Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas with Family

One of the best things about our visits home to Oklahoma includes having the kids and the 'old cousins' together. When Frankie was growing up she and BJ were the only grandkids in Jon's family, so they did a lot of things together. BJ stayed with us, went to church with us, church camp with us etc.

Later Jess came along, then Caleb and finally Abigail. Jess and Caleb are the same age and they too spent lots of time together. During the summers the kids were usually together and I loved having a house full of kids! When we first moved they would say how they missed their 'old cousins.' I love being the doting aunt over the boys!
This year Jon and the kids headed to Oklahoma so all the old cousins could be together at his Mom's house to open presents! I was disappointed in not getting to make this trip, but a root canal yesterday derailed my plans, that are another story!
Granny and the girls made a pineapple upside down cake for the occasion! One of the best gifts was Granny and Donnie bought Abigail a pink Red Rider B.B. Gun! The kids took target practice in the back yard and had a blast! There were lots of St. Louis Cardinals paraphernalia for everyone.
It sounded like they all had a great time! I hated to miss it, but was glad not to have to board Padme', so it all worked out well. By summer Jess will be able to drive Granny to Plano!!!!!

God is present in the company of the righteous. 
Evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor,
but the LORD is their refuge.
Psalm 14:5-6

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Abigail's 11th Birthday

Eleven years ago today, baby Carolyn Abigail joined our family!  Our family tradition has been breakfast in the bed of the birthday person with presents.  However the kids twin beds don't really accommodate all five of us and the dog.  This morning Jon carried Abigail downstairs and plopped her in our bed where the others joined her for breakfast.  It's a fun way start the day.

During the day today Abigail made a birthday cake for her birthday and mine.  My side of the cake has Winnie of the Pooh and Abigail's side has Mikey!  Love you, baby girl!

“The LORD bless you, my daughter,”
Ruth 3:10

Monday, December 26, 2011

Pillow Hospital Pet

I have a dear friend who is headed to the hospital for abdominal surgery.  She has young children and was deliberating over how to explain to them her upcoming surgery.  That gave birth to my latest craft project, a Pillow (Hospital) Pet. 
I have a satin shirt that was too big so I used it to paint the digestive system on, I wanted a child friendly painting and not too technical.  After completing the painting, I rubber stamped the organ names on the shirt.  I finished the art work with several coats of scotch guard. The painting measured about 9"x 7". 

Next I purchased a butterfly Pillow Pet, and then proceeded to cut a 10"x8" flat centered on the belly of the butterfly.  I also backed the painting with a second layer of satin to ensure softness.   I used satin blanket trim to finish off the edges of the flap.  Next I laid the blanket trim out on my artwork to ensure that I maintained the 10"x8" hole.  Next I inserted the drawing and hand stitched it in place.   I did include 2 small pearl buttons to secure the flap.

My thought is it can be a good talking point with kids, or a reference point when having a conversation with doctors, or even something to soften the seatbelts impact against an incision.  When my Dad was in the hospital following bariatric surgery, the doctors encouraged him to hold a pillow against his incision when coughing those first few weeks following surgery. 

Caleb saw me working on this and said, 'you can tell you homeschool, who paints the digestive system on a kid's toy.'  Abigail came in right when I was cutting the belly of the butterfly out and repeated the great line from ToyStory, 'I don't think that kids ever been to medical school.'

Next, I'm thinking the respiratory system on a Car's Mater Pillow Pal! 

The man with two talents also came. ‘Master,’ he said,
‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’
Mattew 25:14

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Morning

Here is the short version of our Christmas morning, I have video tape, with audio of the kids opening their gifts that is hysterical.  The banter between the kids and grown-ups cracks me up.  There's a chance we should have moderated their exposure to sarcasm, but it is too late now.  The video above is just still shots set to music where the sweet cherubs are seen and not heard! 

Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

T'was the Night Before Christmas 2011

The evening before Christmas is always a busy time.  This year the gifts were all wrapped and we spent part of the day at our traditional movie, this years selection was, 'I Bought a Zoo'.   Uncle David drove from Arkansas to share in the joy of the kids at Christmas.  Funny thing is, I think the last movie we saw together was 'Zookeeper'.

Towards the end of the day the kids rolled sausage balls for breakfast Christmas morning.  Of course we all had pankcakes for breakfast and were now out of Bisquick baking mix.  The silliness and giddiness of Christmas began to take over!  It was a fantastic day, I don't think I've laughed so hard all year as I did today!

In 2008 and 2009 I wrote my own Kirkwood Night Before Christmas, Abigail has begged me to write a new poem each year, so here you go Abigail:

2011 Kirkwood's Night Before Christmas

T’was the night before Christmas and all thru the house,
The children made cheese balls for me and my spouse.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
The kids were up past 10, which was quite rare.

The children were not nestled all snug in their beds,
We were out of Bisquick mix you use to make breads.

Jon browsed the web to Google and in a snap,
A DIY Bisquick recipe available on his App. 

The banging of pots began to clatter,
As we mixed our own Bisquick batter.

Soon the kids added cheese and began to smash,
Next the sausage and continue to mash.

Excited about tomorrow, their cheeks all a glow,
With the sausage balls on cookie sheets all in a row.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
To bad it’s all done, I was going to volunteer.

It was Uncle David with a mind that was quick,
Said having the kids mix it was the very best trick.

Next the letters to Santa they wrote by the flame
With requests for a puzzle, a book and a game.

With accents so Southern, I guess I reckon,
There’s no denying their all Texan.

Little do they know that Mom’s on the ball,
I did my shopping at Grapevine Mills Mall.

I asked them to read their letters to the big guy,
Which I video taped, because they’re not shy.

Who would think the baby want a pink B. B. Gun,
And Granddaddy’s rifle for the ‘chosen one.’

Past Padme’s bedtime she gave a ‘roof’,
The dog is in charge, there’s your proof.

Up the staircase they ran with a bound,
Abigail pounced Sissy making a loud sound.

Now only if in bed they can each stay put,
It’s been a long day I’m tired, exhausted, caput!

I heard Uncle David upstairs, as he moved out of sight,
“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night.”

When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it;
  the light of my face was precious to them.
Job 29:24 

Dear Santa

One of Frankie's favorite Christmas traditions is writing her letter to Santa Claus.  I have her letters saved since 1991!  She knows the truth about Santa, but I make a big deal about it.  Frankie does it to not give the 'truth' away to the younger kids.  Caleb and Abigail participate so not to give away the 'truth' to Frankie.  Jon says they do it just to keep me happy, and that's OK too.

Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
   From birth I was cast on you;
from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
Psalm 22:9-10

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas from the Kirkwood Family

I produced this video to share with my children at some point in the future of what our Christmas in Texas looked like. Someday I will forget where gifts came from, or who made which ornament, but hopefully this will serve as a reminder. Many friends have visited our home over the holidays and hopefully this will serve as a fun reminder. Merry Christmas from the Kirkwood family!

I thank my God every time I remember you
Philippians 1:3

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Lights 2011

Christmas lights, what's not to like?  They sparkle and shine, they're like jazz hands for your house! Every year at Christmas we enjoy looking at the beautiful lights.  We enjoy the music and synchronized lights on elaborate displays.  My children's favorite displays always seem to be the yards with inflatables with a boom box blaring, 'Silent Night.' 
Nascar Santa & Harley's

Usually when we look at lights I hand the camera off to the kids so they can snap pictures of their favorites. This year they clicked off 161 photos!  I insist on Christmas music playing in the car and we all sing, OK, Jon & I sing and the kids mock us, when they were younger they sang along!
2011 Favorite Yard

they will never be silent day or night.
You who call on the LORD
Isaiah 62:6

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Photo Cubes

Christmas Photo Cubes

Family Pics
Abigail's Pics

Caleb's Pics
Frankie's Pics


One of the greatest things about family traditions is they usually don't start out to be a tradition. One that our family stumbled on was our Christmas photo cubes. I usually send out family photo Christmas cards so I originally purchased the cubes to preserve the family photos. Over time I added some retro family Christmas pics.

Here's the fun part, my three children have so much fun with these cubes. When no one is looking each of them take turns rotating each of the cubes to a photo of themselves. I have always kept the cubes eye and hand level for their age and they love seeing themselves. And at anytime you can walk past the display and see 'all Frankie pics' or 'all Abigail pics'.

These photo cubes can be picked up in any store that sells picture frames, mine came from Michael's. They are sold in glass or acrylic (a.k.a. plastic). I have the acrylic version and couldn't be happier. The glass ones are much heavier and because the kids play with them so often, I don't have to worry about them breaking the glass.

Because we live in Texas and our summer's get so warm this is the only Christmas decorations that I store in the house and not the hot attic or garage. Otherwise the heat and humidity would melt the picture to the plastic.

And they observe many other traditions . . .
Mark 7:4

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pictures with Santa

It's that time of year, time to visit the big guy in the red suit.  Time to whisper in his ear those Christmas wishes.  This year we took Padme' and the kids to visit Santa at PetSmart.  Santa made a stop off at PetSmart to 'paws' for photos with his furry followers. 

Not to be left out, the kids posed with Padme'!  Of course Padme' goes everywhere the kids go, so it was only fitting that they followed her for a change. Padme' was just perfect, she sat up tall, got her picture taken and then pranced off! 

Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy
Psalm 126:2

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Lap Blankets for the Elderly

Abby & Abigail working on their blanket.

What a great group of kids!

I'm just in love with McDermott Road's new Children's Education Director, Jennifer Schroeder!  She has been awesome at getting more service oriented projects for the young people to balance out the fun stuff.   Today the 1st thru 5th graders met up at the church building and made lap blankets for shut-ins in the congregation.  The kids cut 2 pieces of fleece fabric and  tied the edges making great fleece throws.   When the kids completed their blankets, they then made thinking of you cards for our elderly church members.  I love seeing them put their faith into action!

Working on the cards!

When the kids work was done they ate a quick sack lunch and then headed to The Ice for skating! 

Stand up
in the presence of the aged,
show respect for the elderly and
revere your God. 
 Leviticus 19:32

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Baby Christmas Photos - Mastiff Style

Under the Tree

I'm really enjoying Pinterest and all the great craft ideas, recipes, etc.  But one of the cutest features of Pinterest is all the adorable baby photo ideas!  Crazy me, I just put a camera in front of my babies and snapped away! 

Today I shared with Abigail the adorable Christmas baby photos with the diaper clad baby sitting in the pile of twinkling Christmas lights; but was unsuccessful in getting her to agree to pose for such a photo.  However, fortunately we have a large dog that is a big baby! 

Abigail arranging Padme'
Padme' of course is an English Mastiff, being a girl she is rather small 130lbs as compared to our male English Mastiff, Clifford, that topped the scales at 200+.  Mastiff have such a gentle nature, that Abigail told Padme' to lay down in front of the nine foot family tree in the living room and then proceeded to arrange the dog.  I only tell you the size of the tree to help you appreciate the size of the 'big baby' laying in front of the photo. 

It probably isn't as cute as the photos of the babies with the twinkling lights, and I'm sure if I'd read the Pin on  setting the aperture of my camera and slowing down the shutter speed I would have achieved more twinkle.  But honestly, I was just enjoying playing with Abigail and the 'baby!' 

Then our sons in their youth
will be like well-nurtured plants,
and our daughters will be like pillars
carved to adorn a palace.
Psalm 144:12

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Wizard of Oz Christmas Tree Skirt

If you've been in our home at Christmas time you know there are Christmas trees everywhere!  One of my favorite is our Wizard of Oz tree. 

Yes, we have a six foot tree with nothing but Wizard of Oz ornaments.  In the 50+ years since the movie debuted lots of manufactures have made ornaments.  I also have great friends who find ornaments to add to the tree each year. 

This year it was time to decorate under the tree!  I used blue gingham fabric and rick rack to create a Dorthy skirt under the tree.  For added fun I made Witch legs wearing ruby slippers! 

I love when friends with young children visit and 'oh and ah' over the trees.  Some of the ornaments play music, many have blinking lights, but the best part is the smiles! Who wouldn't walk past a tree with witches feet sticking out and not smile!

she can laugh at the days to come
Proverbs 31:25

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas Tags

There are lots of things I enjoy about Christmas time, an the presents are definitely one of them!  I love wrapping the gifts, my sweet friend Ms. Kresta always had the prettiest packages with matching paper! I love the matching paper and ribbons.  I generally try to color code the ribbons so I can easily tell the packages with red ribbons go to Jon's family, green ribbons go to my Dad's home, and silver and gold ribbons are for Christmas morning. 

But none of those things are what my children enjoy, their favorite part is the tags, yes, the Tags! All the gifts to the children from Jon and I have creative names in the 'from' section.  For example, above there is a gift To:  Frankie   -  From:  Van Gogh. Now the name in the from section will give some kind of hint as to the gift.  A gift from Van Gogh could be art related, paints or bushes, maybe coloring books, tickets to an art exhibit, no telling, that is part of the fun.

Above you can see a gift to Caleb, From: Captain Jack Sparrow.  What could be inside?  A DVD, a Keith Richards CD, maybe eyeliner, who knows!  You can also see a gift to Abigail, From Mike Wazowski!  Inside could be something Monsters, Inc. related, but that would too obvious!  Think about Mike Wazowski has one eye, it could be eye glasses case!  Mike Wazowski is also bright green so inside could be Neon Green nail polish! 

Of course, I have actually listed the enclosed content because the kids read the blog, but you get the idea.  My kids love the tags almost as much as they love the gifts inside!  Family traditions don't have to be big things, it the smiles and fun we share each day!

Show me the wonders of your great love
Psalm 17:7

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Homeschool Recital


Grant doing a Nerf demonstration.

Little Violinist!
Hannah singing!

Every year our home school group holds a Christmas Recital.  It is an opportunity for the children to showcase their talents.  In addition the children can present their artwork.  It's fun to see all the kids develop the skills to get up before an audience and perform. 

This year Caleb performed Fur Elise on the keyboard and Abigail performed Alma Mater Blues.  Abigail has been taking piano lesson with Simply Music for one year and she usually comes home and teaches Caleb whatever new thing she's learned.  She really enjoys being able to 'teach' Caleb something, as a general rule Caleb teaches Abigail everything. 

Along with their relatives—
all of them trained and skilled
in music for the LORD
Chronicles 25:7

Dallas World Aquarium

Abs, Caleb & Richard
Ms. Belinda's Boys

Eric & Frankie

Blake & the kids

Today we visited the Dallas World Aquarium with about sixty-five of our home schooling friends. The aquarium is three stories, with all kinds of wildlife and habitats, with large glass aquariums.  Our last visit to the Dallas Aquarium was about this time last year and it was neat to see the updates they've made since our last visit.  The aquarium features a large shark tank that you can walk under, similar to the Oklahoma Aquarium, Oklahoma's tank is larger, but the Dallas tank you can walk around and view it from the top. 

The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth,
and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that
 moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea;
they are given into your hands.
 3 Everything that lives and moves about
will be food for you. Just as I gave you
 the green plants, I now give you everything.
Genesis 9:2-3

Monday, November 21, 2011

Schakolad Chocolate Factory

Schakolad Chocolate Factory (pronounced shaq-oh-LAD) is a small chocolate boutique in Legacy Park in Plano.

Chocolates are hand made using a three-generation European style family recipe.  Goodies are prepared, hand dipped and decorated.  During today’s field trip the kids got a “behind the counter” tour of the facility.  The owner gave them an overview of the history of chocolate along with health benefits and other fun chocolate information.  They were allowed to sample all kinds of chocolate and even hand dip their own chocolate covered caramels.

It is probably not surprising to find out that we have had other chocolate field trips, like a visit to the Sweet Shop in 2007, and ‘The History of Chocolate” with cocoa trees at the Dallas Arboretum.  The Schakolad Factory was definitely a smaller scale factory but it involved a lot more sampling which is always a bonus!

I made it beautiful with abundant branches,
the envy of all the trees of Eden in the garden of God.
Ezekiel 31:9

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Screwtape Letters

For the last several years the kids and I have read C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters together.   This is such a great book.  It is the letters from a senior demon to his nephew Wormwood advising him how to best tempt his patient to "undermine faith and prevent the formation of virtues" in a recent convert to Christianity.

Max McLean has been given permission by the C.S. Lewis foundation to perform a 90-minute stage adaptation.  It ran on Broadway for over 300 performances!  McLean is now touring the country performing.  Tonight he performed at Dallas’ Majestic Theater, which in itself was a huge treat!  

The performance was super, fantastic, amazing, hysterical, stupendous, and lots of other flattering theatrical terms! 

McLean has also recorded several version of the Bible called ‘The Listeners Bible.’  We enjoy audio Bibles, there are some passages that it is easy to get bogged down with pronunciation and the audio version is easier. 

the name of the star is Wormwood.
A third of the waters turned bitter,
and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.
Revelation 8:11