Sunday, December 20, 2009

Some More Christmas Activities

 We had a great time on Saturday when Melissa and Stephen came over with their kids to make graham cracker houses and read the Nativity story together.  Much sugar was consumed.

On Sunday, Ellie and I wore the Christmas dresses I made for us.  We currently serve together in the nursery and so we brought a plush Nativity and told the Christmas stories to a 18-24 month charges.  They may not have really understood, but I think it is so important to share from a young age.

And here is Ellie playing with Ben.  It's so cute to see the two of them play together.  For instance, whenever I get done nursing and Ben comes into the room to change her diaper he first comes and sits on the bed across from us and says, "Hey Ellie!" and smiles at her.  She looks towards him and her face lights up in a huge grin, even her eyes smile.  Gosh, I love my family!

Ellie's Newest Trick

She has recently taken to sitting up for much longer stretches.  She rarely falls over!
 Unless is turning about trying to locate whoever in the room might be talking to her (granted, it's usually me)

She's a pretty sweet baby.
Sometimes playing so hard and working so hard rolling over and sitting up just wears her out.

(Deon and I had been assembling graham cracker houses and she had been fussing to take a nap but I wanted to finish the one we were working on.  When we finished I came over to find her like this.  I love my girl!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas So Far...

The first "Christmasy" thing we did this year is go to a local nativity exhibit that our stake was holding.  There were hundreds of different nativities, even some from Alaska that were like mine.  Someday Ben and I will buy a "real" nativity, but in the meantime, this one will do.

Plus, it always reminds me of my mission.

Our ward has a Christmas Brunch at our NEW meetinghouse this past Saturday.  Ben had a meeting, so Ellie and I went down there with Grandma and Grandpa Lewis.  I took this opportunity to take Ellie's first picture with Santa.  She was kind of tired, so wasn't really interested in smiling, but she's cool with Santa, so at least it's not a screaming picture (though that might be more amusing to look back on).

We also set up our Christmas tree (that we bought last New Year's on clearance for 12.95-score!) and lights (ditto, paid a dollar a box or something).  We only own about 5 ornaments, so Don and Deon pulled theirs out and we put them on.

 Ellie liked looking at the lights and playing with the angel (see my lap) from a plush nativity set that Don and Deon own.  It was great fun to decorate while listening to Nat King Cole. When we first were married I asked Ben if there was anything special we needed to do for Christmas, and listening to Nat King Cole was the first on his list.

Just saying hi.
We are very excited to drive to Nevada next week to spend Christmas with my side of the family, especially since some of them have never seen Ellie (like my brother Andrew and my Brown grandparents).  We love this time of year because of the focus on family, but especially the focus on Christ.  How thankful I am that He was born, that He came to earth as our Savior and King.  Joy to the world indeed!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Double Delight Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

My father-in-law found this recipe in the Teas Co-Op Power magazine.  Random place, I know.  BUt they were amazing!

2 1/4 flour (divided)
1 cup oats
1/2 c. chopped peanuts (or use crunchy peanut butter instead of creamy, see below)
1 c. shortening
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. creamy peanut butter (if using crunchy, do 3/4 c.)
1/4 c. applesauce
1 egg
1/4 c. wheat germ
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350.  Combine 1 cup flour with oats and peanuts and set aside.  Combine remaining 1 1/4 cups flour with remaining ingredients, mix well.  Stir in reserved oat mixture.  Form into walnut-sized balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet (seriously, don't grease it!).  Flatten balls with bottom of a drinking glass dipped in sugar (tip:  Flatten the first ball without sugar, then sprinkle sugar on top.  Now dip in the sugar and it will stick to the cup and transfer to the next ball). Bake 11-12 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges.  Place on rack until completely cooled (seriously,  they must cool completely.  I made this mistake the first time around and it was a mess).  Spread with Peanut Butter Frosting (see below) on bottom side of one cookie and top with second cookie to make sandwich!  Awesome!  I recommend putting them in the fridge for a bit so the frosting will set (otherwise the frosting all comes squishing out when you bite into it).

Peanut Butter Frosting
2 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter
1 tsp. softened butter
3-4 Tbsp. milk
1 3/4-2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Beat ingredients until creamy, adding either more milk or more sugar to achieve desired consistency.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Almost 5 months!

I can't believe how big Eleanor is getting!  In just a few days she'll officially be 5 months old.  She pretty much mastered rolling over, though if she knows someone's around she'll just complain until someone takes her off her stomach, and has recently started slouching up.  It's not quite sitting, and she can't get there by her self, but she balances!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Winter Day

Today is a big day for the Melissa Ward.  We are having our open house for the new chapel (yeah for not having to drive a half hour to church anymore!)  and we had a float entry in the Melissa Christmas Parade.  Surprisingly, we were the only church with an entry and the only one with anything having to do with Christ on it.  Some of the seminary kids were Mary and Joseph and they asked my in-laws to be a modern family gathering their family together for the holidays (the theme was "Home for the Holidays" though no one else's entry seemed to have taken note of that fact).  At any rate, they asked us to also be part of the float, as well as another family who looks like they could be Lewis's.  So I made Ellie a hat last night so she would be warm.  Here she is all ready to go!

Well, it got pretty windy and just too cold for Ellie, however seriously bundled she was.  So Ellie and I watched the 15 minute long parade and then waited in the car for Ben. 

She was completely worn out by the time we got home.  Don't worry, I picked up candy in her stead...yum!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Too cute not to share

I've been working on gifts for my nieces and nephews and I'm really excited about them.  This morning I finished the boys capes.  But for my nephew Preston, who is only a few months old, a cape just wouldn't work.  So I made him a super-bib.  I was quite proud of how it turned out, so I have to share it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A New New Year's Tradition

I love the holiday season!  I love Halloween for dressing up (and candy), Thanksgiving for family and food, and Christmas for the music, the smells, family, and mostly for celebrating the birth of our Savior.  But New Year's has always been a bit anticlimatic for me.  As a teenager there were dances (where most stared at each other awkwardly at midnight as balloons dropped).  Our first New Year's together we switched between watching an Andrea Bocelli concert on TV and a program about the Universe.  And last year we flew back to Utah from Texas.  Nothing terribly memorable to ring in a new year.  So I was very excited to discover a new tradition I want to start with my little family.  I read it in a local magazine that came in the mail (Mckinney something-or-other).  Anyway, here's the idea:

A New Year's Time Capsule!  I've always loved the idea of a time capsules.  As a kid I thought it would be cool to open one from a "long time ago" and see what people thought was cool or important or sentimental.  So this year, on New Year's eve, we'll gather together a few photos of the year, maybe a few things that remind us of what has happened during 2009 (which was a pretty big year for us), and write letters to our future selves about what we hope to accomplish during the coming year.  Then we can open it next year and do it all over again!  I'm stoked. Though I don't think we'll be registering it with the International Time Capsule Society, since it will probably just be in a shoe box or something (maybe we'll go durable and put it in some tupperware).