Saturday April 17, 2010

  • Sleeping in and relaxing under the covers with husby.
  • The fact that my coffee tasted better today, thanks to running vinegar through the coffee maker yesterday.
  • Watching my husband take dominion of our yard all afternoon.
  • The smell of freshly cut grass.
  • Talking to my mom on the phone.
  • Taking dominion of my home, as well as my body and mind and heart.
  • Planting herbs, and watering the flowers I planted yesterday.
  • Gabriel, when he dumped the watering can over onto himself & was scared out of wits because he was suddenly sopping wet.
  • Gabriel, because he has been living in just a diaper along with socks & shoes ever since that incident – he did not want more clothes on.
  • Weather warm enough to actually have the screen door open today.
  • Baking, baking, baking! Blackberry bars, chocolate bundt cake, and stromboli.
  • New recipes: a pork chop & sweet potatoes dish from last night, and stromboli for tonight.
  • My dad, driving up in my brother’s beat-up old truck with a bed full of sheep manure.
  • Watching my father and husband haul barrow after barrow of manure back to my eagerly awaiting garden plot.
  • The bulbs Steven planted for me last year: the daffodils and hyacinths are gorgeously blooming, and the tulips look about ready to burst into bloom, too.
  • Reading bits from: The Loveliness of Christ, Toward Jerusalem, One Year book of Hope, and Womanly Dominion.
  • Sunshine and a cool breeze.
  • Anticipating having some old friends from college over tonight for dessert.
  • Playing piano & harp, and singing; preparing for worship tomorrow.
  • Anticipating having family over for dinner tomorrow after church.
  • Dilly, curled up on my legs while sitting here on the floor with my laptop.
  • Remembering that God is faithful, and that I am His daughter. And His wife. 🙂

Friday March 19, 2010

The lintel low enough to keep out pomp and pride;
The threshold high enough to turn deceit aside;
The doorband strong enough from robbers to defend;
This door will open at a touch to welcome every friend.
~Henry Jackson van Dyke


One of my favorite books about relationships is Face to Face by Steve Wilkins, discussing friendship and hospitality. It’s been about two years since I have read it, though, so it’s about time to start again. 🙂 Click here for a decent review of it. I once shared excerpts and quotes from it here, too (anyone remember that?).
The funny thing is that we are almost always eager to pursue friendship. But are we as eager to pursue hospitality?
The two things are frequently related, but not always. Interesting.

I don’t know that I want to get into a deep discussion about hospitality right now.
I just wanted to say that I personally have been getting back at it.
During times of heavy grief, I am not always able to open my doors to invite in lots of guests for pretty tables and delicious food. But times of heavy grief come and go (sometimes predictably, but more often less so), and the days come again when I am equipped by God’s grace to show hospitality.
In recent weeks, I have made an effort to have someone over for dinner once a week. We’ve done it for the last four weeks, and are about to take a break for a few weeks. But then maybe I will try it once again.
It is delightful to have people over to share a meal (simple or fancy, as the case may be), pop open a bottle of wine (or a couple of beers, or a pitcher of freshly squeezed lemonade), and chase the evening away with pleasant conversation and fellowship (and maybe even a board game or two).

I pray that as I age, I will grow into my desires of hospitality. I would love to share my home, my table, my meals, and my family with others. Especially those in the bonds of Christ (Galatians 6:10). It is mutually beautiful and encouraging! But I would, someday, like to grow out of my comfort zone. I would love to invite nonChristians into my home (with discretion and hubby’s leading) someday, so that we can share the Gospel more tangibly, with table & food & conversation. I have always felt more called to discipleship than evangelism (God gives different gifts to different people), but I think I must at least dip toes into both realms. And one way I would love to grow my evangelistic thread is by sharing food (not that that is the only way to show hospitality, for it certainly is not. It is just one of my main ways of showing hospitality, as God has gifted me in that area). I have a few thoughts on how this may develop and evolve through the coming years… but this isn’t the time or place for that just yet. 🙂

I have been trying out new recipes on my hubby very frequently of late, and have even tried new recipes on our guests (which can be risky business). For our first recent set of guests, we had fajitas (our favorite tried & true, easy & quick, go-to meal) and salad and chips & salsa; with sweet tea to drink and chocolate bundt cake (new recipe!) for dessert. The second set of guests helped us share a meal of salmon & tilapia (basted with garlic, Meyer lemon, herb butter), quinoa (new recipe!), salad, and bread; again with sweet tea to drink and peach cobbler for dessert. The third set came on a day I had a blood infusion, so I tried planning ahead with a crockpot meal of Beef Burgundy (a twist on the theme, at least – I didn’t actually use burgundy, I used port! and this was also a new recipe!), salad, bread (new recipe again!); with a Spanish wine to drink and blackberry buckle (another new recipe!) for dessert (the pictures below are of this meal). Then on St. Patrick’s day we shared a meal again (this time with my brother’s family!), so it was our traditional March 17th fare of corned beef (with a fabulous brine in the crockpot), cabbage, onions and carrots, Irish soda bread (new recipe!), sour cream mashed potatoes; with Guinness to drink and chocolate chip cookies for dessert.


Besides the food, the home and table and atmosphere should also be welcoming and lovely. It should seep with hospitality. While I don’t necessarily think you have to have your house completely spic & span to have company (for what of those unannounced guests that occasionally pop by? Do invite them inside, even if there is dog hair all over the couch and toys strewn all across the floor!); if the company is expected, your home should look like it was expecting company. This will look different for different homes and different families. So do what you need to do to prepare your home (as well as yourself and your meal) to be hospitable.
For me, this involves bringing out the vacuum to clean the carpets and get the dog hair off the couch, etc. Vacuuming almost always involves first decluttering the house and putting away [most of] the toys. It also involves wiping down the bathroom; if it needs a good, deep clean then by all means scrub away… but if it just needs a little freshening up, grab a Lysol wipe (or spray a cloth with some good all-purpose disinfecting cleaner), and wipe down the countertop & sink, and then lastly wipe down the commode (no guest wants to use a disgusting toilet – I promise). Don’t worry much about the shower/tub unless the guests are staying overnight. Just close the door/curtain, and call it good. A quick Windexing of the mirror would be nice, and maybe putting in a Glade Plug-In or lighting a candle out-of-the-reach-of-children on the counter would add a nice scent and ambience.


And the table… yes, the table! Basically the altar upon which you offer your delicious meal as a sacrifice of your time, energies, and means! Make it lovely. This can be very simple or very complex, depending on the day. I like to have a candle or two (or four…), a vase (or jar or champagne flute) with a flower/bouquet, sometimes a tablecloth (especially if your actual table is less than lovely), etc.


Remember to relax. If something gets spilled on the tablecloth or floor, just smile and quickly wipe it up – and deal with stain-removal once the guests have left. Shrug it off. If you are relaxed and comfortable, your guests will be too.

Share the Gospel – with your food, your home, your words & your actions. Interact with your family as well as theirs. Don’t ignore anyone, including the littlest guests! Keep the conversation going (which is sometimes easier than others). Bring out toys for children (or Tupperware and wooden spoons and cookie cutters if you don’t have any), turn on some music, and enjoy sharing of yourself and your resources.

Also remember that hospitality isn’t just shown by inviting a whole family over for dinner.
(Mrs. Wilson has an archive about various issues involving hospitality right here!)
Hospitality is shown by delivering dinner to someone else’s home; by dropping off half a dozen (or a dozen!) cookies on a random day of the week to encourage someone’s day; by giving a can or two to the local canned food drive; by offering a bedroom to a traveling minister who needs a place to rest his head; by inviting someone over for brunch or tea; by sharing your garden produce with neighbors or brethren at church…
Hospitality looks different for different people, and different at different times. But it is always lovely.
Share of yourself. Bless God. And encourage hospitality in yourself, your home, and your family.

Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing constant in prayer;
Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
~Romans 12:10-13

Friday February 26, 2010

In an effort to branch out and reach a little out of my cooking comfort zone (aka rut), I am determined to make a minimum of one new recipe each week. This is for cooking. Baking doesn’t count. 🙂 I frequently try new baking recipes, so that’s nothing new. But cooking is different. I get stuck and revert to habits instead of jumping off a cliff into something new and creative.
So here we go. 🙂
If anyone has any awesome recipe you’d like to share, I would love to have it!!!
Otherwise I will be perusing Fix-It And Forget-It, Hot Providence, Smitten Kitchen, Food Network, and random google searches quite a bit in the near future. 🙂

Thursday February 18, 2010

Over the last several weeks, I have been doing lots of handiwork and crafting. Keeping my mind and hands occupied. Trying to stay focused on the goodness of the Lord, beautifying my home, and blessing others ~ instead of letting Satan have his way with my thoughts.
These are some of the fruits of some of my recent labors:

Recovering the bench seat in our entryway. I love this material! The colors (although not depicted quite properly in these photos) are exactly what I want to decorate our new house with someday.
 
A super fun, long & skinny pillow for the bench. I love these whimsical chickens.
 
A cozy scarf, complete with super fun fringe; made with yarn given to me by a very dear friend.

A wreath made from grapevines, silk flowers, ribbon, some wire and a bit of glue.
 
Nineteen sets of baby gifts (when I said I was sewing dozens of baby things, I was not in any way joking). But I can’t show you the actual baby sets, as I wouldn’t want a recipient to see their gift before it was given.

A little black beret, a simple single-afternoon project (and a terrible picture).

Proverbs 31:13
She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.

Tuesday February 9, 2010

Okay… so I know it’s a little early… but I got my first birthday present of the year! It arrived on Saturday while I was out & about, so when I pulled into the garage and saw the big white object with the colorful bow (more than two weeks before my birthday), I was surprised and excited. 🙂


It’s freeeeeezing! Okay, not really the funniest pun ever. But it’s a freezer. A big, awesome, deep-freeze freezer. Aaaaah. I can buy in bulk even more easily now. And we can eat a better variety of foods this way. And when I get into a baking mood (like today — uhh, yeah, so I made 25 cinnamon rolls and 16 pesto rolls!), I have a place to store things. Hurray! I spent a while during Gabriel’s naptime organizing the new freezer today. I think I like the way I’ve got it set up. And I’m itching to head to Costco, bake a bunch of bread, and make myself some more freezer meals. 🙂 And by the way ~ thanks, Mama & Daddy!

Proverbs 31: 14-15, 27
She is like the ships of the merchant;
   she brings her food from afar.
She rises while it is yet night
   and provides food for her household…
She looks well to the ways of her household
   and does not eat the bread of idleness.


And in case you were one of the folks who wanted to know how I made 3-Cheese Pesto Rolls not too long ago… I made them again today and wrote down what I did as I went. 🙂

MJ’s 3-Cheese Pesto Rolls

Briefly mix together:
1 1/4 cups hot water
1 1/2 Tblsp yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar/honey
1/3 cup Crisco/butter/oil
1/2 cup bread flour

Let it proof for about five minutes.
Then add 1 egg and an additional 3 or so cups of flour (I used 2 more cups bread flour, and a little over 1 cup of all-purpose flour).
Knead for about 5 minutes.
Let rise in an oiled bowl until doubled.
Punch down; roll into a long rectangle.

In a bowl, mix together:
1/2 cup softened butter
3 oz. softened cream cheese
3 oz. pesto (I make my pesto in approx. one ounce cubes and I freeze them; so I used 3 cubes)

Spread the filling over the dough.
Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Cover it all with a nice layer of shredded mozzarella.
Roll, slice, and bake on a lightly greased jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with sides) at 350F for about 25 minutes.

Enjoy!! 🙂

Friday January 8, 2010

We just watched Julie & Julia. I love this movie. I think I might watch it again this afternoon.

Usually when I am grieving and/or depressed, I can hardly eat. But this week I am so hungry. So “I-am-pregnantly-hungry” hungry. Know why? Cuz my body still thinks it should be acting pregnant, doggone it. Siiiigh.

Most women cook freezer meals during their third trimester, to stock up for when they give birth. Me? Umm, I start cooking freezer meals as soon as I get a positive pregnancy test, to stock up for when I miscarry.
Yeah.
I know.
I wish I didn’t have to be so dang smart.

My incredible sister in law brought dinner over. Enough for like three dinners.
And then her lovely mother brought dinner over. Again, enough for multiple meals.
And Steven made dinner last night.
And some dear friends left two plates of perfectly baked (almost-raw-in-the-middle) chocolate chip cookies on our doorstep yesterday.

Food.

I should be able to handle food, right?
No.
I can’t.

I mentioned yesterday to a friend (another mommy to heaven babies) that I am not coping well and am starting to feel guilty for it. But she said the words that I so badly needed to hear: “You don’t have to cope. You have to grieve.

Thank God.
Because all I can do is grieve right now.

Food? Laundry? Diapers? Bills?
Ummm, you’re on hold. I’ll get to you, uhhh, someday.
I hope….

(until then, thank God for my mother….)

Wednesday December 30, 2009

So I got a bundt pan for Christmas – something I’ve wanted ever since I got married. Very exciting stuff, people! 🙂
And right now I’ve got this orange chocolate chunk bundt baking in the oven to take to our church Christmas party tonight. Mmm. 🙂
Of course I just realized that I have no more orange juice to make the glaze… so I get to improvise. 🙂 Woot woot!

Monday December 21, 2009

So we had Mommy & Tots today for the first time since September, I believe. It was so nice to have the ladies and tots in my home again! There were five moms and seven kids (plus two “baking”!) – Gabriel is the oldest. 🙂 We visited mostly, and let all the kids play with toys (and each other!), had a Christmas ornament exchange (gotta love those), and ate a brunch of orange slices, gingerbread with whipped cream, and my favorite egg casserole (Jac & Sam, I think you girls shared this with me years ago!).
I thought I would share my recipes with you, as well as our words of encouragement for the mommies this week. 🙂


Holiday Gingerbread

1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup molasses
1 egg
2 1/3 cup sifted flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
pinch nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
pinch salt
Heat butter and molasses until melted and bubbly. Cool slightly. Beat in sour cream, sugar, and egg until smooth. In separate bowl, sift dry ingredients. Add molasses mixture to dry ingredients, blend until lump-free and smooth. Pour into a greased 9-inch pan (round or square or loaf). Bake at 325F until done – firm, yet bouncy to your finger. Test after 45 minutes. Do NOT overbake. Watch it closely, since you want it moist not dry. Serve with whipped cream!!


Campbell Ranch Egg Puff

1/2 cup butter
1 pound fresh mushrooms
1 pound shredded cheese – I use colby-jack
10 large eggs
1 pint cottage cheese
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup or so of cooked sausage, ham or bacon (I usually use about 5 strips of bacon)
In a large frying pan, melt the butter. Wash and dice the mushrooms, and add to the butter. Saute for a couple minutes until completely coated with butter and getting a little soft. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs until well blended. Add remaining ingredients and the mushrooms/butter. Pour into a greased 9×13-inch baking dish. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes, or until knife comes out clean.


Published by Nancy Ann December 6th, 2008 in Everything Christmas

The Christmas build-up is famous for being prime stress-out time, particularly and especially for busy moms. So here is your annual gentle reminder to forsake all stressing out. Put all your worries, concerns, panics, and pressures (and lists of things you cannot possibly get done) in a big box, tie it with a ribbon, and put it away. Remember that all good things come with temptations, and Christmas is no exception. Being tempted is not the same thing as sin. Having temptations to get stressed out is normal, every day life. Giving way to the temptation is the problem.

Now a little stress is a good thing; without it we might not get very much done. Deadlines make us work harder, and there is no stopping December 25. But when stress turns into worry which then leads to self-pity, which causes grumbling, which makes for a sour attitude, it is no fun for anyone, neither you nor the people who are witnesses to your stressful life. In fact, they get tired of hearing about it: Ha! You think you have it bad. I have eighty-five people on my list. And I haven’t even started shopping yet!  And of course this is not glorifying to God, which is what our lives are to be all about. Especially at the celebration of Christmas.

The worst case scenario is that you won’t get it done. The cards won’t get mailed on time. The cookies won’t get baked. The kids won’t have the hand-made gifts you had planned.  But if the kids have a joyful mom over Christmas, that will have a far greater impact on them than the missing cookies or gifts.

Maybe the stress is because of finances this year. You just can’t do all those things you had hoped. One of my kids’ favorite memories of Christmas involves stockings full of bungie cords and rubber bands! They had so much fun with those things for months.

Sometimes the big disasters (the turkey burned, the gravy spilled, the gifts were all late, broken, and stolen) make the best stories later. We need to recognize them at the time and enjoy them as we live them out, believing God as we go.

So have a wonderful time of preparation. Don’t stint on the gifts and the candy and the celebration. But do it all as an overflow of JOY, not as a panic-stricken obligation! And treasure up the good stories as you go.

Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls — Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation (Habakkuk 3:17-18).

Reckless Giving
Published by Nancy Ann
December 2nd, 2009 in Everything Christmas

As you do your Christmas shopping, you are bound to run into the person who is feeling very guilty about buying presents. It’s so materialistic, they say. Well, yes, it is in one sense. After all, it is stuff. But if we are buying this stuff to bestow on our friends and family because God has bestowed so much of it on us that we just have to let it slosh over, then that is not materialism.

Thankfulness is a great antidote to false-guilt giving. Look at how much God throws away on us all the time. How much rain just runs down the gutter? How many sunsets are enjoyed by the whales because no one else is around to see them? What about the mountainsides covered in wildflowers that no human eye will behold? God just gives and gives and gives recklessly. He doesn’t want us to feel guilty about the sunset or the flowers. He wants us to overflow in thanksgiving. And though we cannot come near His capacity to give,  we can imitate His extravagance by giving gifts and filling stockings and making fudge, all to the glory and praise of The Great Gift Giver Extraordinaire.


A Kind of Christmas Tale

December 23, 2007  |  By: John Piper  |  Category: Recommendations

I wrote this story about four years ago to tell the children at Bethlehem‘s Christmas Eve service.

The Poor Man and His Cow
And the Rich Man and His Wall

Based (very loosely) on a story in T. H. White’s The Once and Future King.

Once upon a time there was a very wise old man named Job. In his old age God gave to him a daughter whom he named Jemima, which means little dove. He loved his little girl and she loved her daddy.

One day Job decided to go on journey and asked Jemima if she would like to go along. “Oh, yes,” Jemima said. “I would love to go along.”

But Job said, “It will be a journey that takes us several days. So we will be staying each night wherever people will have us. So I can’t promise it will be nice. But God will take care of us. He always does what is right. He always meets the needs of those who trust him.”

Jemima smiled and said, “And even if things go bad, God makes them turn for good. Right, Daddy? Just like the little poem that you taught us:

When things don’t go the way they should
God always makes them turn for good.”

“That’s right, Jemima,” Daddy said, “and there’s another little poem you need to learn. It goes like this:

When things go better than they should
For people who are bad,
Remember, if they stay that way,
At last they will be sad.”

And so they started off on their journey and walked all day. At sundown they saw a little cottage and knocked on the door. A very poor man and his wife and baby lived there. Job asked if he and Jemima could spend the night there before they continued on their journey in the morning.

The poor man and his wife were very happy to let them stay. They gave Job and Jemima their own room and made them a simple supper. The special treat was fresh milk from their only cow. This was how the poor couple made a living. Their cow gave good milk and they sold it for enough to live on.

In the morning when Job and Jemima got up they heard crying. The cow had died during the night. The poor man’s wife was crying, “What will we do? What will we do?” she sobbed. The poor man was about to cut the cow into pieces and sell the meat before it spoiled. But Job said, “I think you should not cut the cow in pieces but bury him by your back wall under the olive tree. The meat may not be good to sell. Trust God, and he will take care of you.”

Then Job and Jemima went on their way. They walked all day again and were very tired when they came to the next town and noticed a fine home. They knocked on the door. A very wealthy man lived in this house and they hoped that they would not be an inconvenience to one so wealthy.

But the man was very gruff with them and said they could stay in the barn. He gave them water and bread for supper and let them eat it by themselves in the barn. Job was very thankful for the barn and the bread and water and said to the wealthy man, “Thank you very much for the bread and water and for letting us stay in your barn.”

In the morning Job noticed that one of the walls of the house was crumbling. So he went and bought bricks and mortar and repaired the hole in the wall for the wealthy man. Then Job and Jemima went on their way and came to their destination.

As they sat by the fire that night Jemima said, “Daddy, I don’t understand the ways of God. It doesn’t seem right that the poor man’s cow should die when he was so good to us, and that you should fix the rich man’s wall when he was so bad to us.”

“Well, Jemima,” Job said, “many things are not the way they seem. Perhaps this once I will tell you why. But after this you will have to trust God.”

“The poor man’s cow was very sick, but he didn’t know it. I could taste it in the milk. Soon he would have sold bad milk and the people would have gotten sick and died, and they would have stoned him. So I told him not to sell the meat, but to bury the cow under the olive tree by his back wall because the Lord showed me that, if he dug the grave there he would find a silver cup buried from long ago, and sell it for enough money to buy two good cows. And in the end things would be better for him and his wife and child.”

“When we spent the night at the rich man’s house, I saw the hole in the wall and I saw more than that. I saw that hidden in the wall from generations ago was a chest full of gold. If the rich man had repaired the wall himself, he would have found it and continued in his pride and cruelty. So I bought brick and closed the wall so that the man would never find this treasure.”

“Do you see, Jemima?”

“Yes, Daddy, I see.”

“So never forget, Jemima, many things are not what they seem. But if we trust in God,

When things don’t go the way they should
God always makes them turn for good.”

But if we turn away from God and are unkind and selfish, then the other saying will come true:

When things go better than they should
For people who are bad,
Remember, if they stay that way,
At last they will be sad.”

And that’s the way it was with Jesus. It seemed like he was unimportant because he was born in a small unimportant town, not a big city. He was born in a stable, not a palace. He was laid in a manger, not a fine bed. He was a carpenter not a famous statesman. He had a small group of friends, not a great army. And worst of all, he was killed like a common criminal on a cross.

But many things are not what they seem. He was the Son of God, the Savior of the world. He rose from the dead. He is alive today and rules over the world and King of kings and Lord of lords. And everyone who trusts in him will have all their sins forgiven, and will be able to say,

When things don’t go the way they should
God always makes them turn for good.”


It’s only FOUR days until Christmas!! Time to start counting down….. 🙂

Saturday December 19, 2009

I can’t believe Christmas is less than a week away! I hope your preparations and celebrations are going wonderfully, and that the joy of the Lord is your strength.
First of all, thank you all for your continued prayers for our family! The Lord is good, and continues to provide our daily bread. We rejoice in His mercies!
As a quick update on Baby Six, we have gotten two sets of good hormone levels this week – and the first ultrasound went well, too. Each day is a milestone at this point, and we continue to beseech the Lord to use our new treatments to help protect Baby Six.
Also, I realized I needed to upload a few more pictures before Christmas! Enjoy.

Going on a walk with Gabriel when it was only about 15 degrees out – it didn’t last long. 🙂
 
Although we were able to buy gifts for family members this year, I still enjoyed making goodies for the deacons & elders, other church workers, Bible study leaders, neighbors, and some friends. I did various types of candied nuts for most everyone, with gift bags full of jarred gifts for some people too – either pancake mix and strawberry sauce or a jar of soup mix with a small jar of cornbread mix. To fatten up our friends! 🙂

I made a super amazing food creation not long ago. Yes, I am patting myself on the back. 🙂 These are 3 Cheese Pesto Rolls. With dough made like my cinnamon roll dough (only slightly less sweet), I filled them with a mixture of cream cheese, butter, homemade pesto, and two grated cheeses. They were a huge hit!! I am already eager to make them again. 🙂 One night we had them for dinner with breaded pork chops, and another day with tomato soup (that was on a Sunday – notice the Advent candles?).

A short series of pics from when we took our Christmas photo. 🙂

And the winner was….

 

Decanting some delicious port.

Celebrating Advent with readings, music, and -Gabriel’s favorite part- chocolate truffles!

For the first time, we were invited to a Christmas party! A cocktail Christmas party. It was so much fun to have an excuse to get dressed up and go out! And -for once- we stayed up late too. 🙂

We also recently had a Family Date Night – I think this “first” must become a tradition of sorts. 🙂 We took Gabriel out to our favorite local burger joint, and he got his very first cheeseburger. He loved it! Didn’t even want fries. 🙂 Then we went to a toy shop and let him roam the aisles for a while. It was so cute! We bought him a Christmas toy (a super cute little tractor, complete with animals in a trailer that make noises), after judging his favorites. 🙂