Monday, December 16, 2013


One of our traditions that we aim to do each year is visit the Gingerbread Extravaganza that is put on by the Jacksonville Historical Society.  Of course, it is always more fun if you can be joined by friends.   After a morning of debate practice, we had lunch with our friends the Sears and Hinsons and then headed downtown.

It is amazing at how well done some of these creations are.  Some of the detail is just amazing.

We can see why this won Best in Show!


Puddin had a great time doing the scavenger hunt with her friends.

The girls were excited to see that they knew the creator of this pretty piece.

Cutie pie checking out the houses and helping her mom do the scavenger hunt.

Some of us finished up the visit with a cup of hot apple cider.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A 19 year old in the house!

December 14th is a day of celebration in our house.  That was the day we became parents with the birth of our first daughter, Kemie.  We actually began a day early with the midnight premiere of The Hobbit, Desolation of Smaug.  Victoria dressed up as an elf but we were disappointed that they didn't do trivia and a costume contest like last year.  Of course, we didn't go to the 3D at the Imax either so I guess that was why.
 After we finally woke up the next morning and had a very late breakfast of sausage, bacon, eggs and biscuits along with apples and peanut butter dip, we gave Kemie gifts.  I think she was still tired !

The first gift from 3 of her sisters was appropriate both in being a pillow and with the mustaches!

There was also a pair of mustache glasses.  Very cute!  The lovely scarf she has on was a gift from her grandmother who recently learned to crochet.

Next she opened her gift from Mike and I.  I had originally ordered a Hobbit Cookbook but didn't realize it was a preorder and isn't going to be printed until sometime next year.  I cancelled the order and am suppose to get a refund but they said they would still send me a copy of the book so we will see.  Anyway, I scrambled for another gift and thankfully, she had recently mentioned she would like a pair of noise reducing headphones.

I think she liked them!

The last gift was from her little sister who asked if she could give part of her Christmas gift to her as a birthday present.  What she had wrote on the outside of the bag didn't earn her brownie points with her other sisters.

Are you detecting a theme with her gifts?  These are stands to hold her phone or iPod.  They also have magnets.

We then made our way to downtown St. Augustine for dinner and a scavenger hunt.  We broke off into 2 teams and looked for the following items.

1.    Green/white Candy Cane
2.    Santa Claus
3.    Mrs. Claus
4.    Baby Jesus
5.    Purple light
6.    Gold Wrapped gift
7.    Jingle bell
8.    Christmas bell
9.    multi colored christmas wreath
10. Elf
11. Santa hat
12. Reindeer
13. Train around the tree
14. Snow
15. Snowman (different place than snow is found)
16. Angel
17. Camel
18. moustache (extra points for different shapes or unusualness)
19. nutcracker
20. blue stocking
21. gingerbread house
22. decorated Christmas cookie
23. cardinal
24. fireplace (extra point for fire going)
25. connected Mary & Joseph

 No real winner although the other team said they had found about 22 of the items.  We found about 19 of them.  Here are 2 of my team's favorites.

We finished with dinner at The Floridian which was somewhere new to us.  The food was good but it was a little chilly as we were sitting outside.  They had heaters which did help.  I had the N Waffles with BBQ chicken and really enjoyed it.  We also ordered the Cheese Board which had some wonderful local cheeses on it.  The cheese was definitely aged well!  I won't post the picture I took there because my mother is already not happy that I posted it on Facebook.  I blame my old eyes for not being able to see that she wasn't smiling!  All in all it was a great celebration of my oldest turning nineteen. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Rocking around the Christmas Tree

 Thanksgiving being as late as it was this year, we broke one of our traditions and began putting up Christmas before Thanksgiving.  It still took us all weekend to finish decorating due to spending time with extended family and needing to buy new lights for the pre lit tree that only worked about 2 years.  We were finally all home together Sunday afternoon to do our annual tree decorating.

Daddy helped by hanging his ornament from when he was a child.

She was being extra careful because one ornament had already been broke.  
Bare feet and broken glass don't mix well!

We also had lots of fun like pretending we were Rudolph....
 having birds perch on our head...
 or being a pirate.
 Victoria even got her finger stuck in the topper for the tree.  Daddy to the rescue!
 He put it on the top of the tree away so it couldn't happen again.
We then took our annual picture around the tree.  I think they outshine the tree!!
 On Monday, we were able to finish the last of the decorations so here is a mini tour of our decorations.

 This guy is at the end of our driveway and wishes you a Merry Christmas!!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

St. Nicholas Day

We enjoyed our St. Nicholas Day celebration today.  We open our stockings on this day rather than Christmas.  We think it spreads the fun out through the month more!  Since Daddy was home due to sickness, we started opening some gifts when Kemie got home from work.  There was a reason I wanted them to open their "warm" gifts early.  They were waiting in anticipation....

Victoria guessed that it was a candle which really wasn't too farfetched from the shape and feel of the package.
 She was correct.  I had bought the four older girls Diamond Candles.  They guarantee a ring valued anywhere from $10 to $5000 in each candle.  You have to let it burn down a little in order to reach the ring so therefore the reason to open them early!
 Kemie's burned down the quickest so she got to reveal her ring first.  Everyone watched eagerly!
 A very lovely yellowish-green ring was found.  It was an interesting shape also.
 Hannah was next.  What would hers reveal?!?
 A lovely purple stone with cubic zirconia (or are they diamonds?!?!) was found.
 It wasn't until a little later in the evening that Victoria had decided she was done waiting 
and dug into her candle to find her ring packet. 
 She ended up with a very lovely dark green round stone with silver around it.
 Abigail followed Victoria's lead and dug hers out.  It was a clear stone (sorry, I didn't get a good picture of it)
After we got the candles burning, the girls made their gingerbread houses.  I had bought a kit with 5 little houses so they could each decorate one.  We had a few mishaps like pieces breaking where they weren't suppose to and walls falling completely down but with a little patience and help from Dad, things turned out well.  Kemie made a run for extra candy because we all know there is never enough in the kits!!

 Gretchen's finished product

 And Kemie's grumpy old man house complete with a mustache!
The rest of the stocking presents were opened after a dinner of grilled bratwursts, sauerkraut and a yummy salad!  We drew numbers to see who went first so Daddy started off the fun and Mama finished it up.

Spicy chocolate for Daddy
 Excited for jelly beans!
 A bible for Abigail
 And notebooks for Victoria
 Hannah is happy about her Target giftcard
 but not happy she only got only 1 book of the back stories from Lord of the Rings.
 Kemie received a scroll telling the history of her name which comes from the Scottish surname of McKemie
 Mama received an iTunes gift card
 along with yummy chocolates!!
Victoria had a surprise for us all in that she had gotten gifts for us tonight also.  I guess you could say most of them fall in the "warm" category while some were the "yummy" category.  Daddy got gloves that allow you to still use your touchscreens.  The candy cane might be to get better reception.
 We had to close our eyes because she didn't have them wrapped.
 The big surprise was the Dr. Who shirts that she made for the other 3 older sisters.  The amazing thing was she had done them in a day and a half!!  I guess I won't complain too much about the time she hides in her room if she is being that creative and efficient!

 I fell asleep while waiting for her to bring mine over.
 I guess this could fall in the "wood" category but I will just say it is pretty!!