Merry Christmas!!

Wishing everyone a very merry and safe Christmas!!!


Christmas Tidings



Definition of TIDING

: a piece of news —usually used in plural tidings>

Origin of TIDING

Middle English, from Old English tīdung, from tīdan to betide
First Known Use: 12th century

This is in case you didn't know the exact meaning of tidings, which I didn't. So I guess this post could also be titled Christmas News.

I made and and finished my sugar cookies yesterday. They turned out very nice and I'm glad to have them checked off the list.

I have a lot of other cookies to do, but these are the most time consuming. I'm in the process of baking a snowflake cake today. I hope it turns out well. I also have all the wrapping to do tonight. I will not be wrapping presents on Christmas Eve.

Here is out Elf, his name is Oliver...

Every night he reports to Santa and comes back and hides in a different spot. (Also known as the "Elf on a Shelf".) Ella loves finding him every morning. Sam likes him, but isn't quite into it as Ella. Tomorrow night is his last night with us until next year.

I can't believe tomorrow is already Christmas Eve day. It seems to get here so slowly and then pass so quickly.

Tis' the season!!


Down to the Wire

As Ella reminded me this morning it's only three days until Christmas. Now I've had my shopping done for a long time and everything has been bought, but nothing has been wrapped. My closet is jam packed full of everyone's gifts. (I can't wait to get them all out!!) I do need to finish up on a few handmade items, but that won't take long.

Sam was battling a little virus the past couple days. Just a fever, nothing else. He's currently still sleeping and I think he'll be back to normal today. I've also had a little head cold and am feeling much more energy today. I'm very glad that everyone should be feeling excellent by Christmas. (Not that a little cold would have slowed us down!)

I'm going to get started baking my sugar cookies today! Sugar cookies are my favorite, but they really are a pain in the butt to frost. I'm planning on doing more fun frosting this year than previous years though. They do turn out so pretty.

Today is Ella's last day of school before winter break. It's pajama day at school and they're going to be watching the Polar Express at school. Here she was this morning all ready to go to school...

The good news is that the snow we were supposed to get tomorrow is going to mostly miss us, so only an inch or so. Since I shoveled up about 6 inches Monday night that is good. I'm seriously running out of space to put the snow!! When you stand on the road in front of the house it's starting to get buried in snow. It's pretty crazy.

Off to get to work!!


Christmas Goodies

Yum yum, it's that time of year!! I love baking all sorts of delicious treats for the holidays. Usually I've started by now and I have things already made and ready to go. This year I've decided to hold off a little. Mostly because I don't want to eat them and have to make more. I usually end up with many, many leftovers which isn't good for the waistline. :)

Most of my cookies come with us to Sioux Falls over New Year's, so I have time before I need them. For Christmas Eve I'm baking a layered dessert and a snowflake cake. They are both yummy and I hope I have leftovers!

Most years I tweak my cookie list to include one new cookie and maybe don't make something that wasn't super good the year before. I haven't found anything new this year to make though.

Here are the cookies that I'm going to make this year:

*Sugar cookies
*Butter rum cookies (my favorite!!)
*Magic bars (also called mounds bars)
*Carmel fudge bars
*Million dollar carmels (this was my new one last year)

What are your favorite holiday goodies??? I need a new one for my list this year!!


Christmas Music

I like Christmas music. Really I do, but not all the time. They start playing it around Thanksgiving and I think that is just far too early to hear it. This feeling continues until a week or so before Christmas and then I realize that it's nearly Christmas and I haven't listened to Christmas music. This happens every year and I can't seem to get around it.

One of my favorite things to do was to play Christmas music on the piano. I've played piano since I can remember. Took lessons growing up and we had a piano that we bought when we lived in Sioux Falls but sold a few years ago because we didn't really have the room.

I'm happy to announce that once again I have a piano!!

There has been a lot of Christmas music playing around our house the last few days. :)

Hearing Christmas music at church really gave me the bug that I wanted to play again. And Ella's at the age where she could start learning if she wants to. I found this great piano on Craigslist and a great price and got it all checked out/bought/moved within two days.

It's like a great Christmas present. Even though it really isn't a Christmas present. See, there's no bow on the top! :)


Before/After Blog Hop

It's that time of the week. I haven't had a chance to participate the past few weeks, but I'm happy to be back in the game.

Here's a shot I took when we went to get out Christmas tree. I was just using my little Canon PowerShot Digital Elf. Edited using Photoshop Elements. I haven't had this Photoshop long so I'm still figuring everything out.

Go check out the rest of the entries over at Pixel Perfect!!!

Here's my original shot:

After edit:

The snow is pretty. Cold, but pretty. We got almost 4 inches of snow overnight and this morning that I have to go shovel once it stops. I'm not sure where I'm going to put it after the last blizzard. Oh, and did you hear another panel of the Metrodome broke. I think they should just fill that place up with snow. Why spend the money to repair something that everyone just wants replaced anyways.....but that's a whole different subject! :)


Winter Wonderland

In case you haven't heard it snowed a little on Saturday. Not to mention it's about -10 outside and the Metrodome roof collapsed. Just a regular Minnesota day!!

It would figure that I've been home for the past couple weeks doing nothing and the one day I have something planned it's a blizzard outside. Needless to say we rescheduled, but we did get out yesterday.

Oh my goodness did it snow, and blow everywhere. I find it funny that there are spots in the backyard that have less snow now than they did before it snowed. The wind is funny like that. I'm not sure exactly how much snow we got. The highest total was 21.5 inches just southwest of us. I'm guessing we were in the 15-17 inch range. It's really hard to tell when the wind is blowing because we live on top of a hill and there aren't any trees or anything for shelter.

Here's a picture of our driveway Saturday night. As you can see there is a large area of the driveway that has no snow on it at all. But you can see the snowdrift that is in front of our garage is about 3 feet tall.

Here is what our front walk looked like before it took me an hour to shovel it.

I took this picture this morning of our front walk. You can barely see the tippy top of our little shrub/tree in the front. Funny thing is I picked out this particular plant for the front so we would have something green to look at during the winter.

Here's a picture I took in the cleared driveway space Saturday night. It was hard walking over that snow drift. Aren't the lights pretty though?

Here's the back yard as of this morning. You can see that our four foot fence has only about a foot left showing. It's also really hard to tell that the drift at the bottom of the picture we figure to be about 3 or 4 feet tall. The wind seemed to go around the playhouse and slide and there isn't much snow between the two drifts. Once the weather warms up a bit we're going to try and build the kids a little snow fort in the middle there somewhere. By we I also mean Zan. :)

I was outside shoveling Saturday evening for about 3 hours. I cleared in front of the two car garage and a path for one car to get through at the bottom of the driveway. Man that was a LOT of snow. Zan finished shoveling yesterday for about 3 hours too.

I can't believe how much snow we have for mid-December. I'm not sure where we're going to put the rest of it. The weather guy said that we currently have 2/3 of all the snow we usually get for the entire winter.

I really wish I could just stay inside today, but I have to run to the post office and the vet. Ugh and Zan took my car too, so it should be fun. And I mean fun like frozen fun. Yuck!


A Sammy Update

Since the weather has been frightful (and about to get worse) Sam and I have stayed home all week long. He doesn't seem to mind and it makes it easier for the potty training. I can say with great confidence that he is all pee potty trained (except for nighttime). He has been able to keep his undies dry all week long. It was so much easier than I was expecting. I guess when he was ready he was really ready.

The only issue is pooping in the toilet. We have yet to accomplish this. I remember Ella not wanting to right away, but it wasn't a long term issue. After checking online and reading other stories it sounds like this is a very common issue. Potty training seems to have 2 phases. Phase one done, phase two in progress. I just hope it's something that will get figured out sooner rather than later.

As far as his new sleeping arrangements they have been great too. He has yet to get out of bed. This morning he hollered for me like usual while he was still in bed. When I went in there he was just laying down waiting for me. He doesn't get out at night even though last night it was nearly 10 before he fell asleep. Nap times have been great too. I thought maybe he would stop napping, but that's not the case. Such a good boy!!!

We're supposed to get about another foot or so of snow tonight and tomorrow. Then it's supposed to get really, really, really cold!! It seems like the end of January, but it's only mid-December. I'm glad we have a lot to keep us busy because it's going to be a long winter. I can't wait for spring. The snow is pretty though. Very pretty when I can sit on the couch with my knitting/crocheting by the fireplace and look outside at the pretty snow. : )

(Can you tell I'm trying to post more often? We'll see how long this lasts.)


TV/Movie Pet Peeve

I'm not one of those people that watches movies and tv and tries to find things that are wrong, but there is one thing that I always notice and drives me crazy.

When a character is holding a cup of coffee (or other beverage) and the cup is actually empty. You can tell by the way the person holds the cup or pretends to pour the coffee. What really gets me though is when they set that cup down and it makes a distinctive empty sound. It's so obvious!

I was just watching House and noticed it a few times. It's just one of those things....

So there you have it, one of my pet peeves. Does anyone else notice this same thing?


O Christmas Tree

On Saturday we went off to cut down the Christmas tree and bring it home. Since we received nearly a foot of snow Friday through Saturday morning it made for an interesting tree find. We knew approximately where our tree was, but with all the snow covering the trees it was harder to find our tag on our tree.

Within a short amount of time we did find our tree though. The kids had fun playing in the snow. Sam had a hard time walking in the deep snow.

Ella helped Zan cut down the tree.

The kids also got to see Santa! They were very excited to see him and tell him what they wanted for Christmas.

We got the tree up Saturday afternoon. It's the perfect tree! It came to about 3 inches shy of our ceiling. And we have 9 foot ceilings! On Sunday I went to put the lights on the tree but most of them weren't working. Zan ran off to Target to get all new lights for the tree. By the time he got back it was getting late, so I put up the lights Sunday night and we decorated the tree Monday evening. For some reason decorating the tree is a multi-day event this year.

I pulled out all the ornaments for the kids to decorate and just let them decorate how they wanted.

Sam really likes the horn ornament and tells us that it work when he blows in it and makes a loud noise.

Here is how the tree looked after the kids were done decorating it...

And here it is after the kids went to bed and I finished it up...

Ella is super excited for Christmas. Sam is too, but Ella keeps asking how many days until Santa comes.

In other news I did end up taking the crib rails off Sam's crib and turned it into the toddler bed. He loves it and hasn't gotten out of bed at all. He even took a great nap yesterday. He did starting hollering for Zan at 1:30 this morning. I went in and he wanted daddy to sing him a song. Apparently my song worked just fine and he went back to sleep. :)

He's also been wearing big boy undies for a few days. I've been talking to him about potty training for quite some time now, but he wanted nothing to do with it. Then the other day he said he wanted to go potty on the toilet. We haven't looked back since and he's been doing great with only a couple accidents. Lots of accomplishments in the past week for him.

I'm getting anxious to start baking Christmas cookies. Unfortunately I know that if I start now I'll eat so many that I'll just have to make more. All in all not a horrible idea, but it's best to wait...for now. I think I'll start some next week. I need something to do. It's been so cold outside we've just been staying in and keeping busy. They said Sunday and Monday were only supposed to be like 4 degrees for a high?!?! The long winter continues...


Sleeping Arrangements

Just before Ella turned two she started standing on the railing of her crib, holding onto the posts, and would jump off. She'd end up on the other side of the room. After this happened twice we took the rails off her crib and turned it into the toddler bed.

When Sam was born I was really hoping that he would stay in his crib longer than Ella did. Hopefully closer to three. Well that three year mark passed about two months ago and he doesn't want to have a different bed.

When I tell him that he could have a big boy bed like Ella has he says no and starts crying. He LOVES his crib!! He never tries to climb out and rarely even stands up in it. He goes to sleep really well and sleeps all night. He takes naps almost every day too. I know that I shouldn't complain, but he's getting pretty heavy to be lifting in and out of the crib. Getting a little big too.

This morning I asked him if it would be okay to take off the rails so he could get in and out himself. He looked at me skeptically. I explained that it would be the same bed, but without the rails. He sort of said yes, but when asked again he said no. I'll ask again later.....

He managed to finish all his medication without getting any hives. So as of now has no allergic reaction to amoxicillin. We'll find out for sure next time he gets it.

It's so cold here!!! We're just staying inside today. I don't even want to go to the mailbox to get the mail. I suck it up and get through winter, but when it's only the end of November/beginning of December and it's as cold as the coldest days in January I start to complain. I have a bad feeling it's going to be a long, cold winter.


Post Thanksgiving Fog

We had a very nice Thanksgiving. It was low key and nice to be home instead of out of town. The best part was I had an entire pumpkin pie leftover to enjoy over the weekend. Yum!!

It's really hard getting back into the swing of things though. I got out all the Christmas decorations today and it's starting to look more festive around here. We'll go cut down our tree this weekend. Then let the fun begin.

We're all healthy again too! Sam and I are still finishing up our medication, but we're feeling well. Since this is Sam's first time taking antibiotics I'm on the lookout for an allergic reaction. Ella is allergic to amoxicillin and broke out in hives just before she finished her first prescription. Sam only has a day left and I think I might see some spots on his belly starting to form. We'll see in the morning.

I've finished most all my Christmas shopping but I still have many things that I need to finish up before the holidays, so I'm going to try to get them crossed off my list as quickly as I can.

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving!!


Shutterfly's Holiday Card Promotion

If you know me well you know that I plan my holiday cards very far in advance. Pretty much once I've done one year I start thinking of what I'm going to do next year. Sometimes I come up with a great idea and other years it's more traditional.

Last year we went with Shutterfly cards. I've used other card sites before, but they were either really expensive or the quality was crappy. I was really impressed with the cards I got from Shutterfly last year and I'm planning on using them again.

Here's what our card was last year...

I love the brown cards. There's just something about them. I've already been looking through their great selection and know that I'm going to have a hard time deciding on which one I'm going to use.

I love this card...

Then you have to decide if you have enough photos to fill the card.

This card has similar colors with only one photo...

I have a couple ideas floating around in my head for this year's card. They look great in my head and Shutterfly definitely has a card to go. Too many to choose from in fact.

Another favorite gift I usually make for family members is a calendar with photos of the family. Shutterfly has a great selection of different types of calendars for everyone on your list.

Shutterfly has a great offer for bloggers. You can receive 50 free cards. Go here to fill out the promotion forms.


What Goes Around...

...comes around....again.

Yesterday morning I woke up with the very slightest "tinge" in my throat. By last night it was super painful. Very reminiscent of my bout with strep earlier in the month. As a matter of fact, it was exactly like that.

I got absolutely no sleep Saturday night because it just hurt so bad and the pain relievers just weren't cutting it. Sunday morning I headed (read...slid) my way over to Target. (We had freezing rain during the night and the roads were just ice.)

Turns out I had strep...again! During the night while I was awake I figured that there were probably one or two culprits running around my house reinfecting me. After I got back from Target with my new medication I dragged my entire family back there to be checked. Sure enough both kids had strep. Neither showed any real symptoms of being sick. Other than me getting sick within a week of finishing my last medication.

Zan got medication for a sinus infection that would also help him if he had strep. So everyone in our household is on medication. Except the dog, but I think he has an ear infection.... : |

The good news is that everyone will be healthy for Thanksgiving and I shouldn't get sick from the same thing again.

I baked turkey sugar cookies for Zan's work tomorrow. Their having a potluck tomorrow which I made buffalo wings for, but since it's his birthday I thought I'd send him with cookies too. Don't worry I was very careful to keep all germs away! :) At least I'm not coughing or sneezing. I actually feel fine other than a sore throat.


Homemade Deodorant

I mentioned a while back that I made and had/have been using homemade deodorant. I have been meaning to link up to where I found it, but have forgotten. Sorry!

I've been using it since summer time and still love it!! It works better than store bought, it's inexpensive and much better for you.

There are many different "recipe's" out there, but this is the one that I used.

I'd be interested to know if anyone tries it and what they think. I'm loving mine!!


Let it Snow

It's pretty crazy when one week you have temperatures near 70 degrees and the next week you get almost a foot of snow. But it is November so I shouldn't be surprised. On Saturday we got nearly a foot of wet, heavy snow. Perfect snow for making a snowman. The kids didn't actually make a snowman, but they had fun playing in the snow anyways.

Saturday evening we went to see the Monster Jam at the Metrodome. The kids had a great time. Sam loves watching the trucks. He loves it even more when the trucks tip over and the bulldozers have to come and flip them back over. That's his favorite part.

The snow is slowly melting and it's supposed to be around 40 degrees on Friday, so I'm hoping it melts. I don't really mind the snow but I really don't like the cold. Ella keeps telling me how she likes summer better, but she likes Christmas because of the presents. :)

I'm all done Christmas shopping too and very excited about it. I guess I do have a couple small things left to get, but the kids are all done. Yay!!!!


Little Drummer Boy


Happy Halloween!!


You say I'm late????


I had a very rough week! Monday afternoon I thought I had a cold coming on. By Tuesday morning I realized I had the flu! I haven't had the flu in so long and it totally sucked! I had such bad muscle aches, fever, chills, sore throat, vomiting, etc. The only thing that I didn't have was any coughing or respiratory issues, which was good.

Zan was a dear and stayed home from work Tuesday and Wednesday. I just laid in bed and suffered. It was fun listening to all the goings on from my bed. Zan trying to run a household = fun! He even washed diapers!

As of Friday I was doing pretty well. My energy was back and I was able to eat real food again. The only thing was my throat was still swollen and sore. My ear was also hurting a little too. So this morning I went over to the Target clinic to make sure my ear was okay and just get a quick check-up. Turns out I have/had strep throat too!!! I haven't had that in about 20 years! So now I have antibiotics and should be feeling much better by tomorrow.

See.....rough week! That's my excuse for not getting my Halloween pictures up.

We did have a great Halloween! The weather was perfect and the kids had a blast. We went through the whole neighborhood and have tons of candy. Ella was dressed as a butterfly and Sam was a shark.

We carved our pumpkins on Saturday. Sam didn't want to get his hand into the pumpkin and get it dirty so he wasn't much help. Ella got in there a little, but in the end it was Zan and I to finish up. I carved four pumpkins and he did one. They turned out great!


Fall Clean Up

Or alternately titled, "Crap! Winter's Coming!!!"

We spent part of the weekend bringing in all the summer things from outside. The patio furniture, kids toys, etc. Organized and cleaned up the garage too. All for the upcoming winter. The garage looks really nice! We needed to have room to work out there during the winter for my building projects and there's a lot of room. Which surprised both of us. :)

Zan left the garage door open all yesterday afternoon and evening. I'm always telling him that you can't leave it open because you'll get a mouse inside. Hello, we live in the country with fields all around us!

Needless to say that when I went to move the car seats around last night there was a little mouse peering at me from under the work bench. I opened the garage door to see if I could get him to just run out, but he didn't want to come out. So I set a trap and fed the mouse peanut butter all night long! So this morning I got out a new trap because the other one must have been defective! I had a mouse in no time flat.

I don't think there are any more, but I'll set another trap tomorrow to make sure. I think the mice are cute and all, but they can make such a mess in the garage!

Zan got me a new computer on Saturday!! I'm sure I don't appreciate how good it is because I don't speak computer, but it's really fast and is working nicely. I also had to get new photo software because I couldn't transfer my old one. I got the Photoshop Elements 9 version and it's very similar to my old Photoshop on my other computer. That makes it a little easier to learn. I'm excited to learn how everything works.

Here's a picture of the completed garden redo:

And close up:

It's going to be so nice next year. The garden will be level and raised up for much needed nice dirt. There's going to be a lot of work needed in the spring. We are going to have to bring in a LOT of dirt to fill, but that will make it so much nicer! We did a little step down in the corner because it was such a drop off. That's where my compost bin will go and maybe something small, I haven't decided yet.

Here's a picture of the playhouse:

Everything is done except the shutters for the front window. We've had a hard time trying to find something that we want there that won't be a hazard for the kids. We think we have it figured out, but just have to get it done. This has definitely been a summer long project, but worth it!

Now that the outside is all done I just need to finish some more organizing on the inside. That never seems to get completely done!


Before/After Blog Hop

I managed to scrap together a photo for the blog hop. This photo is from the summer after a rain storm we had. The sunset was beautiful.

Go check out the other entries at Pixel Perfect.




Sam's 3 Year Check-up

Sam had his 3 year check-up this morning. He did really great and was very funny talking to the doctor. He's quite chatty. He ended up having to get two shots which he was not very happy about. He kept saying, "They hurt me." He was referring to the nurses, not the shots. It was very sad, but now he's better. :)

He weighed in at 33 pounds which is the 55-60th percentile and measured in at 40 inches which is the 95th percentile.

I was looking for his check-up sheet from last year to see how much he's grown. He grew 4 1/2 inches and 5 pounds. The funny thing is I found Ella's check-up sheet from when she was 5 years old. She was 41 1/2 inches at 5 years old. Sam is only 1 1/2 inches shorter than her at 3. It will be interesting to see at what point he catches up to her. He definitely takes after my side of the family.


Before/After Blog Hop

This is a picture from the fair this year. The kids loved the tractors.

Go check out the Before/After Blog Hop at Pixel Perfect!

SOOC shot

After editing:

I just cropped it and black and whited it. Adjusted the lighting and contrast accordingly.