Thursday, December 30, 2010

Justin & Laurie Story Part 1

It's kinda like the boy next door.
Classic beginning to a love story, if you ask me.
There were actually 11 houses between us--but who's counting?!
Same kindergarten class.
Mrs. Hipke's  P.M. class to be exact. 

I don't really remember Justin and he has no kindergarten memories of me.....
but there are some things from that year that we both remember so that makes it feel real--
this whole "knowing each other since kindergarten" thing.

In second grade Justin had his tonsils taken out and I sooo remember that.
When he was "Star of the Week" (or whatever)--he brought his get well map including all the fun foods he got to eat until his throat healed.
Cool, right? Well, for a second grader that really stuck out (how do I get my tonsils out?....)

In seventh grade Justin had this crush thing going on. A crush on MEEEEE.  Awwwww.
I had no idea. 
He took it as a "sign" when I jokingly sharpened one of his pencils down to nothing. 
I have no memories of doing something like that...but it sounds like something I would do.

Blah, blah, blah.
Fast forward to sophomore year of high school.
Over that summer I went on a missions trip to Venezuela with a bunch of people, including Justin's sister, Becky.
During late night chats when us girls would talk about what we wanted in a husband someday, she'd tell me "you and my bro would be good together."

Justin. Hmmmm.....
I'll admit I came back from Venezuela and took a second glance. 

The first connection Justin and I had when I returned from Venezuela he sauntered over to me, sat down at my table (at the youth group picnic) and told me that despite anything my sister may have said to me......he did NOT want to marry me.
He got up and walked off. And that was that.
We totally laugh about it now. Such a high school thing....
We liked each other on and off our sophomore year but that was about it. 
Apparently one time when Justin missed a couple days of school
I told him I went through "Justin withdrawl." 
Geesh.  I was like throwing myself at the guy. 
So forward of me....

Then came our senior year of high school.
And all things changed.

Before the school year began, I bought a little red Nissan, picked Justin up every morning for school...
The Flirt was on.
Justin would turn on the hazard lights on my car and I'd pretend to be annoyed. 
I'd keep my hand close enough to the button that maybe he'd accidently touch it. 
He would.

We went to our Homecoming Dance with different people
--just as friends--
and soon after realized that we just wanted to be with each other.

And so to begin our senior year of high school,
the Justin & Laurie Story had it's official beginning. 
On October 16, 1997 (sweetest day.  sigh.)
Justin took me to the mall so I could "help him find a winter jacket"
(such a line.....he never ended up buying one)
and to Starbucks.  Yeah.  He pretty much had me at Starbucks.
But we shared a Caramel Macchiato, his first coffee drink EVER,
and it was the best one I'd ever tasted.
I could say a simple, "the rest is history" but
Part II is in the works.  Are we having fun yet?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Hey Blogger Buddies, How are you? Hope you all had a super time w/your fam celebrating the birthday of our Savior. Did you eat as much as I did? So much more fun last year when I was wearing elastic-waisted prego pants. Is that TMI?
This week I've got the kiddos home. How fun is that?! Lazy mornings in pjs until.....whenever. Lots of playtime with all those new toys. New books to read. Extra time to chat....
A trip to the museum! So. Fun.

Hope you all have a super week.
I'll check in again after the new year--and I hope you do, too.
I've got TONS of new blogging ideas.
See you all in 2011!
Love, Laurie for the fam

Friday, December 24, 2010

merry CHRISTmas

MERRY CHRIST MAS from the James fam to yours!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

THE DIGITAL STORY OF NATIVITY - ( or Christmas 2.0 )

This is it, blogger b's. My giveaway wednesday to all of you for checkin in (thank you, by the way)
Our techy friend, Dan, shared this with us and Justin and I were chuckling more than once.
Enjoy. If you're not one of the 1,948,399 that have already viewed this. (p.s. Just ignore the holy_mary part, k? not endorsed by the author of this blog...)

WHEW. Full day ahead of wrapping presents, dipping peppermint cookies in chocolate, finishing last minute Christmasy things, and getting my boys off to their last day of school before break.
Christmas parties today! Does that take you back or what?!
Tonight we're taking the kiddos to the Dollar Store to buy for each other and for Justin and me.
Always entertaining to see what they find in that place and think would be a good idea to get for someone....oh my.
What're you up to today? 3 days left until CHRISTmas.....

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

December 21st. Ugh.

Are you kidding me?! First day of winter, give me a break.
I've already had like 38 days of winter.

Winter is wearing a bulky jacket and freezing anyway.
Winter is scraping off your car.
Winter is praying the gas fills your tank faster than it ever has before. Even faster than last time when you thought you were the coldest you could possibly be.
Winter is getting the kiddos all bundled up. And then unbundling them.
And then rebundling them.
Winter is sending your 4ker to school with his jacket and snow pants and hat and mittens and boots and then finding out from his teacher he didn't have his mittens. What?!
SO negative Mom Points.

There is one reason to celebrate this day, the first day of winter.
It is the shortest day of the it can only get better from here.
Tomorrow? It will have a couple more moments of sunshine in it.

well, now, isn't that snow just so pretty glistening on the tree like that.
Did I mention it's cold?! (big huff)

I'm sure when I was little I enjoyed making snow angels, too.

But I'd rather sit under the Christmas tree (in the warmth of my home) reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Charity would rather eat it, but that's just because she's 8 months old and teething. I'm pretty sure the snow doesn't impress her either. Why? Cause she's my daughter, that's why.

For all you winter lovers out there, congrats on today. I'm sure you are inwardly rejoicing that today is just the beginning of the frigid fun. Well, yay for you.

For the rest of us, I bring a warm & cozy crockpot soup to make up for the shortest (yet sadly, not the coldest) day of the year.

Mexicali Chicken Soup

Put in the crockpot:

Frozen boneless, skinless chicken (I used 4 chicken chests)

2 cans diced tomatos with juice

Chicken broth (2 cans or the container you see on the left side of the pic)

1 cup salsa

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp cumin

Can of black beans

Can of corn
Rinse, drain and add to crockpot

Set the crockpot on low for 8-10 hours or high for 6-8 hours.

Before serving, pull chicken out and shred (easily) with a fork and knife. Return to crockpot, and think to yourself, "that's it? how easy was that?!"

Call it dinner.

If you want, really impress the crowd at your table with some cornbread and a sprinkling of cheese and a dallop of sour cream on top.

If you've got family visiting you for Christmas, this is the way to go.

Happy Tutorial Tuesday!

Monday, December 20, 2010

tour my Christmas-y house

Hey Blogger Buddies,
I was wondering if you'd like a tour of my home? Well....some of it.
My fav Christmas decorations of the season at least.
My Christmas village makes me feel a mix of total "old soul" and "kid at heart."
I LOVE, love, love my village. I look forward to setting it up every year and I take time every day to watch the ice skaters go round and round on their magical little ice rink.
It's the first thing I plug in each morning. Before the coffee pot. Whoa, right?!
The boys enjoy it, too. My bowl full of headless, armless people is growing and I need to get out the crazy glue already...

Here's a kitchen wall and I'm really liking how this arrangement turned out. Seriously, this CHRISTmas sign reminds me to keep the season about Jesus. I love how the letters line up on the sign. Just part of my homemade Christmas this year!

Here's a view above my kitchen sink. I'm thinking of making that a-mazing smelling peppermint soap a permanent thing.
What do you think?
Peppermint soap of love in February
St. Paddy's Peppermint in March
Peppermint of Easter to cover the spring months
4th of July Mint for summer
It could work...
The gumdrop wreath catches the glow of the tree. I can barely see what I'm typing right now because that's pretty much the only light in the room. The gumdrop wreath is fun to make. Really.
If you have some help. And a lot of patience. And time on your hands...
But look how pretty it is!
Ahhh, Precious Moments. Classic collectible of the 80s and 90s... Baby Jesus looks super sweet in this nativity set don't you think?

Have a super day. Enjoy the last few days of this wonderful season!
If you have some extra time, check out Blessed Little Nest. Linking up to Life Made Lovely Monday!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

O Holy Night

Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth

Thursday, December 16, 2010

the stache

When you see the purple stache do you immediately think of Napoleon Dynamite's side-kick?
Well, that was my first thought at least.
I caught this kiddo in the middle of giving his bigger brother the same purple facial markings...oh my
Wondering about the giveaway results? Wonder no more.
The True Random Number Generator has selected comment #12, belonging to Holly.
The very Holly who was given credit for the wonderful lemon butterfly cookies in yesterday's post.
Congrats, Holly! Way to be commenter #12!
You will share, right?! I know where you live...

A big THANK YOU to all who participated. Reading all your answers of things you pair with chocolate made me want to go out and buy a pint of strawberries, and of raspberries and pull out the bag of pretzals from the pantry and sit down with a bowl full of fondue chocolate. With a cup of coffee, of course. YUM.
Have a super Thursday, All!
p.s. want to leave a comment on today's post? no one ever does on a thursday, you know. It's like the silent post after the giveaway wednesday storm...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

friends share

Hey Blogger Buddies, are you enjoying the CHRISTmas season?
10 days left, if you're counting...

12.14.10 Cookie Baking Day 2010 was as intense as ever.
It was a FULL DAY of baking and we took it seriously.
A little burnt chocolate, some spilled sprinkles
New recipes and classic family favs

Speaking of family favs...
My sister rocked the lemon butterfly cookies this year (see pic below, top right)
Seriously rocked them.
Maybe it was the newlywed glow? I don't know...
What I do know is that both my sister-in-law and I nominate her to be the one to make them again next year.
What?! Back to back years? What an honor for her.

Why? Because we trust her and her supreme ability to make the lemon butterfly cookies.

It has (nothing) to do with the fact that the batter is (annoyingly) super sticky.
Or that it involves a metal cookie press to pump them out one-by-(painstakingly)one.
Nor is it related to the fact that the amount of steps involved in making such an intricate cookie surpasses the amount of bites it takes to consume it.
And, in case you were wondering, it has no correlation to the pressure involved in getting the baking time just right to produce a soft yet not-too-doughy Christmas delicacy that is furthermore dipped in powdered sugar when cooled.

No. It's really because my sister is that good at making the lemon butterfly cookies.

Holly, if you're reading this, I'm so proud of you. Few people can claim this gift and you possess it. Embrace it. (love you, Hol!)
My cookie baking assignment was this new recipe I found. The last sentence on the description caught my eye. Can you read it?
It says, "Some people say they taste like Christmas!" (I may or may not have repeated this phrase more than once while in the process of making these creations)

Despite the fact that when I doubled the recipe my poor simple math skills came into play and I added a whole extra cup of sugar....we pretty much all agreed that these taste a-mazing.
Like Christmas even.
Does anyone recognize what mag this recipe came from? If you do, hit me up with a comment because I have no idea.....
If you, too, have the recipe from where I got it, than you'll def want to make these goodies.

Except forget about the icing they tell you to make with the white chocolate and honey (what?!)
We made them with a mixture of powdered sugar and milk and I'm pretty sure we upgraded the cookie to magical in the process. (Or maybe it was just the extra cup of sugar in the batter...)

Well, I feel a little guilty. Here you are looking at all these fun Christmas treats and I'm the one smelling them and (of course) eating them.
How rude of me. Let me make it up to you, Blogger B's.
Remember these?!

My personal belief is that nothing, NOTHING, goes better with chocolate than peanut butter. But maybe that's just me.
What do you think? What's the #1, BEST THING to pair with chocolate?
No wrong answers, only entries in today's GIVEAWAY WEDNESDAY!
Just leave a comment with the words:
"chocolate plus _____ (fill in the blank) is magical."
Tomorrow I'll pick a winner and send out a package of the #2 reason to rejoice in Christmas:
Reese's Peanut Butter Trees
JESUS holds the #1 spot.....and He wins by a landslide.
But something's gotta be #2

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

TT Gumdrop Wreath

I've wanted to make this Gumdrop Wreath for a long time now.....ever since I saw it here on Martha's site.
But Martha, Martha, Martha
White is boring
And I don't have the desire to sit and make my rows of gumdrops super straight like you.
So here's my version. I just want to eat it.
But not really because I enjoy looking at it.
And it smells super sweet--which I wasn't counting on.
Happy Tutorial Tuesday, All...

Gumdrop Wreath
Gumdrops (it actually took me 3 1/2 bags this size)
Styrafoam wreath (40% off Michaels coupon. boo. yeah.)
Ribbon (just a small piece to hang wreath)
Break your toothpicks in half and put the broken end in the middle of the gumdrops. Push the pointed end into the styrafoam.
I was really glad to get some help on this. I'm not a "putsy craft" kinda girl and this craft was pushing the limit....
However, when I noticed my middler licking one of the gumdrops he was put on "Observe Only" status.

It's really pretty easy to space them as they are a squishy candy to work with. You can pretty much squeeze a gumdrop into the space you want it to fit.
Whew. I was worried Martha made her rows super straight for a reason. Nope. She's just like that. You go, Martha. There's a reason you rock the crafty world.
I found that making these flower looking patterns over and over again helped with making sure I wasn't having 2 gumdrops of the same color touching each other.
I was particular about that. A girl's gotta have her standards, you know.
Cover all styrafoam except the back. You don't want a sticky wall, do you?
Okay. How fun is that all lit up by our Christmas tree?
I love this time of year! Thank You, Jesus, for a Wonderful Reason to celebrate!

Monday, December 13, 2010

la casa de G-bread

Bad news: Justin's Packer jersey did not bring home a victory yesterday. Boo.
Good news: he knows if he's watching football he's always got a child who'll watch with him.

And it's not one of the ones you'd think...

Charity loves a little snuggle time anytime

During halftime of the Packers game the James boys made some gingerbread houses.

They caved in more than once...

and were made with incredibly sticky frosting...

that was (apparantely) incredibly tasty as well...

For some, it was all about the candy cane kisses

I would like to say this year's houses were more impressive than 2009

But I will say that we had a lot of fun getting powdered sugar frosting


Speaking of frosting...don't miss the Cake Boss' new show on TLC tonight (9/8c). Bakers competing with their fondant skills for a chance to work with Buddy. Well, that and $50K.

Poor Buddy tries to be all tough. But his sister? She'd make me cry. If your cake has issues, she'll tell you...and she'll tell you like it is whether you can handle it or not. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Happy Monday, All!


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Oh, How He Loves Us

God sent His only Son,
His precious, perfect son, Jesus
To come as a baby to this cold, imperfectly sinful world
For us
Knowing there was no way we could be good enough
No matter what we did or did not do
Now we have a way to be with Him someday

A way to be with Him even today
In all our imperfection
In all His power grace and love
Though I cried out to Him when I was only 5
I'm pretty sure it will take me the rest of my life
To begin to grasp this amazing love
My Savior has for me
He loves you like that, too...I hope you know

Friday, December 10, 2010

Kids. One at a Time.

4 kids 7 years and under is.....a blessing. But it can be intense.
Sometimes just the logistics of day to day life is a pretty amusing reality.
How do I know this?
People watch us.
At the mall food court. At Wal-mart. At school functions.
And they make comments.
"Wow you have your hands full"
"So your oldest is...(guessing)... 10?!" (Jon's tall like his Daddy)
" got your girl after 3 boys, huh?"
"Are you done?!" (why hi there stranger...let's discuss our personal lives, shall we?)

The James fam has no intentions of becoming the next Duggar family nor do we plan on having our own reality show
(though some days I think we could provide some pretty entertaining episodes for TLC)....
but really Justin and I spend all our patience on our kids and have none left for cameras in our face!

One thing Justin and I are passionate about in our parenting is that our kids feel loved by us INDIVIDUALLY. That can be a challenge in the day-to-day activities. To make sure we connect with each child-- not as "1 of 4" but as their own special self....amazingly so unique and different from their siblings.
How does that happen when we're talking exactly the same gene pool?
I love how God designed even the family unit to have such diversity!'s one way we accomplish this goal:
You know those annoying errands you need to run where you need like...
4 things from here, 2 from there, and that sacred "bargain you can't pass up" at yet another place?!

Well--those become special trips with one parent and just one kiddo of the James fam.
Sometimes (like today) Justin will run to Pick N' Save to grab Jiffy mix and Diet Coke (Justin's "must-have" drink).
He took Matthias and it was just the two of them sharing time together.....and it always involves a treat (duh). This time it was bite-size donuts.
Last night I realized my ALDI needs were growing... and since we had nowhere to go (YAY), I got out of the house with just Caleb and we pumped out the grocery list in record time. Of course, we added sour gummy worms to the cart....and the bonus was, it was a lot easier than some of my ALDI trips!
Jonathan got his time with just Dad earlier in the week when he needed some new snow pants for recess. I'm pretty sure ice cream was involved somehow....

They (whoever "they" is....) say kids really remember the everyday things.
I want my kids to have good everyday memories.

So this year for Christmas each of our kiddos will be opening up a small package with a coupon inside that says something like this:
I'm thinking they will like the idea.
Even though we'll probably be helping Caleb and Matt understand
"delayed gratification" until their scheduled date!
Speaking of Matt....
I grabbed him for a photo opp
I was going to link up to Anderson Family Crew's "Embrace the Camera."
But I forgot.
I still love this pic of us where I told him to
"show his big, brown eyes."
I have no idea where he gets the big eyes from.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

You Could Eat These for Breakfast. Or Lunch. Or Snack.

Breakfast at the James.
 "Poptarts" {ALDI version}. Advent chocolate.
Baby sweet potato puffs and oatmeal with pureed bananas.
Ice cold carafe of water to drink.
Box of tissues for runny noses
and a baby bath in the sink for the post-breakfast wash up.
{Just in case you were wondering}
Oh, and the poptarts are a special treat. Usually reserved for Sunday mornings but....
sometimes I break my own "Mommy Rules," you know?

Nutella Crescents...
These are not to share. Seriously.
Last night Justin and I put the kids to bed by 8:00pm
and these were fresh from the oven at 8:02.
{Funny how that happened.}
Well, here you go, a Tutorial Tuesday on Thursday.
How's that sound? (cause I kinda forgot the Tut on Tues...)

Take a tube of crescent rolls and separate all the triangles.
Spread them out a little on a pan and take a generous spoonful of Nutella
and place it in the middle of the triangle.
Press all sides together to hold in the filling
and then flip the crescents over to hide the seam.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Bake @ 350 for about 12 minutes
{or until golden brown}

You're going to want to eat these immediately from the oven
or you'll have to reheat......but that just won't be a problem
because they won't last long enough to cool.
The picture of these Nutella Crescents is a labor of love for you, my Blogger Buddies,
because it meant a couple extra minutes before I could indulge in this treat
after they emerged from my oven.
{You're welcome.}

Have a super Thursday!
{today's grocery shopping list: crescent rolls, Nutella, powdered sugar}

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

good things come in little packages.

The first couple of years we celebrated Jesus' birthday as the James fam,
I made a special cake or pie that we'd put a candle in and sing
"Happy Birthday" to Jesus.

One Christmas
(the one when I had a 3 year old, 10 month old...and was prego. yeah...)
I forgot...until we were in the car on our way to our Christmas Eve service.
No problem. I'd just stop on the way home and grab something from the grocery store.
Give a prego woman a break, right?!
Problem: By the time we left the service, all grocery stores had closed for the holiday.
Wait a minute.....what is that glow?

Beautiful. A Christmas miracle.

As Justin exited the building with the
Thornton Gas Station box of
Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes,
I smiled an "exhausted baker, tired mommy, keeper of traditions,
problem of the missing birthday cake solved" kinda smile.
Some traditions you just have to keep. Stress-free ones?!
Definite keepers.

Birthday Cake for Jesus 2010
(not from Thornton Gas Station, but stress-free none-the-less)

It's my way of having my cake and eating it, too.

Have a super day in this Christmas season--
keepin it really about Jesus, All!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

turning the frown around

I would personally like to thank David Crowder and his band for this wonderful visual masterpiece that has helped turn this (poor, stuffy-nosed, teething) girl's frown upside down.
So Dave (can I call you that?) If you're reading this....(insert chuckle).....a big, fat thank you from the James fam. Your Lite Brite skillz rock.