Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

First day of winter.

We've had another couple inches on top of what's already here.  You can see the banks are already about as tall as I am!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy 50th!!!!

Can you beleive my brother-in-law, Wally, is 50 today?!?!?! 

(I wouldn't normally add a number to this post, BUT...c'mon, "50" deserves mentioning.)

Happy Birthday Wally!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

New Year's Resolutions for 2011

I usually don't think too much about "New Year's Resolutions" as I don't really think it's logical to put so much emphasis on changing just because of a date on the calendar.  If you want to make a change bad enough - just do it today.

But, in an effort to just make conversation - I'll give it a try.  Keep in mind - I'm not penalizing myself for not keeping any of these...then again I wouldn't make it a "Resolution" unless it was something I was sure I was going to be able to do all year. 

I'll try to come up with 5.

1.  Sometime this year I'd like to find some work that I could be paid for.  Keep in mind, I don't mean working outside the home full-time - or even working outside the home part-time.  However, I'm on the lookout for work I can either do at home or away from home a few hours a week.  I've got a few leads so far and we'll see if any of those end up panning out. 

2.  I've been pretty good at getting on the treadmill a few times a week and I'd like to continue that.  I guess I just mean exercise in general.  Running on the treadmill is nothing like running outside.  My time seems to suck these days on the treadmill, so I'm not as interested in that as I once was.  Now, it's just about doing it.  Over the past 5 months of jogging I've finally started to see an improvement in the cellulite area.  There - I said it - I have cellulite, and it bothers the hell out of me.  But....I think it's getting a little better. 

3.  I'd like to be more organized.  I'm pretty good overall....but I do some work for a non-profit in the area and I can always be better about my reports and record keeping. 

4.  Drink more water.  I've started this already - and it seems to be helping.  There had been a few mornings over the last month I'd wake up and feel REALLY ill.  I actually got sick a few times, and no I'm not having a baby.  Thanks to some online digging, I am thinking it may be related to some form of dehydration.  It would usually only last 3-4 hours and start to subside if I sipped water.  So for a few days I made sure I drank at least 32 ounces of water a day and I haven't been sick since.  I'd like to drink a little more than 32 ounces, but let's start small and work up.  Oh, and remember that nasty cellulite's supposed to help with that too.  Sadly, that's more motivating for me than not getting sick anymore.

5.  Let's see - there should be something in here about family right?  Spend more time with the kids?  Well, I kinda do that already....more date nights with John?  Sounds good, now that we have babysitters we like.  I guess I'll be more general in this one.  In 2011, I'd like to just keep being the family we are.  I could say I'd like to communicate better - less yelling at the kids, more understanding, yadda, yadda, yadda.  But I'm always working on that, and I think we're doing a darn good job.  I think I have 2 great kids who try their best, are compassionate and loving, and a wonderful marriage to a super husband who has a patience fuse a mile long.  What could I want to change about that except to say that I want it to keep going.

Ok - that's my list....nothing major.  Guess there's not much stuff I'd like to change.  Did I ever mention I HATE change?  Maybe I should have disclosed that at the beginning.  I hate it when things change - even if it's for the better.  Just takes me about 2 weeks longer than anyone else to accept any possible reason for change. 

Ok - 2011 I will try to be more accepting of change.  Damn.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A new record!

I did it!  I set a new record for "Number of Posts in a Year!"  Ok - I'm only counting my blog here. 

In 2008, my first full year blogging I had 147 posts.  Pretty respectable.  That's a post about every 2 1/2 days.

In 2009, I had 150 posts.  I thought it was interesting the two years were so close in numbers - considering I had no schedule of posting stuff.  For all you number crunchers out there - that's a post about every 2.4 days.

And, (drumroll please), this year I'm currently at 156....a post every 2.3 days.  If I wanted to get to a post every 2 days, I'd have to do 179 posts.  Hmmm....dare I do 23 posts in 11 days?  I think not.  Let's just agree to be fascinated at the fact that I had something to say every 2.3 days. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Program

Last weekend was the church's Christmas Program.  It was the first year that both kids participated.  Our church tends to try to do too much with the program.  Believe me, simpler is better.  The script seemed too long, kids weren't loud enough - couldn't hear anything, and the songs were unfamiliar. 

I'm used to a cookie cutter program.  It's the same every year - you know what it's going to be.  Yet, it's new to the kids because each year they are doing a new part, singing a different song.  I am of the belief that I need to hear 3-4 year olds sing Jesus Loves Me, kindergartners MUST sing Away in the Manger, and the center point for it all is a group of kids dressed up for the nativity scene where someone HAS to drop the plastic baby Jesus on his head at least once. 

In any case - kids are cute.

 Here is Katie dolled up as a shepherd, singing with her choir K-2 choir.

And here's Will shaking some bells with kids from his 3-4 year old choir.

Friday, December 17, 2010

7 days and counting...

Christmas Eve is in one week!  This year has gone by extremely fast, but I'm always kind of happy to get to the beginning of a fresh new year.  I'll save my "New Year's Resolutions" for another post....just as soon as I can think of some.

For now, it's a checklist of all the things we've done to get ready for the holidays and things still yet to do.  Christmas cards got sent out....with only 3 returned back to me with wrong addresses.  Teachers, bus driver, and neighbor gift bags all done.  I made chocolate chip and butterscotch chip cookies, Christmas cut-out cookies, peanut butter cookies, and a yummy pretzel/Rolo candy concoction.  Will gave his teacher's theirs yesterday - he was absolutely beaming he was so proud and happy to give them something.  Katie takes hers to school next week, and we'll do the neighbors this weekend. 

I have 2 gifts to pick up today - should be somewhat easy cuz I know what I'm going to get.  Katie and I rang bells outside the grocery store last night for The Salvation Army.  It was cold, but we dressed for it....tights, jeans, snowpants, layers upon layers.  Our shift was 15 minutes....don't know how some do it for hours at a time.  With all of our singing, I think we brought in some decent $. :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

O Christmas Tree

I picked up our Christmas tree last Friday.  We were going to do it 2 weeks ago - and it snowed 10 inches.  Then we were going to pick it up last weekend...and it snowed 18 inches.  So I decided to just grab it myself before we got snowed in. 

It's a Frasier Fir.  I was told that they hold their needles, which are about an inch long.  It has a bit of a scent, but not as strong as the Balsams, I guess.  So far, it's going well.  The cat is drinking the water out of the bucket, but I keep it pretty well watered.  Seems like it was easier to decorate a real tree - the ornaments hung on better.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas card rejects

I got our cards done last week, and thanks to Costco, was happy with the price paid.  Although - stamps are where the money goes.  I take holiday pictures of the kids myself and somewhere in the mess of pictures is one that can be used for mass distribution.

This year, I thought about using a couple funny ones....but my second guessing got the best of me.  I thought maybe it wouldn't be appropriate for some people we send to - like my husband's co-workers and boss. 

So - for those of you who have the necessary sense of humor - imagine getting these in the mail.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Watch out - there's no net

One of Molly's favorite places to be....

Monday, December 13, 2010

The elf on the shelf

Do you know about the elf on the shelf?  I had heard about it, but wasn't sure what it was.  Katie came home from school excited to tell me about it and we read up online.

So there's this little elf that sits on your shelf and his job is to watch the kids and report their behavior to Santa Claus.  The part that got Katie interested is that while the kids sleep, the elves tend to do funny things.  Like turn the toilet water green, or decorate the Christmas tree with the kids' underwear.  They've also been known to toilet paper bedrooms and have cotton ball snowball fights.  The kids wake up to this "mess" that their elf created. 

I told Katie if she promised to help clean up the mess, I'd try to find one.

Little did I know that I have a better chance of finding gold on the street.  Seems Barnes and Noble is the only place that carry the actual "Elf on a Shelf" kit.  There's a sweet book that explains the history and tradition and then comes with the elf.  I wasn't picky.  I'd take any kind of stuffed, plastic, glass, ceramic, elf I could find. 

So I went to 2 Targets, a toy store, a party store, called 2 independent bookstores and a dollar store. Nothing even resembling an elf.  Snowmen, Santa, reindeer....those I could find.  Never realized how little the elves get marketed.

I went to a local Barnes and Noble after I decided to just get the real thing - I was excited about the book and starting a new tradition.  Some parents have issue with things like this - you know, the "I'm not going to lie to my child" crowd.  I understand that. 

But I like it.  I like creating some magic - even if it means I'm lying. :)

So I ask this saleswoman, "Do you have the Elf on the Shelf set?"
She sighed and said, "We just can't keep them in stock!  We're all out." 
"Well, I see that you have a plush elf over here....." I start to say
"But that's not the Elf on the Shelf." she states
"Yeah, but, it'll probably work...."
"That's not the Elf on the Shelf."
"But I could use it..."
"That's not the Elf on the Shelf."

Once I saw that the plush elf was only a couple dollars cheaper than the "real" thing I decided to wait.
So I came home and called every Barnes and Noble in a 50 mile radius....all sold out.  A few were getting shipments in next week, but all were already claimed by people on a waiting list.  Geez.

So I ordered our magical elf on the magical Internet and it will be here in a couple days.

Hope it's a well behaved elf who doesn't cause TOO much trouble. :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

As Promised....Children's Books

I got this list from a national literacy website.  This isn't a list of the "best" children's books, but rather popular titles for parents to share with their kids.  Let's see how many I've ready on here.....

Children’s Books for Infants – 3 Years
1.  The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carie
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? by Bill Martin, Jr.
The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister5.  The 20th-Century Children’s Book Treasury by Janet Shulman
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
Moo Baa La La La by Sandra Boynton
Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt11.  Clap Hands by Helen Oxenbury
Spots, Feathers, and Curly Tails by Nancy Tafuri
What’s Up, Duck? A Book of Opposites by Tad Hills
Go, Dog, Go! By P.D. Eastman15. 
Fortunately by Remy Charlip
Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson18.  Up, Down, and Around by Katherine Ayres
Wheels on the Bus by Jerry Smith
Peek-A Who? By Nina Laden
The Going-To-Bed Book by Sandra Boynton
Children’s Books for Kids 4 – 8 Years
22.  The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Love You Forever by Robert N. Munsch
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
The Mitten by Jan Brett29.  Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss31.  Strega Nona by Tomie De Paola
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by John Archambault36.  The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss39.  Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg
Math Curse by Jon Scieszka
Are You My Mother? by Philip D. Eastman43.  The Napping House by Audrey Wood
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi and Ron Barrett
Corduroy by Don Freeman
101 Dalmations by Walt Disney

I came in at 32.  That's 64%....a little short of my 75% prediction.  Oh well.
Funny thing is - of the 32 I've read....we own 20 of them.  Maybe you've never heard of these...maybe there's some you remember from long ago.

I'm going to look for Math Curse - I'm intrigued.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

BBC Book List

Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here.  I decided to do an inventory of my own reading and see if there's any that I've forgotten I wanted to read.  If it's bold, I've read it.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen - took a while, but it was very good.

The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien - Ok, so I've read the first one and half of the second....

3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte - Thanks to my friend Shelley forcing this upon our AP English class, I've read this terrible book. :)

4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling - I've only read the first one....spose that doesn't count since there are so many of them.

To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

6 The Bible - Like most of the population I've only read parts.

7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare - Haven't read ALL of them....

15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien - Let me get through LOTR and maybe this one will come....

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk

18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger -  I passen up a .50 copy at the last library sale because I thought I had this one already - now I can't seem to fnd it.

20 Middlemarch - George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind- Margaret Mitchell - Gone with the Wind was a book?!  (Just kidding)

22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald

24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck - Ugh.  I read this book on a bus trip to New York City.  It was so depressing I didn't think I'd ever get to the end.  Sorry - guess an 18 year old can't appreciate such struggles.

29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis

34 Emma -Jane Austen - I'm going to get to this's in my Austen collection.

35 Persuasion - Jane Austen - This one is too.

36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis (this is associated with #33...!)

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hossein

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres

39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown  - I have no interest is this one what so ever.

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marque

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving

45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery - I forced my Mom to read this one when I was done - something she avoided in her childhood. :)

47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood

49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding

50 Atonement - Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel - on my list.....

52 Dune - Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Set

56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens 

58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez 

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck - Ah, Lenny....gotta love him.

62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold - quite the read.....probably one of my top 3 favs on the list...

65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumm

66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding

69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

72 Dracula - Bram Stoker - started it....didn't finish it.

73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett 

74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses - James Joyce

76 The Inferno - Dante

77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal - Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession - AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistra

87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyto

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

94 Watership Down - Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare (isn't this part of the "Complete Works of Shakespeare??)

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Ok - so I'm at 19.
Where's the Twilight saga on this list?  Doesn't the BBC think that's important? :)
I'm thinking of posting a list of children's books next - bet I'm over 75% on that one.....


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My head was spinning

While we were at the Mall of America visiting Santa last week, I thought I would end the visit with a couple rides in the Nickelodeon Universe park.  When we had gone to the Target Book Festival this summer I had gotten 2 "Mystery Tickets" for rides.  They are good for 2 kiddie rides (6 points), or more points....but we've only ever gotten the 6 point tickets so that's what I assumed they would be.

Turns out one ticket was worth 6 points, the other was worth 100!  Do you realize how many kiddie rides that is?  The ticket also has to be used in one day.  I gave away the 6 point ticket to a grandfather and his granddaughter who were VERY appreciative to meet some "Minnesota nice".  We did our best to work through the other points. 

Here's what we rode....
Swiper's Sweeper (twice, all of us)
Barnyard Roller Coaster (twice, all of us)
Big Rigs (twice, Katie and Will)
GhostBlaster (twice, all of us)
Diego's Rescue Rider - Katie and Will
Bumper Cars - K&W
The Balloon Race - all 3 of us
Blue's Skidoo - K&W
Dora's Train - K&W
Spongebob's Pineapple - K&W

I still had 16 points left - which I gave away.  By this time it was after 3 and snowing.  Not to mention my head was pounding, and my stomach was still sloshing around on the rides.  John told me I was getting old. :)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Big Guy in Red

Katie didn't have school last Friday so we took the opportunity to go to the Mall of America to see Santa Claus.  Any fear Will has shown in years past has vanished.  He ran right up to Santa and never let go.  They each got their "wishes" conveyed.  Santa said that he had seen them both drive Mom crazy the past few weeks, but he'd try his best to bring them a gift. 

Will wished for Batman's Batcave.

Katie wished for Squinkies, Fin Fin Friends, and Hide and Seek Jo-Jo.  (What!? You say you have no idea what any of these things are!?  I don't believe it.)

Luckily (most) of their wishes will come true.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Royal Hoopla

I know some of you may be sick of hearing about the royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton, but I can't get enough of it.  There.  I said it.

I suppose it's a phase - a girlie phase....but I can't get seem to read enough about the royal monarchies of England.  Watching all 4 seasons of The Tudors hasn't helped any either.  (If any of you are Netflix members, I HIGHLY recommend it.)  I've also read half a dozen books about the royal courts, and I've got more waiting for me.

What do you suppose is the fascination?  I'm all ears.

I love the history of it all.  I think it's amazing that such traditions have lasted so long.  And many things that were established by former kings and queens are still in place today.  Remember a long time ago I asked you all what country you'd like to visit if you could go anywhere?  Well, I've changed my mind.  I would love to go to England - London specifically, but there are beautiful places outside of the city too. 

I'll probably avoid the whole area next April though - I'm not totally crazy.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

This is how we do Sundays at our house...

This is how we spent our Sunday afternoon today....

Watch it - it's worth it.  It had John and I rolling in laughter. :)