Saturday, December 23, 2006

Tag-Team Cookie Baking

Here are some of the pictures from the BAKING portion of our day. There might not have been "fluff" involved... but these smart bakers already know how to lick the batter from the beaters. McCaleb was especially helpful - if he wasn't unplugging the mixer, or pushing in the "reset" button on the ground fault plug, he was making major repairs with his new hammer and drill from Mr. David, Mrs. Joanna and Ashley! (Joanna... apparently we have not put the fear of God in him well enough...) Lucky for us - he has pretty good aim with that hammer. No fingers or toes were injured during the remodeling process.


OK... so those of you that have known me for YEARS and YEARS know of my love of Marshmallow Cream. It all began when we were living in New Jersey... my sisters actually would eat the "fluff" as we called it on (ick... hold your breath...) Peanut Butter sandwiches. (It seems to defile the "fluff" in my opinion, but I find that there are even those of you out there TODAY that do this same strange, hideous thing...) We grew up calling those sandwiches "Fluffernutter" sandwiches. I, on the other hand, would eat the fluff... straight from the jar preferably... by the spoonfuls. However, to maintain some degree of "order" Mom preferred if I would spread it on bread (ALONE) or on crackers. Thus began my love of Fluff and Ritz crackers... which is still one of my favorites today. Well... back in the good ol' days... we had baking days at Christmastime. We made cookies, divinity, fudge (the old way...) and Cinnamon Hard Crack candy. It was the most fun... and I knew that this year we could all enjoy a baking day together. We made chocolate chip cookies, butter cookies... and Orange Cream Fudge...NOT the old fashioned way... but with FLUFF! The girls had tried fluff once before when they first came home - and were not impressed... but this year... they changed their tune. Aren't they adorable? I really prefer black and white pictures... but you have to see these in color to really appreciate the fluff all over their faces!

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Blessings We Have

I have so many things to be thankful for...and so many things I want to share with my children. I want them to know the fun and excitement that we experienced on every holiday... and I want them to love each other and appreciate family as much as I do. They are such wonderful kids. We are so blessed! I have had more people tell me how "lucky" the kids are... but really Tim and I are the lucky ones. They give us so much more than we will ever be able to return to them! They give me such joy - to watch them play and sing and dance... to sit with one another and pretend to read stories to each other. They are just fun. I have such pride for the compassion and the care that they show other people (and most of the time, each other). They love the simple things... and I really admire that in them. They don't have to be entertained...they ARE their own entertainment. I love that about my kids! I love the way they squeal for joy when their Daddy pulls into the driveway... and how they thank me for dinner... even if it's Hamburger Helper. :) They are cute - they are sweet - they like to cuddle... and I really love that. But what I like the most - is that THEY LIKE EACH OTHER. They get up in the morning... looking for each other. It's adorable. They keep me enchanted with their zest for life and their HUGE hearts. They also keep me young... because we never slow down. A friend of ours was over recently to vaccinate the dogs and horses... and he kept saying...I don't know how you do it. It's chaos. :) It might be chaos... but I love the chaos. I'm sitting here typing at 2am and all I can think of is that the house is too quiet. Tim is out with the Youth Group (Lock-In) at WalMart shopping for our Christmas angels we have adopted this year...bless his heart. I do have so many things to be thankful for - and I hope that I savor every moment of this roller-coaster ride called childhood!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Cabin Fever + Three Sick Little Ones = Time on the Naughty Spot!

We are suffering from some real CABIN FEVER here at the Hanks House! I got sick back at the beginning of November... and could not shake this nasty cold. I did however, share it with Tim. None of the kids were sick... until this past weekend... when McCaleb and Ali both caught the cold (Daddy decided to share, too) and I GOT IT AGAIN! What is up with that? At any rate, we have been inside a lot lately. A LOT. So the other day - it was pretty warm out... and I told the kids we were going outside to play. You'd would have thought they hadn't seen the outdoors in MONTHS. They went totally nuts. I mean really - NUTS. I should ahve seen the problem coming... but hindsight is 20/20. It didn't take long... and the trouble began. I should have timed it... next time I will. The first offense occured within minutes of being out. The perpetrator: Ali. The weapon of choice: the bat. You can use your imagination on what happened. She scored a quick time out. But she wasn't alone...for long. The second offense was about 10 minutes later... Ali was still standing because she refused to apologize... she actually wouldn't even make eye contact with me OR her victim... which sort of became hilarious. (Sometimes I have to take a time out and walk away just chuckling...) The second offense involved the little pink and blue scooter bike. Perpetrator: McCaleb Target: Ali I think there was a little payback for the bat incident... but I'm not sure. At this point, Rachel thought she was pretty hot stuff... as she had the slide to herself. Then... once McCaleb apologized (which was hard, since Ali still wouldn't make eye contact or speak to anyone...) he decided to go slide some more. Rachel was not such a happy-go-lucky person about that. Which is surprising since she is usually the best at sharing and playing together. McCaleb clibed up the side all by himself... and Rachel gave him a litle extra shove down the slide. I didn't know he could fly so far through the air on the little slide... but needless to say -McCaleb had the slide to himself after that. Finally... I negotiated a peace treaty among the three of them. Apologies and hugs all the way around. Everyone was happy - and they all decided to go under the slide in the "house" to play "Honey and Tim". Big mistake... I should have seen that coming. It was like three cats in a box... lots of screaming, clawing, crying...and the slide was bouncing all over the place. Finally - after 45 exhausting minutes of OUTDOOR FUN... we marched back into the kitchen, I laid out their three "naughty spots" (an arms length away from each other) and gave up. You know... even in time out... their still cute. ;)

Saturday, December 02, 2006

"All I Got was a Rock"....

Ali turned 5 on December 2nd. I FINALLY got her pictures back from Wal-Mart... no, they weren't lost...the camera battery died with another roll of film inside. This is how it seems to always happen for me... and you would THINK I would remember what size batteries we need. But I don't... and I never seem to remember to take them with me. So several sets of batteries later, and several more trips to Wally World... I am finally able to extract the film from the camera. (One of the "cons" to the real film process... but I still like REAL film better.) Sadly... she is going through this goofy phase, where all her pictures end up with a silly face that usually involves her eyes being closed. So much for the sweet angelic little girl that stole my heart away. ... More about THAT GIRL later. All in all Ali had a wonderful day where she was Queen Bee. We celebrated with her several times... once with the entire family, cousins and all... and once with just the FIVE of us, which tends to be my favorite time of all. For her Birthday, she chose to have FAMILY NIGHT - where we all lay on the floor and watch a movie. We decided to give her presents to her then...and she was really funny. We had been teasing that I was going to give her a rock for her Birthday (like Charlie Brown...which we had been watching daily for the past month and a half...) So Tim found a great big rock, and we wrapped it up. In the meantime I hid her real present in the Dining Room by Rocky's cage... Present time came, and she was so funny about the rock. She laughed... she said THANK YOU... and she just kept giggling. Finally we told her to go look by Rocky's cage. She got the Fisher Price "I Can Play The Piano." It was a bit hit. I just didn't realize that she thought the RABBIT gave it to her until bedtime when she ran over to his cage and said "Thank you for my piano, Rocky!" Oh well! She also made her own cake...and licked the bowl to boot! She didn't want the traditional Birthday candles... she had already had those... and I meant to get her trick candles... but she really wanted something BIG. Mental note: save sparklers for her #6... However, we found tea candles and she liked those because they were BIG. She is a hoot. Ali has really blossomed... if only you all knew just how much!