Monday, December 29, 2008

Calling all Helpful Heloises

Here is my problem.

I'm taking down all of my Christmas world decos, and find, upon removing my Christmas tree skirt that that the satin backing has stained my hardwood floor. I tried cleaning with plain water to no avail, and am planning on trying vinegar, but I don't hold out much hope.

Any ideas on how to make my floor not red without removing the floor sealant would be fab!!!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas to All....

This is our Christmas in photo form. I hosted this year, and I loved every second. The kids all had a good time too!!! Santa was VERY good to me this year and brought me a new Canon Rebel SLR Camera that I have been instructed I have 4 months to figure out before Disney, AND the Wii Fit. And some new sweaters too. I felt really, really lame reciprocating with a massage chair and some new work shirts. LAME.

How sweet is little Brycie Boo on his first Christmas?

The kids, at the kid table eating their New York Strip Loin roast that I made, and some crab legs, potatoes and veggies. YUM!

Funny Girl making faces at Uncle Richie.

The grown ups got to eat crab legs too. Isn't my table so pretty? I felt bad for Richie on the folding chair, but I tried to make it pretty by covering it. It looked dumb, but oh well.

This is me cooking, and yes, I look like hell. I finally went to the Doc. this morning and have 'acute bronchitis with a touch of pneumonia'. Sweet. The doc at the urgent care center was cool, she and I dished on triathlons and training, and what not. It will be great this year since my mom got me a computer for my bike and a water cage. I will be ready to go this summer.

Brudda and sistah.

This is Richie pretending to eat the gloppy leftovers of his appetizer dish.

The aforementioned gloppy leftovers.
Maddie and Bryce.

Richie, the biggest kid in the room with his new Bears decos for his apartment.

Richie, playing with Jack's new lazer tag game and wishing he could be 5 again....

How many grown ups does it take to figure out the kids' toys?

Maddie got a Rose Petal Cottage from Santa. She loves her house, and I am currently listening to the kids playing santa by leaving the toys on the chimney and saying HO HO HO! Maddie and Brooke played house all day.

The girls, sharing a lipstick.

Merry Christmas!

Bryce liked the rattle his favorite Auntie gave him.

Jack and his loot.

Nate and his loot.

Bryce opening gifts.

Dad, snapping photos of the chaos.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas. Bronchitis aside, I had a FABULOUS holiday. Now to get it all organized....

Jack helped me wrap, and label gifts.

Maddie with Santa gifts. She kept opening things and saying, "Ohmy gooness!". It was pretty darn cute.

Jack and his snowman that should be melted by tomorrow in the 48 degree weather.

Nate and his snowman.

Getting Out Of Town

We took our 2nd annual trip to the city 2 days before Christmas. Jack was so excited to "go out of town", and I didn't have the heart to tell him that getting out of town usually means a longer trip than an hour car ride. A lot of his school friends are gone this week visiting family for the holidays, and he got to go out of town too.

We spent Day 1 in Chicago at the Museum of Science and Industry, checking out their Christmas Trees around the World exhibit, a favorite of mine every year, and day 2 was spent at the Chicago Children's Museum at Navy Pier. We had planned on seeing the lights at the zoo on Day one, but, as it was 35 below with the wind chill, we went out for Chicago style pizza at Uno's (a Chicago institution, for sure) and then saw Santa at Macy's. We skipped the big tree, because by the time we got there, the kids were already burnt out from walking around the museum all day!

The photos are backwards because I am still techie deficient, but you'll see how much fun we had!

This is the first exhibit at the children't museum. You put the tubes to your ears and try and guess the Chicago sounds. There are horses clopping, the el, traffic sounds, etc. It's really cool.
At the museum, there is an exhibit that is like the great outdoors. This is Nate coming down the slide in the "tree house". You can also go fishing, canoeing, and cook supper with tin dishes in a tent.

Johna nd Jack, building what, I don't know.

At one exhibit, you can use nuts and bolts to make skyscrapers. It was serious work for the 3 kids, and even Maddie got involved with putting the screws into holes.

Jack did a great job building. He used the tools properly and built some type of sturdy-ish structure. He is so much fun at these museums now because he is really trying to figure out how things work, not just pushing buttons. You can see his mind clicking away as he absorbs it all, and it is so cool.

Nate was all about safety.

Up the ropes in the treehouse area!

This is the fire safety exhibit. The kids also got to "drive" an ambulance.

This is at the MSI. There is an entire area for smaller kids in the basement before you get to the U505. There is also an area within the kids area for kids 3 and under, so Maddie got to go in without her brothers and she loved EVERY second of it.

This is before we got onto the Sub. The MSI has the ONLY German U-boat that was captured. We got the full blown tour, and let me tell you it is no cruise ship. Some fun facts: If you were on a U-boat, you had a 70 percent chance of never making it home, you were commissioned for basically 3 months in a tin can with 59 other grown men with no showers, or way of cleaning yourself--and one toilet, the Germans invented phosphorescent paint to identify their torpedoes within the event that they had to dive below the surface and turn off all power (ie: lights) to conserve energy.

Jack wanted to take a photo of us, so I let him. His favorite part of the WHOLE trip was learning about the bad guys on the boat and how they got sunked.

There is a farm area in the museum. Maddie got very possessive of this cow. We still can't figure out why.

The boys driving a tractor. Scary stuff.

The Ireland tree.

Before you get into the museum, you can "ride" on the original Zephyr diesel train that took its virgin voyage from Colorado to Chicago in the 1930's. On the second class train car you can sit next to a "passenger" and hear him talking to other "passengers" and learn a little about the train.

It was a pretty cool trip. I SO cannot wait for next year!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

On Why My Niece Cracks Me UP!!

Conversations with Brooke, Part I:
B- Mommy, Hunter (their dog) is a fucker.
Steph- What did you say?
B- I said, Hunter is a fucker.
S- Oh. My. God. Go tell your dad.
B- Okay. Daddy, Hunter is a fucker.
Craig- Did you just say, "Hunter is a fucker"??
B- Yes daddy, Hunter is a fucker.
Conversations with Brooke, Part II:
Envision, 2 days later, this totally cute 2 and 1/2 year old, looking out the window....
B- Mommy, those gooses are dumb fuckers.
S- Brooke, WHAT did you just say?
B- Those gooses are dumb fuckers!!!
Now, try disciplining that...because gooses ARE dumb fuckers.
I love that kid.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fudge Packin', and Lovin' every Minute!

I went to a girlfriend's cookie exchange Wednesday. It was really a lot of fun, and us girls just chattered away, which isn't hard to do. We left before the storm of the century hit, and we left with some nummies!

I made my soon to be famous "Two-Tone Fudge". Recipe follows. Thank me later.

TIME: Prep: 30 min. + chilling
Ingredients: 1-1/2 teaspoons plus 1/2 cup butter, softened, divided
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow creme
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used real vanilla)
1-1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (give or take a few, I never do exact measuring when it comes to chocolate!)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup butterscotch chips (extra here never hurt anyone either)

Directions: Line a 9-in. square pan with foil and grease the foil with 1-1/2 teaspoons butter; set aside. In a large heavy saucepan, combine the sugars, milk and remaining butter. Cook and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a rapid boil; boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low; stir in the marshmallow creme until melted and blended. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla. Pour 2-1/2 cups into ab owl; stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts until chips are melted. Pour into prepared pan. Add the butterscotch chips to the remaining marshmallow mixture; stir until chips are melted. Pour over the chocolate layer and gently spread to cover. Refrigerate overnight or until firm. Using foil, remove fudge from pan; carefully peel off foil. Cut into 1-in. squares. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 2-3/4 pounds

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Yesterday was our 8 years and counting anniversary. Because it's the middle of the week and it was snowing, we were lame and didn't do anything special. I fed the kids some leftovers and made daddy put them to bed while I made a new fish recipe (that's what he wanted) and lit a fire.

We also spent some quality time watching John's all time Christmas favorite, "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation". It is a true classic, and it was a nice anniversary day.

Try out my recipe on the side. I made accommodations, like, instead of Sole, we had Tilapia. I also don't measure well, and it tasted yummy anyway.

Enjoy with a nice bottle of a dry white wine. You may comment only on how fabulous it was.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Breakfast With Santa

Saturday was a fabulous day...aside from John painting his office "Chicago Cubs Blue"-(It's a real color by Glidden, I swear)--But that is another blog for another day.

We went to the annual Breakfast with Santa outing at church. They had all you can eat pancakes, and sausage (which Nathan ate his weight in). We had so much fun meeting Santa (no line!) and then heading to the Bethlehem Village activities where the kids joined tribes (Jack was in Joseph's tribe, Nate in Reuben's, and Maddie in Isaacher), met with a census taker, made money bags and carved "coins" and even learned how to make their own abacus and sort of use it (okay, that confused me, which to be fair isn't hard to do, but that abacus stuff is why people later invented calculators.)

Merry Christmas from US!
The boys, giving Santa the low down.

This is the closest Maudie has gotten to Santa EVER! (Yes, I call her Maudie. John's grandma was Maud and little and spunky, reminds me of Madders there). This was our 6th and final visit to the big C just making sure that he had our lists right.

I love screaming on Santa's lap photos. LOVE them. I have a lot of them too, since I think they're funny. Someday she may thank me for it. Someday!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Joy has Come Into Our Home

Aren't these the cutest ruddy cheeks ever?!!
Jack's school is big into this book called, "The Elf on The Shelf". Run, do not walk to get your elf today! It is the darn cutest thing ever! (He comes from Hallmark, by the way). The premise of the story is, Santa sends his elves to spy on you. They can't talk to you, but they are listening, and watching EVERYTHING, and at night they use Christmas magic and fliy to the North Pole, reporting to Santa and having a few brews with his fellow elves (okay, I made that last part up). The next morning, he is in a different spot from the day before. You cannot touch the elf, because it takes away his magic. The kids are VERY serious about finding him and not touching him.
This is our elf, named by Jack "Christmas Joy". It was determined that he is indeed a boy elf because he has "handsome shorter hair". He came yesterday because Jack finally cleaned his room. He is currently sitting on top of my sliding glass window watching all of us because my curtains are on back order until freaking February. Jack LOVES Christmas Joy and has been talking to him, showing him ornaments off the tree, telling him when he's calling Oma, and reporting if he's in the toy room and Nathan hits him. It is so stinking cute. Looks like we have a new tradition in Christmas Joy, and I am okay with that.
This is our tree, and this photo is for you Gail! It is even more open and full now and I love it. Of course, my favorite ornaments are the ones handmade by the kids, and I let them do a lot of the decorating. I know it shows, but I don't care. We may not have a pretty tree, but at least it's our own. I do have nice, beautiful, and breaky glass ornaments, but they won't go on until they can't get broken. For now, candy canes, paper plate wreats, and stryrofoam foto balls are all the rage. I love my tree!!!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

We Done Got Our Tree!

If you know me, you know I love Christmas and everything about Christmas...everything from the Mall Santa to Christmas Eve Candle light service at church (when I get to go). Since Jack was born we have been doing our own family traditions, one of which is choppin' down our own tree. We also make it a point to pick the very coldest day of the year (like last Sunday) and we try to get there late, so that we're ALWAYS on the last wagon ride out of the forest...if we don't miss it and have to drag the tree and 3 kids through snowbanks while dodging horse manure. Ahhhh.....memories. It's very Griswoldy, especially if your eyelids freeze open.

Look at the ruddy tear streaked face! We hadn't even started yet! He was just so nice and cozy in the 82 degree car.
Mmmm...I'm pretty sure I see a future for Maddie that includes a prelit tree. She was dressed pretty warmly though, in her snowsuit AND winter coat, boots, gloves, hat, hood, etc.
And I quote: "Mom! Take a picture of me! I want to be the Angel Gabriel!"
And I think: Okay son. Glad you know who Gabriel is, (Sunday school is paying off, apparently), HOWEVER, I'm thinkin' that's a girl angel. Are there girl angels? I'll have to ask my bible reading friends on Sunday. There ARE girl angels in the precious moments Bible, not sure about the creepy children's Bible we have (Looong story).
Anyone...girl angels? Verdict?

We have a winna!!!! Soft needles and everything. Sweet! Lots of sthap though...loths of sthap.

On the wagon ride out. Jack was still singing about "The angel Gabriel from heaven came...glooooooria!"
PS: That's a Christmas card spoiler right there. Don't ya love it though? Livin' in the moment calls for crazy photos and unperfectly posed photos, and mostly photos I look like crap in. I don't care though . I love it. And I love those 4 others in the pic dearly.

What are your favorite traditons?