Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas break

I took some better pictures of the Christmas tree earlier this month - we were still counting down to Christmas break on the chalkboard, now the kids are counting down the days until Christmas, only 4 more days now!

 newly arranged "gallery wall" with some family pictures and some little plates and art from thrift / antique stores.

We're having a good break from school so far.  Last weekend we went to the zoo

The week before Christmas is definitely the best time of year for the zoo.  It was calm and quiet, everyone must have been out at the malls.

Yesterday we made this fudge:
Christmas Fudge (recipe from Parent's Magazine)

Your child can stir in the dried fruit when the fudge is off the stove.

• 2 bags (12 oz. each) white-chocolate chips

• 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)

• 1 tsp. vanilla

• Pinch of salt

• 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

• 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Line an 80-square pan with foil. In a saucepan over low heat, stir and melt chips, condensed milk, vanilla, and salt. Remove from heat and stir in fruit. Spread evenly in pan. Chill 2 hours or until firm. Remove from pan and cut into squares. Store covered in refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Very easy to make and yummy too, Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas events and decorating

Breakfast with Santa yesterday at Chris' work.  I don't know what he was telling them, but it looks like they're listening.
Thomas asked for Lego and Kate a microscope.

Then we headed out to Mill Hollow Christmas tree farm

and found the perfect tree.....

Last year at the Christmas tree farm - last year we got a Virginia pine tree, this year it is a Leyland Cypress.

Brought it home to decorate last night, and took some pictures today, it's a dark day so I need to take better pictures on a sunny day. 

it is so pretty, the nicest tree we've had, these pictures don't do it justice.

Emmy checking everything out...

the chalkboard Kate decorated.....

the black and white picture is my Dad as a little boy, and his father going to see "Father Christmas" - he grew up in England.

this little picture was a thrift store find, as well as the silver owl and penguin.  The little brass shoes is the ornament from Thomas' first Christmas

little silver sheep (from New Zealand antique store) and another thrift store find - fiestaware juice pitcher

the Santa stocking holders I've had a few years (from Marshalls)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Goodbye Oak tree

We had a beautiful old oak tree, but this summer after our New Zealand trip we came back and the leaves were brown.  We thought it was the drought that killed it, there are many many dead trees around the Houston area.  We got it cut down last week.  Sad to see it come down, even though we have more trees, that old one was special.  Chris counted the rings (see picture below).

the tree guy climbing the tree, it had a huge trunk and then branched off into two bigger sections

it had already started shedding it's branches and bark, with the help of many woodpeckers and squirrels

 the bare branches

not an easy job

 afterwards.....  Chris has a friend who wants this for firewood

the tree guy said the tree actually died from a fungus, not the drought as we thought

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Citizenship Day

Today I officially became a United States citizen.  I registered to vote and need to apply for my passport too!

The United States is my home away from home, and I have come to love it here too.  I have been here a third of my life now, over 12 years!

We had to be there at 7am, and the oath ceremony did not start until around 9.  It was a moving experience though, that over 1000 people from over 110 countries were new citizens there too.

America the Beautiful
by Katharine Lee Bates

O beautiful for spacious skies,

For amber waves of grain,

For purple mountain majesties

Above the fruited plain!

America! America!

God shed His grace on thee,

And crown thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet

Whose stern impassion'd stress

A thoroughfare for freedom beat

Across the wilderness.

America! America!

God mend thine ev'ry flaw,

Confirm thy soul in self-control,

Thy liberty in law.

O beautiful for heroes prov'd

In liberating strife,

Who more than self their country lov'd,

And mercy more than life.

America! America!

May God thy gold refine

Till all success be nobleness,

And ev'ry gain divine.

O beautiful for patriot dream

That sees beyond the years

Thine alabaster cities gleam

Undimmed by human tears.

America! America!

God shed His grace on thee,

And crown thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Citizenship test day

Today I got to take the day off work to go to my US citizenship test.  It was pretty quick and easy (much better than the experience when I first got my green card 12 years ago), and my oath ceremony is next Wednesday November the 9th.

I had to study 100 questions, and you have to get 6 out of 10 correct.
My questions:

What is freedom of religion?

What is the ocean on the East Coast of the United States?

Name one state that borders Canada.

When must all men register for the Selective Service?

When was the Constitution written?

How many US senators are there?

I got all the questions right so I only had the 6 questions.  Also I had to write a sentence in English, my sentence was "We pay taxes."   And I had to read one sentence too.

The whole process takes a few months though, we sent all the paperwork in July I think, then last month I had an appointment for fingerprinting, this month the test, then the oath ceremony.  We have to be there at 7 in the morning so I guess the kids will be coming along too and get to go into school late that day.

If anyone is interested in the Citizenship questions I think they are good for everyone to know.  Kate is in 5th grade and she helped me study.

picture from our vacation summer 2010

Thursday, October 6, 2011

New family pictures


Very happy with how the new family pictures turned out!  If you are looking for a great photographer in the Houston area check out: