Christmas Recoup

The past few days have been interesting! Time flew leading up to Christmas. Our days were filled with baking, cleaning, last minute shopping, attending holiday parties, and throughout all that, leading up to Christmas Day, Jackson picked up a nasty virus. :( How could Jackson be sick for half of the Christmas Days he has been alive for??!?! He's managed... His first year he was only one month, so that year didn't count, the next year we spent Christmas watching carefully over him until we ended up bringing him to the ER to spend the rest of the day, last year was good, and I really had some high hopes for this year... But alas... The Virus. Poor guy didn't wake up until late, and here I was thinking he'd be running down the steps at 6am! I woke up early to make some Monkey Bread (mmm, so good!) and was all ready to go with the camera. Instead, he trudged out of his room with flushed cheeks, fever already apparent. I gave him a cup of OJ, and not 5 minutes after having that, he got sick to his stomach. Ugh, not a good start. He didn't even want to open gifts. Liam was more spirited and enjoyed his gifts, and after some Motrin Jackson came back around and we managed some presents. It was a subdued Christmas Day to say the least. We enjoyed our quiet time together and were thankful in remembering the birth of our Savior. We did make it out to the Isabell's for a few hours to have brunch and exchange gifts. There was even a special appearance by Buddy the Elf! Thanks Aunt Bethany!!! :)

Christmas Eve was a better experience for the boys. We went to the Medieros Family to celebrate with the Stevenson side of the fam. It was awesome to have Christmas Eve with Nan - and everyone was super impressed with Trisha's prowess in the kitchen. Mmmm! Beef Wellington. (wink-wink, I won't give away your secret, Trish! :cough-cough, the butcher made it, cough-cough: Ooops! We had a wonderful time and the boys had a blast opening gifts and playing. Jackson and Ava have so much fun together and it's neat that they actually go off together to play alone. So far no trouble!

The day after Christmas, uneasy about how the kids were, we ventured to the William Penn Inn with Justin's family to have a day-after-Christmas dinner together. Jackson got sick to his stomach while there, but insisted he was ok and wanted to stay, so we ate fast and enjoyed time with family before scurrying out.

Next year I will be attempting to quarantine the family two weeks prior to Christmas! Hopefully everyone will be healthy! In about a week we're all heading to Stowe, VT for a family vacation. Should be... interesting! No, we are really looking forward to some time away. Jackson might try his hand at skiing! Stay tuned...

Iced in!

A snow/ice storm was forecast for Saturday night into today. We were soooo wishing it would be a big snowstorm. Last night Justin and I kept checking weather blogs hoping for it to change toward more snow. At one point a snow calculation was predicting us to be in 6-12 inches. Woot! We went to bed excited that *possibly* we would wake to a winter wonderland and envisioned building snowmen and having snow ball fights with Jackson. I think I woke up twice to look out the window. (Am I a child or what?!) No such luck. This morning revealed a half of an inch of ice coating everything. Can't do much with that except stay inside and keep cozy!

My friend Lisa invited me to a cookie exchange today. It was a fun domestic-y girly morning for me! Yesterday my little 3 year old helper and I worked hard rolling dough into little balls and covering them in powdered sugar. Ta da! Chocolate Crinkles! They came out soooo good! We had a munch a few of them before packaging them up to be enjoyed by some other families. The fun part was bringing home some new goodies to enjoy, which I have been throughout the day. The newness of the cookies are so tempting. My new favorites: Chocolate covered cherry cookies. Jackson's favorite: the sugar cookies cut out like Christmas shapes. Justin is sticking with the chocolate crinkles and even Liam got to enjoy his first fresh from the oven last night.

If you want to try these yummy cookies, here's the recipe.

Chocolate Crinkles (a la Martha Stewart)
8oz Bittersweet Chocolate
1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted softened butter
1 1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk
1 cup sugar
1 cup confectioners sugar

1. melt chocolate, set aside
2. sift flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl
3. mix butter, brown sugar, eggs vanilla, and melted chocolate
4. add dry ingredients, alternating with milk until thoroughly mixed
5. divide dough in 4 batches and wrap, chill 2 hours
6. Heat oven to 350 degrees
7. Roll into 1 inch balls, coat with granulated sugar, then roll in confectioners sugar.
8. Place 2 inches apart on parchment paper
9. Bake until cracked appearance on top, about 14 min's.

A couple weeks ago we had our first laying snow of the season. It certainly wasn't Jackson's first snow, nor Liam's, but it was worthy noting around here as we are a family who looks forward to the white stuff! Justin began prepping Jackson for snow the night before we were expected to have it. Jackson woke bright and early ready to go out. Sadly we got merely a coating, but it was enough to put on boots for according to Jackson.

We set up our tree (a couple weeks ago actually!) and I just had to get a few pics of Liam "meeting" it for the first time. He's now 11 months and it's been fun seeing his little personality really come out. He's such a sweet baby. One of my favorite things about Liam right now is how excited he is when you come to get him when he wakes up. When I go in his room he pulls up (if he hasn't already) on the crib and bounces up and down and rocks the crip too. He gets so excited! Liam has been enjoying eating new foods too. His favorite is pastina (tiny star shaped pasta). He's embracing his Italian heritage there. He loves it with some parm cheese and butter. He's not a fan of anything green. If you leave him hanging during a meal, he'll let you know he's unhappy. Too funny! Between Jackson and Liam, there aren't too many quiet meals in our home. Anyway, here he is meeting the Christmas Tree!

"Sooo big!"

Our littlest boy is now one unsteady step closer to growing up. Well, maybe one step closer to walking... One thing at at time! On 12/3 Liam took his first few purposeful steps. He was just out of the bath, and, well, nekkid, and took about 5 steps. It was so cute! He's taken one or two, but has been quick to drop to his knees to crawl before. But now he's finding motivation all the sudden! So here he is, doing his, "How big is Liam?!" "Soooo big!"

Phew! What a weekend we've had! Having Thanksgiving and Jackson's birthday so close together is a lot of work! But I was happy to have two special things to celebrate. We had the Stevenson family side to our home for our Thanksgiving celebration. It was a blessing to have Nan join us, too. I wish we could be with both sides of the family to celebrate, but I guess that's life... We have to take turns. ;) Next year we'll be with the Isabell's.

I made my Italian great grandmother's recipe for pound cake for Jackson's birthday cake for the first time, which was an adventure! The bar had been set high by my mom and I was a little nervous I'd mess it up! I was thankful for my Kitchen Aid mixer since the recipe requires 20 minutes of beating. I think I watched the oven half the time it was cooking, trying to make sure it didn't cook over. It turned out great! We sang happy birthday to Jackson the first of 3 times total this weekend. It was the beginning of the never ending party for him!

Saturday the 24th was Jackson's actual birthday. We'd been pumping him up for his party at Tumbleweeds Gym all week, and of course in the morning he exerted his 3 years in the making of willfulness and told us he didn't want to go. Huh?! We eventually convinced him it would be fun and he should attend his own party. He did have blast with his cousins Ava and Lila and friends Gabriela, Megan, Aaron and Caden after all. .. Here are a few pics of the fun had...

When we got home I had to run Liam right up to bed for his nap, and Justin was busy bringing things in from the car. Jackson took this opportunity to celebrate all alone in his present opening! Luckily we were able to pair up what went to what so we know who to thank rather then sending everyone a generic, "Thank you so much for the *toy.* Jackson loves *it!* Later after Jackson took a nap, we discussed what he would like for his birthday dinner. PB & J was decided on for the menu, as per our birthday boy's special request. (I got off easy!) We relaxed together the rest of the evening and gave Jackson our gifts for him. He was excited to open up his kid sized guitar (what were we thinking?!) and his Playmobil Pirate Ship. That was a big hit. Such a hit it was that he woke at 6 a.m. the following morning to play with it!

Sunday was the finale of birthday celebrations taking place at the Isabell's home. We also did our annual Christmas Tree hunting at Holiday Farm where we chop down our own. When we told Jack that was what we were doing as part of his birthday, he said, "But I can't play with *that*!" What a funny boy! So after church we went straight to Mimi and Poppy's home, skipped naps and went right out to the field. It was a little chaotic but doable to get everyone together, including Josh and Bethany and Jon and Emily, along with Grace, Mom and Dad. After much hunting about, we finally found our tree and under Jackson's direction, Justin cut it down.

It has been a bit of a tradition for us to take a photo of "Jackson among the Christmas Trees" when we're getting our tree and this year it was like pulling teeth to get a photo. This one sums up Jackson's sentiments. I think it's hilarious! Sad, but hilarious! The poor kiddo is so tired from not napping and hiking across the field to the tree farm. I'm debating going to a tree farm just to do another photo shoot. We still need a wreath, so it wouldn't be an empty handed trip!

Well it's been a long weekend and I need to get to bed. Ya know when you swallow and keep feeling it in your throat, like the beginnings of getting sick? And you continue swallowing to check if it still hurts? *Swallow* ouch. *swallow* still ouch. *swallow* OK, you get the idea. I've felt like that all weekend, so I better get some needed rest. G'night!

This morning we were doing some good 'ole classic turkey-hand art. First, I painted Jackson's hand and had him press it to the paper, then he wanted to paint my hand, and then he had to do his daddy's too... Wellll, Jackson wasn't quite expecting Daddy to press his hand to his face afterward! He was shocked and then proud of the artwork. :)

I can't believe Jackson will be 3 in one week! We went to his 3 year well check yesterday. He passed! ;) While his body is on the small side, his brain apparently is on the larger side. His doctor asked him all sorts of questions about colors, shapes and letters and after he answered all her questions, she joked that he didn't have to come back for his 4 year check up! Jackson is a sponge, what can we say? He may find school more challenging when confronted with circle time. Sitting still is not Jackson's strong-suit! He's excited for his "Cars" birthday party next weekend. Should be a blast!

It's been a busy weekend already... Friday night we all went to Peddlers Village for the Grand Illumination. Sounds fancy... doesn't it? We got there in time for the tree lighting. It was pretty spectacular. Everyone was clapping and hollering when all the lights finally went on and our sensitive boy, Liam, began balling his eyes out! It was pretty chilly out, so we didn't stay out long. Jackson enjoyed a warm up time in the store having all of us take turns following him around. Tonight (being Saturday) we had a low-key morning around the house. We're preparing to have Thanksgiving here. That should be exciting! Justin has all sorts of projects to accomplish and I'm working on organizing and cleaning... the never ending battle! To take a break we all went to the Saucon Valley Promanade to do a little Christmas shopping. It was a nice night and we have some snow in the forecast! We'll see what happens...

I'm so excited! One of my favorite blogs, 5 Minutes for Moms, is doing a huge Christmas Give-away with really cool prizes. Enter there to win a really cool diaper bag, a Joovy stroller, a pedal car, and lots of other prizes! Here's where to go: Christmas Giveaway 2007

E.T. no phone?!

Late breaking news: We've cancelled our home phone line and will be using just our cell phones from here on out. So if you don't have our cell, drop me an email and I'll hook you up! We cancelled it for a couple reasons, one being to save some money. We were paying for a cell phone line in addition to the home line and just found it excessive. The cell plan we have is great and we have over 4,000 rollover minutes that have accrued from non-use. So now I have lots of talk time to burn, so call me! :)

Hmm, what else? Oh, we went to a bonfire party at Isabell's that past weekend. Grace and Mom had been hard at work baking and Dad provided some yummy chili. Jackson was thrilled to have this special treat made just for him!

This photo is the result of blue-raspberry lollipop. Or as we call it, blue tongue disease!

Also, enjoy some photos from Liam's little photo shoot I did the other day. He's going to be 10 months old on 11/11! Eek!

We were fortunate to go pumpkin picking twice this year! Our first outing was to Bobwhite Acres in Quakertown. We originally set out for apple picking there, but once Jackson saw there was a tractor drawn hayride to a pumpkin patch, apples were a thing of the past. It was a cute little local farm and had some great pumpkins. Must say it was strange pumpkin picking in warm weather!

Our next trip a couple weeks later was to Nonesuch Farms, where we typically go as a family. They go all out there with pony rides, music, food, games, etc.. We went on a horse drawn hayride for some variety this time. We picked out the best pumpkins we could find... again... Jackson is too funny when searching out pumpkins. He puts a lot of thought into it and also have a lot of concern over the squashed and battered pumpkins. It's like he wants to give them a good home. Sadly I didn't get many good pickures because the camera battery died out before we even got out to the patch. This is all I got...

A couple weeks ago I was out at the store and found a nifty pack of microwave caramel for making caramel apples. So we cheated! I thought it would be the easiest way to have Jackson involved. He had a blast making them. They were de-lish too!

OK, I stink at this! I don't know what it is about it, but I just am having commitment struggles to blogging. I'd love to blog ever day or so, but just get distracted with... life... I'll keep trying though!

So yesterday was Halloween! Jackson was more into it this year. Last year it was cool to have him knock on doors and collect candy (for me!) but this year he was in it for himself. He wanted to be Buzz Lighter (when given the selection at Target.) Liam was a monkey. We went around our development with our friends Julianne, Travis, Gabriela and their new baby Claire. It was fun! Some of the houses were a little spooky for the kids - Jackson went up to one in particular that had Halloween music coming from a garage that was only partially opened. The lights were out except for a few leading up the path, and there a scary jester clown dude was giving out candy. Jackson grabbed and ran exlaiming, "Let's get out of here guys!" I love the things he says anymore! Liam was along for the ride and did a great job being held the whole time. :)

Buzz Lightyear inspects a Kit Kat

Gabriela the Bee and Jackson

Our little monkey