Belle's Christmas Program

Yesterday, Belle performed at her first Christmas program.  She was such a cutie!  (Although I know every parent says that of their child.)  She really didn't do much singing and looked around a lot.  She would sing a few words in each song, but I don't think she sang a whole complete song though. Chris and I took the boys to the dress rehearsal in the afternoon since the actual program was at 7 p.m., which is bedtime for all the kiddos.  We met Chris' mom and grandparents there and we got really great seating.  There was probably about 30 people there for the rehearsal.  The program was great because it was only 40 minutes long for the whole school.  I hope they continue doing it that way from now on!  The younger grades (4k/5k through 2nd) definitely stole the stage and were up there for a good 15 minutes.  The other grades got fewer songs and less verses.  I'm sure a lot of the older kids were glad to not have to be up there singing for a long time.  Chris and I, along with his dad, went to the evening show.  And wow, was it packed!  I was planning on taking pictures during that show, but unfortunately we didn't have as good of seats as earlier in the day, so some of the later pictures are grainy.  (The first two pictures are from the dress rehearsal.)  Anyways, enough with my rambling and on with the pictures!


I think I actually caught her singing!

Losing interest fast...and I think this is only the first or second song.

Looking for her dad and Grampi

...and spotting them to give them a wave during a song.

Can you tell it's past her bedtime?  (We were actually sitting right next to them while they were waiting for the other groups to finish singing.)

My favorite picture, so I had to enlarge it.  *grin*  I don't know why it's my favorite, but I just really like it.



So, it was just brought to my attention that Christmas Eve is only 10 days away.  Wow, that really snuck up on me!  I knew in my head that Christmas is next week, but when you put it in days, it seems a whole lot sooner.  It kind of makes me sad though because that means that there is only 10 more days of Christmas music.  (I'm sorry, but I just cannot listen to Christmas music after Christmas is over.  It kind of loses it's zip for me.)

I am most excited for Belle's Christmas concert next week.  She is going to be singing with the rest of her 4k/5k class.  She has been practicing at home (by singing the songs over and over again) for the past week or so now.  She is quite excited!  I love all her mispronunciations of words, like corn-cop instead of corncob, and trying to remember all the words.  She does quite well if you sing along with her though.


Belle attended her second classmate birthday party on Saturday, and she had an absolute blast!  The family actually happens to live a few houses down from us, so we were able to walk there.  The parents are both extremely nice and I felt comfortable having Belle there.  I stayed anyway to help out a little bit because I know how hectic birthday parties can be.  You always feel like you're running around with your head cut off because there are a zillion things to do.  But anyway...it was a princess party, and Belle was in Heaven! They played tea party and had lunch on blankets on the floor and sipped juice out of real tea cups.  They all got to make a crown and a wand to go with the princess outfits the girls wore, as well as get their nails painted.

Belle had a lot of fun, and I even got complimented from the parents about how polite she is.  She sure is a sweetheart, but she's growing up too fast.


Snow Day!

Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, we received so much snow that they canceled school yesterday.  I suppose being in a "blizzard warning" might have had something to do with the cancellation of school as well.  Chris was lucky too and his workplace cancelled the rest of the day, and he was home about 10:45.  So, while Casey was taking his morning nap (and before the cold started to get worse), I took the two kiddos outside to enjoy the snow.  I stayed on the front porch most of the time, except for a few times when Grahm couldn't get out of the snow and I had to help get him unstuck.  After about 30 minutes, my legs were starting to go numb, and I headed inside and watched from the front door.  When Chris came home, Belle and Grahm reluctantly came inside so he could snowblow the driveway.  That afternoon, we made some sugar cookies.  I finally found a recipe that actually makes soft sugar cookies and that doesn't need sour cream.  They turned out surprisingly good!  Everything was back to normal today though as we took Belle to school this morning and have spent most of the day playing downstairs.


We Are Family

Alright, cheesy blog title, I know.  But I am just so happy that we finally have a nice family picture!  Well, even though Grahm isn't smiling in the photo, it's still pretty nice.  Thanks a bunch Lauren for all the pictures!


I took a few pictures of our Thanksgiving, but they are still sitting on my camera waiting to be uploaded.  I've been too busy relaxing to want to take the time to upload them.  But I will this week!  I got My Life in Ruins from Netflix yesterday and watched that last night, which was a total waste of my time.  Dumb, dumb, dumb movie that dragged on forever.  And tonight I've been reading about what some people have gotten as white elephant gifts, and I'm getting some good ideas for our gift exchange this year at my husband's grandparent's house.  I'm getting so excited!  :)


On another note, we got our Christmas tree and put it up!  Well, Chris cut it down, put it up, and put all the lights on.  And Isabelle and I put the ornaments on, with Belle doing about 99% of them.  Sure, there are a couple bare spots, but that's fine if that means less work for me!  Besides, she was so excited getting to help put the ornaments on, that it made me happy to see the smile on her face.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Christopher's cousin Lauren took some family pictures for us today.  Surprisingly, she was actually able to get some of all of us looking.  Granted, not everyone was smiling (ahem, Grahm), but still, to get all of the kids to face the same direction for a picture is no easy task!  Unfortunately, the weather was not on our side and was gloomy, windy, and cool, which made for a very short photo shoot.  11 minutes to be exact.  About two minutes in, Belle was complaining of being cold; and for the first 5 minutes, Grahm was distracted by the ducks in the creek behind us.  We'll just have to try again in the summer (if you don't mind, Lauren).  But here is my favorite shot that made me laugh:

I cropped the rest of us out of there because really, no one was looking and I was making some weird face.


fall pictures

Uploading pictures into Blogger is such a pain for me.  If I click on the center button, it won't move to the center all the time, among other things.  It's very annoying.  I've seen people put pictures side by side and have such nice looking layouts, but I could never do it on Blogger without a ton of frustration.  But tonight, I read a blog post that has really helped!

I took these pictures a few weeks ago, back before the high temperatures were only in the 50's, the trees still had leaves, and neighbors didn't have their Christmas lights up already.  I had a lot of them that I liked, but I didn't want them to be one right after another.  I wanted a nicer looking layout.  So tonight, I present to you the fall pictures that no one cooperated for.  Well, at least not all at once.


Day in the Sun

 The boys and I spent yesterday afternoon out in the warm sun.  They ran around for a while, chalked a few lines, played on the swing set, and also ran their fingers through the sandbox.  We took it all in before winter comes.  The few snowflakes we had the other week was a wake up call to take advantage of whatever nice days there are left.  And those days are quickly winding down.  Our neighbor made it perfectly clear that Christmas is right around the corner by putting up his Christmas lights on the other day and lighting them.  And tonight, I saw two other people down the street that had their Christmas lights on.  And yes, the house behind Grahm's picture has their Christmas decorations out front.  I just put our fall decoration up a week or so ago, I'm not taking it down yet!  And besides, all the rest of our decorations are in boxes that are unreachable right now since our basement is a mess with the remodeling.  I'm lucky I was able to reach one of the fall decorations.  At least we look kind of festive.



*edited to add: the two pictures on the bottom are smaller because I couldn't fit them on the page if I made them bigger.  They kept getting chopped off at the side and cutting people off.

On Halloween night, we did our usual run of visitng family members rather than going door-to-door. Our first stop was to Chris' Uncle Bob and Aunt Barb's house. Casey spent most of his time running toddling around the house since every room has two entryways and he went around in a big circle.  He loved it!

Next we went to the great-grandparents house to visit with them as well as Mimi and Grampi (Gary and Peggy), who stopped by their house after church to save us a trip driving over to their house. (Thank you!)  The kids had fun and enjoyed a couple treats while we were there.

Our last stop was to Chris' Uncle Tom and his cousin Lauren's house.  Lauren took the above picture of Belle, Casey, and Tom.  Belle loves Tom's clown nose and gets such a kick out of it every time he wears it.

We had also planned to go visit Chris' Uncle Mark and Aunt Denise, but they had gone out to dinner.  Isabelle was handing out pictures to everyone we stopped to see, so she's holding on to theirs until we see them again.

We were out for two hours just visiting those few houses, but it's a lot of work getting the kids in and out of the carseats.  It's worth it every year though.


Leslie Blodgett's New Perfume Bare Skin Review

Leslie Blodgett just came out with a perfume line called Perfume Diaries. Bare Skin is her first scent in the series, which delivers top notes of black pepper, freesia and anise, heart notes of iris, vanilla orchid, plumeria and patchouli, and the dry down sizzles with sandalwood, labdanum and musk.  According to Leslie, “When I have an experience, I like to have a scent behind it. Bare Skin, which is what Mexico reminds me of, is the way you feel when the sun is beating down on you during the day, but then you go out at night and you’re still sizzling from the warmth of the day which mingles with the night air and the music.”

I was able to try a sample of this scent and I really like it!  When I first opened the mailer it came in, I was a little taken back by the scent.  It was very overpowering, and it wasn't even open!  Wanting to give the perfume a second chance and not judge it by my first initial reaction, I put it on the next morning.  Surprisingly, the scent wasn't overwhelming at all.  Go figure!  And it also lasted all day with only a slight dulling of the scent.

Bare Skin is available exclusively at Sephora. It comes in a spray ($55), a solid perfume ($35), and a body cream ($30).

I was given a free sample of the Bare Skin perfume to post an honest review about it.  All comments are my own.


Busy People's Fast & Frugal Cookbook by Dawn Hall

Thomas Nelson Publishers sent me Dawn Hall's "Busy People's Fast & Frugal Cookbook" to review a few weeks ago.  When I first opened the book, I skimmed through the pages to see what kind of recipes it had.  Surprisingly, most are recipes I would actually make!  I used to like cookbooks until I realized that the recipe that I bought them for was really the only recipe I liked out of the whole book.  Either the other recipes were too complicated or else they just didn't look very good and wouldn't be something I would ever order if I was at a restaurant.  But Dawn Hall's cookbook has over 200 recipes in it, so there is bound to be a few handfuls of recipes you will want to try right away.

Dawn includes a lot of features that I haven't seen in other cookbooks:
  • One of my absolute favorite features of her cookbook that I really think makes it stand out from the crowd is the meal suggestions.  On almost every recipe, there is a section on the side that lists meal suggestions.  It gives you ideas of what else you could make with it, and they are all recipes that are in the book.  So not only does she include the page number of where they are found (huge help!), but she always tells you when to start the timer and at what point to begin cooking each recipe.  i.e.:  Set the timer for 10 minutes.  10 minutes before the meal, prepare the chowder as directed.  5 minutes before the meal, slice the bell peppers and arrange with dressing for a dip, and finish preparing the chowder.  (That was my condensed version of what she has written, but I wanted you to get the gist of it.)  
  • She also has pictures for most of her recipes, which makes me happy because I like to see what it's supposed to look like.  I tend to skip over the recipes that don't have photos, but that's just the way I am.  
  • She also includes a supply list and a grocery list for the suggested meal (so you don't have to keep flipping around the book seeing what ingredients you need).  The supply list is great because I hate cooking/baking something, only having to stop in the middle and find something.  It tells you what bowls and utensils you need, so you are all ready to go from the beginning.  You won't be caught off-guard when you come to a sentence that asks you to now get out your small mixing bowl so you can pour those ingredients into your large mixing bowl.  This way, you will have both your small and large mixing bowl handy (and already cleaned), and not have to stop what you're doing to find your small mixing bowl in your pile of dirty dishes and clean it (along with the rest of the sink full of dishes because you figure you may as well clean them all while you're at it...not that I'm that lazy that I let my dishes pile up like that).  
  • She also gives the the number of servings, calories, fat, and all the other nutritional facts about the recipe.  Of course, she uses a lot of fat-free, sugar-free ingredients, so it may change depending on what you use.  Me?  I'm getting better and have gotten a few low-sodium, reduced-sugar ingredients, but I haven't bit the bullet yet and gotten anything without sugar, fat, or sodium yet that I'm used to buying with it.

One of the kids' favorite recipes in the book is the crepes.  I had only used one other crepe recipe before, and I really wasn't very impressed.  The one in the book is great though!  Very few ingredients (yeah!), and very quick.  And she also has a few different fillers for them.  The one that is sitting in our fridge right now is the banana cream filling, and it is sooo good!

I made her homemade crackers the other day using just tortillas, butter, paprika, garlic powder, and parsley.  It was so easy, so quick, so frugal, and so good!   I tend to stick to the dessert section of a cookbook because that is the best part of a meal (in my opinion), but I was happy I strayed over to the breads and biscuits section and found that recipe.

Overall, I was very satisfied with this cookbook.  It was nothing like I expected it to be.  I love all the added features (especially the meal suggestions).  The recipes are simple and nothing too complicated, so you're able to put your own spin on it without having to worry about completely ruining it.

I was given this cookbook from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review of it.  The above statements are my own.



My poor little guy is sick. Just last week he was outside running around in the snow, happy as could be.

He had a 99 degree fever all day, and then when I checked him again after I picked Belle up from school, it was up to 100.4. He was still acting fine, until after dinner. His eyes were getting red and he just looked so tired.  Chris picked him up and Grahm just threw up all over.  I couldn't help but watch.  I just froze.  I didn't grab a towel, bucket, or anything.  I don't know if I was more shocked that he threw up or if Chris didn't throw up.  He gets so grossed out about things like that, but not tonight.  He was a perfect, loving dad and was so concerned about his little boy.  We're both worried about him and hope he gets better really soon.  He has a doctor appointment in the morning, so hopefully we'll find out more then.

Isabelle has had a cough for the past few weeks, and it's been getting worse.  So on Wednesday morning, she has an appointment with the doctor.  Both her room and the boys' room have humidifiers in them now, which will hopefully help.


I miss my little girl.  She went with her Mimi and Grampi to visit her cousins (and aunt and uncle too, of course) on Friday afternoon.  I can't wait to see her tomorrow!  :)


Belle's Tutu

So, I have been wanting to get Belle a tutu for a while now, but all the ones I've found on Etsy are so expensive! Granted, I'm sure they are really nice, but I don't really want to spend $25+ for a tutu. Sure, there are some cheaper ones, but either they are too short, not full, or for dolls. Seriously, $8 for a doll tutu?! I could make one for a dollar! After a little searching on the internet, I found a no-sew tutu tutorial. Many in fact. All a little different but very similar. The title is misleading because there is a little sewing (you have to sew the elastic together), but other than that one part, the rest is done by hand. It's a lot of knotting/tieing. And when I say a lot, I mean a lot. Unless you don't want it very full, and would prefer a more simple, graceful looking tutu, then you wouldn't require as much tulle.

I decided to go all out and added a whole bunch so it's really puffy. *grin* I went with white, light purple, and hot pink (that one Belle picked out). I haven't decided if I'm going to put rhinestones or ribbons on it as well, just to kind of dress it up so it isn't so plain. But, in the end, I don't expect it to cost more than $10 (that's assuming I buy some embellishments...if I don't, then obviously it'll be even cheaper). And if I had made it shorter (I made it to hit at about her knees) or not made it so full, it would have been even cheaper. I can see why there are so many people seeling tutus on Etsy though. They are addicting! I've made one and want to make more because they are so cute! Maybe I will make one for her dolls after all.

I plan on making a superhero cape for Grahm for Christmas as well, so he's not left out. As for Casey, I haven't decided what I can make that's age appropriate, yet somewhat easy. Any ideas????


Where I've Been

Well, no where really. I've just been too busy to blog lately...doing two loads of laundry every other day (I hate cold weather and long sleeves, sweatshirts, and long pants...it makes for some really big loads!), folding clothes, playing puzzles with Grahm, playing hide-n-seek with Casey, coloring with Belle, feeding the kids breakfast and lunch, taking Belle (and the boys) to school and picking her up, playing WoW (of course), trying to keep the house picked up (although everything somehow always ends up piled up on our bedroom dresser), and trying to potty train Grahm. And when I do have time to blog, something else comes up. Like my Ghost Whisperer DVD arriving in the mail from Netflix. *grin* I got hooked on the show last year (back when we had t.v.), so I've been renting them non-stop, starting with Season 1, for a month or so now. I watch it as soon as the kids go down for bed and then send it out in the morning so that I can get the next one in a couple days. I am loving Netflix! I have a potty training DVD coming soon from them. Hopefully it will give me some new pointers for Grahm because everything I've tried isn't working. I've even left him without pants on for a few hours for about a week, and that hasn't helped (although I've heard it works). Although it did give me a funny story that I'll be able to embarrass him with when he gets older. I went outside to go check the mail, and on my way back inside, 3 Mormons stopped me to give me a handout and a speech. While they are doing this, Grahm is wearing nothing but his t-shirt. So all the while as I'm trying to get back inside and to get the guys to stop talking to me, explaining that I'm not interested, Grahm decides to come outside. The older gentleman laughed, but boy, was it embarrassing!


We went to Chris' parents cottage a couple weeks ago. Well, I may have not been there because I didn't really contribute much. I laid on the couch every chance I got so my back can heal. My physical therapist has me doing the back exercises for at least another month or two, so I'm still in the healing process. Getting near the end though with no flare-ups lately though! But anyway, Chris was able to duck hunt up there (as it was opening day on that lake), and shot 3 ducks, which are now sitting in our freezer waiting to be cooked up...or dried into jerky. Either way, I doubt I'll be eating it. I've had a bite or two of it before, and it wasn't awful...just not my type of flavor. Casey touched/walked on the grass for the first time that weekend without fussing. Normally, whenever he would even touch the grass, he would start crying. I'm so happy that he's over that now. The kids enjoyed their last few days of summer up there. They went canoeing, rode bikes, and played outside (as well as inside). I was even able to take a decent picture of Frosty and her big ears, for those of you that haven't seen how enormous her ears are on her little body. She doesn't look like your typical pure-bred miniature schnauzer. *grin* Chris' parents helped out a ton with the kids while we were up there. Every once in a while I'd tag along and take pictures, but mostly I took it easy. So thank you Gary and Peggy...and Chris too, of course.


With Isabelle in school now, the mornings are a lot more quiet. Sure, Grahm still runs around the house playing with his cars and Transformers, but we've also been doing a lot more coloring, reading, and puzzles lately. It's been nice and fun. Casey is really into the blocks now. Just today he made a three-block tower an attitude d was so proud of himself. His smile was priceless! But just as much as he likes to try to build towers, he loves to knock them down. And thankfully Grahm is a good sport about it when Casey knocks his tower over that he works so hard on.


Isabelle has really grown up a lot since starting school. Not only with being able to recognize more letters and numbers, but also in her attitude. A couple days ago after I got done grocery shopping and brought the bags inside, she asked if she could put the yogurt away. Um, sure, if you really want to. So while she was doing that, I go talk to Chris about some Christmas gifts I bought. When I come back to the kitchen, she unpacked everything and put it all away! Now is she a sweetheart or what?! Chris and I have some good kids and are quite lucky.

We are also happy with our choice for her school. She comes home happy and is always a chatterbox on the way home, telling me about her day. And today, I was a little late in dropping her off and her class had already gone inside, but the third graders were walking in. A couple girls talked to her and held her hand and helped her inside. All of the older grades are so helpful, not just with Belle but with all the younger kids. It's so sweet how no one asks them to help out or anything, they just go over and do it. All of the kids are so nice and friendly.


Well, that about does it. I think that long post makes up for not posting anything for over a week! Although I'm sure my friend Teresa won't agree. *grin* I'll try to be more diligent about it from now on...promise!


Harry Connick Jr. "Your Songs" review

I was given the opportunity to review the new Harry Connick, Jr. cd "Your Songs", courtesy of the One2OneNetwork and Sony Music. Now, I have never really been a fan of him before. Whenever I would see him on t.v., I would flip the station because I thought his music was boring. I never really took the time to actually listen to it. But when I was approached to do the review, I thought I would give it a try with an open mind this time. And to be honest, I really liked it. Maybe it's because I'm older and more "mature" (ha!). His new cd is comprised of other artists songs, like "Just the Way You Look Tonight" (my favorite!) and "Just the Way You Are" that his fans have requested.

Album Tracklisting (Originally performed by):

All The Way (Frank Sinatra)
Just The Way You Are (Billy Joel)
Can’t Help Falling In Love With You (Elvis Presley)
And I Love Her (The Beatles)
(They Long To Be) Close To You (The Carpenters)
Besame Mucho
The Way You Look Tonight
First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (Roberta Flack)
Your Song (Elton John)
Some Enchanted Evening
And I Love You So (Don McLean)
Who Can I Turn To? (Tony Bennett)
Smile (Charlie Chaplin)
Mona Lisa (Nat King Cole)

Here are a couple fun links:
Behind the Scene look at ‘Making of’ the album: http://bit.ly/HCJrVideo
Harry Connick Jr.'s website: http://www.harryconnickjr.com/

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the cd. It's upbeat, yet soothing...if that makes any sense. If you're interested in getting it, I know Amazon is selling it for $9.99 right now and they will also give you $1 worth of MP3 downloads and $2 off Michael Buble's newest cd "Crazy Love". They also have the track listings with samples of the songs for you to listen to if you're interested.


Let's Hear It for the Boys

So, tonight's post is all about the boys.

So much has been happening with Casey lately. He turned 13 months old on Sunday. He is constantly drooling lately, and that is not an exaggeration. Seriously, the front of his clothes are soaked within 30 minutes of wearing them. I don't know if he's teething, or if it's his stuffed up nose that's making him breathe through his mouth, or if it's a combination of the two. Either way, I feel bad for the little guy. But it's not slowing him down any. Last week, while I was stuck in bed with a bad back and Chris was working from home, I could hear him yell to me from the living room that Casey took 14 steps. And since then, the little guy hasn't felt the need to crawl anymore. He will on very rare occasions, but he doesn't go far before standing up and walking. He's not pulling his shoes off every chance he gets now. He'll actually wear them for a short period of time now! That makes me so happy because I love little baby shoes. They are so cute! (And Casey was holding onto the sides of the lens, in case you're wondering what that is in his shoe picture.)

Grahm is still just as sweet and just as much of a troublemaker as always. He's been sick with a stuffed up nose as well, and today he woke up with a scratchy voice. So, we took it easy and watched lots of Sesame Street and Max and Ruby, and played with blocks and puzzles. We made it kind of a low-key day. On another note, I am loving his hair at the moment. It's not too short and not too long, at least for my preference. Yesterday he decided to put marker all over himself. I had to laugh because I remember when Isabelle had painted herself green when she was younger. He has really been testing us lately and talking back and saying "no" a lot when we ask him to do something. But then, there are other times when he jumps up right away, eager to help and to please. Go figure. We bought a cloth swim diaper last week and I'm loving it! I did a ton of research and am happy with what I got. I'll try to get a picture of it soon.