Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy Birthday Kenzie

Today our oldest granddaughter turned 9 years old.  Her name is Mackenzie but we've always called her Kenzie.  Although she's the oldest granddaughter, she's not the oldest grandchild, as we have several grandsons who are older than her and who she loves to get together with.

However, for this birthday, she and her family travelled from Edmonton to Lethbridge to celebrate it (and New Year's Eve) with us and the rest of the southern Alberta family.

Kenzie with cousins Hannah and Layla
Kenzie sat at the adult table

The kids' table in front and the adults table  table behind...nothing but cousins, siblings, aunts, uncles and grandparents.

Kenzie, Layla and Syd reading a card before opening a gift.

It was a fun party with nine grandchildren, daughters, sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law.  We'll have a full hectic household here for a few days but it's great to see the cousins having such fun with one another, and visiting with the kids that we don't see as often as we'd like to.

And when the party was over, son-in-law Curtis, who is a chiropractor, worked the kinks out of son-in-law  Greg.

The fun never ends......

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Images

I've decided a white Christmas is much over-rated. For the first time in a long, long time, we haven't had any snow for Christmas this year. With family travelling through the mountains, we did not miss having snow to deal with.

Now, as Christmas is wrapping up and New Year's festivities are being planned, here's some images from our Christmas 2011.  I was very slack at taking pictures this year and the ones I did take aren't great, but these will have to do.

Our small woodland themed Christmas tree

with my favorite owl ornament.

Emily decorating cookies with Layla and Baron

Setting up the Nativity scene

Putting the snack out for Santa and the reindeer

Then, on Christmas morning the kids open their Santa gifts before breakfast.

while Papa cooks his traditional big breakfast, watched by Greg

After breakfast and the opening of the rest of the presents, it's time to start peeling and cutting vegetables for the Christmas feast.

Boxing Day (Dec. 26) brought my three youngest children together as Mike and his family visited for the day. 
Emily, Mary and Mike
Mike's kids, and Mary's kids played together all day, getting to know one another and enjoy one anothers' company.

Things have calmed down now - Emily and Allan have gone home, Mike's family is back in their home not far from here, but Mary, Greg, Layla and Baron will be with us till Jan. 2 when we'll pack up Christmas and they'll head back to BC and Lloyd and I will go home to Edmonton.  This first Christmas in our Lethbridge home has been a good one, in spite of having to suffer through a bad cold.

Two more events will happen before we head back though.  Amy and her family are coming down on the 29th and we'll have Kenzie's 9th birthday at that time, and we'll be hosting the family New Year's Eve party on the 31st.  January will be a time for rest!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cherry Balls

These few ingredients make Sara's favorite Christmas treat - Cherry Balls. Every year she asks me to make her a batch of them. So this is what I'll do today. This recipe is easy enough for the kids to help with, as you'll see.  This is a repeat post from two years ago when I only had a couple of followers. I hope you won't mind seeing it again.

The first step is to drain the cherries on a paper towel covered plate, and cut them in half (each batch makes about 24 cherry balls)

2. Combine the icing sugar, coconut and dash of salt in a mixing bowl.

3. Add one stick (1/2 cup) softened butter. Mix well. I start out using a fork to break up the butter but end up mixing it with my fingers.

4. Flatten about a tablespoon of the coconut mixture in the palm of your hand and center a cherry half on it.

2-year old Elly got into the act by placing the cherry on the coconut mixture.

5. Roll the mixture around the cherry forming a small ball.

6. Drop the ball into a bowl of crushed graham wafer crumbs.

8. Our production line.

7. My 7-year old granddaughter, Kenzie, was in charge of rolling each cherry ball in the crushed graham wafer crumbs and placing the finished product on a plate.

9. The finished product. Refrigerate to let them set, then eat. Delicious.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Interactive Sharing Time

Yesterday I attended the Christmas concert interactive sharing time at the pre-school that two of my 4-year old grandkids attend.  Their teacher, Mrs. Peters, a lovely Irish lady, kept the event informal so as not to put pressure on the kids to perform.  She told the parents to feel free to walk around the room with our cameras and join in the fun.

For some reason my a lot of my pictures ended up blurry but I'll try to post the best of the lot.

Aidan (Amy's son) and Elly (Sara`s daughter)

Aidan, Grammie and Elly

Elly, in performance mode

Aidan, deep in thought

Aidan loves the dancing activities

The Moms get to perform too

The wonderful Mrs. Peters with my little people

Elly with her dancing partner - she`s so serious

Aidan giving his partner a twirl

Grammie Rocking Around the Christmas Tree with Elly

Aidan as Joseph.  I think those two on the floor are cherubs, or maybe sheep

The full Nativity pageant.  Can you see Elly behind one of the cherubs

Take a bow - Mrs. Peters, her helpers and the kids

It seems these events are the most fun when the participants are really young.  We all had a great time.

On another completely different note, I`m having difficulty posting comments on some of my favorite blogs.  It`s very frustrating.  So TaryTerre, Ma, Michael and Hanna, Fiona, and some others, I`m still reading your blogs and trying to comment.  Maybe someday the problem will resolve itself.  Don`t give up on me.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Eggs

You may have noticed in my header picture our baby Emily, who is now 25 years old, is holding in her hand an egg.  And there are a couple more hanging on the tree around her.  Our Christmas egg tradition started in 1978 when our last two kids hadn't been born yet.  I saw an article in a woman's craft magazine on making decorations out of real eggs.  That really appealed to me so I spent a lot of time that winter making egg decorations, which involved blowing the yolk and white out through a small hole poked in the pointy end of the egg, drying it out, putting two coats of paint on them, cutting out and glueing tiny wrapping paper motifs on the painted eggs, and finishing with two coats of decoupage medium, a cap finding and thread for hanging.  Quite a long process, but well worth the effort.  I put a child's name and the year on lots of the eggs.  This continued for several years until all six older kids had several eggs with their names and dates on them.  I stopped doing it for awhile, and then six years later Emily was born so she needed to have her own name egg too so I did a few more in 1986.  And that was it.  We had so many pretty decorated eggs that one year they were the only decorations on our tree, except for lights and garland, of course.  That year was also the year a friend's child crawled behind the tree and knocked it down - not one egg was broken!

As the kids grew up and left home, they each took with them some of the eggs, especially the ones with their own name on them.  I always like to go visit their homes at Christmas and find their special egg on their tree.  Seeing the 1978 or 1979 date on them really gives a feeling of passage of time.  This year I decided that it's only fair that the kids' spouses and children have their own egg ornament so I got busy and started blowing eggs - lots of scrambled eggs, omelettes, french toast, etc. so that the insides of the eggs wouldn't be wasted.  I had forgotten in my excitement to make the egg ornaments that family multiplication over the years made it necessary for me to make 34 eggs - one each for each of my 7 kids, 7 more for their spouses, and 20 for the grandchildren. 

This year I was more adventurous and rather than limit myself to wrapping paper motifs, I raided my scrapbooking stash and used paper from there as well as ribbons, beads and lots of bling.

Here's a few of the finished results:

Decorations in progress

Just bling on Jenny's egg this year

The youngest member of the family gets a suitably appropriate one.

This was my first try at an all-bling egg for granddaughter Kenzie

See how pretty they look on the tree.  I had to take them off again of course so they could be given to the new owners.

And a few more on the tree.

I had tried to post more pictures of the eggs, but Blogger wasn't cooperating with me today.  I hope these eggs are part of my kids' Christmasses long after I'm gone.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Traditions - New and Old

As families evolve, so do their traditions.  We've carried on traditions from years ago when the kids were small, but with the changing family dynamics, not to mention all the added people our children married and brought into the fold, we've had to add new traditions to the mix.  This makes for a rich and varied Christmas season.

One of our newest traditions started four or five years ago when it we decided that it'd be fun to have a party with just the adult children, giving them a break from their kids for an evening.  It has turned into a much anticipated event.  This year just four of the kids and spouses attended - the out-of-towners who had a 5 or a 12 hour drive, were excused, as was our son Rob who was on a business trip to, of all places, Siberia.

Jenny, Lloyd and Anders - quiet time before the rest arrived

Me and daughters Jenny, Amy, Sara and Emily

Lloyd with Sons-in-law Curtis, Allan, Anders and Quincey

Of course, food was the first order of the evening, and then we sat around in a large circle and played a hilarious game of Catch Phrase, opened gag gifts (we drew numbers to see who would choose the first gift, then each person in turn could take an unopened gift or 'steal' from one of the gifts already opened) which consisted of such things as unliked movies, hot sauce, a statue of Queen Elizabeth who waves her hand when put in the sun, ugly Christmas ornaments, etc.  Then we told stories of Christmasses past and traditions each family enjoyed, and visited till after midnight.

One tradition that developed when our kids were still at home, and which I'm sure our kids don't know about, has to do with how many presents each one found under the tree.  Lloyd and I always made lists and kept track of who got what so that no child got more gifts than another...because I'm sure they counted and we wanted to have a peaceful Christmas day.  When the buying was completed and the wrapping begun Lloyd would invariably come home with a gift that he just had to get for one of the kids.  Of course, that meant that we'd have to go shopping for an additional gift for the other six kids!  Sometimes he'd do this more than once and the kids ended up with more gifts than was originally planned.  Lucky kids to have such a generous father!

It's fun now to see which of our traditions our children are carrying on in their families and which ones they've added from their spouse's family.  It's all about love and togetherness though and we have plenty of that to go around.

I hope you're enjoying your special traditions of this festive season.