Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas gifts

Tonight we opened our Christmas gifts.
I really enjoyed this special family time because it was fun to see the reactions of the girls and to be focused on them and each other. It was so nice.
The girls enjoyed their toys and books. The big hitters were the rainbow color Aqua Doodle for S and the Crayola Creative Center for M.
S really liked the Aqua Doodle although I think she thought the purpose was to wet the entire mat to get the rainbow colors to show. M loved the creative center, which had its own Aqua Doodle as well as a mess-free finger paint area.
I received the entire DVD collections of Angel and Buffy as well as scrap booking stickers, a Veggie Tales movie and a book!! C got a jacket, sweatshirt, the entire X-Files DVD collection and a Bad Cat calendar.
The calendar was S's pick, which was so sweet because when she was about 1, I'd gotten C one of those calendars and he and S would laugh and laugh at the silly looking cats. She loved them! So to see her pick it out for him just made me wonder if she recalled that time. I am sure C and the girls will have loads of fun with the latest Bad Cats.

Friday, December 19, 2008

It's winter already!

I don't care what the calendar says.....it's winter!!
Yes, we are still in autumn. But, seriously, we just had the 4th major winter snow storm. We got about 6 inches of snow, half of what they got in the southeastern part of the state!!
So I say winter is here right now and here to stay!!
It's sad that I am already dreaming about spring, feeling a bit of spring fever. That's going to make for a long winter!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Stressed out?

Are you feeling tied up in the tinsel right about now??

Stop reading and listen to the first song on my play list, which starts playing when you you enter my blog. It's Relient K's "I Celebrate the Day."













There....now do you feel better? Did the words soothe you? Move you?

I know I can't help tearing up whenever I hear that song. I let the words fill me and everything, all the lists and expectations I have, melt away and I can focus on the true meaning of the season.

Wanted: kid friendly check-out lines

Note to self: Do not go Christmas shopping a week before Christmas.
Or at least go alone, no kids in tow.
I had to run to Barnes and Noble today to return a Christmas gift and get something else. I was greeted by a crowded store and long check-out line.
I am glad I had the foresight to call the day before to ask about the new item and to get it put on hold. I knew I'd have the girls with me. And I knew the item I wanted to get was in the Children's Section, right behind the train table.
I so did not want to have to battle with M about leaving the train table/store, which is why I called about the book and, praise God, was told that hold items are at the front of the store, at the check-outs!
So we pulled into the parking lot, which was jammed packed! My heart dropped at the thought of walking in there with the girls. But I prayed that it would be a quick trip.
Yeah.....
The check-out line was down the center aisle!
Gulp!
So I took a deep breath and we hopped in line. Immediately, M spotted a Dora book two rows down and wanted to get it. I thought, here we go. How can I keep her in line with me?
I briefly thought about getting her stroller but 1) the check-out line is kinda narrow and surrounded, SURROUNDED, by all sorts of displays and stuff! And 2) I could picture M having a fit at being in her stroller, while being surrounded by all that stuff. I could just here "Mommy! Out! Mommy! Mommy! Out, Mommy!"
So, for the sake of trying to get this task done and over with, I decided we'd brave the line stroller-less.
I felt like I needed 10 hands in that line, which, thankfully moved at a steady pace. M grabbed at books, a box of greeting cards and other items. The lady behind us was very understanding. The guy in front of us was understanding too, as he told me "She reminds me of my 2 year old."
Eventually M settled on holding two small stuffed bears that are meant to hold gift cards. And she grabbed a board book while I did my transaction, which I had to do while trying to keep her between me and the check-out counter so she wouldn't walk away.
I worried that we'd have a battle over returning the items she claimed but, thank God, she was OK with it and we were able to get out of the store.
One day I'd like to go into a store where there are no items at the check-out line that kids can grab at. I would be a loyal customer to that store. Yes, when we go to Wally World or such places, S has looked and played with the toys and stuff in the check-out line. But I can see where parents could have a peaceful and easy check-out experience if those items are not there at all. Surround the check-out line with tall plastic walls where small items are not tempting little hands and fueling tantrums.
I guess too I should know better to go to stores this time of year with kids in tow. I've been shopping the last couple weeks and things have not been THIS crowded/crazy at all. The reason for the chaos could be that there is a week left before Christmas. Or it could be that people are worried that with the snow storm predicted for tomorrow and the weekend they might not get to finish their shopping.
All I know is this time next year we better be done completely with shopping. No more procrastinating or waiting to get wish lists. Just get the shopping done and over with as soon as possible. Because, really, Christmas should not be about stressing over shopping and crowds. It should be about reflecting on the birth of Christ and keeping our eyes fixed on the true meaning of Christmas.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

P&G Bonus coupn book

I was surprised to learn how many P&G (Procter and Gamble) products I purchase for our family.
Prior to a couple days ago, I didn't really give it a thought as to what company makes our products.
But last week P&G announced that if you purchase $50 worth of products, you can get a coupon book with $120 worth of P&G coupons.
For more information, check out http://www.pgeverydaysolutions.com/pgeds/en_US/jsp/EDS_Page.jsp?pageID=Year-of-Savings
So I figured, why not? Well, in the last two days, I have completed that goal with little effort. I did not realize the things I put in my shopping cart are P&G products. After glancing at their list of products, I was amazed at the things I purchased in two days alone. I did make it a point to buy a few P&G products, given a recent P&G Savings Insert in the Sunday paper. But I never imagined that I'd already accomplish the $50 goal in a short amount of time.
Pretty cool! Now I can send in the required information and await my coupon book.

Dental appointment

Yesterday S visited the dentist for a cleaning. She did a super job, especially for being in a room by herself.
She wore her special sunglasses to protect her eyes from the overhead light.
The hygienist said that S did a great job throughout, even during her first ever fluoride treatment.
Thankfully, for little kids they do not use the trays with fluoride stuff in them. I gag just thinking about those trays and having to sit for a long time with those in my mouth. I do recall, though, that my childhood dentist had those hand-held water toys, where you had to push the button to do things like get the balls through the basket or make things spin. Remember those? I wish I knew what they are called. I think I recall a parent magazine doing a blip on them a year or two ago. I had considered getting one for S. I'll have to look them up.
Anyway.....instead of those trays, the hygienist rubbed the fluoride solution onto S's teeth with a Q-tip.
Now she has a brighter smile.

Talking up a storm

M's vocabulary has been growing quite a bit these last couple weeks.
I'd say she can communicate with us about 80 percent of the time. Her words are not exactly clear but we can understand to some degree. For instance, Tae-ha is "sister." Other days we are scratching our heads over a word only to go Ah-Ha! when we are later able to interpret it.
She also understands us pretty well, even though she likes to act like she doesn't a lot of the time!
She is also lots of questions, especially things like "Doing?" as in "What are you doing?" And the dreaded "why," for example, "Eat your dinner, Marie." "Why?"
Oh, the joys. And yes, joys. It is cool to hear her say words and to improve on each word as time goes on.

Little Ballerina

Earlier this week S's ballet class had a Christmas party.
Luckily, M was able to attend. She loves to see "Tae-ha" (Sister) in ballet class and she does practice some of the moves at home. So for the party, she got to be out there with the older kids and had a blast.
For the party, I dressed the girls in pretty ballet costumes. S wore the outfit from the academy's spring show of Sleeping Beauty. M wore an outfit I found at a garage sale a couple years ago. It is a homemade costume with sequence and a frilly tutu. She looked precious. And she wore S's old ballet slippers.
M had fun being part of the class, although at one point, the bigger girls from the class next door came to join the little ones, which made for a chaotic time! A few times M rushed to my side for a break. But for the most part, she held her own, especially during musical chairs, while the bigger girls ran around.
I can see now that she will probably want to participate in future classes. Thankfully our normal class has consisted of a couple other girls so Miss Beth might not mind if M can't be contained because she wants to participate.
Either that or M and I make a special visit next door to The Mom and Pop Place while sister is in class! We'll see how it turns out when classes resume in January.

A reminder

This time of year can be a hectic time for many. I've found myself swept up somewhat with last minute shopping.
But, let us not forget the reason for this season:

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. – Luke 2:8-14 (KJV)

With all the shopping, baking, wrapping, holiday cards, etc. let us take a moment to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.
Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Speaking of preschool

This is S's last week at preschool. The next two days will be normal school days but on Friday they are having a graduation ceremony complete with a slide show of what they did over the last four weeks.
S really loves preschool! I am glad we were able to participate this semester. My hope is to get her involved next semester, which, we've been told, will be a longer class (basically two periods).
But we will see what our schedule permits. Right now I am hoping to find an activity or two for M for this winter. S will still be in ballet and will possibly do a weekend art class in February but we need something for M. Maybe swimming at the Y, although I cringe at the thought of being in a bathing suit! Yikes! But it's not for me....it would be for her.
Also, the Family Resource Center announced its winter schedule so I think we might do a Monday play group. And I believe our parks and recreation department is offering a tumbling class so I'll maybe look into that.
With those options, we are bound to find something for M.

Winter Break

Today is the start of our homeschooling winter break.
To be honest, I had forgotten about that we had scheduled one. If you had reminded me about it a couple weeks ago, I would have said that we were going to continue our homeschooling, with a small break while we travel for Christmas.
Well......that was BEFORE Christmas shopping (ugh!) crept up on me. I now face a mountain of odds and ends that need to be done.
So I welcome the break!!! And, to be honest, the last couple weeks have not been as strong or focused given that I chose to let us ease up a little given that S was attending preschool three days a week. We'd still have a couple days focused on the core curriculum but on the off days, I let preschool be the main focus. I'd just offer workbooks and theme related books on those days.
But last week was especially difficult for homeschooling. Any free time we had in the mornings (either before or after preschool) were spent on shopping and running a ton of errands, etc.
So by the time we'd get home in the early afternoon, there would be time enough for lunch and/or to get the girls down for a nap.
I will probably still offer workbooks, especially if I put M down for a nap first. But it's nice to know we have a break so I don't have to feel guilty about missing a school day or being slack about it.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas program

Today was the Christmas Children's program at our church.
S did a fantastic job! She really enjoyed all the singing. Her petite size was a blessing, in that she got to be right up front. :)
The little kids sang "O, What a Special Night," which is a song about the animals in the stable who sang a special birthday song for Baby Jesus. Each kid got to wear headbands with felt ears. S was a cow. Our favorite part is when she does the cow movement and sound. It is so gosh darn cute!
The other song was called "Jesus Is Born," which was about how we celebrate and praise that Jesus is born.
During the program, the little kids start filing out after the first verse. But S stayed out by herself, singing as long as she could until one of her class leaders got her to join the rest of the group.
And then, on the way back down the aisle, she is clapping her hands to the song. She says she was doing it because the song told her to. :)
It was a fun time. I give a lot of credit to the Son Harbor leaders who put this together.

Another realization

While S was at her program rehearsal yesterday, M was taking it all in.
She'd seen us practicing the songs at home and even got good at doing the motions.
So it was cute to see her standing in the aisle, dancing and doing the motions along with the older kids.
But then it hit me that next year could be her year on stage with her classmates!! WOW!

Across the aisle

Every year, our church has a Christmas Children's program. Basically, the children's ministry leads the first half of church. The event includes many songs by all the kids, ages three and up.
This is S's second year and she aways as a blast!
Of course, parents dress their kids in their holiday clothes. Last year, I found a dress for S but when it came time to try it on, we discovered she'd out-grown it.
So off to the store I went Saturday morning before the program rehearsals. In the afternoon, S tried on the new dress and it was also too small! I went back to the store to return it and find something else. I found one option there but decided to check out Kohl's. There they had a selection of 2T-4T sizes. Since she apparently had grown out of 4T, I had to find a 5T, which Kohl's did not have. So I searched for the next size, which took me across the aisle, into the girls sizes!! My baby is no longer a toddler but a GIRL! She still wears 4T but she is clearly on the way to bigger sizes. I don't know if I am ready for girls fashions.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Princesses


Two princesses greeted C yesterday when he came home. The girls are wearing the costumes that came in a dress-up box S got for her birthday. M was even wearing S's old ballet slippers. While S opted for more adult footwear: high heels.


Snow pictures

The photos don't really do justice for the snow storm we had the other day. I think we got about 6 inches. The snow banks along the driveway and roads are pretty high now. But these photos are pretty enough with all the clean white snow.



Little Mommy

One of M's birthday gift was a baby doll and a bag of accessories (bottle, boxes of "rice cereal," "lotion" bottles and the like).
I am amazed at how suddenly she has turned into a little mommy. Yes, we have an assortment of baby dolls and M has played with them. But yesterday she added more to her role playing. For instance, M put her new baby doll in her (M's) crib for a nap.
And she took another baby doll and put it in her (M's) high chair at the dinner table. She then set up the boxes of food, the little food jar, the bottles and all the other accessories in front of the baby doll. She even put a couple bibs on the baby! She insisted that I feed the baby the rice cereal, even though I told M she needed her high chair back to eat lunch.


Also during her playtime yesterday M took the dress up dolls and wanted to put diapers on them. I saw her in the hallway with a diaper in one hand and the dress up doll in the other. M
went into her room, put the doll on the floor and opened the diaper. Then she got the diaper ointment to put on the doll. I saved the doll from that task but it took four diapers, and sister's help, to get a diaper on a doll.

Tonight, M did the same thing as yesterday: baby doll in the high chair, accessories laid out on the table. She even gave the dolls construction paper, maybe thinking they could color or something.

But she added a new part that made C and I look at each other, thinking, wow, she gets it!

M prayed. She sat in sister's chair and did a little prayer! Thanks to M, we pray at mealtimes. She is a little prayer warrior, but she hasn't lead a prayer. But tonight, with her doll, she said something along the lines of "Jesus. Yummy food. Amen." It was so gosh darn cute.

During our family prayer time before the girls go to bed, C asked M if she wanted to pray. She took out her Prayer Bear book and did a similar prayer to the one at the dinner table. WOW! She is so smart. So amazing! What a blessing.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Good to the last drop

OK. My last post for tonight.....
We have a few family favorites for dinner. But the one that has really been hitting home runs lately: Impossibly Easy Cheeseburger Pie.
I highly recommend it! It's super easy to make and super yummy. And you can alter is by using different seasonings or cheeses.
I started making this recipe when we lived in NC. Then I re-discovered it shortly after S was born. It's a sure hit!

Speaking of cookies....

I participated in a cookie exchange yesterday. It was set up by a local on-line mothers group. However, because of the weather, not many women showed up. There were three of us total. But it was a fun time and I got a couple different kinds of cookies to add to the peanut butter blossoms I've made.
My hope is to save all the cookies until Christmas Eve. When I was a kid, my mother used to participate in cookie exchanges with her co-workers. I remember her making dozens of cookies. And then coming back with dozens more!
But we weren't allowed to eat any until Christmas Torture!!
This year, my family will be getting together on Christmas Day in MN. So I plan to share the cookies so we can relive fond memories.

New baking tool

I have a new baking buddy....besides S, who is eager to help, from unwrapping countless Hershey kisses to adding ingredients to the mixing bowl.
I used parchment paper for the first time today and my chocolate chip cookies turned out AWESOME!!! The best cookies, ever, in my humble opinion.
I've never used parchment paper. In fact, I was pretty old school when it came to mixing cookie and other baking batters/doughs. I mixed all by hand. Rarely ever used a hand mixer.
But a couple years ago, my loving husband bought be a stand mixer and I discovered a whole new, easier, way to mix up yummy treats! Of course I really only use it for cookies and the like but I'll discover other ways to use it.
And now, I've got parchment paper to add to my baking supplies. Really I was shocked. Why I bought it in the first place, I don't know. Maybe I saw that it could be used in baking. But I think I was skeptical for a while. Then I decided to just get some on a whim. So, after all the baking I've already done, I finally pulled it out and wow! So cool! What can I bake next? Not that we need anything else for a long time. We are pretty set!

No Snow Bunny

The area got hit with a whopper of a storm. It was enough to cause the area school districts, even Appleton, to close!
As the snow fell, we stayed cozy and warm indoors. Honestly, I am not a snow bunny. I like the snow enough. I'll go out and play a little, walk in it, sled. I'd even cross country ski, if I had them.
But given the opportunity, I'd rather stay indoors where it is warm.
That's what I decided to do today. The girls got to watch some television, played games like indoor bowling and had a relaxing, no-rush day. I got a chance to get caught up on a few odds and ends. A good day in my book.
I'm sure the girls would have liked to have been outdoors. For a little bit at least.
It is a little hard to go out with M. Like many little ones, it is hard for her to maneuver around in the snow while all bundled up. And with the six or more inches we got, I can only imagine the "joyous" time we would have had. I don't think we would have lasted long outside.
The last time we got a lot of snow, we ventured out, all bundled up but poor M struggled to walk through the snow and, when some got on her gloved hand, she wanted a towel to wipe it off. Then she cried to be picked up. It was quite the workout, both of us all bundled, to hold and walk around with her.
S, on the other hand, has gotten much better playing in the snow. With that last big snowfall, she had no problems walking and running in the snow. She did not hesitate to roll a snowball, build a snow bear or lay on the ground to make a snow angel. I am sure she would have enjoyed the snow this time around as well.
Anyway, the snow was falling and blowing all morning so by the time it got decent enough to get outside, we were eating lunch, with homeschooling and naps on the afternoon agenda.
Tomorrow promises to be a clear day so I think we'll play outside when we return from preschool. In the meantime, I'll enjoy the warmth!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Bell ringing

Today the girls and I rang bells for the Salvation Army. We were joined by a couple other families from our preschool co-op.
It was a good time....in the beginning. Then, about a half hour in, S got tired of ringing the bells. And from there she was essentially done. She was tired and didn't want to get up and dance and ring the bells. That became trying. M, on the other hand, was essentially fine. Praise Him that she stayed in the grocery cart the whole time! I gave her books, both girls got snacks and our friend Amy supplied all the kids with cookie pops.
So despite S's mood, we stayed the whole 2 hours. We collected a lot of donations, although I didn't bother to take a tally of how much. Truthfully it helps to have the kids. People like seeing them ringing the bells. And, as many have told us, they are too gosh darn cute to pass by. And I know that many appreciate that we give of our time.
I am glad we stayed. I know S understands that we are helping to raise money for families in need. We talk about it all the time. How the money will help people get food or toys, even help with programs so people can have housing or heat for their home. And I think this service is good for the girls....to experience that we can help so many by giving a little of our time.
So even though S became bored, I still plan on us doing this next year and the year after and the year after. Maybe we'll have to learn more Christmas songs and practice a dance routine. She had a bell dance going in the beginning but maybe she needs to pace herself more.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Speaking of Christmas decorations

Here are pictures of the outside decorations C put up Thanksgiving weekend.






And, here are the girls with Santa. Thankfully, M did not freak out like she dd last year with the Easter Bunny. But she also calls Santa "Noah." :)

Christmas tree








We put up our Christmas trees today. Yes, trees, plural.

I decided this year to do a smaller tree just for the girls. I had a small tree, which I purchased when we lived in North Carolina. It was a tree I had on my desk at work.

In the past couple years, I'd come across it and think it would be perfect for the girls. Well, this was the year.

So the girls (well, S really. M sat with "Blue" to watch ) got to decorate it with non-breakable ornaments like Winne-the-Pooh characters I've had since childhood, things S has made over the years, even angel ornaments made a few years ago by my SIL. Their tree even has a star on it.

Then I decorated the tree in the family room with the rest of the ornaments as well as put out the stockings and other decorations around the house.




Another awesome cake!

Our friend Cat created another wonderful creation! She made Blue's Clues for M's second birthday! It was so adorable and tasty! Thank you, Cat! M loved it!
Speaking of the party, M had a fun time with her friends. The theme was Blue's Clues. I had a couple games, although they were not really necessary for 1 and 2-year-olds. The older kids enjoyed them more, especially the Find the Pawprint game. The younger kids were all about playing with the toys.

Pizza was a hit. The kids were cute, all sitting at the kiddie table, eating and talking.

M tore into all her gifts. She got a doll with accessories; Color Wonder book, coloring book and triangular crayons (so they don't roll!!); a Noisy Farm book with little animals you squeeze to hear their animal sounds; a toy ice cream kit that uses magnets to let the kids stack ice cream scoops on the cones; and a dress up set with tiara, boa and high heel shoes.

She had fun and now she can say she is 2. Today was her first day in the 2-year-old room and she was like a fish in water there. No crying, which is awesome! Such a big girl!



Saturday, December 6, 2008

Making Memories

Tonight S and I made cookies for a cookie exchange I am in. She had so much fun. I asked her if she likes making cookies and she said, yes, because she likes to help me.
Our cookie is peanut butter blossoms. She has become a pro at unwrapping the Hershey's kisses. She also likes to roll the balls of cookie dough through sugar. And then she helps put the kisses in the middle of the warm cookies.
It was a fun time. We had Christmas music on in the background and she was just so precious. What wonderful memories.
I am blessed to have a big helper. I can't wait until we get M involved!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Patriot Preschool--Week 2

S completed her second week at Patriot Preschool.
She absolutely loves it. The student teachers are great with her. I can see they enjoy the 50 minutes they have with S and the other students.
This week they covered topics like the Four Seasons and Safari Animals. Last week they made crowns for a Prince/Princess theme. They got to bring their crowns home this week so it was cute to see the kids walking down the hall wearing Burger King crowns decorated with beads, ribbons, foil and more.
The class activities consist of making a name tag, songs or rhymes or stories, a snack, a craft and they get homework to take home.
At the end of the four weeks they will have a graduation for the kids.
But, despite graduating, S can join PP next spring and up until she goes to K.
If our schedule continues to allow, I plan to keep her in the program, and get M involved when she is of age.
I think this is a wonderful program, for the kids and the student teachers.
On another schooling note, I continue to home school with S. We wrapped up N this week, with the themes of numbers and newspaper. She did a lot of number related worksheets. I also let her help put together the magnetic calendar. As for newspaper, we talked about newspapers and read a few newspaper related books: Extra! Extra! Fairytale News from Hidden Forest and Fairytale News. S enjoyed the books, especially Fairytale News, which came with a copy of the newspaper about fairytale news. She wanted to read it cover to cover!
Next week we venture into O and Outer Space. I plan to find video footage of shuttle launches. I can't wait!

Always my baby

When I was a teenager, I used to roll my eyes every time my mom called me her "baby." Puh-lease, Anna, I am a teenager. No, she'd say, you will always be my baby.
She still calls me her baby but my eyes don't roll as much.
I think it has to do with the fact that I am a mother now. I have two beautiful daughters, such blessings. I am truly humbled that God blessed me with them. And yes, they are my babies, even our oldest.
S and I had a conversation similar to one my mother and I had many years ago. I held S close, told her I loved her and that she was my baby. No, mommy, I'm not a baby, she said. She was probably 2 at the time.
That's true, I replied. You are a big girl now but you will always be my baby. No matter what.
As I said those words, I heard my mothers own words echoing in my head.
But, yes, they are my babies. I look at them, a toddler and preschooler, but I can still see them as sweet bundles just home from the hospital. How small they were. Such precious little ones that depended on us for everything. We nurtured them and they are these amazing little girls. So smart and fun.
And even though they are older, we still enjoy times to snuggle. During story time tonight, S wanted me to wrap her up like a cocoon in a blanket so I could snuggle her on my lap. As I took a little rest on the couch earlier this evening, M came into the room and wanted to "eep" with me. She also brought over a blanket and, for a few precious minutes, she snuggled next to me.
My babies. Always and forever.

The week is done

I have to say this has been a weird week. I feel like a hamster in a wheel with all sorts of odds and ends that need to be done.
But, at the same time, I feel like I have little to no motivation to do what needs to be done.
Maybe it's the weather. It's been crazy cold these past couple days. And of course the days are shorter. It's been getting dark earlier and earlier every day. Or at least it feels like it.
I feel like a hibernating animal.
But I haven't been that lazy. I am chipping away at the mountain. And I have a slew of things to do tonight to prepare for M's birthday party.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Winter Wonderland

We had another early December snow storm today. It made everything look so pretty; all the trees and houses covered in fluffy white. It goofed up the morning commute but when we ventured out, the roads were OK.
Not looking forward to the cold, frigid temperatures tomorrow though. Burr!
Stay warm, folks!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Facebook

OK. So I've got a Facebook account.
Over the years I had heard about it but never thought to get on the bandwagon. I guess I didn't understand the point of it, especially since I use e-mail most of the time.
But one day I thought, why not? Maybe I can connect again with old friends and stay in touch with other friends.
Well, even though I have an account, I don't use it a lot. I check in once in a while. I see a lot of people do a lot of weird little things, like sending Flair or other invitations. I don't follow up on those though. I'll send messages, etc. but I spend a lot of time on-line as it is that I just don't have time for all that piddly stuff.
But I do like the social connection. Tonight I connected with a new friend, who knows a very old friend I have not heard from in a long time. I look forward to reconnecting with my friend and catching up. Now that is what Facebook is all about.

Family pictures

Every year we take a family picture, in addition to the yearly birthday photos of the girls.
This year was the same. Off to Sears for our family picture.
But....well, it didn't go as well this year. After the first snap, M decided she'd had enough. She didn't cry or throw a fit but she made it clear she didn't want any more pictures taken. We were able to coax her into letting the photographer snap a few more shots but they weren't great. We did settle on one though.
Then we tried to get a picture of the girls together. But, once again, M did not want to cooperate. So that idea got ditched. Oh well. Maybe next year we'll have better luck all around.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Winter storm!

Two years ago Monday (Dec. 1), we endured a winter storm the day we welcomed M into the world. Granted, the brunt of the storm was in the southeast part of the state but we got some weather as well.
Looks like Mother Nature is blessing M's 2nd birthday with a similar coating of snow.
We are dealing with a winter storm now as I write. I hear the wind blowing so I can imagine the snow that has been falling since this afternoon is all over the place.
According to Dad, who is on the road tonight (God, please put angels around him!), the roads are slick. Weather forecasts predict we'll get 3-5 inches by tomorrow morning!!

Happy Birthday, baby!

Our little M will officially be 2 tomorrow. For a long time, I have been thinking of her as older than she really is. She is so smart. She picks up on so much so fast. She is also very independent and spirited! She gives us great joy much of the time but other times we deal with the Terrific Twos, which can be trying, to say the very least!
I love seeing how she picks up on things so quickly. She wants to grow up so fast.
But I also cherish the moments when we do snuggle together. At night, when I put her to bed, we read stories and then she wants me to "ing." Sing. So we sing a few songs. And she almost always lays in my arms, to be rocked like a baby as I sing Rock-a-bye Baby, or, as M says, Rock Baby.
I cherish those snuggle times, which do not always happen with this little one on the go.
So go, baby. Enter into your 2's with curiosity and wonder and eagerness. But, please, try not to go too far.
Happy Birthday, M.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Good to be home

Things have been pretty low-key for us this holiday weekend and I love it!
I especially love having C home. He will be home until Tuesday. I am sure he will be ready to be back in his work environment by then but in the meantime I will enjoy every day he is home.
I love that we can do stuff together as a family, as a couple. He gets to spend more quality time with the girls. He gets to help with the care of the girls, which helps me too. It's nice to have an extra pair of hands. And he gets to check some things off his "To-Do" list, which has consisted of many outdoor tasks like the Christmas decorations, trimming down the summer foliage and building a cover for the air conditioning unit.
It is good to have him home. We are so blessed.

Friday, November 28, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

My wonderful, loving husband has added Christmas cheer to our home.
He put up Christmas lights!!! Outside! He even used a ladder!!!!!! He worked all afternoon in the cold to decorate the house.
We now have icicle lights hanging off the porch and two outdoor decorations: a lighted angel and a six-foot light-string tree. Simple, classic and very pretty!
I can't wait to see how they look with the snow falling all around.
I'll try to post pictures later.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I'm thankful for....

Our loving Father, who has provided us with so much, even when we are not worthy of them.
My loving husband, who gives of himself at home, with the girls and I and at work.
Our girls, who give us many reasons to laugh, cry, smile, pull out our hair.
The opportunity I have to be a stay-at-home mother and a freelance writer. I am so blessed with the privilege.
Our extended family. We don't always get to see them but when we do, it is good to re-connect and laugh together.
Our home, given to us by God.
The many opportunities we have in this country.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tunes

Here the music? No, it's not in your head. If you have your computer volume on, you can hear my play list. (It was free!)
Scroll down the page and you'll see the list of songs.
The first one is the Relient K song I've written about, I Celebrate the Day. I love the song!!
Sara Groves, Steven Curtis Chapman, Casting Crowns and Jars of Clay round out my favorites playing. I hope to add more in the future.
So enjoy the songs and let me know if you have any requests you'd like to hear while you are catching up on our goings-on.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

450 Billion

Want another moving video?
Check this out!
If this doesn't move you, I don't know what will.

What does God want for Christmas?

Today I picked up a cool interactive nativity set called What God Wants for Christmas.
It is produced by FamilyLife Publishing and uses gift boxes to tell the true story of Christmas. (A similar concept to the Resurrection Eggs, which tell the Easter story.)
We opened Day 1's box today to reveal the angel Gabriel and his role in the story. The set included a pop-up manger scene, where we can put the pieces as they get revealed.
S is eager to see what tomorrow brings.

Celebrate the light

I overheard a conversation at the hair salon while S was getting her hair cut.
The customer asked the stylist if she was ready for Christmas.
The stylist said she was almost ready, that the family was celebrating light this year. She mentioned that only her nephew was getting presents this year.
In a similar vein, I read in our local paper a quote from a woman who said her family was not celebrating Christmas this year.
OK. Light I get, given these economic times.
But please, people, do not forget the light of Christmas, the true reason for the season: our Saviour, Jesus Christ, the greatest gift of all.
Christmas is not about the presents under the tree. It is about the birth of Jesus, God's son, the light of the world, who later gave His life to save us.
If you need proof, read the Bible. Or read the lyrics of a Relient K song, I Celebrate the Day.
Here is a sample:
And the first time
That You opened Your eyes did You realize that You would be my Savior
And the first breath that left Your lips
Did You know that it would change this world forever
And I, I celebrate the day
That You were born to die
So I could one day pray for You to save my life

Heart-warming!

Check out this video about an 11-year-old boys dying wish.
http://spotlight.news.yahoo.com/v/10836826

Monday, November 24, 2008

SNOW!!

I woke up at 4 this morning to see snow falling on the ground. I was amazed at how bright it made the early morning hours.
Now, in the light of day, there is this lovely white blanket covering everything.
C passed along this weather reminder.
The girls and I will venture out to enjoy God's gift and then have some hot chocolate!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The end is in sight

Last week I spent almost all my time working on three articles. It was a lot of work! I can't believe all the phone calls and such I did.
I've got two articles due tomorrow but, honestly, I can say I don't feel too stressed out.
And once those are done, I've got one more due on Wednesday. Then I can take a break and enjoy the weekend with my family!

It's winter!

It's official now....winter is upon us. No, there isn't any snow on the ground. Rather I see signs of Christmas decorations everywhere! Which means people want to get them out before the snow does hit and it gets super cold.
Today C brought in all the outdoor stuff.....lawn furniture, hoses, toys, etc. He even cleaned out the garage some. Well, more like rearranged. Brought the bikes and stuff in and moved the garbage cans and the like around.
Maybe next weekend he can get our Christmas decorations up.

Yum-o!

I love to have breakfast for dinner. It's a nice treat and a great way to mix up the normal dinnertime menu.
Last night we had banana chocolate chip pancakes and crispy bacon. Yum-o! It was a hit! S loved helping to mix the batter. C made the bacon and used a tip he learned from the Food Network, although I asked for crispier bacon. :)
It was a great meal. I can't wait to make it again!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Awesome!

I was so pumped to read that despite this economy, more Americans are still giving this year.
Way to go!
There are so many ways we can give. We can give of our time, our possessions, our finances, our gifts, our self.
People are in need out there. Now more so than ever.
I think Americans are realizing that they can live without the fancy gadgets, clothes, whatever other things that clutter homes and lives...and thinking about those less fortunate, suffering, hurting, needy.
It doesn't take much to make a difference in a person's life. Offer to make a meal. Clean out your closet and give to a local charity. Volunteer time. Adopt a family in need. Give up coffee for a month and give that money to your church. Call or visit a person in need. The options go on.
So keep on giving, America!

Ah! Peace

I'm in the bedroom and it's quiet in the rest of the house. Normally, I'd be curious as to why the girls are so quiet. But I am relishing this peace. It feels great.
I know the girls are fine. They are eating a snack and absorbed in the adventures of Kipper and his friends. I needed to keep them occupied while I conducted a phone interview with a doctor from New York.
The interview ended earlier than I thought so I figured, why leave the confines of this room? I'm sitting on a comfortable bed in s room that is quite cozy and warm. So I figure I'll just check some e-mails. Maybe read a few more pages in my book.
I don't want to leave this peace and relaxation. I need it after this busy week of working on three different articles that are due in the next few days.
Last night I got my hair cut and the stylist gave me a head, neck and shoulder massage before the shampoo. It felt so good. The woman at the front desk must have thought I was a freak because the moment I walked through the salon doors, I took a deep breath. They sell Aveda products, which I absolutely LOVE! I love the smell of the rosemary mint. But they have other awesome products that just put my mind, body and soul at ease.
And that's how I feel at this moment.....there is peace and I feel completely at ease right now.
I better enjoy it some more before it all comes crashing down.
Namaste'.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Library resources


With our homeschooling, we are discovering fabulous resources available through the library.

One of our latest favorite resources has been file folder games. They are fun games that teach shapes, alphabet, math, numbers, colors and more.

One game I liked was a pumpkin number game. There was a sequence of numbers written on pumpkins. You had to fill in the missing number in the sequence. S loved the game, especially because the number sequence would start in different spots (3, 4, ...., 6, 7), making her think about her numbers.

We look forward to checking out more to play....and learn!

Too many choices!

I love to go to the library. I have memories of browsing through my hometown library as a child and re-checking numerous favorite books. Later I would climb up into the tree in the front of our house and read my library finds.
I am so glad our girls both love to read as well! I love seeing them surrounded by a pile of books. I love to read books to them. It is so fun to share favorite authors from my childhood and discover new ones.
The issue I have is that there are SOOOOOO many wonderful books in the library! When we go to check out books, we often end up with a bag or two full of books. It is so hard to pick just one book when they all look so good! And I usually can't just write the books down to keep for future reference because that is too time consuming, especially while trying to make sure one active toddler stays in the children's section without destroying it.
I came up with an idea to help people keep track of desired book titles. C has tried chewing on it so who knows if the mad scientist, er, engineer will emerge?
In the meantime, I will just have to try to remember the title or just hope to come upon it another time.

Demo Link

The wonderful general manager at the radio station created a link for our demo.
Click on the title below and listen away!! Then please send me an e-mail or message with your feedback!
Living Out Loud

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Giving hearts


I was so proud of S when she helped choose toys that would go into donation boxes. Toys that we have had since she was born went into the boxes. She even gave up some of her dolls, knowing that they would go to a child who doesn't have toys.
M was also a big help, although she enjoyed putting everything into the boxes, or taking stuff out!

I was surprised at how quickly we filled the boxes, although there were some toys already in the boxes (that just hadn't made it out) from when we moved in over a year ago. And some toys came from other parts of the house, having been tucked away into places rarely seen or used. There were also A LOT of stuffed animals, which quickly took up space. I am taking a bag full to the local fire department for kids they encounter during emergencies.

My next step is to divide the toy donations into two or three smaller piles to be taken to places like the Emergency Shelter, Harbor House and Mother and Unborn Baby Care.

Originally I would have taken them to Goodwill as that is a good organization that provides jobs. But this time around, I wanted to spread the cheer to families who probably cannot afford toys or to the organizations that shelter those families.

Given the current economy, I can only imagine that the Emergency Shelter and Harbor House are filled to capacity. And imagine the children in those homes! My hope is they will get some cheer from some new, gently used toys.

Table for Four

We have a new person at the dining room table. M has now joined us, although she is not sitting at a dining room chair. (Mostly because we are short one chair.) Instead, C adjusted the high chair, removed the tray and there you have it! Four at the table.
She loves it! In fact, if she could, she would be sitting at a chair, like us. But that will have to wait until we can get a new set (one with extra leaves).

In the meantime, she is a big girl at the table. And she loves to insist on prayer at mealtimes. Sometimes she insists on it a few times during one meal! "Pray! Pray!" she yells, with her hands folded, waiting for all of us to follow suit. So sweet. Even when she insists on praying the fourth time! Maybe she will be like Maewyn Succat, a.k.a. St. Patrick, who prayed 100 times a day, according to the VeggieTales retelling of the Story of St. Partick's Day.

Um...Um....or something like that

OK. One thing I have learned tonight is that I say "Um" too much. Actually a lot of people do.
There are so many things people do on radio that they don't realize. Lip smacking, um, pauses. Thank God for the wonderful, amazing editing technology!
I'm listening to our demo right now. And waiting to get the honest input from my loving, wonderful, caring, supportive husband. :)
I think it sounds like a good show. I hope people think it's a good show and that they would want to listen to it. I pray that this show would be picked up and, with each taping, our radio speak would improve.
The night went well. It went super fast too. We had fun and learned a lot. Radio is a whole new world. We tried to be relaxed and have a conversation. But it is a little hard when every um and something like that or pause creeps into your talk. And when the time is ticking down super fast.
I plan to pass this demo on to friends for them to listen it. (Let me know if you are interested.) And we might be able to get a temporary link that we can pass on to friends and family.
Keep us in your prayers!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Ready for Demo

Tomorrow is the big night: we tape the demo for our possible radio show.
Let me say this experience has been fun. We have been meeting over the last three weeks or so, sharing research, planning out the demo and who is going to talk about what. Hopefully, if our show is picked up, it does not take as long to research for a weekly show!
It's not a scripted show, per say. We'll just have an outline of the conversation about the topic and go from there. Hopefully it will sound natural and relaxed on air; just like a conversation between three women who share the same desires: to be mothers and wives and daughters while trying to keep our faith alive in our home, families, lives and ourselves.
So please pray for us (Jill, Andrea and myself) that we make it through the demo; that it gets on the air; that the radio station picks the show up; and that the show glorifies God while providing women with a resource they need to know they are not alone in the day to day and that we can provide some insight and tips and, most of all, a friend to listen to.
Sadly, my throat has been bothering me tonight so I pray that it eases by tomorrow. I'd hate to be clearing my throat constantly during the taping, which could make for a long night!

Winter is here!

Holy cow!
I'm working in the family room right now and notice it's getting darker outside. I turn around and see a wall of white!
Snow! Lots and lots of it! It's like we are in the middle of a blizzard!
I guess I should watch the news in the morning!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Speaking of toys

While my folks were visiting, C and I took the opportunity to check out the local toy stores for Christmas gift ideas. We ended up purchasing a couple things for S, so it was nice to get some things crossed off our list. The holiday shopping traffic was not too horrible although we were surprised to see so many out during a Packers vs Bears game.
Having two birthdays before Christmas does make shopping a little tough. After all, they just got a bunch of stuff.
This year we are going to get the girls three gifts each, an idea I got from a couple friends. It follows with the fact that the Three Wise Men brought only three gifts for the Christ-child.
We also want to teach the girls that Christmas is not about how many toys they get. In fact, we want to encourage giving...of ourselves and our possessions.
We plan to go through the play room this week and weed out a lot of toys. Many are items we've had since the girls were babies. We will give them to an organization that will get them into the hands of families in need.
Another thing we will try again this year is ringing bells for the Salvation Army. The girls enjoyed it last year and it got us talking about how we were raising money for families in need. This year might be a little different since I don't think I'll be able to get M to stay in a stroller for two hours. We'll see. It is a good holiday tradition and for a good organization. So if you see a red kettle, please remember to give, even if there is no one ringing a bell at the kettle. Every little bit helps toward helping families in need.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Toy explosion

Today we had a double birthday party for S and M with the family.
The girls had a fun time playing with their cousins. and second cousins. They played with all their toys, so much so that it look like a toy bomb exploded in the playroom.
S showed off her room to her female cousins and they wound up hanging out in there, talking and playing. It was so cute.
We had great food and conversation. The kids all had fun.
Of course, there were a lot of presents, including some cool things like a box with dress-up princess dresses and accessories, Fischer Price Dance Cam, Leap Frog fridge games, books, clothes and more. Quite the loot!
Now we really need to weed out all the old toys in the play room! Goodwill here we come!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

One more bend in the road

We'll be going back to the doctor.
Tonight we discovered that S had a reaction to her flu shot. The shot area is red, swollen and hot. The affected area is about three inches in diameter. Pretty darn big.
I called the nurse hot line and was told she would need to be seen by her doctor.
This is such a surprise because she has never had a reaction to a flu shot! Perhaps it's because we've been battling colds here. She doesn't have any cold symptoms though, other than the pink eye (which has cleared up) and the ear infection (which was still present at her wellness check on Wednesday.)
I just pray that this is nothing serious and that she will still be well protected from the flu.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thank you cards

Growing up, I don't recall sending thank you notes out when I received birthday gifts.
So it's not really ingrained in me to send them out on behalf of the girls when they receive presents.
Of course, we'd receive them from S's friends, which made me think we need to polite as well.
But, well, while my intentions were good, I don't think I've sent thank you cards out in the last three years. Maybe I did once. Or maybe I meant to but only got as far as filling them out.
This year, I found packaged invitations that came with thank you cards. Super! Now I will have to send them out!
Well, here we are, two weeks after S's birthday party and the cards sit on the end table. I guess the reason mostly is because we've been battling illness.
But I know too I just plain forgot about them. Didn't help that they were under a pile until tonight.
So, for those of you who attended S's party, I apologize for not sending out the thank you cards. I hope to get them in the mail...soon. I wonder what the etiquette is for how long you have to send thank yous out.

Troopers

Today was S's 4 year wellness check.
She did an awesome job and the doctor is very pleased with her progress.
She is 32 pounds and 39 inches, which, coincidentally, are the same numbers her friend had at his 4 year wellness check up this year.
Her wellness check included a hearing check and a vision check. And she got to show off some of her ballet moves by walking on her tiptoes.
She was also super brave getting her flu shot.
Marie and I were also super brave with our flu shots. Not a tear from either of us, which made for a very good visit to the doctor.

Road to recovery

I think we are finally on the road to recovery.
I've still got some symptoms but not as bad. C seems to be getting better too. His eye does look better too. S's eye is also looking much better but she does still have the ear infection, which we are hoping will clear on its own. M has been fine. In fact, she is into more mischief than usual.
Tonight I finally got some more order in the housework. After dinner, I cleaned the bathrooms, swept the kitchen floor, did yet more laundry, put some laundry away, vacuumed and other stuff.
I'm feeling it now, especially in my left arm. But it is good to see some semblance of order. This is certainly a time I wish I could hire a maid to clean the house.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Our Trixie

Over the summer we discovered a new author, Mo Willems. One of his books is called Knuffle Bunny: a cautionary tale, which is about a little girl who loses her beloved stuffed animal.
Later, we found the story on DVD with Willems and his daughter Trixie, the inspiration for the story, doing the voices.
It is a real cute book and to see it come to life was even better.
Anyway, in the story, Trixie is too young to talk. So when she realizes her beloved friend is gone, she does what she can to get her father's attention, much to his joy. One of her tactics is to go limp. It is so funny to watch.
But not funny in real life.
M has perfected the limp. When she doesn't want to do something or go somewhere, she goes limp. She likes to go limp when I am holding her hand. I swear her shoulder is going to pop out of its socket when she does that!
Sometimes it's funny because I get that picture of cartoon Trixie.
But, when you are trying to get M to do something, like clean up her toys or comes to her room to get her poopy diaper changed, the limp maneuver gets old fast.

Homeschooling update

Despite being sick, last week we continued with homeschooling. Last week was J, with the theme of Jesus and his miracles like feeding 5,000, healing people, how he loves the little children and then about his death and resurrection.
Mostly we did workbook sheets, coloring sheets and reading and discussing the stories.
Over the weekend, S wanted to use a new pencil to write "X" on her own. Not sure why she chose that particular letter but she tried it. It was cool to see the progress on her writing tab.
This week is K, with the topics of Kings and Kites. I think we'll also work on her last name.
Next week, S starts Patriot Preschool, a program offered at a local high school. It is 50 minutes, three days a week for four weeks. I think it will be a nice balance and good classroom and instructor exposure. Plus being with kids her own age.
Since it's only 50 minutes, I am not sure what M and I can do. It's really not enough time to really do much. I may have to find out a new route to the local library and we can hang out there for a bit.

When will this end??

We are still sick! When will this end?? I feel like this cold just keeps going around and around and around. It's one thing for one of us to be sick but for ALL of us....it royally stinks!
S and C have pink eye. C still has chest congestion but he says it is getting better. S also has an ear infection in her left ear.
I am OK during the day but at night I tend to cough or feel congested.
M seems to be OK but it's hard to say how long that will last given all the stuff floating around here!
We are taking the precautions to try to keep the germs at bay: hand washing, covering our mouths, and the like. And I am trying to keep the house clean. Lord knows the washer and drying have been running non-stop with all the linens and clothes. But there is still more cleaning that should be done. We just don't have the energy or time. And, really, I'm not concerned about the pile of dishes or the pile of clean, unfolded laundry. I really want to tackle the germs so I wipe down and spray areas.
Maybe we need one of those tent things to cover the house. And then we could get some healthy fog stuff to clean the house and us of this sickness. Maybe we need something that will zap everything and make us all better.
We keep praying for health. Pray with us!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Noggin

Shortly after S was born we discovered Noggin.
We loved it! It has wonderful, different programming like Maisy, 64 Zoo Lane, Franklin, Jack's Big Music Show, Oswald and more. And it was totally commercial free! In place of commercial were neat clips for things like math, art, music, later cooking and more.
It was also where we discovered Laurie Berkner. S would listen and dance over and over to "We Are the Dinosaurs" and other songs. And, we could always watch the videos on-line.
After a year or two, the programming started to go downhill. The biggest negative was Maisy was pulled off the air. Just gone. No explanation.
Then they started airing more Nick Jr. programming. S liked Dora and all but I kinda wanted to wait until she was a little older before introducing Dora, Diego, Backyardigans and more. Besides, adding more popular shows took the uniqueness of Noggin away. Mainstream shows replaced the time slots for the shows we liked and the network wasn't the same. Eventually we started watching Nick Jr. because S liked Dora and other shows.
It was all sad, really. Again, we liked Noggin because it was unique.
Well, we still tape shows on Noggin to watch. M especially loves Blue's Clues, which is a Nick Jr. show but they air on Noggin.
While watching it the other day, we noticed a "commercial" introducing a new show, Toot and Puddle, which is based on the books by Holly Hobbie.
S and I are excited because we discovered the books at the library. If you've never heard of them, I would encourage to you check out a book for your family. Toot and Puddle are two best friends as different as can be. One likes to travel, the other likes to be a homebody. There are plenty of adventures, abroad and at home with their friend in Woodcock Pocket.
My only concern is that we might not be able to watch the show. The first airing is at 6 p.m. Nov. 16. We only get Noggin on Dish until 5 p.m. Then it converts over to The N, which is a network for teens.
But I am keeping my fingers crossed that Toot and Puddle will appear during the daily line up. It would be refreshing to see a new show.
Yea! I just checked the DISH line up and we WILL get Toot and Puddle. Only we will get it at 4 p.m. on Nov. 17. It's great to see a new show on Noggin.

Wishing for sleep

I will be SOOOO glad, too, when we are all better so we can all sleep when we are suppose to.
S has come out of her room three times already, with various excuses.
I wish someone told me I had to stay in bed and go to sleep. Instead I have baskets of laundry to fold. (Yes, after I spend my time blogging.)
Maybe next time she comes out of bed, I will make her fold the laundry so I can get to sleep.

Praying for healing

We're still fighting off whatever has us.
We thought we were on the road to recovery but not so.
C and I are fighting with coughing and congestion issues. S complained tonight of ear aches. One of her eyes looks irritated too.
M, on the other hand, appears to be improving. Her last flare up with hives was this morning, after breakfast. But after her nap the welts were gone and by bedtime there were only a few red spots on her body.
Thankfully we go to the doctor on Wednesday for S's wellness check. We'll have a lot to tell him! Unless we see him before that!!!
It really bites having the whole family sick, especially with C and I out. It is hard to get stuff done around the house, get the energy to make meals, so forth.
I wish for that magic wand so all the laundry can fold automatically, so the dishes can get clean, so meals can appear on the table, so we have energy to play with the girls.
I just pray we are healthy and well by Saturday. We have company coming over for a birthday party for the girls.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Slight glitch

Sorry to those of you who get automatic updates and got a second blog about "Sick Day."
When I checked my blog tonight, it was not at the top. C discovered it in October. Weird.
So I tried to send it again and now it's in the right place. Maybe just some weird glitch.

Sick Day

C and I are both sick. I don't think we've even been sick at the same exact time.Yesterday was weird because he came home early from work with some symptoms. Later that night, I had the same ones. It's been an experience, trying to get better with two little ones around. It's been a bit of a tag-team effort as far as caring for and being with the girls go. Obviously we don't want to get them sick again. (They are both getting over colds, although M still has a cough but it's not the croup like stuff she had over the weekend.)Last night I rested on the couch after dinner while C tried to play with the girls. We tried to get them to bed quickly so we could rest. Thankfully the girls slept through the night. Or at least I did because I didn't hear anything! This morning C let me sleep in. He's been napping on and off today. He says he is getting better, although he looks like the dead now that he is up.I seem to be OK, with the exception of the sore throat and cough.A wonderful dear friend is making a meal for us tonight. She called last night to ask a question and when she heard we were both sick she wanted to do something to help. So sweet. We are blessed with the local family we have here. With any luck this will end quickly and we can get our life (and house...the play room looks like it exploded) back in order. And hopefully before we all go stir crazy.

On the mend

I think we are on the mend.

I've still got a cough but it's not as bad. C appears to be doing much better.

M, on the other hand, broke out in hives tonight. Not sure what caused them. Nurse says it could be a reaction from something she ate or touched or a side effect to a cold. We'll see. They just appeared out of no where.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It's only Wednesday

This has been a super long week. I can't believe it's only Wednesday!
It doesn't help that I am tired and coming down with a cold. Blah!
Also, we stayed up late last night to watch election related stuff and then ended up dealing with the girls, who are also sick.
Tis the season for colds.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Going down the tubes!

I used to be a fan of Grey's Anatomy but I'm ready to jump ship and focus on shows that I actually enjoy!
Last Thursday's show was a BOMB! My jaw was on the ground the whole time. I cannot believe some of the things that they were doing on the show! Seriously??? Unbelievable!
No. I think enough is enough. I think.....
I think I keep watching maybe with the hope that this night the show will return to its first season shine. Last season it was clear the show was starting to go down the tubes. I had hoped that wouldn't be the case. But this season is proving me right.

Kitchen time saver!

I am utilizing one of my favorite kitchen time savers: the crock pot.
And better yet, I am making enough for a couple meals!
And super better yet: I am cooking a bag of frozen chicken breast! No thawing! Just pop them in the crock pot, set to low and cook for 6-8 hours.
I got this idea from the Friends' Cookbook, a collection of favorite recipes compiled by some friends and I. (Let me know if you want a copy.)
Once the chicken is cooked, I will shred the meat and make chicken tacos for tonight. (Served with Mexican rice and refried beans.)
Then I will freeze the rest for something later, like shredded chicken with gravy, served on buns.
Or, I might cut the chicken into cubes for meals that call for cooked cubed chicken.
I just love this idea. It's a super awesome time saver! And the house smells great!
By the way, has anyone ever cooked frozen chicken breast in the oven? Like, not thaw the chicken for a recipe, just put it in the oven and go?

Teachable moment

I didn't realize until this morning that I had an opportunity to talk to S about Election Day. Duh! I wished I had planned earlier but, oh well.
I did, however, find some coloring sheets of the U.S. Flag and an activity to discuss the flag. She also colored an "F is for Flag" page and practiced writing "E" with the Bald Eagle on the page.
I also tried to explain that today is an important day because we are voting for a president and other elected people to make important decisions.
I could only find a couple preschool related things on-line to help with the lesson. And I did reserve a couple books from the library: Clifford for President and Otto runs for President.
Maybe next year we'll cast ballots to find out which kind of milk or juice is better. :)
Did you get out and vote? There is still time! And your vote DOES count!! I'd also like to say that I received a call from my brother, checking to make sure I went to the polls to vote. Thanks, bro.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Ready to vote??

I'm ready to hit the polls!
I've never been a huge follower or conversationalist of politics but, of course, a presidential election is another matter. And I want to make sure my vote counts!
I'm also ready for all this election stuff to be over with. I'm ready to see an end to the many, many editorials and opinions and debates. To see an end to the negative attack ads. I can't tell you how many times we've gotten calls and postal mailings. We've even had a call from former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani!
Above all, I'm ready to see a new leader at the helm. No matter who is there, I will pray for that leader and the others. There is a huge job ahead of them and I can only pray that the right decisions are made for the better of our nation, not for political interests.
But our leaders are human after all. We can't expect them to be perfect, just as we are not perfect or right. And I am sure there will be many failings as well as successes.
I hope everyone else will stop at the polls on Tuesday.
Now, just to figure out when the girls and I can hit the polls. I'm thinking I'll go over at 9 and pray for a smallish line. I'll have snacks and toys for the girls, just in case.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The birthday aftermath







We survived another birthday party! Whew!

The party was a hit. We had some of S's friends over, as well as a couple siblings and parents.

The kids were interested in the toys in the playroom so my planned games went out the window. But that was A-OK for me because it made it more relaxed, etc. The big hit was decorating mini pumpkins. I pulled out some foam stickers of Halloween shapes, bugs and flowers and the alphabet, which kids took to put their name on the pumpkins.

After lunch S opened presents. She got some wonderful art related items, a doll, a puzzle, stamper markers and notepad, a Dora DVD and a little backpack with a jump rope, chalk, a yo-yo and other goodies.
The cutest thing was when the boys picked up the discarded wrapping paper after each gift. Sweet!

I think everyone had fun. I know S did too.
Now we have a month to rest before the house is filled with more kids as we celebrate M's 2 year party.






Friday, October 31, 2008

Older crowd

Our neighborhood is a mix of kids but this year we saw a lot of older kids (junior high and high school) for trick-or-treat.
Some of the costumes were clever, like our next door neighbor who dressed as one of the characters from I Spy, the comic from the Mad Magazine. Or there were a couple guys dressed as hockey referees, which was fitting since C wore a hockey jersey and had his broken goalie stick with him (a souvenir from a Carolina Hurricanes practice.)
But there were some that were just scary or something lame they threw together.
One note: we saw a lot of cross dressing boys (one as Miss America and another a bride and a couple others as girls at a sleep-over.)
So a lot of the older crowd. We gave them candy; one piece each. But it would have been nice to see more of the younger crowd.
The neighbor-boy across the street dressed up as Elmo. So it was cute to hear M say "Hi, Elmo" as he walked up the driveway.

Tender heart

For as much as we think M can be a brute (she can take a fall like no other child I know and has been known to hit her sister these days), she does have a tender, sensitive side.
Today was a little rough for her with the variety of scary masks we saw as we trick-or-treated down our street.
Actually, some costumes in general would set her off. She'd stop walking and cling to my legs, wanting to be picked up. I'd try to reassure her or encourage her to laugh at the scary faces but she'd want nothing to do with them. In my arms, she felt safe, though.
At our church Fall Festival she freaked out a couple times over a man who was getting splashed with broken water balloons. Basically it was a dunk tank without the dunk tank. There was a man sitting under some kind of apparatus with a water balloon inside. Someone would throw a ball and, if it hit the target, the guy would get a shower of water. The guy underneath exaggerated his movements with big shivers and cries and blowing out water.
M freaked! C had to take her outside to help her calm down. We stayed clear of that game for the rest of the evening!

Just like dad

M totally looks like Daddy. Her features mirror his. And her latest smile is proof positive that she has his family genes.

That half-smile/sneer is something I see in C and the other males in his family.

Poor girl. (Just kidding!)

Beautiful cake



A couple months ago, S said she wanted a birthday cake in the shape of a butterfly. Knowing I would not be able to tackle such a cake, I turned to an expert. A woman we know (our husbands work together) has made cakes for several friends so I decided she would be the best at making the cake of S's dreams.
In addition to the butterfly shape, S wanted a cake with pink and purple colors (her favorites) and vanilla flavor cake and frosting.

Our friend Cat took the idea and flew! The cake is truly beautiful (and very tasty too!) Beyond what we expected! And very tasty too! Yum! (We are still enjoying the leftovers.)

If you want to know more about her cakes, contact Cat Buttron of Cat's Confections at cbuttron@sbcglobal.net or 920-205-5262 .

Thank you, Cat! We look forward to your creation for M's party in December. How are you at a cartoon character, like Blue's Clues? Maybe a cake shaped like the clue paw print??

Special Day




My mom asked that we do something special for S on her birthday. As if the day would be anything but special!
I think for a 4-year-old, it was a pretty awesome day and did not lack specialness.

The day started off with flowers, balloons, presents, cards and a chocolate chip muffin with a birthday candle.

Then S and Daddy (who took the day off) walked to the bus stop to take a ride on the city bus. A real treat for her! She loves to point out the city bus whenever we see one.
After their ride, they walked to The Mom and Pop Place, our favorite place. M and I met them there and the girls enjoyed a snack and story time.

We had lunch at S's favorite spot. The meal included a scoop of custard with sprinkles.

After nap time, the girls and I went trick-or-treating. Then we went to our church for its Fall Festival. The girls played lots of games and got lots of candy.
Both were pretty tuckered out by the end of the day. S said her favorite part was trick-or-treating. But for her birthday part of the day, she enjoyed opening her presents.

Tomorrow will bring more fun with a birthday party with some of her friends.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Four years ago




Four years ago, probably at about this time of the evening, our life changed.
I was 9 months pregnant and woke up in bed. I hadn't been asleep for too long but something woke me up. I waddled over to the bathroom and gush! Wetness all over! I was certain I wet myself but, after a call to the doctor's office, we were on the way to the hospital.

After a sleepless night of nothing major, I was induced in the morning and labor began.

C and a dear friend were with me every step of the way. Labor picked up about mid-morning and, for some reason, I decided to see how things would go without drugs. Oooooh! It was tough at some parts and even meds to take the edge off were not helpful.

Finally I asked for the epidural. Once I had it, the baby dropped and it was time to push.

S was born after 3 p.m. We were overcome with joy at the tiny bundle in our arms.

Fast forward four years. She has blossomed into a beautiful butterfly. She is smart. She is fun. She is silly. She is creative. She is such a joy. She is a wonderful and caring big sister.

We are excited to see what the coming years bring. Will she be a ballerina at center stage? Will she be an artist? Will she be a teacher or a doctor?

Whatever comes, we pray she always keeps God in her heart, that she follows in His ways always. And that she never forgets to smile and dance like no one is watching.

Happy birthday, pumpkin pie!

I did it!!

Tonight I opened one of those Pillsbury pastry tubes all by myself!!
I HATE pastry tubes because they pop open as you peel the label away. And if it doesn't pop on its own, you have to do it yourself.
I hate the anticipation of when it will pop. I hate having to make it pop. I hate the feeling and, most especially, the noise of it popping.
I am not fond of loud noises, to put it lightly. They freak me out. I'm a wimp, I know.
Anytime I want to make one of those Pillsbury tube products, I have C, my good and faithful hubby, open it for me. My hero!
But tonight, the damsel was on her own. And I needed the Pillsbury crescent rolls for our dinner recipe. What was I to do?? I took a deep breath and grabbed the corner of the label. I started to peel it away, slowly, slowly, and then pop! Agh!!! Agh!! Agh!!
Thankfully I didn't drop the thing!
Will I open the next one on my own?? No! C better be home, especially if I want to make cinnamon rolls!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's Wednesday

I'm pretty tired right now and am considering a nap. Maybe I'll nap on the mountain of clothes I have to fold.
I just don't have the energy. But that's because it's Wednesday. Of the days of the week, that one really hits me hard. Not sure why this happens. I've noticed this pattern over the last couple months. The week could be going along fine and then bam! On Wednesday this tired, irritable, blahness comes over me. Sometimes I just want to crawl under the covers and sleep. On these days I have very little patience with the girls and C. I feel snappy, drained, pulled in all directions and so forth.
Today has been OK, patience-wise. Although I should hold my tongue because we still have to make it to the grocery store tonight!
Overall, I am just tired right now. This couch is looking pretty inviting.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Jump for joy!

Here's a picture of S's picture from Picture People. It is such a great shot! We were back there this morning and the manager asked if they could use one of the poses taken yesterday for a display they want to make of the new Christmas cards. Cool! Now if only we could get a free picture or framed something or some kind of incentive for that.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Model for the morning

Today I took S to the mall to get her birthday pictures taken. She turns 4 on Friday!!
It was a busy morning with running back and forth from Sears Portraits to Picture People.
We went to Sears first. It was a 9:30 appointment but we waited nearly 20 minutes before someone could take her pictures! Crazy but there was only one other photographer available. Another one was with a customer going over their order. And there were two trainees, clearly reading their training manual, and another lady but I wasn't sure what she was doing the whole time!
I felt a little crunched for time because I had made an appointment for 10:30 at Picture People. If only I knew!
So after the Sears woman took S's pictures, we booked it out the store to PP, which, thankfully, is next door. We had to wait there as well but it was worth it because the photographer was AWESOME and we got some great pictures.
But right after that session, we didn't wait. It was right back to Sears so I could pick out our poses before the photographer's 11:30 appointment. Then it was back to Picture People to pick our photos from that session!
S did great the whole time. She listened to both photographers directions, smiled like a pro and was patient during all the waiting. It helped to have a snack on hand and that Sears played Strawberry Shortcake videos and Picture People had blocks for her to spell out her name and build really tall towers.
M, on the other hand, was with Daddy at home. And a good thing too because I don't know if she would have lasted through all this. Well, maybe she would have. But she had a bit of a high fever Sunday night and, although she felt fine this morning, we thought it best she stay home. C was able to work from home, thanks to his work laptop. (M, by the way, has been fever free all day so she might have had a little bug of something.)
All in all, we got some great pictures of S from both places. But it was so hard to choose!
At PP I picked three sheets: an 8x10, a sheet of 4x6's and a sheet of 5x7's. And with the coupon I had and my Smile Saver card, I got them all for almost $6.
The picture I absolutely love from PP is of S jumping in the air. It is so cute and fun and so different from traditional poses.
At Sears I stuck to my guns....and the coupon I had for 35 prints for $4.99...and choose one pose. Then S chose a special birthday collage for her bedroom.
We will be back at Sears on Friday for our family picture. I also hope to get a picture of the two girls together and one of C and I; both of which will be for the mantle in our family room.
We'll be doing this kind of a photo trip in December for M's 2 year pictures. I just hope and pray that the wait times are not as bad. I may just consider doing Sears and PP on different days, although it would be nice to get both done in one shot. We'll see. I think for pictures in December, though, it is best to spread them out.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

K.I.S.S.











I know completing 52 scrapbook pages seems like an amazing feat so here is my secret: K.I.S.S.
I don't use a lot of embellishments. I have seen so many beautiful albums but there is a lot of work involved in one page alone. Again, amazing books, but just not for me. I want to get the pictures on the pages in a way where they tell the story.
If I do use embellishments, it is a paper boarder along the page or trim around a picture. But mostly I use stickers. I love stickers! Just adding a few to a page really make a difference.
In the last year or so, I have been using papers with designs and such on them. But it does take a little time to find the right paper to go with the pictures. So I only go that route when I am inspired.
But I like my tried and true K.I.S.S. method. It makes life a lot easier, especially when my goal is to get pictures on the pages!
By the way, sometimes sticker titles, journaling and stickers don't come until much later. You know, for one of those "one day" projects. :)