The Gift of Goodies

  Well, the Goody Platters are finally complete.   I think at last count, I had gone through 5 or 6 boxes of butter, and I have yet to begin the baking for the actual Christmas get-together’s to come!  Phew! That was a lot of baking, and little people “helping”.  I love that they are so willing and excited to help. 

  As you can tell by photos, a lot of the time we did our baking projects after supper and before bed. 

  There are the 2 final recipes I want to share with you from our Goody Plates…..you may click on the titles to be taken to Tasty Kitchen for an easy printable version.

SPICED CRACKERS 

2 packages (12 ounce) oyster crackers

1 cup oil (not olive!)

2 tsp Garlic powder

1 Ranch Dressing Packet (1 oz)

1 tsp. dill weed

Place crackers in a large bowl.  Mix seasonings with oil, and pour over crackers.  Stir.  Place in a paper bag, and gently shake.  Roll bag shut and lay it on its side, rotating once or twice.  The next day, place crackers in a Tupperware to store until serving. 

So yummy, and super simple!

  My little cracker shakers…

Look at this bag after a few short hours of sitting.  THIS is why you leave them in bags overnight!!!!

  So, enough about the spiced crackers. 

  I have a new favorite Christmas treat.  It is SOOOOOOO good, it may have to be my favorite New Year’s treat too. 

 And Valentines Day.

And Easter.

And Mother’s Day….ok, you get the idea. 

  If you know me, you know I have a weakness for anything with toffee or caramel.  But especially caramel. 

Enter Chocolate Caramel Candy Bars.

Oh.  My.  Goodness.

They are Fan-stinkin’-tastic!

Why hello there my pretty….Sweet, gooey, creamy caramel, how I love thee.  You make my knees go weak.

 (Yes Dale, you do too.)

But seriously, you have to make this!  We doubled it and made about 84 little square servings.

(It’s rich, you’ll want to cut them in pretty small.)

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CHOCOLATE CARAMEL CANDY BAR SQUARES

1/2 cup butter softened

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

Caramel layer:

1 (14 oz) pkg of caramels

1/3 cup butter, cubed

1/3 cup Evaporated milk

1 2/3 cup powdered sugar

1 cup chopped pecans

Chocolate topping:

1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 tsp. shortening

  In your mixer, cream butter and brown sugar.  Beat in flour until well-blended.  Cover a 9×13 casserole dish with parchment paper, and press mixture into the bottom.  Bake at 350* for 12 minutes.

  In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt caramels and butter with milk until smooth. Stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.  Measure out powdered sugar into a large mixing bowl.  Pour warm caramel over sugar and stir until blended.  Fold in pecans.  Spread over crust.

  Melt chocolate chips and shortening, stir until smooth.  Drizzle over caramel layer and make a marbled effect using a bread knife, being careful NOT to cut the crust!

  Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours.  Remove caramels using parchment paper and cut into cubes.  Use a bread knife and cut straight through, no sawing!  Store in the fridge with waxed paper between layers, or just eat them all, whatever is easiest.

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Word to the wise:  If you eat these treats standing up, the calories don’t count. 

Christmas calories don’t count anyhow, do they? 

Nah!  Eat up!  You can start your diet after the new year! 

MMMmmmm……

  Here are the finished platters, we delivered 20 this weekend.  Only 3 or 4 more to go! 

Talking about food is making me hungry.

I need a caramel. 

Now.

My name is Tonya Ferguson, and I am addicted to ooey gooey caramel deliciousness.

Thank you, I feel much better. 

Now, go make some caramels!  I know someone who could take them off your hands, should you make them and not like them.  (Gasp!)

I may have to disown you though.

Just sayin’…..

~T

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This Weeks Cravings

The 4th Trimester

Well, it’s official. 

  Today, I leave behind me……..the 4th Trimester of my pregnancy. 

  The Trimester I refer to as:  ‘The Trimester OUT of the Womb.” 

  It’s quite a ride, that 4th Trimester;  your body is recovering from labor, and you can’t help but wonder when life will ever be “normal” again.

   Somebody once said it takes about 6 weeks to get back to normal after you’ve had a baby……somebody doesn’t know, that once you’re a mother, normal is history. 

  Life is a bit chaotic as you adjust to a new little one, you feel as if you are always partially de-robed, because there is a child literally hanging from your body at all times, seeking nourishment.  

  You usually can’t recall what sleeping all night feels like anymore, since it’s been like 6 months since you slept well;  first from the pregnancy related heartburn, and trips to the bathroom, and now?  The endless nighttime feedings. 

  You have to ask yourself: “Will I ever get to stay in my bed all night long again?” and “Do people who have no children realize what an AMAZING privilege it is, to receive uninterrupted SLEEP?!?!?!”   

  During the 4th trimester, and even in months to follow, the burp rag becomes a permanent fixture on your shoulder, and you can go to Wal-Mart, never even realizing it’s still up there.  You can’t laugh or sneeze without first squeezing your legs together, and that woman staring back at you in the mirror with stringy hair, black circles under her eyes and a bright red shiner on her chin, reminiscent of highschool days gone by, can’t possibly be the new you……

CAN IT?

   I remember asking Dale, if a person could die from lack of sleep with our middle 2, who decided that they didn’t need to sleep all night until they were 6 and 9 months old.  Thank the Lord,  Paxton followed in Destiny’s footsteps, both of them sleeping all night by 5 and 7 weeks.  Yet, the exhaustion continues.  That may have something to do with staying up all hours of the night, trying to get things accomplished, but I could be wrong.  

  Now, if only I could convince Tylan and Avery not to come in during the night, multiple nights a week, for a wide variety of reasons from growing pains, to bad dreams, to snuggles, maybe, just maybe, I’d wake up one morning refreshed and ready to bound out of bed.  Does that EVER really happen again after kids? 

  During the 4th Trimester, you can use the, “I just had a baby” line, to excuse yourself from things, and just hole up and stay home.  And quite frankly, you can use that same excuse, to make yourself feel better about your lack of housekeeping skills, and hygiene in general.  You can stay in your bathrobe all day, if necessary, because showering before noon or even every day, is a feat unto itself! 

    And then, they turn 4 months old, and suddenly you realize, things are getting easier.  The sparkle is returning to your eyes, you’re sleeping longer stretches uninterrupted, the hormones have settled, your skin has cleared up, and life is starting to have a rhythm and pattern of its own. 

  Today, Paxton turns 4 months old!  We are in a good nursing and napping routine, which allows me the freedom to plan for a sitter before I run errands, or go to appointments.  Planning those times during naps, or between feedings, mean I no longer have to load him up, and haul him around with me in his carrier.  It’s bitter-sweet.

  Sadly, this is also the part where, as my baby discovers the world around him, he no longer is quite so content to lay in Momma’s arms.  Paxton fights sleep with the best of them, arching and fighting it to the bitter end, rather than just lying there and drifting off to dreamland, as I get my snuggle-fix at the end of a long, and loud day.  Instead, he prefers, after a few short cuddles, to just be put down in his crib, and drifts off to dreamland on his own.

  He will continue to get better at rolling over, he loves being “big” in his Excersaucer, soon he’ll be sitting up to play on his blanket on the floor, and before I know it, that exciting, but dreadful moment……

When his world expands, and he crawls away from me!

  There is something about that moment!  I have experienced it 3 times now, and 3 times it brings me such complete joy, yet heart-wrenching sorrow, colliding in my heart all in the same moment.  I sit there, and clap and smile, tears streaming down my cheeks, because everything changes with that first crawl away from Momma. 

  Forever more, you are their pivot point, in a much larger circle.  And yes, they come back to you time, and time again, but that tether goes a bit further out each time, as they discover a whole new world out there, away from you.  Soon, Mommy will no longer be “everything”. 

  In the next few months, I will no longer be Paxton’s one and only food source.  He won’t “need” me as much.  And, with the relief that comes with being almost halfway done with my year of nursing, also comes great sadness.  When that part is done, I will never again bring a child close to me to nurse.  Never again see those funny faces, that only a mommy is privileged to see, as those sweet little ones gulp down milk that comes too fast at times, and too slow at others.  I will never again smell the sweet, warm milky breath, of a freshly fed baby, or cuddle a flesh-of-my-flesh infant to my neck afterwards, to burp and snuggle.  Just drinking in that sweet, sweet newborn smell.  Stroking that head and skin, so soft, you can scarcely tell there is something beneath your hand.

   But on the flip side, he is ONLY 4 months old!!!  He has only been on this earth with us for a moment in time.  Yet it feels like there has never been life without him!  He charged into our world, mixed it all up and stole our hearts the moment we lay eyes on him.  Instead of looking forward, with dread and anticipation of the things to come, I chose today, to enjoy and embrace every moment of being a mom to a 4 month old, 2-year-old, 3 1/2-year-old and 7-year-old. 

  All different stages.  All different levels of “hard” and “easy”.   All precious, special gifts from God, to be enjoyed and loved, for a moment in time, while here on earth.

  So today, I choose to be content.  Not looking forward, not looking back, just here.  At home, with my 4 little Fergusons, thanking God for all my every day moments with these precious kids…..

~T

 

Rolo Candy Pretzels, Easy Toffee Bars & Puppy Chow Cookies

  Our first two Holiday baking projects, included Rolo Candy Pretzels, and Easy Toffee Bars.  And, as the title states, it was SO easy.  The kids were great!  This is an excellent baking project for kids to help with, just watch out for the hot pan during the M&M part!

Look at Avery in this photo…….

She sure kept a sharp eye out for the other kids, to make sure they didn’t sneak any candy while she wasn’t looking.

The oldest two didn’t even try to sneak a piece, but of course, Avery tried to snitch a Rolo when she thought no one was looking.  Always pushing the limits, that one.  I kept a close eye on her after that! 🙂

Avery, hard at work….

For being such great helpers, they each got a Rolo Candy for dessert. Yummy!

Rolo Candy

Ingredients:

24 Mini Pretzels

24 Rolo Candies, Unwrapped (great job for the kids!)

24 M & M’s of your choice* (we did some regular, some PB and some mini)

*Or 24 pecan halves can be used instead.

1.  Preheat your oven to 350*.

2.  Place mini pretzels on a large baking sheet.  Top each pretzel with a Rolo Candy.  Place in the oven for 5 minutes, or until the Rolo starts to melt.  (Don’t melt them all the way, they will still look normal at the 5 min. mark)

3.  Remove from oven and lightly press an M&M to the middle top of each Rolo.

4.  Let cool before serving or transferring to a Tupperware.

Easy & Yummy! 

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Easy Toffee Bars

Ingredients:

15 Graham crackers

1 cup butter

1/4 cup chopped nuts, sprinkles or candy of your choice

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 bag Milk Chocolate chips

Heat oven to 400*.  Line a large baking sheet with foil, spray with cooking spray.  Arrange whole graham crackers in prepared pan, breaking some as needed to get them to fit.  Do this until the entire bottom is covered.  In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar and butter, melt and bring to a boil until foamy.  Remove from heat, pour over crackers and spread until covered.  Bake for 5 minutes, or until bubbly all over.  Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with chocolate chips.  When chips are soft, spread until smooth and evenly covered.  Sprinkle with toppings of your choice and chill for 30 minutes.  Break into pieces before serving or storing in fridge.

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    This next recipe took from 11 am when I started the recipe, to 8 pm when I packed the last cookie away.  No, it is not because I made a huge batch (just a double), or that it’s a complicated recipe. (just messy and time-consuming) It’s because I had no less than 1000 interruptions, a chocolate dipping sauce coagulation catastrophe, and a large break in the middle of the mess, to make & ingest lasagna, as well as a period of time where my mom came to visit, and took over cookie-dipping duty, while I bathed the children……

Otherwise? It wasn’t all THAT bad.  The outcome was worth it, these are delish!

Puppy Chow Cookies

FOR THE COOKIES:

2-½ cups Flour

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

1 teaspoon Baking Powder

¼ teaspoons Salt

¼ teaspoons Nutmeg

2 sticks Butter, Softened

1 cup Peanut Butter

1 cup Brown Sugar

¾ cups Granulated Sugar

2 whole Eggs

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FOR THE COATING:

1 stick Butter

2 cups Chocolate Chips

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Powdered Sugar, For Rolling

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. In a large bowl, beat the butter until smooth, and then add in the Peanut Butter and beat until well-blended. Beat in the sugars and then the eggs, one at a time. Gradually beat in the dry ingredients.

Shape into 1-1.5″ balls and place on your cookie sheet. Use a fork to make the crisscross pattern on the cookie. Bake about 12 minutes. Store cookies in an airtight container. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

For the coating:  While the cookies are cooling, melt the stick of butter and chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Stir until smooth, and then stir in the vanilla extract. After the cookies have cooled completely, dunk them in the chocolate. Then roll each of the cookies in the powdered sugar. 

    Make a GIANT powdered sugar mess, and roll your eyes every time you have to stop and wash your hands to answer the phone, help a child change dress up clothing AGAIN, or switch the washer load to the dryer.  Leave cookies out to set up before storing in Tupperware, with wax paper between layers. 

  *Oh, and eat 3 of the ugliest cookies to make yourself feel better about the mess you just made in your otherwise tidy kitchen. 

  Just don’t inhale as you bite….you might just cough for the next 6 minutes.  Not that I would know or anything, I’m just sayin’… 😉

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Tomorrow’s baking list include: a triple batch of Spiced Crackers and Caramel Candy Squares. 

You should see my garage fridge….it’s over flowing with goodies just waiting to be put on plates and delivered!

Or, put in my belly. 

I’m good with either option!

  ~T

  Head over to Tasty Kitchen by clicking on the recipe titles, for a printable version of these recipes.

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Gooseberry Patch

This Week’s Cravings

Cream Cheese & Swiss Spinach Lasagna

Ok, so we just had lasagna for supper and it was AMAZING!  I was secretly preparing myself for some teeny complaints from Dale, since he doesn’t love Italian, or anything involving warm tomatoes, but to my utter delight, none came.  In fact, both he, and his co-worker who we had stay for supper, said it was the BEST lasagna they had ever had.  And after I said thank you, I had to agree!  This is the best lasagna I have ever had, and it will now be the One and ONLY Lasagna recipe in my cookbook.  It’s creamy, garlic-y and has such AMAZING flavor!  You have to try it!

Head over to Tasty Kitchen to get the recipe.  Here is the link:

Cream Cheese & Swiss Spinach Lasagna

Served it with cheesy bread (recipe below) and a tossed salad. YUMMY!

Cheesy Bread

1 Whole Wheat French Loaf, cut in half horizontally

Butter, softened

Garlic salt

Sour cream

Shredded Cheese

Preheat oven to 350*.   Cut whole wheat french loaf in half.  Lay pieces side by side on a cookie sheet, and smear with a generous helping of butter.  Sprinkle with garlic salt.  Next, spread a nice layer of sour cream and then shredded cheese.  Bake for 10 minutes, slice and serve hot.  So gooey and good!

Holiday Baking

This week I start my Holiday Baking.  Here is the list of appetizer and dessert recipes we are trying this year: (IF all goes as planned) 🙂 

  1. Toffee Bars
  2. Rolo Candied pretzels
  3. Puppy Chow Cookies (tastes like Puppy Chow but in cookie form)
  4. Caramel Candy Bars
  5. Can’t Leave Alone Bars
  6. Triple Layer Italian Creme Cake  (I’m a bit nervous about this one!)
  7. Pecan Pie Cake  (already posted on this blog)
  8. Peppermint Truffle Bars
  9. Spiced Crackers
  10. Fiesta Cheese Torte (a formed, layered dip)
  11. Mexican Spinach Artichoke Dip
  12. Chili Cheesecake (A savory cheesecake made with a Dorito crust,  served with chips)

  If they are a success, I will be posting pics and sharing the recipes in the weeks to come.

  Unfortunately, whether they are considered a success or not, they are being taken to various Christmas get- togethers, or some, are to be given as gifts, to friends, family and teachers.  The kids will be involved in the baking and making whenever possible.  They will LOVE it! And I am sure, will fight over who gets to wear the ONE kid-sized chefs hat and matching apron we own.  Gotta love it! 🙂

  Here are the plates, gift tags and tulle I got for 50% off at Hobby Lobby.  I will put a few dozen choice goodies on them, and tie ’em up pretty! 

Should be fun! (famous last words, right?!)

Get that Christmas music blastin’ and Happy Baking!
~T

Binky Babies

  All of my 4 little Fergusons have been Binky Babies.  Dale and I ADORE Binky’s for various reasons…

  1. They can buy me as much as 20 minutes of time to snarf down a meal, or finish up a project before the crying begins and I have to stop to feed the baby.
  2. They keep our babies quiet in church.
  3. The minute you put a Binky in our babies mouthes, they go limp and soon fall asleep.
  4. They are just so darn cute with a Bink in their mouth!
  5. When the child is old enough to talk around the Binky, we can cut the tip off, and voila…bye bye Binky!

  Each child has been introduced to “The Binky” at the hospital, before coming home.  They all lovingly and willingly accepted it into their mouths and lives.  Sweet success!

Each child has given up the Binky between the ages of 18 months and 2 years, without much ado.  

Well, except Avery, who is apparently scarred for life. She will still tell you to this day, that her friend Kamilyn “ate ’em” and they never tasted the same again, so she “frew dem away”.  🙂 

Then along came my fourth little Ferguson, Paxton….

Paxton has decided to buck the system.

Apparently, he takes the Binky while I am around, and THEN, when I leave the room…..

He spits it out and sucks his thumb instead.  The little sneak!

  It wasn’t until I was sick in bed last week, and he was sleeping in my room temporarily, for sake of convenience: hello, stomach flu, that I heard a distinct smacksmacksmacking noise.  I pried one of my eyes open to peek at him, and wouldn’t you know, the little turkey had found his thumb. 

  This has continued in the past week, despite our best efforts to prevent this, occurring even during the day now……

Check this out….he TOTALLY has a smug grin when he see’s I’ve caught him in the act…..

  I know I should try harder to stop him, but it’s just SO stinkin’ adorable, and it IS rather nice that when he loses his Binky during the night, he just finds his thumb.   But you can’t cut off the thumb at 18 months.

  <Big sigh> 

Such an internal tug-of-war going on inside me!

He turns 4 months old this week, you know.  He has decided tummy time is not as bad as he first expected, and can stay happy for about 20 minutes before that big ol’ head gets too heavy to hold up.

He rolled over twice last week, so no more leaving him on the changing table to go find him a new outfit! He also has decided, he is far too old and wise, to be lying around in his swing or bouncy seat anymore…no no, that is far too babyish for a man such as himself!  Carrying him around isn’t an option either, my arm threatens to fall off after just 15 minutes or so of carrying my 16+ pound child on one arm, while cooking or doing a load of laundry with the other.  So, Dale is headed over to mom’s this weekend, to bring the ol’ trusty Exersaucer out of storage.  Gotta love ’em!   I especially love that all the toys are connected to the base.  No more disappearing baby toys!  (Right, Avery?!?!?!?!)   Hopefully this will keep him a bit more content, it’s hard to know what to do with him these days!  He needs to learn to sit up, so he can entertain himself with toys, on his blanket.  But then I sigh and think…..My baby is growing up too fast, just enjoy every minute of arm-numbing, baby holding fun.

~T 

Paxton intent on reading his book….

That head gets so heavy!

  Rolling over now

What an angel baby!

(And such a sneak too)

Keeping Christ in CHRISTmas

  Christmas is rapidly approaching, and with it can come a sense of panic, a need to rush into town, push through the crowd towards near empty shelves, and snag those last few items on your Christmas shopping list.  Standing in long lines, being told “Happy Holidays” by the greeter as you leave, rushing around to prepare for office parties & family get-togethers, addressing Christmas cards, wrapping gifts, and on the busy-ness goes……

  Somewhere along the way, the peaceful, quiet days of Christmas past were lost.  Somewhere along the way, Jolly Ol’ St Nick, stole the limelight from baby Jesus, and the madness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, replaced the leisurely gift shopping of days gone by.  Instead, it seems, we celebrate materialism, indulgence and the idea that we need more, more, more.

  As a kid growing up, I recall knowing who Santa was, I think he even signed a couple of our packages under the tree a time or two, but I can’t EVER recall a time, that I didn’t know it was really my parents. 

   I have great memories of Christmas growing up, but you’d be surprised at the ones that stand out most.  I remember the year dad went back to college, and we couldn’t afford a Christmas tree, so we decorated our artificial fica tree instead.  Tiny red apples, red velvet bows and empty mini raisin boxes hung from its branches, and to my little girl eyes, it was beautiful!!!!!  There were very few presents under the tree that year, but I don’t remember thinking much of it. Mom kept us busy with special baking and craft projects, and dad kept us in hysterics on Christmas morning, sticking his new electic drill up his nose, stating it could also double as a nose hair trimmer.  

  As we got older and became teenagers, our finances changed, and my parents got more and more creative in their gift giving…..

  One year we went on a family vacation to the Bahamas instead of getting gifts. Another time, Hawaii.  One year, we got cash to spend after Christmas at the big sales, teaching us the value of the dollar, and that it could be stretched much further, by waiting for a sale day to shop.  Another year, after my dad sold his trucking business, and things were incredibly tight, we did intangible gifts.  We wrote letters of appreciation to each member of the family, and that Christmas morning was not spent under a pile of wrapping paper and boxes, but quietly seated around the fireplace, reading those letters of love & affirmation to each other. 
  But, the Christmas that stands out the most in my mind, was not the tropical vacations, not the new boombox or new car…No, it was the year we adopted a family in need, through a local church. We were given an address to deliver our goodies to them, in person.  

     We all loaded up, driving further and further into the oldest part of town, until we arrived in front of a very humble home.  Arms loaded with boxes of goodies, we walked to the front door.  Once we were done with our “good deed” for the day, we could go back home and have our own Christmas.  

  We knocked on the door, and were welcomed in broken English.  Stepping inside, the first thing I noticed was the home was sparse in furniture.  Mattresses serving as beds lay on the floor, and open cupboard doors revealed they were indeed, bare.  My heart softened.  My “good deed” for the day, suddenly turned into so much more.

  Oh, the joy on their faces as we unloaded box after box of groceries, clothing, toys and necessities.  I recall tears streaming down the mothers face, as she thanked us over and over in broken English.  The father reached out his work weary hands, silently grasping ours, tears in his eyes telling us how humbled and thankful he was for this, though no words were spoken.  Their children ran circles around the old sofa, the language barrier not stopping our interpretation of their squeals of excitement and joy! 

  Tears filled my eyes, as I looked at the space around me….thinking of the home full of stuff we had left just 10 minutes ago, the gifts waiting under the tree, the food filling 2 fridges. This families Christmas blessing, was my every day life……

  I didn’t know a day without food.  I didn’t go to school without a coat ,because we didn’t have the money for one.  I never walked to a cupboard to find it bare.  We had so much, and they had so little.  Why did I even need the few gifts waiting for me, under the tree at home?

  It was then I knew what God was showing me…….THIS is what Christmas is about.  Giving to others in need, showing them the love of Christ, not receiving!  Why, when I had such an abundance, did I need anything?  I became more convinced than ever that Christmas was going to be forever different at our house! 

  Fast forward 15 years,  I now have 4 little ones of my own, and the huge responsibility of establishing my families traditions…. 

  From the very beginning Christmas morning has been Jesus’ birthday, nothing else.  We feel Santa “waters down” what we are trying to do with Christmas.  Our goal is to keep it about Christ, and His birth, and in striving towards this goal, of keeping Christ in Christmas, we chose to exclude Santa from any of our celebrations.

  Don’t get me wrong, the kids know who Santa is, and that he is part of the general season of year. In fact, the older two, were playing reindeer and Santa the other night! 

That doesn’t bother me a bit.   

  Neither does letting them watch the evening Christmas specials on tv, about Rudolph or Frosty.  What a special treat!  But there is one rule and requirement of evening TV watching……Commercials MUST be muted.  I can’t stand how they try to grab my kids attention and stir up the “greedy gimmies” with the ads for the “coolest toy ever“!  

  But, when it actually comes to Christmas day, does Santa have a part? 

  Nope, not around here.  We want Christmas Day to be sacred.  It’s special.  It’s a quiet, calm. A peaceful celebration of the birth of Jesus.  It’s not wrapping paper piled knee-high on the floor.  It’s not toy fire engine sirens, crying baby dolls and whirring helicopters, drowning out all other sounds of worship of our Lord and King…..the whole reason we celebrate in the first place.

   On Christmas morning, you won’t hear shouts of “Santa came!”  Instead, shouts of, “It’s Jesus birthday!” are heard.  Followed by arguments about who gets to blow out Jesus’ birthday candle after we sing Happy Birthday to Him.  

  After reading the Christmas story, we give each child 3 gifts, representing the 3 gifts given to baby Jesus by the wise men.   Buying only 3 gifts for each child, keeps Dale and I in check, as we are doing our Christmas shopping, and allows the focus to remain on Christ, not the need for more, more, more. 

 Later, as our children get older, we will deepen the significance of these gifts, by assigning a meaning to each one:

Frankincense: A gift for spiritual growth.  (A new devotion book, Bible or Christian CD.)
Myrrh:  A practical gift.  (A new pair of jeans, a coat, a laptop for school, a car emergency kit.)
Gold: A gift that fulfills a want.  (An ipod, shopping certificate, jewelry, bike, MP3 player etc.)

  We celebrate Christmas based on God GIVING us His one and only son, who later GIVES His life as a living sacrifice for us!   We want giving and not receiving to be the focus of Christmas.  This is why we choose to adopt a family in need, or participate in filling individual boxes, when our church adopts a local school. 

  What fun it is to stroll through the store, with each of my children clutching a paper in their sticky little hands, with a name…….a name of a special boy or girl, about their age, who we can be a blessing to.  I love to see their faces as they figure out that no, these new toys aren’t for them to keep, they have enough toys at home.  These gifts are for a little boy or girl, who might otherwise have nothing new at Christmas!

 Granted, sometimes its hard to pack that giant bouncy ball, or sparkly nail polish in the box, for the other child!  But, it doesn’t take long for them to grasp, at their level of understanding, the kindness and love they are showing to another child.  To understand that Christmas is about giving to others, not asking, begging and pleading for the latest and greatest new toys. 

  It is my hearts desire for our Christmases to be SO focused on Jesus Christ, from my children’s first memory of Christmas on, that they don’t know it ANY other way! 

 
 Keeping Christ in Christmas goes much farther than a “Merry Christmas” greeting to a cashier, only allowed to say “Happy Holidays”.  No, it comes from you momma, as you set the tone of your home for each and every holiday tradition to come……

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Romans 12:2 (NLT) 

~T

The Gift that Keeps on Giving….

  We don’t do a huge shopping extravaganza, for our extended families, for Christmas.  Most of our family functions include maybe a $5 gift grab, but there are a few immediate family members that we buy gifts for each year.  And, as we wrack our brains year after year, as to what in the world they could need or want, we just kept thinking, there has got to be a better way to go about this. 

And then, THIS came in the mail…

  Perfect! 

  Here are some of the things in the catalog:

You can feed a hungry baby for a week for a mere $9…

For $15 or under, you can….

Purchase life-saving mosquito nets for a child’s bed.  Or feed a child for a few weeks. Help a needy family by purchasing chickens for them, or a months worth of milk for $16.

  For $35 you can purchase food staples such as rice, corn, beans and cooking oil, to feed people around the world in their time of need…

  We plan to have our children sit down with us, go through the catalog, and help pick out gifts for the people on our list.

  Samaritan’s Purse sends us cards to give out, (or they will send a card to the person on your behalf) explaining the purchase made in their honor.  

  Now that, is a gift of eternal value, and the perfect answer for the person on your list, who seems to want for nothing!

  Go to  Samaritans Purse online, interactive catalog, and check it out!  You won’t be sorry.

Psalm 113:7   “He raises the poor out of the dust, and lifts the needy out of the ash heap.”

~T

Random Things

  I love to make lists. Usually it’s a list of To Do’s, but today, it’s a list of Random Things.  What can I say, it seemed like an easy blog topic for the day.  🙂

1. Being organized makes me happy.

2. I have to eat my Skittles sorted by color, and eaten from least favorite, to favorite.

3. First, yellow, orange, green, and then, red & purple can be switched depending on my mood.

4. This is precisely why I don’t get Skittles at the movies. Too dark to sort, and just too much work.

5. I heard of a mean trick once, that I am totally doing sometime: add 2 or 3 yellow and orange Reese’s Pieces to a bag of Skittles. FUNNY!

6. 3 Reese’s Pieces are hiding in this pic.  Poor Dale will never know what hit him.

7. I love ice cream.

8. There are as many as 8 – 1/2 gallons of ice cream at a time, in my upright garage freezer.

9. I am terrible at folding fitted sheets.

10. I am scared to let my dog out at night because she barks ferociously like someone is out there.

11. I can’t walk from room to room, without gathering up random things left out by the kids.

12. I have also been known to fluff & tidy pillows, every time I walk through the living room.

13. I have to make my bed, or it drives me crazy all day.

14. Sometimes, I end up in the laundry room with things like the phone, a can of baked beans, a shoe and a baby doll, and no earthly idea, why I was headed out there in the first place.

15. My closet is organized by type of clothing: home, church, athletic, tank tops, sweaters, etc.

16. Each section is then organized by color.

17. I own roughly 93 pairs of shoes.

18. Don’t judge me.  Shoes are my weakness, like Kryptonite to Superman.

19. They are also organized by color and style.

20. This helps me sleep at night.

21. My husband is still semi-sloppy, after 8 years of marriage to neat & tidy me.

22. Thank God, he has been cured of his “Dale trails”.  (I could literally follow where he’d gone from the time he stepped foot in the door….he’d leave a trail of keys, change, wallet, cell phone, coat, shoes etc).

23. He has also been cured of the GIANT-Can’t-Walk-For-Fear-of-Falling, Can’t-See-the-Carpet, Mountain of discarded clothing on his side of the bed. Can we say HAMPER, people?

24. I think he keeps the remainder of his sloppy habits, just to drive me nuts.

25. Good thing I love him so much.

26. I love to cook.

27. I am addicted to new recipes.

28. I am currently a bit overwhelmed at my drawer full of recipe print off’s needing homes, as my recipe notebooks are full and overflowing.  In fact, my whole recipe book section is full and overflowing!

29. Organizational action MUST be taken, and soon.

30. I love that Dale still makes my heart jump around.

31. I have been pregnant 8 times in 8 years. I no longer wish to be pregnant.

32. Ever. Again.

33. Holding Paxton in my arms, brings tears to my eyes.

34. I can’t pick him up without breathing a prayer of thanksgiving, that the Lord allowed him to live here on earth, with me.

35. Since adding the 4th child to our family, laundry day starts on Monday and sometimes I don’t get it finished until Saturday, when the kids can help put their’s away.

36. This cannot continue, I used to get it all done in a day, maybe two.  (I’m working on it!)

37. My kids might just be the slowest eaters, EVER.

38. This drives Dale and I crazy.

39. Avery once at breakfast for an hour and a half.

40. It was cereal.

41. Now the food gets taken after X amount of time and they get it the next meal instead.

42. Mean? Maybe.

43. But, it only took Destiny 2 times, and Tylan once to figure out supper is not so good for breakfast.

44. I don’t watch scary movies. They feel too evil, and I don‘t like how my house feels afterwards.

45. I’m more of a “And they lived happily ever after….” kinda girl.

46. My favorite movie? My Best Friends Wedding.

47. Or, Sweet Home Alabama.

48. Or, Miss Congeniality.

49. Fine. Pretty much anything with Julia Roberts, Reece Witherspoon, or Sandra Bullock in them.

50. Except “Eat. Pray. Love.”

51. That should be called: “Snack. Doze. Sleep.”

52. I want my $7 back.

53. I was raised in a Mennonite church.

54. Yes, we had Tv and Cars. You are thinking of Amish.

55. Can you imagine me without a hair dryer? I think not.

56. I currently attend a Nazarene Church I LOVE.

57. More important than that, I am a Christian saved by grace.

58. 3 of my 4 children have accepted Christ into their hearts.

59. This fact brings tears to my eyes!

60. My heart leaps when I think of the day I get to meet my 4 babies in Heaven.

61. I’m married to an extremely laid-back, and patient man.

62. I test his patience often.

63. Dale can’t stand the sound of styrofoam squeaking.

64. Because of this, I once squeaked a To-Go container most of the way home.

65. This stopped when he reached across the front seat, and ripped the lid of my box off, in one quick motion.

66. I about peed my pants.

67. He found it extremely humorous.

68. I haven’t squeaked a To Go container, more than twice per car ride, since.

69. I used to LOVE to play the piano.

70. I took lessons from age 7 – 16.

71. I don’t play anymore.  Just sometimes at Christmas, for the kids to sing along to.

72. I aspire to learn to play the harp one day, after the kids are grown.

73. I was a city girl through and through.

74. I married a country boy, who grew up on a dairy.

75. I never thought I’d learn to love the country.

76. I never want to live in town again.

77. I love that God knows what I need or want, better than I do.

78. Dale and I can’t pray together right now, without one of us falling asleep.

79. I love that God understands the stage of life we are in.

80. I love that someday, we will sleep all night consistently. (Right? Please tell me it happens again.)

81. “Sleeping in” at our house, means its 7:30 am before we hear the first pitter-patter of little feet, coming into our room.

82. Alarm clocks are much more appealing when they wear footy jams.

83. My favorite food is Mexican, no I mean Italian, no-no, Mexican.

84. Ok, I guess it depends on the day.

85. The second, and I mean second, Pax is done nursing, I am celebrating with a huge batch of Buffalo Wings, Chips & Salsa from Chilis, and that killer Wasabi sandwich from the Mustard Seed.

86. It’s been aprox. 9 months since I’ve been able to enjoy these things without adverse effects: like pregnancy induced heartburn that made me cry at night, or more recently, a screaming baby who apparently says “no thank you” to spicy milk?

87. I love to bake.

88. Dale doesn’t like many sweets.

89. The kids are rarely allowed sugar.

90. This is why I have to think of people to give my desserts to.

91. I mean really, I shouldn’t have to eat the whole cake alone!

92. I am a “foodie” through and through.

93. Eating out totally counts as the whole date, especially if we get to eat at a new place.

94. I get cravings for food, whether I am pregnant or not.

95. Avery is my most stubborn child.

96. She is also the only child that looks totally Ferguson.

97. Dale Ferguson is the most stubborn man I know.

98. Hmmmm, what could this mean?

99. I love photos of my kids.

100. Regardless of what designers say, about not decorating your home with family pictures, I gladly do it and love it.

101. It makes it feel homey.

102. But, they have to be organized in a grid form or small cluster, like this:

103. They cannot be crooked or I have to stand there until I make them all just so.

104. Yeah, we’ve established I am anal, so this should not surprise you in the least.

105. Moving on….

106. I love to read.

107. When I was on bed rest I was reading 28 books a month.

108. Now, I can barely read 28 pages a month.

109. I’m ok with that.

110. Its super important to me, that my kids love to read.

111. I hate TV, and I especially HATE video games.

112. I adore Christmas music.

113. Dale makes me wait to play it until the day after Thanksgiving, when the tree goes up.

114. The song Feliz Navida makes me crazy.

115. My favorite Christmas song gives me chills, it’s called: “All Through the Night”.

116. You can listen to it here: (Our Christmas CD’s version is WAY better, but I can’t find it.)

 117. I am terrible at telling people, “No”.  I have extreme guilt afterwards if I say it.

118. I am getting better at it, due to sheer lack of time without kids. How can I be a good help to anyone with 4 kids in tow, 3 who still need naps or they turn into grizzly bears, and 1 of those 3, attached to my body every couple of hours seeking nourishment? Yeah, not happening.

119. This list is getting long.

120. I am done being random, it’s making me a little crazy. I just might have to go edit this, so it reads in order of topic……

 Nah!

 Have a good one!

 ~T  🙂