Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas at the Harris House

The kids are patiently awaiting the word, "go!"

Halle's big gift was the American Girl Bitty Twins!

Parker and Grayson got electric scooters!

Happy, happy, joy, joy! We had a great Christmas!

Thank you, Lord, for your blessings!

Favorite Christmas Moments

Christmas brings with it lots of wonderful things. Festivities, shopping, parties, and presents! If I think about this Christmas season, I can think of LOTS of things that I enjoyed. But if I had to pick my favorite moments, it wouldn't be the fun and fellowship of the Christmas parties or the beautiful new watch Johnny gave me for Christmas. It would be the experience of seeing Christmas through Parker's eyes!

See, last night as we were preparing to leave for our church's Christmas Eve service, Parker ran to his room to get some money to put into the church offering. Grayson saw him do this and decided that he, too, wanted to give to God. When the plate was passed, I watched the look on their faces as they put their money in the offering. Their eyes danced, and they had huge smiles on their faces! JOY! Pure JOY! I saw them live out 2 Corinthians 9:7 which says, Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. What a blessing to experience the Joy of the Lord at such young ages!!

Then, this Christmas morning, as we were tearing into our stockings, Parker brought me the Bible. He had it opened to Matthew 1:18. He said, "we should read the Christmas story before we open our presents." His dad and I encouraged him to read it to us, so he began...."This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" which means, "God with us." When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus."

Wow! Our 10-year old "gets" it. It's not about the presents. It's about the birth of Christ. And he not only knows this, he lives it, and is an encouragement to his siblings and those around him.

Parker is a blessing and a joy, and he has definitely added to my favorite Christmas moments!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Windy City

Most know that Chicago is nicknamed "The Windy City." I hadn't given that much thought until I learned we were moving here.

I hate the wind. And that's an understatement. Johnny hates the wind, too. Aside from it pollinating things, I think we could all do without wind.

In my opinion, TEXAS is very windy. I remember a time when I was in about 7th grade. It was spring so it was just beginning to get warm. I liked to ride my bike all around Dalhart. But this particular spring it was windy EVERY day. And I don't mean just a little windy. Ridiculously windy! Blow you off your bike or into oncoming traffic windy. And have you ever experienced wind in West Texas? It brings all the loose dirt with it (and there's A LOT), and when that hits you in the bare legs (face, arm, whatever) it's like thousands of tiny pins puncturing your skin. I assure you this is unpleasant. So for days on end I longed to ride my bike and couldn't. I guess it permanently scarred me, because it's something I haven't forgotten.

I think the wind situation was better upon moving to the Dallas area. There are a few trees to block the wind and the dirt isn't as plentiful. However, if the temp drops into the 70's, it generally brings the wind with it. Johnny has suggested that this is like a warm blow-dryer in your face. I have to agree. And once the wind stops in Dallas, the temps climb so high that it's out of control.

So imagine my IMMENSE FEAR when I was told we were moving to Chicago! Yikes!! The windy city! BUT, it's appears that I made the same mistake that most folks do. While there IS some wind in Chicago, that's not why it's nicknamed The Windy City. Chicago earned this nickname, it seems, because the POLITICIANS (both locals and those who visit for conventions) are "blowhards" or "longwinded" (ie: they talk too much). It has also been used to reference citizens of Chicago who brag about their city.

We've been here now for a little over 7 months. I can remember TWO windy days, today being one of them (the other took out about half the trees in Wheaton). Not that there hasn't been a breeze on occasion, but I am accustomed to TEXAS wind. I think the wind is probably less in Wheaton, too, than Chicago proper. Wheaton is surrounded by forest preserves which helps immensely in curbing the wind.

So drop me into a city with LESS wind, people that talk too much, and citizens who brag about their great city? Well, no wonder I fit in so well!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

DANGER of Winter

We have recently discovered a very real danger of winter:


And it happened to us. A few weeks ago we left on a Friday evening to go eat dinner, and when we returned home, our mailbox was upside down in the middle of the cul-de-sac and the post was completely bent over. A single tire track and plow tracks were left behind. Hmmmmm. Although we LOVE that the city plows our street, we do not like them taking out our mailbox in the process. Plus, with the ground frozen solid, it's a tab bit difficult to put in a new mailbox right now. So if you drive by our house, this is what you might see:

And yes, we are in the market for a new mailbox.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Little Chefs

These chefs might not be Ratatouille quality, but they sure enjoyed decorating Christmas cut-out cookies!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The ART of the CARD

Christmas cards. They are a peculiar thing. Sometimes they are just that.....a card. But mostly, they are a greeting with a picture. Usually the picture is of children, and on a few occasions, that is expanded to the entire family. And THESE are the cards I am the most anxious to see!

I guess I got this from my friend, Camey. She said "if the picture doesn't include the WHOLE family, don't bother sending it!" I decided she has a point. And this has much more meaning since I've moved. (Just for the record all you Dallas people, we are interested in seeing ALL of you....not just your kids.)

So I'm curious.....what's your opinion? Vote on the poll and leave a comment here. I guess we'll see who shares in this view!

Christmas Card Photo REJECTS

We took LOTS of pictures for our Christmas cards. Do you know how hard it is to get five people to look photo-worthy all at once? Here are a few that didn't make the cut:

Ok, everyone looks PERFECT and I had to close my eyes!!

Grayson's turn....

This one was taken atop the leaning tower of Pisa.

Johnny AND Grayson caught mid-blink. Plus, what's that CAR doing in our Christmas picture?

Now Parker, AND Grayson, and no smile from Halle..............

This one's not too bad.....

A little too much gazebo and not quite enough of us....

Come on Halle girl, a smile please!

Hey! This one looks perfect! By the 107th picture, we truly are freezing our bums off! It's cute, it's playful, it captures our new surroundings......and we have a WINNER!

BTW, thanks to our neighbor, Karen, for taking these wonderful pictures. She did a fantastic job!!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Christmas Angel

Halle Jane Harris, age 4

Thursday, December 6, 2007

New Favorite Past-time

I think Johnny has found something he really likes to do......shovel our driveway. I guess he really likes it, because he's been out there doing it a lot lately.

By the way, have you noticed how LONG our driveway is? We were bragging about it in the summer because it's great for playing basketball. I guess even the best of things have their down-sides! Ask Johnny how much he likes the long driveway now, and his answer just might be different!

Snow much Fun

I know at least 3 children that have played outside more hours in the last week than they did in the entire month of November!
Suspect #1: Looks like someone is enjoying herself!

Suspects #1 & 3: Snow wrestling IS allowed!

Suspects 1, 3 and 2:

For the first time EVER, we made our house festive for Christmas and put up some lights. Maybe it's the snow.

Suspect #1 and Elly with their perfectly round snow balls. How did they do it?

Suspect #2, his friend Andrew, and the START of their snow fort. You should see it now!

Come on over and ENJOY the FUN!


Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Have you heard this? The video has NOTHING to do with the song, so turn away and just listen! I hope you laugh with me about how stupid this whole thing really is! Enjoy.

If it weren't for CHRIST, there would be no CHRISTMAS! It makes me laugh (and cry) to see what the world has been reduced to....

How Strange

Ok, so I was sitting at the bank drive-through today when I noticed the first snowflake. Just one. And then another and another. I thought to myself, IT'S SNOWING! My heart actually skipped a beat. To think I could be so joyous over snow.....but I am (at least for now.) This thing that I have been the most concerned about actually made me happy. How strange.

I have concluded that more than anything I am enjoying CHANGE. I guess I was a little bored with the heat....and this is something new.....and festive for the CHRISTMAS season. I've decided, too, that attitude is everything. As long as I'm happy with it it won't make me grumpy. I"ll have to test this theory over the next few months. I'll let you know.

Now I have to decide how early I need to get up in the morning to shovel the driveway so I can get the van out to take the kids to school. By the looks of it, I may need to start soon. This snowfall would have caused school closings in Dallas, but I fear that is not the case here.

I'm sort of laughing at myself, because truly, I have no idea what I'm in for. I am very inexperienced, and it is going to take some time to acquire the right tools. Lucky for me, the people are nice here. I may have to ask for help!

First BIG Snow

Here it is ladies and gentlemen! Our backyard covered with our first big snow! We got between 6 and 8 inches!

It's cold, but it sure is BEAUTIFUL!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Trim the Tree

Every year it's the same thing. Mom upwraps the ornaments, and whomever it belongs to gets the privilege of hanging it on the tree. The kids take turns hanging up Mom's ornaments for her.

Looks like they are eagerly anticipating the next ornament!

Good thing Granddaddy was here....we didn't even need the step-stool for the angel!

The kids enjoyed showing all of their ornaments to Nana.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Winter Has Arrived

Evidence of the first "real" snow of the season.

It snowed some big, beautiful flakes on the night before Thanksgiving. I really thought we'd wake up to a world of white, but there was no accumulation. Looks like it stuck this time!
The temp jumped to 41 degrees the next day. Very little snow was left. Heavily shaded areas and places where snow had been shoved into piles still remained, but streets and yards...CLEAR.

Friday, November 30, 2007


My friend Stacey came to visit! We had a GREAT time! I picked her up from the airport on Thursday. Her husband had a meeting in Chicago, so he headed into the city, and I brought Stacey back to Wheaton. I showed her all around town, the kid's school, our church, etc.
Thursday night Johnny watched the kids and Stace and I went to downtown Wheaton to eat at a restaurant called The Bank.

Friday, after dropping all the kids at school, we headed into Chicago ourselves for a little shopping on Michigan Avenue. Here we are in from of the Christmas tree at Bloomingdales!

After shopping we met Larry and Johnny for dinner at Gene and Georgetti's Steakhouse. What a great 2 days! Stacey and Larry, come see us again!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Nana & Granddaddy Harris

We had special guests for our first Thanksgiving in Wheaton! Check out our other entries to see all that we did while they were here!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

John Hancock Center

Since John and Jane were here for Thanksgiving, we decided to go into Chicago. The John Hancock Center has an awesome observatory at the top. Fun fact: the elevator that services the observatory travels up 93 floors in a mere 45 seconds. From the top you can see spectacular views spanning 80 miles, as well as 4 states. Can you name them?

WOW! It's a loooong way down.......

.....and didn't I tell you the view was SPECTACULAR?

My only complaint is that the windows were a little dirty. I sent Mom, Chatlie and Dad out there to clean them.

They couldn't handle it, so I sent out the reinforcements.

After all of that window cleaning, Halle decided to take a rest out over the plaza.

We had so much fun in the city! The adults went to see Wicked (a musical) and the kids went with Mr. Matt & Mel (a co-worker of Johnny's). He took them to Shedd's Aquarium. I'm not sure who had more fun! We finished the day with an over-priced meal at Rainforest Cafe, but the kids were happy, and that's what makes it worth it!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Bring on the Christmas Season

We kicked off the Christmas season by going to the Wheaton Christmas parade. Good old fashioned Christmas caroling started off the evening.

Downtown Wheaton looks beautiful with all the trees in lights.

We experienced some cold weather at the parade. It was a nice lesson in what to and what not to wear. For instance, we learned that Grayson's coat was not quite warm enough, and jeans alone will not keep your legs warm! The hot chocolate and coffee warmed us, though.

The final float had the jolly man himself!

There were even special Disney visitors! Halle enjoyed meeting Snow White.

Another lesson learned.....Halle's mary jane's are not enough to keep her feet warm. Her little toes were frozen! Dad to the rescue. We are all much wiser as we step out into the cold!


Thursday, November 22, 2007


What a special FIRST THANKSGIVING in Wheaton! Here's a little bit about our awesome day:

Since this was our first Thanksgiving away from Dallas, I had to grow up and cook Thanksgiving dinner! In the past it was always prepared by Amber, Andrea, Karri, or my mom. I, of course, contributed the normal side dishes and appetizers, but I have NEVER been responsible for the BIRD or the ENTIRE meal. I cooked for many, many days, and although my feet were tired and my back hurt a bit, I made a SUPERB (if I do say so myself) meal. And I only needed to call my mom 14 times in the process!
Here I am on Thanksgiving morning putting TOM in the oven. Thanks to Rachel Ray and her Maple-Glazed Roast Turkey with Apple Cider Gravy recipe, my first attempt at turkey cooking was a success!

Above and below: the elves showed up early! Although I was responsible for the cooking, I had a few helpers! Halle washed dishes, and Johnny's mom made her famous mac-n-cheese.

TA-DAH! Looks good enough to eat! Johnny's mom said of my turkey, and I quote, "that was the absolute BEST turkey I've ever had."

This was a very interesting dish. I'm normally a bread stuffing girl (aka Stouffers), but this recipe (another from Rachel Ray) sounded so yummy I had to try it. The dish is called Toasted Cornbread, Bacon and Chestnut stuffing. I think it's sort of a blend of stuffing/dressing--a cornbread base, but it toasted up nice a crisp. Very, very good. I think my guests were impressed.

Here is everyone at the table all ready for a great meal. I am so thankful for the family that came to spend Thanksgiving with us. Our new home is a reflection of the love within.

I had to share Parker and his consumption of the turkey legs! For a moment I thought I was at a Renaissance Festival.....but no, it was just Parker! He LOVES the dark meat! Have at it, buddy!

Thanksgiving Menu:

Maple-Glazed Turkey

Apple Cider Gravy

Toasted Cornbread, Bacon and Chestnut Stuffing

Famous Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

Southern Green Beans

Sweet Potato Souffle

Dinner Rolls

Pumpkin Pie

Homemade Banana Cake (for Chatlie's birthday)

Yumm-O! We sincerely wish you had been here!