Because it is the week of Christmas, and because all of us are busy decking halls and spreading cheer, and because I am supposed to be at my mother-in-law's for family Christmas in an hour yet we are all still in pajamas with 3 gifts left to wrap, I am going to share with you all the recipe that I just whipped out to take today.  At my m-i-l's it is just a given that she does all the "for real food" cooking.  I'm not sure why the rest of us don't help her, but it's just how it is.  The sun rises in the east, Sandra makes the ham.  Fact.  But we daughters do all bring the desserts and snacky stuff that we eat all day while opening presents and playing cards and doing crafts and whatever.  And of course I hadn't done anything as of 30 minutes ago.  So I quickly just made up a batch of this popcorn/m&m treat stuff that I actually learned about from Sandra (or maybe one of Aaron's sisters - I can't remember) because it is so fast and easy (but a tad bit messy).  Many of you may already know this recipe, but for the few of you that don't - you are welcome.

    First you will need the following - Popcorn (plain or low fat.  you don't want it flavored or too buttery),  White almond bark (this is a Christmas recipe.  of course you need almond bark), M&M's (because they're nummy), and Crisco (because no matter what Dr. Oz says, crisco is your friend.  it can love you when no one else does)
    First thing you need to do is pop the popcorn.  I forgot to take a picture of this, but honestly if you need a picture of that happening, then this recipe is probably too advanced for you anyway.  So is grilled cheese and boiling eggs.  The next thing you need to do is locate the largest bowl you have access to.  Mostly because it makes stirring the mix easier.  But also because the bigger the bowl - the more you can make.  The more you can make - the more you can eat.  It's simple math my friends.  Knowledge is power.  Pop the corn and put it in the bowl, making sure to not get all the kernels in it.  Kernels a bummer.
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It helps the flavor of the snack if you are listening to Christmas music on your iPad in the background. I don't know how. It just does.
Next melt a package of while almond bark according to package directions, but add a tablespoon-ish of crisco because it makes life better.  Amen.
When it's all melty and fabulous, pour it over two, two and a half-ish bags of popcorn and then pour M&Ms in and listen to the heavens sing.  Stir is all up and thank yourself for going to all this trouble.
When it's all mixed up and well coated, spread it on cookie sheets lined with waxed paper to harden.  Make sure (and this is critical) that there is a child nearby looking weird and eating popcorn for breakfast because you are an awesome mother.
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oooooo, aaaaaahh. mmmmmm.
Finally, once it's hardened, break it in to pieces, put it in one of your many Christmas tins that you own because you're a hoarder in training, forget to take a picture of it, wipe all the almond bark off your camera, blog about it, make your husband mad because you're not hurrying and are going to be late for Christmas, and run around like a nut because it's the holidays and that's what you do.  Hope you enjoy this simple, last minute treat as much as we do.  Merry Christmas!!
 
    I'm sorry friends, but I've been suffering from a severe case of writer's block lately.  Well, writer's block and the stomach virus, but there are so few details of that situation you would want to know about that I'm am choosing to leave it to the imagination.  Let's just say that it was me and the three kids here because poor husband is doing some fairly serious, can't miss, type audits at work right now, and since that's what pays the bills and all - my girl basically had free range of the house for a whole day.  And I had to call poison control.  Again.  We are literally on file.  Literally.  They can now pull her up using my phone number.  For serious.  This time it was a fairly large quantity of children's ibuprofin that I swear to you was closed.  With the child proof cap.  Honestly she is a Houdini.   

    So in a week I have only written once, and I was so disappointed in it's content that I didn't even link it to facebook because I thought it was lame-o.  If you haven't read it, don't waste your time.  Here are the cliff notes.  I stay up too late at night and see a lot of commercials for completely ridiculous things. Destruct-o-girl was sick all weekend, I don't give medicine for fever because I am evil, I took her to the movies while sick with no medicine because I thought she would actually be still, she vomitted all over creation.  Do you see how that could make for a lame story?

    But tonight my friends, I am actually kind of excited about this post.  "Why Cassie?"  you might ask.  Well, it is because I feel as if it is my duty in life to make you feel better about all of your "fails".  Those times you plan with the best intentions but they go all haywire.  Take Christmas card photos for example.  Everyone wants a fabulous picture of their cute little family to show how happy and lovely you are.  Problem is - we all know the truth.  Christmas card pics are awful no matter how you slice it.  Usually everyone is dressed "matchy" and in something that makes at least on person itch, the sun is always in someone's eyes, and heaven knows there is no way you are getting everyone to look forward at the same time.  Our family, in fact, attempted to take a card worthy photo, not once, not twice, but on three different occasions.  And while you are about to see three different and adorable sets of coordinating outfits on my weirdo, fantastic offspring, please know that my facebook status after round two read a little something like this -

        So tonight I attempted to take a Christmas card photo of my kids. Epic fail. It ended with me screaming, all three kids crying, and D trying to shove her whole head into a sandwich sized ziplock bag just to prove to me how mad she was - if that tells you anything about how awful it went
ROUND 1
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At this point the kids had already done card photos with Aaron's parents with all 10 grandkids, ages 9 and under (you can only imagine what a trick that is) and then pics with Aaron's grandfather. So by now Turnanator is mad that we won't let him go inside to play video games and take that heinous (to him) sweater vest off, and Destruct-o-girl has, unbeknownst to us at the time, adopted her new go-to monkey face for all photos.
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And now we discover the monkey face. Honestly if Aaron would have been looking up at all, this would have been our Christmas card pic this year because I feel like this is the most accurate depiction of our family I have ever seen. That and because I think I look naturally fabulous for a chunky girl in this shot. I'm just sayin'.
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And now we've reached critical mass. Even though three of us looked good, the two smallest were doneski. Not happening. Ova.
ROUND 2
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Just because someone said it was a great idea on pinterest, does not make it a good idea for you. Especially if you have no idea how to use your camera except on auto.
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"Oh I know kids! Let's go outside at 8 o'clock at night when your daddy is still not home to help and while it is no more than 38 degrees Farenheit and you have no jackets on to take a picture standing in the middle of this giant wreath that you can barely hold up! It will be great"
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"Oh I know kids! I'll change the setting of my camera from auto to something else and see what happens! My my Turnanator, what a large nose you seem to have all of a sudden."
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This is about 59 photos in and 37 seconds before the tears and sandwich bag incident. At this point we were frozen solid.
ROUND 3
This is the final, and most successful round of pictures - mostly because we chose a better time and went back to everyone's favorite, the big swing.  But I do feel that I need to be completely honest about the situation.  Before we ever got started, I was going to give the kids a big push so Aaron could take some fun shots and...................................
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I pulled it back too far in the air and dumped my girl face first on the ground.
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Luckily she took it well.
But finally, FINALLY we got a half decent shot and decided to stop while we were ahead.  No one had tried to suffocate themselves yet that day.  So even though many of you will get this in the mail some time between now and Christmas (probably a whole day or two beforehand) and even though I cropped and edited it and now Super G has a weird shadow on his leg that kind of makes it look like he wet his pants (I promise he did not.  I would have blogged about it.), here it is in all of it's glory. 
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Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from our family to yours!! (and that my friends is the best we could do)
 
    So I have had grand plans of sitting down and blogging something cute and genius all day.  Well for two days actually.  But every time I think I'm going to have a minute something happens, like Destruct-o-girl wakes up early from her nap, or the insulation guy comes by to give me a quote, or I get hungry and eat leftover chili and leaf shaped cookies covered in icing.  See what I'm saying?  I'm like swamped over here.  Then I planned on typing something deep and moving tonight.  But then Aaron walked in and said, "let's stay up and watch the CMAs since you recorded it".  Well ok.  So the point is - I'm not putting much on here tonight.  However, I do feel really convicted about what I'm about to say - so listen up.  Or don't.  I'm not there to watch you, so I guess it doesn't matter either way.

    I joined Junior Auxillary this year here in our town, and to be honest with you I was nervous about it.  I don't know why.  I have weird social disorders that cause me to sweat profusely and twitch when I am in a large group of women.  I was freaked out by the fact that this is a small town and most of these women grew up together and have been friends since they were like six days old and saw each other's childhood bedrooms at sleepovers and are still friends that hang out on the weekends.  I knew like three of them, so after the first meeting I left thinking that we were going to have to move so I could get out of it without having to quit for no reason, because  I was having an anxiety attack over it all.  But I decided to actually give it a chance and it turns out, I'm a completely dramatic dork with some deep rooted issues left over from high school's complex social order and it's impact on me as an unathletic, plump, overachiever.  Being in Junior Auxillary is not bad at all.  In fact, it has turned out to be a really great way to meet a lot of really nice women and work for a super worth cause.  (wow, that was a lot of adjectives and adverbs and superlative type words in one sentence)  And the cause is what I wanted to talk about tonight. (not the sweating disorder.  I don't now how I ended up there.  Anyways.....)

    On Monday night, we put up our Angel Tree.  I'm sure most of you know what that is because there are so many progams just like it all over the country.  But in case you don't, Angel Tree is a program through which Junior Auxillary selects (with help from referals) children in our county that may be in need and matches them with people who would love to help.  We put together the list, place each child's information on an "angel" ornament, and hang them on a tree in our Walmart and one of our local banks.  People come and pick an angel off the tree, shop for him or her, and deliver the presents to the building where we will distribute them.  I have seen this tree so many times before, and can I honestly tell you that it has never seriously crossed my mind to even put forth the effort to walk across the front of the store and pick one up to read?  Well this week I had my first introduction to some of these kids and their wish lists.

__________ is a 3 year old girl.  She wears size (bla bla bla).  She would like a doll and some doll clothes for Christmas but what she really needs is panties and socks and shoes.

    When I read this, the only thought I had was "seriously, my children can't even come up with a list for Santa because they have so much stuff, and this little girl needs panties and socks".  Panties and  socks.  Does that give you any type of perspective about some of these kids and their needs?  The more angels I read, the more I wanted to take them all.  Obviously I can't do that, but I can get on here and encourage you to pick one off the tree the next time you go to Walmart.  So that's what I'm doing tonight.  I'm pleading with you to get an angel from the tree.  And if you don't live here in my town (which many of you don't) then just pick a cause - any cause.  We all know there are tons of worthy ones available especially during the holiday season.  Get involved.  Go shopping for a kid in need and take your kids - I hope it does mine a lot of good to shop for someone besides themselves for a change.  Donate to or work at a food pantry.  Our church has one and it is astounding to me the amount of hungry people here in my own town.  Do something!  It's good for them and it's even better for you!!  

    I know it's easy to get caught up in your busy schedules and family meals and Santa shopping and cheer spreading and hall decking this time of year, but if you make time for nothing else extra - please make time for a child in need.  No matter what the circumstances are in that child's life that bring him or her to you, it is never his or her fault that they need help.  So be that someone.   Make a difference this year!

Love ya' because you are all downright awesome, 
Cassie