a bit tarnished, scratched and has a few dings, yet it becomes more precious every year. The structure is still intact, it has survived 12 moves, 4 children, and many happy and sad events. I love this silver tray, it represents the hope of a newly married "not a clue what we were getting into" couple that has survived, thrived, and become more valuable as time goes by:)

Metallic pillows on the couch were borrowed from my bed and the upstairs guest room. I restrained myself on more pillow purchases to stay off of Santa's naughty list:)

The mini trees on the mantle have been acquired over time from Hobby Lobby, Marshall's, Tuesday Morning and the like. I love the different textures together!

After the trees were on the mantle there was a space to fill. Enter a piece of 1x6, metallic paint, vinyl letters and the title to my all time favorite Christmas song "Oh Holy Night"....the center of my mantle, and indeed the phrase that reminds me to remember the very reason we celebrate Christmas!

The sweet influence of nativity scenes scattered around the house helps me keep Christmas in perspective. It is the one Christmas item I buy each year...

My Christmas decorating is complete. The mood is peaceful. Everything is perfect....if only I could decide where to put the mini trees:).........

Merry Christmas!