Thursday, December 31, 2009

The End of a Great Year

Another year has passed, it's just crazy. Has time always went by this fast and I am just noticing it so much more now that I have children? Anyway, here we are the last day of the year. Not sure what I am really suppose to write about but I feel like I should blog about something and since I never got around to writing our Christmas letter this will be our year in review. :)

2009 was a somewhat uneventful year for us...which can definitely be a good thing after some of the crazy years we have had! I have been more than happy to still be home with the kids and although it wasn't by our choosing, I think it has been a huge blessing. Of course there are some days where I wish that I could get up (brush my teeth and maybe even shower) and get out of this crazy house and talk to adults, but for the most part I love being home. I love that I am able to hug and kiss my kids all day long. I love playing with them and teaching them new things. I love being the person who gets to be part of every new thing they do.

Matt has been very busy this year with work and school. He will be finishing his MBA in May and I don't know who will be more happy! :) It has been a long 4 years...what will we do with all our free time as a family!? He's still working for 3M and is absolutely loving it, although he is ready to start something a little different (within the company.) Hopefully after May good things happen and he gets his wish! I'm sad to report there was no deer shot this Fall but of course the "guy time" was a much needed break.

Alexa has had a busy year also. She started Preschool this Fall and although she was by far the youngest kid there she fit right in...and she LOVES it. She has made a lot of new friends and we have completely ran out of fridge space to hang all her works of art. :) This past Summer she learned to ride her big girl bike and write her name, she amazes us daily with the things she learns and comes up with. She is the silliest, funniest girl we know.

Braden is growing up way too fast of course. He turned 1 in August and shortly after started walking. Now he is running around the house talking and laughing constantly. He loves following his big sister around and doing what she does (not always a good thing!) :) He continues to be a huge Mama's boy and loves anything that has to do with climbing, yelling, and getting messy!

I started this blog right after the new years last year to keep family updated and "record" our life so someday our kids can look back on it. Little did I know how much I would love blogging and all the wonderful people I would meet. Thank you to all the awesome ladies I have met (many in real life!) and all your comments, laughs, support and honestly means so much to me! I can't wait for another year of getting to know you all more!! :)

Although 2009 was a great year, we are looking forward to the new year and what it holds. I hope you all have a wonderful year as well, filled with health, wealth and many blessings!

Everyone have a happy and safe New Years!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

3 Hours and 100 Tokens Later...

And we finally had enough tickets to get ourselves this baby...

Yup, that's right. That bracelet is a beauty I tell ya, it even lights up!! Don't you just love Chuck E. Cheese's?

Oh wait, I don't.
I used to...until they poisoned me.
Or maybe they didn't, I don't know.
But I haven't felt good since we left there.
I even tried not to touch anything.
Just kidding....kinda.

Anyway, back to the kids, huh?

Alexa was pretty pumped the whole way there. Every place we passed she would ask, "Is that Chuck E. Cheese's?" No really, it was super cute the first 184 times....after that, not so much.

We finally got there and she was off.


And riding motorcycles with Daddy.

By far the highlight of the baby girl, yes MY baby girl walking right on up the Ski Ball (although it wasn't actually called that, what the heck??) ramp and throwing the balls in the highest numbered holes. Anything for some tickets. She is a girl after my heart!

(Too bad there's sensors that can tell when you do that so you don't actually get the points, dang those game makers for thinking ahead!) :)

Brado had a blast too.
Anything that lights up is a WOW to him.
Matt and I took turns chasing him around the whole place.
I think he needs his own game room at home! :)

Playing peek-a-boo was the best part though.
I know he's mine and all, but geez he's a cutie!

So that was our day at Chuck E. Cheese's.
Getting sick was worth watching the kiddies have some fun with Daddy while he is on vacation!

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Of Course

With the hundreds of new toys, games, books etc. the kids have gotten over the past week, why would it really surprise me that this box is what has been played with the most?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Review

Holy crazy, long, fun, busy, tiring, awesome week!

The house is a complete disaster, but totally worth it! Besides it's slowly getting put back together, we said our last good-byes to the tree today and tossed it over the edge of the deck. Now all we need is a little tiny addition to the house to store the massive amounts of stuff the kids got and we'll be all set. (Ummm Santa, is there any way I could get just one more thing???)

We started our festivities with looking at lights. We took the kids to Phalen Park where they have a road around the lake you can drive through with tons of lights. The kids were lovin it! We let them sit up front so they could see better (shhhh, we were only going about 1 mph anyway) and Braden kept hitting his head on the front window because he was so excited.

Then it was back home for loads of gift wrapping. Alexa was a huge help, she wrapped up her old shoes and Braden's tractor. I think she figured they could both use some practice, maybe? :)

We also did tons of baking. And by baking I mean making stuff that didn't actually have to be baked, unless you count the break and bake cookies we made for Santa.

Matt's early Christmas present - Braden falling asleep on his lap. It was adorable, and I was in no way incredibly jealous...nope, not at all! :)

Christmas Eve

Opening presents on Christmas morning.

And more presents...all day long.

Christmas 2009 was perfect.

The kids had a blast, we spent lots of time with all our families, we almost made it through half the church service (B just couldn't do it) and we stuffed ourselves full of way too much good food. And I managed to host our first Christmas Eve AND Christmas Day without ruining anything! :)

My Santa Babies!! :)

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Everyone!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

New Friends and Great Memories

Friday night Matt and I went to a Christmas party hosted by MckMama. Yes, both Matt and I. And you know what...I am pretty sure he had just as fun as I lie! Of course he was a little hesitant at first about the whole bloggy friend thing but being such a great sport he said he would go anyway. We had an awesome time. I already knew a few girls there but considering a lot of people (especially the guys) were meeting each other for the first time, it felt like we all had been friends forever. Or at least awhile.

There was massive amounts of desserts, wine, sparkling juice, awesome live music, tons of laughter, many funny stories and great memories.

So you want to see all the great memories we had? Yeah, me too. Unfortunately I was having too much fun and forgot to take pictures. I got one. I didn't even get one of the group shots but hopefully I can get them from some of the other girls that did.

Here is the one shot I got. Me with my friends Sarah and Jolene and my new awesome friend Mama M. Her Bestie Tara was there too and everyone loved her. (Hi Tara!!) :)

And look, we all must have got the wear a black sweater memo. :)

I think we decided that MckMama needed to have us all over once a month...or a couple times a year...or at least an annual Christmas party.

Thanks Jennifer for the awesome party!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Flashback Friday

Christmas 2008

And for those who asked...I am pretty sure I got the stocking hanger from LTD, go figure. :)
ONE WEEK until Christmas!!
Hope everyone is more ready than I am. :)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

So Christmas is really next week already, huh?

How come every year in the Fall I am all "Ohhhh I can't wait for Christmas and a tree and family, blah blah blah" and then all the sudden I am like "What, it's already Christmas? I still have shopping to do, lists to make, wrapping to get done, cooking to do, decorations to put out, lights to drive by to show the kids and cards to write!" Ugh. Is it just me or does this seem to happen every single year no matter how much I think about everything ahead of time.

My blog is looking much more festive than my house these days. We have 4 huge bins of decorations but for some reason once it's all spread out in the house it doesn't seem like much. Some day we will have that house, you know the one with every nook and cranny filled with red and green stuff. Someday.

Anyway, here's a few of my favorite things.

This is our Nativity Scene.
I love it
My mom gave us a new section for Christmas every year the past few years...definitely my favorite.

I don't know why I like these blocks so much but I do. They have something for 6 different holidays on each of the sides. I got them out of a know the ones that are full of stuff you don't need until you see it, then you have to have it. Yeah, one of those.

We don't have a fireplace (insert sad face here) so a couple years ago I bought this stocking hanger. It's surprisingly holding up pretty well considering kids are hanging on it all day.

And last but not least, the tree. I always wanted to get a real tree after having kids because I had this fabulous vision of the whole family going out to the tree farm, drinking hot cocoa, finding the perfect tree and cutting it down. You know, Griswold style. Except not exactly. Anyway the past 2 years we ended up driving a mile down the road to the hardware store and picking up an okay tree. I know, right? Lame. This year we finally got to the tree farm and found a beautiful tree.

Matt and Alexa pretty much decorated the whole thing themselves. They were beyond adorable. However I realized two things. One, we need way more decorations now that we have such a big full tree. Two, it takes all I have to not take everything off and do it my own way. They did a great job, but I am more of a symmetrical planned out bulb placer and they are more of a grab one and put it somewhere. There's one spot that has about 10 ornaments in a square foot section, bless Alexa's heart...she loved it.

Only downfall...needles all over my house!
But so worth it. :)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Have you ever...

...Watched Armageddon and not cried?

...fell on your face in the kitchen after tripping over a pile of toys?

...finished Christmas shopping before mid-December? (I wish)

...let a load of clothes sit in the dryer for 3 days before folding them?

...not mopped your floors for a month?

...wanted to run away from home because you have whiny, tired kids?

...taken a 2 hour nap and then couldn't get to sleep until 3:30 in the morning?

...spent 6 hours addressing Christmas cards, that time mostly spent finding the addresses?

...eaten about 4 servings of block cheese in one sitting?

...waited so long to shave your legs you couldn't remember when you actually did it last?

...sang Frosty The Snowman so many times in a row that you almost lost your voice?

...been so annoyed with the comments and status updates on Facebook that you wanted to stay away forever, but then it only lasted 4 hours?

...saw a cute old man helping his cute old wife into their car and it made you cry?

...had worse acne as an adult than you did a teenager and wonder, what's up with that?

...made chicken nuggets for your kids 2 days in a row because it was easy?

...given up on weight loss and just concentrated on not gaining more through the holidays?

...made puppy chow while PMSing? (bad idea)

...felt like crawling in bed and sleeping for 4 days straight?

...wanted to move south because you're already sick of the Midwest cold?

...worn the same jeans and hoodie for several days in a row and it really didn't matter anyway because you didn't go anywhere?

Yeah, me either.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Breakfast With Santa

This morning we went and had breakfast with Santa.

Fun, right?

Yeah, well if you know my kids, you already know where this is going.

Lets see.

First you have Alexa...hiding under the table.

And don't forget Braden...yelling. And just because there is not a picture to prove it does not mean he wasn't ripping my arm off from squeezing it so hard.

Here's Alexa "on Santa's lap"
Nope, wouldn't even look at him.

And Braden "on Santa's lap"
He on the other hand, would not let the man out of his sight...just in case.

There you have it, our breakfast with Santa. Alexa was so excited to go and even had to wear her Santa Dress but alas, there was no love for the big guy. I wonder how many more years until we eventually get a good picture with Santa.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hold My Heart

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Little Break

Hey everyone, hope the weekend was great for you all! We finally got our tree up, it now has lights but so far, that's it. I'm pretty sure I'll have it decorated by Christmas. :)

I am really missing catching up on blogs lately, but right now I need to take a little bit of a break. My family is going through some stuff and I just need to concentrate on other things. Blogging is usually my way to unwind, but I'm kinda drained and need some time away. I hope to be back soon! In the mean time we could use any prayers you could give, especially for my Dad. Thank you so much!

Isaiah 43:2

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.

(Thank you Mimi!)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Matt's Idea

I got this picture in an email this week. I thought it was funny. I was also surprised it wasn't Matt who came up with this idea. I keep bugging him that we need to deck out our outside of the house with lights. He isn't thinking it's as necessary as I do. But now I have Alexa on my side so we'll see. Maybe starting next year we can do it, he will be done with school so there will be no excuses. :) Does anyone else put lots of lights up outside?

I am super pumped, today we got our very first Christmas card!! I love checking the mailbox every day in December hoping to have more cards in there. I always hope it has a picture or a letter in it. Why is it so fun hearing what other people write about their family and fitting it on an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper? Every year I sit down to type one up but it never actually gets in our's because of my OCD and thinking it doesn't sounds perfect or something dumb like that. Just maybe this year will be the year. Anyway, I am ordering ours today and picking them up tomorrow so hopefully this week (fingers crossed) ours will be out. Woohoo.

And hey, if you send pictures and letters feel free to send one to me, k? :)
Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

It's A Contest!

Not here, I'm not that creative. :)
However, my babies are part of the Cutest Baby Contest over at i am mommy and I kinda think you should go here and vote for them.
Is that begging?
Maybe, but look at these little faces...

And I don't want to be the only one voting for them.
They are #6
Thanks! :)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wanna save some $$$

No, I'm not going to try to sell you anything and I'm not getting paid to tell you anything....buuuut when a girl finds a good deal she has to share right?

A few weeks ago a coworker of Matt's introduced us to a shopping program. As Matt was telling me about it, I was like "hmmm, okay, sure." I'm not kidding you people, this new way of shopping has saved us hundreds of dollars in the 3 weeks we have used it!

Check out the website Pocket You Dollars and see for yourself. It's actually very basic and works mainly on matching sale items with coupons. You're like, "well, duh, I already do that." I thought we did too. Carrie the magic worker behind it all is amazing and wants to help people keep their money while getting what they need. I have been talking lots to Tina this week as she prepared to try this out for the first time and she was impressed!

Reading through the website will give you a better understanding about everything so I'm just going to break down the basics of what we have found. We are still learning all about it, so there is probably lots more to it too so if you have been using Carrie's site or plan on trying it out let me know what you find or any other little secrets. Also, the main money saver we are experiencing is shopping at Rainbow on Wednesday, when they have double coupon days. There are lots of other places but that has by far saved us the most. Some of the other stores she uses are: Target, CUB, Walgreens and CVS.

Seriously, the whole idea behind this is matching coupons with ads. Carrie finds coupons and deals all over the Internet and tells you where to go to get each one to print. Also, each week we buy 4 Sunday papers and cut out all the coupons. Yes, you start accumulating a lot! We bought a big accordion file and separated each slot into a different category to help keep everything as organized as possible.

I'm not going to lie, it does take some extra time and organizing but even after just a few weeks I am starting to get into my own groove and finding what works for me. So here's the Rainbow deal (and where some of the extra time comes in.) Wednesday nights you can double your best 5 coupons with a purchase of $25 or more. I make 4 lists, making sure each one is at least $25 and has at least 5 coupons. Then we meet Matt and we both take one list and go through, take our stuff out to the car and then grab the other two lists and do it again = 4 trips through the store. (You don't have to go four times, you can go as many as you want but we go four times to maximize the doubling coupon thing - 4 trips = 20 doubled coupons.) Is any of this making sense? Try it, it works! The second week after we went through I looked at Matt and was like, "This is an adrenaline rush!" I know, I'm a dork but who would have known you could be happy about spending money at the grocery store? Okay, blah blah blah I could talk forever...can you tell? :)

Here's what we got today at Rainbow...

All of that food, 4 boxes of toothpaste, body wash and even diapers for just over $45. Our savings? $92.63. This weeks was actually not as good as last weeks since there was already several of the major things on our list gone. The nice thing is you really don't have to change how you eat, at least we didn't. Most of the stuff we get now is what we would have gotten before. Except maybe the chicken nuggets and it was certainly not me who threw those Ramen noodles in our cart! (Ahem...Matt.) I do have to say though, if you only eat organic this definitely won't work as well. But like I said there are lots of other non-food offers at Target, Walgreen etc. We are getting things better than free (yes, they PAY you to buy it!) at some places! Crazy!?

Here's our receipts from last week...Rainbow and CUB. And this week I also went to Target and spent $40 and saved $20. Pretty cool huh? Our freezer and pantries have never been so full and we are saving literally hundreds of dollars a month. Also, I have been buying some of the stuff we wouldn't eat or don't need (because it's literally free or close to it) and plan on donating it to our food shelter.

Sick of me talking yet? Cause I could go on. Just kidding, I'm done. :) Check it out. And if you have already been following Carrie at Pocket Your Dollars (first, shame on you for not telling me all about it :)) what are things you have noticed or done or changed or tricks you have found?

Happy shopping! :)

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Season of Giving

I love this time of year for so many reasons. Doesn't Christmas time just make you all happy inside? I love the music (I have had our Christmas CDs on repeat since Friday), I love the lights and decorations, I love all the yummy food, I love the reason for the season and I love the giving spirit people get. I love how people really suck it up and help people who are in need and help bring some Christmas cheer to kids who would otherwise not have any.

Ever since I can remember, my mom has never walked past a salvation bucket without putting money in. I have been more than happy to take on that tradition for myself. I know I complain about not having enough money sometimes but I know how truly blessed we are....we have a house, working vehicles, clothing, food and loads of love. There are way too many people out there that don't have any of those things, and it breaks my heart. Take the challenge...don't walk past a red bucket from now until Christmas without putting some money in it.

*If you are reading this, you're richer than over 80% of the world.

Each year our friends take their kids and have them pick out a game, toy, etc. that they would want for themselves and have them put it in the Toys for Tots bin. I can't wait to start this tradition with our kids this year. I know neither Alexa or Braden will really fully get it yet but I believe it is never to early to teach our kids to give to the less fortunate.

What else do you do to give this time of year?
I would love to hear some other ideas, traditions, charities out there. I think it would be great to work in a soup kitchen or something else with donating time as well but I have no idea how to find those things. Ideas?