Friday, November 28, 2008

Our first Christmas present of 2008

When we were in Wisconsin, Rhonda gave the girls an early Christmas present. Among the items were a fun Advent Calendar, which Allison played with often today, a Christmas craft book, which we hope to dive into soon, and these awesome Christmas cd's for kids. It's the first time Natalie actually let me put in a new cd at night! Thanks, Ronnie!

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Happy end-of- Thanksgiving! For most of you, it's probably time for a turkey sandwich snack! For us, there is no turkey... I just realized the other day that since meeting Daniel, I have not had a traditional Thanksgiving with turkey! But, that's ok... we had a feast of our own! We had a great time with Daniel's parents, aunt, and cousins, and enjoyed Chinese hot pot, (kind of like fondue), sushi, sashimi, stir-fried noodles, and sticky rice! I did make some pumpkin bread for breakfast with the girls, so we at least had something of a traditional food today!

Since Natalie didn't get her nap, she fell asleep at 5pm, and I put her to bed... only to have Allison wake her at 6pm. So, right now she's watching "Baby Santa" (The Christmas Baby Einstein). As I'm sitting here listening to the music in the background, I am SO excited to decorate tomorrow! Several neighbors put up lights today, so from now until Christmas our evening walk to the mailbox will take a long detour around the block!

Enjoy these pictures, and know I am thankful for you!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Clutter Clearing

My husband and I share many passions in common.... one of which is organizing. One thing we don't have organized is all our cords; battery charger, phone chargers, blue tooth chargers, camera charger, etc. So, he came up with a brilliant solution! He built this lovely drawer for our front desk, and put an extension cord on the back. It's not quite finished; tomorrow we will stain it to match our desk, then put the tie-downs on to keep the cords neat as well as add a matching pull. But, we're almost there! My husband did a gorgeous job building it, and has labeled every cord. What do you think of his beautiful work!?!?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Is it Christmas time, yet?

Ok, so I am one of those people who absolutely has to wait until after Thanksgiving to decorate for Christmas. After all, I believe having a greatful heart has given me much joy in life, and I want to pass that gift on to my children!

However, it has been SO tough to wait for Christmas this year! Perhaps it's because Thanksgiving is so late... or maybe it was the winter wonderland of the midwest that got me so ready. I hate to give credit to the retailers, but perhaps their early marketing of Christmas actually worked on me this year. At any rate, I am most definitely ready to get this season started! And, although I won't decorate my house until after our Thanksgiving feast, I figured I could at least change my blog background! (That's not cheating, right? :) )

Speaking of decorating, I usually don't have a "theme" for my Christmas decor other than, well... Christmas! But, for some reason, (probably thanks to retailers, again), I am drawn to peppermint everything this year!

My mom's close friend works for William Sonoma's chocolate company and has already blessed me with some peppermint bark! I have eaten more than I want to admit. I also had to buy Starbuck's peppermint mocha frappucino's from Target. I never get those little things, but for some reason I couldn't pass them up this year! Then there's Bath and Body Works peppermint soap and lotion... yummy! Now I just can't wait to pull out all the red and white decorations my mom got me a few years back. Just 3 more days...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Wisconsin Part 2

As promised, today I will brag... I mean, blog about our museum day! As you can see, even the walk into the museum was beautiful!

One of their 5 turkey crafts was simply painting at the easel... what kid doesn't love that?

They also had a special color-wonder turkey page to paint. Allison was excited to see the colors magically appear!

I thought this one was pretty cool. First, they gave the kids contact paper cut into a semi-circle of feathers. The girls got to stick a bowling pin-shaped body/head onto the middle, then add "real" feathers to the sticky part of the contact paper... no messy glue! When finished, they sprinkled sand over the remaining white spots to both give the body a brown feel, add texture, and take care of the rest of the sticky's. How clever!

Here. the girls got a coffee filter folded in half. After they colored it, the helper squirted it with water so the colors would run together... then they glued on the bowling-pin shaped head/body.

There were even snacks and Thanksgiving stories. It was so awesome! Did I mention all this was FREE? I didn't even mention all the crafts and fun things they had for the kids to do, but I hope some of these ideas will give you a fun project with your toddler on Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Wisconsin, part 1

After Minnesota and the wedding, we headed to Wisconsin for a few days to see our good friends, Rhonda and Dave, and their 3 adorable boys. We were welcomed with a basement all set-up for us with a welcome sign, candy on our pillow, and coloring books with glitter crayons for the girls. What a welcome!

The girls jumped right into the toys and slept as if it were their own home the next 3 nights! We enjoyed yummy meals that I didn't have to cook or plan, and playing cards after the kids went to bed! It was the perfect vacation, if you ask me!
So, R and D have a beautiful home, with lots of fun ideas to steal! The one that I will steal right away is having a little basket with all the kids Holiday books in it. Of course, theirs was filled with Thanksgiving books, which I won't have time to do this year.... but, I can't wait to buy a cute basket for all the girls' Christmas books! Perhaps Allison and I can even decorate it! Thanks for the fun ideas and your gracious hospitality, R and D! We miss you!
Stay tuned tomorow when I blog about our trip to Wasau's little art museum... lots of fun ideas for kids Thanksgiving crafts!! For now, here are some more pictures of our time in WI.

Homemade Mac and Cheese... our girls even ate all their broccoli!

A trip to the Cheese Museum... it was freezing cold outside! We got to try cheese curds, and the girls enjoyed watching the cheese being made! Doesn't sweet Micah look like Popeye in this picture? :)

Afternoon playdoh time.

Levi has a thing about making his name out of food. I think it is so cool!

Reuben is an amazing builder... Look at what they built!

Our yummy fajita fiesta!

They got caught holding hands... Isn't this adorable?

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Wedding Day

So, I thought this was a cute story... For weeks before our trip, Allison kept saying she was the flower girl for the wedding. At first I told her she wasn't, but that didn't seem to affect her opinion that she was. So, I decided to just go with it... After all, she doesn't even know what a flower girl is! On the day of the wedding, Daniel confiscated a few flowers and had her throw them at the bride. It worked! She was such a proud "flower girl."

And now, for the final picture: Heidi told Allison she was the little princess, and Heidi was the big princess. To this day, Allison likes to tell me "Heidi says I'm the little princess and she's the big princess."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

We're Back!

What a trip! Over the last 8 days, we traded in wind, heat, and fires for some 18-degree mornings, falling snow, and a million cows! It was so beautiful, and truly felt like a relaxing vacation! I hope to give you little pictures and stories over the next few days. I think I only have 302 pictures ot choose from! :) For now, let me just leave you with these. (You can enjoy browsing through them while I finish folding my 8th load of laundry... seriously!)

Lollipops... is there anything more important to pack for a plane ride with toddlers?

fFinally, after a long day of traveling, we arrived at our friends' place and were thrilled to find a patch of snow!

The first snowfall for the girls... can't wait to show you more!

"Come on, sis... Let's explore!"

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

More preparation....

This morning we once again prepared ourselves for Minnesota... the girls made their first hot chocolate! (Important preparation, I know!) It was a lot of fun, though. After the marshmalllows were gone, it was hard to convince them to try their hot chocolate. Once they finally did, it was all over! Enjoy these last few pictures, and enjoy the 94-degree weather forecasted for Friday, my California friends. (Our forecasted high that day is 29 degrees!) I'll be back in 9 days!!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

About 6 years ago, Daniel and I went to a home show and saw a booth with these ugly shoes that were supposedly very comfortable. I looked at Daniel and said, "These things are so ugly that they might just become popular... wouldn't it be funny to see everyone walking around in these!?" Sure enough, it happened. If you haven't figured it out by now, I'm talking about Crocs! And, what kid doesn't have a pair of Crocs these days? As for me, I have changed my mind... I now think they are adorable on kids! So, today I bought us girls matching crocs for our trip... "Minnesota style." (With warm fuzzy fur inside; isn't that fun?)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Packing away...

Does anyine else's house look like this while getting ready for a trip? Yikes! I'm hoping to get it all organized tonight once the girls go down. I guess I'll have to wait to watch the "Amazing Race!"

Anyway, since I don't have all that many warm winter clothes for the girls, (it's suppose to be in the 80's here the rest of the week), I have to pack them all for our trip. So, when the forecast for today suddenly changed to chilly, I wasn't sure what to dress the girls in.

Luckily, we have this awesome fireplace which keeps them warm outside, but which they stay far away from because their daddy taught them well. I love to sit out there and enjoy it with them. Last winter we were out there almost every morning with a fire; I'd have my cup of coffee and my Bible, and they played by themselves. I'm so excited that it's that time of year, again!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Fabulous Free Day!

Sorry I've been absent for so many days... We've been busy, busy, busy! Our awesome Minnesota/ Wisconsin trip is only 4 days away. Woohoo!

Anyway, today was an awesome day and a tough day. I'm over the tough stuff, so let me share with you all the awesome parts! I'm counting my blessings! Count along with me :)

  1. This morning, after my haircut, I was walking out the door when the receptionist asked me if I'd like a free 15 minute massage. (Um... let me think about it; YES!)I was then led back to a cozy room, laid on a warmed bed with soft music and given the most awesome massage. It was sweet!

  2. I then headed, (without my kids), to do a little Christmas/vacation shopping when it occured to me that I had a coupon for a free drink at Starbucks. So, I stopped by there on the way!

  3. I went to a baby shower... what woman doesn't love to hang out with girlfriends, play games, ooh and aww at baby girl clothes, and eat chocolate?

4. I came home, checked the mail, and got my first free issue of Good Housekeeping. (I won a free year subscription a while back).

    5. Our wonderful, incredible neighbors brought us chocolate chip cookies. We sort of have an unwritten neighbor law; whenever one of us bakes cookies, we have to share with neighbors.
    6. I saved the best for last. Are you ready? Tonight a close friend and I drove 20 miles east to a church service in Redlands to hear my all-time favorite SARA GROVES give a free mini-concert at The Packinghouse Church in Redlands. Worship was awesome. Hanging out with my friend was awesome. And, meeting Sara Groves was AWESOME! For any of you mommys out there who don't know who she is, Sara has a must-have cd for mommy's called "Station Wagon." You can only buy it on her website. Check it out at She also has a new Christmas cd out that I had her sign. I am so looking forward to playing it, but I will force myself to wait until after Thanksgiving.
      Have a blessed day!!!!

    Wednesday, November 5, 2008

    More free stuff!

    We're kind of Chick-Fil-A groupees...
    On Tuesdays when Daniel is working, at least once a month we head to Chick-Fil-A's Kids night. What a deal... a free kids meal, some sort of activity/ craft, free balloons, and sometimes a visit from the cow!
    For my friends here in Rancho Cucamonga, check out what's up in November/ December:
    Mondays: Buy one get one free milkshakes
    Tuesdays: Kid's Night, (as explained above!)
    Wednesdays: Buy one chicken strip meal, get one free
    Thursdays: Free chicken sandwich with a college ID
    Fridays: Free breakfast 3-count chicken minis
    Sat/ Sun: Free miniature plush cow for all kids
    Anyone up for Chick-Fil-A?

    Tuesday, November 4, 2008

    Happy Election Day

    Time to stop reading this blog and get out there and vote! :) When you're done, don't forget to take your sticker to Starbucks for a free tall coffee, then Krispy Kreme for a free donut, and then Ben and Jerry's for your free ice cream! We skipped out on the donut and ice cream, but enjoyed a cup of coffee and reading several Thanksgiving books at Starbucks/ Barnes N Noble on this chilly rainy morning. We really do have a lot to be thankful for!! I, for one, am thankful to be an American!

    Monday, November 3, 2008

    Fun with Grandma

    It was a fun weekend... especially for me, as I was able to get a lot done while grandma played with the girls! We once again found a recipe in our kid concoction book, only this time we enjoyed an overcast day rather than sweltering in the heat! This one is for sidewalk paint and is once again very simple: equal parts water and corn starch, then add food coloring; (7 drops per 1/4 cup!) The paints themselves were very vibrant, but once on sidewalk the color was less exciting. However, my girls didn't seem to care; they had a blast! (And, I was happy because grandma cleaned them up for me!) Praise God for grandparents!

    Sunday, November 2, 2008

    Recipe For Karen

    My friend walked in the other day just as I was finishing up dinner. Daniel and I pretty much triple-up on the amount of garlic we put in anything, so dinner time is always very aromatic! Anyway, here is the recipe for you, my friend! It worked well with our fresh baguettes, though we should have started those in the morning because they take a lot of kneading and resting. I had to use chicken broth since I didn't have any beef broth, and I left out the parsley because I didn't have any... Also, if you need some fresh basil, come on over!
    1 pound sweet Italian sausage,
    casings removed
    1 cup chopped onion
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    5 cups beef broth
    1/2 cup water
    1/2 cup red wine
    4 large tomatoes - peeled,
    seeded and chopped
    1 cup thinly sliced carrots
    1/2 tablespoon packed fresh
    basil leaves
    1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
    1 1/2 cups sliced zucchini
    8 ounces fresh tortellini pasta
    3 tablespoons chopped fresh
    1.In a 5 quart Dutch oven, brown sausage. Remove sausage and drain, reserving 1 tablespoon of the drippings.

    2.Saute onions and garlic in drippings. Stir in beef broth, water, wine, tomatoes, carrots, basil, oregano, tomato sauce, and sausage. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
    3.Skim fat from the soup. Stir in zucchini and parsley. Simmer covered for 30 minutes. Add tortellini during the last 10 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese on top of each serving.

    Saturday, November 1, 2008

    Halloween Fun

    How was your Halloween?
    We had a lot of fun. The highlight for our girls was grandma and grandpa arriving just before lunch. From then on it was "Grandma, Grandpa," instead of "Mama, Papa!" So, Daniel and I snuck off and took a nap!
    After our traditional sloppy joe and pumpkin jello jiggler dinner, (4th year in a row!), we got all dressed-up, (Allison as a kitty and Natalie as a puppy), and headed to our church for the "Trunk-or-Treat" festival. We were so proud of Allison who bravely did the bungee jump trampoline, and had a blast; that girl has no fear!
    We came home and stopped at one neighbor's house who had specifically told us to come by. The girls were exhausted, but we did it anyway and they had special goody bags just for our girls. It was so sweet!
    Here are the pictures: Anybody want any candy? :)

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