Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Our Christmas Fun...

...is not over yet! We are having Pawlik Christmas at my parents on January 4th. We thought we would drag out the holiday fun as long as possible.
I did want to post a few memories of the last week both here and in Pecos. And we did manage to squeeze a couple of hours in Austin, too, for lunch Christmas Day.
Be prepared for an insane amount of photos. I am wondering if you all must think we just sit around and take photos of ourselves. Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.

We had a nice, quiet Christmas Eve here at home. We had our traditional (okay, second annual) brisket, baked potatoes and roasted asparagus followed by Christmas cookies and chocolate milk while opening presents and watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
The boys were excited about the fun presents from Gary & Hollye and Great Grandma & Grandpa Dominguez. We also started a new tradition to give each one of them a nice book on Christmas Eve. This year Benjamin got How Do Dinosaurs Go to School (he already has a couple of these and loves them) and Jonathan got You are My Miracle.

Benjamin opening the Children's Animal Encyclopedia from Gary & Hollye.
Thank you both! He loves it and can't put it down!

Jonathan opening his Disney Bedtime Favorites book from Gary & Hollye-- a big hit!
They also got bicycle helmets from mom and dad. Safety is always a super fun gift, ya know?

After the boys were tucked in
(and blocked with the child gate to keeping the peeping Toms at bay),
"Santa" went straight to work

The goodies awaiting the early birds.

Benjamin's big entrance and first peek at what Jolly Old St. Nick left him.
He insisted on wearing the hat...as did his brother (below).

Jonathan's big debut.

The artist...hard at work.

Hooray for Christmas morning!
Notice how Jonathan polished off the half a cookie Santa left behind!
I hope Santa didn't have any germs.

Around lunch time, we headed to Austin to meet my brothers and their families for Christmas dinner. My oldest brother started a tradition several years ago of taking whoever is able to join him to lunch on Christmas day. It is great when we are able to join everyone. He usually scopes it out a month or so ahead of time to find out which hotel or restaurant is open and having a tasty Christmas dinner! It's great because we can all see each other and no one has to cook! Thanks for always doing this, Bud! We appreciate it.

Me, Amanda and Amber, (two of my neices).

My brother Dale and his family: (l-r), Isaac, Lisa, Amanda, Amber and Dale.

My brother Mike and his family: (l-r), Mike, Keaton, Cherie and Kayla

Austin and Andrea...two of my brother Bud's family. Bud's son, Aaron was unable to join us. He and his family live in Florida and they are expecting their second daughter. Rachelle is super preggers and can't travel at this point.

My oldest brother, Bud...the mastermind behind the Christmas Day dinners.

On the 26th, we travelled out to Pecos to Fa la la la la with the Dominguez crew. We had a couple of super fun-filled days. Our group is expanding with two new little guys this year. Sam and Arly added baby Nathan to the family and Daniel and Syndi added their fourth, Everet. It was super fun to have little babies around this year. Benjamin and Jonathan had a fun time with all of their cousins.
Here is the whole gang at David's parent's house:

(l-r ish): Sam, Arly (holding Nathan), David, me, Benjamin, Jonathan, Elena, Eli, Grandpa Fred, Syndi (holding Everet), Grandma Nyla, Daniel and Ema.

Every family has a clown.

Ema pulling Eli, Elena and Benjamin around Great Grandma & Grandpa Forrister's house (where a bunch of us bunked for the nights). That piano got worn out with little fingers all weekend.

Grandma Nyla has the most fun ornaments...
even the Oscar Meyer Weiner ornament plays a tune.
Can you guess what it plays?

Jonathan unwrapping a little fun!

Sam, Arly & Nathan.

Grandma and the babies.

I thought this was pretty precious.
Grandma & Grandpa gave the older kiddos Bibles for Christmas.
They were already deep into the Word!

Jonathan loved those babies!

What a non-napping day can lead to at 6 pm!

The breakfast makers-extrodinaire!
David's grandparents cooked a big breakfast both mornings we were there.
We felt very well taken care of! Aren't they the cutest?

Grandpa and David on Sunday morning.

All in all...a success. Fun times with family. More to come next weekend!

Monday, December 29, 2008

New Year, New Look, New NAME!

Okay, so a new blog look for me isn't exactly a big deal...I change blog looks like I change hairstyles. But the name....let me tell you about it.
El Rancho Dominguez....is for my dad. Happy 73rd Birthday, Dad...that's right; it's for you.
A little over five years ago, we built on a small section of fence to our house in Muleshoe. My dad came up to oversee this project. Or, basically, let us help him with it, since we didn't have much of a clue what we were doing. On the gate of this section of fence, my dad wanted to add this little hacienda-looking-overhead-thing-a-ma-jig. And he did. And we thought it was great. He also wanted to add the words El Rancho Dominguez to it. But, the conservative side of us just couldn't go there. And my mom was saying in the background..."Oh, Al."
So El Rancho Dominguez was put to rest.
Until now. I have longed for a catchy blog title for awhile. I tried 3 Men and a Lady, but always felt the need to add all four of our pics to the header. And creatively, I can't be contained like that. I am just not wired that way. Hehe.
I have always loved my friend, Becky's blog title...Casita de Alaniz. It is so fun. And so them. And I thought, wouldn't it be great if we had a name that would work out with a catchy title like that? Hmmm, that's funny. We do!
So, El Rancho Dominguez has been resurrected. It is about the only ethnic thing about us...sad huh? That, and David does actually speak fluent Spanish....he learned it in school! And even taught it at the high school level, too. I just added that part to brag on him.

So...Happy Birthday, Pops. This blog's for you.

..and the music's just for fun!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Late Tag...

I think I am procrastinating with uploading the 230+ photos on our camera from Christmas festivities.
I thought I would at least re-enter the blogging world with a tag from my friend, Wendy...

8 Favorite Restaurants...
1. Chipotle
2. Luby's
3. Mi Tierra
4. Cheesecake Factory
5. Rosa's
6. Storm's
7. The Bluebonnet Cafe
8. Cheddar's 

8 Things that Happened Today...
1. David's grandparents fixed us a yummy breakfast
2. Hugged all of the Dominguez family
3. Drove eight hours home
4. Found Hershey's Cinnamon Chips (a hot commodity that is hard to find!)
5. I spent over an hour on the phone with Amanda and we still didn't manage to solve all of the problems of the world.
6. Laughed when Benjamin said, "This is not good for my image."
7. Enjoyed a new Subway flatbread sandwich. Yum.
8. Played with the Little Einstein characters from the Pat-a-Pat Rocket.

8 Things I Look Forward to...
1. Seeing Deborah this week.
2. My mom being 100% back to normal.
3. Another week off.
4. Using my cinnamon chips in a cookie recipe.
5. Celebrating New Year's Eve at Casita de Alaniz.
6. Watching my new Mamma Mia DVD in its entirety...as opposed to bits and pieces on the boys' portable DVD player in the car while they napped!
7. Spending my gift cards from Christmas!
8. Christmas at my parents' house...in January!

8 Things I am Scared of...
1. The loss of people I am close to.
2. The stomach bug. (Just being honest!)
3. Being in a serious car wreck. (Or any family member being in one)
4. My kids growing up too fast.
5. Being overwhelmed by my "jobs".
6. The end of the holiday break...haha.
7. Being the victim of a violent crime.
8. Change.  

8 Things I Wish For...
1. Contentment
2. Uninterrupted sleep
3. My children to grow in their love of the Lord
4. A great week
5. A date with my husband
6. Unlimited energy
7. A maid
8. A love of low-calorie foods and a distaste for high-calorie ones. 

8 Things I Watch on TV...
1. Forensic Files (watching it right now!)
2. The Biggest Loser (tapping my fingers impatiently for the next season)
3. The Today Show
4. Jon & Kate + 8
5. Friends Reruns
6. House Hunters
7. Clean House
8. The Office

8 People I Tag...
1. Beth
2. Syndi
3. Shellie
4. Tommie
5. Lori
6. Summer
7. DeeDee
8. Tori

Friday, December 19, 2008


Did you hear that? It is a big sigh of relief. Preschool is officially out until January 6th : ). I love teaching preschool, but have really been looking forward to this long break. And to actually start getting our own Christmas together. The last week or so has been spent putting together school parties, teacher gifts, student gifts, staff gifts for David's office and just about everything in between. And 3 out of 4 of us have a yucky cold. But....ahhhhh.
I am so behind on our own "stuff" that it is a bit overwhelming. I have never been this late on my shopping (yes, I still have a lot of shopping to do). I need to bake. I haven't sent out our cards (they are en route from the printer at least). I really want to put together a gingerbread house with Benjamin and Jonathan. I am way overdue on a haircut and an oil change. And we could all use a visit to see my mom now that she is home!
But...ahhhh. I am still just excited to have time for ourselves.
Today was "party day" and we all had so much fun. Benjamin's class even watched The Polar Express so he was thrilled about that. My class had a major sugar-overload since parents combined 3 birthdays with our Christmas party today....brownies, cookies, Rice Krispy treats and cupcakes. I am so glad we partied at the end of the day. I sent them home loaded up on sugar and giggles. But, it was great.
In other news...
I have been meaning to post these photos for quite sometime. Actually, I used several from that day in our cards, so I wanted to see what I used on the card so I wouldn't post it on here before sending them out. I am weird that way. And if you understood any of that sentence, you may be weird, too.
We have a sweet friend, Melissa, who is super talented and was so kind to take our family photos on the UMHB campus a few weeks ago. Bless her heart, she didn't realize how much she had her work cut out for her with Jonathan. He can only be described as an absolute mess that day. Meltdown after meltdown, we certainly kept Melissa on her toes. The only thing he wanted to do was sit on the big antique tractor and "drive"...so he did and we got some great photos of that. But, when we tried to take others, well, he just didn't want much to do with it. Melissa's talent was still able to get us some cherished photos that we just love. Here are just a few from that day:

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The BooMama Tour!

Welcome, friends, family and BooMama Guests! We are so delighted to open our doors to you this Christmas Season. Oh, what's that? You can't make it to the Open House because you are blog hopping in your PJs? Never fear...this is a virtual open house! Sit back, grab a cup of coffee and feel free to mingle. Leave the treats up to us. You'll get a snack at the end.
If you have visited our blog before, you are probably wondering what on earth is this? We are participating in the 2008 Boo Mama Christmas Tour of Homes. If you are new to our little blog sweet blog, perhaps via Boo Mama...welcome!
This little tour makes us happy for a couple of reasons, one being that you can come on in for a visit. The other is that my mom can now see the Christmas decor she likes to come over and see every year (she's nice like that). Now, she can see it from the comfort of her own home...that's right, she came home from St. David's yesterday and is recuperating nicely! What a wonderful Christmas blessing for us all! So, Mom....welcome back to our home, too!

Let's get started, shall we?

Come on in!

When you enter our home, my husband put together a little Christmas spirit on our entry way table. Yes, that's right-- David did it! He had the entry way last year and took it on again. Kuddos, Hubs!

Step on into the living area and have a seat. Yes, you're right: there are no presents under the tree, yet. We have little boys...and let's just leave it at that. Presents don't appear until Christmas Eve around these parts...for fear of mass destruction.

And following the Boo Mama guidelines, I have included my favorite holiday collection: Santa pictures of my boys. There's one for every year since they were born. This is my favorite spot in our house during the holiday season. The furniture in this photo is very sentimental and has been in my family for awhile. I am pretty sure that mirror is a bit older than me! This year I hung a wreath on it instead of my usual garland. Hope I won't get kicked out of the family for breaking that tradition. Here's a better view of my yearly keepsakes:

The tall one in the back is our oldest son as an infant meeting Santa in Lubbock. This year's photo was a little mug-shot-esque, but oh well. Makes for a good laugh down the road. The little Santa toy was mine when I was a child. I was a little mortified when I saw an identical one in an antique store recently. I'm not that old...am I?

Another favorite spot...the sign reads: Tiny Tots with Their Eyes all Aglow. These are the one-year photos of both of our boys. And these are the stockings Santa fills up. The ones on our mantel are actually metal and more of a pretty-pretty as we call them around here. A pretty-pretty can also be interpreted as a no-no.

This is our room. And our stockings...hung by the chimney with care. Actually, there's no real chimney here. This is a faux-fireplace from our previous home that was fireplace-free. It was just kind of fun to have, so I won't part with it!

A little extra fluff in for the dining room.

In the kitchen are my Christmas plates...which were only $1 each! I place them in front of the plates that sit in this plate rack year-round. It's some $3 Christmas cheer!

And onto another bargain...also in my kitchen, actually the breakfast area to be specific. The Dept. 56 Houses which I absolutely adore aren't exactly in our budget at this time, but I found some cheapies that sure bring a smile to my boys' faces. I buy a couple of these at Walgreens every year-- that's right...Walgreens! When I started buying them, they were only $5, this year they were $6.99. But that still can't be beat, if you ask me. The tree in the back corner was my mom's and she quit putting it out a few years ago (she's started scaling back the last few years). It was always one of my favorites as a child, so she gave it to me last year.

Here's a close-up of my crazy bargain village. Or as the boys call them..."the houses." They have even made friends with the Village people. Haha.

While we are still hanging around the kitchen...let's talk about that snack, shall we? We would love for you to try one of our favorite Christmas cookies that we have baked for the past few years...

Red & Green Pinwheels
And, of course, we will follow the rules and share the recipe! But, we can't take credit...we didn't invent the Red & Green Pinwheel. They came from an old issue of Taste of Home. I first saw them at a friend's house in Muleshoe and realized I had the same magazine. I baked them the next day and the rest is history!

Red & Green Pinwheels:
1 1/4 cups butter, softened
1 cup packed brown suger
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Red & green gel food coloring (try to find the red gel without the awful after-taste)
1 square (1 ounce) unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled

In large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture. Divide dough into fourths. Tint one portion red and one portion green. Leave one portion alone and add chocolate to fourth. Set aside these two portions (in the refrigerator) for another cookie (see below).
Divide the red and green portions in half. Roll out each portion between waxed paper into a 9 in. x 6 in. rectangle. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Remove waxed paper. Place one green rectangle over a red one and roll up tightly—jelly roll style. Chill at least two hours.
Unwrap and cut into 1/4 inch slices. Place one inch apart of ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375 for 9-11 minutes or until set. Remove to wire racks to cool.

The dough can also be used for Checkerboards, too:

Well, thanks a heap for stopping by our home. It was lovely having you. And to you and yours...Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

This is Mule Country!

Congratulations to the Muleshoe Mules, State 2A Football Champs!

Muleshoe defeated Kirbyville this evening by a score of 48 - 26 to take the title.

To all our panhandler friends: Congrats! Y'all deserve it, and remember there is a little piece of Mule country down here in Central Texas!

How 'bout them Mules!

"How 'bout them Mules!"

We wish the best of luck to the varsity Muleshoe Mules football team. What a season it has been for them! They have gone undefeated, 14-0, and have advanced all the way to the Texas 2A State Championship Game, today at 6pm, vs. Kirbyville. No Mules football team has ever advanced this far!

Muleshoe is a special place to us, and always will be. Lots of great people, and many fond memories from our four years there.

Win or lose, we love ya!

Go Mules!


Monday, December 08, 2008

Movie Monday-- Holiday Edition!

"Here we only have one rule...never, ever let it cool!"

Mondays are full of all sorts of mayhem around here. We are in Waco most of the day at Camp Hope. We make our obligatory stop at Chick-fil-A, head home and hope that the little one stays awake until we get back home. Then I breathe a little sigh of relief as I lay him down and tip toe out of his room.
Since Benjamin no longer takes major naps of any sort, the rule is that he has "quiet time". He can either play quietly in his room (usually he reads) or his favorite treat-- watch a movie.
I felt like today he really needed some "Mom Time", one on one. So we snuggled up together to watch our favorite Christmas kid flick...The Polar Express. Benjamin always loves to mimic the hot chocolate dancers and runs around pretending to throw coffee cups into the air.
From our home to yours, a little hot chocolate for your viewing pleasure:

We are big holiday movie watchers around here. They all have special meanings to us and bring us great warmth and memories this time of the year. A few more of our faves and why they are so special:

It's a Wonderful Life
Love, love, love it. We watch it several times during the season. We saw it at Abilene's historic Paramount Theater shortly after we got married. It has been our favorite ever since.

White Christmas
"Sisters, Sisters"...we can't watch this without thinking of the Hootens. They gave us the copy we watch every year (usually on Christmas Eve). It just puts a huge smile on our face.

Family Man
We kick off the season with this one and watch it the weekend attached to Thanksgiving. It is hard to find, but if you've ever seen it you know it's great. It makes us so thankful for one another.

What are your favorite Christmas movies?

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Just An Update of Sorts

Whew. What a wild week it has been. We are so blessed by all of you. Thank you for all the sweet comments, emails, calls and cards to check on us and especially my mom. And a big ol' hug to two very special friends who prepared meals for my dad's freezer. He is already eating on them tonight! When I called him the other night, he was indeed, eating chicken. I am glad we have stocked him up with some wonderful alternatives. And a few dozen chickens are thanking us, too.
We went and saw my mom at her new digs today, the St. David's Rehabilitation Hospital in downtown Austin. She was in great spirits. She had requested a few days to get settled in before having any visitors, so it was great to see her feeling so good again. She even stood up for us for a minute! Benjamin was very impressed with her wheels. I am hoping he doesn't ask Santa for a set of his own. His list is already getting a bit long!
The center is a shared room facility which she was not happy about at first, until she met her roomie-- a BINGO buddy from the place they play. What luck. This would only happen to her. She said that she keeps getting reports that the whole BINGO hall is all abuzz about her and Jean being roomies at St. David's.
This week the boys and I will probably head over to Marble Falls to help my dad get the house decorated for Christmas. He really wants it to be decked out when mom is finally able to come back home. I can type this on here since she can't check my blog these days.
I am still working on cards like crazy-- this week was a busy one, which totally puts a smile on my face! I couldn't believe the amount of orders that rolled in Wednesday through Friday alone! I feel so blessed by all of the support! Holy moly, my computer has been smokin' and will be taking a short break tonight. I really wish I had done this sooner, it is so much fun. Although, once again, I am a little behind on the rest of our life...the 365, cooking meals for my family and laundry have all taken a major hit lately. And I am pretty sure the earliest I have gotten to bed in the last 12 days was 12:30! But, I couldn't be more delighted that I am finally doing something I love so very much. It will all level out in time.
A few photos of the last week...

Jonathan was a huge help with setting up the tree...on top of the box.

Hmmm...now that I think about it, I was a pretty big help myself. Notice the shoes in the bottom left? Ah, yes, propped on the ottoman ready to lend a big hand. In my defense, I let the boys do all the mechanical stuff and I do the actual "trimming" of the tree. I am waiting to take any holiday decor shots until the big Boo Mama Open House on the 15th. I am excited to participate this year! Well, okay, I guess the shot below does contain a bit of our decor. But the real reason I am posting it is to show you the number one reason I will not be....

the 2008 Mother of the Year. Yes, here they are Wednesday morning helping themselves to cereal while I ran to the computer to check on orders. They managed to get the cereal out of the pantry (why I put it on their level I do not know), take it to the living room, turn on the television, and dump the cereal EVERYWHERE! As you can clearly see, Jonathan is wallowing around in it like a pig in the mud. I am sure you are all picking up your phones to dial CPS on me, but for the record, I usually fix breakfast before doing anything else! This is the first time this has happened. Usually we eat at the table. With bowls and spoons. This week has just been an exception with the amount of orders that came in. (Click on the photo to make it larger for a laugh).

Hope your holidays are as wild and crazy (and fun) as ours have started out!