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


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...


- 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 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


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:


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


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, 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 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.


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


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. :)