Saturday, December 29, 2007

My life is just getting CRAZIER...

I know I haven't been writing. I haven't had much computer access time. Anyway, I do have BIG NEWS! BIG NEWS! No... not that I sold my house. Not quite that big of BIG NEWS! I could only wish. No, this BIG NEWS is that Tim got a job here in South Carolina. He went out on Thursday and went to exactly ONE place. He walked in, talked to the guy, got a job with benefits, with a pay increase. I was waiting in the car at the time. You see we thought we would have to drive all around the area to find something. We don't know our way around that much, so I went to help navigate. This place is like 3 miles from our new house. I guess the guy has a mechanic leaving in a few weeks and Tim is supposed to start in 3 weeks! AHHHHHH!!! Did I mention that we are in SC for the rest of this week? Then I have to go home and find somebody to rent my house, pack and move! It will all work out, right? Please keep telling me that. Okay, I gotta get a shower and pick paint colors for the basement. I may be back with more news later. Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

A message from another blog...

Today has been busy, busy. There was making sugar cookies, fudge, mashed potatoes bake (for Christmas Day) and the list goes on. Like I said - busy, busy! I did take some time this morning to read some blogs I enjoy. One of them is Sarah's In the Midst of It. I wrote about her blog last year. I was praying for her sweet little girl's health. Anyway, her husband is a pastor at a church in Texas. She linked to a sermon he gave last week. I went ahead and clicked... I was really glad I did! Here is the funny thing... at one point while he is speaking, he says, "It's not about you, Kari!" I was like.... whoa... that was weird! Even Savannah looked up from her playdough and asked if he was talking to me. Too funny! If you have a minute and want to be inspired check out this link. Tomorrow will also be busy, busy. There are more cookies to bake. Yes, more! There can never be enough cookies, can there? Then there is cleaning to do - since we are leaving the day after Christmas. Just in case somebody wants to come and buy my house while we are gone. I am sure the day will zip by and before I know it - it will be Christmas Eve. I am not going to promise a post between now and a day or so after Christmas. I am sure I have things to share, but I don't know how diligent I will be at getting my list done. Come back in and check on me.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas and food...

Food has been a big discussion on my homeschool message board I read. Lots of questions about what people are serving for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day along with recipes for cookies, rolls, etc. Lots and lots of talk about food. I think most of us have traditions that we stick to for one reason or another. We make peanut butter blossom cookies. Sometimes I make them other times, but always at Christmas. I also make my mom's fudge (which is actually just the recipe on the marshmallow cream jar - recipe below). This will be my first year making a ham for Christmas Day. I don't love ham, so I just never found myself making one. I don't hate it either, I just prefer turkey over ham. My family happens to all love ham, so I am giving them a ham dinner this year. I had to go buy it today. I have never bought a ham before seeing as how I had never made one before. It was actually quite simple once I looked at the Honey Baked Ham site and saw how many pounds of ham feeds how many people. I opted to not spend $50 on a Honey Baked Ham when I could buy one from the store for about $15. I may end up regretting that decision, but I hope not. I have had the Honey Baked before. It was good, but not that good. Anyway, for Christmas Eve we started having Chinese several years ago. We all go to church and then go back to my mom's for Chinese. Actually, when we first started this we didn't just get Chinese. We got some biscuits and shrimp from Red Lobster and Italian Beef from a local deli. The idea was to have lots of the foods we loved without the work. Now that we don't have as many people, we just stick with the Chinese food. I love it and so does the rest of the family. All this thinking about food got me thinking back to when I was a kid. My mom always cooked dinner on Christmas Eve. It was just our immediate family and possibly my grandma. I can't remember a thing she cooked, but I know she cooked. On Christmas Day we had a brunch with the rest of the family. Egg quiche that I hated (still do). So, this one Christmas Eve was different. My mom always worked the Christmas Eve night shift in the ER. We would have dinner and then my dad would take us out for a drive, so Santa could come. Then we would open gifts. Now that I am a mom, I can see how overwhelming it must have been for my mom. She had 4 kids, dinner, presents, all the hoopla and then work all night. This one Christmas Eve, she broke down and ordered Pizza Hut. I was probably 8 or 9 at the time. I was SO EXCITED! Okay, we didn't get fast food or pizza like my kids do today. It was a treat! A huge treat! I remember dancing around the living room waiting for the pizza guy to come. I can still remember the smell of the pizza and sitting around the table with my family. Ahhhh... it was the best! Here is the funny thing... I talked to my mom about this once. I told her how much I loved it. She went on to tell me that she felt so incredibly bad that she was just too tired to cook a big dinner. She felt like she was FAILING her children by not doing the traditional thing. Here she had no idea that I couldn't remember a single other dinner, but that one... that one pizza dinner had stuck in my mind all these years. Sometimes we think we need to plan the best meal and decorate the best cookies. Sometimes we want all the decorations in just the right place. Sometimes we get all wrapped up in all that is going on. Then there are those little things like an unexpected pizza that make it feel like Christmas! I am so glad that I thought about this today. I hope my kids can grab hold of a memory like that and remember it for years to come.

Fantasy Fudge Recipe

3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter or margarine
1 small can (5 oz) evaporated milk (about 2/3 cup)
1 1/2pkg (12 squares Baker's Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate Chopped) OR 2 cups Semi-Sweet chips - I always use the chocolate chips.
1 jar (7 oz) Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme
1 tsp vanilla

Line 9 inch square pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over the sides of the pan; set aside. (I have never done this step!) Place sugar, butter and evaporated milk in large heavy saucepan. Bring to full rolling boil on medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil 4 minutes or until candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees, stirring constantly to prevent schorching. Remove from heat.
Add chocolate and marshmallow creme, stire until completely melted. Add vanilla and optional nuts; mix well.
Pour immediately into prepared pan; spread to form even layer in pan. Let stand at room temperature 4 hours or until completely cooled; cut into 1 inch squares. This recipe says to store at room temperature, but I alway keep it in the fridge. Otherwise it can get mushy. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Florida, vacations, and perspective...

Hi there! It has been awhile again. Busy, busy, busy. Today we went on our last visit to Busch Gardens. It was BEAUTIFUL out today. This was one of those PERFECT Florida days. I was chatting with another mom in a ride line. She asked me if I lived here. When I told her that I did indeed live here only over the bay... she responded with a sound of awe in her voice saying, "Over by the beach?". I told her yes, that was right. She just looked at me with amazement. Then I told her I was moving to South Carolina probably next month. She said, "WHY???" Too funny! I told her that is was crowded and expensive here. She still looked at me like I was crazy. I asked her where she was from. She said Tennessee. She had the Southern accent for sure. I told her that we had bought a house on an acre and were ready for some space after having 10 feet to our fence for the last 8 years. She then told me that they had 5.5 acres! Even more funny! She went on to say that it was their first time at Busch Gardens and it was all just so fun. I agreed with her and told her a few places not to miss. It was fun talking with her. Then I started doing what I always do... second guessing myself. Maybe she was right... how on Earth could I decide to leave Florida after over 17 years? Would I miss Busch Gardens terribly. Nevermind that I hadn't been to Busch Gardens in years before we got a pass this year! Somehow I did survive all of those years. Would I miss this GLORIOUS weather? Oh, that's right, I was just whining last week that it was so hot and humid in December that I was running my ac. Still, I wondered. Then I started to think about all the new things to explore. Charleston, Stone Mountain, Atlanta, Savannah, Smokey Mountains, Outer Banks, DC and on and on. These things have been too far to drive to for the most part. Sure, we have been to a few, but haven't spent a lot of time there. It is exciting to think of all the possibilities! Even with all of those new places, Disney World is still special to me. We will have to come back for that. No doubt! Sebastian has only been once when he was 2 months old. As much as Tim will hate it... I see a week at Walt Disney World in his future! Shhhh... don't tell him just yet.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sean and Haley...

My nephew, Sean, got married today. He married this wonderful young lady by the name of Haley. I met Haley this past March and instantly fell in love with her. I can only hope and pray that my son will find a girl like her. She is smart and loving and just a joy to be around. I didn't go to the wedding because we are set to go to SC the day after Christmas. I just couldn't make the trip twice in about a week's time. I am hoping somebody (hint family) will send me some pictures of the actual wedding soon. Okay, here is my sentimental mushy part of this post. I just can't believe Sean is married. I sware it seems like just yesterday that Debi and I were pregnant with our first boys. Wasn't she just telling me about teaching him to read with Sing, Spell, Read and Write? Where did all the time go and how did he get old enough to be a husband? Ya know... I married young - at 18 - just like them. Somehow I didn't feel like I was so young when I got married. Now that I am a mom and older, they just seem so young! Funny how that happens, huh? I pray they have a happy and fulfilling marriage. I pray they stick together through the tough times (there will be tough times). I pray they trust in each other and talk to each other. I pray so many things for them. Most of all, I pray that they believe in each other and their marriage. If they do that, they will get through anything! Congratulations, Sean and Haley!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mary, Did you know?

I love all sorts of Christmas songs. Who doesn't love Bing Crosby and Christmas songs? C'mon, you gotta admit that you sing along with him. Then there is Brenda Lee and Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree. Another great favorite. I gotta say I really, really don't like Bruce Springteen singing Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Not one bit! We have a radio station on in the kids room that plays Christmas music all the time till Christmas. I turn it on in the car too. For some unknown reason to me, they don't play this song much. When they do it is the Kenny Rogers/Wynonna version. I love Wynonna. I honestly do. I have like 4 of her cds. I love her voice in this song, but I hate Kenny Roger's version. That brings me to Kathy Mattea's version of Mary, Did You Know. I love it. I try to sing with it, but honestly you don't want to hear me sing with it. I am sure it is pretty bad. I don't care. I still sing with it! Here is my Christmas song for you. I hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A lame attempt at a post...

I just looked at my counter and saw that many of my friends and family have been checking my blog today. I am so sorry there has been no new posts. I wasn't THAT busy that I couldn't have found something to post about. I just didn't do it. I sat down TWICE today trying to come up with something to write. I looked back at some pictures. There are a few pictures I had wanted to post weeks ago and never really got to it. Yesterday and today were pretty typical days. I went grocery shopping yesterday and cleaned. I did laundry and cleaned today. I did work on my Christmas cards and will hopefully be getting them out soon. I still need Timmy's pictures. I guess I am in a funk over the house things still. I was so hoping for some type of Christmas miracle that my house would be sold. I am feeling that is not going to happen, so I am not coming up with a lot to post about. I need to write my Christmas letter too. That is pretty hard to do when I am not inspired. I keep thinking it will all come to me and my typing fingers, but no such luck as of yet. To top it all off... we are still working on potty training. UGH! This is not working! I don't know what to about that. I think the boy needs to drink lactaid to help with his digestion or something. More than you probably ever wanted to know, huh? Well, there you have my lame attempt at a post. I feel bad when I see so many people came to read my blog and I haven't added anything new. I really hope inspiration comes back soon. Until then, here are some pictures for a few weeks ago. We met Tim for lunch at the McDonald's on the water. We had some cookies and I scrounged the bottom of the diaper bag for a baggie of cereal. They had a blast feeding the seagulls!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Advice from a 3 year old...

Tonight, Tim and I were watching Grey's Anatomy on the DVR. It was a particularly bloody episode. I don't like blood... I know... who does? I mean I sorta freak out at the sight of it. There was this guy and blood was SPURTING out of his neck. I was sorta screaming something like, "OHHHHHHH!!!! GROSS!!!!! OOOOOOOHHHHH!!!!!!! YUCK!!!!!!!!!" Sebastian was in his bed - supposed to be sleeping. All of a sudden, we hear him call out of his room to me. He says, "Mom, just close your eyes! Just close your eyes!" Good advice son! I did close my eyes. Worked well!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Before the Christmas tree fell over...

I just remembered I took pictures of putting the tree up this weekend. It was not only "Put up the tree day", it was also our first day of official potty training. Thus the reason Sebastian is sporting a pair of undies and a t-shirt. Someday I am sure he will be thrilled that I have him on video tape prancing around in his undies and a Santa hat!
Good thing he is cute because I don't even want to share with you how many pairs of underpants we went through in one STINKING and I do mean STINKING day!
Isn't he precious?

Savannah is really the tree decorator in our family. I sorta put a few ornaments on here and there.

Sebastian managed to put one or two ON the tree. I think he managed to also take 12 or 14 OFF the tree!

Trees, boxes and hugs...

Yesterday was not a great day. I know I don't whine here, but yesterday was not a great day. I woke up and decided to plug the Christmas tree lights in. I had this BRILLIANT idea to leave the back bottom branch off the tree and sorta scoot the back branches that go up to the right or left of the tree. That made it set up against the wall better and not stick out in the middle of my living room. I will post pictures when it is all decorated, maybe. Usually, we put it on the corner by the couch. We end up moving the couch and rocking chair down. It doesn't look all symmetrical when we are done. I thought since just maybe somebody would come to buy my house, that I would try to keep the furniture in a good place and do this. In theory it seemed to be working out well. I was even wondering why I hadn't thought to do this before. (Well, years ago there was an aquarium where the tree is now - I couldn't have moved that!)As I was saying, I went to plug the tree in. The outlet is DIRECTLY behind the tree. I had to reach through the branches and plug it in. When I set the tree up, I remember thinking I should get extension cord, so I wouldn't have to reach into the tree. I hadn't done that yet. There went the tree! It just fell over! I screamed for Timmy to help me! He came running and I just lost it. All I could imagine was that all of my ornaments were broken! I was a wreck! Timmy lifted the tree up to find that only 2 ornaments had broken. One can be fixed, the other not so much. We got the tree back in place and I rearranged the lights and garland. It still needs more ornaments, but I think it will be okay. We also put a power strip where it is easy to reach. Next up, Timmy and I went to our storage unit. I have been needing to get some things out of there. Winter clothes, hot cocoa maker (yes, I am obsessed with hot cocoa), sewing machine and most of all - a box of Christmas gifts. I found everything I was looking for except the most important box of Christmas gifts. I thought maybe I had stored it in our shed, but when I got home and looked - no luck. I was just so down. Actually, I still am pretty bummed about it. It has all sorts of gifts in it for our family plus Christmas cards and some stocking stuffers. I just laid down on my bed and cried. I am tired. I am worn out and I am just plain tired of trying to sell my house. This sure sounds like a whiny post, huh? I know... keep reading. I am whiny and I am frustrated. I am trying to potty train Sebastian this week and it is not working. Life is just not exactly what I want it to be. As I laid on my bed and cried, I started thinking about things. I was trying my best to pull myself out of my pity party. I thought about how I was very lucky that I had a strong and helpful 18 year old son to rescue my tree that morning. I thought about Timmy some more - about how he helped me search through the storage unit. We even had a few good laughs (not that I was laughing when he and his friend closed me INSIDE the storage unit!). I started thinking about options to replace the Christmas presents in the box. I realized that I am blessed with an extended family that really doesn't care all that much what we give them. Tim's brother and sisters are great people. My sisters are great people. They would be happy with whatever we gave them. I realized that while I have really cute cards in that box, that as long as I take a moment to write a Christmas letter - that was all that I really needed. I won't say that I cheered myself up sky high or anything, but I wasn't crying anymore. Tim called me on his way home like he always does. I told him that I couldn't find my box. He did what he always does... he told me he would find it for me. Somehow I always believe he CAN fix my problem. It is amazing that I can search through tons of boxes and feel completely lost and then he can just say, "I will find it" and I feel like he will. Best of all, when he came home... he told me that I looked like I could use a hug. He gave me the best hug and somehow I just knew it would be all better.

Monday, December 03, 2007

A short Monday morning post about Starbucks...

I have a ton of things I should be doing at this precise moment, but I haven't had my shower and I am still very tired. To some that know me well... they would not believe I would write a post about Starbucks. See, I don't like coffee. Nope! Never drink it. I love the smell of it. It goes back to my mom always drinking it and also my 7th and 8th grade Spanish teacher. This teacher had a little coffee hot plate in the back of the room. I sat pretty close to it and just inhaled the smell of the coffee. Mmmm... Love the smell, but hate the taste. The only time I usually have anything from Starbucks is either a Peanut Butter cookie from the Barnes and Noble one or a hot chocolate from the Super Target one. That is maybe once a year. I know you are asking what the heck is this all about? Last week, Timmy brought me a hot chocolate with a splash of hazelnut. OH MY GOSH! I loved it! It wasn't the best hot chocolate I have had because it didn't taste exactly like hot chocolate. It was just the best new type of taste for a warm drink containing hazelnut! Crazy, huh? On Saturday, I went shopping. Certain events were slightly frustrating. Nothing huge, but when you add that I was at a PMS high point for the day... I needed something to make me happy. I stepped into Super Target. I saw the Starbucks. Then I read the menu. I couldn't find anything that said anything about a Hazelnut Hot Chocolate. I don't like asking for things that aren't on the menu because I think all the people around me will point at me and laugh because I asked for a stupid thing. I know, silly, but true. I kept looking and looking. Finally, I saw where is said something about adding a flavor or something like that. I know you true Starbucks people are just laughing at me, but some of us just don't know how Starbucks (and IPODS for that matter) work. I meekly asked the counter person if I could get a Hot Chocolate with Hazelnut in it. She said, "Of course!" Woo! I could stop holding my breathe. I strolled the store with my Hazelnut Hot Chocolate WITHOUT KIDS! It was a nice shopping trip. There is one tiny problem though... I keep thinking about another cup of this stuff. I am "one of those people" who thinks is crazy to spend $4 on a cup of coffee or hot chocolate as the case may be. Sure, once in a while, but not every day. But, I am finding that I WANT ANOTHER ONE and I WANT IT NOW! Oh well, I will survive... at least till I have to go somewhere near a Starbucks this week.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Refrigerators, freezers, microwaves, OH MY!

I have been shopping for appliances for what seems like weeks even though it has actually only been days. It all started with a Sears ad on Black Friday. It was offering 18 months no interest and 20% off of appliances. Great! We *think* we may be moving in January even if we don't sell our house by then. We will need appliances. While we do still have money in savings to cover the cost of these, we also do not know how much longer we will have to pay two mortgages. So, it would be better to borrow their free money for 18 months. I was supposed to go look on Black Friday morning, but I was so sleepy from staying up so late the night before, I forgot! I got home and remembered that I was supposed to go look. My mom being the great mom she is... told me to go with Tim later that evening. After my nap, we headed out. I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted and we really just needed to write it up. The refrigerator guy was nice and wanted to make a sale. The oven guy - not so nice. When I asked him about the 18 months no interest - he told me that was only till noon. OOPS! Okay, that was fine. I have found that if you are going to spend a couple thousand dollars, that usually they will magically find a loop hole on the till noon rule. Nope - not Mr. Oven Salesman. He was rude and didn't seem to care. That just ticked me off. I realize that $2000 is not a huge amount of money to some people, but it is to me! I would expect a salesman to be decent and he was not. I politely and I really do mean politely told him we would just have to go to Best Buy as they were offering the 18 months deal and FREE DELIVERY all weekend. As we walked away, Tim offered to talk to a manager, but I just didn't want to at this point. I still had an uneasy feeling because now I had to rethink all my decisions and my mom is a Kenmore (Sears) brand loyalist. We head over to Best Buy. I begin looking and looking. I find a refrigerator, but it doesn't have the lock on the water/ice maker. That stinks! I really wanted that, but when I asked the guy he said I would have to make like a $400 to $500 price jump to get it. I am really lost. I start to fill out the financing paperwork and then I just stop. I tell the saleslady that I really need to go home and think about this more. She had to think I was nuts! We leave and go home. I spent some time reading online, but for some reason my mind was not working well. Probably too much leftovers and pie on the brain. The next afternoon, Tim and I went back with the kids. I chose the refrigerator without the lock, a stove, a super cheap microwave and Tim suggested we just go ahead and get a deep freezer because that will save on trips to Sam's and gas usage. Fine, they wrote it up and I was done, right? NOPE! I just didn't feel right about it. Do you know what I mean about having that feeling that it is just not the right thing? Okay, honestly, I pretty much always second guess every decision I make, but this was different. I didn't think about it a lot over the next couple days, just here and there. Then, yesterday, I was reading this blog Amazing Trips. She mentioned her triplet 3 year olds going crazy with the water/ice maker if she forgets to lock it. I instantly felt ill. Every time we go to Tim's brother's, we use the lock on the fridge. Sebastian is OBSESSED with this. Tim told me we will just have to be stern. The truth is I don't want to argue with my toddler EVERY STINKING DAY about the ice maker. I also don't want to argue with any other children who visit. I also don't want a flood on my beautiful new laminate flooring. I just felt like I HAD to change my refrigerator somehow. I decided that maybe I should order the refrigerator from Sears and keep the rest of my order the same. I looked and Sears had free delivery for two days only. Then I looked at the Best Buy website and lo and behold they do have a refrigerator like what I wanted for just $100 more. Didn't that sales guy tell me I would need to spend $400 or $500 more? He sure did! Now I decided I could just change my refrigerator to this other one that has a lock and even more good news - it is the Consumer Reports Best Buy for the year! Woohoo! I also decided to change our very cheap microwave with horrible reviews to the Consumer Reports selection. It took some talking and being on hold and faxing a signed document, etc., but I am happy to say I think I make the right decision. I know this all sounds crazy, but I have never bought that many appliances at once. It freaked me out! With our other appliances, it was just as they broke. When the fridge broke, I went to Sears Outlet and got a great deal on a pretty boring fridge. It was what I could afford and it would work. I found my stove on clearance at Lowe's for $200. I bought it without a way to take it home. When Tim when back for it, they had resold it! They let him go back and pick out a brand new glass top stove for $200. When we bought our dishwasher, I was broke, so I got the base model that cleans dishes. If I were to do that again, I would get a quieter model. This is just saying that I really never put a lot of thought into my appliance purchases before. Since things have been so unknown lately, I really wanted to try to make good decisions. I really hope these things will work well for us for a long time and we won't have to think about repairs (knocking on wood). I think we are done with major purchases for awhile and quite honestly I am really glad. I guess if my house were sold, I would not be nearly as freaked out by it. Oh and just in case some random young person is reading this or even an older person who needs to know... I FIRMLY believe you should only charge what you can pay off each month. Tim and I have done this for the last 12 years. I don't think racking up credit card debt is a good idea. We have also used free interest offers a few times. As long as you pay it off before the time limit, you don't pay interest. The key is having a plan to make sure it is paid off by the right time. Please, please don't think you can just go out and buy stuff and HOPE to pay it off someday. That is not what I am trying to get across here. That is a really bad idea! Okay, now you can enjoy the EXTREMELY INTERESTING photos of my appliances. It is really exciting, let me tell you.

GE 25" Refrigerator
Hotpoint/GE Glass top Range

LG Over of the range Microwave

Frigidaire 7.2 Freezer

Monday, November 26, 2007

I haven't fallen off the face of the Earth... I promise...

I just realized I was supposed to post pictures. Then Wednesday came and I had kids over to play. I was "super involved mom" and took them on a nature walk to get leaves for a craft. Then there was lunch to be served and crafts to make. Not to mention mashed potatoes, homemade cinnamon rolls, stuffing, and pies to be made. Lots of stuff going on. Next it was Thursday and though I should say I was very busy... the truth is that I really wasn't all that busy. I had to cook, but I had done a lot of prep the day before. Timmy worked until 6pm, so we had dinner late. That gave me all day to prepare. I don't really know what took up my time all day. Maybe it was cuddling with my wonderful husband when Sebastian went down for a nap. Oh and we all watched the taped show of Oprah with Hannah Montana and American Girl dolls. That was extremely exciting! I am not kidding! I wish they had American Girl dolls when I was a kid. By Thursday night, all the food had taken its toll and I was very tired. Not tired enough to go to bed, though. I sat and talked with my sister-in-law, Jessica, till 3am. She was driving home from SC to NC, so I kept her company on the phone. Then I had to figure out if I was going shopping and where. My mom called at 9am on Friday to say she was ready to go shopping. I pulled myself out of bed and into the shower. Even if I didn't need much, I had a free shopping trip without kids! I was going! We only actually went to like 4 stores. I got what i was looking for though and it was a great deal. I came home to take a nap. The rest of the weekend included more shopping for bigger things that I will write about in a whole separate post. That was my Thanksgiving weekend.

He took collecting leaves VERY SERIOUSLY!

I made them look for a picture.

This is our neighbor's yard. I don't know if they were home. They are nice people so I don't think they would have cared that kids were rolling around in their leaves! At least I hope!

My silly boy!

We attempted to make turkeys out of leaves, but the draw of bubbles and sidewalk chalk distracted them. I don't think any of them really turned into actually turkey pictures. Oh well... they loved collecting the stuff for it and they had fun with the glueing they did do.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Marathon shopping!

I have been busy doing mommy stuff. Nothing hugely interesting. Savannah and I caught up on some of our Winter Promise yesterday. We are done with co-op till after the New Year (if we are still here). I also took some time to do things like clean the oven. It was extremely exciting, let me tell you. On Friday, I did a marathon shopping trip. I left at 11am and did not return until 4:30pm. Generally, I shop at Sam's Club one week and then Super Walmart or Super Target the next. I needed things from both places and it couldn't really wait for another week. Also, since gas prices are up to $3.07 here, it is making more and more sense to combine outings. I went to Super Walmart, then to Sam's (had lunch there too), then a quick stop at Albertson's for a great bargain on a turkey! Did I mention that grocery shopping may be the most exhausting thing I do? I don't know why it zaps me, but it does! I think it is more grocery shopping with my children than just grocery shopping in general. I put them in those carts they can ride in. Then I add things like 6 cases of soda, 6 gallons of milk, a case of water... by the time I am done - I have no idea how much weight that is. So, I made a huge list. A detailed list at that. It listed all the things I needed and 24 meal ideas. My goal was to spend no more than $250. I am happy to say I met my goal and even paid for lunch at Sam's Club with that. I will need to go back to Sam's for some milk and probably some other item that will run out before 24 days is up and I still need to hit the veggie stand for a few fresh veggies. My thought is that is I stay OUT of Walmart or Target, I will not be tempted to buy stuff. I have enough prep cooking to keep me busy all week and Savannah and I have a Christmas gift to make that we haven't even started. There is NO REASON to be out shopping and spending money on stuff and gas. Don't I sound like I am convincing myself? I am! When I am stressed, I really enjoy a day of shopping (and chocolate). Thankfully, Tim II and his friend were home when I arrived with all of my shopping items in tow! I really, really did not want to carry it all in myself. Then I was left with find a place for all of it and being somewhat organized. Luckily, my sister in law, Jessica, called. I seem to focus better on getting tasks done if I am chatting on the phone. An odd quirk I have. Before I knew it, it was all put away and my fridge, freezer and pantry were full! I love that feeling. My mom always did too. Silly, huh? When life is throwing me around left and right, somehow knowing I have great stuff to make for my family, just helps me relax a bit. Anyway, I have some pictures to share from last week. I will try to get them up this afternoon.

Friday, November 16, 2007

New Shoes!

We had to go get our kids "cool weather" shoes last weekend. We had one cooler day and I realized they had NOTHING but sandles or flip flops. On that one cooler day, I put Sebastian in sweatpants. He was walking around like he had something wrong with his legs. I guess he didn't remember wearing pants before and they felt odd on him! Too cute!

He is showing you his shoe!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Yesterday (Yes, it includes more Busch Gardens pictures)...

Yesterday was a perfect day in Florida. It was the kind of day that makes people leave their homes in Illinois and move to Florida. I am pretty sure that type of day had something to do with the reason my parents had to retire here. Late on Tuesday night, I decided that we should just go to Busch Gardens on Wednesday. No particular reason. I just needed to "get out of my head" as my best friend, Patty, once told me to do. I am so completely stressed over the house issues. Add to that - Monday it had been 4 years since Debi passed away. My mind was getting the best of me. It is pretty odd that a wonderful theme park is FREE for us to go to and wander around. It does cost gas money, but I think it is worth it even for the tightest of budgets. Even more amazing is that each time we go, we see something different. In December there will be Christmas shows to look forward to! I think we will try to get back at least once more, if not twice.

He is telling me all of the animals on the map!

We saw this flower with an "egg" on it.

We have know idea what kind of plant it is. My mom suggested an "egg plant"! How funny! I am pretty sure that is NOT what it is called!

This is the Sheikra Roller Coaster. If you stand right here, it comes by and blasts you with water. It is one of Savannah's very favorite things to do at the park. Sebastian cautiously includes himself. He is not as happy with it on most days! It finally occurred to me that I could share a video clip.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Pampered Chef...

I am a Pampered Chef junkie! I love their stuff. I just had a party a little over a week ago. Before that party, I had hosted 2 others in the last 8 years. Pampered Chef is the ONLY at home party I would do. Simply because I love their products. Some of them are on the pricey side, but they also offer many, many things that are not expensive. I am not usually a person that spends a great deal when I go to any at home party. Since this is my blog and I can say what I want... I really HATE Party lite. They are just way too expensive for what you get. I found myself paying $15 for a little set of tea lights because I just couldn't justify $50 for a candle holder. I realize that not everyone feels this way though. That is great - I have nothing against people who take their candles seriously. Personally, I can justify $50 on some type of kitchen item that makes my life easier. I have to cook. I don't have to light candles. Although I really do like candles. Honest - I am not a candle hater! Just last year my sister-in-laws gave me this beautiful candle holder. I absolutely love it! Ummm... what was my point??? Oh, yes, that I love hosting Pampered Chef parties because I really think everyone can benefit from at least one of their items that will fit any need and any budget! Don't I sound like a commercial? Let me keep going... the other great thing about hosting parties is you get SO MUCH STUFF for FREE or HALF-OFF. My friends were ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL and because of them I got a great amount to shop with. I am pretty darn broke right now due to owning two houses and Tim's broken bone, but I still got to go shopping. It was so much fun! As some of you know, I am a list maker. I love writing them, adjusting them, adding stuff, taking stuff away, etc. I sat down with the catalog no less than 20 times deciding what to get. I finally called and placed my order and now I am just waiting for that huge box to arrive. I thought I would share with you some of my favorite things that I already owned from having my first 2 parties. These are just a few of the things I already had. Just my favorites that I can think of off the top of my head!

This is my absolute favorite item from Pampered Chef. It is the rectangular baker. My original one is unglazed like this except mine is a lot darker from being seasoned. You can see it in the meatball post below. I use this all the time for brownies, meatballs, chicken parmesan, etc. I wanted another one since I really could use two at a time.
My second most used items are these stone cookie sheets. I have two of them. Again, I mine are a lot darker from being used. I love these things!
I use this to cut up brownies! Perfect!

My mom got me this a few years back. I love that it does not rust!

My mom also got me this for Christmas awhile ago. I buy hamburger in bulk at Sam's Club. When I get it home, I boil the hamburger in a huge pot. Then I put about a pound and a half in freezer bags. When I want to make spaghetti or tacos, etc, I just pop the already cooked hamburger in this bowl with the other ingredients and microwave. Super easy dinner and one bowl clean up.
Mix n Scraper - this thing is great. I use it for all of my baking. I mix up the stuff with it and then it scrapes everything off the sides. Great for getting cream soup out of cans too.

I only use this around Christmas cookie time, but my kids use it all the time for Playdough!

Okay, now for the things I got to order and I hope will soon become my new favorites! It was so much fun choosing! Have a party - you get free stuff!

Large Bar Pan - She cooked with this one and it convinced me that I would probably find a lot of uses for it!
New Pizza Stone - I can use it for pizza and other baking!
A second brownie pan. I make brownies all the time for every event. This is the whole reason I had a party - to get another brownie stone. Of course, you can make other things besides brownies.
This was the Hostess Special that you got for 60% off. At first, I wasn't sure I would use it. I had a similar stone set from Pampered Chef that I ended up giving to my mom because she used it way more than I did. Then I thought about how it would be nice to have a matching set with the glazed brownie stone. The special on it was great too!
Tim really wanted this knife. It sorta scares me a bit, but I have heard great things about how useful it is.I got this to protect my fingers from the above knife.
I have heard for years and years how great this ice cream scoop is and how much I needed to have one. I finally added it to my list.
Since I loved the mini-spatula so much, I wanted to get the large one.
I already have one of these racks from my very first party. I use it quite a bit and really wanted a second one!
Savannah picked this set out of the catalog. I think she will have fun with it!

Like the ice cream scoop, I had heard so many times that I needed to get this pizza cutter.
This is a newer item and I am not sure if I will like it or not. I decided to try it anyway.

This is my candle holder that my sister-in-law's Karen and Jennifer got me. I LOVE IT! I am not a candle hater, honest!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Who needs playdough when you have meatballs?

Savannah mixing up the stuff.

See why I like cooking with my kids? They are happy and not beating on each other or licking each other or screaming at each other - well you get the idea!

Sebastian kept saying "Uncle Keith" with this creation. I am not sure if he thought he made the image of his Uncle Keith out of the meatball or if he was making a meatball for Uncle Keith. I guess we will never quite know the answer to that and so many more 3 year old things.

Do you see the puppy she made? C'mon, if you try really hard - you can see a puppy!
Mickey Mouse!

Can you find the hidden Mickey?

One of my very favorite things to do with my kids is cook. I am NOT a gourmet cook at all. My family (including me) is picky about most things. I still find things that I enjoy cooking and are fun for the kids to do too. A month or so ago a friend of mine called me about my Beef Chop Suey recipe. I was telling her that it was my favorite crock pot recipe. She told me that she made meatballs with sauce in her crock pot and then made subs out of them. I had never made meatballs before. She was like it is so easy. I asked for the recipe. She said she didn't really have one. Just throw in what you have on hand. Hmmm... Does that mean I should use fruit loops or dog biscuits? I thought probably not. I did have Ritz Crackers, Italian seasoning, eggs and hamburger on hand. We went ahead and tried it a few weeks back and it was a hit. Today we decided to make it again. I got Savannah to finish up her spelling and then she did all the mixing. Then it was time to make meatballs or puppies or fish or ummm... whatever they seemed to come up with in their imaginations. I did make them wash their hands before and after and all the meatballs did turn back into traditional meatballs eventually. Next time your kids are bored - take out the hamburger - it will keep them busy for quite a long time!