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I realize this might be a tad late in the season to be addressing this but better late than never, right?

Here at the Runningamuck Household, we try to mix it up a bit.  Try to swim upstream.  Walk to the beat of a different drum.  Brace yourselves.  It’s a doosie…

We don’t do Christmas gifts.

Now before you wave me off as a Jehovah Witness, we’re NOT!  Hubby and I decided when Poppett was a baby that we wanted our Christmas to be all about Jesus.  Now, a lot of us have that intention but somehow in all the hustle and bustle of gift planning, purchasing, wrapping and giving, as much as we fight it – Jesus just doesn’t get the attention He deserves.  So our Christmas is purely a birthday party for Jesus.  We have a special breakfast, we read the Christmas story and we do fun family activities (board games, walks, crafts) during the day.  Then we put on a huge, scrumptious dinner for His party, wear party hats, sing happy birthday to Him and blow out candles on our birthday cupcakes.  For the first few years we did a birthday cake but then I wizened up.  Four munchkins all blowing out candles on the same cake is a recipe chock-full of spit and slobber… all over the cake that you are getting ready to chow down on.  Ummm, tasty!  So we switched to individual cupcakes… munchkin slobber averted.

But don’t start worrying that our children are deprived because they have no special morning of presents, we DO presents.  We celebrate the New Year with a morning of presents, much like the typical Christmas.  Celebrating New Years this way also provides a way for extended family members to still give gifts without landing us back where we started…with gifts at Christmas. 

I personally love our tradition.  Each year I strive to add something else to our Christmas day to make it even more special and to help us focus on our Lord’s birth and His love even more.  As the kids get older, we plan on devoting some of the time to the service of others.  Like taking dinners over to struggling families or visiting our homeless shelters with goodies to share or warm blankets to pass out.  The possibilities are endless and I look forward to a special project each year.  Maybe even letting one of the kids choose the outreach activity of their choice each year for the family to do together.

And a side bonus to gifts on New Years?  After Christmas sales. 

Ssshhhhhh! Ya didn’t hear it from me! =0) 

What special Christmas tradition does your family do?

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So yesterday was my big sugar cookie baking day.  Or at least that was the plan.  But as the day progressed… errand running (for cookie cutters no less!  Our one set of snowflake cutters would have gotten a tad boring after painting the 67th one… and yes I said painting but more on that later), 23 loads of laundry (that are still piled high in our papa chair, begging to be folded) and babysitting a beloved 1 year old nephew, somehow the cookies got pushed back further and further.  By the time we could sit down and actually get on with the treasured Christmas activity, it was late.  And when it’s late my stumbling brain stumbles even harder. 

I completely forgot that last year we had used a new recipe.  It was a new dough and a new way to decorate.  And it was fabulous.  So fabulous that I swore off all other forms of sugar cookies and devoted the remainder of my Christmas cookie years to this lone recipe. 

But what did I do last night?  Gone were the memories of last year’s cookie revelation.  Nope.  I pulled out the bagged Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix, whipped those bad boys up incorrectly (two different ways to make them, one for rolled cookies and one for drop.  I accidentally made the drop kind), had to ad-lib the ridiculously easy dough that I had the talent to screw up in order to try and make it roll-able, and then baked them.  But not only did I bake them, but I forgot one of the two cookie sheets I own is total junk.  It is way past it’s prime and I NEVER use it for cookies because it ruins every batch.  Well, now I can’t say never.  Half the cookies (the ones cooked on the only-good-as-an-oil-pan pan) came out looking like blobs… and too-done blobs at that. 

Aren’t you jealous of my amazing brain?!  I’m particularly fond of it myself but I could be convinced to trade… if the price is right.  Say… I don’t know… free?!!  I can only go up from here.

So today is Cookie Baking Day 2008, Take 2.  And I’m going to let you in on my treasured sugar cookie recipe.  Although you are probably well aware of it already.  Several billion people are.  Pioneer Woman has the best recipes and she held true to her record when she gave us this sugar cookie recipe that she grew up using.  That little bit of lemon zest is a perfect hint in the baked cookies and the texture of the cookie is awesome; a little chewy, a little crispy… it’ll make everyone happy no matter their sugar cookie preference. 

And her method of decorating? Revolutionary.  Okay maybe not but it was for me.  I know this will put me in the bah-hum-bugga-mama category but I have always dreaded the decorating of sugar cookies.  It’s always a total disaster.  Gobs of icing hanging off cookies and usually dripping from the light fixture too.  Sprinkles galore… everywhere.  I’m usually still sweeping up hidden pockets of various sugar cookie decorations (those dang little ball ones are the worst) in May and June.  Those suckers are hard to capture the first 315 times you sweep and vacuum.   And the finished cookies themselves?  Well, let’s just say I have to put on my brave mommy-face to eat the much labored-over-with-love cookies given to me by the munchkins.  As I chew, I keep telling myself that at least I can verify all hands being clean and no coughing or sneezing into the dough happened.  And I try to steer my thoughts away from the fact that so much tasting and double dipping and finger licking went on that I’d probably be safer, germ-wise, just to go eat one off the sidewalk… in the Subway! 

Well, that maybe a slight exaggeration but rest assured it’s not much of one.  Pioneer Woman’s recipe calls for decorating the cookies before they cook, thereby eliminating the chance of germ contamination.  All those bad-boy germs are killed off in the heat of the oven before the cookies touch your lips.  And the decorating is very simple.  Egg yolks colored with food coloring and painted on by paintbrushes.  Now, my kids never feel they paint enough during the year so to get to paint AGAIN at Christmas time and on cookie dough no less is a priceless treat for them.  And somehow, no matter how messy the paint job, the cookie comes out of that oven all glossy and pretty.  So what if you end up with a black Christmas tree?  Drizzle a little white icing over the top and add a red hot or 2o or even some of those delightful escape artists silver balls and that black tree is transformed into a beautiful piece of modern art.  Don’t believe me?  Try it! 

I’ll try to post some pictures after we’re done just to prove that even two and three year old bakers can make eye-catching AND tasty cookies.

I’m off… to do the RIGHT cookies, the RIGHT way this time…

GO SOONERS!!!

go-sooners-1 

I think the score alone says we deserved to be in this game.   Take that you Nay-Sayers.

I’m not one to write about shoes… Oh wait, I havemicah-toes-email-copy

Let me rephrase, I’m not one to write about infant early walker shoes.  Honestly?  I just really don’t think they are very cute.  Occasionally I see some really cute ones but the thing that always stopped me from purchasing them for my own walkers? Okay there are two things. One is the fact that I never had EARLY walkers.  All four of my children decided they’d rather be carried around a few extra months and not start walking until around 18-19 months of age.  Ridiculous and a thorn in my side at the time.  Now however, I would LOVE to be able to carry them around more.  My 7 year old though is getting a bit embarrassed by it so I had to promise her I wouldn’t do it anymore.  Anyway, by the time mine were walking, there wasn’t anything “early” about them and they were more than ready for full-blown shoes.  Those almost 2 year old arches were screaming for support under the weight of all that toddler chunk.

The second reason why all those early walker shoes is the fact that my children all have, let’s see, how do I put this delicately?  Well, they all have sweaty feet.  I’m sorry!  I’m not web-bashing my children.  It’s something we talk about as a family frequently and we’re all very secure in their sweatiness.  So the thought of my 18 month old wearing those little leather shoes with no socks or moisture barrier of any kind was just gross. And smelly.

HOWEVER!  I just caught sight of these little early walker shoes and if I found an extra $45 in the couch crevices I’d snatch ’em up like no-body’s business.  And if I hunted around in the other couch and in all the pants pockets and last years coats that haven’t been brought out of summer hibernation (don’t pretend this hasn’t happened to you.  We ALL find money months later in those coats!) and I was able to scrap together $180, I’d make all four of my children wear them.  Yep, even my daughter.  They are THAT cute!

This ends my Stride Rite commercial.

5th November 2005 by Laura Howard.

The gunpowder, treason and plot,

I know of no reason

Why the gunpowder treason

Should ever be forgot.” 

More history of Guy Fawkes

 

I have such fond memories of Bonfire Night from growing up in England.  It was one of the best holidays of the year. 

The neighbor kids would work all of October (sometimes even earlier), collecting branches, leaves and old wood from all the neighbors who’d been cleaning out their yards.  We’d make the pile as high as we could.  It always seemed huge but then again, I was a bit shorter than I am now.  One of the families would volunteer to build our Guy Fawkes.  I remember one year he had a gorilla mask for a face… still haven’t figured that one out but we loved it!  Our dummy Guy would be placed on the very top of our bonfire pile and we would eagerly wait for night to fall.

My younger siblings and I would wait inside the house, all bundled up, and watch out the back window for the first sign of a flickering flame that would spell the scorchingly brilliant end of all our “hard” work and Guy’s annual “death”. (Yes, scorchingly IS a word… I just penciled it in my dictionary so it’s official!)

As soon as the bonfire was lit, we would head out to the field with flashlights to light our way.  Awaiting us were tables of treats and snacks and fireworks.  Grown-ups would settle in chairs before the toasty bonfire while the kids ran around with the flashlights, stuffing mouths with whatever goodies they could get their grubby little hands on.  Course, that was never me.  I showed way more restraint and would only allow myself a healthy amount of sweets that I conciously balanced by eating half the veggie tray. 

Alright!  So that’s not entirely true. 

Okay, okay!!! So it’s not true at all.  But if it had been true, I probably wouldn’t be needing to participate in Looking Fine by 2009.  Dang it!

After a little while, the dads would set off the fireworks (remember, we had no 4th of July, Big Band-accompanied fireworks shows to compare to, so our fireworks were simply magnificent to our countrygirl British standards) and everyone would oohh and aahhh in wonder. 

As the fire died down hours later and it became too chilly and too late to be out, we’d traipse back to our homes, bellies full of scrumptious delights, our noses numb and our hearts happy.  Really, it didn’t get any better than Bonfire Night.

Many, many, many, MANY moons later, I still miss Bonfire Night.  I’d hop on a plane to Ripon JUST for November 5th if I had the money for such frivolous travel.  Since that piggy bank remains empty, I have my own sort of Americanized celebration.  The kids and I celebrate by making Monster Cookies.  Truly a celebration in their own right.  But I make them because they are what my mother made every November 5th as her contribution to our neighborhood goody table.  To my recollection, we didn’t make them any other time of year.  And so it goes in my home.  Once a year, every 5th of November, we make Monster Cookies.  An enormous batch of cookies, we pass them around to anyone who’ll take some with enough still left over to store in the freezer to be taken out bag by bag and enjoyed for a month.

Aren’t you dying to make try these cookies out?  If I could, I’d mail ’em to each and every one of you.  But alas, that’s just not going to happen.  So instead, I’m posting them in my Cooking section.  Go check ’em out and make yourself your own batch of Guy Fawkes delishishness.  Your neighbors will love you, your hips will hate you, your children will be at your command, your husband – putty in your hands and your taste buds will scream with delight.

… and no, this isn’t helping my four pound weight loss goal in the least!!  Shhh!

 

  

 

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In my last post that really was just supposed to highlight my new favorite shows… really!  The whole Roswell thing just happened… anyway, I completely forgot one of my new favs.  Well, actually, I liked it last season (it’s first one) and this season is just as good. 

Life, please forgive my forgetfulness. 

Damian Lewis is great in this role.  And his partner is a perfect character match to go with his.  Great writing, Witty, and a subplot is always a great thing.   Course, I’ve loved Damian Lewis ever since “Band of Brothers”.  If you haven’t seen him in that, you need to.  It is SUCH a good HBO movie. 

I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence.

Damien Lewis was one of many great actors in Band of Brothers.  Donnie Wahlberg, David Schwimmer, Colin Hanks… and I love the fact that they intertwined the REAL men whose characters are portrayed in the movie.  Goosebumps and tears everytime.  And I’ve watched it many times.

I seem to be having a hard time staying focused these days….

I feel the need to share with you my new favorite shows.  I still have some old favorites:

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 All very near and dear to my little tv heart.  But here are a few new ones for me.

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Now, Bones isn’t a new show.  I’ve just not had a chance to see it much since it airs Wednesday nights while I’m at Bible Study.  But I’ve caught it enough now that I’m totally hooked and watch episodes on the computer.  It’s good ya’ll… real good.

The Mentalist is a new show this season.  And I’m hear to proclaim that I hope it stays for years, like X-Files and the Cosby Show and Survivor (can you even believe how long that show has actually survived??! No pun intended – well, maybe a little).  And that when it does eventually go off the air, that they air constant re-runs like they do for Everybody Loves Raymond and Seinfeld.  I’m just saying, I like this show a little bit.

I’ve seen both Simon Baker and David Boreanaz is previous shows, never thinking much of Simon but I did *heart* David (one word – BUFFY.  sigh ).  But they both are so great in these shows.  And Simon?  Well, he rivals Angel.  He really does. 

Speaking of great shows.  Am I the only one who even remembers this show?

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Wait, I think you need more pictures to refresh your memory…

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I can’t even tell you how irked I am that these pics are so small.  But if I took the time to make them bigger, this post would never make it to the published form and then you’d never get a chance to relive your Roswell love.  Com’on, I couldn’t have been the only girl out there that desperately wanted to help Max either stay on earth or fly away with him to… well, where ever it was he was from.  I cried when this show ended.  I really did.  Colin Hanks, Katherine Heigl, Adam Rodriguez, Emilie de Ravin… so many young actors still working TV today.  Jason Behr, where have you gone?  Are you coming back?  Can I go with you?  Can you make sure a fourth season of Roswell happens in 2009? 

Roswell was the reason I even heard of Dido.  I *heart* her too.  Let’s make this moment on memory lane last just a little bit longer…

I’m not even going to admit that I got full-body goosebumps when I watched that intro.  Or that I got them again the second, third and eightieth times too.  Nope gonna deny it till the cows come home.

Now, if someone hadn’t had gone and stolen my Dido cds… I guess I could go buy new ones… 8 years is probably long enough to hold out hope that the old ones would magically appear on my doorstep, right?

Umm, I think I got a little off my titled topic…

and look what she brought me!

Okay not the teapot, but the tea.  This post is completely for my mom.  She LOVES this brand of British tea.  It’s her favorite from our years spent in England… in Yorkshire.  Maybe she’ll show up on my doorstep tomorrow with her teacup in hand.

But back to my new best friend, Kim.  She’s a Brit.  And get this, she’s been living in my neighborhood for a year!  Hubby stumbled upon her dad and his girlfriend while they were here visiting Kim for a couple weeks.  We ended up going out to dinner with them before they returned to England.  About a week or so ago, Kim came by for a visit and brought the tea for me.  We had a great time visiting and getting to know each other a bit over a mugs of tea.  I’m looking forward to more cups of tea together in the future. It’s great to hear someone from “home” and reminisce over all things British.

Anyone up for a cup of tea?? Mom??  =0)

or rather “crashed”.  That’s what our computer has done.  I’m thankful this is only the second time this has happened to us.  And the first for this computer (that we’ve had for four years).  I’m also thankful that Hubby has a friend from work who is, as we speak, pouring hours into trying fix it and prevent it from actually doing what it wants to do – which is dump everything it has on it’s hard drive.  I’m also thankful for Hubby’s little laptop.  It’s given me the ability to stay in contact with you all.  Limited and slow it may be but I’m still here! =0)

Can you tell I’m working on being content?  I am.  So I won’t tell you that I’m not bemoaning the fact that I don’t have access to photoshop, I can’t download photos, I can’t burn a disk yet of family photos I took for a friend (sorry Tess!),  I can’t touch up a photo and enter it into a display that is coming up in two weeks. 

Nope.  I won’t do it.

I’m trying to be content.

And I’m praying that Hubby’s friend will soon be my bestest friend in the whole world because he returns our computer to us, in full working order and with a contact hard drive.  I’m praying HARD!

In the meantime, I’d like to thank everyone who left fabulous advice for me regarding Tiger’s little night terror incident a few weeks ago.  I think almost everyone mentioned that missed nap times and changes to regular schedules were always behind their experience with night terrors.  And guess what we did that day before Tiger’s terrors?  Missed naps, were gone all day, and were camping.  So yes, he missed his nap and yes, his surroundings were different than normal.  BINGO!  Now I know what to NOT do in the future.  And should it happen again, while there were differing opinions on what to do during a terror, most affirmed what Hubby and I had done that night.  Take him potty, comfort him as best as possible and talk to him until he wakes up. 

Thanks everyone!

Happy news in the Runningamuck Household?  Well, first, there haven’t been anymore night terrors AND also, Tiger’s stopped sucking his thumb!  Yeah!!  Ladies, listen to your husbands.  Mine has wanted to take Tiger’s blankie away from him for a while now (because his mouth has gotten so bad from thumb sucking) and I kept balking at the idea.  Tiger only sucked his thumb when he had his blankie (which was whenever he was in bed) and as soon as he fell asleep, his thumb popped out and he slept without sucking it.  

Well, Hubby took Tiger’s blanket away from him last week when I was out running errands and he was the one home putting everyone down for naps.  Guess what? NO DRAMA!  NO TEARS!! NOT EVEN DRAMA-FOR-MAMA later that night when it was ME putting him down to bed.  It was amazing.  He hasn’t asked for it, he hasn’t had trouble getting to sleep.  And he hasn’t sucked his thumb.

Sorry Babe.

I should never doubt you. =0)

Just like you tell me all the time. 

And I scoff at your silly man-ideas.

Have I said I’m sorry?  I am.

Oh! And one more thing… remember God blessing my silly little want (not need)?  Well, He did it again.  He blessed me with another gallon of Horizon Organic Milk this week.  How amazing and loving is my Lord?!!  I’m totally humbled.  And Thankful.

How’s that for a smorgasbord of rambling?  But you notice, I came full circle…

back to thankfulness! =0)

Not only was I asked to guest blog for a whole week over at Happy to be at Home but now Jen over at Daily Mish Mash (she hostesses the Movie Madness) picked my list of great actors to post!  She’d asked last week who our favorite famous men were.  You know, for their amazing acting talents. *wink, wink, nudge, nudge*  So I had emailed her my very long list.  Honestly, it’s so long because it all depends on what characters they have played and what my mood is.   Anyway, she picked my list to post first! Wow! Do I feel special! 

So when you have a minute, amidst all the festivities that the 4th holds, stop on by and see my list of favorite actors…  Just be sure to grab a paper towel to cover your keyboard first.  It’s gonna get a tad drooly.  Leave Jen a quick note to let her know you were there. =0)

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