Thursday, December 3, 2009

Favorites...Favorites...Skim...No Whip

Come on in...

Grab some hot chocolate...I prefer Peppermint...skim milk...no whip.

And look at some of my favorite ornaments...Oh, did I say favorite? That reminds me, I am my mom's favorite! Although my mom loves us all equally (that's what we tell the others), I am the favorite since I was born on her birthday. There are five siblings and I am the only one that got it right ;) (Enter sarcasm here). My mom and I saw these ornaments at a kiosk in the mall a couple years ago and couldn't resist. We had the heart in the top corner personalized with our birth date. Albeit tacky and gawdy, they are perfect for our running family joke. We each have one on our tree and when the siblings are over, we make sure it is front and center...eye level preferably ;)

While we're on the topic of favorites, these two ornaments represent my absolute most favorite people on the planet...M & K = Matthew & Katie (a.k.a Pride & Joy)!

OK, so onto pictures of the tree. Isn't that what this is about anyway?

Over the past couple years, I have gradually transformed my tree into a "color-themed" tree. I try to keep this tree as a balance between being tastefully done and also fun and whimsical for the kids. This is where Santa leaves the gifts afterall! My color scheme is red, white, and silver with splashes of green.

Excuse the blurriness of this photo but I still wanted to post it anyway. I have a few of these ornaments on the tree and they look beautiful at night when the lights reflect off of them.
I buy 90% of my ornaments after Christmas because they are so much cheaper. These ribbon balls were on sale for $1 each so I bought 6 of them. (Three striped and three polka dot).
This year I added some red and white gingham ribbon to match the trim on the tree skirt.
This is the "kid" tree down in the basement. It adorns all the kids non-breakable ornaments. It also has their pre-school made ones along with our "destination" ornaments. Every time we take the kids on a trip, we make a point to find an ornament to add to their collection. It will be fun to look back over the years at all the ornaments that represent the places we've gone together as a family.
We took the kids to Disney World in February. I had never been there before either so this was a first for all of us (except for Chris.)

In August we went to the National Aquarium in Baltimore, MD. If you live near or visit the Baltimore/Washington area, I highly recommend this attraction!

A couple weeks ago, we went to Luray Caverns and the kids absolutely lurved it! Sorry, couldn't resist ;) It's a beautiful drive through the mountains, which is stunning in the Fall with all the foliage.

Chris attended the annual Oracle World...aka...Nerd Convention...in October. He brought this Cable Car back for the kids.

I'll leave you with this image. There's something about this picture that just makes me want to curl up on the couch...perhaps in one of those Snuggies...or not...and sip a Grande Peppermint Hot Chocolate...skim milk...no whip!
May God bless you and your family this holiday season!

Hop on over to Kelly's Korner to see some more Christmas Trees!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Kidney Tests Are Back

About 2 weeks ago, I had to do a 24-hour urine collection to check the status of my kidney functionality. Although I had not experienced any more complications, I was still a little nervous that something would come back abnormal. Not for any particular reason other than the fact that test results rarely yield completely normal results for me. When it comes to other people, I tend to have a much more realistic, optimistic attitude. With myself, not so much. Because of all I have gone through in the past 5+ years regarding my health, nothing surprises me anymore. In fact, it's quite the opposite. What actually surprises me is when I hear that everything IS normal. Weird, I know. I just thank God everyday that I learned so much about my health AFTER being blessed with two healthy children.

Anyway, so the nurse called from the Urologist's office yesterday. Instead of cutting right to the point, she said "Hi, this is "R" from Dr. G's office. I have your urine test results. Has anyone called you yet to discuss the results?" Uh...."no." Of course, I am waiting for bad news at this point. Then she says, "Well, Dr. G looked at all your levels and everything is in the normal range." Well, geez lady! Couldn't you have just said that without prefacing your statement as if I'm going to lose my kidney!?!?!?

The important thing is that everything looks good right now. In three months I will go back for a check up and do some repeat testing and maybe a sonogram to look at my kidney. In the meantime, I will continue taking 4 supplements a day for "maintenance."

With the holidays here, I realize how much I have to be thankful for this season. It's been a crazy year, but in the end, when I count my blessings, it certainly takes more fingers than it does to count my kidneys...I mean...kidney.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fat Man in a Fiat

So it's time again for Show Us Your Life over at Kelly's Korner. This week's theme is "Show Us Your Favorite Christmas Traditions." Ever since I was a kid, my parents hosted a neighborhood Santa party every year. All the neighborhood kids would gather in our garage for cookies while we waited for Santa to arrive...usually in my uncle's convertible Fiat :) Then, we'd all take turns sitting on his lap and telling him that we've been "a good boy or girl" and rattling off our Christmas lists. We'd each receive a candy cane and a photo with Santa.

Once we were grown and out of the house, the tradition stopped...until last year that is! With so many grandchildren, it was only natural that the tradition start again! Now it is held in my parent's basement instead of the garage...with no Fiat...and presents instead of candy canes...and yes, plenty of photos!
In the picture below, you can see that Santa is holding a list. My parents, in an effort to fool all the kids, typed up a list of personal tidbits about each grandchild. That way, when they sat on Santa's lap, he would "know" stuff about them....their likes, interests, favorite things...and most importantly, their names! There are lots of grandchildren to keep straight and our family friend Sam Morton was brave enough to fill the Santa role. The kids had a blast and we look forward to doing it again this year and for many years to come!

Another family tradition is to go to Richmond and have brunch with my husband's family. Below is a picture of the five cousins last year at brunch. Connor, Katie, Madison, Matthew, and Hayden. After we eat, we go visit Santa and yes, take pictures :)

And of course, on Christmas Eve we have to leave out our cookies and milk for Santa. And don't forget the carrots for the reindeer! This picture makes me laugh because it truly captures Matthew's personality. He is inspecting each Gingerbread Man to make sure there are no cracks or broken "limbs." :)
And among my favorite traditions is decorating for Christmas!!!! Can't wait to start that project next weekend. But I'll save those pics for another Kelly's Korner carnival :)


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Thanksgiving and Holiday Bows

Although I am still dragging my feet with putting together a real website and a real business, check this out to see my latest Thanksgiving/Christmas/Holiday bows.

Here are a couple of my favorites...(and no, I did not make this shirt. just the pigtail bows to go with it.)



Stop by my "I haven't created a website...or a business...but I have fun designing bows - especially holiday bows but can make pretty much anything" site and check out the rest! Oh, and in the meantime, tell me why you think you should win a free bow of your choice :) Or just leave any ol' comment - that qualifies you for the drawing as well :)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Heaven on Earth Potatoes!!!

As you can imagine, it's quite a challenge to get all these little cousins to smile at once for the camera. Equally challenging is finding recipes that they all like to eat!

Well, over at Kelly's Korner today, we are sharing Thanksgiving recipes! I love this time of year!!!

This is one of those dishes that kids and adults both love!!! It is a perfect compliment to turkey, ham, or any main dish. And, the best thing about it - you can prepare it the day before AND it does not take up any space in the oven when you're trying to heat all of the side dishes at once. You NUKE it!

My husband and I alternate Thanksgiving and Christmas with our families each year. This year we will spend Thanksgiving with his family. Then Christmas will be spent with my family...and all the little kiddos you see in the picture above. My mother-in-law has been making this "Cheesy Potato" dish for years and I have added it to my own collection as a "Crowd Favorite!" Now I bring this to every Thanksgiving/Christmas meal with my family.

"Cheesy Potatoes"

6 Medium Baked Potatoes, unpeeled
1 stick margarine/butter
1 8 oz. bag shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 8 oz. sour cream
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 cup chopped green onions

Pierce potatoes with a fork. Do not peel!
Place in microwave on a paper towel.
Cook 20 minutes or until done and cool slightly.
Slice into quarters.
Microwave butter to melt.
Stir cheese in butter.
When cheese melts, add sour cream, salt, pepper, and onions.
Gently stir cheese mixture into potatoes; spoon into microwave safe dish. Cook uncovered on high for 7-8 minutes.

Serve!

Go Ahead and...

JUMP!

Who says playgrounds are just for kids???

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Growing at the speed of Light"ning"

Wow! I can't believe it's already time for Show Us Your Life over at Kelly's Korner! This week's theme is "Halloween Costumes." It's interesting to look at pictures from the last few years and see how much my kids have grown. Faster than lightning - kachow!!!

This is Matthew and Katie's first Halloween together (2007). Matthew was Lightning McQueen and Katie wore Matthew's hand-me-down "My First Halloween" outfit. 2007 was Matthew's first year trick-or-treating. We had planned to take him the year before when he was dressed as a fireman but he had a 101 fever. Fortunately he was too young to understand what he was missing out on! He just played in the playroom while kids came to our door asking for treats :)


I LOOOVE the back of this outfit. What a cute bum :)


This was Halloween 2008. Matthew was, once again, Lightning McQueen! Although I think he is now officially over the whole "Cars" madness. Katie was a lil' pumpkin.




This year Katie is a ballerina and Matthew is Wall-E. I thought about having Katie be Eve but we already had the ballerina costume. With a homemade bow and tights from her drawer, she is set to go!


We did a "dress rehearsal" tonight so the kids could try out their costumes. Waaaaall-EEEEEEEEEEE....


I love the way Katie is literally looking up to her big bro in this picture :)


Happy Halloween Everybody!!!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mums the Word!

This week over at Kelly's Korner, the theme for "Show Us Your Life," is Fall Decorations. How fun!!! I love anything that has to do with decorating so this was a fun post for me :)

"The mailbox with the swirly pumpkin." That would be my house :) This was a grocery store find last year on clearance and it is one of my absolute FAVORITE decorations!



When I think Fall, I think Mums! I LOOOVE mums! When I see homes adorned with mums, I think of falling leaves, football games, crock pot meals, and apple cider. Burnt orange mums are my color of choice this year - I usually get these or burgundy since they are the official Hokie colors!



Along the pathway are my jack-o-lanterns. On Halloween night, I will put an LED light in each one of these guys to light up the walkway for trick-or-treaters :) I thought LED would be a wise choice - don't want any neighborhood pranksters catching my lawn on fire!



When I see wreaths on front doors, I feel like they send a welcoming message. When we moved back up to Northern VA last year, we put an offer on a house in a new development. I remember my sister saying, "I see that the people across the street have a wreath. They must be friendly!" Well, welcome to my home :) Come inside now!



I am a sucker for anything polka dots and stripes so when I saw this candle set at Wegmans, aka the "Happiest Place on Earth," I just had to have them. Okay, well, truth be told, Wegman's is not actually Disney World but it is the next best thing in terms of grocery stores. And speaking of closest, this is the closest thing you will see to SPIDERS in my house!!!!


Aaaahh, the mantle! Any excuse to put lights on the mantle! When we were house hunting, I remember looking at the fireplace and saying, "Oh, these people are smart! They put an outlet on top of the mantle for Christmas lights!"...or Autumn Lights...take your pick!



Here is a picture of my burnt orange lilies and fall leaves on the mantle. SO much prettier at night when it's lit up! On the hearth is my Target basket and hand-me-down fake pumpkin :)


This is my dining room table. I just added orange ribbon to my already existing candlesticks, spread some fake leaves, and put the pumpkins in the middle. Viola - done!



Thanks for stopping by! I will leave you (pun intended) with one of my favorite Fall images...my Wegman's pumpkin lights lit up on the mantle while I sit down and watch The Office on TV tonight!!!


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Why Are Kidneys the Butt of Jokes?



I don't know what it is about kidney problems but comic strips are full of jokes about them. OK, so maybe I notice it more since I have kidney issues and my friend likes to send me kidney-related humor :) I admit, the comics are usually down right funny and I get a good laugh out of them. Afterall, I usually find a way to laugh at my medical situations...just ask my family. I make fun of myself all the time! I have learned that things could always be worse and it's all about keeping it in perspective. And since I can't change what I have...or don't have...I may as well be the butt of the joke ;)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Trick or Treat...Brush Your Teeth

Since Matthew's Kindergarten class does not have a Halloween party, he and I decided to make treat bags for all his classmates. We started off by making gift tags on the computer. Matthew picked the color, font, and clipart for the tags. After we designed them, we printed them out and Matthew signed his name on each one. This was the time consuming part...



Literally, it was quicker to watch water boil than to watch him sign each tag ;) But he did a GREAT job!



Then we cut out the tags and hole-punched each one.



Once the tags were completed, we went down to the basement and sorted all the treats. We had polka dot bags for the girls and ghost bags for the boys. His class has 8 boys and 9 girls this year. I LOVE how small his class is because I feel like it's a good transition from preschool. His preschool class last year had 12 kids.

Matthew and I filled all the bags (the girls got princess -themed treats and the boys got Cars-themed treats.)





Matthew was SO proud of himself at the end. He said "This is great teamwork mom!" Thus the reason for the project! Afterall, my intent was not to give his class cavities. He was having so much fun that he had no idea this was actually a good ol' lesson in following directions, sorting, counting, and sequence. Mission accomplished! Happy Halloween...oh, and don't forget to brush your teeth!


Sunday, October 18, 2009

My Favorite Kind to Make...and Match

Here are some pictures of my most recent "Made To Match" Bows. These are my favorite ones to make because I get to be creative with the designs.

This is Katie's Ballerina Halloween Costume. I decided last Fall that Katie would be a ballerina this Fall when I saw this costume on the sale rack at Gymboree for $6.99! With a free home made bow, the total cost for the costume - $6.99! And for those of you that know My Katie, ballerina is NOT the first thing that comes to mind when I think of her. Oh the irony!


However, maybe we don't give her enough credit. Doesn't she look like a natural here?

Ok, so maybe it was a fluke! But either way, she was twirling on her own. I just snapped the picture :)


Hokie Pride



Here are some more Made To Match bows I made this weekend.








For those who have e-mailed me, I was not able to upload these images to Shutterfly for some reason. However, please contact me or leave a comment if you'd like me to make some bows to match your little ballerina's clothes.