Sunday, January 31, 2010

Would You, Could You, Grill in the Snow?


This is NOT our grill ... but imagine it is. Really, it could be ... luckily our porch is covered which keeps the snow off.
Can you believe 49% of Americans grill during the winter?! (at least that's one percentage I found online.)
Well ... I'm one of them now. Yup, count me in. And oh was it SO good!

I guess that's a perk for living in the midwest. You call up the farmer down the road, order a quarter beef, or half a cow or maybe the whole thing. Mmmmm, a variety of meat in your freezer whenever you want it. But, alas, our family tends toward the casserole dishes, ie: hamburger. SO ... on occasion I dig to the bottom of the freezer past the hamburger and get the good stuff! Yes, we threw some very yummy steaks on the grill tonight, er, I guess I threw them on the grill. I thought it would have been SUCH a cool photo of me, the grill, the snowman in the background in the yard.
... But the boys were too busy playing the Wii to help with the photoshoot.

And how could I blame them as they had spent all afternoon out on the lake playing ice hockey. They needed some time inside to warm up, right? Still would have been a cool photo. I guess you'll have to use your imagination.
The steak was delicious though ... gotta love Iowa beef.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Update to the Trivial:Thankfully my blog photo remains the same

Some people hate the doctor ... THANKFULLY I have not had any great on going medical issues in my lifetime, so I don't have too many problems with the doctor.

Some people hate the dentist ... THANKFULLY even after major braces, a headgear, wisdom teeth removed, having a tooth pulled without Novocaine being fully set, I still don't have any problems with the dentist.

But when it comes to getting my hair cut ... well, that's a different story. It's not that I fear the hair salon. I'm just kind of a cheap-skate so I don't go very often ... and when I do I am actually surprised when I leave feeling good about my new do. Well, unfortunately, yesterday was NOT one of those leave-the-salon-feelin'-good kinda days. Yes, I went in after not having a haircut since my birthday in August (like 6 months ago) but I went in with nice (although probably way too long) long hair ... and now ... well ... let's just say I left over 8 inches on the floor! And my new do ... isn't really what I had requested (I specifically said 2 inches BELOW my shoulder AND used my hands to show where I meant by that.) Anyway ... it's hair ... it grows back, right?. I don't like this result particularly, but please remember I did not request this look and although Jeff says he likes it, I'm not sure if he's being kind or honest. Anyway ... if I had known I'd be losing so much in one sitting I would have donated it to Locks Of Love or something! I can barely get it into a ponytail!

The real bummer is in that we have family photos scheduled for Tuesday for the church directory. We have not had family photos in over 5 years and 2 children ago! So, I am suddenly not at all enthused about these. Maybe that's good and the pressure to have the kids look good and all smile is off. And I'll have a reason to have them retaken at a studio of my choice in about ... 6 months when my hair is 2 inches below my shoulder. HA!
(The chance of getting that to happen is about as likely as me getting the hair cut of my dreams!)

Update upon request ... with photos:
BEFORE (okay, this is from a couple of years ago ... but I don't embrace change easily obviously. This is basically what it looked like before but with a few more bangs. I waffle between the bangs vrs no-bangs dilemma.)

AFTER (sorry it's blurry ... but try to get a photo of yourself without feeling totally cheesy! Even Nolan wanted to get away!)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hockey, Blizzards and Soggy Birthday Presents


(Brayden is on the far right kinda squashed down while kneeling)

Brayden and his hockey team won another tournament this weekend!
I am hoping that he remains humble in all of this glory! He played really well and was quite happy that he almost got a hat-trick in the final game too (that would be 3 goals in one game.) However, it hit the post on the goal and didn't happen--luckily too because I did not have a hat with me to throw onto the ice! Although I would have been resourceful and would have used Nolan's. (They do give them back to you by the way.) Another big deal for this weekend was leaving home without my 40 lb. diaper bag. Yes, this would be for an entire day away from home. Luckily I had the snacks packed in another bag (food is always needed!) and I had an emergency ziplock of 6 diapers and wipes that have been traveling around in the back of our minivan since Brayden (now 6.5) was in diapers! I just had to rewet the wipes a bit ... but they were great and what a lifesaver. I am somewhat amazed that we made it over 12 hours through an all day hockey tournament and then an extended night at the semi-pro hockey game all without that heavy bag! I really need to rethink and repack that thing.

A cool find for the weekend and one angst of not having my wallet along with me to buy one on Saturday was a toy zamboni!

We've been looking everywhere for one since I tried to make one for Nolan's one-year old cake in June. There is a reason why a photo of that didn't make it onto the blog! It kinda looked like a box with wheels. Thankfully the vendor was still there the next day when I had my $$ in hand. And I am looking forward to using this little match-boxed sized one next time around on the cake(s). And well ... we ended up with 2 ... one for each patient brother who sat through 3 days worth of games in a cold arena! (But I gotta admit it wasn't too hard of a sell as I wanted one too!) Nolan especially LOVES the zamboni and will literally bat your head out of the way if you are holding him and get between him and his zamboni viewing while it cleans the ice between periods! He refers to it as a "zam-bonee-ahh" It kinda sounds like a country or something.

Now for the soggy birthday ... We had high winds, blinding blizzard conditions and ice yesterday afternoon that lead to Brayden getting out of school early and a late start this morning. This winter has been kinda severe, especially lately. I guess it always is, but somehow I forget when the grass gets green and the sun is again out all summer long. Anyway, after picking up the boys at school around noon I hunkered down all afternoon before traveling out to get the mail at the end of our lane (we live in the country) around 4:45pm.

As I neared the mailbox the wicked wind and blowing blinding snow suddenly lost all importance as I heard myself saying, "NO--NO, NO--NO, NO, NO, NO, NOOOOOO!" as I looked beyond the mailbox and into the ditch and my wonderful Priority Mail package with the bright green delivery confirmation sticker half submerged in the melted run off water. (Which I have no idea HOW it could be water as it was 18 degrees outside!) I had recently purchased a beautiful Hanna Andersson birthday dress for a special little girl at ND ... and there it was ... blown into the ditch. THANKFULLY I saw it--what if I had waited until my husband picked up the mail in the dark or the next day after it would have surely sank?! I took the heavy box inside and took out the completely soggy wad of beautiful cloth while literally pouring out water from the drenched box and I had little other choice than to wash it and pray for the best. Thankfully I am happy to say that it washed up beautifully and I had the added blessing of actually laundering her birthday present for the first time. And that made this mom of much boy laundry ... even more deeply blessed to wash and iron something so beautifully pink and girly!

Happy Birthday Elizabeth and I hope you had a great day!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Daisy Comes Home--Children's Story About China


Since I'm on the topic of My Favorite Finds, I need to mention this book that Nolan got me for Christmas. He has such good taste for a one year old!--(wink wink) It's called Daisy Comes Home by Jan Brett. She is an incredible artist and I'm a big fan already of her work and watercolor illustrations. This book was inspired by her DIL, Jun, who is from China and the trip the family all took there several years ago. Apparently the book has been out for awhile, published in 2003. I just happened upon it at the school book fair at our local school and it CALLED to me! (It was one of those days that I really needed that too which makes it even more special of a find!)

Jan Brett's style is filled with detail which can be seen in the trees with hidden figures and the details in the sidebar illustrations that tell more of the story and even foreshadow what will be happening on the next page! I'm curious if anyone who has been to China finds this book as cool as I do? I gotta believe that since Jan has such heart ties to China and drew from her own personal travels there that the illustrations depict rural life pretty well.

I also found this neat Homeschool lesson that ties it in with about every subject and also the a Bible verse! Check it out. AND here's a neat writing lesson as well found here. I wish I would have purchased 2 copies so I would have them on hand for gifts. If I had, I'd send you one ... unfortunately though I'll just send you this post and hope you will Check it out and enjoy it for yourself!
I got my paperback copy from Scholastic for $5 ... Amazon has it for a wee bit more. Well worth it though if you or your children have a passion for China and or enjoy SUPER illustration.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"Wow" Toys--Uber COOL!


by Ravensburger or WOW toys
Check 'em out further here: www.wowtoys.com

I don't make it a habit to fall in love with toys ... but honestly, I think they find me! I am like a kid when it comes to toys. We were shopping yesterday at an educational store and they had a small table display of this line and they are just so neat, I had to share. Of course they listed all kinds of educational benefits from fine tuning motor skills and imaginative play and sensory and motion education. But they also do NOT need batteries which is SO COOL! There is an opening picnic basket and interchangable play figures. Oh how fun!
Geared for 1.5 to 5 year olds, Nolan played and played with them. Had I come across them before Christmas I would have folded for sure for at least one of them, especially with Operation Giggle in mind because they do not need batteries and are very high quality friction-powered type cars with little people/animals that easily can be moved around for imaginative play.
Motorbike Max
Motorbike Max is the one that caught our attention and is still the overall fav. I'm kinda wondering if Samuel at New Day would like one as his birthday is fast approaching? Motorcycles being popular in China and all ... and well ... it's just the right size for little hands and is just CUTE as a button!

"This is way cool!" --I'm pretty sure this is what Nolan was thinking as I could NOT pull him away from the table. (Well, I finally did ... and it involved kicking and screaming on his part ... but in his defense I had him out shopping for clothes through his nap time all afternoon. Poor guy!)

Poppy's Pony Adventure

To be honest though, this one was the one that I really liked because of the trailer. It clicks on so cleanly for little hands and with the people is perfect for pretend play. But it was pink and purple all over so it would not fly in our all-boy household. If you have a girl. this is uber-cool!
(Here's an excerpt from the manufacturer.)
Clip-clop, clip-clop here's a happy pony set! This cute and chunky nine-piece set features a friction-powered car with a realistic engine sound, detachable horsebox with a magnetic hook, push-button tailgate, shape-sorting roof rack, girl and boy riders, two color-coded ponies, a pony jump, and two stackable hay bales. Truck measures approximately 8" and trailer measures approximately 8". No batteries required.

SO, imagine how very excited I was to find the "boy" version with a trailer that I mentioned above.
It has a bath-toy boat, an unloadable 3 wheeler, and magnet attached trailer!
Off Road Ollie's
Outdoor Pursuits Toy

$38.95 Am@zon



Anyway, I had to share such a fun toy find ... if anyone has these toys and wants to let me know how your kids like them I'd appreciate it. I hate to buy toys and then have them sit in the toy box once we bring them home ya know!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Hope for Haiti

Who doesn't have Haiti on their mind right now? Well, my friend Shawna has this really COOL way to help AND a COOL give-away right now. Check it out!

First off, she has generously decided to donate $10 from each {blessed. or hope. necklace} purchase to Compassion for Haiti disaster relief in Haiti! (She has a VERY cool etsysite that you must check out. She is so talented ... you should see her photography! You will put down your camera and be humbled!)
ALSO ... because she goes above AND beyond ... she is giving away either a hope or blessed necklace to one winner.

See her blog for all the details.


Spread the word, Spread the love and hope.
Remember how blessed we are.
give hope to Haiti.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Victory!


(Brayden is on the far right kneeling in the front.)
Sweet is victory! Brayden and his team won the Championship cup at their hockey tournament this weekend! What a thrill for them especially since the team they were matched to play this morning was the Junior Wild out of Minnesota. Yes ... hockey world Minnesota! I was scared for them. But oddly enough ... we found out later that THEY were actually intimidated by US! Crazy how we adults get so caught up in perceptions and confidence levels. I don't think the kids let too much of this get to them. It was mainly us adults. They were just there to play hockey and do their best ... and good for them because that's what it's all about really anyway.

Our family did weather the sickness-storm of last week and I am glad to say that we ALL have gone through "the yuckies" (I was the last to fall victim late last week. So much for any "immunity.") And now, on the heels of the last bug is a nasty cold that is starting again with Brayden. Maybe I'm cleaning the house TOO well and I'm killing the good germs as well as the bad because I am maxing out the legal use of Lysol and Clorox wipes I am afraid! I guess it all goes hand in hand with winter and kids. So what do you do? HA!

I do hope that I can get back up to speed with all of you. I miss you all! I've been trying to read little bits and pieces here and there of your posts where I can but I do feel I'm out of the loop. Excuse my absence ... but thanks for checking back in! :-)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Yuckies

Please excuse the continued lack of posts and comments and return of emails.
Oh yes, there are reasons.
The flu of last week that took down Brayden into a night of endless ... well ... you know ... yuckiness ...
well, it's back and it took down Easton in an eerily similar fashion on Sunday night. Same story, all night long ... NO sleep until 5am and then only until 6:45 when I got Brayden up for school. Then Monday night Nolan got his first disturbing experience with the yuckies ... while Jeff fell victim in the other bathroom only hours later. I kid you not. Thank goodness the other 2 boys were recovering by the time the other 2 were coming down hard ...
This is a quick hitting but brutal flu. Thankfully it isn't too long and hasn't had any fevers ... but it is furious.

I rocked Nolan in the bathroom (Jeff had squeezed the rocking chair in there along with the spare crib mattress for the floor, no small feat considering our bathroom floor is only 3.8 feet wide! Luckily it's longer than wide.) from 8 until 3 am with the sink on one side (oh so handy!) and finally at 3am I gave in and tried to comfort him on the mattress while I curled up in whatever room was left between there and the cabinets to make sure he didn't roll off and hit the base of the toilet. It was a crazy night but I was so glad I was there for him as well as for his brothers when they were hurting. When I think of children without someone to hold them when they feel so horrible and are so scared ... oh it makes my heart hurt so much.
No, it wasn't pretty and I prayed so much that the end would be in sight and things would start looking up all night long. As for me ... I'm holding out tough ... although to be honest I've been kinda sick for about a week. I guess all that time with morning sickness while being pregnant and still having to function is coming in handy! Perhaps that is the real reason for morning sickness? Training?
I'm hopefully that I'll sidestep the extreme yuckies this time around ... and that we'll be on the mend SOON!
Here's to hoping you all are staying healthy! And thank you SO much for all the wonderful comments from the last post. What a cyber-hug! I do plan to respond ... only when I've had some real sleep and some food that I can actually look forward to in my belly!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Oh pretty good

The dream:
To wake up on Christmas morning in our own home, leisurely opening gifts and enjoying time together over cinnamon rolls and hazelnut coffee (or dark coffee in Jeff's case.)

The reality:
We left in a snowstorm headed north into MN to celebrate a surprise 80th b-day party for my MIL Dec. 23rd ... and well ... I'm just now returning to the blog after 10 days on the road, as I have for the past 12 years, not with my family but with the in-laws. It's been a journey. Which I will spare you all the details and will try to highlight the happier moments (which unfortunately, in my opinion, are fewer.)
The birthday party went well especially considering she hates surprises, her age and birthdays. She does like attention and she got lots of that. It continued to snow throughout our trip which allowed for a very white Christmas. After Christmas Day, we continued North from the Cities into The Great White North "enjoying" more snowfall which all-in-all totaled well over 2 feet!

The highlights of the trip included a lot of ice skating on the plethora of outdoor rinks and downhill skiing with the 2 older boys (Easton's first time! and he did really well!) Brayden is fearless ... which scares me gray!




We returned home on Jan. 2nd leaving in weather that was NEGATIVE 30 degrees (straight temp) and then subtract the wind chill even further and it was nothing less than BRUTAL! In fact our truck (which is a diesel) started gelling up WHILE driving as the intake air was SO cold. Yes, we had let it warm up for over a half hour even! Luckily we made it from Jeff's mom's in the frozen rural tundra of Northern MN into the next big town in order to make an attempt at fixing the problem. We bought some fuel additive and waited and prayed for it to work through the system. We decided to swing through McDonald's for some dollar cheeseburgers while we waited ... which then led to Nolan hurling in the truck all over himself and the carseat. At the beginning of an 8 hours drive this is NOT the smell you really enjoy adding to the car. BUT the time it took for me to clean him up with paper towels, kleenex and wet wipes allowed our truck to warm up enough to get us home worry free.

It was far from the dream Christmas travel, but I was with my boys and Jeff and all in all they were well and happy. To be truthful I am a bit jealous of folks who feel a positive bond with their in-laws, I wish I had that. But for whatever reason, that is not the relationship I will have with them. I pray to be a good MIL someday to my future DILs ... I guess I am learning a lot and with 3 potential DILs someday that is wisdom that perhaps I should be grateful for, even if it comes at a cost. I just hope it's a cost that I can keep to just me.

Since returning home Brayden has endured a nasty flu bug and now Easton was up all night with it. Ug! I think I've had an hour of sleep. But I'm here. Just thought I'd let you all know, in case you were wondering :-)
Christmas was wonderful and it's good to be reminded not to overlook that or take it for granted ... even if it's not exactly the way I may have wanted to picture it. (P.S. It is Jan 11th ... it's taken me about 9 days to detach from the experience and gain this perspective ... please don't be fooled into thinking I'm deeply gracious all the time. I am continuing to grow I guess.)

The family

The family