Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! A quiet blog means we're busy! Check back after the first of the year to see who's Christmas wishes came true.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Ravioli Day 2008

Darrell's family has a tradition that every year we come together as a family to make the Christmas dinner ahead of time. Normally, this day (Ravioli day) comes right after Thanksgiving and kicks off the Christmas season. This year, however, it was hard to get all of our schedules coordinated, so it fell on the weekend before Christmas. This was the first year I was able to attend the whole Ravioli day, so I decided to document this wonderful family tradition. I also want to share that this is a big part of the reason that we moved our family to Beaver county, Pennsylvania. It means so much to Darrell and I not only to be a part of these family traditions, but for our children to have these memories growing up, being a part of a large, extended family with rich traditions to pass along to their families, if they choose to do so.
Ravioli day is not only about making the Ravioli, but also making parts of the Italian wedding soup. Above is our nephew, Jake, cutting croutons for the soup.
Rolling the meatballs is another part of the day. Ravioli day also keeps the memory of Darrell's mom alive also. I could close my eyes yesterday and hear her voice through the conversations going on around me. Her memory is kept alive through conversations about the size of the meatballs, the consistency of the ravioli, the aprons that the girls wear, and the joy of being around each other.
Ann-Marie in her Ravioli day apron.
Karen checking the "thinness" of the ravioli.
Evan's first time rolling the Ravioli.
Toni constructing the ravioli......putting the cheese in....
and covering and cutting them to size.....

Ann-Marie getting a lesson in sealing them....
Evan and Ann-Marie hard at work sealing the ravioli.....
and the finished product. We can't wait to eat them Thursday night!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pittsburgh - all decked out for Christmas

One of our family traditions is to try to take a day to see the nearest city all decorated for Christmas. Today was the day! We started out by visiting the Carnegie Science Museum for their annual Christmas train display. It's pretty impressive....

and below was Alec's favorite....Thomas the Tank Engine!
Then it was on to the PPG plaza for the annual Gingerbread house and train display. We also saw the "Spirits of Giving from around the World exhibit." Following is an excerpt from the website:

See the splendor of the holidays come alive during PPG Place's breathtaking "Spirits of Giving From Around the World" exhibit. This enchanting display of life-size Santas and original paintings captures a whole world of Christmas folklore and fantasy.

The exhibit comes alive with a collection of original paintings, each depicting holiday celebrations around the world.

Capture memories of Christmases past in the Wintergarden where a tree larger than any from your childhood awaits you. Our spectacular 32-foot tree is surrounded by a showcase of gingerbread houses and a unique train display created by local artist Don Jones.
Below is the traditional American Santa Claus....
and we couldn't miss Bella Befana from Italy!
Outside were three dinosaurs; below is my favorite - the Heinz ketchup dinosaur!

We walked outside the see ice skaters on the outdoor rink. We were told that the PPG plaza rink is bigger than the New York Ice rink at Rockefeller Center. The dimensions are 104' x 104'.
I couldn't resist the above picture of Darrell and Alec. The weather was in the 50s and we crammed a lot into one day. We also took the free trolley to Station Square and then rode it around the city taking in some sights. Alec let us know when it was time to go when he said, "I no want to see any more!" and we headed home.

Friday, December 12, 2008

And the Winner of the power struggle is...............

The parents! YEAH!!! We are doing the happy potty dance at the Jerome family residence this morning as Alec put the poopy IN the potty! It only took 2 1/2 hours of crying (both child and parents) and again gating the child in the bathroom. Way to go, Alec!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

How's the potty training going?

Strange picture, huh? Well, this is what potty training has come to in our house. Hopefully, this will be a comfort to those of you out there struggling with potty training your child! This is our third, and each time has been different, although this time is reminiscent of potty training Evan. Evan would pee on the potty with no problem, but then go to another area of our house (usually behind a chair) poop and BRING IT TO ME IN HIS HANDS!!!! This is the answer to the question "How in the world did Paula loosen up in her parenting????" Ann-Marie, on the other hand, potty trained herself. On the day Alec was born, Darrell brought her into my hospital room. She looked at baby Alec and looked at me and proclaimed, "There is the baby! I'm not the baby anymore! Mommy, I need to go to the potty." That was it for her and she was 2 1/2 years old.

Now back to Alec. He keeps himself dry like a champ, but refuses to poop on the potty. For the past several months we have tried EVERYTHING! Stickers, reward charts, bribes, M&Ms, making him stay in the bathroom (the article I read said the average child will have a bowel movement within 30 minutes of the power struggle....we went over an hour!), etc., etc., etc. In a moment of insanity, I told Alec that every time he pooped in his pants, one of his beloved cars would be put on the top of our book shelf where he could see them, but not play with them. He has been told that if he poops in the potty, he gets them back. Can you count how many vehicles are on our book shelf now? He might not have any toys left to play with by Christmas! I wonder where he gets his stubbornness from??????

Monday, December 8, 2008

Trimmin' the Tree

Darrell is a fresh tree kind of guy, so we don't put up our tree too early. We picked it up on Saturday and decorated it on Sunday. Of course, there are similarities year to year, such as light problems (see above) which were eventually straightened out.
And Alec hoarding his ornaments, typical youngest child behavior. If anyone came near his box, lots of yelling ensued. (Each child has their own ornament box and they love it when their special ornaments come out every year.)
The excitement.....
The wonder.....
And Alec's first year at putting the angel on top.
The finished product....

Saturday, December 6, 2008

It's a Wonder-full Life!

Evan and Ann-Marie were part of the childrens' Christmas program this weekend at church. We are really proud of them, as they have been practicing since October. They had three performances this week and it was a really cute performance. Evan had a small speaking part and Ann-Marie had a duet. It was fun seeing them all dressed up and being part of a large Christmas production.

Some of my fondest Christmas memories are of being part of our annual Christmas play at our small Methodist church in Iowa. My mom was always either in charge of the play or helped out. My two sisters and I made up about 1/3 of the cast and we always performed it on Christmas Eve. It was very heartwarming to see two of our children make their own memories of being part of a Christmas play this year!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Easy Christmas Treats

Here's an easy Christmas treat that you can make with young children. We made a batch of these last night to bring to Evan and Ann-Marie's Christmas program at the church this weekend.
You will need a bag of waffle/square pretzels, holiday M&Ms, and Hershey kisses and/or hugs. We used a bag of Snyder's pretzels, one bag of M&Ms and a bag each of Hershey kisses and hugs for our batches last night. Put wax paper or parchment paper on a cookie sheet (I try to supply one cookie sheet per child) and have them arrange the pretzels in rows. (Eating broken pretzels is allowed!) As you can see above, Alec is sad because he was intentionally breaking pretzels to eat them, so he got cut off!
Next step: put one Hershey kiss or hug in the middle of each pretzel. They need to be centered so that when the Hershey's melts, it doesn't melt right off the pretzel.
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees. Bake for 4 - 6 minutes (the white chocolate melts faster). Check it with the handle of a wooden spoon, the chocolate should be soft enough to press down, but not so soft that it becomes goo! You have to watch it at around 5 minutes. Right when the cookie sheet comes out of the oven, have your M&Ms ready! Have the children press one M&M into the center of each Hershey Kiss/Hug. Let the cookie sheets cool for 10 minutes, then refrigerate. These are WONDERFUL frozen also!
As you can see above, we've been doing this since Ann-Marie was two.....I have the evidence! Happy creating!