Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

Do you believe in New Year's Resolutions? I do. I get that they can be hard to follow and are often abandoned by February. However, I have followed through on one or two of my resolutions in the past, and it seems like it's a good time to at least set some goals. Even if you're re-setting them, it's a reminder that this is a fresh new year and a great opportunity to think about the things that might be coming your way!

Here are mine (hopefully you all will hold me to them!)

1. Lose 30 lbs (anyone NOT want to lose weight this year?!)
2. Increase the use of technology in my business (create my own website, hone my photography skills)
3. Buy a real camera. Since I started blogging, I am jealous of the photographs out there. I would love some recommendations for a starter camera in the $500 range.
**ETA: 3(b). And/Or buy a piano. Is this too many resolutions? One or two of these might have to wait for 2010 (wink).
4. Join Facebook. My only easy one.

In addition, I want to make sure to walk with my eyes wide open so I don't miss any of the gifts God presents.

I wish you a safe New Year's Eve, a blessed 2009 for you and your family and success at meeting your New Year's Resolutions!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Monday, December 29, 2008

Jack-Jack

Over the weekend, someone asked me who the dominant male in our family was. Without hesitating, I said Jack. He's our bully and our sweetheart. He's loud and he's loving. If you've ever had a hug from this guy, you know what sweetness and sugar feel like.

A couple more pictures

Just because I love these pictures. The one of Maylee is from cookie-making the Sunday before Christmas and Matty is playing with the very cool tools Cole and his mom gave him for Christmas.

Our Christmas

Who doesn't love a little cream-puff face?

Our holiday was fantastic (although as a mom, I also have to say it was a TON of work! I loved it, but was sort of glad when it was the evening of the 25th). I don't know exactly how to blog about a whole week, so I'll try it like this:


December 23rd: Christmas Eve Eve. This has turned into our big night, since it's the night during Christmas that Cole stays with us. We had Chinese food and cream puffs (YUM...let me know if you want the recipe!) then we did gifts for each other. Jill & Gary stopped by with (way too many) gifts for the kids. It was delightful to spend a little time with them; we don't get enough.
December 24th: Christmas Eve. We spent the morning as a family. Santa came and brought gifts for the kids. We went to my in-laws around noon and spent all day eating...seriously. The appetizers everyone made were so yummy! The highlight gift were these helicopters: if you have a boy aged 7 - 35 feel free to get them one; he'll love it.




December 25: Christmas Day. We got to go to my mom and dad's after morning mass with Cory's family. It was such a relaxing afternoon! Many of my siblings were out of town, so it was quieter than normal. It's always lonesome around the holidays, but the afternoon was still fun. Chrissy & Brett...we'll have a Scrabble rematch soon!

Last night Cory and I stayed in a hotel overnight. It was the absolutely perfect end to the holiday season. We went to dinner and just laid back for the evening...what a treat. Everyone should do that once in awhile...just spend some quality time with each other. Dreamy...

Highlights:

- Cole getting everything he wanted and then some for Christmas
- The Xbox 360
- Jack saying "bye-bye" at the end of Mass and the priest responding saying "bye-bye" right back while he was wrapping up the service
- The time with friends and family
- The relatively mild weather
- Kelly's engagement!
- The coin books that my father-in-law made for each of the kids; they have a quarter from each state. He's been working on them for years!

Hope your holiday was as wonderful as mine!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Joy to the World

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let Earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare him room
And Heaven and nature sing.

Joy to the world, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy!

No more let sins and sorrows grow
Nor thorns infest the ground
He comes to make his blessings found
Far as the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of his righteousness
And wonders of his love!

God bless your Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dare you to top this.

I've gotten lots of really cute Christmas cards. You all have beautiful families and children. As soon as I opened this one, I burst out laughing. Then I cried because I miss that age...it reminded me of a Christmas card picture when Matty was a baby where he was wearing a diaper and a Santa hat, but he was probably eight months old or so. This little guy is only five months. His mom is welcome to share his identity if she chooses, but even if she doesn't, I know it'll bring a smile to your face. Thanks for letting me share him, friend. He's adorable; you must be very proud.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

To Kill a Mockingbird

Libby was asking what the best gift was that you gave yourself this year. I couldn't really think of anything...sad. Not that I'm without gifts (quite the opposite), but I don't know if I purposely gave myself one specific thing. After lots of consideration - probably unhealthy how much "think time" I dedicate to some things - I decided it was probably the gift of learning. I learned a LOT this year. I learned about the electoral process, I continued to learn about real estate markets, I learned a little about myself and I learned about people in general. I read a lot of books. I talked to a lot of people. I know they say you shouldn't talk about religion and politics, but I kind of think they're both too important, so I ignore that rule :). And I don't think any one of us is worse off for having the discussion, are we? I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm not. I'm much better for it, so thanks for having the conversation. You taught me a lot.

But that's not why I started this post, and I apologize for the swing in subject. I started it because I just re-read To Kill a Mockingbird. I had not read it since high school. (Help me out, Andy...Joanna...Anna...?, was it Intermediate Comp or Novels??) Anyway, that book and that class changed my life. It's probably another entry for another day, but it was the first time in my life I started thinking. Where I realized that the world was big and there was a great and real need for love and charity. When I look back, it was an absolute changing point. I just found a picture that we took in Mrs. Teal's classroom with Mrs. Jensen and pictured were: Heath, Andy, Tony, Melissa, Nicolle, Anna, Joanna, Ben, Justin, and Kris. I'm sure that's not everyone in that class, but I'm sure I never said an appropriate thank you. I'm actually sure that there is no appropriate thank you. You all gave me a special gift back then.

Anyway, if you haven't read it, read it. It's beautiful. It's smart and funny and sad and true. I'm sure I read it differently as an adult than I did as a teenager, and the lessons were as strong as I remember them. Interestingly, I didn't remember the story very well. It was familiar, but it felt like I was reading it for the first time. Harper Lee wrote it as a simple love story, but it's become a great literary work.

If you don't have it, pick it up. If you can't pick it up, let me know...I'll send you my copy. It's worth it.

PS I've decided that I want to be Atticus Finch. And I want my kids to be Jem and Scout.

Recipe Contest WINNER

Next time I'll be doing this drawing by myself, minus any children. In an effort to make things fair for my draw-ers this time, however, there is a winner and a runner-up. :)

He drew the winner...
And then she got to draw...
So there will be a great consolation prize in it for you, Peg. Congratulations, Karen, and thanks for the recipe. Thanks to everyone for the recipes...I can't wait to try them!
Happy Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Reminder

I'm going to draw for my appetizer contest tomorrow afternoon. I think I'll have Matthew and Maylee do the drawing. If you still have one to submit, feel free!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Holiday Appetizer Puffs

Last night, I tried a new holiday appetizer recipe (surprise, surprise). I wasn't a fan of the crab salad filling, but both Cory and my in-laws liked them. I sent Cory over there in the icy snow with a few so they could try them...just another reason it's a good thing they live nearby! I would make this popover recipe again. I'm actually planning to make cream puffs on Christmas Eve (or Christmas Eve Eve, undecided). And I think these would be delicious with chicken salad. I actually quite like crab, but the cream cheese was too strong in this recipe for me.

Also, Karen: look what I found in my freezer...didn't even know I had it! I've never used hot and spicy, but I remember I bought it not too long ago on a BOGO... :) I'm all set!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

"Special Delivery"

Before the Christmas program started and the kids' sang their opening song, "Special Delivery", I turned to our friends behind us at church and told them that there was a 95% chance I'd have go up and get Matthew during the program.


For the two past Saturday practices, Matty stood and bawled his head off the whole time. Even though he knew the songs, he didn't want to stand up there with his friends. If he can see me, he wants me. Today, though, they started in their Sunday School rooms and then walked up. He couldn't see me at all. So he didn't sing, but he didn't cry. I'd say it was a victory, Cory would say I was 95% wrong.
I bumped into Pastor Jim as I was walking in to the church. Told him I didn't know who was more nervous, me or Matthew. He assured me I was going to be okay :). What is it about being a mom that wants to protect our kids from all discomfort? I want him to be strong and independent; I also wanted him safe on my lap. One baby step at a time...I still get him for another year and a half before he goes to kindergarten. I'll take 'em.


(Oh, and a very special thank you to his teacher, Mary, who takes incredible care of him and the other three-year-olds. I'm very grateful for her!)

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Christmas Giveaway!


I'm doing a Christmas Giveaway! Since it turns out I'm a bit of a holiday foodie, and always looking for new recipes, share yours and I'll do a drawing for this great Chicken Soup book. Who doesn't love a little Chicken Soup, right? Contest ends next Wednesday morning, December 17. If you've already shared, you're already included (Mindi, Libby...?). I know some of my aunties reading have fantastic recipes... :)

One more tagged item

I am militant about my schedule. Well, more about the kids' schedule. I have made great peace with this and am primarily unapologetic. My kids get up between 6:00 - 7:00. Jack naps from 1:00 - 3:00. They both go to bed at 7:00. I don't go anywhere with my kids if we can't be home for them to get to bed by 7. I almost never deter from this schedule. I leave my mom's by 6:00 if we're at her house, my mother-in-law plans dinner for earlier than they normally eat if we're eating with them (we have dinner around 5:30 most nights). If Cory's not here, it's literally this structured:

5:00...dinner
5:50...baths
6:15...playtime/books
6:30...Caillou
7:00...bed

I know this schedule works really well for my kids. It also works remarkably well for me. Especially during the busy real estate season. I get SO MUCH work done between 7:00 - 10:00 at night! It's my time and it keeps me sane.

Which parent are you? Do you keep a schedule (Penney) or not so much (Penny)?

*I'm also a militant PLANNER. Another entry for another day.*

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Perseverance

This inspired me today.


- He failed in business in '31.
- He was defeated for state legislator in '32.
- He tried another business in '33. It failed.
- His fiancee died in '35.
- He had a nervous breakdown in '36.
- In '43 he ran for congress and was defeated.
- He tried again in '48 and was defeated again.
- He tried running for the Senate in '55. He lost.
- The next year he ran for Vice President and lost. In '59 he ran for the Senate again and was defeated.
- In 1860, the man who signed his name A. Lincoln, was elected the 16th President of the United States.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

Okay, Trista...it was only 3 1/2 inches.

But it was enough for us to enjoy our first real snowfall of the year. It took us 20 minutes to bundle everyone up for a 30 minute trek outdoors, but the boys LOVED it. Something about that brisk air is good for all of us. And it's beautiful. In December. I'll be singing a much different tune in March...just you watch.

Jack was NOT sure. He didn't like all that snow on his mittens. He just kept saying "uh oh!" whenever he got a little snow on them.

He was much happier on snow-less ground! Here he is chasing me, but he can hardly move in all that snow gear! I had no problem outrunning him.

This kid, on the other hand, is much faster than me. I started it, but he got the last word. Watch your back, Cole! I'm not fast, but I'm smart.

Matty didn't care how cold his hands were for the first time today. He forgot all about it when he realized how fast that little sled flies down our HUGE hill!

Seven Things...

I was tagged to share six random things with you. Any time I have to number something in an email or here, it seems like I get personal. But maybe that's the point. Here goes:

1. Three things I've always been unapologetic about: I don't return stuff, I don't eat leftovers and I don't repark (if I park crooked, I stay crooked). I've gotten better about the returning stuff business since I had kids, but I still hate to do it.


2. I hate finishing chores. That last step is always hardest for me: putting away the laundry, unloading the dishwasher. Doing the actual laundry or dishes doesn't really bother me though!


3. Parenting is harder than I thought it was going to be. It's also the most rewarding job I've ever had. It's hard to explain and extremely cliche, but I love my kids more than anything in the world.


4. I'm very proud of my spiritual journey. I wish the same happiness for everyone who searches for themself. I've found that the most difficult things have brought me the most reward. The peace that I've found is the greatest gift I've been given. I think I see things clearer now than I ever have in my life...as I get older, I'm more and more comfortable in my skin. And I never want to stop learning so that never goes away. I love listening to other people's stories as well. I am always amazed at the presence of God in others' lives.


5. I still miss waitressing. I love serving people. I wish I could still do it once in awhile. It's so rewarding to watch happy customers leave a restaurant.


6. I have a "not enough" complex. I'm not thin enough. I don't do enough for the people around me. I'm not doing enough to change the world. I don't work out enough. It's something I'm working on though!

7. (I know I'm adding one more) A lot of people say it, but I have the best friends. A week or so ago, I was moved to tears talking about it. People in my life are the premise of this blog and I am insanely grateful for those who move amongst me.

PS I'm not tagging anyone, because I think most everyone has been tagged, but I will encourage you to go to my sister Laura's blog. She's more interesting than me.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Thank you, Mail-Lady


It's the only time of year I check the mail. Seriously, sometimes Cory will check it and there will be three days' worth in there. Except in December. I wait at the window for the mail-lady in December. Thanks for your cards; keep 'em coming!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Appetizer of the Week


Here's another fun one if you want to try a new recipe for the holiday season (I probably will be posting recipes all month...bear with me). I tried to find this online (I got it from Better Homes & Garden's Appetizer magazine), but couldn't find it on their website. I had my in-laws over tonight and tried a few recipes. I think I'll make this one again. Thanks to my mother in law for all her help; turned out my recipes were more putzy than I thought they'd be and if she hadn't helped not sure how late we would have had to eat! Anyway, here it is!

Shrimp- and Bacon-Stuffed Baby Potatoes (let's shorten it up and call 'em Shrimp Potatoes):

14 tiny new potatoes
2 tbsp dijon-style mustard*
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
7 - 8 oz peeled cooked shrimp
1/2 an 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened**
1 cup shredded Gouda cheese (4 oz)***
5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 c snipped fresh chives (optional)
Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Using a melon baller or small spoon, scoop out potato pulp, leaving a 1/4 inch shell. Cuta thin slice from bottom to keep potatoes upright. Place cut-side up in a baking dish.

In a bowl, combine mustard, oil, and 1 tsp of Old Bay seasoning. Brush the hollowed-out portions of potatoes with mustard mixture. Bake 30 minutes at 425 or until tender. Remove from oven.

Filling: combine shrimp, cream cheese, Gouda cheese, bacon, and 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning. Spoon filling into cooked potatoes.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes longer or until filling is heated through and cheese is melted. Serve warm or at room temperature. If desired, garnish with chives.

*I used less than this; maybe 1 tbsp
** Realizing as I'm typing this, I used the whole package
***I am NOT a Gouda fan, so I substituted white sharp cheddar.

ENJOY!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Jack-Jack's Overalls


Just because I can't help myself. How cute are little country city boys in overalls?

Oregon Trail

I picked Cole up from school today. On the way home, he was telling me about his day. He said that next quarter he's taking Art instead of Microsoft Windows. MICROSOFT WINDOWS. He's in sixth grade and he's taking Microsoft Windows. When I was in sixth grade, we took Math. And Reading. I remember nothing of computers. Except I do remember we were able to go to the computer lab once in awhile and play Oregon Trail. Or Wheel of Fortune. Or I might have booted up that floppy disk and G&G T's...hard to remember.

I told him he's welcome to use my computer to do word processing any time he wants...but he's still not allowed on the internet (another blog entry for another day)!

If you have four minutes...

Check out this video. It's hysterical. Congresswomen Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Miami, FL) hangs up on President-elect Obama. TWICE. I have not laughed so hard in a long time at something I saw in the (usually dismal) news. She seems like a really great woman...being a really good sport.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

You Should Watch...

...Secret Millionaire. Millionaires go undercover as poor people, determine who has needs, and then give them their own money. Pretty cool to watch.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Matthew


We've officially entered the "cutest stage" with Matthew.

Yesterday we went to see "A Day in the Life of a Elf" with my friend Jill. She took a personal day off work and suggested we take the boys to the eight floor display at downtown Macy's, so that's what we did. It was a great experience...the boys and I greatly enjoyed our day; hopefully Jill did too!

After we had gone through and the boys were munching on cookies Auntie Jill bought them, she asked him what he asked Santa for for Christmas.

Matty: "A 'mote control fire truck."

Jill: "Oh, a fire truck?"

Matty: "No...a 'mote control fire truck."

Jill: "What else did you ask for?"

Matty [holding up five fingers and shaking his head]: "No...I not get lots of presents. Some kids don't get NO presents!"

Aww! I talk about gratitude a lot with Cole, and evidently Matty has overheard us. Lesson: it's never too early to talk to them about empathy. My child is smarter than I gave him credit for.
Remember those who have less. :)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Read Much?

Here's what I've read this year that I'd recommend. I love a lot of books, non-fiction, memiors, fiction (especially if there's a good lesson) and once in awhile just a good fluffy novel. I've left all real-estate related literature off my list:


Pillars of the Earth and World Without End by Ken Follett (historical fiction)

Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (memoir)

A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah (memoir)

Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen (fiction)

The Lady Elizabeth and Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir (historically accurate fiction)

The Shack by David Gregory (novel)

Escape by Carolyn Jessop (non-fiction about the FLDS)

Suggestions, anyone?

The Rest of the Weekend

Special thanks to my sweet sister-in-law, Trista for the poinsettia. I love it's addition to my holiday decorations; you are so kind and thoughtful!

Here's what we've been doing! We got the tree up...Cole did all the ornaments . He did a pretty good job, too! Except he missed one box, so I did that one later. It looks sweet and cozy! I want to get the boys ornaments in their stockings this year. I saw the musical ones at Hallmark...they sing Hippopotamus for Christmas and the Chicken Dance. I'd have to think of a third one for Cole though. They also have a Bad to the Bone...maybe that would work!

I made these Peanut Butter Cup Cookies tonight (recipe is from the current Taste of Home issue, I'll post it if anyone wants it). Why? I love chocolate and peanut butter. I'm anxious to get started on my holiday baking. Why not?! Haven't tasted them yet, but they look yummy!

Happy Holiday Season!

First Sunday in Advent

Today we begin the Advent season! On the advent wreath, the first candle is lit for Hope. The next three Sundays will follow these weeks of Advent: Peace, Love and Joy. As you turn up your Christmas music and spend this week making Christmas preparations, I wish you Hope. God Bless!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving


Enjoy your holiday with friends, family, those in need (thank you to those who volunteer!)!

"It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High!" (Psalm 92:1)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My Thanksgiving ABCs

It took me a long time to get mine up. But here they are, unedited, just as they came to me.

Attitude. It’s the thing that can make or break your day!
Beauty. Like Libby says, “finding it in the ordinary and the extraordinary”
Cory. Of course. I married the best guy on Earth.
Doughnuts. Shouldn’t probably admit that.
Ellen. Now that woman has good energy.
Forgiveness. Boy, I’m thankful I get a chance to redeem myself.
Gas prices. $1.59 at Holiday today! Can it sustain?
Holidays. I love the chaos.
Imperfection. Admitting you’re weak makes you stronger.
Jobs. Grateful for both Cory and I having work!
Kids. Cole, Matty and Jack…I love being a mom to boys.
Love. I know it seems overused, but it is the most important thing.
Mom. Both my mom and my mother-in-law are invaluable to me.
Newborns. For those who are waiting for one, my prayers are with you.
Others. Do to them as you’d have them do to you!
People. I am fascinated by people and am touched by so many.
Questions. What a better way to learn?
Rest. I’m thankful for quiet time and good nights’ sleeps.
Sunshine. Good ol’ Vitamin D.
Travel. I have so many places I want to visit!
Umbrellas. If you want to see a rainbow, you gotta stand a little rain!
Vacation. Praying we have one soon.
Water. It’s a luxury for some; important to not take it for granted.
eXcitement. I have much in my life.
Yesterday. May I take away many lessons.
Zealous. Be it in all things important!

Curious George


This child is in love with "George." In love. Can you tell? (Yeah, I know he has ketchup on his face!)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Joey and Jack-Jack


Just because I think this picture is so stinkin' cute.

For my Mother-in-Law

Julie...Libby...Katie...everyone else who is a photographer and reads my blog, I apologize for this picture. Some day I'll learn how to take beautiful pictures like you, I promise!

I bought these curtains for the world's best mother-in-law, Sherry. I have lived in this house for three years and I never had window treatments on my front window. That window faces the cul-de-sac. None of our neighbors have a direct view into our house, and it has never bothered me to be 'exposed.' (Besides, I am very close with our neighbors and I could care less if they see us in here at night) It has, however, bothered Sherry! She grew up in a home where it was her job to shut the shades at night and she does the same in her own house. She's on a through-street though where there are lots of passerby's. Anyway, she emailed me last week that LNT had all window treatments 40% off since they're going out of business.

And I must say, I really love them. (Although we'll have to replace the curtain rod...this was the only one they had left big enough for my window and it's not strong enough). It makes the room cozier. But I suspect I'll never close them. Except when my mother-in-law is visiting.

Thanksgiving

This year, Thanksgiving is at our house. Even my out-of-town sisters will be here with their families, so I'm planning on 20 adults (if you count Steve and Ryan as adults...wink) and 20 kids. I'm really looking forward to it! That being said, it's going to be a CRAZY week. I need to get my house company-ready (the hardest part!), make sure the ingredients for all my items are bought and ready, come up with a schedule, serving dishes, serving utinsels, paper products, etc. I know I'm a little crazy, but I really love stuff like this. And I'll be glad when it's over.

What are your plans?

Friday, November 21, 2008

You Can't be a Beacon

This song by Donna Fargo has spoken to me for many years; however, I hadn't listened to it in a long time prior to this week. I used the words "You can't be a beacon if your light don't shine!" when I was talking to a friend recently and remembered this song. The lyrics are:

You can't be a beacon if your light don't shine
You can't be a beacon if your light don't shine
There's a little light in all of us by God's design
But you can't be a beacon if your light don't shine.

How can you ask for truth when you do not truthful live?
How can you ask forgiveness when you don't forgive?
Now I don't mean to bring you down or speak to you unkind
But you can't be a beacon if your light don't shine

CHORUS

How can you ask a child to be honest and true
When he can only judge what's right by what he sees in you?
How can you offer vision yet walk around blind...
No, you can't be a beacon if your light don't shine.

CHORUS

May God's love surround you
May you find a brighter day
May He grant you the peace you seek in every way
God's light burns in each life...yours and mine
And you can be a beacon if you'll just let it shine!

Click here to see a video of this song on Youtube. I did not put together this compliation, but I think it's lovely. Do yourself a favor and check it out!

Wishing you a great weekend!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Jack's Second Bath

video

I spent the last two hours figuring how to upload a video. I have 13 hours of video since Matthew was born, and this is the first one I've cared enough to figure out how to share. Hold that. There is another one I'm going to dig out from Cole's last birthday and upload that, too...it's hysterical. In the meantime, enjoy this one.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Peg's Blog!

UPDATE: If you didn't figure this out or don't know me, Mindi, and Peg very well...there is a very nice explanation written on Peg's blog. She never really started one, Mindi and I started one for her (my sister Laura's idea). Truth is, she's been doing stunts like this all her life and calling them BFLs (Big Fat Lies) and it was delicious to be able to pull the biggest BFL of all time on her. She, as she always does, responded with gracious hilarity. It's been a very fun few days!

YAY! Peg (Penny-no-e) took my advice and started her own blog. It promises to be great fun, because if you read my feature about her, I already said she's hysterical. Click below to check it out; welcome to the blog world, Penny!

Peg's Blog

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Penney, Penny. Penny, Penney.

I'll get back to blogging about really serious stuff like appetizers and desserts this week, but I need to make an introduction.

Here is my Penney. She's pictured here with her darling girl Grace at our Easter Egg dying party last spring. Penney and I have a lot in common. We both grew up in large families (but I'm at the older end and she's the baby), our husbands are on the fire department together and we have three year olds (Grace and Matthew) and one year olds (Jack and Joey). We've spent a lot of time together the past four years because we have similar ideals and values and we started the parenthood journey together. It's a friendship of convenience (all those pregnant mornings at my house, huh, Penney?) and great love. Meet Penney.

This is my Penny. Not even sure why I call her that because her name is actually Peggy. Well, she calls me Lenny, so I'm sure it's some silly rhyming thing. She and I have known each other our whole lives, but became good friends after high school. We lived in Arizona together (she's pictured by "the ol' tercel" she drove so loyally for so many years) so we bonded then, and she's one of the most amazing people you'll ever meet. You will never be in a room with her and not laugh. We have a whole host of inside jokes and really stupid stories (I'm sorry for those that get published here). She has stood by me through everything in my life and I love her more than she probably even knows. Meet Penny.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Appetizers

I love a lot of holiday appetizers: anything with little smokies, meatballs, crackers & cheese, dips, etc. This is one of my favorite, easy, go-to appetizers. It's hot artichoke dip and I serve it with tortilla chips or sliced baguette. It would be good with crackers, too. I'm always looking for new ideas; what's your favorite holiday appetizer??

Hot Artichoke Dip
1/2 c mayo
1/2 c sour cream
1 14oz can artichoke hearts, drained (small or quartered...oh, and in water, not oil)
1 c parmesan cheese
2 c mozz cheese
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper
Mix all together.

Bake at 400 for 20 mins (I usually keep it in a few minutes longer because I like when the edges get brown...)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Cookies

I realize the holidays are upon us. I'm going to try really hard to not eat too much, but I will make food the subject of a post or two. Come on...it's the holidays! I made a cookie recipe yesterday that I love, and it made me think of another one I should share with you. Both of these recipes are on the reeses chips bag and cinnamon chip bag respectively. They're both yummy! Click on the link below to get to Hershey's recipe site...

Chewy Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Oatmeal Cinnamon Chip Cookies (If you like oatmeal raisin cookies - Penney ;) - you must try this recipe!)

Let me know if you make them and what you think...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I'm not really a football fan.

Don't tell my father-in-law, but I'm not really a football fan. I just learned this weekend that the Vikings QB is Gus Frerotte. I am, however, a fan of these related football items:

Football pants
Appetizers
Super Bowl commercials
Sunday afternoons with the game on

It's family tradition that we take a Vikings family picture every year...here's this year's version!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

For Laura


Mark Twain said: "The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up." You are so good at that, Laura. Also...thought this picture would make you smile. Isn't he something?

Veteran's Day


Happy Veteran's Day to all the soldiers currently serving and their families. Thanks for your continued sacrifice.
Thank you to all the veterans of foreign wars...God bless you. Special Happy Veteran's Day to Grandpa P from all of us; we love you!
To all the soldiers...here and gone home, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Update by way of pictures!

It's that time of year again! Here are Matty and Cole checking out the Sears Wishbook! Matty wanted Cole to circle every toy in that book for his Christmas list. They had a great time looking at it today...

We had family pictures taken a couple weeks ago. My friend Jen is crazy talented and took these pictures. I realize you can't see them clearly, but hopefully you'll all find your way to my house to see them on the wall someday...

Thanks to Katie for this picture I won on her blog last month! I LOVE it. I hope it's okay that I reframed it with a frame I already had...it's on a bigger wall, an I wanted it to take up a little more space. The wall behind it is brown and it looks amazing. This photo of your photo does not do it justice, but I am so happy to have it in my home. You are very talented and I'm proud to display it!
Have a great weekend, everyone!


Sleepy Reminder

Then Shannon reminded me of this story. When we lived in Arizona, we shared a room - and a double bed. One night she was sleeping facing away from me. I was, as I recall, in a coughing fit. To calm me, presumably, she reached behind her back to sort of pat me on the back. Except I was laying on my back. When I'm sleeping I think NOTHING is funny. So I ignored her. Then she did it again. I then asked her what she was doing. When she realized she was reassuringly patting my chest, she dissolved into hysterics. I never even cracked a smile. Until morning and many times since then.

One time after I moved back to MN, I went down to AZ to visit her. Shannon worked nights so her room was dark as pitch. I'm pretty sure she filled those windows with something. (Oh, well, her security deposit.) I went to bed earlier than she did one night. When she came in the room, I woke up and guess I had to pee. But I couldn't even see my hand in front of my face. Anyway, I was pretty sure I knew where the bathroom was so I headed that direction. No lie, I was confident enough that I didn't even have my arms outstretched looking for the walls. THen BOOM! Crack full-figure into the wall. I remember my face even touching it. LOL! She asked me what I was doing through her giggles and I said, "I can't find the bathroom." No snicker, no smile. I was sleepy. Boy, I've been laughing about that all day again!

Last Night

Disclaimer: I am not sure this will be as funny to you as it was to me last night.

It was about midnight and Jack was crying. Cory heard him (I was ignorning him), but clearly wasn't very awake. Our conversation:

Cory: What's that?!
Me: Jack.
Cory: Where is he?!
Me: In his crib.
Cory: In HERE?!
Me: No, in his room.
Cory: Which is...?
Me: Across the hall.

He got up, put Jack back down and then came back to bed. Enroute he tripped on something at the end of the bed. It was really loud. Even though I know it hurt him, I couldn't help but laugh. Between that and the previous conversation, I was hysterical. And I think it's even funnier this morning.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

For Mindi


This is for you, Mindi. And all the other women who know who they are and what they want. When I said in an earlier thread that I really admire your strength, I meant it. I saw the one with Sarah Palin's face and I thought of you. I wish I was talented enough to impose your face on this poster, but I'm not.

This election process reminded me that women are in such a great position in this country. Whether or not you like Hillary or Sarah, you must appreciate what they've been able to accomplish. When Hillary said when she conceded to Obama that we could put our children on our shoulders and tell them they can be anything they want to be, she wasn't kidding. They, and we, can be anything. I've always said I'm not a feminist (I do not believe that men and women are created exactly equal) but where we are capable, we should be given the right and equality. To the many women who fought for that equality, my sincere thanks.

A picture of strength, dedicated to my dear friend Mindi. I'm sorry I hurt you.

About the President-Elect

Several people have asked me how to learn more about Barack Obama, both here and via email. Here's sort of my pitch:

1. Read Audacity of Hope. Obama wrote it while he was in the US Senate, but before he announced he would run for president. I had to skip the first chapter, it was WAY over my head. He's a very intelligent man. The first chapter is about the history of politics, and I didn't understand most of it. The rest of it is brilliant. He talks about the challenges he sees in America and why we can still have hope.

2. Don't read email smears. Period. I usually defer to www.snopes.com and www.factcheck.org to debunk rumors. They are both non-partisan sites that break down what is said and reveal the truth.

3. Pick up a US News and World Report, TIME, or NEWSWEEK once a week. At first the information might seem overwhelming, but as you learn more about it, it will become more familiar. It's important to keep up on current events now more than ever. I am NO expert, but I have learned a lot since I balanced out my US Weekly subscription with my NEWSWEEK subscription (blush).

4. Check peoples' facts. How many of my friends have been annoyed with me when I've said, "Oh, yeah? Where did you hear that?" I'm a stickler for backing up your argument. If you hear something that sounds hokey, it probably is. And I likely won't make an argument with you, either, without being able to cite my source.

Any other good ideas, friends...a lot of intelligent people out there!

In 24 hours...

I got almost 60 posts on that thread. Thank you to the contributors. In the past couple days I've learned A LOT. Among my thoughts are:

1. My faith in God as my Father and Jesus Christ as my Savior remains strong. I've learned more in my life when I'm challenged than any other time. To my anonymous poster, thank you (I guess) for that (but my rules still stands: anonymous posts will from here forward be removed!). I am proud to be serving my Lord, and will defend it whenever necessary. It's interesting. For about two hours yesterday afternoon I genuinely didn't know what to do. I was upset and angry. Cory and I took the boys for a walk - he thought I should just take the whole post down. I realized that I had two choices: back down (turn the other cheek) or stand up for what I believe in. I talked to my sister on the phone and as I breathed the cool fall air, I said a prayer to God that he'd send me an answer. Send me a friend. And I just knew truth would prevail. People rallied around me. You saw the posts. And I got emails. And I got phone calls. People who would never enter blogosphere came to check out the action (oh, and how many of you are out there lurking!?). I had such amazing peace by the end of the day. I quoted Obama from a few days ago last night when I told a friend I felt like I had "a righteous wind at my back." That is what the spirit feels like.

2. Call for action. We cannot sit and expect the world to change. Several of you ("What can I do? Can I start now?!") talked about DOING something to make the world better. Go out there and counsel people who are in unwanted pregnancies. Talk to people about the love of Jesus. Go and DO. It's so easy to sit around and talk about everything we want to see, but I think Katie posted Ghandi on her site earlier this week and said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." It's fun to say, but more important to do. Thanks to those posters who gave specific ideas of how to do that.

3. As you know, my mystery poster thought I shouldn't need anyone to back me up since I was so sure of myself. Here's the thing: we all need support. All the time. No one likes to feel like a lone soldier against an army of people. No one likes to feel like they're alone. So to those of you who commented, even (or especially) those with differing opinions, I thank you.

4. We are all very different people. We are going to have conflicting opinions, but I think that's okay. Better than okay, maybe. I hope we'll continue to learn from each other and challenge each other to think bigger. That post will remain open. Feel free to add to it as you see fit, but be nice.

Bits and pieces, right?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fear

I was thinking about this more since my last blog entry tornado. What is fear and are we predisposed to be fearful? I think that I am not. I am a very trusting person and I fear very little. I worry some, of course, about things beyond my control. But I have been working really hard in the past years to really focus on being faithful instead of afraid. I have never not been provided for, as God promised.

I am FAR from perfect. Last year when I thought I might have to get a "real" job and the anxiety of the real estate market worried me so much, I literally had to stop myself every 15 minutes during the day to remind myself to be faithful. It was a very literal process. I'd stop mid-stride, take a deep prayer, ask God for faith, and then press on. 15 minutes later, I'd feel my blood pressure rise and start all over. I figured God was exasperated. "Seriously, already worried AGAIN?! I said I got it!" Overall, I had my best real estate year to date. In this market. God is good!

I just keep leaning to scripture for guidance on this issue and thought this quote was worth sharing. As I feel all of the worry and fear around me, I thought it might bring comfort. It has brought me immense solace in my life:

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" (Matthew 6:25-27)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

God Bless America!

The President-Elect and the First-Lady-to-be.

"Yes, we can heal this nation. Yes, we can seize our future. And as we leave this great state with a new wind at our backs and we take this journey across this great country, a country we love, with the message we carry from the plains of Iowa to the hills of New Hampshire, from the Nevada desert to the South Carolina coast, the same message we had when we were up and when we were down, that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we will hope.
And where we are met with cynicism and doubt and fear and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of the American people in three simple words -- yes, we can."
- Barack Obama