Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas 2008

Christmas was three days ago now. My house looks like we invited Best Buy and Toys R Us over for a holiday eggnog and they had one too many and threw up in my great room. We are blissfully and contentedly enjoying the after- effects of what was supposed to be a small Christmas. Somehow, despite my best efforts, this never happens. (My husband, Jack Claus, sees to this.)

Here are some of the photos we took on Christmas day:

The annual top-of-the-stairs picture before the girls check out what Santa brought.

Anna with her Santa gifts.

Meghan holding her complete set of That 70s Show on dvd.

Jack watching all of the festivities.

My mom and dad watching all the festivities.

Claire with two of her favorite gifts: a digital camera and a puffy ski vest.

Grandma and Claire.

I finally remembered to get a picture of myself on Christmas morning....with Anna.

Claire gave Meghan this picture frame with a picture of Lucy.

Claire also gave Meghan this giant coloring book of Wall-E pictures which Meghan LOVED.

Santa brought Claire a new basketball hoop! Unfortunately, it was delivered in the box and it took Jack and my dad all day to assemble it. This picture was taken at about 7pm.

My dad enjoying a well deserved Christmas Shiner (the Texas beer) on the porch while watching Claire shoot hoops.

Look at this gorgeous scarf! My sister made this for me in a days time. We were talking on the phone a few days before Christmas and she was telling me about her knitting. I asked her to make me a scarf, never imagining she would get to work on it the next day and get it in the mail for Christmas. I LOVE's beautiful and perfect. I love you Kelly!

Up next: Claire's 11th birthday on Tuesday! I will post about the festivities next.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

To the coolest nieces and nephews around....

First, the TC crew: Zack, Sabrina, Josh, Nick and Kayla. Merry Christmas from your Texas family! Hope Santa brings you lots of good stuff and you have fun hanging out together during your break. Lots of love from Texas! this guy below doesn't steal your Christmas gifts........once a criminal, always a criminal....just sayin.

Next, the hippest Hoosiers in the state of Indy: David, Ashley, Matt, Brian and John. Feliz Navidad from Houston! We hope Santa also brings you everything on your wish list! Lots of Texas love, and good wishes for the Merriest of Christmases!

And also, our nephew Dillon (sorry Dil....we don't have a recent pic of you....hint, hint.) Have a great Christmas in Arizona! Hope Santa brings everything on your list too! Lots of love and Christmas hugs from Texas!

XOXOXO to all of you!! love, Uncle Apple Jack, Aunt Tracey, Meghan, Claire & Anna

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Baking & Making

This is my very favorite day of the holiday season. The girls' last day of school was yesterday and, while a Saturday, it is nevertheless, the first day of Christmas vacation. The girls are blissfully sleeping in. I love the anticipation of two glorious weeks of late night movie watching followed by mornings of pajama-wearing until noon. It doesn't get any better than that.

This past week I was busy making teacher's gifts for Claire and Anna's teachers. Their classes did group gift cards which is so nice for the teachers. But the girls like to bring in something of their own too to give on that last day. So, we baked some goodies: peanut butter blossoms, rolo pretzel bites (topped with either a big yummy pecan to make turtles or an M&M which is the more kid-pleasing), and this new-to-me recipe for Chocolate Peppermint Ritz Crackers. Holy Girl Scout cookie! These do really resemble Thin Mints and are so easy to make!

Here are the Rolo treats. Also an easy, but oh so good recipe.
They look like little soldiers ready to be baked to yummy, gooey goodness:

And I finally got around to making some Christmas buckets to put all of these goodies in. I am so happy with how these turned out and I had so much fun making them. The girls each selected two and we filled them to the brim with cookies, treats, hot cocoa mix and candy canes. The packaging is everything, isn't it?

So fun to make, and it made the ordinary "cookie plate" seem a lot more special.

I will post again soon. With school out, things should be a lot less hectic around here. Having said that, it's time to get ready for football, basketball & volleyball (all Claire) and a birthday party (Anna's friend) ......all today! And how scary is this.......Meghan is going to the mall with Natalie today, and I (gulp) gave her my credit card. Maybe not the best move?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

My Christmas Ode to the South

After decorating the house and getting it festive for Christmas, I tried my hand at a little project that has been stirring in my mind for awhile. I get email newsletters from this great decorating site and decided to try one of the wreaths featured on the website. This particular wreath is made from Magnolia tree leaves, which is probably one of the most definitive trees of the South. I love the way this wreath looks with the gingham check bow, and it just so happens that we have a Magnolia tree in our front yard. So I bought a styrofoam wreath form, plucked a bunch of leaves off our tree, and started pinning and gluing on leaves. This is the result:
I am so happy with it! It's hanging on a mirror in our front entry. I alternated the fronts and backs of the leaves to get the green/brown effect of the inspiration wreath. It's not quite as full as the original, but it's close enough. I went with a red gingham ribbon to make it look more Christmas-y. And, I told Jack I will only answer to Martha from now on.

I am hoping to do some more creating this coming week. I want to sew and make buckets and bake and hand stitch and ........ ahhhhh, there just aren't enough hours in the day this time of year, are there?

Thursday, December 11, 2008


It snowed in Houston yesterday afternoon/evening! Our part of town did not have any melted as soon as it hit the ground. But the timing was perfect. I went to meet Anna at the corner after school, and I took my umbrella because it looked like it was raining. When I stepped outside, I discovered it was more like sleet than rain. And by the time I greeted Anna and we turned back towards home, flakes were starting to form. And when we reached home, snowflakes filled the sky! All the kids in the neighborhood stood in our driveway and just ran around in the flurries. I got some pics of Anna and Meghan outside, but Claire was up at the school for D.I. practice. (She got to run around outside the school with her team.) There was pure JOY on the kids' faces. Such a great Christmas gift for them.....and it didn't cost me a thing. Let this be a lesson to me as I scurry around town buying and spending and accumulating. The best things in life don't come with a price tag.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Weekend Recap

This guy celebrated a birthday last Saturday! Happy Birthday Jack! The day was spent watching Claire's basketball team win their first game of the season, lunch at Willie's, and a trip to Costco to purchase a nice, big flat screen tv for our gameroom upstairs.

In addition to basketball, Claire is playing in the inaugural season of girl's powderpuff (flag) football, so on Sunday, we watched her team, the Dolphins, beat the Cowgirls! Claire rocks at football! She really enjoys it too. It has been really fun to see her throw, run, and "tackle" on the gridiron.

(insert pic of claire here later.....apparently meg took the memory stick to school without asking....that girl sometimes....most of the time

And of course, this past Friday was................... TWILIGHT! Did it live up to the hype? I am going to say yes, although I really think it could have been done much better. It was for the most part faithful to the book, though so much was (understandably) left out. Some of the effects were a bit cheesy and the acting was just okay for me. But yeah, there is some chemistry between on screen Edward and Bella. Rob Pattinson.....oh my. Definitely a good pick for Edward. The girls in the theater (that was about 98% of the crowd) SCREAMED when he first came on screen. He's a hottie for sure.

OK, looking forward.....we leave tomorrow for Bandera for Thanksgiving. Jack's mom has arrived there from Arizona. We are celebrating with both sides of the family together which is nice. In the meantime, I have been baking pumpkin bread for the girls to give to their teachers today. This is a long-standing tradition and the breads are wrapped in pretty bows with Thanksgiving tags (if I had my memory stick, i would take pics) to take to school. Also, I don't know what possessed me, but I bought paint for the gameroom yesterday and started the primer coat to get rid of the drab hunter green that is on the walls now. I have one coat of primer on with another to go, then I will paint the walls a fresh, creamy yellow. So, that is what I will be doing today. I hope to sneak in another post before we leave town. ...........tracey

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Can. Hardly. Wait.

Tickets have been purchased. Meghan, Claire and I are going to see the Twilight Movie tomorrow evening with girlfriends. I have not been so excited for a movie in..... I can't remember when.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

This is not your Mother's Cheerleading

We headed down to Galveston yesterday so Anna's cheerleading group could participate in Jamfest, which is a cheer competition for clubs across America. Let me tell you, Jamfest is a well organized, money making machine. These guys are laughing all the way to the bank!

The competition was held at Moody Gardens which did not sustain much damage during Hurricane Ike. The rest of Galveston looks pretty beat up however. There is damage to structures, debris littered here and there, and utility trucks were about 1/3 of the vehicles on the road. They still have a long road to recovery, that's for certain. But they are really trying hard to get people to come down and visit and keep their economy going. We were happy to do our little part by attending this competition.

Okay, so on to Jamfest! Anna's team did not compete, but just performed during the exhibition part of the program. Here she is in her cheer uniform:

And here she is with part of her team and Coach Allie, getting some stage make-up applied:

Anna and three of her teammates below. I really liked that their uniforms were for the most part modest. There were other teams their age that were wearing midriff baring tops and enough dark eye make-up to grace the cover of Vogue magazine. I very much respected that Anna's gym chose modest uniforms and light make-up to perform in.

We had to wait until the end of the competition for Anna's group to perform. Here is how Jack spent his time:

And here are Claire and Meghan munching on nachos while waiting. Those two goofballs had a great time together. They were very silly and enjoyed hanging out while waiting for Anna to perform.

Here is Claire with "Jammy", the Jamfest mascot:

Here is Anna's group performing. Anna is on the far right and that is their coach on the floor in front of the team.

Anna on the far left being lifted for a stunt:

This is the awards ceremony and that ugly thing in the middle is the REAL LIFE JAMMY! Frenzy ensues!!!

Here is Anna with the medal given to her for performing and with some flowers Jack thoughtfully brought for her. She did really well and we were so proud of her. It was a rough week because she had been so sick and missed the entire last week of practice before Jamfest. She was nervous and really unsure about even attending with her team. But in the end, she decided to go for it and she did awesome!! So, GREAT JOB Annie B!!! We loved watching you do your thang!!

And these last photos I shot of the girls when we stopped for lunch before heading home. We had lunch at a deli right on the seawall and the water was absolutely beautiful. So hard to believe that less than 2 months ago, Ike ravaged this area. But when you stare out at the Gulf in its beauty, you know that Galveston will rebuild and things will get back to normal eventually.