Friday, December 21, 2007

This should sum things up

Merry Christmas from
Megan and Matt
Ella and Catherine deMontaigne almost a perfect family picture

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sharing Christmas is here!!!

Hello everyone....
I'm so glad you've decided to stop by and I hope you enjoy the tour. If you're wondering what this is all about go HERE and read all about it. Ok, now that you're back please take some time day, tomorrow or however long it takes, to visit the "homes" represented here. Since each person has opened up their home to you, I would encourage you to say hello and leave a comment after visiting. Doesn't have to be major, a simple Merry Christmas would do!

There's still time to join in the fun - at any point really, even if you've stopped by here from another blog! Please let me know through a comment. I'll add you to the list and make sure I note it so people know there's an addition.

Here's the list of your tour... (some of these might not be posted when you click - keep checking throughout the day)

Renee @ Hangin' with your Naybor
Greg @ Agent Orange Records
Christina @ Crafty Pumpkin
Nancy @ Tulipa Murillo
Julie @ Green Eggs and Hammes
Dawn @ The DiCo's
Megan @ A Day with the Demos - just keep scrolling and mine will start
Erin @ Flimsy Dress
Jessica @ Me Myself and I (new)

So sit back. Make yourself a cup of hot chocolate and grab a few cookies (it's never too early for Christmas cookies) and enjoy Sharing Christmas....

Christmas 2007 with the deMontaigne's

First of all - welcome to our home and thanks for stopping by! If you were to really come by
you would be welcomed by our twinkling stars hung along our porch and some real garland (gotta love Produce Junction!) covered with white lights. And our crazy little trio of Christmas trees.

We have a pretty small house so I basically put alot of decorations in a few rooms and hope that Christmas spirit flows through the rest of the house! This first picture is of our TV armouir. The tall wooden snowman in the back is a new addition this year. The bright red candle/snowman holder doesn't really fit there but I didn't get around to moving it. In year's past I've had pillar candles of various heights lining the top but never got to it this year. Notice the lighted garland going up the stairs - wrapped in a "believe" ribbon (Matt's touch).

On the radiator cover near the door, I'm able to use some of the holly from a tree out back in a simple piece of pottery that I bought in Germany. I love using fresh foliage in the winter and that tree is really a pain in the butt the rest of the year because it's leaves are so prickly - using it for decoration helps me not hate the tree. Next to it is a satchel of pot pourri that has a quote from my favorite Christmas movie It's a Wonderful Life - it says "Everytime a bell rings and angel gets his wings."

I promise I'll try not to include so much detail the whole way through. This is the view into our dining room. I just love lighted garland - can ya tell?!! And there is our lovely tree.

We have a tradition of sending Matt to Home Depot and buying our tree there. It's real though and it smells wonderful. Don't you love that crooked angel? How many of you are just itchin' to fix it?

Our tree is filled with a variety of decorations. I use simple red and gold Christmas balls to keep some sort of theme but it's downhill after that. My parents bought me an ornament every year and I got to take them with me when I got married and moved out. Included with those were numerous extra ones received as gifts and all the beautiful crafty ones I made in school. More than enough to cover our tree entirely but there are definitely some weirder ones in there. The funny thing is that because of the way the trends are (or perhaps some things just are classic) some of the ornaments I had when I was young are things that Ella knows. For instance, she was so excited by this ornament....

I also have an oreo cookie ornament that she was equally excited about!

Of course we've started our own collection of ornaments. Many first Christmas, first baby and even a first home one. I really like this cute little bear one...

Now that Ella is in school we get to start collecting all her wonderul handmade ornaments. Here is is proudly displaying an ornament she made a few weeks ago that matches one that mommy made back in 1980. Wow, scary...
Here's a shot of our lovely dining room table, free from the clutter that usually decorates it. Say hello to Matt! (our new computer came today and he eagerly unloaded it onto the table and was forced to remove it for the picture)
The stockings were all hung on the play kitchen with care??? This was Ella's idea and it actually works pretty well since we don't have a mantle. Yes Catherine does get a stocking. I believe she took it up to her room one afternoon so I'll have to rescue it before Christmas Eve.

Final room is the kitchen. Our kitchen table is something we bought right after we got married. It cost us $20 and it's still going strong. And only four of us are allowed to eat at the table at a time. No, actually we bring in a chair from the dining room. The kids really like the placemats and it helps keep things neater.
I've included a picture of my cooling rack. Not very festive but it gets alot of use this time of year.

I really enjoy baking and like to bake cookies to give as gifts to people. Last year I posted the recipe for my yummy Chocolate Caramel cookies so take a second to check them out if you're a fan of that kind of thing. You know, chocolatey goodness and all. I made them again this year along with sugar cut-out cookies, peanut butter cup cookies, craisin white chocolate and oats cookies and pumpkin with burnt sugar frosting cookies.

I'm not going to post any of those recipes, instead I'm going to give you the recipe for our Christmas morning breakfast. I grew up always having a special Christmas breakfast and it's continued on as a tradition in our home as well.

These two recipes are from Rachel Ray's 30 Minute Meals and they are both so "yummo!".

Sausage Scrambles
1 pound bulk breakfast sausage - definitely use maple
8 large eggs
A splash of milk
6 ounces (1/3 pound) Cheddar - or whatever - add as much as you like!

Preheat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat, add sausage and brown and crumble the meat, 5 or 6 minutes. Remove the sausage from the pan and drain off the fat. Return pan to heat and reduce the temperature to medium low.
Whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Scramble the eggs until soft, then add cheese and continue to scramble another minute or so to finish cooking eggs and to begin to melt the cheese bits. Remove pan from heat and combine sausage and eggs.

Pretty basic but the maple sausage makes it really tasty.
This next one is the best.

Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 2 ounces,
1/4 cup, chopped walnuts (optional, we don't add them)
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 really ripe bananas, mashed up
3/4 cup raisins 1/2 stick butter,
1/4 cup, melted butter, plus additional for buttering skillet (I don't bother with buttering the skillet)

Here's a great tip: if you cannot find really ripe bananas, just nuke them in the microwave for about 15 seconds and they will become super soft for mashing.
Mix dry ingredients, the first 7, in a bowl. In a another bowl, mix the wet ingredients, the next 4. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined, then fold in the mashed up bananas and the raisins. Stir in the melted butter.
Heat a griddle over medium heat and brush with additional melted butter. Cook pancakes, each about 1/3 cup, until bubbles form on the top, then turn. Cakes will cook in about 2 minutes on each side. Keep pancakes tented with foil as they come off the griddle to keep them hot. Serve with drizzled honey or maple syrup over the top.

The batter is very thick and different than your typical pancake. Maple syrup goes really well with these.

That is one of our traditions. Similary to many of you, we are a young family still starting to figure out our own family traditions. One thing I've enjoyed doing with the kids is an advent tree/calendar. We take turns putting up a day and dancing to the music that the star on top plays. Ella also has a Santa from school that she adds a cotton puff to each day to show her that Christmas is getting closer. We go to our church for a Christmas Eve service and do Christmas morning and stockings at home.

past few years we've made it a point to stay home for Christmas day for a number of reasons. We really want to establish our own family traditions and be a family unit. With having both families far away we couldn't see both on Christmas and this way we don't have to pick one over the other. We will travel and have Christmas in Clearfield with my family right after our Christmas. We'll go to Maryland for Christmas with the deMontaigne's after that and stay through New Year's. Both my brother's live away from our hometown so we try and coordinate our plans so we have time together. This year it looks like we won't be seeing Mike and Sharon as she is 37 weeks pregnant and their insurance won't cover them out of state. That's sad for all of us and for them, but I know that this will bond them together as a unit even more as they prepare for this crazy adventure of parenting!

As far as gifts, Matt and I decided not to exchange this year because we've had alot of expenses and have some house projects coming up. The kids get gifts from us and I told Ella that the unwrapped gifts are from Santa - which is an easel and art supplies for both of them.

Thank you for sharing in our Christmas with us. We wish you a Christ-filled Christmas (and I just realized I forgot to post our mangers....picture at the very end - Ella "set" them up for the picture - actually four different mangers/baby Jesus' - can you find them all?) and a blessed New Year....
the deMontaignes

Making Christmas last

I have so many other things to do but I couldn't resist adding to the ever growing list of ideas for Works for me Wednesday over at Rocks in My Dryer.

One of my favorite traditions growing up had to do with savoring Christmas and enjoying it throughout that whole week off from school. My mom hated seeing us rip open our gifts and have everything done with in a matter of hours so when we were pretty young she basically set aside a small pile of seven gifts to be opened one a day from Christmas to New Years. They were usually smaller gifts, like books, CDs, new clothes, socks etc. As we got older it was up to us to pick which ones we would open Christmas morning but she would usually guide us if there was a special gift that should be opened right away. I loved this because it served a purpose of slowing everything down. It got so that each of us would open our gifts very slowly and watch one another and see which gift they would pick out next. Also it helped avoid that feeling of let-down that so often comes right after Christmas. The next mornings we were excited to open our next gift - socks, clothes, whatever!, and rush in to see what our siblings had opened. It felt like Christmas all week long and we were able to have a more relaxed, low key Christmas morning. Also I think it's a nice treat for a school ager who might need a little excitement while at home all week. I remember loving it and in fact we continued the tradition all through high school even when we had the choice not to.

So that's my tip for WFMW on how to make Christmas last....

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Update

Hi folks...I'm excited to see your homes and hear about your Christmas preparations and celebrations this year. There are about seven or eight bloggers participating and in hopes of bringing in a few more, I'm going to push Sharing Christmas back until Thursday. It really has nothing to do with me forgetting to take pictures and our outdoor wreath blowing down and Matt forgetting to put our garland up. Honestly, nothing to do with that! Ok, I just looked and realized that I had it set at Thursday originally. Probably because I knew Wednesday was a busy day and I needed more time. But I forgot that I actually thought ahead...Sorry for any confusion. Thursday it is and always was!!

So in the meantime, I will continue to try and guilt, I mean, persuade others to join in on the fun! Christina over at Crafty Pumpkin is offering a sweet deal to those who visit her home so you'll have to check it out!

There are a few of you who will have different Christmas's this year so I really would love to hear from you and hope you'll consider joining in. To be specific; Jodi at Beautiful Collision - you're living with your in-law's, I know you have alot to share! Tasha - living in France means none of us get to see you but perhaps we can get a peak into what Christmas looks like to you (if you're back in your apartment that is). Mike and Sharon - this could be your first and last Christmas in Boston and your last before Kurbis arrives! Erin W - I think you have more animals than humans in your home, right? Or maybe it's even! Anyway - I know you love to take pictures so you have no excuse for not having a shot of one of your dogs wearing reindeer ears!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sharing Christmas

Anyone care to give us a peak inside your home this Christmas? Ok, I totally copied this idea from Boomama, who is doing a Christmas house tour over at her blog. Basically you give us a "tour" of your home on your blog. I'm not suggesting anything too extensive, but I think it would be really fun for us to take some pictures of our house in their Christmas grandeur and then all post them on the same day.

Also, you could include a peak into what your Christmas will be looking like in other ways. What are baking, what special gifts are you giving, are you traveling or staying home, what are some special traditions do you do with your family to make Christmas your own (I know so many of us are newly married or with young families and we're just started to establish our own traditions), do you have a favorite meal/recipe that is only made at Christmas, what type of activities do you like to do leading up to Christmas (advent calendars, caroling, special church services).

I love to see other people's home at Christmas time and I to have people over as well. There's just something so cozy about visiting under twinkling Christmas lights and a tree while munching on yummy Christmas goodies. I also love hearing about other's Christmas traditions and basically how they enjoy the entire month of December. I just spoke with someone the other day whose family as a pajama day on Dec. 26th. They spend all day in their pjs eating popcorn and snacks and playing games and watching movies together. A totally different tradition but one is about bringing family together when it's so easy to scatter.

I know I have a few different groups of people that frequent this blog. Friends from college, some that I've become newly in touch with through blogging, friends from around here, family, friends of friends,friends of family and friends I don't know yet. Some of you comment regularly, some just chime in to let me know you're reading and some are lurkers. I think it would be fun if everyone (shootin' for the stars here people!) "signed up" to do this in the comments below. Thursday, December 20th, I'll post a list with links to your blogs and we can share a picture of our homes and lives this Christmas. Obviously you could include as much or as little as you'd like - not something that should be stressful, but fun!

So please help make this fun and comment below if you'd like to participate. I look forward to sharing Christmas with you all!

Edited....I just want to make sure you all know that I want this to be a fun way to document this season of the year during this season of your life. I know for some of you it's crazy and busy and babies are everywhere or you're pregnant or you're working and so on and so on. Hopefully you could see this as a way to share a bit of where you are at and how, in the midst of where God has you and what He has put into your life, you are doing to celebrate this special time. It may be bare bones minimum, you may be stressed with the expectations or you may be loving all of it. I hope this is a way to connect and share with others - most that we won't be seeing and some we're just getting to know and some we don't even know!

Monday, December 10, 2007

She's Four!!!

(I started this last Tuesday and finished it today. Somehow the pictures I upload got erased and I couldn't add them again so I lost a bit of steam and just now got a chance to sit down and concentrate on it again. )

Today was Ella's birthday! A little bit anticlimatic after Saturday's events but we had to celebrate somehow - just in a more subdued fashion. Since it was a Tuesday, as well as her birthday, I was assigned to be the helper in her preschool class and bring in a special snack - cupcakes of course. She wore a birthday crown on which she drew a sweet picture of her family which became a bit unrecognizable when I suggested adding hair. Apparently we are all pretty hairy!

For those of you who read this blog pretty regularly you hear alot about Ella, but I still can't resist devoting a post to my firstborn. There's so much to say about Ella. I think I could write a post everyday just filled with the things that she says that day. But I don't because at the end of the day I usually forget them. She is very insightful (in a four year old way) and constantly observing life around her and trying to make sense of what she sees. We have alot less "whats" these days and a whole lot more "hows" and "whys". Usually listening to her process life is pretty humorous. A few weeks ago somehow we got on the subject of death and dying and somehow that lead to having babies (circle of life you know) and her thought process went as follows..."So... Nama (my mom) ate alot of food and got a big fat belly and then she had you?"

Ella is a very active little girl. She loves to run and wiggle and dance. The picture below is a typical Ella shot - on the go and unwilling to slow down - especially for pictures.

The things Ella loves. She loves projects. Art, cooking, decorating - any type of creating appeals to her and she usually asks to have some sort of project at least once a day. Anytime I get an idea for an activity I save it for when she asks for a project, because an afternoon can be become pretty unbearable if Ella decides she must have a project and I can't think of one. For her birthday we got her a kids' concoction kit - a recipe book full of ideas and projects as well as paints, glue, glitter and glow in the dark stuff along with measuring cups and spoons for the "recipes". It was a great deal at Costco so if you have a kid interested in creating things I would recommend this. She also got paints and sponges and little paint cups from my parents. Both have already gotten alot of use.

Ella also loves her sweets. After lunch and dinner she always asks for a treat. She is really clear that she doesn't want a snack, but a treat.

Treats are usually something like a handful of chocolate chips or a cookie or something like that. I try to make it small things so she isn't overindulging but at least it's only two small sweets a day.

She's become a really good eater. She loves broccoli (Praise the Lord on high for that!!) and has recently started enjoying celery. She loves any kind of soup and will eat any vegetable that she finds in her soup without questioning it at all. Her favorite "meal" would be a turkey and cheese sandwich, macaroni and cheese, chicken fingers or pizza. Her birthday dinner was homemade chicken fingers (breaded with crunched up cornflakes, so easy and good) and good ol' Kraft mac 'n' cheese. Unfortunately her moods often dictate her willingness to eat the food we're eating. Often times it's thing I know she'll like but she resists just because....actually I don't know why - just exerting her strong will I guess. She loves fruit and often overindulges. I recently bought a box of clementines and her and Catherine realized they could peel them on their own. I think Ella had 5 in one day. It wrecked havoc on her digestive system (still is!). I was working on Saturday and while I was gone Matt said that the girls sneaked a few oranges before he realized what was going on.

Ella loves clothes and she loves to dress up. Not only does she love to dress up in her princess outfits (as evidenced by the party pictures) but she loves to just wear dressy clothes. She would wear a dress and tights everyday if I let her. Truth is, we just don't have that many dresses and tights. Because although she may look sweet and dainty, she doesn't refrain from wrestling and rolling around on the ground so her clothes are pretty dirty by the end of one wearing.

A funny example of her love for dressy clothes happened about a month ago. She had her Thanksgiving program at preschool that we all came to watch. I believe she was wearing jeans and a sweater and her sneakers. I was dressed similarly - jeans and a sweater (but I did have heels on so for me it was dressy!). I was feeling crampy and yucky afterwards so when we got home I immediately went upstairs and changed into my comfy clothes - yoga pants, t-shirt and some type of fleece. Meanwhile in the room next to mine Ella was busily shedding herself of jeans and sweater and putting on a dress, tights and black dress shoes. Which she proceeded to wear ALL. DAY. LONG. It's moments like these that make me wonder how she is related to me!

Here is a sweet picture of her the above mentioned outfit. I made her take of the shoes to play on her blow up bed.

But there's more to it. At one point she lifted up that top dress to reveal another underneath and excitedly said "Look, mom - double dress!" As if there could be nothing greater!

She also loves to put together random outfits that in no way look good together. I don't have a picture of her latest outfit but it without a doubt was the craziest. She had a long sleeved t-shirt on. On top of that was a pink and brown polka dot one piece swimsuit. On top of that was a pair of striped tights. I imagine it wasn't too comfortable because it only lasted a half hour or so.

There's so much more I could say about her. She is a beautiful little girl full of so much personality and spunk and heart. Sorry if I'm repeating myself from up above but I started this a week ago and I'm just now finishing. Sorry for the length but who doesn't want a chance just to ramble on and on about their beloved little one?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Soup's On!

I have a number of other things that I've been planning on posting about (namely a four year old post about Ella - but blogger has been not letting me upload my pics which are just absolutely necessary!) but I love soup and I'm a fan of Boomama's so I decided to participate in her Soup-tacular soup exchange.

I'm posting two of my favorite soup recipes. Interestingly enough these were both given to me by the same person, my wonderful friend Shannon (who doesn't blog, but you can check out her husband Greg's blog if you feel like it). So big shotout to Shannon for bringing these soups into my life, and subsequently, yours!

The first is for a corn chowder that I most recently made at a fall party we hosted and everyone loved it and asked for the recipe. That was two months ago. Instead of sharing it with them, I'm sharing it with you all!

Corn Chowder
8 slices bacon, minced

1 small onion, minced
2 17oz cans of creamed corn (the cans I found were smaller than this so I used more than 2 - never can have too much creamed corn!)
3 cups cooked, cubed potatoes (I'm sure I use more of these also. I just boil them until slightly tender because I like to let the soup simmer for awhile to let the flavors blend. But I don't mind if the potatoes are falling apart -because it's a soup!)
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup evaporated milk
2 1/3 cup water
1/2 tsp garlic salt

Fry the onion and bacon in a pot (until bacon is cooked). Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer until hot.

See - easy cheesy. This soup can be made pretty quickly, but like I said I think it tastes best when it's been on the stove on low for awhile.

I think this soup goes wonderfully with roast beef sandwhiches - hot or cold.

The second soup is an old fashioned chicken noodle soup. It's just so good and I think everyone needs a good homemade chicken noodle soup. I don't like the chicken noodle soup at Panera's anymore and I think it's because this is just better (in my opinion of course). It was originally a chicken and dumplings recipe but I adapted it for soup. If you're a fan of dumblings let me know and I can post that recipe as well.

The thing that I think makes this soup so good is the chicken paste base and the homemade noodles.

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles
3 split chicken breasts
1 large onion cut into wedges
3 carrots (I always use more) choppped
3 stalks celery (ditto above) chopped
Chicken paste (not bouillion cubes or powder!!! scoop this out with a spoon)

Fill large pot with water (sorry so subjective - I have no specific measurements). Add salt and pepper to your liking and bring to a boil. Add chicken breasts and simmer for 20 minutes. Add veggies and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. Remove chicken and veggies. Shred chicken. Add 3T Chicken Paste (you might want to add a bit more - again, to taste) Bring to a boil and toss in the noodles.

OK now this is when you take the homemade noodles that you made while the veggies were cooking and add to the soup.

Egg Noodles
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter

In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Add the beaten egg, milk, and butter. Knead dough until smooth, about 5 minutes. Let rest in a covered bowl for 10 minutes.
On a floured surface, roll out to 1/8 or 1/4 inch thickness. (I like them thicker) Cut into desired lengths and shapes. Allow to air dry before cooking. Hangers work well for this.

Allow the noodles to boil for a few minutes in the soup before adding the veggies back in. Remember that the noodles tend to suck up some of the broth so make sure you account for this when you're deciding how many noodles to put in our how much water to start with. The noodles need some time to cook and soak in the flavor of the soup and become nice and tender (unless you made them really thin, but why would you?!).

It's supposed to be cold up here in the Northeast - perfect weekend to try one of these recipes with a nice hot loaf of french bread.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Party

Part 1: The Cake

The cake I was making really wasn't that hard. Unfortunately the process of baking the cake was much more laborious than I was anticipating. The design called for 5 8-inch cakes, with the fifth one cut into quarters to be used as the castle tower. Ice all the cakes, put them together, decorate and then add the sprinkle covered sugar cones. Easy enough. Thursday morning I realized that the two square pans I had were different sizes (one was a 9-inch) so I could only bake one cake at a time. So that means, five times throughout the day I baked for 26-28 minutes, cooled, flipped the cake out, cleaned the pan and then started over. And THEN I realized that since I was using a glass baking pan (aka, lasagna pan) and not a cake pan, the sides were slightly slanted out and if you ever make layer cakes you'd know that in order to have it look nice the sides have to be perfectly straight. So then I cut the sides off each cake. Before this I already had to level each cake which means there was lots of cake scraps sitting around, which means I ate alot of cake that day.

Because the baking took more time than I had planned on I just didn't have a ton of energy to decorate the cake, so I wasn't completely happy with that. There are alot of little extra touches I would have done had I felt up to it. The most important part was that it tasted really good. Matt just finished up the last of it this evening. So at long is a picture of Ella's birthday cake....
The hardest part was getting the flags, AKA toothpicks, to stay in the top of the sugar cones. I had to gently chisel a hole in the top of each one and then secure it with icing. A real pain but it would have looked weird without it. Notice how all the Disney princesses are trying to be the first in the door.

Part 2: The Princesses and Princes and etc,

Both Ella and Catherine were excited to dress up. I was upstairs putting a few things away in Ella's room and I heard Catherine climbing up the stairs saying over and over again "I snow white, I snow white" Sounded more like "I toe white", but I understood. She was all ready to get into her outfit. As soon as Ella saw her sister she was up in a flash putting on her Cinderella dress, shoes and crown. I believe it was a total gift from God when she told me she "switched her mind" and she just wanted to wear her hair down. Her crown was an example of the craft the kids were going to make - she choose that over a more elaborate Cinderella tiara.

Hear are some shots of my little girls.

Notice how the crown is pulled down on her ears!

Catherine eventually allowed us to put a barrette in her hair.

Aside from the girls that showed up in princess costume and fancy dresses, we had a knight, a prince (I think we can say that Nolan was Prince Charming because he came in a tux with a long stem pink rose for Ella!), Buzz Lightyear the Space "knight", Peter Pan, a superhero and a beanstalk. It was fun that all the kids got into it and participated in dressing up.

Part 3: The Chaos

Last year I wasn't sure if I was going to do a party for Ella and waited too long to plan it and then not many of her friends could come. It was still fun and she had alot of her mommy and daddy friends there but a couple of times she asked about when kids her age would come. So this year I planned ahead and got a date out and we were able to have it on December 1st, before alot of the Christmas craziness gets going. That meant that basically everyone (Dawn, we did miss Anthony and Sophia) was able to come. So there were 17 kids, including mine, in our house yesterday. It made for a pretty crazy afternoon. We had the basement set up to play in so it was nice to have kids spread out a bit. I had a few projects for them to do, making foam crowns and visors that could be covered in stickers and jewels, making princess magnets and making magic wands. Also, my friend Kelly was giving everyone princess tattoos. After the craft chaos, we had food chaos when 17 kids scarfed down pizza and juice and the parents tried to grab a bit as well. Ulimately it went well and I think we had only one pizza casualty (juice spill) and there was enough food for everyone.

Then we moved on to cake and presents. I don't have pictures from the Happy Birthday singing but I had some friends who took pictures and I'll get a bunch up on my flickr page when I get a chance.

Opening presents was more of the same chaos. Present time is the moment when even the kid who has been sticking close to mom the entire time decides that this is something they aren't going to miss out on. Ella also had a few helpers so I had to try my hardest to get her to slow down so I could read the card and she could say thank you.

Here I am surrounded by little princesses. They got closer and closer with each present and I was honestly sweating by the end. Don't see me in this picture? I've been swallowed by little girls! I just had to include a picture with some of my friends and fellow moms who helped celebrate with us!

And of course I couldn't have a birthday party post without mentioning my parents, who made the trip from Clearfield to be a part of the fesitivities. Ella was so happy that they would be there and they were both a much needed help with getting ready that morning and helping during the party. At one point I realized my mom was downstairs in the basement encouraging the kids to play down there. I'm not sure they knew what to think about all the princess toys that Ella got since I was not really much of a princess girl, but they both agreed (actually I think they volunteered - quite quickly!) to be back up dancers for Ella as she did her princess ballet DVD. If only I had a video camera for that!

Here's a picture of the whole family as the party began to wind down on Saturday.

All in all it was a fun, but exhausting day.

Of course Tuesday is Ella's actual birthday so I hope to get a post up in honor of our new four year old. But that will be after I make cupcakes for her preschool class that morning. I bet you can guess how much I'm looking forward to that!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Forgive me for this lapse in blogging - when I sit down at night my head goes blank. I think I say this everytime. :)

But coming up this week at the deMontaigne house - A Princess Party for Ella this Saturday. I'm making a castle cake that I found on the Family Fun website. I'm not posting any pictures of their example unless mine turns out better! So I just made two batches of buttercream icing and tomorrow I'm baking cakes in hopes of not having a kitchen full of powdered sugar and icing and crumbs at midnight on Friday. We'll see how that goes! Ella is sooo excited for this party that I'm a little nervous that she'll be easily disappointed if everything doesn't go exactly as she has planned (case in point, I would have liked the cake to be a total surprise but she said she wanted a princess cake and need to "test the waters" to make sure she would be alright with a castle cake) or go into a state of depression when it's over. At least we have Christmas to look forward to. January has the potential to be a long tough month.

I'll be sure and post pictures and details about the party on Saturday. I'm sure it will be quite the event.

Hopefully Renee will get an update on her blog soon because her family has had an eventful week. They spent two and half days down at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia with their newborn little girl Mia. She was showing symptoms that had their pediatrician concerned so little Mia had to undergo a number of tests, including a spinal tap, in order to rule out any diseases that could be dangerous for a newborn. Thankfully the doctors determined that it was a virus so they all were able to go home this past Monday and start adjusting to life with two kids. It was a scary few days waiting to hear how Mia was doing and I really haven't done any justice to their experience because 1. it's not my story to tell and 2. it really deserves it's own post. So check over to Renee's blog an update which I'm sure she'll be doing before too long. Because you know having a newborn and a toddler really don't keep you that busy!!!

I'm closing this post on a very un-serious note. But I have to put it out there because it has caused me distress and Matt isn't home and you, my blogging friends, are the only ones I have to tell about it. Sunday night we had some internet and phone problems. Our services are all through Comcast and are cable was the only one working. After a long time on the phone with a technician (extremely helpful and patient I must say) we figured out it was the splitter (???) we were using to get everything connected. In order to get our phone and internet working we had to disconnect the family room cable. Not a problem. Matt hooked it up again Tuesday night. But from that moment on the DVR box was frozen - it wouldn't turn on or off an the time wasn't changing. Again, I wasn't too worried. I figured I would call Comcast and they would send a signal (that's what they say they're doing -kind of weird) and fix it all up. That's basically what they did, but when I turned on the DVR, EVERYTHING WAS ERASED!!! For those of you who don't tivo or DVR this means nothing to you, but hopefully there are a few of you who might feel my pain. I have, I mean, had, a ton of kids' shows that I could put on when Ella would watch something at night - very convenient. I often tape something I'm interested in and don't have time to watch and I have it set to tape the shows that we watch on a weekly basis. Because rarely do we watch them while they're aired. And of course because of the holiday we haven't watched tv in a week and my Grey's Anatomy and Friday Night Lights and Chuck all were deleted. Plus the old episodes of The Office that were on there just in case I felt in need of a laugh. All gone. As I type this I realize it's not a big deal. Not in the grand scheme of things. Not even in the small scheme of things. I know that. But I enjoy TV to help me chill out and relax at the end of the night and it's nice to know there is something you're interested in watching all taped and waiting for you to watch. That's it, just had to share.

Check in the end of this week to see a cake that hopefully looks like a castle as well as Ella, AKA Cinderella. I'm sure you'll be curious to see if I am able to replicate Cinderella's hairstyle/do on Ella as she insists that I must. Nevermind that Cinderella is a CARTOON DRAWING. This does not compute to an (almost) four year old and has the potential to be our first obstacle on Saturday. Those of you with boys are just feeling pretty lucky right now!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Just a Few Thoughts

As usual no clear theme, just a bunch of snippets from the past few days...

1. Matt is finally starting to feel better. He left the house for the first time since Wednesday to go to church today and I am thankful we're moving in the right direction after a few set backs. Of course today Ella was having a fit of anger and resisting Matt's attempts to talk to her and she accidentally bumped his nose. Not good. I'm hoping it doesn't effect his progress because it definitely caused a great deal of pain.

2. One of my best friend's, Renee, just had her second baby, Mia Rose, tonight (I started this last night, so actually she had the baby yesterday). She'd been having contractions for a few days and was minutes from going to the birth center in the middle of the night on Saturday when things died down a bit. I think she was glad she waited because when it was time everything happened quickly. She just updated her blog so you can head there to check out some pictures of their beautiful little girl. I got to spend some time there this afternoon holding the little one - there is nothing like holding a sleeping newborn! OH yeah, I guess I should add that because she delivered at a birth center they went home 12 hours after delivering. It may seem crazy but their house felt much more peaceful and relaxing than any hospital.

3. The other day Matt was trying to get Ella into her pajamas, her Pittsburgh Steeler pajamas to be specific. She complaind that she didn't want to wear them because "I don't like the Steelers and I don't like football." Matt gasped and told her that she couldn't say that to me because that was my favorite team but since the pjs were her softest pair she might as well put them on. Done. Later on she whispered to Matt "don't tell mommy that I don't like the Steelers and football." Of course Matt is getting a kick out of this, probably hoping there's still a chance she'll be an Eagles fan (over my dead body). Yesterday afternoon as we had our afternoon football on (the Eagles mind you) Ella came up to and gave me a big hug and said "Mommy, I like the Steelers. The Steelers are really fun." Yup, working the parents already. Can you see why I'm nervous about the teenage years?

4. Compared to Ella, Catherine is the easy one. But she has started to exert her strong will in some random areas. Like socks and shoes. It's taken us about two weeks to get her to wear them without throwing a major fit. She still fights it a bit but it's gotten alot better. I haven't had to straddle her in order to force her to put shoes on in a couple of days now. I blame it on the exceptionally warm fall that we had which prolonged the use of her precious princess sandles into mid October. But now we have Dora sneakers so things are getting better. Of course putting on tights to go to church provided us with another challenge. Because of this warm fall we haven't had to wear coats to often either. It's been in the 30's the past couple days and every day Catherine insists on leaving the house without a coat. She's gets about two inches out the door before she retreats and says "coat please". Our other little issue is that of diapers. I would like to potty train but I haven't been able to carve out the time. But sometimes Catherine decides she wants to go and we'll find her pantless sitting on the baby potty. With nothing in it of course. And then there was the night when she took off her diaper and said "bye bye diaper, bye diaper" over and over again. Yes, Catherine - we do want to say goodbye to diapers. Just not right before bed. So those are some of our Catherine issues. And still I can say that she's our easy one. Doesn't even begin to compare to moods of Ella.

5. We're leaving Wednesday to visit Matt's family in Ellicott City MD. We do this almost every year, but this year my parents are coming as well. Our parents haven't hung out in years even though they all enjoy each other's company so it should be a fun time. On Friday morning I'll drag myself out of bed around 4:30 or 5am and head to do some crazy BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPING with my mother in law. There are so many deals that I really have to make a list and stick to it or I might end up coming home with all sorts of things just because it was on sale! so hard to pass up some of those deals.

Off to bed unless I can't pull myself away from Monday night football. Matt needs four points to win in a Fantasy league so he might need some moral support.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Now comes the fun part

We're home again - after a looooong day at the surgery center. Matt is upstairs in a state of semi consciousness from the lingering effects of the anethesia and the new effect of his pain medicine. His surgery went quickly and I was initially told he would be in recovery at 11:30 and heading home by 12 or 12:30. Due to complications with his blood pressure, nausea and continued grogginess, he wasn't moved from post-op to recovery until close to 3pm. It was hard to see him in so much discomfort - I know without a doubt that I haven't missed my calling as a nurse - I can't handle seeing others in pain.

Tomorrow he gets the packing, aka tampons (seriously, that's what the Dr. called them), out of his nose. Once we get past that fun experience I'm hoping we see some improvement. I got a surprise offer a help from Matt's mom and she is coming tomorrow for the next day or two. Definitely an answer to prayers because I feeling nervous about being a caretaker to Matt and having the kids dependent upon me as well.

That's all for now. Thanks for checking in and I'm sure I'll have another update along with something a bit more exciting and fun to read!!!

One funny bit was that Ella thought that Matt was sick and was contagious so she was hiding from him when we got home (not like he was in the mood for saying hi to anyone). I realized this when she went to sit on the couch and said something like "did Daddy sit here? Is it ok to sit here?" I explained that she couldn't catch anything from him, but now that I think of it I really should have played up the contagious bit. That is probably the only thing that would keep her from coming in our room and trying to crawl over Matt to snuggle between us in the morning. As it is I will most likely lay awake from 7am on listening for the sound of her door opening so I can intercept her. Oh well, hindsight is 20-20!!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Is anyone else in shock that Thanksgiving is next week? Somehow that just doesn't seem right seeing as how I just put away my summer clothes.

So we got Ella's preschool picture back last week. Of course because I ordered the smallest and cheapest package it turned out adorable - no pirate smile at all! Now I have one 5X7 and about 8 wallets of a really cute picture. I'll definitely share it with you when I get a chance to scan or take a picture of it. Along with her individual shot we have a class photo as well. There's just something about having her first class photo and first school picture that hit me hard. My mom kept every single 5X7 school picture from every year - preschool through 12th grade. They are all lined up in order from youngest to oldest. Many times a friend/boyfriend (or in brother's case, girlfriend)/extended family member/random visitor has enjoyed a good laugh looking at the Koerber kids from 4 to 18. Because you know in there were some awkward years. For some of us more than others, but none of us escaped it. I'm curious - how many of you that read this blog have had the privilege of The School Photo Tour? Well now we have our first photo for Ella. It's framed and sitting in our family room reminding me of myself at that age and making me excited and also nervous for all the many more photos to come. Not because of what they'll look like, but because of all the learning and growing and struggling and succeeding and failing and hurting and rejoicing that those years will bring. It's hard to be at the point when you have to start letting your children out "there" to experience life on their own. Obviously it's just a few hours a week at this point but that photo on our entertainment center is just one more reminder that Ella is growing up. I'm not sure I'm ready for it, but I have to accept it!

A big event is coming up in the deMontaigne household. Matt is having a septoplasty on Wednesday to repair his severely deviated septum and hopefully help him breath better and sleep more soundly. I have to honestly say that I haven't given it a ton of thought - which is unusual for me. In fact last night I mentioned it to Matt and he said "oh yeah" - because he kept forgetting that it was coming up in a few days. So today, in typical Megan fashion, I began looking up information on the procedure and the recovery time. I even found a blog that detailed one man's recovery period. Of course that means that now I am not as relaxed about it. I'm nervous about how he's going to feel afterwards and how quickly he'll start to reap the benefits of having the surgery. We leave to visit his family for Thanksgiving next Wednesday and neither one of us have factored his recovery into the equation. For some having this procedure has been a walk in the park, for others it seems to take two weeks at the very least to start to feel back to normal. So yeah, that kind of freaks me out. But I know all I can do is pray for Matt and his doctor and anyone else involved with his surgery on Wednesday and for the recovery afterwards. Hopefully you'll join in praying as well. I'll keep you posted....

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Need Advice....

I've been waiting for this week's edition of Works for Me Wednesday for awhile now. Typically Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer has people list all sorts of tips and advice that they want to share with the blogging world. But this week is the second time she's doing it backwards and you get to post something about which others can give you advice and tips!

I have a couple of things I would love to get some feedback on, all kid related....

1. Teaching thanfulness. I know this is a pretty broad topic, but with me it has to do specifically with my almost four year old daughter Ella. Recently we've been dealing with some major attitude issues and alot of it is about her wishing she had the same bike as her friend, or not having a dress or pair of shoes that she sees someone else with - it really goes on and on about trivial things. She says things like "this is so unfair" or "that's so horrible" - and she's not even four!!! I want her to be thankful and grateful for all the things she has and not be so wrapped up in possessions. Short of telling her to be thankful and doing things like Operation Christmas Child does anyone have any creative ideas for helping her see how good she's go it? OR is this just something we have to deal with because she's a preschooler and figuring things out and not that uncommon. I just don't want a child growing up obsessed with having things that everyone else has (make for tough teenage years) and being materialistic. Again, I know this might be alot to worry about with someone this young but it's frustrating to have her saying that it's so unfair that she doesn't have a bike with a basket like so-and-so, her bike is sooooo much cooler than my bike......

2. Any ideas or tips on how to remove craft paint (the kind you buy at Michael's or AC Moore for less than a buck a piece) from clothing??? Is it hopeless?

3. Chore Chart/Behavior Chart. I've been meaning to start a chart for Ella (and Catherine, just over 2, not sure if she's old enough yet) with some daily responsibilities and perhaps one for her behavior. I'm hoping it will help curb some of the issues I've been having with her acting out being stubborn about silly things. The thing is I get stuck in the details. How much is too much? Do you reward after each day or at the end of the week? Do you add up all the ways they cooperated and they have to meet a certain amount each day/week? How do you handle the times (because with us there will be many) when they don't cooperate? Anyone will to give examples with specifics would be greatly appreciated. Also, it has to be simple or it won't last in our household.

Thanks for taking the time to help me out here!!! Post your own questions or go help others with their's by clicking here.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Traveling Reports

This time last week I was on the last hour and half of a ten hour drive home from Asheville North Carolina (I started this post last night but got caught up watching the Eagles lose). We left at 11:30 AM and after a number of stops, we got home shortly before 11 PM. Overall not a bad trip. The kids did really well with all the driving. The one downer was that we borrowed a portable DVD player from our neighbors and then one of those cool bags that allows it to hang between the two front seats from friends. The downer about it was that the neighbors didn't give us the correct power cord so after 45 minutes on the trip down (luckily it was right before they were falling asleep) it died and we no longer had a nice high tech distraction.

The purpose of the trip was to go to the wedding of my cousin Shiloh Mielke and his fiance, now wife, Josie. It was a really nice outdoor wedding. The colors were gorgeous and the weather was really perfect for a late October wedding.

Following are a few pictures from the wedding...

Josie and Shiloh

Me and Catherine - she's not so sure about this whole wedding thing...
Ella, on the other hand, is quite happy to be sitting with her cousin Isaac!

The both did really well during the wedding. It was an evening wedding so that meant the reception was late. Luckily there was a little area blocked off for the kids, where they had a movie playing, pizza, soda and a couple of babysitters. Seriously, it was genius! Except the kids were done eating and bored with the movie well before we were served our meals. All in all it actually worked out pretty well - by the end of the night Ella was just running back and forth from our table, to my parents, to the dance floor. I think some of the time she just stood in front of the gorgeous three layer chocolate cake and drooled. I knew one thing for sure - in order to avoid a major tantrum we were not leaving until we had a piece of cake. Ella wouldn't have been happy either! :)Trust me, it was well worth the wait. And all that chocolate gave the kids (and me) the boost they needed to make it until almost 11pm!
The next day we went for a hike with my parents, brother and fam, a few uncles and aunts and cousins. Asheville and the surrounding area has so many gorgeous places to explore - definitely a great place for anyone who spending time outdoors.
There's just something about this picture that I love. Perhaps it's the light behind Ella making her look a bit angelic?? Hahahahahahaha!!! Just the thought of that....!
We tried to get a nice family picture. Tried.
Catherine finally decided she wanted to walk on her own on the return trip. That's her hiking back with my Uncle Bob.

We stayed with my Uncle Bob and Aunt Cindy. I have some pictures of their beautiful custom built home that my Uncle designed and built, but blogger is not cooperating. I do have one picture of their side yard where he built a waterfall into the rocks. I just love it and I would have loved to have had a chance t0 relax out there. Someone else beat me to it.....look closely...

The highlight of the trip was probably visiting my grandparents (my dad's parents) grave site. My Grandma Sissy and Grandpa Ike were married for 50 wonderful years and buried side by side. I wasn't at my grandfather's burial so I hadn't been up there since 1992 and I'd never seen the headstone. All eight Koerber kids (my dad is the second of eight) plus some spouses and cousins and even some of the young kids gathered up there and spent some time sharing and reminiscing about the life and adventures of my grandparents. They were both such dynamic people who loved the Lord and it showed in how they lived their lives. Their lives were spent reaching and loving and serving others. I grew up being entertained by the stories of their full house and touched by hearing of all the people whose lives were touched because of compassion Sis and Ike.
This was echoed in a prayer/song that my grandma used to always sing....and the title is what's engraved on their headstone.
Others, Lord, Others
Lord, help me live from day to day
In such a self-forgetful way
That even when I kneel to pray
My prayer shall be for—Others.

Others, Lord, yes others,
Let this my motto be,
Help me to live for others,
That I may live like Thee

I left feeling encouraged and challenged by the legacy that has been left by my grandparents. One of living life by always putting others first. And not just the ones who make it easy - like your kids and your friends - but the least of these - unwed mothers (50 years ago I'm sure this was not as common as it is today and not highly regarded), refugees, or parolled convicts. A small example of the people who my grandparents brought into their home and their lives and showed them Christ through their words and actions. It definitely leads me to look around my home and life and pray the prayer of my grandparents, "Others, Lord, others."

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween 2007

Here's some pictures from our fun night of trick or treating. I spend too much time reading other blogs tonight to be able to write much on my own, but I figured I could get a few shots posted from our night.

Here's our pumpkins. Not as fancy as last year's attempts, but definitely much quicker doing it this way.

Catherine dressed up as a cheerleader. She was very enthusiastic with her pom-poms at first and also very unwilling to put on a nice long sleeve shirt that would keep her warm. So yes, she went out sleeveless! For some reason sneakers were bothering her so we had a little battle over that and I really drew the line at letting her go out without shoes. So I bribed her with the prospect of candy. Never fails.

Ella gladly put on her butterfly costume (ok, it's more like a fairy, but the headband/antennae push it towards butterfly) a few times today. I imagine she'll be wearing it again sometime soon.

I couldn't pass up a chance to post a picture of Ella looking directly at the camera, smiling, with both eyes open. Honestly, a minor miracle.

One of these things is not like the other!
You have to give Renee props for letting it all hang out! (And I mean that only in that she's showing her belly. Renee obviously has the pregnancy glow that I was never blessed with in my pregnancies!) Doesn't it look like she's really holding a pumpkin? (Again, I have to make sure you all know it's not really a pumpkin but her belly. My mom wanted me to send this picture on to Mike and Sharon (due in January) b/c they'd get a kick out of it. I said that I thought they would see it on the blog but she wasn't sure they would know that Renee wasn't holding a pumpkin. So you never know. And now you do! ) Hard to believe she's almost 9 months pregnant (aside from the pumpkin, er, belly)!
Sorry about all those additional parentheses.

A few friends came over to do a little trick or treating on our block. We have Ella the fairy butterfly, Nolan the puppy, Wyatt as Bob the Builder and Catherine the cheerleader!

It was a fun night and we always enjoying seeing our neighbors and staying out late with the kids. We drove around to some friends' houses as well and got some special treats to finish off the evening. So now we have two pumpkins full of candy that I am supposed to hide before I go up to bed. But not before I sneak just one more snickers.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Traveling Traveling

So we're leaving in less than 48 hours for a wonderful 10 hour drive to Asheville North Carolina. Because when isn't 10 hours in the car with two young children wonderful? We're doing the trip down in two shifts so it shouldn't be too bad, but driving back in one shot on Sunday after a long weekend with most likely not alot of sleep should be just lovely.

It's been awhile since we've taken a trip this long. Hmm....I think it was the last time we drove to NC over three years ago. Any tips or ideas for making the trip more manageable for the kids would be oh-so-greatly appreciated!!! And quickly please - like I said we have less than 48 hours before departure!

Also today I realized that I have no books lined up for the trip. That goes to prove how busy things have been because typically I would have checked books out of the library in advance and had at least three or four lined up. At LEAST three or four. And at the moment I have none. Not one. When I told Matt of this potential disaster he rattled off the titles or two or three books he's been wanting me to read. My response is a long car trip with kids is not the time for me to explore deep theological issues - I need stories and characters and plot. well as traveling tips with kids I would love some book recommendations. PRONTO!!! If you're wavering between travel tips for kids or book recommendations - go with book recommendations! Both would be great though....

Just so you know my husband likes to drive and gets carsick when anyone else drives. And he doesn't really enjoy mindless chatter while driving. So unless I'm going to be sitting in the way back watching Dora with the kids (please no! it will be hard enough just listening to it) I need something to entertain me, therefore my need for books is justified!.

Hopefully I'll have some entertaining stories to share when we get home!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Trip to Otts

So I know that it's pretty amazing that I am posting these pictures the very day they were taken. Less than three hours after we experienced the Mountain of Mums (our name for it) you too can experience it as well!
Today we took the kids up to Ott's Nursery to check out the Mountain of Mums (again, not sure if they have something they call it officially. I was also referring to it as the Flower Tower. Whatever you call it, it's pretty cool!). The flowers were in full bloom and just gorgeous. Below is just one of the twenty shots I took of just flowers.

We walked to the top of the mountain. Catherine, for some reason, but not necessarily suprisingly, was scared.

Of course it was pretty cold at the top (you Everest) so Ella and I had to snuggle to keep warm. Those are Matt's flowing locks in the picture as well.
So of course we had to take advantage of a great photo opportunity and get some pictures of the girls surrounded by flowers.

Notice how loving they look. They're holding hands. In a few seconds Ella starts to wrestle Catherine.

After our outdoor adventures we checked out Ott's greenhouse which was really amazing. I mean people pay almost $20/person to go to Longwood Gardens. This was like a poor man's Longwood Gardens. "Like" as in similar, but not quite equal. Please don't think I am dissing Longwood - it is pretty amazing, just not something I can do while trying to save money for Christmas
There were so many interesting plants to check out. Jerusalem Cherries, Crown of Thorns, Lemon Trees, probably a hundred varieties of cactus - some that were bigger than us and others as small as my thumb. And of course my favorite....Ornamental Peppers

Who knew? I should have posted a closer shot because they were so cool - really looked like mini peppers. Because that's what they are.

Then we went through a tropical area where we could walk up stairs surrounded by plants and look into a small pool of fish. The final shot below is back at the bottom checking out the fish again. I had to include it because it's so rare to get a shot of Ella smiling at the camera and standing still.

We finished off the day by heading to a park where the kids could play in a sand pit and then walk down and play at the edge of the Perkiomen Creek. We all threw rocks in the river and Matt showed off by skipping rocks (I was impresed at least, the kids barely noticed). No one got hit in the head with a rock so overall it was quite a successful outing. Hope you enjoyed the pictures.

Related Posts with Thumbnails