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.

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