Sunday, December 13, 2015

All is Merry & Bright!

Two Things I am Grateful For:

1) The change in the weather!  I am loving that it has cooled off so much.  Love it!

2) My children.  They do so much to help me out day after day and I appreciate them all and love them too.

From the Camera:

These are some old photos of Lexi a few years ago.  Please excuse the photo quality. 

From the Craft Room & Other Things:

Visit sugar for the how-to's on how to make these edible snow globes.  

From the Heart & Spirit:

Wise Men Still Seek Him - A Modern Day Story of The Wise Men.

From the Kitchen:

Pumpkin Pecan Cobbler
Yield: 8 servings
1 cup + 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter or vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups very hot water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium sized bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and spices. Set aside.
In a smaller bowl, stir pumpkin, milk, melted butter and vanilla together to combine. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix to create a thick batter. Pour into a small 8-inch casserole dish with high sides.
In a separate bowl, stir sugar, brown sugar and pecans together. Spread over the top of the batter evenly. Pour hot water over the entire thing {WITHOUT STIRRING A THING!} and bake for 40 minutes or once the middle is set. {Be sure to place on a baking sheet in case it bubbles over.} Cool 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve with more pecans and vanilla ice cream.

From the Schmidt's:

The holidays are upon us for sure!  As the song goes, "It's the most wonderful time of the year!".  Our oldest daughter has been dating a young man for some time now and she is preparing to marry him some time at the beginning of next year.  In fact, she started taking her Temple Prep classes.  Her Bishop wants her ready to go through the temple next month.  Talk about shocking, but exciting news for us!  We cannot wait to see have another one of our children attend the temple.  I can honestly say, there is nothing quite as special and thrilling for a parent than to have their child make lasting covenants with their Heavenly Father and eventually with a future eternal companion.  There is nothing like it!  With the anticipation of a future wedding and changes in all of our lives Danielle, Kevin and I have talked a lot about what some of the things she will need to consider as two families come together.  Do you remember what it was like right after you married your spouse, especially when it comes to the holidays?  I can honestly say, family traditions and holidays were not something Kevin and I talked about before we got married and that really didn't matter because Kevin's family, in my opinion, didn't have any "out of the ordinary" traditions.  I can say there were some surprises, and some things that were different from the way my family celebrated the holidays...for example, Kevin's family got together for a big breakfast on Christmas day of steak and eggs, and I don't mean those small breakfast steaks you see in the grocery stores.  I'm talking big T-bones!  I know some couples find out that the way each family celebrates the holidays can be world's apart and can be surprisingly obvious.  One thing is for certain, every family has it's own holiday happenings and events and to that family, those happenings are considered "THE" way to celebrate!  How does your family celebrate the holidays?  

No matter how your family celebrates the holidays it is important to record those memories for future generations.  Another words, get photo evidence of all of the special holiday happenings with those who enter your home during the season and as you do this, it will could also become a part of your holiday tradition to look at the photos from the past as part of a new tradition past down from generation to generation.  So, with that being said, here are a few ideas of what things you may want to get that "photo evidence" and place them in a scrapbook (it can be simple or as elaborate as you like) of some sort of......

Traditions:  What are the unique traditions of your holiday seasons...the things that, if they didn't happen, would not feel like the holidays to you?  One of the traditional things,at the Schmidt home, each Christmas Day is to have my oldest son wake all of us up around 5 a.m. to open presents.  He can never wait until at least 7 a.m. even now that he is 25 years old.  We don't really seem to have any "out of the ordinary" traditions.  Does your family have any "out of the ordinary" traditions?  How did they come to be? 

People:  Who are the people that make your holidays special?  Are there people that you see each year during the holidays but at no other time of the year? Are there people in your life that have always been a special part of the holidays? Why? Do you receive holiday greeting cards from old friends? You could do a layout and take photos of those cards, or save the cards themselves.  You could include notes on the backs of the cards or photos with feelings about the old friends or the relationship with the card giver. 

Santa:  Do you have an annual visit to the mall to see Santa?  A friend at work shared a story about how her church includes Santa in their Christmas services.  This Santa knows each child by name, has a personal gift, nice gifts too, that he gives each child, and he sounds and looks just like you would picture Santa to look.  They even allow Santa to speak and he shares a few words about the true meaning of Christmas and the reason for the season.  This friend said that her son still believes in Santa and when he thinks of Santa he thinks of this Santa he sees at church on Christmas Day every year.  Are your children frightened by Santa?  Excited?  Do you take your own photos or pay the cute little elf at the mall to do her job?

Thanksgiving: the "official starting line" for the holidays.  Thanksgiving is one of those days that can easily be forgotten because we are so busy in the kitchen, preparing meals or traveling over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house.  What are things that make your Thanksgiving special year after year?  Who cooks the turkey?  Stuffing inside or outside the turkey?  Giblets or not? Pumpkin pies from scratch or the bakery?

Holiday decorating:  We use to always decorate as a family activity on Thanksgiving or the day after.  Last year, our oldest daughter moved into ASU housing, so our decorating changed a bit since then.  Not necessarily because of that, it just happened.  Our usual tradition, which was something Kevin's mother started with her children at a very young age, is to purchase the largest and cheapest box of chocolates to eat while you decorate the Christmas tree.  And I mean the cheapest!  To this day, my children cannot begin the holiday decorating until the box of cheap chocolates is opened and everyone has had at least one to get things started.  What are the decorating traditions in your family?  Do you have certain ornaments that have their own special spot on the tree? Do you have more than one theme tree? Are there special dishes or china that are only used for the holidays? What are the stories behind them? Is there a routine to your decorating?  

Activities: From mid-November until New Year's Day, there are events that occur only at this, the busiest time of the year! Recitals, performances, concerts....whether those of your children or your favorite performers.  Do these events complete your holidays? Even favorite TV shows that air during the holidays?  Must do activities that can't be missed? Record them!  Get photo evidence!  Shopping: Are you a Black Friday shopper?  Do you shop all year long?  Do you buy and wrap?  Buy and hide?  Ever found a gift after Christmas? Do you have stories that are told year after year about the gift "that got away"?

Charities & Sharing the Spirit:  Do you create fun neighbor gifts or purchase them? Do you look forward to being Secret Santa to a family in need or donate time or energy at a local soup kitchen or charitable organization? Do these feel good activities of the holiday teach valuable lessons and have significant meaning to your family? Don't let these opportunities to teach the true meaning of Christmas pass without remembering them with photos. 

Childhood memories:  Memories of Christmas past should not be forgotten.  You can keep those memories alive sharing them and including recent Holiday memories or capture the experiences that have made your present holidays what they are today.

Calendars: Though history often repeats itself during this busy season, year after year, save last year's calendar, so that you can look back and revisit events and activities of the past!

Menus & Recipes:  In our home, more important than the turkey at Thanksgiving dinner, is the stuffing, the rolls and the goodies.  On Christmas and New Year's Eve, the dinner menu may change but it always includes homemade dishes.  Those are the three holidays where everything on the table is made from scratch. We may prepare these things at other times of the year but the holiday meals wouldn't be the same unless everything was made from scratch.  What are the tastes of your season?

Welcoming in the holidays: Are there traditional things that "set off your holidays"?  For us, bringing out the big plastic totes labeled Christmas or Thanksgiving means the beginning of the season.  I never realized until this year that our Advent calendar is another "welcome mat" for the holidays for our youngest daughter.  She looks forward to counting down the days on it each year.  What are the tell-tale signs of the holidays at your home? Photograph these symbols of the season and share why they are so special. 

Do you hear what I hear?:  There is a moment at our home that says "Christmas is Officially here!  That moment is the sound of Christmas music after Thanksgiving dinner.  We are dashing through the season from that moment on!  What are the sounds of your season?

Holiday Scents:  Do you think of the holidays and just smell the Wassail warming on the stove filling the air with cinnamon and citrus? Does the mention of pumpkin pie have you smelling the cinnamon?  Imagine your grandchildren looking through your photos, years from now, as those same scents fill the air of their holiday homes!  What are the scents that you associate with the holidays?  Don't leave out such an important part of the holidays!

Gifts to remember:  Interview your family about their all-time favorite gifts and write down their answers?  You may be surprised to hear their answers.  These answers may change over the years.  Date each list and add to it year after year. 

Difference:  As I mentioned earlier, when two families join to become one, you are bound to find different expectations of what the holidays should offer. Noting these differences and accounting for the resolve between the two is what makes your own family traditions unique. These differences can bring humor, as well as history to your holidays! 

Places: One of the highlights of the holidays for us is the lights on Mesa Temple.  No matter how cold or wet we get, the hundreds of thousands of lights and luminaries never cease to fascinate us. Over the years, we've also created a travel routine to see certain home decorated to the nines!  These sights are a must see!  Do you go to Grandma's for Thanksgiving? Do you alternate families or locations for the holidays? Make a point of noting the details.  How did these "rituals" begin?

Books: When I was a child, I remember reading "The night before Christmas."  Period.  Today, bookstores are filled with books for every holiday, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas.  What are your favorites? Do you display them in your home or keep them on a shelf? Who reads them? Do you read aloud each night or leave them out for everyone's enjoyment?

Movies: I remember watching Miracle on 34th Street and a few others, as a child.  Today, our choices for holiday movies are endless, but usually we have to watch the marathon of "A Christmas Story".  My family cannot get enough of that show! What are your favorites?  This is another great chance to journal some facts and get photos.  Interview everyone for each family member's favorites and why!

Cards & Brad Letters:  Another great idea is to include your own holiday cards, handmade or from the card shop, along with your annual family newsletter, if you send one. Include a postage stamp and the envelope to commemorate a little more holiday history. 

Parties & Gatherings:  Whether your holidays include office parties, family and friend gatherings, these celebrations often bring moments to be remembered. Cookie exchanges, card exchanges, neighborhood gatherings all fill up our holidays.  Share the details, your favorites and least favorites and why.  

Games: Each year at our work party we play the popular gift exchange game where gifts are opened then stolen up to three times before it becomes out of play.  Do you do play this game at family parties?  Which games or activities are unique to your holidays? The "Gratitude Game" is a must to play on Thanksgiving day! Make note of the rules of these games, how your family plays them.  Take some pictures, if you haven't already and include them in your album.

New Years: By December 31 many people put the cameras away.  Don't exclude two of the most celebrated days of the year.  Do you celebrate quietly at home or with friends and family?  Is it a dressy affair or do you celebrate in jammies? Big meals or leftovers? We usually spend the day at home playing games and then sometimes the kids have parties or dances they go to that night.  Once in a while our entire street get together to light off fireworks together, that is always a lot of fun!  We usually meet at our old Bishop's front lawn and put out lawn chairs and blankets to enjoy the fun. Do you take down your holiday decorations?  Some just want to sleep!  No matter how you enjoy it, it's worth recording! 

Family portraits:  A lot of families have portraits taken for the holidays to include in their cards, to give as gifts or simply because of convenience that the entire family is gathered together.  Including your family portraits is a wonderful addition to your album.  Add additional portraits in the future.  It will be a great place to see the changes in family members, to not additions to the family, as well as losses.  What better place to celebrate the family!

Remember, this is an album to be displayed in your home over the holidays for years to come.  The intent is to continue to update the album each year with more photos and layouts and to make this album a tradition of it's own.  It's sure to hold a special place in your own holidays!  Enjoy making happy and merry memories!  

Blog Challenge: What's your favorite holiday dish?

I have to say, I do not have a favorite dish.  My family would say their favorite dishes include my stuffing, homemade rolls, and all the goodies.  I would have to agree, but I also like the mashed potatoes and gravy and the turkey too.  Although, I came come to love this Cranberry white chocolate chip bar and this pumpkin spice muffin I make.  One treat I remember as a young girl was this wonderful lemon poppy seed bunt cake our Bishop's wife would bring to our home.  It was never iced, it was just the cake itself and it was so tart and so yummy.  I use to look forward to that simple cake each year when we lived in California.  In fact, I have tried to find a recipe close to it and have yet to find it.  The only place that has anything remotely close to that cake is the lemon poppy seed iced muffins at Paradise bakery, but I don't get there very often.  

Today we didn't make it to church.  Kevin had a rough night last night.  He was hot all night, and Kevin is NEVER hot.  He runs cold and always has.  In fact, one of the things we could argue about is when to turn on the heater in the winter.  I could live with the cold in the air for a little while longer than we tend to do, simply because everyone in the house complains that our house is so cold it could snow.  As if, LOL!  I will admit, I have been cold these past couple of nights and I turned on the heater.  But, when the kids are running around in shorts saying it's too cold while I am in pants, I refuse to turn it on, and make them get warmer clothes on first.  Common sense, right??? Right.  Ha Ha!
I think Kevin had a fever last night.  He wasn't feeling well and to be honest, he stresses me out when he gets sick now.  I do not want to go through what we went through the last time.  The man doesn't even remember falling out of bed 7 times in one day, or how we got from the house to the hospital that night.  Honestly!  Then, when we got him admitted and in a room he couldn't speak and the hospital brought in a speech therapist to work with him.  It was like something from out of the twilight zone!  I was really worried about him and I don't want him, or the rest of us, to go through that again.  So, we watch him closely!  That being said, last night was a restless night and I am the reason we didn't make it to church.  I hate that!  Next week will be better.  I hope.

I finally picked up Kyle's new prescription from the Pharmacy since he had no intention of doing it.  I wasn't able to go with Kyle to his last appointment with the Cardiologist, but I think they had a nice long talk about his situation.  I think the doctor spelled things out for him.  You see, Kyle has high blood pressure, as well as another heart issue.  (Yes, we just found out.)  The kid works out 4 times a week and is very healthy, except for his blood pressure.  Not to mention, that he tends to keep a lot of his feelings to himself.  That alone could be a recipe for high blood pressure.  Kyle also is not a kid who likes to go to the doctor at all!  In fact, when I went to pick up his prescription it had been so long since Kyle had any prescriptions that they had an old address on file and we had to give them brand new insurance information.  Kyle hates taking any kind of mediation.  In fact, so much that he makes himself suffer whenever he gets a cold.  It's crazy!  So, as you can imagine, he isn't excited about taking a pill every single day until the doctor decides he can get off the medication.  I had to remind him that putting off taking the medicine isn't helping and then I went on to tell him that out of control high blood pressure is considered the silent killer and then I stressed the reasons why he needed to take his medicine.  Kyle got this same discussion from the doctor and I know the doctor is concerned because Kyle mentioned that his pulse rate when they took it in the office was extremely high and the doctor already mentioned bumping his dosage up by 10 mg.  The kid can be a little stubborn like his mother sometimes,.....and his father too.  I would like to call it a Schmidt trait, but I would be lying if I did.  I don't exactly enjoy taking medication on a regular basis either, but now I do.  I also told Kyle that before long he could be talking to the doctor about getting off the medication, he just needs to change a few things and it could happen.  High blood pressure is not like a thyroid problem that requires medication for the rest of your life.  Eventually they might be able to get him off the medicine and I know that is Kyle's goal.  

Lexi had her appointment with the Bishop this afternoon for her Patriarchal Blessing.  Little did I know that I would be called into the Bishop's office too.  It's tithing settlement time and I failed to sign up for a time.  That went quickly and then we talked about a few things.  Our Bishop always asks how I am doing and how everything is going in our home.  That man is amazing!  How he keeps over 300 people in our ward going and on track while trying to do all he can to support his own family is beyond me!  I know he has a lot of help from the Lord and those who serve with him, but even so, there are some things only a Bishop can do.  He works hard and has blessed the lives of so many, our family included, and we are so grateful for all that he does.

Well, it's that time again.  I need to get going.  I have a few things to do to get ready for work tomorrow.  Take care my friends and we will talk again soon.  Enjoy your week.

From the Missionary:

Nothing new today.  I'm sure we will hear more from Curtis next week.  

Quote of the Day:
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