Friday, November 30, 2007
Tomorrow, we will be having our tree trimming party. This is an annual tradition that my parents started with us and it was so much fun, that I knew it was something I wanted to carry on with our family. Andrew and I have enjoyed this celebration of the season as a couple and last year, the boys were in on it a little, but this year, I think they will love it!
Speaking of trees, do any of you that live around here, know a good place to get a Christmas tree? We are interested in going to a tree farm but really don't want to break the bank and I have no idea how much they run. Usually we just go to a tree lot and pick one but with the kids...you know, memories, pictures... :) Anyway, let me know.
We are going to go and get eggnog in the morning at Trader's Point Creamery - I think this is the first week they are offering it. I will also probably make some sugar cookies and let the boys decorate them. And we will have a variety of other snacks and "treats" for our party.
For those of you interested, it's the winter season at the Farmer's Market. It runs from 9am - 12pm on Saturdays. They offer meats, eggs, dairy products, and other seasonal produce etc. Tomorrow will be my first visit to the winter market (I haven't been able to go in several weeks!). If I find anything great, I'll let you know! Anyone else been there, lately?
Well, this is rambling...sorry...I repeat, I am NOT a morning person. :)
Thursday, November 29, 2007
But I really love doing it because 1) it's awesome to pause and reflect on the past year, 2) I love receiving cards, pictures, and letters from others (hint, hint :)), 3) it's the only time we keep in touch with some people, and 4) I'm a big fan of snail mail and feel kind of sad that we mostly use e-mail to communicate these days (not that I don't use it all the time and appreciate the convenience and frugality of the web!).
I can't believe how fast this year has flown by - it's been a whirlwind of change at this house! We experienced a lot of firsts and witnessed remarkable growth (physically and otherwise) in our children. It's been a year full of joys, challenges, and triumphs. I know there is one more month in 2007 and I'm not trying to rush it away but rather to savor it with a heart of thankfulness for God's work throughout this year!
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
So, I will post pictures but probably not for a little while; we have some work to do to get everything squared away and we still have the rest of the furniture to arrive, window treatments to hang, and a new light fixture to install. It's a work in progress but I can't wait to start enjoying the finished room - our Christmas present to each other this year! Guess I better get to work! :)
This year, I started looking into printing options earlier and discovered that Costco had a much better deal (Reason #297 for loving Costco!). So this week, I once again compiled some of our best pictures from this year and sent the calendars to be printed; they will be shipped directly to my house. The really great thing about these calendars is that I was also able to put a photo on each significant date - only one though, so it was a tough call when it came to my mom and dog sharing the same birthday and never appearing in a picture together. :) Don't worry, Mom won out. :)
I love that the calendars are gifts that keep giving throughout the year. And it's great to see how much the kids grow! When more grandchildren join the ranks, I hope we can just combine photos with the other families (I'm one of 7 kids) and keep making the calendars. It's a fun, easy, affordable and creative gift! And it works for me! Check out Rocks in My Dryer for more WFMW participants.
And if you happen to be our parents reading this, you now know one thing you will be getting. Sorry. :) Sooner or later, you'll probably catch on that you're getting one every year, anyway. :)
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
It's been an exciting few weeks as we've seen things coming together around the house. We still have a ways to go but I'm just enjoying the progress! Oh, and don't be surprised if you visit and I make you admire some of our recent work. :) Just smile and nod. :)
Monday, November 26, 2007
1) God's grace - without Him, I am nothing.
2) My wonderful husband - he is my soulmate and my best friend.
3) My amazing sons - a miracle gift from God; they left all that they knew and have trusted us and loved us. How humbling!
4) Family (extended and immediate) - we are blessed to live near many of them.
5) Old friends - it's unbelievable to me that I have remained close with many friends from the past (even from birth for some!).
6) New friends - this year has brought some wonderful new (and renewed) friendships.
7) Our Church - it has been exactly what we needed at this time in our lives.
8) Staying home - I'm privileged to stay at home with my boys most of the time and I LOVE it
9) My work - I truly enjoy being a hygienist and I've made great friends there, too; from co-workers to patients!
10) This blog - it has proven to be just the creative outlet I needed this fall and I've met so many great people!
I'm also very thankful for adoption and for adoptive families. Adoption has enriched my life and changed me in ways I didn't even know needed changed! The families I have met on our journey (in real-life and in blogger world) have blessed and challenged me as I see them selflessly open their hearts, lives, and families to welcome a new child (babies and older with varying medical needs) into their home. For some (like us), it is their first child(ren), for others, it is their 2nd or 3rd through adoption, and for still others it is their 3rd or 4th or 5th but first adoption.
I am feeling extra thankful this year for all of these families, for adoption, and for God's amazing work in uniting wonderful children with loving homes. November is Adoption Awareness Month and that has taken on a whole new meaning for us!
Sunday, November 25, 2007
We ended up not eating the Apple Ham Bake - we had brunch with my sister and brother-in-law instead which was great! So, I'm adding that back in for this week. We have an abundance of sweet potatoes from my in-laws so I'm planning a number of recipes that include them over the next few weeks! :)
Monday - Sweet Potato Lentil Stew (crockpot), Biscuits
Tuesday - Irish Colcannon (this is from a couple of weeks ago), Salad, Bread
Wednesday - Apple Ham Bake, Peas
Thursday - Spaghetti & Meatballs, Garlic Bread, Salad, Fruit
Friday - Pizza, Apple Slices, Chips
Saturday (Tree Trimming Party) - Crackers & Cheese, BBQ Cocktail Sausages, Veggies & Dip, Cookies, Hot Chocolate, Punch, and probably a few other snacky things
Sunday - Peach Stuffed French Toast, Bacon
Most of the main dishes this week are new recipes (okay, so I guess since I'm not feeling inspired, I must be feeling adventerous :)). Monday and Tuesday are vegetarian dishes. I'll be making my own spaghetti sauce - recipe is from my good friend Micah! What are you having this week? Feel free to check out my recipe blog - I hope to add some holiday recipes this week. For more menu plans check out I'm an Organizing Junkie. Have a wonderful week!
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
I know I will thank myself tomorrow that most everything is completed. Andrew has been a huge help - peeling & slicing 15 cups of apples, finishing mixing crusts, and various other things. I would have given up by now if it weren't for him!
My (mostly self-appointed) contribution to Thanksgiving at my parents is pies. I love baking them and rarely do, so it's a good excuse. I make them completely from scratch which takes longer but is totally worth it! This year I'm taking annual favorites Blueberry Raspberry deep dish pie (both the berries are ones that I picked and froze) and Apple Crumb deep dish pie (Mom had a lot of pumpkin so she is making those this year). I'll post the recipes and maybe even pictures at some point - not tonight. :)
I'm also making a new pie - French Silk. It is Stephanie's boyfriend's favorite (wow - that's a mouthful!) and I've been promising to make him one for awhile. I've never made one and I've maybe eaten it once at most but I'm always up for a kitchen challenge. Anyway, I turned to allrecipes.com and found a recipe - the filling is delicious (not that I sampled it or anything :)) so hopefully he will like it! It wasn't hard to make but it was very time consuming - 20 minutes of beating with a mixer!
This year, I will also be bringing a Sweet Potato Cranberry Streusel casserole. The recipe is courtesy of Catherine and it's delicious! The sweet potatoes (from my inlaws garden - one of the potatoes was most of what we needed - it was huge!) will be cooked by the time we head to bed :) which will make tomorrow very easy.
I'm baking two other pies to take to Andrew's parents on Friday. For that celebration, I will be taking another apple crumb as well as a pumpkin. I think we will have plenty of pie this weekend! And if you're keeping count, yes, that's 5 pies (4 different kinds) being made tonight. :)
Tomorrow, we are hoping to enjoy some time as a family watching the Macy's Day parade with a special (and light!) breakfast before heading to Nana & Papa's house. My friend and neighbor, Angie, suggested this tradition when I asked for ideas here! I thought it was a great suggestion!
I wish you all a blessed Thanksgiving full of good food, wonderful fellowship with family and friends, and thankful hearts for all God has done in your lives this year!
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I still think my team is strong but with performances like Peyton Manning and Willie Parker this past weekend and with injured star running back, Adrian Peterson, it is an uncertain future. I'm guaranteed a spot in the playoffs but I would like to go into it backed by a winning season. The really, really frustrating thing is that I have the most points in our league but rank 4th out of 6. Ugh. Oh well. I try.
In the end, I really just want the Colts to triumph...through Peyton Manning throwing ALOT of touchdown passes to benefit me! :)
Who knew I would ever be "in" to football and actually know players' names (beyond the Colts) and actually care what happens? Ah, it's the husband rubbing off... :)
Monday, November 19, 2007
We went with simple, solid wood, shaker-style furniture. We really wanted something understated so it didn't overwhelm our room. It's a cherry color but obviously not really dark. I love that the top set of drawers are jewelry drawers! We hope it's something that will last for many years and that it will be something we like long term (we avoided some of the sets we really liked because we were pretty sure they wouldn't be classics). We can't wait for it to be delivered next Tuesday!
Monday - Spaghetti & Meatballs, green beans, garlic bread
Tuesday - Pancakes, bacon, fruit
Wednesday - Pizza, veggies & dip, fruit
Thursday - Thanksgiving at my parents - I will be taking pies
Friday - Tomato soup & grilled cheese, apples
Saturday - Leftovers
Sunday - Apple Ham Bake, mixed green salad
This week is a little up in the air for us - especially Friday and Saturday so I've made some tentative plans. I will be out getting my hair done Tuesday night so Andrew will be making dinner - his favorite thing to make is breakfast for dinner! I have an over abundance of pasta :), so we will be having spaghetti. I'm planning to make my own sauce but don't have a particular recipe - I'll probably just make one up. :) Sorry there aren't many recipes this week - the only new recipe is the apple ham bake. I'm continuing to add to my recipe blog when I get a chance! Check out Laura's blog for lots more menus!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Saturday, November 17, 2007
We finished at 5 - so much for that noon finish we naively planned. 2 grumpy crying kids later, 2 venti white chocolate peppermint lattes for the tired parents (NF for the momma:)), 2 oatmeal and fruit suppers, 2 baths, 2 kids safely tucked in for an early bedtime, and 2 parents just getting started on all that has to be done on the homefront: so much for our Saturday. But we do love that furniture! :)
Thursday, November 15, 2007
I'm motivated - I really find it fun doing projects and seeing the transformation. I really want to keep it up...maybe not quite that pace... :)
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
I was pleasantly surprised that Patrick qualified - my main concerns have been that he is difficult to understand and isn't really talking in sentences very much. He will receive therapy to help with 2-3 word sentences and phrases.
Calvin, of course, will receive therapy so we can understand him. :) He only makes a few consonant sounds which is common with kids who have clefts. They will also work with him some on using a straw/sucking.
The two evaluators thought that both boys will respond very well. We are so thankful that we have this resource available! And we are so glad to get them both evaluated and helped. We meet with our coordinator next week and are praying that a speech therpaist will be available - they evidently have a shortage of speech therapists. The boys will receive some kind of therapy no matter what - we just really want to get started with the speech instead of having to switch in the middle.
And as Catherine and Jenna noted, it's true, I usually do this to myself. I'm a bit of a perfectionist and I want everything in order, planned out, and extra nice. I want every project that we've put off for months completed before the holidays (which is completely unrealistic but I still try :)). I want every guest to feel like they are the most important - and they are while they are here.
Mostly though, I need alot of the organization for my own sanity and enjoyment. And I truly do want to enjoy celebrating with all of our family and friends and part of getting to that is reducing stress through the aforementioned cleaning etc. I guess there is a balance and I really need to strike it. :)
This morning, I woke up renewed and refreshed and ready for a new day. Amazing what going to bed early will do. I decided to tackle my pantry this morning and it's about half done. I entertained the boys in their chairs at breakfast as long as I could while I worked and I'll try to finish up the project while they are napping. If I take it one day at a time, I know I'll get there and whatever I don't get done...well, just don't open the closed doors. :)
The lists are being made (because I truly have to have them) and my sanity is beginning to return. Thanks for the perspective, girls! I'm going to enjoy the holidays - I'm determined to. I have much to be thankful for and much to celebrate!
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Do you ever find yourself so overwhelmed that you don't know where to even start? That's me. I'm coasting along but finding myself struggling to ever get ahead. I need to make lists but even that is challenging because I feel like nothing gets crossed off. During the day, the boys occupy most of my time and by the time the evenings hit, I'm exhausted. It's a vicious cycle.
On a positive note, I finished Christmas shopping for 3 people this morning, at Kohls, with the boys. They were pretty good. I received a 30% off coupon in the mail which expires today and I definitely wanted to take advantage of it. It saved me so much (on top of the already good sales) and really made it worth the trip.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Monday - Chili, Cornbread, Salad
Tuesday - Sweet 'n Tangy Pot Roast over Rice w/gravy, Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Fruit
Wednesday - Black Bean Enchiladas, Corn, Chips & Salsa
Thursday - Soup & Sandwiches, Chips
Friday - Sloppy Joes, Sweet Potato Fries, Green Beans
Saturday - Pizza, Veggies, Fruit Skewers
Sunday - Egg Casserole w/Ham, Muffins, Fruit Salad (Evening - Brownies, Carrots & Dip,
Cheese & Crackers)
I will be working this afternoon until 6p., so the chili will be in the crockpot. The Black Bean Enchiladas are carried over from last week. I do make my sloppy joes from scratch - I'll try to get the recipe added to my recipe blog soon. I'll also try to get the twice baked sweet potato recipe posted. The Pot Roast is the only new recipe this week and it will also go in the crockpot. I think that's about it! Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie for more menu plans. Happy eating!
Friday, November 09, 2007
Yesterday, she took the entire office to the spa and lunch for our annual "fun day." Everyone chose a spa service at The Villa. I quickly decided on the 75 minute hot stone massage with this description, "Experience a luxurious and relaxing massage combined with deep heat therapy. Smooth and polished basalt lava stones are heated and incorporated into the massage. The perfect treatment to loosen tight muscles, relieve stress and ease tension." As I previously noted, it was bliss! My masseuse was Cynthia and she did an awesome job - it was incredibly relaxing!
After our morning at the spa, we headed to one of my favorite downtown restaurants, Scholar's Inn. We enjoyed a couple of hours of talking, laughing, and eating. It is such a pleasure to work with wonderful people. Everyone came away from our day refreshed and with renewed gratitude for our boss, who takes excellent care of us and shows us through her words and actions how much our work is appreciated.
Have I mentioned that I currently only work 5 hours a week?
Stuffed animals and cars, trucks & trains are the favorite toys. Favorite movies are Cars, Shrek, or Monster's Inc. They love to sing especially songs with hand motions and the ABC's. They are learning to count and really like to help unload the dishwasher. They are both obsessed with babies and point them out loudly everywhere - some "babies" are as big as them. :)
They both love to look at books and be read to - we have been setting aside time after naps to read several books. They have a great collection and it's been interesting to see what they choose! They really like Curious George, Officer Buckle and Gloria, Miss Spider books, and (sadly for the reader) word books. They are very good at identifying different pictures in the aforementioned word books, though!
I love hearing them make different animal sounds and turn everything into a car complete with sound effects (including their animal riding toys). We are really working on loyalty and love toward each other. They can be quite aggressive but they are good friends!
It has been a joy to watch them continue to learn to pray - Calvin often wants to pray more than once throughout our meals. They both pray long prayers - we understand a few words. :) They have also "graduated" to sitting at the table in booster seats. They are excellent eaters and there aren't too many things they refuse. I'm amazed at their enjoyment of spicy food and gourmet cheese!
Both boys will be evaluated again by 1st Steps next week. I'm 90% sure Calvin will qualify and fairly certain Patrick will not. We'll see. We are so happy these services are offered. Calvin will be able to use them until April 20 (the day before his 3rd birthday). If therapy is still needed after that, we will take him to our local public school. I'm so excited for him to be able to communicate with us better!
And of course, no update would be complete without a couple of pictures of our sons. We are so incredibly blessed! I still have to pinch myself to really believe that God choose us to be Calvin & Patrick's parents. What a delight and honor to have them in our family!
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
This is my favorite time of year - I just love the holidays! Anyway, I have 2 toddler boys and we are wanting to introduce some new traditions this year.
So, my question is very simple...what traditions do your family enjoy for Thanksgiving and/or Christmas? I'm looking for some traditions that would be good to add in at the toddler stage but that would also still be fun when they are older. I would also love some fun activity ideas for toddlers during the holiday season!
Feel free to leave ideas, websites, recipes, or anything else that you think would be helpful! You never know, you might even be featured in a post if it's tradition we will be trying this year!
And I will tell you about one of our traditions that my parents started when I was born (I'm the oldest) and we are continuing with our children. Every year, we received a new Christmast ornament - it often reflected our interests for that year. It was usually a surprise that we got on the night of our tree trimming party (yes, it really was a party just for our family). When each of us leaves (still some at home) home, we take our collection of ornaments with us to decorate our own Christmas trees. It's so fun opening them every year and remembering.
Check out Rocks in My Dryer for lots more questions!
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Millionaire Club T-shirt (this will go well with my entrepreneurial dreams!) from Pamela of PMKU.
A Beautiful Pie Plate and yummy top secret apple pie recipe (just in time for the holidays!)from Shalee of Shalee's Diner.
An Adorable Bag (I can't wait to use it) made by Heather of In Te Domine.
And finally, Top Secret Restaurant Recipes cookbook (I'm always into cookbooks!) from Karen of Thrity Mommy.
Thank you all so much! You made my week and I can't wait for the mail! For those of you that won my giveaways, they should go in the mail tomorrow. And according to Shannon of Rocks in My Dryer, the next giveaway carnival will be in January or February so if you missed out on the fun this time - you can join in next time!
So... these are the "rules": Once tagged, you must link to the person who tagged you. Then post the rules before your list, and list 8 random things about yourself. At the end of the post, you must tag and link to 8 other people, visit their sites, and leave a comment letting them know they’ve been tagged.
1. I’m hopelessly addicted to the $1 section at Target and rarely leave without purchasing at least one thing – thankfully Target is not in my regular errands. :)
2. I once worked as an event planner for an abstinence education organization – I am NOT an event planner on that scale and would never take on such a stressful project ever again.
3. I have entrepreneurial dreams of inventing products but no real inspiration. Maybe someday…:)
4. I wish chocolate was a food group.
5. I believe adoption is an awesome way to grow families and I desperately wish more people would consider opening their hearts, homes and families to the many children all over in need of loving homes. (How’s that for a shameless adoption plug – it’s truly what I think every day as I constantly remember the little faces of kiddos waiting for homes!)
6. I was always a cat person until I became allergic to them and then decided maybe dogs are okay – now I love them!
7. The most fun job I’ve ever had was working as a historical interpreter – that’s how I met Jenna – good times on the Prairie!
8. I constantly desire to be more like Christ and honor Him with my life. Becoming a mom has made me realize even more how far I have to go – nothing like children to bring to light your bad habits, impatience etc.
Okay, I tag Stephanie, Jen, Amy, Catherine, Becca, Mary, Heather S., Monica and anyone else who wants to do it. Give us some random things about yourselves. :) Have a wonderful Tuesday everyone!
Monday, November 05, 2007
Also, instead of stew, I created a sausage bean soup that we really liked. I used organic andouille chicken sausage from Costco and we topped it with a little shredded organic sharp cheddar also from Costco. I think this soup would be excellent with some fresh chopped cilantro in addition to the cheese.
Here's this week's plan:
MONDAY: Stir-fry, brown rice, mixed green salad
TUESDAY: Pizza, fruit juice jello jigglers, carrots (I'll be gone so it will be Daddy & boys)
WEDNESDAY: Buffalo chicken & bleu cheese dip, carrot & celery sticks, apple slices
THURSDAY: Chicken & Noodles, mashed potatoes, peas, mixed green salad, fruit
FRIDAY: Irish Colcannon, mixed green salad
SATURDAY: Black Bean Enchiladas, chips & salsa
SUNDAY: Scrambled eggs, bagels, bacon, fruit salad
(Evening take to church: layered bean dip & tortilla chips, carrots & dip, brownies)
The stir-fry will have mushrooms, snow peas, carrots, onion, and probably chicken. The mushrooms are baby bellas that I found for 99 cents on a manager's special at Kroger and the snow peas were a similar sale. Kroger has baby carrots for 50 cents a bag this week so I stocked up a bit - I much prefer them. :) Sunday nights we usually have fellowship at church and I've not been doing a good job at planning what to bring, so I'm adding it to my menu plan.
I'm especially looking forward to Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday this week! To see more menu ideas or to add your own plan for the week, check out Laura's site. I must say, I really appreciate the menu planning accountability. It's made such a difference in my life and my family loves it! Happy eating everyone!
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Saturday, November 03, 2007
The collection of cookbooks goes to....are you holding your breath anxiously hoping to read your name...?:) Congrats Jill of Tonsofsons! Hope you enjoy them and find new inspiration in cooking for your many boys!
The runner-up who will receive a surprise gift, goes to none other than my friend, Jen of Just Passing Through! Congrats and I will be sending out some things that have to do with your love for baking!
Honorable Mention is my choice from all the comments and because Lib of Not Much More Than This shared an awesome recipe with me in the comments, I will be sending her a couple of surprises! I can't wait to try the banana cake!
Thanks again for entering and visiting my little "home on the web." I may be contacting some of you in the near future for recipes! So many good things were mentioned! Feel free to come back and visit anytime. Happy Holidays everyone!
Thursday, November 01, 2007
We are happy to report that our little girl is otherwise healthy at the age of 2 1/2 people years (born 8 days after Calvin) or 14 1/2 dog years. Thankfully, her stint with ring worm last year (while we were in Kaz - thankfully for us - not so much for my sibs who were dog sitting) was not repeated this year. We are glad to have her in our family even though she makes us crazy sometimes! We are especially glad that the boys love her and that she is pretty tolerant of them; she even engages them in play sometimes and sometimes, I think she really, really likes them. She has positively affected their love of all dogs - big, small, short, tall...which is just adorable.
Feel free to check out pictures from last night here!
Anyway, we thoroughly enjoyed the interactions with our neighbors (and even met ones that just moved in a few doors down). While this should not be the only time to talk to neighbors, it is one of the culturally acceptable days to be involved in your neighborhood and we appreciated that.
The boys were thrilled with their costumes - Calvin was a tiger and Patrick was a lion. They were just generally really delighted with the whole evening. They said, "t-treat" and "thank you." Both of them were adamant that their little fur mittens be in perfect place and they did not take their hoods off at all. :) We were asked many times if the boys are twins and many people told us how adorable they are (we beamed proudly and agreed :)).
We certainly understand and respect people choosing not to participate in Halloween or choosing alternatives but this was the right decision for us for this year.