Monday, December 31, 2007

finally... a resolution I can keep! :-)

One of my New Year's Resolutions is to actually spend my gift cards and money I got as gifts. I know... that sounds obvious, doesn't it? But apparently that's harder for me to do than it sounds. I cleaned my desk yesterday and found $130 worth of book store gift cards and another $40 in iTunes gift cards. I know we've had the one $100 book store gift card over a year now (it was a gift from our realtor when we bought our house last December). As for cash... I have a tendency to roll that money into my daily spending and never actually buy what that money was meant for. This year I vow to do better!

So, last night I sat down and placed a book order... using up the $100 gift card...

First, Jeff got The Non-Runners Marathon Trainerhe had asked for....

Next I got two homeschool books that I wanted early so I could plan for next year...

Story of the World Vol. 1

and Story of the World Vol. 1 Activity Guide

I got Into the Wild because I just love Jon Krakauer's books...

Finally... I got the The Well-Educated Mindfor my birthday and have decided to give it a shot, so I ordered two copies of Don Quixote (one for me and one for Jeff)...

Next on my list is to spend my J.Jill gift certificate, find a new winter coat and finally pull the trigger on buying a color printer (I'm leaning toward the Epson R1800... any opinions out there??).

Like I said earlier... looks like a resolution I just might be able to keep! :-)

Sunday, December 30, 2007


Tonight Jeff and the kids made dinner for my birthday. They did a fabulous job. They fixed Corn Flake Crusted Chicken, Potato Pancakes, Salad and two desserts - key lime pie and dark chocolate molten lava cakes. YUM!!! However, right now I'm practically vibrating from all of the sugar and chocolate. All of the recipes were from Alex's cooking class. He really enjoys that class.

Here they are making the chicken...
Here are the molten lava cakes, fresh from the oven.....
Here are the kids putting candles into the cakes...
PSA: Do not put candles into molten lava cakes! They will melt... speaking from experience here.

If you haven't noticed, I've been branching out with my last couple of sets of pictures. I'm learning to embrace my wide angle lens AND my external flash. I don't yet know how to use them for the best results, but I'm liking that I'm getting shots of things that I would normally miss out on due to low light. The wide angle is just plain fun... I'm loving the distorted perspective you can get at times.

Clara is finally doing better.... no fever at all today! Yay! She's still coughing quite a bit but with the fever gone I'm thinking we're on the road to recovery!!

Well... I have nothing else to report so I'm going to go!


Saturday, December 29, 2007

the leaning tower of webkinz

I went downstairs to take a shower this morning and this is what I came back up to find....

(the big pug on the pink bench is not a webkinz but was allowed to be on webkinz tower because he is a relative of their webkinz pugs)
Sometimes you just have to accept things and not ask too many questions. I can't even imagine how they stacked that stuff that high all by themselves... but since there are no bumps, bruises or broken bones, I'll just suppress my need to know how they did it.

Nothing much going on here today... Clara is doing somewhat better. She still had a fever of 102 last night and 100 this morning... but she's not letting it slow her down much. The kids gave me my birthday presents this morning and we'll go out to dinner to celebrate tonight if Clara is feeling up to it. Tomorrow night is the night I'm excited about... Alex is cooking me a birthday dinner from some of his recipes from his cooking class. I'll be sure to take lots of pictures!

Okay... I'm off!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

we're back....

and now I'm sitting here waiting to hear from Jeff and Clara. Clara started coughing yesterday morning and it just keeps getting progressively worse. When we got home, she had a temp of 101... so I called the doctor to make an appointment (thinking they would want to see her tomorrow)... well, they called at 5:15 and wanted to see her TODAY even though their office closes at 5:30. Dinner was in the works so Jeff grabbed her and headed out the door. So now we just wait.

So, while waiting, I edited a few pictures from Christmas Eve and Christmas day.

Here are the kids making cookies for Santa...
While I was taking this picture, Clara pressed too hard on her cookie and it broke apart. The shock of this caused her to open her mouth in surprise.... releasing the candy cane... which hit the floor and shattered into a million sticky little pieces.
After this we went to church for 4:00 service. We had to be there at 3:00 for Alex's choir and 3:30 for Clara's. We also were chosen to light the advent wreath as a family at the beginning of the service.

Once we got home, the kids showered and got into their pj's so they could unwrap their final book... Twas the Night Before Christmas...
We watched one last Christmas special (Pinocchio's Christmas), put out milk and cookies and got the kids into bed. At which point, Jeff and I rushed to finish wrapping presents.

We told the kids that they could not get us up before 7:00 am so at 7:00am on the dot they knocked on the door. We all went upstairs to see what was in our stockings and under the tree.

Alex's big gift from Santa was an electric train and Clara's was a Littlest Pet Shop Round and Round Pet Town. Here the train was taking Clara's Littlest Pet Shop animals for a ride. (And, yes, Alex did get new pj's for Christmas)

Okay... dinner's ready!


(oh.... Deb... I use Rhodes White Dinner Rolls from the freezer section... do NOT, get the "Texas" sized rolls by mistake... that happened to me once and the whole thing got HUGE, shoving sugar, pudding mix and raisins over the sides of the pan... flaming raisins is not a pleasant smell with which to greet overnight guests with in the morning... sigh.

Ia... I had that card printed as a 5x5 from a company here in the US... steal away with the idea! I don't mind at all... you'll just have to show me it though... LOL! )

*******ETA:  The Diagnosis ********

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Just a quick note to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!!!

Here is our card...

(Scrapartist Merry and Bright Collab Kit, Lauren Reid's Wonky Templates and Sande Krieger's Season's Greetings)

Well... I'm going to get back to our Christmas morning festivities before we head to Michigan for a couple of days.

But I'll leave you with the recipe for our annual Christmas morning treat (recognize the recipe, Pam? I almost had to email you for it because I thought I had lost it in the move)...

Land of Nod Cinnamon Buns

20 frozen dough rolls
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup vanilla instant pudding (one small package)
2 T cinnamon
3/4 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 cup butter, melted

Grease a 10" bundt pan and add frozen rolls. Sprinkle with brown sugar, pudding powder, cinnamon and raisins. Pour melted butter over all. Cover with a clean, damp cloth. Leave at room temperature. Turn out the lights and say goodnight!

In the morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees F and bake for 25 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes and then turn out onto a serving plate.

YUM!!! I just throw this and a pan of link sausages into the oven while the kids are opening gifts and by the time the kids are done, so is breakfast!

Okay... I'm out of here!

Have a wonderful day!!!

Friday, December 21, 2007

more zoo lights!

Not great pictures but we had a great time. My hands were frozen! I'm to paranoid about dropping my camera to wear gloves at all... hmmm... maybe I need those fingerless gloves with the little mitten tops that pull over.

Anyway... here are some more pictures...The kids loved watching the guy doing the ice sculptures. He was really nice and answered the kids' questions.
The final product! (there was dry ice and water in bear's mug to make it "steam" although you can't see it in the picture)

These globes were new this year. The kids were very excited to see them since they were based on the old classic Christmas TV specials (we've been watching them on abc family).

Another one of the ice sculptures...
Also, in the lion house they had Santa (but we didn't go see him) and a big craft table with free crafts for the kids. The kids colored pins to put on their coats, made ornaments and got temporary tattoos.

There were tons of good smelling goodies being sold but we were stuffed having just come from dinner.

Pam... you should enjoy the MSI! I honestly think my kids could live there! We spent two WHOLE days there this fall. If you want to go to the Star Wars exhibit, I would definitely call in advance... there were no tickets available for the day we were there... thankfully we had called a couple of days earlier. Thank you for the kind words about my cards! Since they're in the mail, I should post it here. Oh... and as for the Macy's windows... we loved them! I think they are a lot like the Marshall Field's windows... its the inside of the store where you can really tell the difference.

Okay... my parents arrive in few hours... must get back to cooking and cleaning!!

Happy Friday!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

just one...

picture and then I'm heading to bed. Tonight we surprised the kids with a trip to the Lincoln Park Zoo to see the Zoo Lights. We had a really good time. It was cold but not too cold... and although there were a decent amount of people there... it wasn't crowded at all.

I'll post more pics tomorrow!


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

almost forgot...

I got to chat with Deann the other day to record this week's episode of Dishin' the Digi Coast 2 Coast on DiScTalkRadio! It was a lot of fun... check it out and see what fun layouts and products we found!

yesterday (LOTS of photos!!)

Okay... before I get to yesterday.... thank you Laura for the kind words about my Christmas card I posted... it's not my official card. Those are now off in the care of the U.S. Postal Service so I'll be posting them here soon. Thank you for the printing info Deb (and thanks for de-lurking to do so! :-)... can you believe that I've never set foot inside a Costco? There is one here not too far from us... maybe I should check it out.

As I mentioned the in my post last night... yesterday we went to the Museum of Science and Industry.

Here is the Burlington Zephyr...
Once in the museum we looked at the Christmas Trees from Around the World. More details and my photos are posted on my new homeschooling blog.

Next we went in to see the Star Wars exhibit. Here's Clara and Alex driving the hover cars...

Oops... forgot the border on this pic... here's Alex and Clara building and programming their robot....

After lunch we headed to State Street to see the window displays at Macy's. As luck would have it, this year's theme was the Nutcracker. Clara was thrilled!

After seeing the windows we went in to do some shopping and see Santa.

I HATE what Macy's has done to the State Street Marshall Fields! I used to LOVE to shop in that store... such a grand historic building. Now it just seems so cheap and generic. I had decided several months ago that I wasn't going to go there any longer... but it was convenient yesterday so I broke my own rule... sigh.
*** RANT OVER **** (sort of)

Okay... here we are at Macy's... the great big store on State Street, with a FAO Schwartz in it for the holidays. We thought it would be a good place to take the kids to see Santa. We waited in line down this magically decorated path till we got to Santa. The "elves" took down the kids' names and then led us to Santa. Who turned out to be a cheesy fake bearded Santa stuffed into a chair in a tiny broom closet!!! It was just sad. The kids seemed okay with it though...Okay... I've rambled on enough!