Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas Post

This year was a little different since Christmas landed on a Sunday.
I have this hard and fast rule that my kids wake up in their own home on Christmas morning. There's just something about walking running downstairs early in the morning to see what is under the tree. Here's a little hint: I would probably change that once in a while if we were on a cruise or something wonderful like that.  The big deal about a sunday morning christmas is my volunteer job at church.  Since I had to be at church early, we opened all out gifts on Christmas Eve instead of just our jammies.  

Just Dance 3
Can you tell the middle schooler is more than a little excited about a new game for the Wii?

Gloves for's the little things that make us happy.

The girls were very pleased with their christmas gifts

Family photo
can you tell I raced to get in the picture?

 Right after church we loaded the (new) van for Smith Center. 
We spent 2 days with mom and dad. Now that they own the house next door as well, our family has a lot more room to spread out. If I could just get my mom to use paper plates instead of the good dishes and silver the trip would be nearly perfect.
Aw, a snapshot with my Daddy!

The middle schooler with Oma
Before diving into the puzzle (that turned out to be very difficult) Emma worked her
creative magic on everyone's fingernails.

Just imagine Chris there in the back row.

After the many many trips to Smith Center over the years, 7th grader finally
got her picture taken by the marker.  The claim to fame in my small town growing up
was our amazing football team and living in the center of the 48 states.

More Christmas pictures to follow as I get them from my mother-in-law.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Exceptional Showings by Father and Daughter

Here she sweet little Kindergartner, ready to perform in front of a
sold out gym.  Every mom, dad and grandparent armed with a camera, video recorder and tripod.

I grew up in a school with a place large enough for parents to watch their little darlings perform.  Anymore, school districts can not afford such luxuries so we cram into cafegymatoriums in hopes we snag good seats before all the other crazy parents arrive.  Turns out we were in the second row but still had a hard time seeing little Liv because of her placement on the risers.  As you can see, that didn't stop this mama with a super duper zoom-in lense.  I will prevail!!!

Monday both Olivia and Reagan performed with their classes but we attended on the Tuesday show.  Too bad I didn't sneak in while Reagan was singing on Monday because she went home sick and didn't make it back to school.  So it's not that I like to just take pictures of Liv, I didn't have a chance to see Reagan sing with her classmates.  Never fear, she did recover just in time to make gingerbread houses on Wednesday.

Again, because my sis-in-law lives near by we were able to do lunch on Tuesday before the concert.  Holly, we are so happy to have you and Stephen in the metro.

 A snapshot of Chris and the publisher, Cindy at Brewsky's Bar and Grille for the second book signing of

Again, a fun night visiting and getting books into the hands of young readers.  I want to give a shout out to a few friends who have been so great to support us everywhere we go. 
Good to see the Vints, Christensens and Gerdes Families!
We also ran into some old college friends, thanks Pattersons!

Time and time again, I step back and look at the blessings in my life.  If I didn't ever have trials, I don't think I would recognize the beauty.  I don't want to ask God to take away the trouble just help me through it.  The sun shines so much brighter after a week of cloudy days.  My body feels so healthy and alive after battling off the flu.  And I feel the Father's loving arms around me after I have tried to make it on my own.
Thank you God for loving mankind so much that you sent your son to Earth for our benefit, not yours.

For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son,
that we would not perish but have life everlasting.
John 3:16

Purchase books at Chris' website  click the "buy" button at the top.
Please submit book reviews to and  We love 5 stars (wink wink) but do leave your honest opinion.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Love me some RAK

In case you are not familiar with the term RAK, it stands for Random Acts of Kindness.  It is by far one of those things that gives me a buzz.  I can't say too much but it has been a joy to spread some RAK around. 

Just try it out for yourself.  Start on an easy one, when you are in the drive through pay for the  person behind you.  They won't ever know who you are but it will bless their socks off, even if it's only a $3 cup of joe.  Other ideas: shovel a neighbors driveway, send a gift card in the mail, make dinner for someone just because, send a kind note, the possibilities really are endless.  Lately I have been hearing on the KLOVE radio station report of individuals going into KMart and paying off strangers' lay-away.  How cool is that?  Trust me, you can not out give God.  He is so much bigger than your little checkbook.  He will bless you back.

You can do this without spending a penny.  Look each person you meet on the street, in the eye and warmly greet them.  It is a gesture that has been forgotten. 

Blessings to you as you go out of your way today and tomorrow to make someone else feel loved.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Not So Christmas Concert

It's not a Christmas concert any more, in fact, it's not even a Holiday Concert, it's just a
winter concert
In years past there were Christian songs like "Away in a Manger" those were dropped for "Frosty the Snowman".  Now it's just a bunch of songs that have nothing to do with any season at all. 

Last night was Emma's middle school Winter Choir Concert and 30 minutes after that the stage was reset for her Winter Orchestra Concert.  Both were wonderful but 3 hours on hard folding chairs is a little tough on my backside.  Just as I was about to make a comment to my hubby about no Christmas music all 3 grades came out to sing "We Wish You A Merry Christmas"  Hallelujah!!
Emma made the swing choir this year.
I would love to tell you about the dress debacle but I don't want to get negative. 

 Emma and choir friends

 Yes those are leggings under her dress. 
Have you ever tried playing a cello in a short wouldn't be a pretty site! 
Em and her cello buddy Andi.

 Silly girls!
Emma was so excited to have Aunt Holly at the concert
We'll see a lot more of Holly now that she and Stephen have moved to the metro area

 Aunt Holly teaching Emma how to OPEN her mouth when singing.

There they are. 
Emma and Dax are first and second chair. 
I have very few pictures of Emma playing that don't include our buddy Dax.

May the music and festivities of this Christmas season bring you closer to the love of our Savior.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

White Chili

I have to tell you about our amazing dinner tonight. A few months ago the girls' school had a chili tasting event.  That night I tasted some fantastic White Chili and have been wanting to get the recipe since then but have not done it.  Finally tonight I went to and found this one.  As with all things I tweeked it just a little but this has become a family favorite after just one meal. Click HERE for an easy, yummy dinner.

Here are a few of my alterations:
1. I used part of a whole cooked chicken, not just the breasts
2. I did not use the cayenne pepper because our family is whimpy
3. I used 3 cans of beans because that is all I had and did not have time to soak dried beans.
4. I added about half a brick of cream cheese before adding the beans
5. I had some parmesean and mozz cheese instead of Monterey Jack.
6. I also smashed some of the beans so the soup would be thicker.

Next time I will try it without the cream cheese.  No need to add the dairy or calories.

Happy Eating~

Books to Sign

Last night we got a shipment of books so today the author is hard at work signing.  I'm trying to crack the whip but the poor guy has been sick for 2 days.  Luckily it is possible to sign books in sweats, on the couch while the television is on.

Truly, this is another very exciting time.  I remember when...
*the book was finished, July 2nd, 2009.
*we found out that Write Life was going to publish Chris' novel,October 2009.
*Chris had a couple students read the book and they loved it.
*we didn't think the book would ever be released.
*we saw the proof copy...a REAL book in our hands.
*we witnessed the masses file in at the book launch party.  We couldn't believe so many people were there to support this effort.  And then we sold out in 50 minutes.
And now this, six boxes of books arrive and we have the privilege of sorting, signing and mailing off books.

Thank you to everyone who has encouraged, supported and prayed for us. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

It's Beginning To Look Like...

I love this time of year...the decorations are just one of my favorite things.
Below you will find many photos of our preparation for the season of Christ's birth.

We had some problems with the star!
Guess it's time to buy a new one.


(I have 3 of them)

This year I had the girls get out all the ingredients, measure everything and start mixing all on their own. This recipe calls for 14 cups of flour so towards the end requires mom's help but until then, they did a great job.  This is a bitter sweet event for Emma.  Eating this time of year is a constant reminder for her that she can't eat many of her favorites.  Never fear Emma...I'm working on some very special recipes just for you.  Hang in there!

This is my tree and now that I look at the picture, it really isn't all that flattering.  To see it in person, it is beautiful.  Growing up we always had a "beautiful" tree and as a child, I did not appreciate the beauty.  All I wanted was a fun tree like the Grothous (neighbors) tree.  Remembering that, I have my pretty tree in the front room and the fun tree in the family room.  I love them both.
The girls have so many ornaments, they love digging through the box each year to rediscover interests from past seasons.  Next year I plan to add a vintage tree.  I need to remove some of my snowmen and stars to make more room.

This wreath was made for me by my dad several years ago.

I should have a picture of peppermint ice cream too but haven't bought any yet.

Chris went hunting this morning.  Now my freezer has a bunch of goose in it.  His plan to make goose jerky.  I'll taste it but sounds like a man food more than a Melanie food.
FYI: he didn't shoot all of these, that would be over his limit but he did clean them all.

I don't get christmas card mailed out, or even made.