Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Remembering 2008

What a busy year this has been! I keep thinking things will start to slow down and they never do. At least there was no major life changing event this year, like there has been the last 4 years. In 2004, I graduated from college and had to move on to 'real life'. In 2005, Rich and I were married. Morgan was born in 2006 and Blake was born 15 months later in 2007. 2008 has been a year of finally settling into family life with nothing really new happening to us...sort of....

*We started this year with my parents preparing to move to Germany. They have lived in the same town their whole lives and in the same house for 30 years. It was really strange to have them move and even stranger that it was as far away as Germany! Dad left in February and, after taking care of a couple loose ends, Mom left in March. It was really emotional for me, since I did everything with Mom, but after a little while I got used to not having her around.

*We were finally able to take family vacations this year! We took 2 camping trips with Rich's parents and brothers in August and September and had a wonderful time! I hadn't been camping in quite a while and as tiring as it was, it was also refreshing just to get away as a family.

*I was able to lose the weight from having the kids this year, which feels wonderful! I won't mention any numbers, since I am quite embarrassed that I let myself go so much during the pregnancies, but I'm almost back to my old self. I just need to get into shape now! :-)

*I feel like Rich and I are at a new place in our relationship. We have basically stopped looking back at what we missed out on by moving so fast with our family and have started looking forward. I think we are excited about the future of our family, our financial goals and just our life together. It's exciting! :-)

*I was able to travel to see my parents this year and experience Germany! I feel so grateful to my parents for the opportunity and to Rich and his family for taking care of the kids and the house while I was gone! I'll never have an experience quite like that again and, despite missing Rich and the kids like crazy, I am so happy that I went and I had a wonderful time!

*Rich and I found a church that we are really fond of. I'm not sure what was holding us back from going for so long, but we finally started going in October (thanks to Shelby for the invite!) and love it. I feel like it will be a wonderful place for our whole family to learn, worship, and fellowship with other Christians. I am hoping to find a place there where I can use my talents and get involved, as well.

*I have to admit that I also got hooked on giveaways and blogging this year, too. Sometimes I wonder if I drive Rich crazy talking about it, but it has been a lot of fun! I started the year hardly knowing what a blog was to actually blogging on a regular basis and signing up for giveaways on other blogs and I love it!

All in all, it has been a wonderfully busy year. Things just seem to be looking up and I can't wait to see what the new year brings for us!

Monday, December 29, 2008

New Handmade Sweaters!

My sister is a very talented knitter. I love seeing what she comes up with to knit for the kids. (And even the other things she knits, too.) :-) This year Katie made both Morgan and Blake the most adorable wallaby sweaters for Christmas. I have to share some pictures of the kids in them-they are seriously too cute! I could go on and on using the words 'adorable' and 'cute', but you'd agree, right? :-)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Fun!

We had a very busy Christmas this year. It started Christmas Eve with a lot of food preparation for each family get-together. We then headed to my parents' house to open gifts with my nieces, since they couldn't be with us on Christmas Day. (My parents are home from Germany for 3 weeks for the holidays.) After the activity there, we took off to my aunt's place to have Christmas with my mom's side of the family. They only live next door, so we didn't have far to go :-) The last place of the night was to head to Rich's parents for some traditional eggnog, reading of a Christmas story and opening one gift.

Christmas Day was even busier! We got up around 6:00, so we could at least check out our stockings and the kids could open their gifts from Santa. By 7:30 we were at Rich's parents' to open gifts there. Then it was off to Rich's grandparents' for breakfast, more gifts, and a traditional Christmas shot of Peppermint Schnops or Black Velvet whiskey-Nostrovia! After the festivities there, we went back to my parents' to do more gift exchanging and dinner. We then had to head home for a little while to unload the car from all the gifts, so we could get the rest from Rich's parents' house, which is where we headed next. We had a little to snack on, loaded up the rest of the gifts, mingled and headed back home where my parents met us to see what everyone had gotten. By 9:30ish we were finally able to settle down, but since Blake was passed out, the kids finished opening their gifts from Rich and I the next morning.

We love all the family get-togethers! Neither Rich nor I really want to give up anything, but we realize, for the sake of our sanity, we will have to cut a lot out next year. As much as I'll miss all the running on Christmas, I'm looking forward to starting our own traditions as a family at home :-)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I thought this would be an appropriate picture for today, since Jesus is the Reason for the Season :-) This was taken in a Christmas Market in Munich. There seemed to be a nativity set up nearly every Christmas Market in Germany, which I thought was really neat. (Rich and I are guessing the little boy and little girl must be Hansel and Gretel?)

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: More Puppy Love

Morgan must have really liked getting her picture taken in front of the tree last week, because a couple days later she thought she needed her picture taken with her puppy in front of the tree. I had been busy doing some things and when I came back, she had it all set up! It was really cute!

For more Wordless Wednesday check out 5 Minutes for Mom.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Germany Trip: Christmas Markets

I felt fortunate to be able to visit Germany during the holidays. Seeing all the Christmas Markets, or Weihnachtsmärktes, was truly a neat experience! Each town and city hosted a Christmas Market and length and size of the Christmas Market depended on the size of the town/city. All the markets we made it to were in large cities and were open every day of advent. Others may have only been on the weekends and even smaller ones may have only been on one weekend of advent.

I loved the look and general feeling of the Christmas Markets. All the booths were wooden and they all matched. There were usually lights and greenery hanging from each of the booths. Each market usually had either a huge Christmas tree, a pyramid or nativity or a combination of a couple or all of them. A lot of times there was also a carousel and other rides for kids.

The products that were sold really varied, but were mostly wintertime related. I saw things like ornaments, wooden toys, hats, mittens, scarves, pyramids, nutcrackers, and the list goes on! On top of that there were all sorts of food booths that usually had potato cakes, sausage, sweets, crepes and many other goodies depending on what market we were at.

It seemed like the main draw of the Christmas Market was the gluhwein, or hot spiced wine. I think we had gluhwein at nearly every market we went to. The area surrounding the gluhwein booths were always packed and hard to get to. When we'd purchase the gluhwein, we'd have to put a deposit on the mugs that they served it in. If we didn't want the mug, we just had to return it and get our deposit back. We never returned them, though, we kept them as souvenirs :-) The only Christmas market that didn't have gluhwein was the Medieval one, but they had Love Potion, which was actually gluhwien :-)

Here is a slideshow of my gluhwein mugs:

I'll admit after so many Christmas Markets, we were kind of Christmas Marketed out at the end of the trip. We were seeing a lot of the same things over and over again at them. I wouldn't change anything, though. The Christmas Markets were still a wonderful part of our Germany experience!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fun Christmas Songs Game with a Giveaway!

Make a Joyful Noise is hosting a giveaway that has a fun little twist! She is giving away a Tastefully Simple package including Artichoke & Spinach Warm Dip Mix, Warm the Oven! Savory Dip Mix, Spinach and Herb Dip Mix and the Bountiful Beer Bread Mix. Sounds delicious, right? The little twist is you can get extra entries by playing a little Christmas Songs game! She has the first letters of the first words of Christmas Songs listed and you have to figure out the song.

Here is an example: H A H J C would be Have A Holly Jolly Christmas

I had a blast playing and I got into it so much that I was singing the songs to the kids! Even if you don't want to sign up to win, just go and play the game-it'll be worth it! :-)

Our Sleeping Pooch

An Ordinary Life is hosting a contest to win a Sleep Number Pet Bed! I thought it would be a great opportunity for Bear dog to get a new bed since he's chewed up 2 couches now! I hope he's grown out of the chewing stage , because the Sleep Number Pet Bed looks really nice.:-) Bear was actually sleeping here, but the flash woke him up a bit. I chose this picture for my entry, because I thought it was sweet that he was sharing his couch! He was trying his best to fit on one cushion so the cat could have the other. (This was taken a couple months before Morgan was born. We were in the process of rearranging the house, so please ignore the mess.)

Ferrero Chocolates' Share Something Sweet campaign

Ferrero Chocolates has partnered with Share Our Strength, a national organization working to ensure that no child in America grows up hungry, to start the Share Something Sweet campaign. Ferrero has donated $150,000 so far and will continue to donate when consumers get involved with their Share Something Sweet campaign. By going to this site, you'll be able to send sweet messages to friends and family. For every message sent, Ferrero will donate another $1 to Share Our Strength, up to $10,000!

Another way to help is to join the Ferrero Facebook page, "Ferrero Lovers Unite". Ferrero will donate another $1, up to $1000, for every person that joins!

Aren't those 2 easy ways to fight hunger? If you have a second, check out the links, send a message or join a page, and you will be helping people in need this holiday season!

Germany Trip: Sir Blake

I did a lot of shopping for the kids while I was in Germany. I looked at every toy that I came across trying to find something 'German' and something that I couldn't find here in the U.S. It wasn't easy, though. It seemed like everything was something that I had either seen before or it was way more than I was willing to spend. I was able to find a couple things that at least looked German, but nothing on them said they were. I ended up getting some little Bavarian puppets, for both Morgan and Blake. I also got a little Bavarian guy on a spring for Blake and the toy that I'm the most proud of finding was a little wooden sword.

We were in Rothenburg, when I came across the sword. We may have never stopped in the shop, but mom was looking for a wooden umbrella holder that this shop carried. The man that ran the shop did beautiful wood burning and had neat scenes burned in wood of the town on the wall and on the floor, leaning against the wall, there were all these little wooden swords. The swords had either 'Master', 'Sir' or 'Lady' on them, then a child's name could be added. I thought that was such a neat idea since it would be both German and original, plus the price was great-only 5 euro! We were also in a medieval town and a sword really seemed to be a great souvenir. So I ended up getting a sword that said "Sir Blake". I know Blake is way too young for a sword, but "Sir Blake" sounded good and I just loved the idea of it. I was even able to get a picture of the man as he was burning Blake's name into it!

Didn't it turn out nice? I figure I can give it to Blake for Christmas, then hide it while he's sleeping and give it back to him when he's old enough to play with it :-)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

German Food: Potatoes and Soup

I don't usually think of Germany when I think of potatoes and soup. Ireland probably comes to mind a bit more, but Germany had some really interesting potato and soup dishes that I thought were really good!

When we were in Trier's Christmas Market, we kept seeing people walk by with what turned out to be potato pancakes, or Kartoffelpuffer (pictured). The same man who recommended the bratwurst that I tried in Trier, also suggested that we try these potato pancakes. They reminded me of a doughy hash brown, like at McDonald's, and just as greasy! They served the pancakes with applesauce, which really didn't sound too good to me, but I tried it. The applesauce turned out to be great with them-almost like it cut back on the greasiness!

I also had other potato dishes, but they weren't much different than what we can get here in the U.S. I had some french fries, which they call 'pommes' that came with my schnitzel and I also had American fries, which I mentioned in my previous 'German Food: Sausages' post.

The soups I tried while in Germany were nothing like what I expected! The first soup I had was in Munich while we were at the Hofbrauhaus. I ordered a potato soup, which was quite different than what I would usually order in the U.S. The U.S. potato soups are usually creamy and have bacon, cheese and chives on top. The potato soup there had a thick broth with potatoes and wasn't nearly as flavorful, but it was still good.

The other soup I had was a goulash soup, which I had in Rothenburg. I had never heard of goulash soup before or, if I had, I never thought anything of it. The goulash soup was very tasty and had potatoes and pieces of what I'm assuming was beef in it. I had thought there would be pasta in it, since I associate goulash with pasta, but there wasn't any. It was definitely a great soup to have to warm up, since it was also very spicy (for me at least).

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

We put up our Christmas tree this weekend and I decided I'd try to get pics of the kids in front of it. This turned out to be the best one and it happens to be the first one I took :-)

For more Wordless Wednesday, check out 5 Minutes for Mom.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

German Food: Sausages!

Now, what better way to start talking about Germany than to talk about the food! And what better way to start talking about German food than to talk about the types of sausages! I didn't realize before going to Germany, that there would be regional differences. The first one I tried was in Trier, Germany's oldest city. We only ate in the Christmas market while there and were told by a local to try the brats. The bratwursts that they served there were very long and skinny. When they served them, they broke them in half and stuck them in a roll. The bratwurst, even split in half, was still almost double the length of the roll. It had a nice flavor, but wasn't spicy, like the kind we get here in the U.S.

The next one I tried was in Munich and was actually a sausage. Munich is actually very well known for their Weisswurst Sausage, which is a boiled white sausage made with veal, bacon, parsley and lemon. It is served with a pretzel and sweet mustard. I loved the mustard, the pretzel was good, but the sausage was just okay. It was very soft and I could mostly only taste the parsley. I'm glad I tried it, but I probably wouldn't get it again. :-/

The last bratwurst I tried was in Neiderjoshbach, the town my parents live in. I'm not sure if it was a regional bratwurst or not, but it was more like what we have here in the U.S. It was quite spicy and very good! It was served on sauerkraut with american fries on the side. I am very good about eating everything that I am served, and if I can't finish it I'll take it home and finish it at another meal. It's a different story when it comes to sauerkraut, though. I tried it, because I was going to try as much as I could in Germany while I had the chance, but it had never been for me in the past it wasn't for me then, either.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Looking So Grown Up!

I'm not sure where she picked up this look, but she started this after I came back. If you can't tell, she is leaning up against the wall with her hands in her pockets (and she is quite proud of herself!)

For more Wordless Wednesdays, check out 5 Minutes for Mom.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I'm Home!

I have actually been home since Saturday night, but I'm still trying to get back to normal and catch up with a few things, so I haven't had much time to blog. I'm hoping to, though, within the next week or so. I have a bunch of pictures and all sorts of neat things that I learned and experienced to share, so stay tuned! :-)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: I know you love him, but really??

Morgan loves her puppy and does everything with him. She sleeps with him, reads to him, pretends to feed him and lately she even has to take him to the potty.

For more Wordless Wednesdays, check out 5 Minutes for Mom.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Be a Joyful Shopper!

In some ways I'm glad that I'm in Germany right now. (At least I should be, but I can't say for sure, since I'm writing this in advance.) I haven't quite decided yet if I like Black Friday. I love a good deal just as much as anyone, but I also hate waiting in line (just as much as anyone.) So by being in Germany, I don't even have to contemplate wether I should try making my out today. For those of you who are going out, I urge you to remember what Christmas is about. I know you've been up since 4:00 a.m., you're tired and grouchy and just don't want to put up with anything (at least that's the way I would be), but Christmas isn't about finding the best deal or about shopping at all. Christmas is about giving. So, instead of being grouchy, try giving up your place in line or saying "Merry Christmas" (happily) to the person who just cut you off. In general, just try to keep the Christmas spirit alive, despite the nature of the day. I'm sure those grouchy feelings will melt away and you'll feel more joy in the attitude you kept, than in the deal you got. I'll be thinking of you while I'm over here in Germany. I have a feeling that I'll be needing take some of my own advice from what I've heard of the German culture ;-) I better start practicing 'Frohe Weihnachten!' (German for 'Merry Christmas!').

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Wishes

As I pack and get ready to head off to Germany this Thanksgiving day, I realize that I have a lot to be thankful for. I am thankful for a husband who is willing to take care of our two little ones while I'm gone for 10 days. I am thankful for my two beautiful children, who I'm going to miss terribly while I'm gone. I am thankful to those in the family who have offered to help care for the children while Rich is working and I'm away. I am thankful for my parents, who have done so much for me through my life and are now giving me a great opportunity to travel to Germany to come spend time with them. The list could go on and on, but today my family is what I'm most thankful for. I love you all and Happy Thanksgiving!

P.S. I only have a couple posts scheduled for the next 10 days and I probably won't have time to post while I'm gone. Sorry to those who check my blog on a regular basis, but I hope to have several posts about Germany when I get back! :-)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: I don't know I'm Stuck Yet...

This happy expression disappeared quickly when Blake realized he was stuck.

For more Wordless Wednesdays visit 5 Minutes for Mom.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Macy's 'A million Reasons to Believe'

I loved the 'made for TV' movie "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Clause", when I was younger. I think it was the sole reason I believed in Santa Clause until I was 12. (Yeah, I was kinda naive.) If you never saw it, you really missed out on a truly inspiring story about a girl's letter to the editor of the New York Sun asking about Santa's existence and the editor's subsequent response. Something that I didn't realize, until recently, was the movie was based on a true story, so even if you missed the movie, you can still read the article.

Well, someone at Macy's must have been as inspired as I was by the Virginia's story, because they are doing something really neat in honor of it. They are asking that not only children, but adults as well, write a letter, or wish, to Santa and bring it into Macy's. For every letter they receive, they will donate $1 to the Make-A-Wish foundation up to $1,000,000. They will also have a 'Believe' meter that will continue to go up as they receive letters. So take a look at the article, get inspired, and write a letter to Santa this Christmas. You'll be helping make wishes come true :-)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Giveaways for Tech Savvy Kids

I never thought that I'd want my kids to play video games or get into too much technology. I wanted them to learn from things like books, board games and imaginative play as much as possible. I'm starting to realize, with technology advancing so quickly, that they will need to understand the new technology in order get by when they are older. I definitely don't want it to be their only source of play, but I am more willing now, than in the past, to allow video games, and things of that nature, into our home. Besides, a lot of the stuff looks pretty neat and I'd want to try it out for myself :-)
If you'd like to have tech savvy kids, there are several giveaways going on right now that, if you win, could get them headed in that direction. Check them out!

Poingo Reading System
SAHM Reviews (ends Nov. 25th)
Mammalicious Finds (ends Nov. 23rd)
5 Minutes for Mom (ends Nov. 28th)
Berrie Sweet Picks (ends Nov. 30th)
(Learn more about Poingo through Poingo's webpage.)

TAG Reading System
Mums The Wurd (ends Nov. 23rd)
Mamanista (It's part of their Hottest Holiday Toys for 2008.) (ends Dec. 3rd)

VTech Create-a-Story
Livin' with Me! (ends Nov. 23rd)

Leapfrog Didj and 3 games
Chefdruck Musings (ends Nov. 29th)

Playstation 2 Bundle
5 Minutes for Mom (ends Nov. 28th)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

$100 Home Depot Gift Card Giveaways

Rich has asked on several occasions if I have signed up for any giveaways for him. I always enter to win things for the kids and I, mostly because I like to visit mom blogs, but the only time there were giveaways for him were at Father's Day. So, today, I actually entered a couple giveaways that Rich would love. Both Mommy Daddy Blog and A Cowboy's Wife are giving away $100 gift cards to Home Depot. Follow the links and sign up to win for the guys in your life. I'm sure Rich will be happy that I did :-)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Sweet Siblings

This was actually taken a little while ago, but it's my favorite of Morgan and Blake together. It's so hard to get smiles from both of them at the same time! :-)

For more Wordless Wednesdays, check out 5 Minutes for Mom.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Blake's First Haircut

Little Blakers got his first hair cut yesterday. It felt funny trimming his hair when I haven't even cut Morgan's hair yet. (She could probably use a little trim, but I want to make sure it is long enough to save about an inch and still be able to put her hair up.) I'll admit I really didn't know what I was doing. I've read how to do all sorts of things in the parenting magazines, but none of them say how to go about cutting a 14 month old's hair. I ended up chasing him around cutting a little at a time and, as you can imagine, that method it didn't work near as well as I had hoped. No matter what, I still think it looks better than the little mullet he was getting. What do you think?

I have actually trimmed a little bit more since this picture, so it isn't quite so uneven. I do feel sorry for Blake, though. I'm glad he is too young to care. At least a have a few years to get it all figured out and avoid him having to wear a hat from embarrassment :-).

To be put in Blake's "My First Curl" box.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Making Progress

We started going to a new church about a month ago. It's a church that I had been wanting to make it to and see how we liked it. I have friends that attend there and Rich, being from this area, knows all sorts of people that go there. From everything I had heard about the worship music, the sermons and the children's programs, I really thought it would be a great fit for our family. So far, I love it and Rich seems to like it, but the kids are just not adjusting as quickly as I had hoped.

The first week we attended, we didn't know that the church had a nursery, so we kept the kids in the service with us. We didn't have the most pleasant experience. The kids, acting their ages and being impatient, did not do well in the service. Rich and I were so occupied trying to keep the kids entertained that we heard very little, if any, of the sermon. We both agreed that the next time we would try out the nursery, since we now knew it existed.

The following week, we went again and tried leaving the kids in the nursery. Morgan was great when we left her in the 18 month to 3 year nursery. She went off and played with the toys and didn't even seem to care if we were there or not. Blake went to the Birth to 18 month nursery, where he was crying when we left, but I expected that he would have a harder time. When we went to pick them up they were total opposites of how we left them. Blake had done fine and slept most of the time, Morgan had been had been crying and kept saying "no church" all the way home. I wasn't sure what was going to happen, but we were going to keep trying.

The next Sunday Morgan had stayed the night at her Grandma's, so we only took Blake and we kept him in the service with us. The following week went as well as week number two and last week, feeling guilty that they had such a hard time adjusting, I never left the nursery. I stayed with them and totally missed the sermon. I was starting to wonder if going to church was going to work out at all. We knew they couldn't stay in the service with us, because Rich and I would miss the message and we'd be stressed trying to keep them entertained. Leaving them in the nursery was stressful to all of us. (I could hear Blake screaming from inside the sanctuary!) There was no way that I could stay in the nursery with them, since that would totally defeat the purpose of going in the first place. I realized that it takes time for them to adjust, and as long as the nursery workers could handle them, we were still going to keep trying.

Today was our fifth Sunday at the new church and yet another attempt at the nursery. We tried leaving them in the same nursery room, hoping they would be better together. When we left, Morgan was crying and Blake was fine . When we went to pick them up, we were told that Blake started crying because Morgan was crying and they had to separate them. All I thought was "oh no", but to my surprise they both seemed happy and there were no tears. I really don't know the best way to help them adjust, but I do think we are starting to make progress....finally! :-)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Only 2 Weeks Away!

It is hard to believe that my trip to Germany is only two weeks away now! My sister and I will be leaving on Thanksgiving and spending 10 days with our parents in Germany. I've been making lists and gathering things to take a little at a time. I've researched what I can and can't take on the plane, information about duty and how to get the German tax back when I come home again. In all the preparations, I've also been thinking about how anxious I am to be able to travel and see my parents, yet I am also worried about leaving my family.

It feels like it's been forever since I've seen my mom and dad, so I'm really excited to see them again! It's been since February that I've seen my dad and since May, when she came home to visit, that I've seen my mom. For some reason, I've really been missing my dad. I can't explain it, but there are times that I find myself bursting into tears when I think about him. It's mostly things that bring about good memories, like a father-daughter dance at the last wedding I was at, that make me so emotional. It's crazy that I thought I'd have the hardest time without my mom, being that we did everything together, yet I get the most emotional thinking about Dad. We talk on the phone and the web cam, but it isn't the same as seeing them in person or just having them home again.

Besides seeing my parents, I'm also looking forward to getting a better idea of the German culture and, of course, the sightseeing! I know mom and dad had a tough time adjusting to how different it was to live in Germany. I would have never guessed that they are so culturally different than the United States. It will be neat to see how my parents have adjusted to life over there and actually experience some of what they did when they moved. We'll also be checking out all sorts of sights. Between the research I've done and the places my parents have been, I don't think we will have any downtime in the 10 days I'll be there.

As much I'm looking forward to the great opportunity I have to travel to Germany, I'm also apprehensive about leaving Rich and the kids behind. In some ways it will be nice to not have to worry about changing diapers, naps, tantrums, etc., but I know that I am going to miss the kids like crazy! I have only ever left them overnight with their grandparents before. One night without them wasn't bad , though, because it gave me a little break and I always knew I'd be seeing them the next day. Being gone for 10 days, I'll be going to bed several nights knowing that I won't be seeing them again for days! I admittedly cry ever time I think about it and I know it'll be even worse when I'm in Germany. I guess I feel guilty for leaving them and I am also feeling guilty for leaving Rich. I know he would love to see Germany too, but he keeps telling me to go and have a good time.

In the end, when I think of the trip as a whole, I am definitely a lot more excited about going than apprehensive about leaving. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel. It'll be great to see my parents, have some time away from the little ones and tour a beautiful country. As much as I'll miss the kiddos, I know they'll be in good hands and 10 days isn't forever, right? I may have red, puffy eyes the whole time I'm gone, but gosh darn it, I'm going to do as Rich says and have a good time!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Snack Time!

Whenever I give Blake his afternoon snack, he sits down, puts his drink and snack between his legs and just chows down.

To see more Wordless Wednesdays, check out 5 Minutes for Mom.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Indian Popcorn Update

After nearly two hours and four sore thumbs, Rich and I got all the popcorn shelled last night. I no longer remember how many ears of corn that I picked, husked and hung up to dry, but we ended up with three and a half quart bags of shelled popcorn. Knowing how much I like popcorn, that much might last 'til Christmas-if I'm lucky :-) I'll be saving some to plant in the spring, though. I now know that I'll definitely have to plant a lot more to make it last for a whole year!
If you missed my post about Indian Popcorn and would like to learn more about it, just click here.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Reaching New Heights Update

A couple weeks ago, I posted about Blake starting a new adventure in climbing. In that post, I mentioned that he would be climbing all sorts of things before I knew it. Well, it probably wasn't even a week later that he discovered what else he could climb. Blake loves to climb on his little chair. This is actually a great way for him to discover new things. He has figured out that he can drag the chair to different parts of the living room and reach Mommy's figurines and everything else that he isn't suppose to play with.

Blake also loves to climb on the coffee table! He has been leaving all sorts of fingerprints on the TV screen. He even loves to give either the TV, or the characters on the TV, kisses. It is really cute!

The one thing Blake hasn't mastered climbing, out of everything he has tried, is the couch. He begs for Rich and I to put him up there, so he can practice getting down, though. There have been days that I bet I lifted him onto the couch 50 times, so he could just get down again. I'm sure he'll figure out how to get up there soon. The only thing stopping has been stopping him so far is how slippery it is.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Tropical Tree Frog Costume Giveaway

I know Halloween is over, but Grosgrain is having a Tropical Tree Frog Costume GIVEAWAY!!!! and it is adorable! I couldn't pass up the chance to win it for Blake to wear next year. Even if you don't need a costume, you should at least head over to Grosgrain and take a look at some of the pictures. It truly takes a lot of talent to be able to sew a costume as neat as this Tree Frog!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Under the Tree

Under the Tree girl 250x250
We are coming into the time of year where a lot of us start thinking about what we can do to help someone in need this Christmas. With so many people losing jobs and homes this past year, I can imagine there are several people who could use a little extra help during the holidays. In the spirit of Christmas, 5 Minutes for Mom has started a program called Under the Tree. They have rounded up several companies who are willing to donate gifts to children of families who might not otherwise have presents under their tree this year. The only thing is, they need families to donate to! If you happen to know of a family who is really struggling to make ends meet this Christmas, just head on over to 5 Minutes for Mom and leave a comment nominating the family or send them an e-mail at info(at)5minutesformom(dot)com. They ask that you do not let the families know you are nominating them to avoid disappointing anyone.

I also wanted to mention that 5 Minutes for Mom is also hosting a Christmas Giveaway where they are giving away a bunch of prizes throughout November. Check it out by clicking on the Christmas Giveaway button in my sidebar.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Saving Money in a Tight Economy

With today's economy, it is important to save money wherever possible. I usually like to shop at garage sales or Mom 2 Mom sales for the kids to save some money, but I also like to get them new clothes for Christmas and their birthdays. Last week I was given 2 coupons for $10 off a $10 purchase to JCPenney and I decided I would use them for Morgan's Christmas clothes. Rich and I made it to JCPenney on Saturday morning during their Door buster Deals when I knew I'd be able to save even more money. I made it out of JCPenney with quite a steal! Here is how my purchases broke down:

Full Price:
Jeans $21.99
Shirt $14.99
Shirt $7.99

Total with 6% sales tax: $47.67

Sale Price with coupons:
2 separate purchases

Purchase 1:
Jeans $10.99
Minus coupon: $.99
Total with 6% sales tax: $1.05

Purchase 2:
Shirt $7.99
Shirt $3.99
Total: $11.98
Minus coupon: $1.98
Total with 6% sales tax: $2.10

Total sale price with coupons: $3.15

I bought $47.67 worth of clothes for $3.15! That is 1/15th of the original price! It really pays to be frugal! :-)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day is Here!

I don't think anyone could forget to vote with all the attention this election has been getting, but I wanted to post a reminder anyway :-)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Following in Daddy's Footsteps

While I was looking through some photos from this summer, I came across a couple from our family camping trip in August. I had forgotten that I had taken some pictures while Rich was making his acclaimed (at least within our family) chili to cook over the campfire. As Rich was putting his ingredients into a pot, Blake decided that he would like try his hand at making some chili too. Rich's chili is made with things like beef, beans and tomato, while Blake's ingredients were more like what you would find in a mud pie....

Things like the dog's water, dirt and leaves.

I think it is so cute that Blake is already following in his Daddy's footsteps! I don't plan on trying Blake's chili anytime soon, though.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Blake's Masterpiece!

Blake loves to get messy when he eats. It seems like the messier he gets, the happier he is. Not only that, but he hates to be cleaned afterwords. It is almost like he creates a masterpiece all over his face (and body) with his food and doesn't want it to be destroyed. Blake can sure scream and put up a fight if he doesn't get his way, too. We don't have a picture of his fits, due to the hastiness of cleaning him to avoid hearing loss, but we have some good ones of his masterpieces! The picture above is at his birthday and is one of my favorites.

5 Minutes for Mom is hosting a FUN with FOOD photo contest sponsored by Prego, where you can win a $500 gift card for groceries. Head on over and check out the rules to enter. $500 in groceries would be a big help for everyone right now!

P.S.-For those of you who read my post "Flies, Flies and More Flies!", you may notice the flies in the photo. I think I counted 9 just on the back of the highchair and that was just the beginning of the problems we had with them on Blake's birthday. His party was in the garage, though, so they had very easy access to disturbing us that day.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Kiddos in their Costumes

Morgan and Blake had a lot of fun going to the homes of family and friends to trick-or-treat last night. I didn't think they would want to keep their costumes on, but they actually did really good and they even wanted to wear them again today! Here are a few pictures of them in their costumes.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Pumpkin Pancakes

Since today is Halloween, I wanted to make something special for one of our meals today. I decided I would make Pumpkin Pancakes for breakfast. I hardly ever make breakfast, especially not during the week. We always have cereal because it is quick and easy when the kids are fussing that they are hungry. To minimize grouchiness and make sure the pancakes were done early enough that Rich could eat them before he went to work, I planned ahead. I set out all the dry ingredients and utensils last night and then I got up earlier than usual this morning to have the pancakes done before the kids woke up. It all went quite smoothly and we were all able to eat without any fussing. Everyone was quite happy, for once, and the pancakes were delicious!
Pumpkin Pancake Recipe:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar

1. In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg, oil and vinegar. Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Stir into the pumpkin mixture-just enough to combine.

2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan to medium heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.

Thanks to All Recipes for the wonderful recipe.

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Our 3rd Anniversary

Rich and I have been married for three years today. Time has really flown and, at the same time, it seems like it's been longer for everything that has happened. We hadn't even been dating for a year when we got married. Before our second anniversary we had already had two children. Marriage alone was a huge adjustment, let alone adding two pregnancies and two babies to our new lives together. Through all our trials, and there have been many, Rich has stayed by my side and worked through them with me. I tease that if we could make it through what we've been through so far, we can make it through anything. I don't know what else God has planned for us, but I know He sent me a great friend to enjoy life with. I couldn't have asked for a better man for my husband or a better father for my children.

I love you, Rich! Happy Anniversary!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More Pumpkin Goodness

Since I am such a huge fan of pumpkin baked goods and I personally have several pumpkins that I need to cook up, I plan on making a couple of my favorite pumpkin recipes in the next couple weeks. I have already cooked one pumpkin and made a Pumpkin Cake that I blogged about here. Besides that, I also want to make a Pumpkin Coconut Bread and a Pumpkin Upside-down Cake. I'm sure I'm not the only pumpkin lover. I know there are others who would love to try these recipes, so I posted them below. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Coconut Bread
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups pumpkin
  • 4 well-beaten eggs
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 packages (3 oz. each) instant Coconut Cream Pie filling

Mix all ingredients together. Pour into 2 loaf pans. Bake @ 350 for 1 hour.

Pumpkin Upside-down Cake


  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cans (1 pound size) pumpkin
  • 1.25 cups sugar
  • 1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ginger


  • 1 package yellow cake mix
  • 3/4 cup melted oleo
  • 1 cup walnuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Make filling: beat eggs, add remaining ingredients. Pour into ungreased 13x9x2 pan.

2. For the topping, sprinkle the dry cake mix evenly over the filling. Drizzle butter evenly over cake mix.

3. Bake 30 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle nuts on top and return to oven. Bake 30 minutes longer or until top is golden brown.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pumpkin Animals

I thought it would be fun to paint pumpkins this year with the kids. Painting would allow them to be creative and be more involved than they would be if we carved a pumpkin. I thought for sure there must be pumpkin painting kits, and there probably are, just not in the store I was in. The store did carry sets to decorate pumpkins as either monsters or animals, though. The kits were face pieces that are pushed into the pumpkin like making a Mr. Potato Head. I thought they were really cute, so I picked up an animal kit and decided we could try painting another year.

We decided to make our animal pumpkins last night, but it didn't work like I thought it would. The pieces were really hard to push into the pumpkins. So hard that Rich and I had to decorate the pumpkins while Morgan and Blake watched. Blake was already tired, got bored quickly and ended up was fussy through most of the decorating. Morgan tried pushing a couple pieces in, but when that didn't work, she was content seeing the animals take shape. It wasn't exactly what I had planned for getting them involved. Even if we had carved a pumpkin, they could have at least taken the insides out. I guess we'll have to stick to pushing face pieces into Mr. Potato Head, for now, and be sure to try painting or carving pumpkins next year.

The animal pumpkins did turn out super cute-check out the pics!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Reaching New Heights

Blake has begun a new adventure in climbing. He hasn't made it too high yet, but I thought it was pretty cute when I caught the following picture of him the other day.

This picture reminded me of a couple that I took of Morgan this time last year.


Here, Morgan is standing on the end table to get to the phone. I love the 'Uh-oh' look from being caught.


In this picture, she is on another table looking at her new little brother in his Pack 'N Play.

Blake has a little ways to go to catch up with the heights Morgan was reaching this time last year. He is learning quickly, though, and I'm sure he'll be climbing all sorts of things before I know it.

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