Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sharing Christmas 2010

It's here! Sharing Christmas 2010, which is, as Nancy reminded me, the fourth Sharing Christmas!

Please post the specific link to your Sharing Christmas post, that way people can click right to it. Take the time over the next couple of days to check out everyone's post and leave a comment saying hello! That goes for all of you who might not have blogs or aren't to getting a post together - please still come out and enjoy Sharing Christmas!

Welcome to our home! 2010 has been a very busy year so it's important for me to take time and share a little about this most special time of year.

I won't share pictures of every little thing since much of it is the same as years before. This year I actually remembered my antique sled and dug it out of the shed in time to add a little pizazz to our front porch. I know, the bow is pathetic. It was meant to be temporary...you know how that usually ends up!
The tree is in a different place this year. Due to a new addition of an iMac we have a small desk in the corner where we usually put our tree. So now it's just on the other side of our archway in the dining room. The presents under the tree are mystery gifts that the kids wrapped the other night. They grabbed books and who knows what else they found lying around and wrapped them up for us. I'm hoping it's nothing I need before Christmas day!
A few shots of some of my favorite "areas".

I love this old fashioned sign. It reads "There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays"
I love my hurricane candle holders. I decorate them different for each season and it's so fun to be able to change things up every year. This year I added the gold ribbon as well as pinecones, cranberries and an old cut up garland. It's so pretty when I light all my Christmas candles at night, and I would have taken a picture like that but my lighter was in the car from Sunday when we had a birthday party for Jesus at church. I was the crazy Sunday school teacher who light a candle on each kid's cupcake for singing Happy Birthday to Jesus! (and the candle is leaning, oh my, driving me nuts, but no time to change it now)

I've been adding more lime green to our colors every year. The Dollar Tree always those colored ornaments so I pick up a pack or two each year. This picture kind of drives me nuts because the berry ring is off centered, but oh well!

Can you tell that I love berries? :)
What does my dining room table look like? Well it's the same as every year except last night it looked like this...
It was a fun night of cookie decorating and Santa Buddy watching. We were so busy we forgot to have Ella study for her big unit spelling test which she has on the 23rd. Can you say Ba-Hum Bug?!

As in years past we do an Advent Calendar all month. We have two so the kids switch back and forth between which one they get to "do". Every day I try and put a piece of paper in our wooden one with various Christmas activites for that day. This year I've struggled to actually do it the night before and having been scrambling to come up with something on the spot. In fact today I told them in the car that today's Advent activity was making a Gingerbread House.

One thing that is different about this year is that the kids no longer believe in Santa Clause. It's kind of weird and a little sad, while that was not a big focus of our Christmas, it was fun to watch their child like belief and excitement. Catherine is actually more adamant about it than Ella (I told them we could play along and still have Santa be a part of our Christmas celebration) and said that it's not as fun knowing that Santa doesn't bring the presents. But we press on knowing that while Santa is a fun magical part of Christmas he in no way even comes close to what this season is all about! (I know, I know, Saint Nicholas and giving and all that - I do tell them about St. Nick and the history behind the legend of Santa)

This year our church had a big Christmas community celebration on December 4th, it was a great great night (although planning it consumed by husband for weeks prior) that had me so in awe of our church community and their willingness to come together to make the night so special and successful. It was a great way to kick off the Christmas season!

Another big event this season was this past Sunday when the girls danced to Bebo Norman's "Come and Worship" during our Christmas service at church. Renee once again did a wonderful job teaching them and getting them ready and watching my girls up on stage is something I truly treasure.

As far as baking, I've scaled back this year. I made sugar cookies (as seen above), soft oatmeal cookies with craisins and white chocolate, Cinnabon caramel corn and a new addition, Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread cookies (sorry no link)

As always our Christmas morning is highlighted by Monkey bread, fresh from the oven - can't wait!!!

The girls are in love with Barbies these days and their big gift is the Barbie Dream House. I got a great deal on it and am soooo excited for them to see it Christmas morning! It got delivered to our house in it's original packaging in the middle of the day and I was so thankful Matt was home to quickly run it upstairs before Catherine could see it. We were so close to having that fun surprise ruined!

Thank you so much for sticking with me while I shared! It's getting late, you better get home ;) Hope you enjoy the view of our front porch...

(that was my not so subtle way of acknowledging that the first picture was taken midday and now it's nighttime)

Wishing all of you a most special Christmas this year. I pray that you have time to enjoy special moments with those close to you.

Merry Christmas, with love,

Ella, Matt, Megan and Catherine

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Who's Sharing Christmas?!

It's that time of year again...time for the third annual Sharing Christmas!!! Thank you to those of you who kept reminding me over the past few weeks. With the way this fall has been, I really do think I may have forgotten!!

Funny thing. For those of you who have done this before, go back and look at your old Sharing Christmas posts. I did it just now in order to grab the picture and it was neat to see how so much stays the same and the little things that are different. A couple of times I said "oh, that's where I put that!"

This year I am going to hold Sharing Christmas on Wednesday December 22nd. That gives you a week to take some pictures and get your post together! Click on the link in the previous sentence for a full explanation of how it all works.

Sharing Christmas is a neat way for us to take a tiny peak into what Christmas looks like at your house this year. If you're like me, the decorations stay pretty much the same, (Haha, tempted to reuse pictures! Don't worry I won't!) but each year brings change and newness that is important to document. Not just to share with us of course, but to look back on for your self (if you haven't gone back and read your archives, do it. My kids LOVE hearing stories from when they were littler!)

So on Wednesday when you put your post up, along with pictures, I hope you'll include some of the following things:

What is different between this Christmas and last? Or what has stayed the same?!
Any new traditions or events going on this year?
Any new recipes you're trying out? (Renee and I were talking today about our habit of trying new recipes when we have to take something somewhere instead of maybe the wiser route being going with something tried and true. But that's a bit boring, right?)
What is the gift you're most excited for your kids to see Christmas morning?
What are ways you try and share the true meaning of Christmas? (not that we don't try and do this throughout the year, but I know many of you have fun advent traditions that I want to steal!)

You don't have to share all of those, but I definitely hope you'll share a bit about how Christmas is lived out in your family this year!

Let me know - will you be sharing?

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Super Seven Years

On December 4th my firstborn turned seven. SEVEN!!! I can't believe how fast seven years have flown by. I remember how far away that all seemed when she was a helpless, completely dependent upon me, baby. I am pretty sure I say the same thing every year!

I do feel a little bad that I just skipped right over her turning six. I also feel bad that Catherine turned five in August and I still haven't posted about that. But since Ella already missed one birthday I had to start with her!

First - I can't just ignore her big 6 birthday. So a few major milestones that she reached between the age of five and six:

Learning to swim
Learning to ride a bike
Starting Kindergarten
Losing her first tooth

Big year, right? I definitely picked a bad year to miss :(

But rather than let it get me down I'm getting number seven up there in less than week! Yay me!

A few highlights from this past year

*Finished a great year of Kindergarten
*Played her first real season of soccer, did not enjoy
*Lost another tooth
*Passed the swim test at the Y, which involved swimming a full lap of the pool without stopping and then treading water for a minute without stopping. I am beyond impressed with her swimming skills and how well she did, especially considering that she didn't really know what it meant to tread water until she actually did it (Note to remember, I was the crazy coach/mom on the side of the pool cheering her on and making her stay in the middle of the pool. I knew she could do it, but I knew if she got to close the side her instinct would be to grab on to the wall. I was soooo darn proud of her afterwards!!!)

*Survived and even thrived during a week away from mom and dad this summer
*Started 1st grade
*Played another season of soccer, this time with mom as a coach. Much improvement!!!
*The lightbulb turned on and she started reading like a champ. Every sign we pass, the title of every book I'm reading, everything she sees on tv...she's reading!

A few days before her birthday she experienced another big milestone.

Ear Piercing!!!

Let me add that I suggested that she get her ears pierced since the only other thing she ever said she wanted was a hamster (a year running now) and the closer it got to her birthday the more I realized I wasn't ready to bring a pet into the house. Hamsters are nocturnal so I figured he/she couldn't live in Ella's room and the only other options were the playroom, which is basically just an extension of the kitchen, so no, or the basement. What's the point of having a pet that you never see?!

So Thursday afternoon I got her off the bus and we headed to the mall for the big event. She was so excited and nervous at the same time. She kept asking me if that was ok, which I told her yes of course!!! (because I was nervous too - I wanted it to be a positive experience)

I had called ahead to make sure there would be two people there so her ears could get done at the same time (crucial crucial - don't do it any other way!). I let her pick out her earrings, of course she picked an expensive pair (I was taping her and she told the camera how much the earrings cost and you can kind of hear me say "wow it's expensive getting your ears pierced") but I figured it was still less than the hamster so I rolled with it.

A few pictures....here she is sitting in the chair, about to get started....love the look on her face!

And then because I knew her dad and sister would want to see it happen, I took a video during the actual piercing (while holding her hand at the same time). I guess I was pretty confident that she'd do well because if she freaked out I'm not sure I would be allowed to share this video...

That's my little tough cookie- no big deal to her!!

Here we are afterwards, and a close up of the sparkly pink flowers she picked out!

I have more to say and pictures picked out to document Ella turning seven, but I have to go and make a list to get ready for our next milestone....her first slumber party!!!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Carried away by Cards

Last week I saw something posted on Facebook that got me super super excited! It was definitely too good to pass up.

Shutterfly is offering a deal to bloggers for fifty free photo cards. It got me thinking about Christmas cards that we've done in the past and what my plan was for this year.

Click my Review page to here all about it...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Perfect Popcorn

I know this is kind of a random recipe to share on Thanksgiving week, when blogs are full of recipes for yummy sides, perfect turkeys, and scrumptious desserts.

But I see it this way. What did the Native Americans help the pilgrims grow? That's right, corn! So I think it's entirely appropriate to share my favorite popcorn recipe as a reminder of all we have to be thankful for.

I know...it's a stretch.

First of all, in answer to the question you all are asking...why don't I just use microwave popcorn? Well, I wish the reason was that I knew all along tha microwave popcorn isn't that good for you, that supposedly certain chemicals leach into the popcorn and that's just not good, but I only found that out after the real reason....our microwave is on the fritz. It's brand new and it stopped working and we've had repair men out from the company and now we're waiting on a replacement.

Popcorn is an essential part of our family movie nights so I had to get online and find a recipe for stovetop popcorn. (which is when I found out that perhaps not using microwave popcorn is a good thing!) After making it one time I decided that this is how we'll do it from here on out. It was soooo good, and I honestly don't think I will be able to appreciate the taste of microwave popcorn after having this kind.

So, because I care so much about my blog readers, all five of you, I am going to share my new love with you.

Perfect Popcorn Recipe
from Simply Recipes, modified
3 Tbsp canola oil (I experimented with adding less oil and it works fine, I usually use 2 Tbsp)
1/3 cup of high quality popcorn kernels
1 3-quart covered saucepan
Salt to taste

1 Heat the oil in a 3-quart saucepan on medium high heat.

2 Put 3 or 4 popcorn kernels into the oil and cover the pan.

3 When the kernels pop, add the rest of the 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels in an even layer. Cover, remove from heat and count 30 seconds. (Count out loud; it's fun to do with kids.) This method first heats the oil to the right temperature, then waiting 30 seconds brings all of the other kernels to a near-popping temperature so that when they are put back on the heat, they all pop at about the same time.

4 Return the pan to the heat. The popcorn should begin popping soon, and all at once. Once the popping starts in earnest, gently shake the pan by moving it back and forth over the burner. Try to keep the lid slightly ajar to let the steam from the popcorn release (the popcorn will be drier and crisper). Once the popping slows to several seconds between pops, remove the pan from the heat, remove the lid, and dump the popcorn immediately into a wide bowl.

With this technique, nearly all of the kernels pop (I counted 4 unpopped kernels in my last batch), and nothing burns.

5 If you are adding butter, you can easily melt it by placing the butter in the now empty, but hot pan.

6 Salt to taste.

I usually make mine with just salt, but the kids like having a little butter. I'm sure you could try all sorts of fun toppings if you wanted. Let me know if you get around to trying it and what you thought of it! I'm home with two under the weather girls and I think that we might kill some time with popcorn and a movie this afternoon!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Facebook Funnies

I've been holding onto these stories for awhile now, but they are just too good to not share with you all!

First is one that has nothing to do with me so I won't use the name of the guilty party....
(I looked back on his profile and saw that the post and comment thread are no longer on there so I definitely won't post names - but it's just too funny, I have to make sure it isn't forgotten!)

I was scrolling down my facebook homepage and came across the following post and link from a friend;

(read carefully)
"Hey for all of you with young boys who like to play with blacks, check out this website!"


The first comment was from a mutual friend of ours saying "I think you meant BLOCKS, right?"

So yes, he made a tiny little typo that totally changed the meaning of his post. This was one of those things that struck me as so funny. I laughed so hard. I thought it was so funny I had to call Matt and make him go on facebook and read it - because I was laughing so hard I could barely explain it. Renee and family were over that night for dinner and I had her come see it and laugh with me.

What kind of awful website would that be (it was actually a link to a kids woot deal on wooden block sets) according to his typo? Seriously - worst typo ever!!! I think some of the funniness of it knowing the person and imagining his enthusiasm over sharing a link to a great deal and then realizing that...oops....that's not what I meant to say!!!...is what makes it so funny to me - I hope you can put your imagination to work and find the humor in it too!

But if I'm going to laugh at someone else's mistake, I have to be willing to laugh at my own. So next up, a mess up on my part that provided people with many laughs!

Ever since Matt got an iPhone and I found the Words with Friends App I have been super into (i.e., obsessed) with the back and forth challenges that I have going on with various friends. My one friend "J" and I joke that we know each other's schedules based on when we play, and it seems to be around 11pm at night when she's done with all her grad school work and starts to play her rounds. Since I'm usually reading or getting ready for bed I'll grab Matt's phone and start entering words and occasionally we'll send messages back and forth, briefly catching up or talking trash!

(It's funny because often times J and I have 5 games going on and we're both on a roll and it's getting late and I know that one of us just needs to quit and go to bed...and then I'll see "Your Move with J_____" and I get sucked in again!)

Ok back to the story.

She had gone to a concert one night so was not available for our nightly WWF play. The next day she posted on facebook how great the concert was and I added the following comment:
"Glad you had fun - I missed you at 11pm last night! ;) We need to talk in real life sometime soon!"

No big deal, right?

That afternoon I got home from something and Matt was working on his laptop and said something along the lines of me being responsible for the latest facebook oopsie. I honestly couldn't figure it out....until he said "you posted on J's wall....under my account!"

So yeah - basically that innocent comment from me sounds not so innocent and rather strange coming from Matt! Strange enough that her husband was convinced that Matt's account had been hacked and was going to call and warn us. Two hours later she posted a follow up comment "Meg, is that post coming from you?" They figured it out, but I'm just picturing the two of them (both off of work after the late night - so they saw the comment right away) sitting there trying to figure it out for that long, her husband so convinced he needs to warn Matt when, finally they put it all together.

I think it will take me a long time to live that one down!

So which one is worse - The blocks website or my wrong account posting?

Monday, November 01, 2010

Baking Woes

I think I'll place the blame on the busy week. Just one of those weeks, getting ready for the girls' Fall/Halloween celebrations at school, coordinating the volunteers for Ella's class, getting ready for Pumpkin Math at Ella's school - just a lot of things all in a few days.

I had volunteered to bring in a pumpkin treat for the class to enjoy after Pumpkin math. Pumpkin math was this fun activity that Ella's teacher organized, where the worked with estimating, measuring counting and counting using a pumpkin.


I decided I would make my pumpkin cookies. They are super easy and super yummy. Also they are topped off with brown butter icing which is my favorite for anything pumpkin.

I figured I would double the batch since we had our church group meeting Thursday night and I could bring them to that as well. Only one problem. The recipe called for shortening and I didn't have enough for two batches. So I used half butter, half shortening.

At this point my problem began. I'm not sure if it was just using the butter or if my butter was too soft and getting melty, but the cookies flattened out more than usual and were very....soft/mushy/fragile/falling apart. I made probably six plus dozen cookies and I tried all sorts of tactics, cooking them longer, letting them cool longer on the pan, refrigerating the dough beforehand. Nothing seemed to really work too much, but the refrigerating did help a little. (leading me to think that it was the butter being too soft and not the use of it that was the main problem. any thoughts)

Of course as the cookies were basically falling apart in my hand, I ate much more than my fair share, because of course I can't give the kids broken cookies and can't just throw them away either!

Sidenote: There is something about pumpkin that leads to me always overindulging. With brownies or chocolate chip cookies I usually have more control, but give me a pumpkin cookie or even an oatmeal cookie and I'll just go to town. Is it that, despite all the butter and sugar that I added with my own hand, the addition of a "healthy" ingredient" results in me feeling that it's not as bad for me as brownie? Can anyone relate to this?

So I ate tons of broken cookies all day and then that night right before I put the kids to bed I made the brown butter frosting. This involves melting butter, adding brown sugar and milk and cooking it until it's boiling. Then you remove from the heat and add powdered sugar and vanilla, stir until combined and then drizzle or spread on your dessert of choice.

Easy cheesy.

So with the kids watching I did all of the above. Except instead of being a consistency that could be drizzled or spread, it got super thick and dough like. I thought perhaps I read the recipe wrong and added more milk, hoping to thin it out. And then more milk. And then it became apparent that whatever I had done wrong was irreversible so I had to step back and evaluate.

I tasted the icing. It didn't taste right. (Catherine liked it and actually had a cookie with it on top in a big lump) It didn't take me too long to realize that I had added flour instead of powdered sugar! Awesome! So I dumped it all in the trash and started over with much better results.

I packed the cookies up into a container and set them aside for the next day.

But of course that would have been too easy. When I opened the container whatever was wrong with the cookies from the beginning and just gotten worse and many of them were breaking, sticking to each other (kind of funny, not the icing, only the cookie part was sticky) - basically a big mess that I didn't feel would be great to share with a group of first graders.

So.....I decided to risk attempting to bake again, this time, pumpkin bread from my favorite food blog Mel's Kitchen Cafe. Even though I really really did not want to bake again, and the thought of having more pumpkin temptation was almost unbearable, I'm glad I did it because the bread turned out awesome!

Thanks to Mel I avoided adding yet one more baking woe to my list. Anyone else have issues when making non yeast bread when the middle seems to stay gooy and the sides get overcooked? It happens to me all the time. In this recipe Mel said that if I was using a 9x5 pan it would make 2 loaves and an 8x4 pan it would be three loaves. I don't think I ever realized that that extra inch on either side would make that much of a difference, because it turns out I do have 8x4 loaf pans. All those times I was getting gooey undercooked bread - perhaps I was cramming three loaves worth of batter into two pans!

So yeah, all of this to say, go check out Mel's Kitchen Cafe and make her pumpkin bread. You can't go wrong with it!

Stay tuned for some more yummy fall recipes. I have some that are so easy and simple that I can't not share them with you!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fashion Sense

One of the things I love so much about Catherine is her sweet confidence in who she is and a willingness to do whatever she wants regardless of what people might think of her.

It's always been different with Ella. I am a bit ashamed to admit that there were times when I would be trying to talk Ella out of wearing a certain mismatched combination of clothing to school and I would say "well it doesn't match and it does look a bit silly but you can wear it if you want." Knowing full well that she didn't want to look silly and would be embarrassed if she did. Some of that was me protecting her because I know that she would be upset, actually mad at me, if I let her go to school and someone laughed at her outfit. She's gotten a bit stronger in that she doesn't care as much and would rather just wear what's comfortable, which I definitely prefer!

Never with Catherine. She would pick out an odd combination of clothes (not based on comfort for her, she really just wants to look beautiful!) and I would tell her that it doesn't match and looks funny and she would shrug and say "no one laughs at me". I have to admit I love her gutsiness - she likes what she likes and can't be told differently!

In honor of Catherine I am posting a few pictures highlighting her unique fashion sense! FYI - these are all from the past week or so - we've got plenty more if I dig into our photo archives!!

She put this entire outfit together, head to toe, by herself. She insisted on the red holiday sweater as well. When she showed her sister, Ella told her she looked great - such a good big sister, knowing that Catherine was proud of her outfit.

I can't decide what cracks me up the most about this one...the pink converse shoes, the totally out of place plaid skirt or the addition of the red shrug? It's all just so priceless!

She put this outfit on the other day after school. She called it her "work outfit". Love the addition of the headphones and iPod. The best was when she went outside like that and leaned against the van and grooved to the music. Again, she's all about doing her thing!
This pink and brown outfit is probably my favorite - mostly because it's pretty coordinated. I have to admit that I helped a bit in picking this out, but I didn't anticipate the pink shoes - definitely pulled it all together!

Hope this brightened your day - how can you not smile at these pictures!!!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

First Grade

It's about time! First day of school pictures from Ella's first day of first grade. That is definitely the most I've used the word first in one sentence. :)

Every year we take a picture on the front porch before the girls leave for school.

Every year we forget how bright the sun is on the front of our house at that time of day.

Every year we're running late enough that we can't waste time going back inside to get a better picture.

So this is what we get....
It's kind of a tradition!

I like this picture of Ella getting into the van. She just looks so old!
She was a bit nervous when we got to school to drop her off but thankfully our next door neighbor Evan arrived at the same time for his first day of kindergarten and they were able to go into together. Yes, she's nine months older than him. It used to bother her so much that he was bigger than her!

At this point she's been in first grade for a month. The combination of transition from kindergarten to first grade, from half day to full day and from familiar school to new school have added up to this being the roughest start to a school year we've had.

Because of overcrowding in the district last year Ella went to kindergarten at a different elementary that what we were districted for. Then she got shipped back to our "regular" school for first grade and beyond. Last year she went to school with her best friends and because of that was completely comfortable and loved school from day one. This year it was like starting over.

Also, kindergarten is kind of easy. First grade...not so much!

We had tears every morning and each day was a battle. It got so bad that one morning she couldn't pull it together before she got to school and went in crying. Thankfully her teacher is open to tons of parent communication and got my quick email letting her know we had a rough morning and I had no idea how Ella would be getting to school. She emailed me back letting me know that Ella was upset, but went to see the guidance counselor and came back happy and was fine since.

Coming home with homework on a first day and every day after (at first it was just 10 minutes of reading) resulted in tons of anger and frustration.

She missed her old teacher. She missed her old friends. She wasn't going to make new friends. The playground wasn't as good as at her old school. Why can't she go back to her old school? Why does first grade have to be full day? Could I call President Obama and ask him to make first grade half day? (for real!)

But week and a half ago she turned the corner! She's doing her homework without fighting (mostly), her reading is drastically improving and the battles we have in the morning tend to be based on something absurd like we have to leave and she can't find her shoes and we're going to make her wear a pair she doesn't want to wear. Basically, life is back to normal!

Ella really has grown up so much in the past month. Much more is expected of her now that she's in first grade (spelling test the first full week of school, yikes!) and after she got through those first rough weeks I see how well she's doing and I'm really proud of her.

The lasting results of her rough start to first grade? One morning taking her to school in tears, I just felt so bad that I told her I would sign up to be her Homeroom Captain (classroom mom basically) so I could be in her class ALL the time, for ALL the parties, in hopes that it would make her feel better.

It did. Makes me wonder if that was her plan all along.....

Monday, September 13, 2010

Blogging Funk

I'm still here.

I promise I will be here more often soon.

The last month plus has been a bit crazy and while it would have been good to be able to get on here record and remember things...it just wasn't happening.

Memorable events in the past month since I last posted...

In no particular order....

  • My baby turned five! I definitely will be doing a post on my darling Catherine and her fifth birthday. But you know what that means? I also have to do a post on my beloved first born's sixth birthday....yay, just a bit behind on things.

  • Matt suffered from an undiagnosable stomach ailment that resulted in not one, but TWO, emergency room visits. I guess I should do a nice detailed post about it just for posterity's sake, but man, a little more time needs to pass before I feel like processing through all of that again!

  • Our kitchen got attacked by weevil moths. I am not a big lover of bugs (surprise surprise), but I have to say that these things now top my listed as most hated bug ever. Yes, more so than the dreaded stink bugs which now just seem like a part of our family (kidding...kind of).

  • We went on vacation to New Jersey for our week long beach trip with my family. Matt's stomach ailment put a major damper on things, but despite that we had a lovely trip with great weather and time together.

  • Ella started first grade. My big girl is gone from 9-4 every day and it's kind of hard to believe that she spends more waking hours a week at school than at home. Sniff sniff. Makes me appreciate weekends that much more!

  • I coached Ella and her team in their first soccer game on Sunday. The whole soccer coach thing had been fun so far - thankfully the girls didn't seem to mind losing 10-0 :)

  • Finally - tomorrow Catherine starts her PreK program.

Each of these events (even the darn weevils, advice is needed) deserves the attention of an individual post. So now you know what you have to look forward to :)

I promise I'll get there.


At the moment I'm busy taking pictures of myself using Photo Booth. It's quite addicting. If I actually knew how to use it other than to take really really ugly pictures of myself I would post one on here. Don't worry, I'll figure it out soon.

So much to look forward to I know!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010


This was my view for seven days.


This was my view from my lounge chair every day...

We had a favorite spot and were able to get it every day - with that view, can you blame us?

I spent a lot of time doing this...

I read almost five books (finished number five on the flight home). Bliss!

When it got too hot (which it often did...wow, the humidity in Mexico is intense!) this is where we would head to cool off....

You can tell by the slight wave at the bottom of the picture that we are actually in the ocean...not the pool. I think if not for that wave you might not believe me. The water was really that blue and beautiful. This pics are straight from the camera - no editing needed! (not that I have a clue how to do anything more than crop, straighten, good old basic Picasa stuff).

Along with all the relaxing there was a lot of silliness...

from trying to pose on the edge of the infinity pool and realizing we were about to fall over the edge...

to playing in fountains while all the other tourists watched us thinking we were nuts!

In case you were curious I did also go on this trip with my husband of ten (almost 11) years.

It was our first time getting away on a trip like this and I so enjoyed having all that time with him apart from all our typical daily responsibilities and pressures.It was such refreshing time for us that was so needed and I for sure don't want to wait another ten years before doing something like this again. Our marriage is definitely a worthwhile investment!

We definitely had plenty of time for this....
hee hee...and moving on....

You can be the closest of friends in everyday life but how well you vacation together really defines a relationship.

We had such a fun time with Jon and Renee and I can't imagine having a better time if we had gone alone. Sometimes a girl just needs to chat and while I love my husband he is not a chatter. That's what Renee was for! And Matt had Jon for beach volleyball and body surfing. Mine and Renee's attempt (one single attempt) at body surfing was pretty disastrous. Let's just say that I found sand in my ear the next day and I can't be certain that I didn't inadvertantely flash some of our fellow vacationers. That was just my experience, I can't say with absolutely certainty that Renee's was the same. That's up to her to share!

This trip was truly a blessing. I loved being with my love and just enjoying each other.

It's been a great ten (almost eleven) years...

Here's to many many more....

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

It's Almost Here...

In two days I will be on my way to Mexico for a long awaited week long trip celebrating 10 years of marriage to my wonderful husband!

We are lucky enough to be going on this trip with our friend's Jon and Renee so we're looking forward to having fun with them as well as having time together with just the two of us.

We'll have free wi-fi in our hotel so I hope to be able to blog a bit while I'm there, especially so I can post stuff for my kids to see.

But in the meantime, I have packing, laundry, cleaning, organizing, list making and checking off....basically all sorts of stuff to do. All on top of a not so fun cold that really kicked me in the butt yesterday!

So I'd definitely appreciate some prayers that there isn't too much stress between now and our departure. Times like these bring out my tendency to be anxious (about all the little things that I might forget or might go wrong)!

Adios Amigos!!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Beating the heat

So we're in the middle of a heat wave. Today it actually hit one hundred degrees (I caught the car thermometer at 101) and it's pretty ridiculous. It seems like the excessive heat is causing our power to repeatedly go out when we run the AC during the day. The main breaker trips and it all turns back on when we reset it but it would then happen an hour later. We're trying not to run too many appliances and the AC is basically our priority so at the moment I have a load of half dry laundry in the dryer and I know I'm going to have to rewash and hopefully find a way to dry it - I might have to set up a clothesline outside - with this heat everything should dry in a matter of minutes.

Tonight the power went out again so we only have the air on in the girl's rooms and I am sitting on the couch sweating. To avoid focusing on my discomfort I am remembering what I was doing just five hours ago....

Matt had off today and we decided to beat the heat with a beach trip! I love the beach and as soon as we crossed the bridge onto the island I just felt so happy. We had umbrellas, chairs and coolers full of food and drinks to last us all day. It really was a great day. Although it was still blazing hot, with the constant beach breeze, you never felt that bad. If you did, the cool clear (woohoo - clear Jersey water - a miracle!!!) water was a few steps away. The waves were nice, not too rough and there was no undertow - really the perfect beach day!

Ella spends 90% of her time in the water. I took her out pretty far and we alternated riding the waves on the boogie board or just jumping or swimming over them. After each time of almost getting knocked over both of us had to make sure our swim suit bottoms were still doing their job and covering out bottoms - pretty funny!

Catherine loves the sand and digs and builds and fills her bucket up with water and pours it over everything and then starts over. We did get her out in the water swimming around and she didn't mind too much when Matt forgot to lift her over the waves and she got pummelled.
All in all it was a great day and I feel like I could go again next week! Definitely looking forward to a week long visit in August with my entire family!

Monday, June 21, 2010

All Around the House

Something I look forward to doing every day this time of year is going out in the morning to check out how everything is growing....

As you can see our cucumbers are doing quite well! We've already picked four and are expecting a bumper crop this year - I've already wanted to be able to use that phrase!

Hello Romaine lettuce - thank you for giving us such lovely salads.

Tomatoes! Tomatoes? Oops, forgot to upload a picture of our tomatoes, but we have a ton of green cherry tomatoes and I am looking forward to the morning when I first see the color starting to change to red. We also have a few regular tomato plants, a ton of zucchini and some green beans over at a little garden plot on our church property. We've picked a few zucchini and
while I typically don't like zucchini apart from baked goods, I am excited to try this recipe from my favorite food blog.

All that is well and good, but you can't forget about the color! I planted these pettunias a month ago and I just love the colors of the dark purple and striped pink...
with a little splash of yellow thrown in as well!

Currently these beautiful blooms are making me the happiest....

Here's a closeup of one that is almost completely bloomed.

I have three bushes filled with various shades of pink, purple and blue hydrangeas and it makes me so happy. Ten years ago (verging on eleven) I so wanted these colors of hydrangeas in wedding party bouquets but September is not the time to get a good price on hydrangeas! I'm convinced that these flowers are just a teensy tiny blessing from God - just a reminder that He is good and He knows my heart and loves that it puts a smile on my face each morning. I'm not too crazy for thinking that, right? :)
What is growing around your house this summer? What are you excited about?!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Summer Stuff

We just got back from a relatively spur of the moment trip to the beach and I hope to be sharing some pictures and stories late on this week. I have to sort through the 50+ I took of Ella and her cousins trying to balance on a surfboard and see if there are any worth sharing!

In the meantime I figure it's been awhile since I shared a recipe and this is one that is so simple and yummy. It's my favorite summer salad dressing. I just happen to have some now and it makes me actually want to make a salad so I can use this dressing!

Sugar and Vinegar Dressing

1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove (minced)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Combine the first six ingredients in a blender or just one of those nice little salad dressing jars. Shake or blend it up. Add the oil and combine. Stir in the basil.

Enjoy. I promise you will. You might just make it your new ketchup and dip everything in it! :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Family Resemblance

Last month Matt and I and the girls visited the Please Touch Musuem in Philadelphia. As always we had a great visit and the kids just love it every time we go there.
I love these pictures that we took. First of all because they are just cute. I love the girls on the roller coaster :)
But I also love it because I feel like it's a good opportunity for me to get some feedback. You see I always hear who Catherine looks and who Ella looks like and it's never consistent. Sometimes they both look like Matt, sometimes they both resemble me, so I figure what better way to really determine who they look than when you can only see our faces!

But seriously, it's really just an excuse to post some cute pictures!
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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Dancing the night away

I can't believe it's already mid-May. This month is flying by, we've had some busy weeks and just when I feel like things are starting to slow down I take a look at the calendar and realize it never does!

A few weeks ago we had a very special occasion...Ella's went to her first school dance! A little young I know, but I totally trusted her date to take good care of her - in case you didn't guess, it was a Father Daughter Dance. It happened to fall on the Friday of one of the busiest weekends we've had in awhile. I had a catering job Friday afternoon, the dance was Friday night and then there was a big fundraiser that Matt and I were both involved in, him with the organizing of and me with the food side of it. So needless to say that the reason I never appear in any of these photos is that I had just come from a Mexican themed meal and was prepping food for a Chinese themed fundraiser the next day and I wasn't looking too pretty (I'm being generous with that).

Friday afternoon Renee was kind enough to come over and help with the fun task of deboning and cutting up 12+ pounds of chicken for lo mein. Afterwards, as a way of thanking her, I let her fix Ella's hair for the dance that night! ;)

Love that Ella is totally playing with her toenails. She decided how she wanted her hair done, with a braid in front and pulled to the side. I was pretty impressed that, whether she knew it or not, she picked something that was in style!

Here is Renee putting adding a flower as a finishing touch. It was one of the ones they used for their Easter worship dance and matched her dress perfectly. (As an aside...anyone willing to place bets on how many years Renee will end up doing this? I'm thinking that it wouldn't be too far fetched to say 12, and counting Catherine, 14. Yikes!)

Ella and her dad, all ready to go!

A close up.

Before the dance we went over to a friend's house and met up with other girls and their families for a pizza party. It was mainly a group of us who have known each other for a few years as our girls were in preschool together and now that they are in kindergarten they have weekly playdates together as well. It was nice to have a break from the craziness at our house and just hang out with friends. The girls were all having so much fun that night I think they could have stayed there and played all night long. It was pretty cute because they were all dressed up, as soon as they got there, Ella and her friends went out in the backyard and starting collecting caterpillars. By the time they ate they had at least 30!

Here are all the girls....looking cute....I love that Catherine was included in everything...she fits right in with everyone (good thing she thought to wear a dress! that's only funny if you know Catherine because she wears a dress for every occassion. she changes out of play clothes to wear a dress to a park....) After 20 pictures later and much silliness this is how they ended up....

Again, I loved that they were so silly and falling down - I wouldn't have been to excited if they were taking it too seriously....I mean that's what is prom is for!

Finally, we couldn't not post a picture with the dads!

I didn't hear much about the dance other than Matt being dismayed that he didn't know it was a 60's (or 70's, don't remember) themed dance. I asked him if he would have worn a leisure suit had he known and he said yes - so I am hoping, praying, crossing my fingers that this theme is repeated at some point over the next 5-6 years and I can hold him to it!
Oh yeah, notice that Matt is wearing a tie. For those of you who know Matt, you'll know how rare this is and it is a result of major compromise on Ella's part. Initially she requested...actually demanded...that he wear "wedding clothes". She started to get mad that he wasn't making an effort to get wedding clothes so thankfully she was fine with just a tie (Matt on the other hand is saying "just a tie?")

The first Father Daughter dance was a success and I will continue to look forward to every dance where my girls get to take their father as their date...if I have to think beyond that I start to get nervous!!! ;)

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