Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Beginnings

The kids have been in bed since 12:15. We had a wonderful evening playing board games, eating finger foods, baking cookies and just enjoying each others company. Mark said a new word this evening. I asked him if he wanted to make cookies and he ran to the oven and said "Good Good Good". He learns quickly. 

It's now 1:30 and I have a second wind. Maybe with the kids ringing in the new year they may sleep a little later in the morning. Some how I highly doubt that, but I can dream. 

I sit here, wide awake thinking of what this new year will bring. I want it to be a fresh start for us as a family. Not that I'm not proud of our past accomplishments, but I'm looking forward to the steps we are taking in a new direction. I don't believe in resolutions, but I do in new beginnings.

In the year of 2009, my husband and I will lead our family on a closer walk with the Lord. We will keep our home prosperous, full of warmth, comfort, and secure for our children. Build stronger bonds with each child individually all the while focusing on family unity. 

I will keep constant in my role as my husbands wife. I will follow his lead and be his support. I will hold fast to feminine ways. 

For 2009, my goals are to transition our home into a greener, more frugal, and natural sanctuary. With this I will cut our processed food purchases even more.  Starting my own organic vegetable garden and teaching myself the process of canning. 

This year I will also let go of old friendships that are no longer healthy or support my faith, values, and transitions, but will continue to encourage them and pray for their well being. I will build stronger more fruitful relationships with those that hold constant to loyalty, responsibility, truthfulness, and humor. 

Also in 2009, I want to stop being such an adult. I'm going to jump in the leaves, remember the taste of honeysuckle, climb a tree, run bare foot in the grass, make a mud pie, and I will remember that the world will not explode if the dishes wait 10 minutes, if the kids eat peanut butter for breakfast, and that spilt milk does not burn a hole in counters or floors. I will remember to breath...remember to laugh...remember to love harder, and know that my family will love me all the more for it. 

Monday, December 29, 2008

Cupcakes and Snewffy...

A few years ago I made myself a promise that when I gave the kids a birthday or Christmas gift it would be handmade. After receiving my order of hats and mittens from my friend Steph over at A Close Knit Family. And seeing how much Hannah absolutely adored her cupcake set, I ordered her a matching handbag. I decided that Hannah's gift would be handmade, just not handmade by mom. Let's face it, I need lots of practice on my knitting. The first thing I made were booties for my youngest crumb snatcher...and he won't be able to wear them until he graduates from High School...or grows into a gigantic super baby. Mom needs a lot of work in the knitting area. 

Well Steph did it again...material is so soft and details are perfect. My cupcake loves her cupcake purse...especially the sprinkles. 

For Ryan this year, I made him a shirt with his favorite cartoon pup...Snewffy (as my Ryan calls him). He has an obsession over the Peanuts gang...and he even has a crush on the little red head girl next door. His only trouble is that he has to much hair to be Charlie Brown. 


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Lord grant me patience

So I admit it. I'm a neurotic mother. I've always owned up to it. I worry about my kids behavior, manners, dress, and cleanliness. I boarder on the line between pushy and obsessive. Its all the fault of high expectations. I expect perfection. I never receive it and that's okay...but I expect it. LOL I joke with my friends that instead of a college fund I have therapy funds for my three. But as far as my neurotic quirks, I've always worried that my kids were utter brats. I get the normal back talk from them that I guess most parents get, not that I tolerate it one iota, but are kids right? With having my two oldest so close together they can fight like rabid dogs one minute and then the next shouting from the highest peak how much they love their sibling. Being an only child, for years I thought that my children had some sort of relationship complex or inherited bipolar tendencies.

I never knew until 10 minutes ago just how wonderfully behaved my children are. They may whine, complain, and be brats occasionally or have exorcist type tantrums....but they are close enough to perfect for me. Even my son with PDD/NOS and ADHD and other behavioral delays is greatly behaved.

Enters my great nephew. Two months younger than my Ryan who turned 5 in September. My great nephew was invited to spend the night with us for the first time, has graced this house for 10 minutes and already I'm wanting to send him packing. Lord grant me the patience I need to make it until morning without the use of children's benadryl.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Last post before I go crazy finishing the final touches before tonight. I still have wrapping to do and some re wrapping (thanks crumb snatchers), Christmas mouse prep, and the mountain of food to get ready. Everything is complete except the Ham, green bean casserole, rolls, and mom is working on the potato salad as we speak. Sometime today I have to take a tray to my dads who is under the weather and not up to joining us tonight. I still need to mop and do a fly by dusting. 

I am in such a joyous mood. This has been one of the best Christmas seasons here at my house. So many memories made, laughter and smiles...we are truly blessed. 

I also want to extend a thanks to my friend Heather over at Home Ec 101. She helped me out of a fast pinch this morning when I found I was completely out of sweetened condensed milk that I so very desperately needed for the Chocolate cream pie. You rock mama...Thanks a million. 

Also above is a little chocolate porn for my friend Stephanie over at A close Knit Family and my other girls both Summer, August, ASD/PDNOS/GDD and October. I have enjoyed you being apart of my life this past year. You've been there for advice, humor, encouragement and support. Next, to one of my best friends online and IRL, Rachel over at Sweet Angel Memories. Thanks for being you...enough said. And to my new twin Leslie. I swear we were separated at birth (other than religious beliefs) which we so smartly detour from.You've not only helped validate my views but given me some great new recipes. To Kim...thanks for helping me find my way to being a better wife and mother and the knowledge of my roles in the home.  Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas..I love you ladies. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Beware of the Pig-it

This morning our family made cookies for Santa. So much fun decorating and nibbling. No pictures of the older crumb snatchers eating theirs, I'm  pretty sure Hannah and Ryan inhaled their cookies. Mark however is a true classic foodie. He savors each bites as if it were his last meal. 

Later my Ryan mistook the day and took the tray and placed it on the table closest to the tree. As I was busy in the kitchen making pies, he ran in thinking Santa had been here but left nothing because the cookies were gone...I looked for the tray which of course was not in the kitchen...then followed my son to investigate. Low and behold, empty tray...guess Holly (super fab pooch) had herself a super fab snack. I guess another tray for Santa will be made sometime today and Holly's new nickname is Pig-it...coined by Ryan. 

Sugar cookie recipe will not be posted. Old family secret of course :) But the icing recipe is from Home Ec 101. My normal recipe doesn't allow you to leave out the vanilla extract which is impossible to get a pure white. This taste wonderful and is very simple. I'm tossing my  own and adopting a new. 

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Magic Reindeer Food

Who says Santa is the only one who gets treats Christmas Eve? What about the reindeer...they are the ones having to haul all the loot roof to roof. That's a hard job. I only haul three kids and I struggle with that myself. 

Magic Reindeer food is a very cheap and easy project you can do at home with the kids or for a class project. I have done this project with my kids classes since preschool and its always a big hit. You can also teach measurements and counting while having fun. Easy way to get your little ones learning in the kitchen!

All it contains is raw rolled oats, sprinkles, and marshmallows. Some recipes call for glitter, but we prefer not to give indigestion to birds and rabbits who will most likely eat the we stick with sprinkles. I think they can handle a sugar high better than the bloat (or death)...there really is no ratios to do all depends on how much food you want to leave the reindeer. We feel a small handful does the one wants Blizten so fat he can't fly and I hear Comet has a bad case of flatulence

1/2 cup rolled oats
1 tablespoon sprinkles of your choice
9 marshmallows or M&M's (one for each reindeer)
ziplock bags

*For a classroom, you can print the graphic above to place on the bags. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What to devour first... Husband or cookies?

Today was another day of testing my patience with Mr. Kendra. As much as I try to be understanding, it infuriates me when he makes large purchases without having a conversation with me first...or at least forewarn me. Although he swears he told me months ago he wanted a new truck...I for some reason didn't translate that to "Hey hun, I'm going to buy a truck today"...this morning he leaves to run errands and returns 5 hours later with a truck and nice new payment...ONE WEEK before Christmas. I wanted to pelt him with my waffle iron, but since I'm not a violent person by nature....I refrained from beating, choking, or throttling him with large kitchenware... and stepped away. This is TWICE he has come home with a new vehicle without so much as hint to me. I often wonder if this rash purchases aren't prelude to a premature midlife crisis. Or if this is it. Guess bringing home a truck is better than bringing home a cute little perky 20 year old. 

But yes, Mr. Kendra still lives. 

I decided to transfer my anger to my mixer and pounded out some cookies. These are our neighbor son's ULTIMATE favorite cookie. His mother bakes them every year to give as gifts. After years of devouring these perfect nibbles I finally stalked her enough where she relented and gave me the recipe. At first when I started making these I couldn't get them quite as nice and chewy as she does. It took me time to tweak them to perfection. This year my neighbor has found herself in hardship. She lost her job this summer and has struggled to get by day to day...week to week taking any job she can to put food on the table for her family. Most often working well into the morning hours. She has no time or extra funds to bake this year, so I decided to take her favorite cookies to her along with some extra staples that I just "happened" to purchase to much of. 

You really should try these cookies. They are so wonderful. 

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1  1/2 cups flour 
1  1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup shortening
3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp hot water
1 tsp vanilla
1  1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 (12 oz) package of semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups dry rolled oats

Shift together soda, flour and salt. I separate bowl, cream shortening and sugar (both brown and white). Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in hot water, vanilla, and flour mixture. Add all remaining ingredients, mixing well. Let cookie dough rest for 5 minutes before dropping onto a well greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes or until cookies are lightly golden in color. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Fun with Cinnamon

This is a craft project I do with the kids each year. Not only is it insanely easy, but the smell it creates is sure to put you into the spirit of Christmas. It's also an inexpensive gift for children to give to teachers and friends or decorate the top of packages. You can also decorate them with glitter pant and place them in a dish or bowl to give your home the wonderful festive scent of holiday baking.  Another ideas are to decorate your tree, garland or attach them on your front door wreath to greet guest as the come into your home with their appealing aroma. When not in use, store them in an air tight container and they can last for years, smelling just as fresh as the day they were made. 
Applesauce Cinnamon Ornaments 
(makes 10 ornaments)

1/2 cup of warm applesauce
3/4 cup of ground cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg (or apple pie spice)
2 tbs white school glue

Mix all ingredients into mixing bowl. The dough should be very stiff but not crumbly. Chill for an hour. Place dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll until 1/4 in thick. Cut out with cookie cutters. Using a straw make a hole near the top for hanging with ribbons. Place ornaments on a flat surface (such as a baking sheet or card board piece) and let dry. Depending on humidity, the drying period may vary. You may have to flip them to make sure they dry thoroughly

***Be careful letting children handle the dough with bare hands for extended periods of time. Cinnamon can burn the skin with prolonged contact. 

Monday, December 15, 2008

Feminine Ways...

I recently had a friend comment to me on the relationship I have with my husband. She being a very cosmopolitan business woman making an art of balancing a career and family, didn't understand "our" family. The choice to live in traditional roles. She made mention of feminism, and how it was important to move women out of the kitchen and into more equal roles in the home and in society. She not so tastefully stated that by putting myself in the traditional role of homemaker was teaching my children the opposite and therefore disgracing the meaning of feminism and what so many fought so hard for.

At first I wanted to revert back to the old "Kendra", which would have rolled her eyes, done the head snap, and made her swallow her pretty little pumps. But the new improved version decided to educate her.

First, I felt it important to let her know that part of my BA degree was in History and Social Studies, so therefore Women's Studies was a large part of that and I knew what women went through, to break ground, so we could have choices and rights. Thanks to them I have the choice to go to work or stay home. But it is my choice. I believe in the traditional roles of women. I believe in uplifting men in the home. Being a submissive wife doesn't mean I kowtow to my husbands every wish, or that he is a dominate brute of a husband that has me running scared to do his bidding. I do it because I respect him, I love him, and because I WANT TO. I do make sure I take care of my appearance before he gets home from work. I do serve his plate at dinner. I do warm his towels. If his glass is empty I fill it. I do care for the home and children. I do try to please him. And why is that wrong? I married him. I took vows, this is the man I am to spend the rest of my life with. Why is it wrong to want to make him happy? I do not run around after him like an attached puppy waiting for a pat on the head. I know his likes, dislikes and routines, and if I can make his days or moments more pleasant, I will. I give freely, he never demands. He appreciates each detail, each gesture, each way I help provide a warm and comfortable home. I do not have to fish for compliments or thanks. He to gives freely. I find the more I work to provide him comfort, the more he wants to do for me and the family. He is the head of the household and I am his support.

It wasn't always this way. Before we had power struggles within our home. With finding a new way for myself with the Lord, our home has transformed. It is peaceful, calm, full of love and grace. So if I'm teaching my children the many ways of Godly femininity through traditional familial gender roles, IT'S OKAY. We have the right...thanks to the women of the Feminist movement. I can be the woman I want to be, and so can my daughter.

~Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Titus 2:3-5

Saturday, December 13, 2008

My new ornament

It's just adorable. It's the ornament I received in our annual Christmas Ornament exchange. My friend Jen did a fabulous job, and it fits right in our collection of eclectic ornaments! I love it! I'm jealous of her craftiness LOL

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Angel Ornaments

Each year a group of friends get together and exchange Christmas ornaments. It can be any type as long as its handmade. This year I went to our local Fabrics and Craft store. They do a workshop each season and supply all the crafts. You just bring your creative caps and the fee of course :) This year I made an angel. I am sort of proud of her. So much so, I went back and bought more supplies. I'll use these little sweet cherubs on top of Christmas packages.

Monday, December 8, 2008

It's not a hat, its a cupcake!

Once upon a time there were two cheeky mamas who happened to also be fabulously gorgeous ... decided to pass the time away drooling over One mama said, "Hey, look, isn't this hat would look so good on Miss Princess Diva Brat (aka Hannah)?". The ultra wondrous crafty mama named Stephanie over at A Close Knit Family said "I can make that.." and so the conspiracy began unknowingly to Mr. Kendra who thought only one set was being made. MUAHHHHHH....

But in all seriousness, aren't they just too CUTE! I had her make all three of my crumb snatchers a set. So soft and well made. The kids adore them and when Mark saw himself in the mirror with his froggie hat he gave a big ole belly laugh. He thought he was so funny. Thanks a million Steph :) And if you don't open your own store I'm driving to MI and stealing your brand new gold knitting needles. Next on my list is felt play food, a new sweater for Holly, and braided hand bands. So you better relax those hands.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

If I were Santa Claus...

You know I have trouble sleeping. I'm one of those people that sleeps like the dead and a freight train can come crashing through my room and I wouldn't even bother to turn over. Its just getting to sleep that's my trouble. My mind keeps wondering and playing back my day, old memories, or I lay biting my nails over one worry or another. Last night it happened to be the topic of Christmas that had me tossing and turning. I've lately turned a new leaf. Set new proprieties. One is to focus on the memories we create as a family and not the material items we gather. To not stress over being one of the "haves" instead of the "have nots". To bring more frugality into my life and home. With that new mindset, we decided last year to scale back at Christmas time. The amount of money we spent just on our families gifts alone was more that most peoples mortgages. Add the cost of friends, extended family, teachers, had left the term "ridiculous" behind and had ventured into idiocy.

Old habits do die hard though. I sat there cozy in my bed, wanting, and NEEDING to sleep. I worried, "is it enough?", "who did we forget", and of course I am a natural giver. I admit its a bit selfish in a backwards way, but the best gift I can receive is watching excitement when people open the "perfect" gift(s) I painstakingly searched high and low for. But in lou of above mentioned life changes, the pressure to find everyone that perfect off. Yet, the mind wonders.

If I were Santa Claus and could pick any gift or wish out of my sack, I'd give.....
  • my parents and those alike---affordable health care, paired with free prescriptions. May you have freedom from aches and pains.

  • my husband---a raise, better hours, and get out of jail (doghouse) free cards.

  • my friends---time to read a good book and have a long soak, ALONE.

  • my daughter---fulfillment of all your hopes and dreams, freedom from want or need, and of course full scholarship to the college of your choice :)

  • my sons---see list above and of course may you find someone as wonderful as your mother to wed and that I'll like her :)

  • ...Holly (my super fab pooch)---a pair of pumps made purely of peanut butter and bacon

  • my loopies---google ground breaking hits, breathtaking photographs, one of a kind cakes, closer walks with God, sold gold knitting needles, skyrocketing sales, and the knowledge that they're making a difference in this world.

  • ...For those that steal newspapers---a job delivering the Sunday paper without pay

  • ...for all the homeless and mistreated dogs and cats---caring owners who will love and cherish them, and who recognize the responsibility of spaying and neutering.

  • ...For Oprah---never mind..she can buy whatever she wants

  • ...OPEC---a long wait in a line to purchase something they need yet cannot afford

I'm sure tonight will be another one of those nights. I'm sure to add to my list.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Christmas here, Christmas there, Christmas everywhere!

The Christmas season is officially at my house. Our trees are decorated and beautiful. Snowmen, Santa's, and angels are placed throughout the house. Christmas music softly in the background setting the mood. The wonderful smell of spice cake in the air, (thanks to my lovely tart warmer LOL). To kick off the season we always make a ginger bread house. The kids had a blast decorating and frosting it. Looks good enough to eat, and if I know my Ryan, some of the candy will be missing by morning.

Monday, December 1, 2008

So many ways to help

With the unsteady economy this year, times are tough for everyone. As a family we try to focus on our blessings, not stressing over trying to afford the latest game system, blue ray, or other gadgets. There is so much to be thankful for and simple ways you are truly blessed. If you have food and shelter, you are blessed. If you are employed, you are blessed. If you are up on your mortgage, you are blessed. If you can pay your bills on time, you are blessed. If you look around and find yourself surrounded by the love and support of family and friends, you are blessed.

Look around.... I bet you can find SOMETHING to be grateful for, even in difficult times. And as we count our blessings, there is no better way to show our gratitude than giving or helping others. I challenge each of you to do something for someone else. As you pass the Salvation Army kettles, throw in your pocket change. Or clean your closets and take a bag of clothes to one of their stores. They're a great organization that does a lot of good in the community. All the food banks (like Second Harvest or Helping Ministries) and homeless shelters desperately need canned and dry goods. Even if it's just a couple of cans, it will be greatly appreciated. The Salvation Army and malls (among others) have angel trees where you can pick a child's name and give them a Merry Christmas!

Another idea is "Santa For Seniors". There are many seniors in nursing homes and hospitals that are forgotten during the holidays. All they ask for are basic necessities like lotion, word puzzles, throws, slippers, toiletries and large print books. Nothing extravagant. Also, don't forget your veteran. Find a local VAMC (veterans medical hospital) near you. Another suggestion, every time you go to the store, buy a toy for the Toys For Tots bin! It could be a simple $1 item. Also as an animal lover, I'm a big supporter of the Humane Society. If you can't give a pet a home, you can still donate bagged or canned food, towels, and treats!

It's my goal to do as many of these things as possible, and I hope you join me.

For those that really do find it hard to see yourself as blessed or one of the less fortunate. Give a smile, hug or warm greeting and remember to include others in your prayers. That itself is a wonderful gift.