Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Coolest Gift Ever!

Good morning!  Welcome to the 4th and final week of Advent.  Christmas Day is coming down the homestretch.  Do you still have gifts to buy?  Parties to plan?  Are all your Holiday cards mailed?  Is everything wrapped?  Have you planned your menu for Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day yet?

Is your head now spinning?????

On Friday evening something seemingly trivial happened that has stayed with me all weekend and I want to share it with you.  It completely discredits the above madness.  Rob received -- in his own words -- "the coolest gift ever."  This is, of course, a 5-year-old's opinion that turned out to be a priceless statement in more ways than one.  Okay, let me start from the beginning. 

My dad came over and I cooked dinner for him. He is not going to be in town for Christmas, so we went ahead and visited, ate, and exchanged presents.  He had previously warned me that he was gifting Rob something that he was certain no one else would.  Rob received a mid-sized Rubbermaid plastic storage tub 90% full of loose change.  That's right: pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, 50-cent pieces, and even Canadian $2 pieces.  It probably amounts to a couple of hundred dollars or so.  Rob thought he had just been given millions of dollars!  For a split second I thought that Rob was confused and disappointed.  That saddened me for my Dad.  (I am a horrible gift giver.  I can't relax.  I always want to give the PERFECT gift.)  But then Rob looked up and announced it was "The coolest gift ever."  Score!

Over the next week and beyond, I will likely write about the toys my kids receive and love, the parties we host and/or attend, the exhaustion from post-hustle and bustle, and more.  So if I don't do it again, I wanted to say for the record, "Thank you, God, for giving us the coolest gift ever."  If it weren't for the gift of Jesus, we would not have Christmas.  We may be celebrating Winter Treasure Day, Winter Solstice, or Hanukkah.  But there would be no CHRISTmas.  It is so easy to forget why we have this holiday.

My dad's gift represented small daily sacrifices of dropping pocket change into a tub.  He consistently did that and then generously and selflessly recognized that his grandson would love the gift.  (He also knew that someday his grandson would want to go to college and his daughter would responsibly put that change into savings...but that's another story.)  Maybe he didn't fully realize the impact of his actions, but this gift represents what God gave us so many years ago -- Sacrifice, Consistency, Generosity, and Selflessness. 

Please enjoy the Holidays.  Enjoy the presents and the parties.  Endure the shopping.  Blog all about it, because I love reading it.  But I encourage you in your own ways to remember why we all do this.

Merry CHRISTmas,

Monday, December 5, 2011

Guess What's On Its Way?

Photo Card
View the entire collection of cards.

Thank you Shutterfly for allowing me to blog about my Christmas card. Now, hurry up and send 'em to me so I can mail them. (I'm just a wee bit late on this project.)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

C's 2nd Birthday Party and Some Appetizer Recipes

So, today we got the family and closest friends together for Caroline's birthday party.  Some were missing due to on-the-road working and/or stomach viruses, but most of C's family was represented.  In case you may have missed it, Caroline is totally smitten with Elmo.  He seems to have come out of nowhere!  So what's a mommy to do?  Throw a "Melmo" (Carolinese) party!  First, check out the invitations I created:
Now, no birthday party would be complete without cake.  FYI, Publix informed me that unless I had a signed copyright release from Sesame Street, they could not freehand create my vision of an Elmo cake.  So I promptly took my business to another popular, national chain who did a truly beautiful job!
Here are some snapshots from the day.  You can see genuine happiness and glee on her face in most of the pictures.  Somehow she just knew it was "her" day.

Caroline playing "Where's Waldo" in the foreground.  Smiling are C's Nona and Godmother/cousin Stephanie
"Look how big and strong I am!"
C's sweet "Khaki".  Kylee was missed today!
In typical Morris family photo tradition, everyone is looking a different way.  (Usually my direction of choice is at the camera!)
As a bonus to you, I am offering a couple of fantastic recipes that were such a hit!  First, I made a delicacy (using that word generously) called "White Trash".  I found it through the magic of Pinterest, but here is the actual link to Cooking With K's post.  Let me just tell you, people were asking me to move the White Trash because they couldn't keep their hands out of it!  It is that good!
Also, I made a dip that I used to make a lot, but for some reason it got almost forgotten.  It's a hot Swiss and bacon dip that was completely eaten in just a few hours.

Hot Swiss Cheese and Bacon Dip
1 cup Swiss cheese, grated
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayo
1 tbsp chopped green onions

Mix the above ingredients and spread into a Pyrex dish.  Top with the following:
1/2 stick butter or margarine, melted
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed
6-7 sliced cooked, crispy bacon bits
(Melt your butter and pour over Ritz before spreading onto dip.)

Once the dip is assembled, bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.  Serve with assorted crackers.  You will want to double this recipe if it's for more than a few people.  I doubled it today and it still got gone.

Well, we had a great birthday party today, followed by the announcement that Alabama will play in the National Championship game -- an LSU rematch!  Whoop Whoop!  What a great day!

Later gators,

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Deck The Halls

Hi there!  Do you love getting to peek into others' homes and "Ooh" and "Ahh" over their holiday decor ideas?  Me too!  So here's my Christmas present to you: a peek into my home...

This year I put up three trees: our family tree in the living room and a tree in each of the kids' rooms.  Here are the details of my main tree.  (By the way, yes, I know the star is crooked.  I can't seem to make it stand up straight!)
The main tree is a combination of "pretty" ornaments and sentimental ones.  The tree itself is artificial, pre-lit, although I love a lot of lights, so I have added three more strands.  It is an eight-year old tree (purchased with wedding-present gift cards the first Christmas of Bobby's and my marriage).
A couple of firsts: first "family" ornament from '06 and first Christmas from '03
If you look at the above first family ornaments we were depicted by snowmen. I didn't realize it until just now that we are snowmen again when adding a 4th Morris to our family ornament!
I love this ornament -- a nod to our dear Houma, LA friends the 1st year we went to Mardi Gras down there.  This was also the 1st time Rob flew in an airplane.
Roll Tide!  Santa Claus put this ornament in Bobby's stocking in '09.  Little did we know that we would also be celebrating National Championship #13 this same football season!
Rob's tree also features a crooked star.  Perhaps I should just go with it and claim it's my style.  Ha!
I need to get a tree skirt for Rob's tree. There are so many cute ones on blogs and Pinterest these days, but I really am trying to keep Rob's tree as masculine as possible. Suggestions?
On Rob's tree there are plenty of sentimentals tucked in like this sweet ornament!
The hand print on the left is marked on the back -- 9 weeks old.  The footprint on the right is marked 14 months old.  Each has a partner/coordinating hand print/footprint that are on my main tree.
The football player is supposed to play "Yea Alabama" the fight song, but it needs new batteries.  The li'l doggie head is a Boston Terrier.  We had Zoe for 7 years, but she was adopted by a girl in Atlanta now.  Rob still misses her.
On the left is a wooden ornament that my dad made for me 30+ years ago. (Don't ask me why he painted blue PJs on his daughter...) When Rob was a baby, I saw this wooden ornament at a Craft bazaar and bought it for him, knowing it was so similar to my childhood one.

In Caroline's room, she has a pink tree that my dearest friend Amber bought for her when she was born.  Instead of a crooked star, I made a bow for the top of her tree.

She, too, had her hand- and footprint made as a baby.  These above were made when she was 12 weeks old.  She just recently had them made again, but they are not ready to hang yet, so I kept this set together on her tree.
Again I have used some of my childhood ornaments the kids' trees.  This one above likely has a story behind it, but I can't remember it.

 Now I will give you the bonus part of your Holiday peek: more decor.
Our Christmas mantle.  If you look closely, you will see our Elf sitting up there. He likes to move around the house, but this is today's perch. 
I also have a new found love of nutcrackers.  In the picture above, I have some kind of dramatic ones on the mantle, as well as a cute Santa's workshop nutcracker.
Beside the tree, on an end table I have a nutcracker grouping.  Notice the Rock Star in the back.  Also the ballerina/princess.  She was from Caroline's Nutcracker Ballet 1st birthday party last year.
In a corner of my kitchen I have corner shelf unit full of nutcrackers.  If you look on the top shelf you will see...
...the one that Rob says is his favorite.  He's been hot for pirates for a while now and it doesn't seem to be cooling off.
A third and final grouping of nutcrackers is near a lamp on my buffett.  What an odd variety, right?  A soldier, a vampire, a police officer and an angel.
Since I have your attention in my kitchen, I just love this!  It's a little trivet / tile that Rob made in school last year.  I am a huge sucker for sentimental decorations.  I plan to keep collecting memories and I hope someday my tree is full of Popsicle ornaments, etc.

Well, that's it for now.  May God continue to bless you this Holiday season and throughout the year.

Merry Christmas!

Caroline Elizabeth is 2 Years Old!

Weight: TBA (Dr.'s appt next week)
Height: TBA (Dr.'s appt next week)
Sleeping Patterns: Girl, you are not a sleeper! We start your bedtime routine around 7:45 or so.  We have to read anywhere from 3 - 4 books of your choosing, then we rock-rock.  Your favorite bedtime books right now are "Pi'r Book" (a.k.a. "Itsy Bitsy Spider") "Ti'r Book" (that's tiger in your language) and "Monkey Choo-Choo" (a.k.a. "My Little Train" which has a monkey passenger).  You do take a nap everyday, but it only lasts about an hour and a half or so...
   My Little Train
Eating Habits: You still eat pretty well.  Your current favorite food is "Nuh'it" (nuggets) from McDonald's.  You call every dry snack from crackers to chips a "cookie" and you call all cake varieties "choc'it".  You still love sweet potatoes and green beans, too.
New Discoveries & Accomplishments: You have started talking all...the...time!  And you are making complete sentences, too! As I type this, you are telling me "I wanna watch Melmo (Elmo)."  You have discovered a true love for all things "Melmo".  You have a stuffed Melmo that you sleep with, one of your favorite books is "Melmo's Birfay" (birthday), and we are having an Elmo birthday party for you on Sunday the 4th.
Places You Love: You really are a happy child, and just like being with your family.  We have not taken you anywhere exciting recently; just the usual trips to Wal-Mart, the shopping mall, or the grocery store.  But as long as Mommy and Bubba are with you, you are happy. 
Special Friends: Every time I ask you if you want to go to Ms Beth's house, you say "See Morgie".  You are crazy about a little 4-yr-old boy, Morgan.  I guess he must be your first boyfriend (boo-hoo).  You still love your brother so much that you want to do everything, say everything, and mimic everything he does.  You have a lot of fun playing with Whitney whenever she gets a chance to come into town.  You also love your cousin Josh.  Whenever I mention Aunt Kristy, you say "Josh home?"
Current Events: The most heartbreaking stories are coming from the football department of Penn State University.  Legendary Coach Joe Paterno was (understandably) fired for his lack of actions/reaction regarding former Asst Coach Jerry Sandusky's alleged abuse of several minors.  In other football news, the great and mighty Crimson Tide won this year's Iron Bowl securing a #2 BCS ranking and a hopeful rematch against LSU for the Nat'l Championship! Roll Tide!
What We Did This Day: Your birthday is December 1st (Thursday).  On this day, you woke up to find that our Elf on the Shelf, "Eights" had brought you birthday balloons!  Sweet Eights!  You and I spent the day together playing at home.  You went to Nona's house to take your nap, because someone was here helping us finish our hardwood floors, but after your nap, you, Rob, and I went to have a li'l photo shoot for Christmas.  Then we finished the day with your favorite meal, McDonald's Nuh-its.  Your party is Sunday with close family and friends.