December 28, 2010


How nice Christmas was this year!  We are so lucky to have such a great family who we can just hang out with and have a great time!  We literally didn't leave the house from Christmas Eve until about mid afternoon the day after Christmas.  We have been really looking forward to Christmas with Spencer this year because this would be his first year of really getting into it and boy did he!!

Christmas Eve we usually have tamales and ALWAYS drink the Swindell famous margaritas.  We had chips and queso and that's all I ate.  I have a slight addiction to queso.

Spencer found Stephen's Santa hat

Spencer slept until 8:30 Christmas morning!!!  I honestly don't think he has EVER done that.  It was good because Rick and I got some good cuddle time on the couch drinking our coffee and eating our cinnamon rolls (another Christmas morning MUST for the Swindells).  Then he woke up...

Checking out the goodies in his stocking

Look what I got from Santa!!!

And more goodies...

The first of NINE candy canes that day!

We still have to go have Christmas with Dad & Dana which will be wonderful and I know we'll get a lot more pictures then.  We'll be headed out to their house which Spencer will love!  I hope you all had a great Christmas!!

December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!  I will be taking a break until next Monday!

December 19, 2010

Christmas Party

For some reason I've been slacking on posting and it's not due to lack of things to post, it's due to the craziness that comes along with the week before you get out of school.  Christmas parties, secret Santa, student gifts, grading, submitting grades, etc., etc....I'm sticking with that excuse and that's FINAL. Ha!

Spencer's Christmas party was a hit!  Rick got to go and share it with him.  The food that these kids have at these things is unbelievable.  We signed up for cupcakes and we brought these...

I got the idea from the cover of the December issue of the Disney Family Fun magazine.  They are chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing, white M&Ms (eyes), black icing (middle of eyes), pretzels (antlers), red M&Ms (nose), and mini nilla wafers (mouth area).

Spencer at his Christmas party...check out that food!!

And speaking of food and sweets, Spencer had his first powdered donuts yesterday.  He ate every single one out of the package (6) and wanted more!

December 11, 2010

Santa Success: Part II

We got our pictures in yesterday and we now have evidence that Spencer wasn't as scared as he was last year, but as you can see, he wasn't getting too close.  Baby steps, baby steps...

December 8, 2010

Country Style Pork and Beans

This is one the best recipes I've tried in a long while and when Rick took the first bite, he said, "This is a Swindell favorite already."  It's so easy and DELICIOUS!  And, Spencer loved it!!  Please, please try it and let me know how it goes.  I'm always all about recipes that involve a slow cooker and this is a keeper for sure.  I got this from one of my favorite recipe blogs that I follow, My Kitchen Cafe.

*Serves 8-10
*Note: Great northern beans are large, hard beans that hold up well in the slow cooker. If unavailable substitute dried red or kidney beans. Because the beans need to be soaked for at least 8 hours, make sure to plan ahead! (I used Bush's canned great northern beans and rinsed them off and put them in half way through and it worked PERFECT!)
1 pound dried great northern beans (or 3 cans of great northern beans, drained and rinsed)
3 pounds country style pork ribs (about 12 ribs), trimmed of excess fat
Salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
6 medium garlic cloves, finely minced
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 pound chicken or turkey kielbasa sausage, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 (14.5 ounce each) cans diced tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Eight to 24 hours before assembling in the slow cooker, rinse the white beans and place them in a large bowl with cold water to cover by at least 2 inches. Let the beans soak anywhere from 8 to 24 hours.

Eight to 9 hours before eating, drain the beans and transfer them to the slow cooker. Dry the pork ribs thoroughly with paper towels, then season generously with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until the oil is hot and rippling. Add half of the ribs and brown on all sides, 4-5 minutes. Transfer them to the slow cooker. Return the skillet to medium heat and heat 2 more teaspoons oil until hot and rippling. Brown the remaining ribs and transfer them to the slow cooker.

Return the skillet to medium heat and heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil until shimmering. Add the onion and ¼ teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add 1 cup of the chicken broth, tomato paste, celery seed, thyme and bay leaf, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Turn the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Transfer the onion mixture to slow cooker.

Add the kielbasa, tomatoes and chicken broth to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on either low or high, until the meat is tender, 7 to 8 hours on low or 5 to 6 on high. Before serving, discard the bay leaf, stir in the parsley, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over hot, steamed rice, if desired.  (The rice is a MUST....yummmmo!)

December 3, 2010

Moving Up!

Today is Spencer's last day in his room at school.  He's moving up to another room on Monday.  These moments are always bittersweet for us because we sure hate saying goodbye to good teachers and Spencer usually doesn't handle moving rooms to well.  But, it's always fun to see him growing up and learning new things in his new room and in this new room, he's with ALL of his friends from school.  He was really excited to see their pictures in his new room when we had meet the teacher night. 

Alana and Emily with Spencer - we will miss you guys!

December 2, 2010

Thanksgiving Blessings

What a great time Thanksgiving was this year (it always is, though)!  We packed up and headed to east Texas to see Rick's mom and sister.  It was so much fun and I really hope we get to do it again next year.  We had Thanksgiving lunch at Sam and Jiffy's beautiful (and beautiful is an understatement) home.  Spencer got to play with ALL of his cousins and had the time of his life. 

The only one missing in the top picture is Tori...I'm sure she was taking a break from the kiddos! Ha!

Probably the highlight of the day was this...

We had been talking about getting one of these for him and I think it's a definite go for his birthday as it will be too cold now to enjoy it if he gets it for Christmas.  He got the hang of using the pedal pretty well, but still had trouble steering.  Aidan and Tori were so good to him and helped him so much.  Dad ended up pushing the car because Spencer ran the battery out of it! 

And when you run the battery out it, someone has to go get it...

The time Spencer got to spend with Jean was priceless.  He rarely left her side the entire time and if she would leave the room, he'd immediately begin to ask where she was.

And this video will be cherished forever...Jean and Spencer dancing to Michael Buble...

I can never explain how thankful I am for my sweet family.  I'm so lucky to have such wonderful people in my life.  We're fortunate that part of that family lives here and we're also fortunate to be able to spend precious time with our family that does not live here.  We're truly blessed beyond belief!

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