Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A quiet week of school vacation

I had originally planned to do school M/T/W of this week, but along about the end of last week, I realized that -- although we have thoroughly enjoyed all of the festivities of Christmas -- we could really use an extended period of quietness at home. So I made the decision to cancel school for this whole week (ahhh, the joy of being the boss!), and it was a good decision.
We're only halfway through the week now, but I am already feeling the beneficial effects of our altered schedule. The kids are enjoying the time to hang out in pjs, play together for extended periods of time, and enjoy a lot of extra outside time and Mommy-time. I have a schedule each day this week to balance my time between housework, organizational projects, recreational time for me (sewing, reading), and extra "fun" time with the kids. All of this will help us to be prepped come Monday to start the haul of the second half of the school year! ^Last night the four of us enjoyed a rousing game of Trouble before the kids' bedtime...

McKee family Christmas 2008

We spent this past weekend in NC to celebrate Christmas with Bruce's side of the family. It was a touch chaotic by virtue of there being twenty-seven of us all in one place, but the kids all did great and we had a really nice weekend. The kids were especially thrilled to have so many cousins all in one place! More pictures to follow eventually...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas 2008

Merry Christmas from our houseful to yours!!!
"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord!" ~Luke 2:11

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Another generation of Krusciki

One of my most vivid memories of my childhood Christmases is eating my Grandma Minota's Krusciki (pronounced kroos-chickee), a traditional Polish pastry. I never had the pleasure of making it with my grandmother -- only the pleasure of eating the fruits of her labors! -- but last year one of my aunts shared the recipe with me. Today my mom and I -- amidst lots of laughs and taste-testings -- made a batch, and it's delicious. It was nice to have this 'connection' with my's been a lot of Christmases since we ate hers (she passed away in the fall of 1997), but we felt honored to be carrying on this family tradition in our branch of the family. Below are some pictures of the Krusciki (there are no pictures of my mom and me because we were still in our pjs!!!)...
The dough ready to go into the fryer (these ones are kinda ugly, but they're the last ones, so they're made out of the leftover scraps of dough!!!) In the fryer Getting their powdered sugar dusting Finished and put in the big speckled pot just like Grandma's used to be...and when they were done, David came in to try them and dumped powdered sugar all down the front of himself...and so another tradition of my childhood comes full-circle!

The stars quilt is finished!

This quilt has been almost three years in the making...but it's done now! I started this quilt for David's bed after we had finished his room (see picture below). It took a while, but it's done now and he slept underneath it last night!
Bling (my parents' cat) "helped" me work on it Monday night
The completed quilt A close-up of the quilting --random-shaped stars and spirals (the quilt peeking out underneath is one of my mom's!) David checking out the snuggle-quality... The quilt in its rightful place, with a very pleased David on top!

Our first gingerbread house

For art class on Friday (which was our last day of school before Christmas vacation!), we made a gingerbread house. We all had lots of fun, ate too much frosting, and ended up with a lovely little house.

Happy birthday to my mom...

On Saturday we celebrated my mom's birthday with her...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sugar Cookie Frock GIVEAWAY!!!!

Another darling creation by grosgrain -- and you all know how much I love aprons, so I'd love this one for Abigail!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

School year milestone...a big one!

Congratulations to David & Abigail on completing HALF of our school year!!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas prettiness and silliness

Last night after church I decided to attempt the picture for our Christmas card. It was actually rather painless (the easiest one we've ever endured, I think) and one turned out decently enough to use. Below are a few extras...
Last night was our church's Christmas cantata, so the kids dressed in their finest and we "fancied up" Abigail's hair, too. Isn't it lovely?!
Then Abigail and I got silly while we waited for the guys to be ready. I thought I should include the one of me being a dork for those of you who don't know me personally. Those of you who do know me also know that this is much more typical of me than the sitting-demurely photos are. :)
Molly didn't appreciate being grabbed for a picture (see her "owl ears"?). Sorry it's blurry, but Abigail was laughing so hard at Molly's attitude that she couldn't hold the camera still!
Here's a nice one of me and Abigail. No, I'm not posting the family one's going on our Christmas cards!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas cheer inside and out

Yesterday's prep work... Today's accomplishments... A felt Nativity for the kids to play with and tell the story of Christ's birth. My mom made one of these when my brothers and I were young, and I always loved to play with it. She bequeathed the pattern to me and I started this set three or so years ago...but here it is, finished, and while my kids are still young enough to enjoy it! Well, almost needs some ground for everyone to stand on, but I don't have enough of the brown that I want, so that'll be added next time I go to the store. (It also needs a better hanging system, but packing tape worked for the picture!) I finally put up the outside Christmas lights today. The first year we were here in Georgia, I was putting up the lights wearing only jeans and a sweatshirt -- with the sleeves pushed up -- and I was reflecting on the year that I put up lights on our house in Chicago when it was bitterly cold and sleeting and my hands were frozen stiff. Upon that reflection, I told myself that I would never complain about "cold" again.'s been cold down here this year, so I've been putting off this up-on-a-ladder-in-the-wind job! Nonetheless, it's done now. Phew. (...and there was no sleet to contend with, thankfully.) Bruce has been working on making his annual batch of Banket, an absolutely delectable Dutch pastry filled with almond paste. He makes it from scratch, and although it's rather labor-intensive, I deem all of his hard work well worth it. It's good stuff!

I won!

I won a lovely giveaway from Rosemary's blog -- I am so excited! The prize is an apron (most of you know how I love my aprons) along with some other fun kitchen stuff -- it's perfect at this "bake-y" time of year especially!
My friend Jessica was the one who gave me the heads-up on this giveaway -- it was on a blog I had not yet discovered (but have since duly added to my Google Reader!) -- so when I found out this morning that I won, I felt a little guilty for "robbing" her and considered whether I should share.
I decided she would really enjoy a picture of me wearing my new apron. I might even let her wear it when she comes to visit. :)
Thanks, Jess!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas dinner date

Tonight Bruce and I went to our firm's Christmas dinner at Vinny's. (For those interested, I had a delectable Pear & Arugula Salad with aged goat cheese and cherries and pecans, then filet mignon with shiitake mashed potatoes, then an apple tart with homemade vanilla ice cream... yummmm...we of Polish descent sure like our food!) The kids stayed with a beloved babysitter, so they were happy, too. We rarely get a night-time sitter, so it's always a special treat for all of us!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"Tree Lighting Wrap Frock" giveaway

Another lovely creation by grosgrain...and she's giving it away!
You can enter here.
(...but please don't win it, because I want to!) :)

My favorite Yankee Candle scent...

Peaceful afternoon

The kids slept in until 8 this morning, so school started -- and therefore ended -- later than normal, but now we're done for the day. It's gloomy and rainy outside, but it's pleasant and peaceful in here -- there are Christmas lights everywhere, Christmas music is playing, my favorite Yankee Candle scent is burning, the dog has a new chewbone and is planted out of my way working on it, the kids are upstairs playing, and I am getting lots of housework done. I need an afternoon like this every once in a has major restorative effects for me...!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Wrestling with Daddy

For most of last week, David looked forward to Saturday, because he and his daddy had a wrestling date. Bruce insists that he's too old to wrestle, but David doesn't buy it! I'm just glad that David has a strong daddy to wrestle with so that I don't have to take a beating -- I've never been good at wrestling!
Abigail mostly giggles and doesn't like to do the work to try to pin Daddy -- she just likes to flop down and get tickled. (The girl version of wrestling -- dainty and giggly!)
David, on the other hand, likes the all-out, all-boy version of wrestling. He's strong as an ox and before we know it, Bruce will have to pour it on all the way to be able to win anymore! For now, though, although David's a strong kid, Daddy is still much stronger and always manages the pin after letting David work off some energy. No matter how absolutely pinned with no escape David is, though, (like in the picture below!) he never gives up the fight and is sure that he can win it if he just keeps willing it to happen! (...all too soon, kid...!)
I absolutely love to watch them play together!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Choosing of the McKee Tannenbaum 2008

Usually we go on the day after Thanksgiving to choose our Christmas tree, but this year the tradition had to be a little flexible since we were in Florida on that day! Last night was our annual pilgrimage to get our tree and then treat ourselves with Hot Vanilla Cremes from Starbucks on the way home. And we needed that treat last was a brisk 33 degrees when we got to Home Depot and we were cold by the time we got the tree loaded up on the van! (On side note, we always call Home Depot "Home Dump" because Bruce delights in butchering store names and, despite my resolve to ignore him, it's quite contagious...last night Bruce tried to convince Abigail that "-epot" is a special sound that is pronounced "ump" -- but she didn't buy it!!!)!
This is the one!
A rare picture of Bruce & me, so I like it even if it came out dark!
At home, while Bruce & David got out the chainsaw to spiff up the tree,
...Abigail and I went inside to warm up, finish our drinks, and be silly together!
(One of my lesser-known talents!)
Freeing the tree

No, that is not a cat statue on our entertainment center...

Molly always gets a little revved up when we alter the daily routine!

This was one of those moments when my deep and steady love for my husband flares up in an intense burst...every year he buys me a Christmas poinsettia, but this year he started the tradition of getting one for his daughter, see the look on her face when he told her was truly priceless. She was so excited to get flowers from her daddy...and, no surprise, she picked a pink one!

"Mystery quilt" revealed

The mystery quilt that I have referred to several times over the last few months has finally been presented, so I don't have to keep it a secret anymore!
We made this quilt for a dear couple in our church, Lem and Marge Morgan, who, for the last four+ decades, have served the Lord in various capacities and places as missionaries, teachers, pastor/pastor's wife, and now as laypeople in our church. They have served in places like Vietnam, Germany, the Philippines, and all over the US. Pieces of fabric (on which to write a note to the Morgans) were sent to people all over the world who have been impacted by them and, as the pieces came back, they were lovingly sewn by Karen and yours truly into this quilt.
The presentation was wonderful...our Pastor presented it during our Thanksgiving Praise service after reading some excerpts from some of the letters received along with the fabric (other ladies in the church made a scrapbook with all of the letters and pictures received). The Morgans were deeply touched, and I was humbly thankful to have been privileged to be a part of this token of our love and appreciation as we honored their service. The Morgans are so beloved to our family, and besides, that quilt will also always hold a special place in my heart because Karen and I have formed a close friendship over the course of its creation -- double blessings!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

December snow

We ushered in December 1st with a light snowfall -- the earliest it's ever snowed since we moved here five years ago. None of it stuck, due to above-freezing temperatures, but we nonetheless thought it was a very apropos way to celebrate December 1st!

(...can you see it accumulated in the valley of the roof?!)