christmas cookies & delivery (2019)

It’s never too late to reminisce about Christmas cookies, right? This is definitely one of my favorite things to do with the girls, and these couple of pictures of us all working on cutting out cookies together are some of my very favorites. It really is worth taking the time to set up the tripod so I can get into a few photos every once in a while.Eve didn’t actually help, because she was really busy trying to eat the gingerbread dough. Maybe next year!Kaya and Kaelyn wanted to try rolling some of the cookies out themselves.. They did really well! They’ve almost put me out of a job at this point! After cutting, baking, and cooling, we decorated! Once again, Eve ate all the sprinkles and candies.Someone else was eating sprinkles, too… Just look at that green beard she has going on! Nella did actually decorate a few, though.Could they have been any more excited? No. The correct answer is most definitely not! I’m not sure who made which of these… but these were some of my favorite designs. I know that Kaya did the rainbow bear on the left, and Michael made the pretty little tree up top.I made a few other treats so we could deliver plates to friends! (white chip chocolate cookies; chocolate chip cookies)

We put on our Santa hats and headed out to surprise people. We only did 14 plates, which is fewer than some years, but I felt like it was enough. I love seeing how excited the girls are to take turns delivering the plates. I think this is one way they truly feel the Christmas spirit of giving.

halloween 2019

Our Halloween was a little different this year because we were out of town due to Karl’s wedding, which was the night before. We were able to visit with family and trick-or-treat in my parents’ neighborhood, which was a fun opportunity. Since we weren’t home, we did miss a few of our usual Halloween activities, like trick-or-treating at Daddy’s work and the annual church trunk-or-treat.

Kaya also woke up with a fever, aches, and chills on the morning of Halloween, so she missed out on most of the trick-or-treating. Kaelyn was really lost without her best buddy, which you can see in the group pictures.

Everyone was also content to wear costumes we already had, so we didn’t buy anything new this year. I was grateful that they were fine with keeping it simple.

Eve wore the lion costume that Nella wore two years ago, which is still just as cute as ever. She wasn’t very interested in pictures, but she was fascinated by the leaves. Oh my heart. Too much cuteness.Nella wore the elephant costume! It’s so fun to think of my three oldest all having worn it now.This was the first year I couldn’t really get everyone on board with a family theme, and then when Kaya ended up sick, Michael stayed home with her and didn’t worry about a costume. I’m glad I still got this picture of him with Nellbells!This giraffe costume always makes me giggle a little. Kaelyn was almost too tall for it! This is her giraffe face, I think. Haha.They weren’t really into group pictures without Kaya.I have always wanted to be a witch for Halloween, so I created my own version of the Wicked Witch to go with Eve’s lion costume (although there is absolutely nothing ”cowardly” about this brazen girl)! I had so much fun doing some different-than-usual make-up.My Dad had this brand-new wolf mask that  he was so excited to wear. The mouth really moved and everything, which made it a little scarier than it’d seem.My Dad, Mom, and I took all the kids except Kaya out around the neighborhood for a while. They were so happy to take their grandkids trick-or-treating for the first time ever, and I’m glad we could all do it together.Eve ate any candy she could get her hands on before we figured out that she shouldn’t be allowed to hold her bucket. She came home with a very chocolatey face! Kaya stayed home with Michael and handed out candy on the porch. She finally felt well enough to eat something, and so when we returned with the younger girls, she said she wanted to try to go out for a bit. It was just her and I, which felt really special. She also got a lot of candy, because by this time, people were wrapping up and just dumping all the candy they had left into her bucket. Toward the end of our time, a thunderstorm started, so we ran home just before the rain poured down.My mom baked some sugar cookies that everyone decorated at the end of the night. It was the perfect way to finish the day.We traveled home the next day, and as it turned out, our town had postponed Halloween due to horrendous weather.  Kaya wasn’t up for going out, but I took Kaelyn and Nella around our neighborhood for a bit and had a lot of fun. I was excited we got to have a second, unexpected, Halloween.

christmas cookies (2018)

My goal is to be caught up with the Christmas posts before February ends. It might seem ridiculous to be so late on this, but this is the life season I’m in right now. I’m just doing my best to keep up with everything! I can’t let our holiday go undocumented, so here are our cookies from this past Christmas!

We make a pretty big deal out of Christmas cookies around here. It’s a tradition I get from my mom, and I think we do a great job upholding it. These little girls are always so excited to start making them, and they usually talk about doing it for the entire month of December (at least)!It was exciting to have Nella be able to help this year!Kaya and Kaelyn almost didn’t need me. They surprised me when they started rolling and cutting the dough themselves. I’m learning that the biggest messes make the greatest memories.The gingerbread-making process takes us a few days… Day one, I make the dough and chill it overnight. Day two, we bake and decorate, and day three, we deliver cookies. I also whip up some royal icing and always make Michael run to the store to get some more sprinkles (despite my stockpile being quite impressive)! Kaya and Kaelyn were so into decorating this year that they did the vast majority of the cookies themselves! They each did approximately 25, and Michael did 8. I think there were about 5 left for me to do by the time I finished dyeing the frosting and cleaning the kitchen. Someone was taste testing…This was Nellie’s first time decorating! She might have been eating those M&Ms by the fistful…Ta-da! Some of my favorites!Michael made that crazy-looking skeleton guy…“Swimsuit girl” has to make an appearance each year!Evie was so tired from all the decorating. I can’t wait to see her make a mess with us next year!The next day, we delivered some cookies to friends! I definitely kept the plates a lot simpler this year, with only three different types of treats. It was still so much fun to surprise people and enjoy a few short visits.We delivered 15 plates this year (and included some cute cinnamon ornaments that the girls had made with Grandma Gina)!We wore our silly holiday hats and played Christmas music in the car during our drop-offs. Gosh I love this tradition! (And it looks like I need to make another reindeer hat!)

christmas eve cookies with grandma debbie

All these posts about cookies might make it seem like all we do is bake at Christmas time (which is almost true), but this is the last one that’s solely focused on sweets!

Of course, you have to make cookies when you go to Grandma’s house! Grandma loves her little helpers. They always want to help roll the dough, but it’s still difficult with how little they are.Buddy really wanted some for himself…No gingerbread cookies for dogs!If he wasn’t begging for a cookie, he was stealing kisses.The next night, on Christmas Eve, when Karl and Kaitlyn arrived, we started decorating them!Everyone looks so serious about getting this done, except for Karl! Nella played with spoons the entire time.Ta-da! Quite the conglomeration of cookies.

christmas cookie delivery (2017)

The week before Christmas, we set out on our annual cookie-delivery drive! I honestly have to say, I wish I could share these with everyone… both locally and our family farther away. So, if you’re reading this and didn’t get a plate, know how much I truly wanted to bring you some. It’s just only physically possible to do so many.This year, I made many of the same classic recipes I’ve used in the past (why change a good thing?), which included:
gingerbread cookies
Michigan fudge
chocolate-chip cookies
candy cane kiss cookies

We delivered 16 plates, so not quite as many as last year, but still a respectable number. I love seeing all the plates come together- it makes all the hours of baking feel worth it!We always have to wear some silly holiday hats! I honestly hope that the girls never get too old for this or think it’s “uncool”, because this is one of my favorite parts of delivering the cookies. We were a hat short this year, and I didn’t have time to make another reindeer, so I picked up an elf hat at the dollar store for Kaya earlier that afternoon.Because it takes a long time to get everyone in and out of their car seats, we take turns going up to the door and dropping off the cookies. Kaya and Kaelyn kept begging for it to be their turn, so we tried to switch off at each house. I really love how much they enjoy giving these homemade gifts.

Maybe in the future, when they’re older and can do their own seatbelts, we’ll have to add some Christmas caroling to the tradition!

baking & making gingerbread cookies (2017)

Making gingerbread cookies every Christmas has been a family tradition for my entire life (and my Mom has been making them even longer than that, so over 30 years)! It’s something I always look forward to sharing with my girls. They get so excited to cut and decorate them; we make a giant mess, and then we give away almost all of them.They were both really good at cutting their own cookies this year! Their favorite shapes were candy canes and teddy bears.I always encourage them to use the gingerbread people cutters, since those are my favorites to decorate later. Gosh I just love these sweet sisters.This little angel baby was so happy to just hold a cookie cutter and laugh the entire time. I’m sure she’ll be covered in flour and dough next year!Poof! They’re baked! We waited until Nella had gone to bed so that we could decorate them.I think the girls would have decorated until we ran out of cookies and/or sprinkles, but we let them make five each, and then they headed off to bed. If you’re wondering, we use corn syrup as a sort of “glue”- we paint that on, and then apply the sprinkles and candies. Daddy jumped in and helped do some! We also love to use royal icing. Ta-da! These were some of my favorites from this year. Kaya loaded that house up with as much candy as possible; Kaelyn made that stocking in front, and Michael did a lot of the trees this year. Of course, I had to make my little swimsuit people, too!Now I think I need some more gingerbread cookies. Once a year just isn’t enough!

spring birdhouses

Last year, around Easter time, we made these cute little graham cracker birdhouses as part of our craft/snack for our co-op preschool. I thought it would be so much fun to do it again, but as a family this time! This was our Monday-night activity this past week, and it was a big hit. How could anything that involves frosting and graham crackers not be popular with kids four and under? Kaelyn was pretty much obsessed with trying to sneakily eat the frosting.She wasn’t a little crazy from the sugar at all
Kaelyn and Daddy collaborated on the same birdhouse at first, since she’s still a little too small to really get it started on her own. This is real teamwork! She did add her own Peeps and some Cadbury eggs, and she was so happy with how her house turned out! Michael made his own later on, complete with a wreath over the entrance. Classy. Kaya needed a little help with getting the walls up, but this design was all her own. She looked at mine for basic inspiration and then added her own finishing touches. Kaya told me that her marshmallow Peeps had a lot of kids… as you can see, they didn’t all fit in the house! I love that Kaelyn added a half-unwrapped Starburst to hers… …and then we have Michael’s house, complete with chocolate “bird poop” next to the Peep, as described by him.

We’re all a little crazy, but I really love these simple family moments together.

neigh-neighs, the sprinkle monster, and great-aunties

After visiting Michael’s family, we went to my parents’ home for the last of our Christmas celebrations. Their family room quickly turned into a wrapping-paper explosion- it was like Christmas morning all over again!

You never know what Grandma Debbie might surprise you with…

Each girl (including me) got a spatula in her stocking!
Kaya was pretty excited about these pants… … and can you tell that someone is in love with Minnie Mouse? There was a giant Hello Kitty plush for Kaya, of course. The girls’ big gifts were these horses! Kaya names every horse she has “Chancey”, so of course, we all knew his name before he even escaped the box. Kaelyn calls all her horses “Neigh-neigh”, this one included.Michael (a.k.a. Mister Home Improvement) now has a drill! He’s already been able to use it for several projects.
Kaya gives the best hugs. After exchanging gifts, Kaya, Grandma and I cut out gingerbread cookies. The next day, we decorated them with sprinkles! Kaelyn used up most of the sprinkles by herself… She was completely covered by the end of it all. What a mess! I’m glad she enjoyed herself, though.Nella will be in on the mess next year, but for now, she sat in her seat and took a little nap.This trip was the first time Grandpa Peter met Nella! It was love at first sight.My aunts stopped by to see us, too! Nella met her Great-Aunties Joyce and Carol! Of course, they instantly loved her too.Everyone always loves Grandma snuggles!

I’m glad we were able to visit our families for the holidays.This is the last of the Christmas posts, so now it’s officially over! (Only 333 days to go until we do it all again!)

christmas cookie delivery 2016

I’m basically a bakeaholic, so when Christmastime rolls around, I’m very happy to have an excuse to make treats. Over the years, I’ve collected some of my very favorite recipes for holiday cookies, and I love sharing them. Here’s what we made for our traditional cookie delivery this year:

gingerbread cookies (these are the same ones my mom has made for as long as I can remember)

Michigan fudge

snickerdoodles (this was my first time making these, and they were heavenly!)

chocolate-chip cookies

We delivered 18 plates of goodies, which (I think) is more than we’ve done any other year. I really love seeing all the plates filled and organized right before we take them out! Part of this tradition includes wearing goofy hats. Two Santas, two reindeer, and then a baby in Santa pajamas. We’ll have to get her a hat next year! It’s hard to believe that we originally started doing this when Kaya was Nella’s size!Kaya was the most excited about this activity. She loved surprising her Primary president and enjoyed ringing doorbells. I loved seeing my kids feel the joy of gift-giving, and I hope that this is a favorite family tradition for many years to come.

gingerbread cookies 2016

I’m just going to keep talking about Christmas, partly because I still have a lot to document, and partly because I’m not completely ready to admit that the holiday season is over! Cookies, Christmas carols, and spending extra time together as a family are my favorite things.

Kaya was eager to help roll out the gingerbread dough this year. I thought she was still a little too young, but she actually did a great job for being just four years old.
Now Kaelyn is old enough to help cut out cookies! They were both just a little excited. 😉Silicone baking mats will change your life… I didn’t break a single cookie this year!After they were all baked, we started decorating. Michael and the girls were only able to do a few before it was bedtime, so I ended up finishing most of them.
We ended up with exactly 60 gingerbread cookies, and we gave away all but 5 or so! Here were some of my favorites:Michael made that adorable little house on the left; Kaya did the multicolored bear, and it seems like it’s become some odd tradition that I make that blonde swimsuit girl. I really love seeing each of us express our creativity so differently.