Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A little bit more

Here are some of my favorite photos from Christmas.

Katie in her Christmas dress

Katie getting some Daddy-love

This one captures the Joey spaz level by Christmas evening at my mom's

Katie's careful unwrapping

(if anyone has a Canon Rebel XT digital camera and knows why my flash is so stinkin' bright, feel free to share your knowledge and or solution in the comments. It was never so bright with my old fashioned Rebel that used film.)

The five photo attempts to get a good shot of both kids Christmas morning (ok, so not my favorites, but Katie's many faces are funny -- to me anyway)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Just what I always wanted

On Christmas Eve, Adam took Joey to Wal-Mart to pick out a gift for me. Adam asked Joey what he thought he should get me. Joey decidedly answered, "I know -- a church skirt!" Now, it is true, that just about every Sunday I do complain that I do not have enough skirts to wear to church in the winter. Adam, however, wisely told Joey that choosing a church skirt for Mama would be very difficult.

So he asked him what else he could think of to get Mama that wasn't clothes. Joey thought a moment and then said, "I know -- a church shirt!" Now, it may also be true that I also complain just about every Sunday that I don't have enough shirts to wear to church in the winter, but again Adam wisely told Joey that it is better if Mama picks out her own church clothes.

So Adam walked around the store, hoping Joey would spot something he thought would be right for me. Adam said as soon a Joey saw it, he was convinced it was the perfect gift. He claimed he saw it in a commercial and was sure I could use it because we always have bananas. The gift:

I love that Joey picked it out and thought it would be "perfect". And I love that Joey was so excited when I was opening it that he almost told me what it was before I pulled all the wrapping paper off. It will proudly hang my bananas as long as it lasts, because it's true, we always have bananas.

Now, to be perfectly honest, while I love my banana hanger, a banana hanger isn't what I always wanted. But I have a husband. A wonderful husband. A wonderful husband who read my post about how much I love Marshalls. So this (very generous) gift solves my winter wardrobe dilemma, and provides guilt free shopping at my favorite store:

To some, a gift card may seem a bit cold and impersonal, but to me, that little plastic card is just what I always wanted.

Monday, December 29, 2008


I hope you didn't think Christmas was over, because it might go on for quite a while here.

Christmas breakfast:
Make-ahead french toast that has a stick of butter in the ingredient list. This only gets made once a year.
(left nuts off a few pieces for the kids)
Scrapple - because chopped up pig parts mixed with corn meal and spices result in one of the most enjoyable breakfast meats.
and scrambled eggs.

After breakfast everyone sat around, played with toys, and watched Christmas t.v. while I cooked and baked all day. I actually really enjoy food preparation, and when Adam is home to watch the kids, it is even better. So the day wasn't spent relaxing, but instead spent doing something I enjoy. I made chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter oatmeal cookies. After the first batches of peanut butter cookies came out of the oven, I knew something was wrong because they had not spread like they usually do. After a moment of pondering, I realized I forgot to put in the eggs - oops. I tasted one after they cooled, and they tasted fine, but were very crumbly without the eggs to hold them together.

I made up a vegetable tray, and a BLT dip. The BLT dip is courtesy of Paula Deen and the Food Network and it is so delicious.

1 cup mayo
1 cup sour cream
2 ripe tomatoes diced
shredded lettuce
1 pound of bacon fried crisp, crumbled
  1. Mix together the sour cream and mayo. Stir in half of the bacon pieces.
  2. Spread on the bottom of a serving plate.
  3. Sprinkle with lettuce, tomatoes, and rest of bacon.
  4. Serve with crackers, slices of baguette, or whatever you like. Best to serve immediately so the tomatoes don't sog the lettuce.

My photo isn't that great, but the flavor is (any recipe with a pound of bacon in it is sure to please.)

We got to my mom's around 4:30, and the main business of the evening was to consume huge quantities of food. We skipped a sit-down dinner this year, and just did lots of appetizer type foods. My aunt made creamy crab soup that caused many satisfied moans. My sister Sherrie brought her famous artichoke crab dip that we look forward to every Christmas. She also brought fruit and fruit dip.

My sister Tara made a spinach dip that Adam was crazy about. (We were obviously very excited about dips this year.) Dad made shrimp, one of his specialties, with loads of Old Bay so you didn't even need cocktail sauce. My mom also made her yummy bean salsa (she sent me home with some that I have been eating for lunch the past few days) and prepared berries and whipped cream. And she put out a platter of sliced ham for those non-diplovers. With all those yummy choices, about three vegetables were eaten of my veggie tray. (I have also been eating veggies and dip for the past few days.)

We sang "Happy Birthday" to Jesus with a cake Mom made that had Jesus spelled in M&Ms. Katie let out a big "oooooo!" when she saw it.

The kids ate the cake with ice cream, so that the adults could enjoy the fourteen other sweets on the dessert counter. Yes, there were desserts galore. My favorite was Sherrie's pecan pie. At the end of the night while we were playing Balderdash (lots of fun, much laughter, Adam won), I kept helping myself to little slices of pie and whipped cream. I didn't serve my eggless cookies because I didn't want them to be crumbling all over my mom's house, but before I left I let my sister Tara taste one, and she said I should never make them with eggs they were so good. Go figure. So I left the whole plate with her, because you don't want to know how quickly Adam and I would have polished them off the next day.

The kids received some more great gifts. My mom got Katie a bin of plastic animals, and Joey a bin of dinosaurs. They both love them. Katie even took a gorilla with her to K-Mart on Saturday. But now I face the task of taking out some old toys to make room for the new toys. I will try to sneak them out while the children are napping.

(& there still may be more Christmas posting to come -- some for the benefit of family living on the other side of the country -- sorry non-family readers)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

That's the spirit

My original plan was to go to the mall on Christmas Eve to use my $10 off a $10 purchase coupon at JCP to get Adam a gift or stocking stuffer of some sort, that wouldn't require spending any of his money (since I have no income), but then the weather was so yucky, and I decided it just wasn't worth it. Instead we sat around, relaxing, watching a little of "The Christmas Story" here and there, and in the evening went to church for a Christmas Eve service which was a very nice way to segue into Christmas morning. At the start of the day, I was not feeling the Christmas feeling, but by the evening it started to creep in. You can't take your daughter to church in a red velour dress with a white fake fur collar and not feel a little Christmas-y.

When we got home from church we let Joey open one of his stocking presents. It was just a little yellow Hot Wheels. He has a bunch of cars already. He still squealed with delight. Joey never lets me down in that way. He is always very impressed, thankful, and heavy on the "awesome!" and "cool!". When I put him to bed he removed that last link of his Countdown-to-Christmas chain. Every night in December it has been a very big deal to remove one of those links. He was so thrilled to remove the last link, but then a little disappointed that there wasn't any chain left to look at while he fell asleep. As I snuggled with him for a little bit he told me to make sure I tell Dad that in the morning, it is okay for him to wake Daddy up, because it's Christmas, so it doesn't matter. I dutifully relayed the message.

I woke up Christmas morning to a tickle on my leg, which I tried to shake off before I looked down to see it was Joey. "It's Christmas, Mom. Wake up." So I pulled him into bed, over me, and onto Adam, and I told him to tell Daddy. I think it was around 7:30, not too early, but I didn't want to be the only parent up telling him to wait to enjoy the zeal of our son.

We open presents first, because it is just so hard to wait through breakfast. Joey was the super excited present opener, and Kate was careful and thorough. It was really fun watching them both. Joey's most requested toy was a bow and arrow.

In the past two days, the most enjoyed toy of his is the little Wall-E figure. He loves that movie, (I really like it too) and I knew he and his imagination would enjoy the little robot.

I didn't get Katie too much (she's not even two yet-- she doesn't know what she's not getting), and it's hard to say what her favorite is. She liked her new train engine.

(you can see the little boo-boo on her hand from where they put the i.v. in - lovely Christmas memory)

She also likes the books Daddy got for her, as books are her favorite thing at the moment. The play mixer that works when the button is pushed seemed to interest her as well.

Having these two great kids and giving them things that they enjoy and make them happy is really special. Joey thought every single present was great, and would thank us, and tell us he loved it. I wanted to be there in the moment, taking it all in and putting it in a place in my brain where I would be able to forever remember the thrill of Christmas morning to a four-year-old. But without meaning to, I thought of how quickly he won't be this little boy anymore, how soon his voice won't be high-pitched and shrilly when he opens a special gift, and how too soon I will have to wake him up on Christmas morning --and my eyes teared up. It is the terrible trouble I face as a mother - loving them right now as they are, and dreading them ever changing and getting older. I know I'll love him for what he is next year, but this year he was just so stinkin' cute - it will be hard to match.

My husband is my best friend and my partner in raising these two children, and that fills my cup to overflowing with joy. I love that Christmas gives me a time to just sit down, and remember, and be thankful for how really great I have it and how really blessed I am by the God of the Universe. I have had hard times, and I know I can't escape what trials the future holds, but right now, it is good. And I am joyful. And there may not be peace on earth, but there is peace in my heart, and in my home. And that makes for a very merry Christmas.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shoadow of turning. James 1:17

...much more they which receive abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Romans 5:17

Back to real life

Adam took off three days for Christmas and it was lovely. He just left for work, and I miss him.

I want to write the world's longest blog post ever about all the little details of Christmas, but I must dig out from under the heap of trash and stuff that used to be known as my house. A little later I will reward myself with some blogging time.

I hope you had a great Christmas and aren't suffering too badly as you come down from the sugar high.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


It doesn't feel like Christmas. I don't know why, but it doesn't. I don't know exactly what Christmas is supposed to feel like, but I'm not feelin' it right now.

It's Christmas Eve day, and I had 2 1/2 brown sugar and cinnamon whole grain Pop-tarts for breakfast and lots of coffee. I didn't get to sleep until around 5 this morning because Katie was up all night. We got home late from Adam's family's (not to be confused with the Addams Family) Christmas, and a very late bedtime seems to mess up Katie's ability to settle into deep sleep.

I did have a nice time last night. We had a very merry Chinese food Christmas, which was wonderful because I didn't have to cook a thing. And because my mother-in-law ordered food to feed about 60 people, and only 11 adults and 5 children were present last night, I have leftovers for 3 days. My sister-in-law Donna brought a peanut butter chocolate pie that I want to marry, it is so delicious. (It really is all about the food with me - I just love food. Adam says it is a miracle I am not morbidly obese.)

The kids received some nice gifts. Katie's favorite of the bunch is the large stuffed Mickey Mouse from her cousin, that she fell asleep holding on the drive home last night. Joey likes all of his things, but really enjoys the little electronic baseball game from his aunt.

Adam and Joey just got home from Wal-Mart where they were doing some stocking stuffer shopping. My stockings are hung by the propane fireplace with care, waiting for a little more stuffing.

Time for lunch - egg drop soup and egg roll. If my fortune cookie is correct, I "love the small ones, but win the big ones" (huh?). Maybe Adam got me lots of good stuff?


Monday, December 22, 2008


Today was a terrible day because of my mistake.
Katie was a tough cookie, and non-toxic, for which I am so thankful to my loving Lord.
I'm so sorry, Katie.
(You can hope to get a bunch more presents as a result of all the guilt.)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Keeping warm

With the snow and ice we have had this weekend, Joey has asked "Mom, bungle me up so I can go outside and play!" many times. So I "bungled" him up, nice and cozy, many times. As I watched him play in the snow, and slip into the wonderful world a four-year-old's imagination can take him, I thought about everything he had to keep him warm:

  • Snow pants - $2 from Salvation Army.
  • Coat - given to me by my sister (somehow with three boys of her own she had a coat to spare)
  • Boots - hand-me-down from my friend Katie.
  • Hat - Adam's (Joey has a rather large head)
  • Mittens - the ones I bought for Katie at Marshalls for $4 (he does have his own pair that I got for about a dollar at JCP with my $10 coupon, but those make it difficult for him to make snowballs.)
Joey is able to have fun this winter for just a few dollars. I am thankful to have friends, family, and second hand stores to provide these snow clothes reruns.

And I am thankful that although I wish I could have taken a full snowy day photo shoot, the kids stood still long enough for me to take at least one picture.

And I am thankful that there are no fashion police in my backyard to comment on Katie's lovely outfit.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

So much

This is a busy week. On Monday my mother-in-law was over to spend time with the kids, so I went shopping alone for a couple hours. Tuesday was the Crayola Factory with friends. Today I babysat this gal's nephew for a couple hours in the morning which was really fun. The little guy is three weeks younger than my Katie but can speak much more clearly and say more words, so Joey was asking him to say a different word every twenty seconds. And Katie had another little person to enjoy the trains with. After his mommy took him home, we packed up to head out to finish Christmas shopping at Kohl's and Wal-Mart, eat a free lunch at McDonald's with my trick-or-treat coupons, and make a final stop at Wegman's for a few food things. Tonight is my mom's birthday, so we will go over to her house for dinner and presents before church.

Tomorrow is Adam's day off with just a few house projects planned for the morning. Then Friday is a Christmas party at my friend's house, along with my sister and her kids - ten kids, three moms - it will be fun! And then Saturday is Caramel Corn day, but I'll fill you in on that later.

This week has been busy, as well as a bit trying in the parenthood department. Monday and Tuesday were very discouraging as I had to deal with some misbehavior. I have never really felt such a heavy heart, or such disappointment as the result of bad behaviour before. Those two days were hard to get through (with no help from the hormone department). But those days passed and today was a new day. We had fun with our little visitor, the kids were well-behaved and happy while I was shopping, and the fuzzy fog has lifted from my brain and heart.

Sometimes when I feel like one day melts indistinguishably into the next, or question what I am really doing, or wonder if this is ever going to feel successful, or wish I were doing something entirely different from what the day's schedule presents, I am thankful for Psalm 37:3.

Trust in the LORD and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.

It is God's answer to all those feelings and questions. I must continue to do good, trust in the goodness of Jehovah, and He will take care of me. I had some terribly ugly moments on Monday and Tuesday. I was not the mother or wife I should be. God's mercy was given, and I am so grateful. I am thankful He gives me today, another chance to do good and trust in Him to give me the grace I need. And this very flawed mama needs that grace, let me tell you. Sometimes I am a big, fat failure; but God never fails me.

Today is good. I am looking forward to the rest of my week, and all the new mornings that provide more opportunities to trust, and do, and dwell, and be fed.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Marshalls makes me happy

I am not a shopper. I bargain-hunt, and I do lots of shopping to get the best bang for my buck, but I am not a shopper, and especially not a clothes shopper. When I am at the mall, I go to the stores I need to go to, and am fine with skipping the rest. Trying on clothes is annoying (especially with two children), finding something unique and pretty that doesn't go halfway to my bellybutton is sometimes impossible, and clearance racks seem a bit bare lately.

But then, there's Marshall's: my favorite place to shop. Period. And my Marshalls is also a HomeGoods, so it is a double-whammy favorite. I was there today to do a little shopping for Adam, and I did find a little something, but I can't say what it was because he reads here from time to time. But the shopping didn't stop there...

A quick scan of the kids shoes clearance resulted in some sneakers for Katie for $10. I know that isn't a fabulous deal, but I can't find them cheaper at Payless or Wal-Mart, and Katie is outgrowing her sneakers just about every two months.

Then I went through the ladies clearance rack and found gobs of cute things, but only bought this adorable number for $7!! I think I will wear it for Christmas at my in-laws. I also found an adorable green suede short trench coat, but that was not $7, so on the rack it stayed.

Then it was back to the toys, where I found for $6.99, the very same Thomas motorized engine I bought at Target for $9.99. So I bought one, and will return my other to Target. Katie is currently intrigued with the motorized trains. It's not a very girlie present, but there will be more trains to keep the two kids happy when having fun at the train table.

I told myself I was not going to go into the HomeGoods section, because basically I would be setting myself up for a session of serious coveting of the worst sort, but somehow (???) I wound up there. I was just going to look for King size shams, but I got distracted with the duvets on clearance. The screams in my head of "Run away! Run away!"were too loud to ignore, so I quickly left, only to scan the baby decor for a moment. Sigh... (where I found some cute wooden giraffes and monkeys with pegs that will go great in the kids bathroom, but now is not the time to be spending money on the kids bathroom!)

So I dashed for the check out, and I believe I left with a content heart. I got a stocking stuffer for Adam, a new blouse, a present for Katie, as well as sneakers and mittens for Katie all for $36.


And I hope all your final Christmas preparations will be happy too.

(I still have 4 or 5 gifts to get - is everyone else done?)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Three Thanks Thursday

Today I am thankful for:
  1. My new mini-van radio/CD player. Mine broke a while back, so Adam found one on ebay and installed it today for great savings. A helpful and money saving husband - be still my heart.
  2. 50 cent laundry detergent at Walgreens.
  3. My healthy children.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Katie's prudent judgment of how much cinnamon and brown sugar should go in her oatmeal (during the 1.3 minutes I was in the bathroom).

"Mom, why are you taking a picture of my oatmeal?"
My 24 count muffin pan - share the branny love.

What remains of the slain paper beast.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Some may post about homeschooling success, decorating splendor, or a tender baby moment as a highlight of the day's accomplishments. Not me. Not today anyway.

Today's great feat was neatly clipping and placing in a baggie all the Box Tops I have been throwing in the back of one of my drawers. I knew some of them were going to expire next year, and I didn't want all my Box Top tearing to go to waste, so today was the day I got them ready to be placed in the Box Top box at church.

Now, with that amazing inspiration of what one woman can accomplish with just a pair of scissors and a baggie... go out there and do something great!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Monday, Monday

(Warning: the following post is a boring recap of my day - feel free to ignore. I am feeling chatty today with no one to chat with but my unfortunate readers.)

It's Monday again. Time to recover from Sunday, which has the strange ability to leave most of my house trashed, the sink full of dishes, and stuff everywhere. The ideal Monday would be a day of cleaning and organizing to start the week off right; but grocery shopping has found its home on my Monday.

Adam isn't home from work until 9 o'clock on Mondays, so it is a good day to be out all morning, because if I get behind, I have until 9 to catch up. So on my weekly schedule, I have written for Monday:
- grocery shop
- coupons
- library or fun

I know that doesn't possibly sound like enough to fill an entire day, but somehow it does (which speaketh volumes of my skills as productive homemaker). Grocery shopping isn't 45 minutes inside one store. Grocery shopping is hitting many stores for the best deals at each. Today's trip was Weis, Walgreens, Giant, and then Wegman's. Joey and Kate come along, and I am sure they wish they were doing something much more fun the whole time. Joey is a great shopper since he has been doing this for 4 years now. Kate is pretty good too, though she usually has some tears at our last store, which is most often Wegman's, so the people there probably think she is a terrible child, or I am a terrible mother, or both.

I am home around 12:30, then lunch, unpack, get kids down for naps and then it is 3 o'clock already. Then I get to the coupon part of the list and clip and sort my q's from that week, and discard any expired ones, and put away all weekly fliers and coupon holders into their bin. That is usually followed by some time wasted on the computer with a cup of coffee, then I will get dinner prep going.

We eat around 5-5:30. If it is library night, we locate all the books and CDs, I log all the ones we have read, and head off to the library while Adam's dinner is in the oven. We drive to the library which takes me through some of the beautiful old homes in the city that I admire every time we pass by. We then return our gazillion books, pick out a gazillion more, I say "quiet voices!" a gazillion times, and head home. Katie is usually ready for bed then, so I get her down. I finish up Adam's dinner and clean any kitchen mess. I then unpack the books with Joey, reading him the titles of all the ones I picked out so he knows what they are.

Soon it is 9, Adam is home, he eats and hangs out with Joey for a little bit. I put Joey to bed, and around 10 is time with Adam until bedtime around midnight.

And that is my Monday. That is how three tasks fill up my whole day. You were all wondering, I'm sure.

Determined problem-solver or troublemaker?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas wonder

Last year for Christmas, Katie received this push toy from my sister-in-law. It came with nine blocks for sorting.

This picture was taken today.

Can you spot the Christmas miracle?

Did you count the blocks? All nine have survived!

That, to me anyway, is a miracle. ;)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Three Thanks Thursday

Today I am thankful for:
  1. A friend's sweet little baby finally coming home from the hospital!
  2. My new phone. Adam got me a great deal (in part because the salesman lied to him - three times! - about having to have the data plan, so the manager gave him a big credit as an apology for the lies) on a new cool one with bells and whistles. I am not a tech toy kind of gal, but I think I am going to like my new friend Blackjack.
  3. This crazy girl:

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

O Christmas Tree

We decorated the tree last night. Actually, we finished decorating. Adam brought the tree up from the basement on Thursday, and Joey decided it needed snow. He found a piece of batting, tore it into smaller pieces and placed them on the tree (right at his height, on one side of the tree). For Thanksgiving dinner, all the tree had was lights and a bit of "snow" to great our guests.
On Saturday, I brought up the decoration boxes, and Joey found a bit more batting, or "fluff" as he calls it. While I was in the kitchen, he worked by himself and did a good job of covering most of the tree with his snow. He ran into the kitchen when he was done to show me the "beautiful tree!" As he proudly showed me his handiwork, he explained, "I had to throw it to get it up on the top."

He likes it so much, we have kept it on the tree. It's very unique;), but I know a whole lot of Joey-love went into it.
Yesterday we hung the ornaments.
Joey helped

and Katie helped

and then Katie "helped" some more.

The finished productHappy Decorating everybody!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It's nice to be a grown-up because... don't look like this after eating a bagel with cream cheese.

Joey's prayers

Joey's prayers are some of the sweetest things, and sometimes funny too. Back in October when we were reading various months-of-the-year books, Joey was introduced to the concept of trick-or-treating. Costumes and candy in the same night--what a fantastic idea to a four-year-old. We were not going to trick-or-treat, nor had I suggested we would, but I guess Joey figured we were. So one night Joey's prayer at dinner included, "Lord, please help Halloween to get here soon!" My guess is that that may have been the first time the heavens heard that prayer.

He is also very grateful for various things such as "all the creatures in the forest" and that "Daddy has a job to pay the bills so that we have all the things we have."

And sometimes, my son prays for miracles. Over the weekend, after seeing part of an interview with Barack Obama, Joey ended his dinner prayer with, "And please help John McCain to still be our new president. In Jesus name, amen."

Amen, Joey.