Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy End of December!

Well, it's the end of 2012!

And this mom and dad of many SURVIVED!!


We have had quite the month. 
I was so determined to keep blogging, but early one morning I had a thought...
I could spend all my time blogging about my Christmas with my kids, or I could get off the computer and dive in and enjoy it.

So, the blogging went on the back burner.

But, we had a wonderful month.

I've shared some of our favorite traditions, and I'll finish the year off with a few of my favorite moments since I've signed off.

We have decorated...
(Big Daddy hangs the Christmas balls every year. It's one of my favorite things.)

We've seen Santa and cheered on the local Christmas parade.

Noah was our favorite part of the parade.

 We've made our gingerbread houses.
When you have teenage boys in your home, the gingerbread houses take on a life of their own.
They literally took HOURS.

The one on the bottom was.....well.....
the most interesting one of the year.
Thank you Israel, for keeping it interesting.

We've been visited by a naughty elf.....
and we've seen lots of pretty lights.

We've spent time with friends.
(hee hee hee)

We've played games and eaten way too much.

 We left fruit for Santa.
Luke decided he would want something healthy by the time he got to Tennessee.
And then we ate some more.
(HAHAHA! Oh, Big are one funny man.)

We had battles.
And then we had some more.

We even had the flu, strep and the nasty little stomach bug.

As I sit and type this and look back over all these photos, it's fun to see what a wonderful month we've had.

We are grateful to be a family and are grateful for a time of year to spend time with each other.

We are grateful for 2012.
It has brought us much joy, some struggles, great opportunities for growth and learning,
and has been a year full of memories that will be cherished.

Thank you to our friends and family, for being involved in our lives.
We love you and hope for much joy for you all.

Bring it on 2013!
The Crazy Blaylock's are READY!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Traditions: Grandma's Treasures

This is hands down one of my favorite traditions.

It goes back for YEARS.
And I'm grateful that it has been passed down.


(VERY important "Mom tip" at the end)


Ever since I can remember, Christmas has meant homemade candy.
It's just what we did in our home.

But, growing up, it usually meant homemade candy 
for EVERYONE else!
(just kidding...a wee bit)

It was something we loved giving and it created so many happy memories.
I have very tender memories of standing at my mother's side being taught how to make different kinds of candies.
We would make caramels, truffles, toffee, cashew coconut brittle, peanut brittle, caramel nougats, etc. 
You name it, I'm sure we've made it!

I think one of the reasons I love this tradition so much is that making candy is one of those things that you can't always just sit down and read a recipe and make it. 
We didn't grow up using candy thermometers.
We were taught to watch the candy cooking in the pan to learn how to tell when it's done.
And because of that, we've always gotten together, not just to make it, but to keep learning.

My mom has her "secrets" of making things easier, quicker and better, which I have been very grateful for.
When it comes to making candy, I think she's absolutely brilliant.
I do have to admit, though, that I am using a candy thermometer for the first time.
It's been hard to trust it, so I find myself still checking the old-fashioned way.

Anyone who has had these caramels, will know why we love making them so much.
I've been asked for the recipe, but have been sworn to absolute secrecy by a pack of sisters.

Sorry in advance to anyone who wants it.
When it comes to this one recipe, they mean business.
The pack would be CRAZY if I told you.

I've been asked what the secret ingredients are, and I can't even tell you that. :)

But, I will tell you that this lovely looking ingredient on the left is one of them!


Now that we're all grown, we have brought our children in on this tradition.
It's hard to explain why this means so much to all of us.

There's something that happens when you make candy with your kids.

We laugh.
We tell stories.
We listen to Noah's weird jokes.
And we eat a lot of caramels.

It started with Hannah and Moses, but the younger ones have taken over.
I love this time with them.

The hardest thing is knowing that I live so far away and that on the other side of the United States, my mom and sisters are having their annual Candy Making Day.....without me. :(

But, I'm thankful for those memories.
I'm thankful for a mom who took time to TEACH us how to do these fun things.
I'm grateful for sisters who were all willing to learn.
I'm grateful for the Christmas season that always has brought us together, and still does no matter where we all are.

And I'm grateful for a very old, very yummy and much treasured recipe.
It is a joyful treasure.

Just leave me a message on Facebook.
They are ready to go!

 "Mom" Tip

When making a GAZILLION caramels, choose wisely who will help you.

In my home, I choose Charity every time.

Otherwise, I have him.....
 NOTICE the strange wrap job.



Oh Israel.

But, then again you could have HIM.
NOTICE how PERFECT his wrapping is.
LOOK at the concentration on his face.
SEE how exact the wrapper lines up.

I believe it seriously may take him 5 minutes to wrap ONE.


Wow Noah.

Again, I say.....


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Traditions: A Little Sweetness

How can it be December 5th already?!


Well last night I enjoyed 


(yep, a "Mom" tip at the end)


Do you ever stop and look at the people in your life?
Well, I did last night.

And I realized how very blessed I am to have my life touched by so many great women.

They are women of great strength and faith, they endure heartache and disappointment with grace, they find joy in the mundane, they lead by example and they make life richer. 

I LOVE these CRAZY ladies!

This is a fairly new tradition. 
It started last year, 
and we had so much fun so we thought we'd do it again.

And it didn't disappoint.

What is a cookie exchange?

Well, it's just a really good excuse to get together, laugh, talk, eat and take home a huge container of cookies to sit on the couch in the dark and eat to share with your family and friends.

Our cookie exchange has become a tradition I love.
I don't know if it's because I'm a mom, so "girl" time is more treasured,
or if it's all the yummy cookies.

Either way, we had a great time last night.
If you look closely at the faces in the post, you will see their goodness.
You will see kindness in their eyes.
And you will see real happiness.

They truly are GREAT women, and we completely adore each other.
The best part about them is that they are DANG STINKING FUN to be with.

Like I said,
I love this tradition.

But, more than this tradition, I love my friends.
I love who they are.
I love who they help me to be.
I love that they can make me laugh.
And I love that they listen when I cry.

The holiday season is so much more than presents, pretty decorations and yummy food.
To me, it's a time to surround myself with the people I love,
And it's a time of year when I feel very grateful for them.

Thank you to everyone who came to the cookie exchange!
You make me so very happy.

Now for the 'Mom' tip:

Last night our cookie exchange included a home full of moms (and a couple cute grandma's).
And many of those moms have little kids.

So, here's my tip for moms:

Get out.
Leave your kids.
Take some time for you.
Spend time with your friends.
Let go.
And enjoy life.

Because when you do,
you'll be a better mom.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Traditions: Nutty Little Evening

We are thoroughly enjoying our holiday season and it's only December 4th.

There are so many little things that make this holiday time special.
I'm only sharing the big ones, but I'm so thankful to have kids
who humor me with all the strange little ideas that come out of my head.


Fun "mom tip" at the end.


This is how we started our tradition this year,
and we ended with a trip to the emergency room.

But, we still had a GREAT time!
I love you Keely Girl.

We LOVE this tradition!

There is a private school in Nashville that puts on a fancy schmancy little Mini Nutcracker every year.
They do such a great job and it lasts about an hour, so it's perfect.

This tradition started because this little cutie invited me to attend when I first moved here.

I love my Wendy girl.

Every year we get a group of friends together and we dress our little girls up and we go.
It's something I look forward to every year.

In the past I've taken Keely and Charity.
But, last year we brought Luke with us.

And he was in love.
He has talked about the Nutcracker all year.

And this year was no different. 
He sat on the edge of that big theater seat and was mesmerized through the whole thing.

This year may be my favorite one yet.

As we were getting ready to leave, Israel and Zach decided to come with us!

I can't tell you how much fun it was to sit there with the big boys!

Zach.....not too crazy about the Nutcracker.

But, Israel enjoyed it.
And I loved having him there with us.

What else makes this tradition so fun? 


I love that we get to spend time with each other. 

The thing I loved the most about the Nutcracker this year was
Lucy Lu-Lu.
It was her first year and it was special to watch the amazement in her eyes as she took it all in.
Afterwards, she took her little program and went and got some autographs.
She was completely amazed by the whole process.

And true to Lucy Lu-Lu fashion,
she made me laugh hysterically with this little gem:


All the dancers in this sweet little version of the Nutcracker are girls from the school.
All except the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier.

They are professional dancers who come and perform.

Well, every year the handsome little Cavalier is the most talked about part of the Nutcracker.

Now, remember, it's an auditorium of little girls.

The Cavalier comes out in his SKIN TIGHT WHITE tights.

WHITE tights.

Need I say more?
I don't think so.

The giggles begin.
And they don't end until he has left the stage.
And at some point, many of the adults start giggling at their funny little girls who are giggling.

It's one of my favorite parts of the night.

.....I know. I'm strange, but, I giggle every year.

Well, Lucy was appalled.
When he came out on the stage, she GRABBED my face and turned it to meet her face.
Then she said, with great concern,
"MOM!! Why doesn't he have any pants on?!?!"


I loved every minute and I
can't wait for next year.

My "MOM" tip:

When you go to the Nutcracker,
I have a proven method to make sure EVERYONE has fun.

You bring HER along.

It works EVERY time.

just sayin'.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Traditions: No Ordinary Socks

This tradition may seem a bit strange to many.

And the pictures may seem a bit creepy.
hee hee hee

But, to me, this tradition holds great meaning and value.



It all began with this adorable looking treasure.

MY Christmas Stocking.

I love it more than I can tell you.
I love it for so many reasons.

I love that it's not your traditional "cute" stocking.
I love that it is old and worn.
I love that my mom made it.
And I love the memories that come rushing back every year when I take it out of the box.

My mom made all of us these crazy stockings.
They were all different.
And they were all weird.


And when you know our family, it makes so much sense.
Beautiful, traditional stockings just wouldn't seem right.

Now, the tradition continues.

EVERY time someone gets married.....
we make the 'newbie' an "Evenson" stocking.
EVERY time someone has a baby.....
we make the little cutie an "Evenson" stocking.

We've made just about everything you can imagine.

So, you see, 
joining our family comes with great benefits.

Now, these stockings mean even more to me, and I'll tell you why.

When I married Big Daddy, Christmas was a bit tricky at first.
They had THEIR stockings, and we had OURS.

EVERY year, when I hung the stockings, there was something inside that just didn't feel right.
I would look at them all hanging, and it became a constant reminder to all of us of two separate lives.
Lives that we had all lived before.
And life now was so different for all of us.
We had all been through something painful and all those different stockings seemed to scream reminders of that to me.

Well, last year, I received a very special gift.

My sister Lori had me for Christmas.
So, she gathered my parents and I believe another sibling or two,
and they made my sweet family all new stockings.

Fitting right in with age-old "Evenson" tradition,
they are all different,
and they are all weird.

And I LOVE them.

This one is one of my favorites.
It's my favorite because my dad made it.
I can picture him in my mind, sitting at his dining room table, and taking his time making this.
I can hear him laughing as this strange little stocking came together.

I LOVE our Christmas stockings.

I love that when I hang them, they are all the same. 
I love that when I hang them, I see a family.
Not your 'traditional' family,
but a family who loves each other and who are making it work.
They represent so much more than Christmas.

We're all a little weird in the Blaylock home
And now we all have weird little stockings.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Traditions: Tiny Treasures

OOOOOOHHHHH.....the FUN has officially begun!!

There's something about Christmas that brings me great JOY.

That brings me to my next tradition.


I'll once again give you my "mom tips" at the end.

Our Tiny Homemade Ornaments.

We do this every year and it has become something that my kids look forward to.

It started with a good intention to make a special homemade ornament every year. 
I was going to be "supermom" and come up with a new crafty idea every year.

But, they have loved this one so much, that we have stayed with it.
(Such a smart move, if I do say so myself.)

We start with Sculpey clay.
It's a delightful clay that you cook and it's really easy to work with.
I save my lovely Jo-Ann's 40% coupon and buy it.
One package will usually last me 2-3 years,
depending on when it hardens. 

Then we buy these little treasures.
Get the smallest ones you can find.
I get mine at Lowe's, only because my beloved Walmart doesn't carry them.

And then the fun begins.

Believe it or not, my kids instantly become SILENT.
Not a sound. beautiful.
hee hee hee

They are very serious about their ornaments, and I get excited to see 
what new creations will be hanging on our tree.

We have acquired quite the collection, and they are some of my favorite treasures. 

We have a collection of a tater tot family.
We have a caterpillar family.
And they both get new additions every year.

We have tigers, Pokemon thingy-majiggers, Princess Leia and even an earless Yoda.
Poor Yoda.

(You didn't believe me.....did you?)

I've included pictures of some of my favorites.

I've saved the funniest for last. 
If you have a teen girl, you'll see why.

Mr. Penguin
(we ALL need a red penguin on our tree)

Whoville Tree
Israel made this years ago, and I still love it.

These are some of this year's new additions.

Our Lovely Ladybug

Adventure Time
It's always "adventure time" here in the Blaylock home.

Luke's "weapons of war"
Every tree needs a sword and a lightsaber.
Don't be jealous.

Sweet and Simple

Lucy Lu-Lu calls this her
"a riaryeoya-ya-ya"
.....who knows.
But I love it.
And I love that she made it.

Here are the funny ones.
Keely's One Direction Guys
I love them.
We listen to our One Direction cd in the car all the time, 
mainly because Lucy Lu-Lu knows every word.....
and sings at the top of her lungs.
It's one of my favorite things, so I now love One Direction.
And I NOW love Keely's One Direction ornaments.

So, there you have it.

One of my favorite traditions.

Now for my "MOM" tip:

You MAY want to have toothpicks handy.

For instance, you may have a lovely child who spends 25 minutes
carefully rolling each ball to make a perfect caterpillar.
And then you might bake that lovely perfect caterpillar.
And then that lovely perfect, and now beloved caterpillar.....may fall apart.

And then that lovely child may fall apart.

I've learned that if I insert toothpicks into these treasures,
they don't fall apart.

You MAY also want to wrap with great care when packaging up and putting them away. 
We learned the hard way with Yoda. 

...just sayin'.