Wednesday, December 29, 2010

We must have been good!

Because Santa was sure generous with us this year!  Just wanted to share about a few of the goodies that Corey and I got this year from "Santa."
This set of Rachael Ray cookware!
We have already used it several times and it is so awesome!
All our old pots and pans are in a box ready to go out the door to Goodwill.  Do you see how deep those saucepans are?  And we've never had a pan like the one on the front left...a deep fryer/cooker.  The skillets are nice and deep also.  SO NICE!

 A fun kitchen gadget:  this microwave egg cooker! I've already used it 4 times to make hard boiled eggs.
Noah wears me out with cooking hard boiled eggs every day and this is just perfect!  It's easy to clean, just needs rinsing after each use, and I can have hard boiled eggs from the microwave in minutes.
He has eaten five boiled eggs in one definitely a valued gift!

 This pregnancy body pillow! It's called a Snoogle.  My hips and back were beginning to really hurt at night from sleeping on my side and this has given me SLEEP wonderful SLEEP!  Ahhhhh!
We all know how precious sleep is!

This tv wall mount.  Our tv is now mounted above the fireplace and we are LOVING it. It is like having a brand new tv!  Right now our Christmas tree is in the corner where the tv used to be, so we haven't gotten to enjoy the extra space just yet, but I know the little nook will come to be very useful when our living room houses a baby during the day in the spring!  This also telescopes out and tilts so we can turn the tv toward the couch or kitchen if we want.  Very nice!

We were also blessed with many other wonderful gifts!  Gift cards, stocking stuffers, I got a new nursing coverup, some gifts for the baby, candy, gloves, blankets, among many more.
Thank you Santa!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas 2010

We spent Christmas Eve with my  parents.  We had our traditional breakfast and then stocking gifts.  I don't have pictures because we didn't have a memory stick in our camera but hopefully I will have some to share later.
We spent Christmas Eve night with Corey's grandparents for dinner, then it was home to get ready for bed so we'd be ready for Christmas morning!
Here are pictures from Christmas morning at our house:

Games galore this year!
Big stockings with lots of goodies.

 Stocking stuffer fare

 Wii Fit Plus! Our gift for the family to enjoy together....and we have!
 Noah's "something he wanted" A huge lego set.
 And Katie's "thing she wanted"....Barbie dreamhouse.
 Enjoying the Wii Fit.
 The tv mounted with Corey's gift from Christmas Eve: a wall mount.  We've got a lot of cords to hide!
 And enjoying our white Christmas.
(more pictures to come of more snow play at Nanna's house)

 Katie trying the Wii Fit.
And below: playing with the Barbie Dreamhouse.
We went to Corey's parents for Christmas afternoon since the weather was supposed to be bad in the evening.  And we ended our evening with the last night of Advent and finishing our nativity set.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Our Big News!


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Preparing for Christmas

So many "to-dos" crossed off our list.  Yet, so much remains to be done.
With our biggest project finished, it left a wake of destruction in its path.  Some of that finally got taken care of yesterday and I was determined to get the rest of the house cleaned up in preparation for a busy week coming up, but it seems I am having one of those need three naps days. Disappointing but nothing I can do.  Really...I cleaned half the kitchen and my eyes were closing on me.  Pregnancy is so fun! ha ha!

We have many wonderful things to look forward to, and the first family Christmas gathering tomorrow.  There are caramel corn gift packages to bake and wrap....Christmas crafts to finish...and lots of fun to anticipate.  The kids are beyond excited about their three gifts under the tree...although I suspect that in the busy-ness of last weekend Katie saw one of her big stocking stuffers in the box in our room where I did not properly cover it after closing.  She has now been talking about that particular gift an awful lot and has even accurately figured out her "BIG" thing she wants that would go with it that is wrapped under the tree.  *sigh* oh well.  It will still be exciting to open I hope.  I tried to throw her off track by saying it could be a bike, but that just made Noah look at me sadly and say, "I would love a bike for Christmas!" oops.  He's not getting one either.  Big disaster, but I know they will be thrilled with their gifts.

I have not made it to McKay's Used Books and I am very sad about that.  We have 3-4 crates full of books from cleaning out the rooms.  We had planned to take them in for credit and some more stocking stuffers for the kids as well as replenish the book supply since they cleaned out a lot of books in the room redo.  They give awesome store credit and have may books that are in GREAT gifting shape.  I can hope that we might find a day to get up there together (since I can't lift the crates of heavy books by myself) but I am not counting on it.
We also have our big "baby surprise party" on Thursday!  The ultrasound is Wednesday morning so we will get to see the baby for the first time since I was 7 weeks and we first saw the heartbeat.  I am hoping we can make it through that ultrasound without accidentally seeing boy or girl so our surprise party can be a big success for all of us!
Not sure when I will post again.  Just wanted to log a little of life while I had a second...
Merry week of Christmas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Stockings Full of Goodies Giveaway!

I LOVE Christmas gifts! I love giving them, planning them, seeing my kids' eyes light up when they see their well thought out and planned for Christmas morning gifts!
How about a giveaway?
I found this giveaway at "Fresh Oil Today" and am entering to win one of these very cute stockings full of fun goodies!  Go over and enter for yourself and maybe you'll get a stocking for yourself this Christmas!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Day 12: Part Two

 The BIG Reveal!
Would you believe that we drove an hour to Ikea after Corey finished playing with the worship band this morning?  Straight there, two twin mattresses in the back of our CAR trunk, straight back, lunch in the car on the way, and about 10 minutes to throw the stuff together and show the kids the room before Corey had to be at play practice this afternoon at 2:30pm. WHEW!
It was worth it though!
(someone please pray that I can find my camera this week! I am very tired of phone pics)
They loved the room!
And got busy right away decorating with the star wall decals!

 Here's Noah discovering the stickers in the toy chest.  These pics are kind of out of order but everything gets crazy looking when I try to rearrange pics, so oh well.   Noah added the wagon of books to the room.

 Noah enjoying his loft bed, complete with rock star bedding from Meme and Grandpa!

 Katie loves the Rockstar bedding too!
 This will be a fun place to sleep!
 Noah relaxing after a little star decoration went up...

 Katie's bed after wall stickers and the addition of her sleep pal "Uni" the unicorn.

 Katie added a container of books to her play nook.

 I helped out with spreading the stars around the room.  Katie immediately added a music corner and her purple chair.  She said, "We need some accessories!"

 I love decorating with wall stickers! 
Katie said about three or four times, "You guys are the BEST!"
Which of course, makes all the aggravation of the last two days in getting it ready....
totally worth it!
We still have several things to add....two black shelves...a curtain still...and I am sure many toys will make their way into the play nooks.  I am so thankful they have this great room now.  
I guess we need to start working on that basement play room now, ha ha.
But that can wait at least until January!

Day 12: 12 Days of Christmas Sharing

 It's the last day of the 12 Days of Christmas Sharing, and I am TIRED! ha ha.  Not really tired of the share, but absolutely tired from a busy couple of days.  That's why on the last day, today, I am sharing something that isn't completely a "Christmas" Share. It only remotely qualifies because it is one of the kids' 3 gifts for Christmas this year, which they will get tomorrow....pretty early.
Corey has spent the last two days on a complete room "redo."  The kids were sent to the grandparents' house for some spoiling and our two best friends came over last night to help us get started.  Andy helped Corey move furniture out the room, tape up for painting, and start putting together a bed while Bethany helped me, well actually MADE me sort through and organize toys ha ha! She's a slave driver, but boy was I thankful today when half the work was already done! I have no idea why these pictures are out of order, but I am too tired to fix them......

 I made Corey stand by the bed to show size reference.  He actually gashed his leg on one of the bed panels when he was bringing it upstairs.  He made a temporary bandage using a paper towel and frog tape. poor guy!
When we got the beds together, we had some sad realizations.  One is that the beds are even closer to the ground than we remembered.  That meant that our original plan to have them sleep on mattresses on the floor area would not work.  They couldn't have even sat up on the bed because it would be too low.  Secondly.....the twin mattresses we already have are too thick to go on the top loft area safely.  They go all the way up to the edge which is a major falling hazard. UGH! Talk about FRUSTRATING after planning this out for several weeks and then getting stuck with the fact that we now have to go buy new mattresses!
Here is a view of Noah's bed: We know he will want the one by the door.... 

 Here's an out of order picture of Corey working on the first bed.  Oh, he also painted the walls gray today.  He has worked so hard and I know it will be worth it when the kids see their new room! I'm afraid I wasn't very much help today.  I couldn't be around the paint fumes, and couldn't do any heavy lifting.  I assisted with holding pieces up and together sometimes.  I spent most of the day organizing the other room which will now be a play room until it is converted into a nursery next year.

And here is a view of Katie's bed.  I am adjusting to the new plan of the bottom being the play area.  They also got a new little toy box to match the bed.  I told Corey that if I'd had a bed like this when I was their age it would have been one of my favorite memories for sure!  It's almost like a mini apartment....bed upstairs..."living area" downstairs.  We plan on putting books and pillows in the play area.  Also a wall lamp, and maybe a curtain on one side.

There are still several finishing touches to come.  Of course they need a mattress, ha ha.  Meme and Grandpa are giving them new "rock and roll" themed bedding.  We are going to decorate the walls with posters (definitely a Beatles poster or two), and with their own guitars.  A black curtain is coming.  And I'm going to keep my eyes open for a cool rug.

So that's my share for today.  Simply because I won't have time to do anything else before tomorrow.  They get to have their "thing they need" present early, but I don't think they will mind.  Rooming in together is definitely something they need to do right now and in order to do it we had to rearrange, so this is a great way to fulfill that need and give them a Christmas gift as well.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Day 11: 12 Days of Christmas Sharing

Today I am going to share our Christmas traditions.Our traditions evolved from an idea that I completely and 100% stole from a friend and neighbor, but hey, isn't that where most ideas come from anyway? Others? ha ha.
So, here is how we "do" Christmas:
First off....our kids get three gifts from us for Christmas.

They get 1. something they want, 2. something they need, and 3. something for the family to enjoy together.  That's the part I stole from my neighbor/friend.  When she told me their way of keeping Christmas small and meaningful, I LOVED the idea!  Every year since we started doing this, it has been a true joy on Christmas to take our time, focus on Christ, celebrate Him, and enjoy our time together. Before adopting this tradition our living room was starting to look more and more like a toy store on Christmas morning.  It was truly out of hand and hard to keep up.  3 gifts have meaning (of course like three gifts Christ received), and no matter the economy or circumstances....3 gifts can be bought pretty easily, ha ha.  And they don't notice a difference in Christmas each year.  You'll have to tune in after Christmas Day to see what the three gifts they get this year will be! :) Here's my post from our first year doing the three gift tradition! Corey and I actually got gifts for each other that year, ha ha...that definitely doesn't happen every Christmas!
Oh, and we started doing three gifts about the time they would have noticed a change, so there have been no big "explanations" needed in why Christmas changed from toy store to 3 gifts, ha ha.
They get spoiled on their birthdays instead of Christmas.  Because birthdays are all about *them* right? :)

 Very early on after having kids I struggled with the idea of doing the whole Santa thing.  Growing up, we definitely believed in Santa.  But for some reason I just didn't like the idea of it and just felt silly even starting to pretend it with them when they were tiny.  Then another friend shared with me that her family never told her and her sisters that Santa was a current real person, but they pretended Santa.  What kid doesn't like pretending?!
I loved the idea and got my husband to reluctantly agree.  I got the book pictured above which explains a little about the history of St. Nicholas.  He would give gifts to people secretly, without expectation of the favor being returned.  In this light, ANYONE can pretend to be a Santa and give to others in secret.  This is how we "do" Santa.  They pretend.  We pretend, and remember that St. Nicholas was a God-loving man who desired to give to others out of love for God.  And no one has to lie about it. ha ha. The kids really love it, and Katie may as well actually believe as good a job as she does pretending.  She loves imaginary and pretend things anyway.

Their "Santa" gifts come in a giant stocking.  This was the compromise with the husband, so that "Santa" can still be a great gift giver of secret surprises!  These usually have 3-4 bigger (like dvds, Barbie dolls, DS games, board games) gifts, and then the rest typical little stocking stuffers.  It may be considered cheating on the whole they only get three gifts thing, but it's a compromise that works for us and they still get to enjoy the mystery and fun of Santa Claus.

As part of our Christmas celebrating, we now have the advent tradition that will be part of Christmas Day, the nativity scavenger hunt, and we always have a birthday party for Jesus as well.  We also usually watch a new Christmas movie together as a family.  The focus of the Day is celebrating Jesus coming to earth as a baby and the reason we are celebrating is because of that.  The reason we are giving gifts is in remembrance of His birth. And the reason behind Santa is to be generous in giving to others as well, without expectation of repayment.

Oh, and the kids have gotten old enough to notice think that Mommy and Daddy need gifts at home for Christmas...we usually don't get ourselves anything for our home celebration.  That truly is a concern for they have decided they need to go shopping for us for things we want. You will want to tune in for the report on how that goes!  We each made a wish list of things that they could shop for....and Corey's list includes cheese crackers and bacon. ha ha ha.

What are your Christmas Day traditions?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Day 10: 12 Days of Christmas Sharing

Today I am sharing: Peanuts!
If I had to choose only one Christmas movie to own the rest of my life...this would be it. Doesn't anyone know what Christmas is all about? Linus said it best:

And one of my favorite Christmas song selections from the same movie:

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Day 9: 12 Days of Christmas Sharing

My share today is a priceless letter to Jesus from Katie.  Sorry the lighting is a little off, but try to read it, you will be blessed! ha ha.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Day 8: 12 Days of Christmas Sharing

Today's post is pretty late, but I was waiting till we got to our craft project of the day: Gingerbread boy/girl picture frames.

 No two boys or girls are the same!

 Yeah, it came from a kit.  I thought I would get more creative as my kids got older, but the opposite has been true.  I get more kits. ha ha. Oh well...they are still hand made with love...

It is my goal to do something homemade from the kids each year for the grandparents.  Now...the problem is FINDING the camera so I can actually charge the battery and get a picture made for these before Christmas!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Day 7: 12 Days of Christmas Sharing

Today I am sharing our homemade treat of the year!
In previous years I have done chocolate covered pretzels and a huge variety of home baked cookies.
This year we are going with something completely different....and something I would have NEVER attempted to make before someone shared a recipe and told me it wasn't *that* difficult.
We developed a slight love of caramel corn on our recent trip to Chicago.
We tried a local place that Corey like okay but there is nothing like having it 100% freshly made.
Last Friday night Corey made some homemade caramel corn.  Not only did it make the house smell wonderful but it was just about as close as I think we can possibly get to the really good stuff we had in Chicago.  And it didn't take long to make...and didn't make a disaster area of the kitchen!
So...all my friend and family....the treat of the year is homemade Caramel popcorn! Be prepared!

Here is the recipe:
7-8 quarts popped popcorn
1 C. brown sugar
1 C. sugar
2 sticks butter
1/2 c. light corn syrup yes, I had to get over this ingredient. :(
1 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
1 t. maple flavoring
1 t. butter flavoring
1 t. baking soda

In a saucepan, combine sugars, butter, syrup, and salt.
Heat to boiling and boil for 5 minutes.
 Remove from heat and mix in rest of the flavors and ingredients.
Quickly pour over the popcorn and mix.
Spread on baking pan and bake at 250 degrees for 1 hr stirring every 15 minutes. 
Store in airtight container.
We actually baked ours too didn't need the full hour...probably half an hour at a little bit lower temp would be perfect.  It may depend on your oven and the pans you use, etc.

Enjoy! :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Day 6: 12 Days of Christmas Sharing

 Today I am sharing "christmas lights."
On Saturday the entire family, my mom and dad, and my brother and his "fiancee" (news from Friday), went to Callaway Gardens to see the Fantasy in Lights display.  It is coordinated to Christmas and seasonal music throughout and is just beautiful!
 Here is my favorite part: the snowfall winter wonderland.
The pictures do not do it justice!

 The ice skaters...

 The twin trees....

You have the choice of driving through in your own car or riding the open air trolley.  We rode the trolley and it was a lot of fun.  There were MANY more areas and displays we rode through.  It was a great way to get in the mood for Christmas!
There are a few houses in our neighborhood who put up lights, one that really does a big display so we have the tradition of anytime we come home and it is dark, the kids want to ride down and see the lights.  We don't always get to go to a "big" display like Callaway, but I love it when we do.
Last year, Corey and I went to Disney World the second week of December and were able to see the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights.  It is another VERY impressive lights my top 3 I've ever seen for sure.  It is crazy! Click on the name to go to Google Images of it.
Do you have a tradition of looking at Christmas lights?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Day 5: 12 Days of Christmas Sharing

Today's Share is sort of a repeat, but sort of not a repeat.  We started an Advent wreath last Sunday.  We've never done this before, but it was a very nice shared moment last Sunday when we read the verses about the first Sunday's theme: hope.  We have a hope of Jesus' return, just as the people of Jesus' time had the hope of Emmanuel coming to dwell on earth with them.  It's a neat correlation and tradition.
Along with that we also started our "What God Wants for Christmas" nativity countdown.  Last week we opened box number 1 which contained the angel Gabriel to add to the Nativity.  It has a very neat book and 7 boxes that we open a new one each time we do the Advent wreath, then will open 3 the week of Christmas.  This is a picture of the kit:

It is a very sweet rhyming book and we hide the box each week in a spot related to the item...such as last week since Gabriel came to give a message to Mary, we hid the box in a place where we receive messages (near Corey's phone).  The website for this book also has printable activities, scavenger hunt clue cards and coloring pages.  Sadly, this is the ONLY nativity we have in our house!  I've bought one cheap one that the kids destroyed as toddlers, but have never invested in one.  I've said in years past I would buy one marked down after Christmas but it has never actually happened because I always talked myself out of it because I want the Willow Tree one that is super expensive. ha ha. Oh well...this one works fantastic for a house with kids!
I am enjoying this tradition. Our December (yes already!) has been jam packed full of activities and doesn't seem to show any signs of letting up, so this Sunday night tradition will definitely be a treasure for us this Christmas season!
Do you have any advent traditions?