Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Review Meme

I found this on a blog I read, if you care to take it, let me know so I can read yours!

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?
I ate cooter.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don't usually make any, so I didn't break any. For 2010, I'd like to find a way to exercise and get back into pre-baby shape.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes! Two of my oldest friends had their first children (both girls), another old friend adopted her first child (also a girl) and a great local friend had her second baby.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My Dad's father died this year, whom we called Pa. He was a great man, who lived a very full and colorful life. He is missed by many. We also said goodbye to my beloved cat, Audrey. And we will never forget Rhiannon.

5. What countries did you visit?
I didn't leave the country this year, but I did visit Florida for the first time.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
I'm always seeking more patience with my children. I also would like more one-on-one time with my husband.

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Feb. 11. Letting go was the hardest thing I did last year.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Learning to knit! I've wanted to learn for a few years, but really didn't expect that I would catch on as well as I did. Not that I'm so fabulous or anything, it's just that I get so amazed that I've learned to take a piece of yarn and transform it into objects that can be used.

9. What was your biggest failure?
My complete inability to start going to the gym for exercise. We joined the Y last spring and to date, only go to swim with the kids. Ella just hasn't been emotionally ready for daycare type settings so I haven't been able to go just for myself. I know how good it will make me feel, but I can't let go of how stressful it will be for her.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Yep, I broke my arm.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
For myself, knitting needles. Oh, and I've been working on getting new clothes for myself over the past year. I managed to find some shoes I like, got a new winter coat, and lots of pants. I've been so reluctant to buy myself clothing because I always want to put the children's needs first or I don't want to waste money on my changing body size. Having new clothes that fit has helped my self-image.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Well, this certainly varies. At times I've felt very blessed by good behavior from each of my children and the support of my spouse and family.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
We've had trying times within my family unit this year. Moments when I feel I have had enough of everything and just want to walk away for a few hours. Mostly I blame myself, I think the demands of having three young children have been hard for me to handle. I love each and every one of my children, but get overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for them, then depressed that I am not all that I want to be for them.

14. Where did most of your money go?
After bills for the house, I think food is our biggest money pit.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
My children's accomplishments this year: Aidan learning to read more rapidly, Sean gaining potty control and his expanding communication abilities, Eleanor's blossoming from baby to toddler.

16. What song will always remind you of 2009?
I am so not into current music! We just got Sirius radio for our van for Christmas so I don't have to listen to local stations and can live in my music of teen/college years. LOL Doug did mention that on Aidan's ipod, the #1 most played song is this one recorded by Doug and Aidan.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? SAME
b) thinner or fatter? SAME
c) richer or poorer? RICHER

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Sleep, spend time with my husband, relax.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Stress over household stuff.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
With my family.

21. Did you fall in love in 2009?
Not with anyone new.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
I rarely watch tv, but do have a fascination with Project Runway, Tabitha's Salon Takeover, Clean House and Hoarders.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Not that I can think of.

24. What did you want and get?
I really wanted Sean to be potty trained over this year, or before kindergarten in Aug 2010 and I think he's going to meet that wish.

25. What did you want and not get?
I really want Sean off of baby foods before kindergarten 2010 and I'm not sure that's a possibility.

26. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I honestly don't remember! I didn't blog about it, so that doesn't help me out. Ha ha ha. I turned 38 in 2009.

27. Who did you miss?
I really miss my Grandma B. I just am enjoying having Ella in our lives that I'd love to share her with my Grandma.

Take This, You Spam Farmers!

I really really dislike typing in verification codes to leave comments and have been reluctant to set my blog up with it for that reason. However, over the last month my blog has really been attracting spam comments. At first, I just tried to remember to delete them so that I didn't leave a trail of cookie crumbs back here for more of their kind. Apparently that isn't enough so I am sorry to say that I know am requiring word verification on comments.

Hope you will still take the extra minute to use that step and keep in touch with me.

Thank you, friends!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Party Girls

Last night Eleanor and I attended the 1st birthday party of Alena, my college friend Stephanie's daughter.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Re-cap, Vol III

The story begins here and the middle is here.

We coasted up to spend the rest of Christmas Eve at my mom's house, just missing the snowstorm that hit parts of the Midwest. The kids were excited to see Nana, Papa, Aunt Tanya, Seth and Adam. I think it was well past 10 pm when they all went to sleep.

Christmas Day the awoke to a white blanket surrounding Nana and Papa's house!

My sister tried to drive over in the morning, bringing breakfast for everyone, and got stuck in snowdrifts in her driveway! My dad drove over to get them out and managed to get stuck himself. Luckily, they got his car moving again and they all arrived safely. My sister made a different breakfast casserole for us (her ex-husband's family recipe- I wonder what we ate Christmas morning before we married? LOL)

Lots of unwrapping of gifts...

Breakfast, then my nephews taught us how to play Wii bowling on the vintage-style tv in my parents' family room. Note the real bowling trophies in the background. LMAO!

My mom and sister spent the day making a yummy Christmas dinner. Doug earned major brownie points by tackling the dishes after wards while the rest of us watched National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. He's on Santa's Nice List for next year now.

My sister decided it would be best for them to sleepover rather than dig out the car to drive home. Aidan was so happy with her decision- he has major idol worship for his cousins.

Saturday, Doug spent a huge chunk of the morning shoveling snow and supervising the boys playing in the snow. Seriously, how many brownie points does he need? JK, hunny!

I wanted to get back home so we could get things settled in before Doug goes back to work Monday, and to get to attend church Sunday, so I drug the kids kicking and screaming all the way home that afternoon.

Today we just enjoyed church, relaxed at home, played with the new toys, re-stocked the fridge, and worked on laundry. It's hard to believe it's over already after all that work and planning!

Thanks for sharing about your Christmases and reading about mine! Hope everyone is having a wonderful time with their families.

Christmas Re-cap, Vol II

The Re-cap begins here.

We hosted Doug's family for brunch on Christmas Eve. I made Doug's Aunt Linda's Breakfast Casserole at Doug's request, orange rolls per Aidan's request and Mimosa's per my suggestion. Ha ha ha!

In attendance was Doug's mom and dad (Larry and Janice), Doug's brother Curt, Curt's daughter, Mackenzie (who was the birthday girl, turning 10 on Christmas Eve!), Curt's girlfriend, Christine and her two youngest daughters, Abbi and Becca. That's just a bunch of FYI for our East Coast Birch relatives that read the blog. :)

Doug's parents filled us in on their cruise trip around South America that they just returned from the day before, sounded like a cool experience! We enjoyed our meal and had fun opening gifts.

Doug's parents surprised me with a Keurig coffee maker. Doug doesn't drink coffee, so I rarely make it at home. Thus I have a bit of a Starbucks habit. This will be a nice way for me to enjoy some yummy Joe at home.

After a few chilly dips in their outdoor hot tub while they were on vacation, we came to the conclusion that they desperately needed thick Turkish cotton robes for the dash from the hot tub to the house. Larry told me this weekend that he had to snap off a few icicles before getting in the hot tub and the robe was fabulous after his soak!

Curt bought a drum set several months ago and we've been dying to give him this gift ever since- a cow bell for his kit! LOL Just what every drummer needs... MORE COWBELL!

The kids really loved the gifts they received also. Ella is going to have to do some serious pushing around to teach her brother to stay off her princess car!

Gradually we wound things down on time for Ella to catch a nap while we cleaned up and packed to drive out to my family's house. The weather forecast was grim (blizzard conditions and big accumulations predicted) but it was clear enough when we were ready to go so we decided to go for it. We fought the wind on the drive up, but the snow wasn't an issue until later in the evening after we arrived.

Read Vol III to see Christmas Day!

Aunt Skinny's Breakfast Casserole

Doug and his brother nicknamed his dad's sister, Linda, Aunt Skinny, and her husband, David, Uncle Fat, when they were boys. Aidan finds this very amusing, as you can imagine. This is a recipe that Linda gave me early in my marriage to Doug as it is his favorite holiday breakfast dish.

Breakfast Casserole

1 lb ground mild sausage, browned and drained
3 slices of white bread, cubed
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon dry ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine sausage, bread and cheese in a casserole dish. In a bowl, beat together remaining ingredients. Pour egg mix over the top of the sausage mix. Cover with glass lid or tin foil and store in fridge overnight.

When ready to make, preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake covered casserole for 45 minutes. Then lower temp to 325, remove cover and bake for 15 minutes. Serve hot.

Christmas Re-cap, Vol I

Phew, now that the busy week is over, I can catch up the blog. We began our Christmas festivities at our house on Christmas Eve day. Aidan wrote a letter to Santa asking if he'd please stop by our house a day early since we were going to go to Nana's house. We woke up to find presents under the tree and our stockings filled. :)

So we had a little happy dance.

We opened our stockings and then the boys tackled the big box from Santa.

Aidan was super excited about his specially requested present from Santa, Teen Titan action figures.

Sean added Jesse to his Round Up Gang.

Ella got a new baby and a pouch sling for her dollies.

The kids got new jammies from Grandpa Steve and Becky, as well as the Little People Nativity.

My aunt sent lovely handknit Fair Trade sweaters. The boys have some room to grow.

I was also pleased with these custom bean bags I had made for the little ones.

I adore the ceramic heart Aidan made at school for us.

Doug seems to like one of the gifts I got him. LOL

We had a little time to get the house cleaned up a bit before Doug's family came over for brunch and more gift exchanges! See Vol. II

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Crack

Every year, I make homemade snacks and cards to give to the boys' teachers and Sean's therapists. Even with a broke arm, I wanted to keep up my tradition. I heard about a really easy candy to make, called Christmas Crack, and found a new candy love! If I can make it one-armed, you can make it too! Plus, it's very quick to make so you have plenty of time to get it done.

First, put yourself in the mood: pop in some Christmas music and pour a glass of eggnog.

Then gather up what you need, here's the recipe:

Christmas Crack

1 sleeve saltine crackers
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter
1 package chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)

*I am making a double batch in these photos, so that's why it made so much!*

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and line a 10" x 15" with foil (the kind of sheet that has raised edges!).  Spray with Pam, or grease VERY lightly with butter.  Cover the cookie sheet with a single layer of saltines. 

Bring butter and brown sugar to a boil.  Boil for 3 minutes, stirring with a whisk. 

Pour over the saltines, and try to spread it as evenly as possible.  Place in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. 

When you remove it, the caramel mixture will be molten and boiling; allow to cool about 3 min, or until you can see the crackers distinctly, which will have shifted while baking.  Push them back into order with a fork or knife. 

Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the toffee and let sit for about 5 minutes to melt.  Once melted spread chocolate evenly. 

If desired, sprinkle on pecans and press lightly into the chocolate. 

Let cool a bit and then transfer to fridge to harden. Once hard, break the candy into small pieces and place in containers.

I tried to get the boys to help me make cards for these. Aidan made one for his teacher, then quit. Sean got distracted with the scissors and didn't want to help stick the foamies down. Oh well!

I posted about this on Facebook and heard that some people make it with Ritz crackers (yumm-oh!) and others topped it with shredded coconut instead of pecans. Good ideas!

Sean had so much fun delivering them to his teachers today! He carried the gift bag full of treats inside all by himself and handed out the cards & treats. He even signed 'candy' to them as he gave them out. I look forward to hearing how Aidan's teacher liked his gift. Next year, Sean won't have as many to give out in Kindergarten and Ella won't be in preschool so I will have less to make. Maybe they will want to help a little more, too.