Friday, November 30, 2007

Ice Storm Warning Deja Vu





Oh, joy! Is it not a coincidence that tomorrow will also be one year ago to the day that we got 14 inches of snow dumped on us, stranding us at home for 4 days?

Christmas Meme

Here's a new one. I hadn't seen a Christmas edition before. I get these emails all the time and have to admit that it is fun to see everyone else's answers. I've got nothing else for you right now, so why not? Thanks for sending this one on, Teri. Here are my answers:

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper - who doesn't like tearing open a gift?!

2. Real tree or artificial? Artificial, however my prelight one and I are no longer on speaking terms.

3. When do you put up the tree? A couple of days before Thanksgiving - it's too hard to wait.

4. When do you take the tree down? The day after Christmas - I can't stand the clutter anymore by then and just want my house back.

5. Do you like eggnog? Yes, especially if it has a little something extra in it.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Barbie & The Rockers Stage. My daughter now has it.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? No, but I'd love to have the Willow Tree set.

8. Hardest person to buy for? My brother in law.

9. Easiest person to buy for? Ryan - he circles every toy imaginable in every single sale guide or catalog that comes his way. You just can't go wrong.

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Gee, could it be that plastic fiber optic flower my husband bought me one year? Remember that one, Em? LoL

11. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail -in fact mine have already gone out.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Miracle On 34th Street - the original, not the remake.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? November

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? No.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? My Grandma's toffee bars.

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Clear - when they actually work (see no. 2).

17. Favorite Christmas song? Christmas Shoes by Newsong.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Travel - can't have Christmas without my family.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeers? For the life of me, no - and I've been trying for the last 5 minutes.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? I have an angel, but I think I'd prefer a star.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning? Christmas Morning.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Rude and inconsiderate people while shopping.

23. What I love most about Christmas? Seeing my children light up with excitement when they open their gifts. Ok, and my own childish excitement at opening my own!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Raingutter Regatta Race

Tonight was Ryan's Raingutter Regatta race for Cub Scouts. With how busy we've been lately, we had completely forgotten about making the sailboat until last night. While Ryan didn't win the first heat, he came in third place in the second heat. Way to go, buddy! Hopefully we'll have our act together in time for the Pine Wood Derby in January.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Chicago Time Again

Aah, the annual "it's my birthday weekend, let's go downtown Chicago, see some Christmas trees, have lunch and shop!" The weather wasn't too bad today and the crowds weren't nearly as horrible as they were when we went on the Friday after Thanksgiving last year. The kids (ok and me, too) really enjoyed our annual trip on the train to downtown Chicago.
Ryan and the birthday girl.

While on the look out for a place to eat lunch, we came across this officer and his horse, Mahoney. Ryan was enthralled and the officer was great with all the kids that wanted to stop and pet his horse.

The kids and Grammy in front of the tree outside of the Daley Center Plaza.

Bret and I with the kids.

On our way over to Macy's to see the big Christmas tree, we made a pit stop in Old Navy and found some good deals for Ashley for Christmas. You're officially not a kid anymore when you know what you're getting for Christmas.

Ashley & Ryan in front of the Macy's tree.

All I Want For Christmas is... over priced couch for $3000

...and the ugliest couch I've ever seen for $8000.

On our way back down from seeing the tree and getting sticker shock in the Macy's furniture department, we browsed through FAO Schwartz.

Well, we browsed...

($27,000 for a true to life Batman made from Lego's. My kids were instructed not to touch or their college educations would be in jeopardy!)

...but Ryan thought he was really there to shop and wasn't very happy when he was pulled out of the toy departement.

One more picture before hopping back on the train so we can make it to my Grandma's for my birthday dinner later.

Happy Birthday To ME!

In case anyone was missing us, we're up in Chicago visiting my family for the weekend. Today is my 31st birthday and we're braving the masses and hopping on a train in an hour to head downtown to have lunch and see the big 'ol Macy's Christmas tree - something we use to do every year when I was a child. Pictures will follow at a later time...
31. Ouch. Didn't think I'd get there so soon.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Friends Again

The Christmas tree and I are friends again. It has a row towards the top that still isn't working and if you look closely you'll see a wad of lights stuffed down the backside of the tree, but all in all it'll do. The kids came home from school and finished putting the ornaments on the tree for me and the house is all decorated. All we need now is snow!

Monday, November 19, 2007

It Was Suppose To Be This Easy

Since we won't be in town this weekend I decided to put the Christmas tree up today. When I started I had no idea of the stress that would soon begin to invade my peaceful day with no kids. Three years ago we bought a prelight tree that I was confident would last for quite a few years. I loved that tree. Now it's dead to me.
I got started at 8:30 this morning to find that many of the bulbs were burned out. I made a quick trip to Target to get some new bulbs and came home only to find they didn't fit. I then left again to try Menards and came home with the wrong size again.
Giving up, I went back to putting the tree together. Once I got to the top section, I was horrified to find that half of the lights didn't work. Sick to my stomach about it, I began trying different fuses. Didn't help. I went through and tested every single bulb, people! Still didn't help. So I then decided to pull off the prelight strands and I now have a half of strand of nonworking lights hanging from the d*#% tree.
Will someone please tell me what to do?!?! I really don't want to go out and buy a new tree, but I'm afraid that if I take off the rest of the lights on the partially nonworking strand, my tree is going to look mangled and that the lights I replace them with won't match the rest of the tree.
I will never buy a prelight tree again!

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Too see us make a total elf of ourselves, click here! Thanks for the link, Amy!

Meet My New Baby

Happy Birthday to me! Okay, so my birthday isn't actually until next Saturday so that only makes it my "birth week", but we celebrated it today with Bret's side of the family. I had been hinting to everyone that I wanted Kohl's gift cards to add to the one I've been saving so that I could get the Kitchen aid Artesian Mixer that I've been drooling over for the past year. It happened to go on sale today with a $20 off rebate and a 15% off coupon, so I got it for $100 less than it's normal retail price. Isn't it beautiful? So now if you'll excuse me, I've got to go whip up a mean batch of boxed brownies...

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Is It Fall Or Summer?

Surprisingly, the weather warmed up today to 70 degrees, so Bret took the kids to Wild Life Prairie Park for the afternoon while I stayed home and cleaned house.
Ryan flies down the slide.

Ashley waits her turn at the top of the slide.

The big kid got a turn, too.

The kids and their friends.

My house is spotless and I even got the Christmas lights up outside. There is something strange about putting up Christmas lights while wearing shorts and a t-shirt, though.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

That's What You Get!

The kids haven't been the only ones busy working on their Christmas lists lately. Bret has decided to go ahead and join the 21st century and enter the world of iPods. So in hopes of getting a brand spanking new shiny iPod for Christmas, he's informed me that I get the lucky task of importing all of his CD's to the computer so that they'll be ready to go. Lucky me. This is only a fraction of his collection.

I love me some clutter free shelves, so I will give in and do it.
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Monday, November 12, 2007

Meet Soncho

Earlier today, while off from work for Veteran's Day, Bret made a trip to Walmart to get his oil changed and came back with a Love Bird from Super Pets. (I'm not sure how he managed to get so side tracked, either.)
While growing up, Bret had a Love Bird named Poncho that lived to be 20 years old. Poncho ultimately ended up being Grandpa's bird when Bret went off to college and passed away just a couple of years ago (Poncho, not Grandpa!). Ever since then, Bret has toyed with the idea of getting one for our home.
So, meet Soncho, our new Love Bird. He looks like the mini parrot that he is and has the best disposition. He's already bonding with us and has quite the personality. But the best part is when he's sitting on your shoulder and starts preening your hair and nibbling on your earlobe. It's totally therapeutic.
The kids were really surprised when they got home from school today.

Christmas Came Early

Ashley & Ryan found that Christmas had come early this year when they got home from school today. Grandpa had dropped off a new Lego Train set for under our Christmas tree while the kids were at school today. We spent all night putting it together and Ryan is now in lego heaven.
Are you wondering what that is standing in the middle of the train track? Check back in a few minutes...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

It's All Over Now

I found my first strand of grey hair last night and I'm not even 31 yet. I knew life was going to be over after I turned 30! I called my mom last night at 11pm after I found it, horrified. She thought the dog had died and started laughing hysterically at me when I told her what was really wrong.
I'm calling Shawn for a hair appointment tomorrow because where there is one, there's sure to be more. I'm over due anyway to have my highlights fixed.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Weekend Update

With the Christmas season getting close, I did a little furniture rearranging to make room for the Christmas tree in our family room. This meant moving our oversized chair into our bedroom, which meant moving Daisy's bed to a different spot. I'm guessing she's not too happy about it since she decided to bunk with Ashley.

Ashley finally got to change her earings, but it took us an hour to get the original stud back into the hole last night, so I think it may be awhile before we try again. She's pretty bummed.

I am officially old and do not understand the new style of dressing that is going through the Middle School. Can someone please explain to me why girls are wearing a t-shirt, knotted in the back, over a cami? Maybe if I try out this look myself, Ashley and her friends will be horrified and it'll end the craze so they can move onto something else?

Last night we watched Brooke & Mitchell for awhile. The kids were excited to see them. Mitchell is following in Ryan's footsteps and discovering the world of Star Wars.

Our niece and nephew seem to like us a whole lot more when their parents aren't around. Maybe it has something to do with the bowl of candy sitting between Brooke and Ryan? At 8pm at night? He He.

This morning, Bret took Ryan to his Cub Scout field trip to the Greater Peoria Regional Airport to tour one of the Caterpillar Company Jets.

Ryan got a turn to sit in the cockpit.

Sitting in comfort.

The whole Den thanking the pilot for showing them his plane.

Springfield Trip - New Salem

This was my favorite part of our whole Springfield trip. While I was never into history when I was in school, I've become more interested in it now that I'm an adult. I love seeing and reading how people lived in the past. It really makes you appreciate what we have now. Wouldn't it be awesome to go back here back for a day or two to see what it was really like back then?

The kids outside of the visitor center.

Once you leave the visitor center and head down a now paved road, you enter the small town and feel like you've been transported back in time. There is a road that winds on down with cabins on each side, most of which you can walk right up to the doors and see inside where it looks like they've been untouched by time.

The kids sitting on the back porch of the first cabin we explored.

We couldn't have picked a more beautiful time of year to visit.

Ryan was excited to see how kids his age went to school back then...

...and immediately began pretending he was the teacher. He could have played here all day.

Families lived in a one or two room cabin with a separate out building as their bathroom. All of the cabins had huge fireplaces to keep them warm in the colder months.

The town doctor's cabin.

The kids in front of the tavern. I would have thought that this was a bar until the lady at the visitor center explained to us that a tavern back then was more like a hotel. She explained that unmarried men didn't live alone. They either stayed at the tavern or with a family simply because they couldn't take care of themselves. (A-hem!) They apparently needed a woman to cook for them, make their clothes and just plain do everything for them. (Any men out there reading this right now?)

We took pictures of all of the cabins, including inside of them, but I won't bore you with all of those. Towards the end of the town a stair case (120+ steps) now take you down the path that leads to the towns Wood Mill. Going down was fun...

...but going up was a different story.

Even the kids needed to sit down when we got back up to the top.

The scenery on our walk back to the front of the town.

And look - they had duplexes back then! Two different families lived on each side of these cabins. Hope they liked their neighbors.

That's it for our Springfield trip. I'll have more pictures over at Flickr soon.