Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bedroom reveal is coming...

I'm in the process of putting the finishing touches on the girls' bedroom. What, you say? didn't you do that last year? Well, like any project, when you have littles underfoot, it can take a year (give-or-take a year). The UPS man delivered the final piece of the puzzle yesterday, and last night I worked on stapling fabric all night.

Here is a peek at what I'm trying to camouflage. Can you guess what I came up with? It's turning out beautifully and I can't wait to take photos of the whole room, tomorrow.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Happy Happy Birthday

We had a beautiful Sunday afternoon in our backyard. It was the perfect day for a party, though it was touch and go just before it started. David had to set-up the tables and hay-bale-seating twice, since it started sprinkling after the first time. I was still decorating the cake while he was putting everything back in the garage, just 15 minutes before showtime. Talk about stressful! My heart sank at the prospect of having 25 people in our tiny living room, and by now a disaster of a kitchen. But those sprinkles left just as quickly as they had started and it ended up being a perfectly warm afternoon with a nice breeze. The rain didn't come back until we were tearing everything down. Thank you Lord!

We had a Care Bear, Rainbow, themed party. I made crayon rolls for each little guest. It was fun to use up some of my HUGE fabric stash and to give them all a fun and practical gift. But let me just say that quality assurance goes way down when making 10 at a time. I suggest planning ahead. And buying the crayons super cheap during back-to-school sales, would have been a great idea. We live and learn, right?

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Allison said her favorite part of the party was playing Pirates with her cousin and friends. That must have been what she was doing here. So serious at her role.

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The girls each picked out their favorite Care Bear. Emily surprised me by picking Sunshine Bear. I asked if she knew he was a boy. Yep. I stayed up until 3:30am the night before the party, making their tees and then got up at 7am to start on the jeans. I'm a little crazy. I'm so thankful my mom was able to come over a few hours early to help with a gazillion things. Thanks, Mom! You are a life-saver.

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Cousin Mason got to try out the new baby swing for the first time. He kept asking his Daddy it take a nap. What a sweet little boy.

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The pinata was a huge hit (no pun intended). I actually had to buy a baseball bat just for the occasion. My first pick was a pink bat, but then I remembered Sam. It's one of those defining moments in shopping (is there such a thing?) that I don't think I will ever forget. The realization that we have a little boy who will be playing ball in our backyard someday. But I digress...I was very impressed at how well all the kids did. I was thinking the pinata would be impossible to break open. But when it got to be cousin Hunter's turn (he's in 2nd grade), I was worried no one would get another chance to hit it. :) It turned out perfectly.

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This photos of Allison hitting the rainbow is much neater up close. You can see the candy falling out and pieces of the pinata flying.

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It took me a while to figure out how we could have enough seating for everyone. We ended up with hay bales that we covered in quilts. They were perfect! I got the idea after seeing this gorgeous wedding.

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My sweet little Cheer Bear. She was so excited to wear her Birthday outfit. Allison is all about the PINK.

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The kids LOVED the Care Bear cake. Me, not so much (notice the lack of close-ups...hehehe). This might be the last time I make a cake this fancy for a party. It's just too much stress at the last minute. Just like last year, I had to bake 2 cakes, when the first one wouldn't come out of the pan. I think I'll save these for their actual birthdays and get a store-bought cake for all future parties. That way they can help me when it's much less stressful and I know they would enjoy the process just as much as the end result.

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We did a new thing this year. We sang Happy Birthday to each girl individually and they both got to blow out their own candles. The look in their eyes while we were singing to them was confirmation that we made the right decision. What a special moment, where they feel individually celebrated. It would be sad if they never got to hear Happy Birthday sung just to them. That's one of the tough parts about being a twin. There are so many things that you have to share on a regular basis, but Birthdays too. I'm sure when they get older we'll have some years where they get separate parties too.

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My sweet Sunshine Bear and her goofy Dad.

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Happy 4th Birthday, girls! We love you so so so so much!
xoxoxoxox
Mommy & Daddy

Sunday, September 27, 2009

They are FOUR!

We had a smashing good time.

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I'll be back tomorrow to share more.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Taking a coffee break to say what's on my mind

And I don't even drink coffee. Unless of course it's filled with chocolate, caramel, whipped creamed, blended with ice and tastes nothing like coffee. ;) But some days I wish I did. Then I'd have a reason to sit down and read a magazine or write a blog post. So, since it's been so long since I've really talked to you all, I'm taking a coffee break.

This past month I've been caught up in trying to play the coupon game. Do you know what I mean? There are a plethora of blogs that spoon-feed all the "deals" right to you, so in theory it could take you less time to find them. But there is just so much information to sift through. I've been visiting places such as this one, this one, this one, this one and this one. And my hats off to these ladies for taking the time to work as hard as they do so that others can save money too.

In theory this is all good. As long as you can filter out the things you don't need and only buy what makes sense for your family. Ah-hem...I said you have to be able to filter. This means not purchasing 6 panini grills at 1am because they are only $11 and wouldn't they make great Christmas presents? Thankfully they shorted me 3 of them. I think being up at 1am with a 4 year old that won't sleep, is taking more of a toll on me than I had realized. I have lost my ability to filter. So to the 3 of you, whoever you end up being, that receive an unnecessary and most likely unwanted panini grill for Christmas this year...I am sorry. If it ends up in your Goodwill pile, I won't feel bad in the least. And hopefully if you are reading this, we can all just have a good chuckle about it.

David recently started getting us the Sunday paper. I thought that would be a great time to take the coupon "game" seriously. Afterall, if someone out there can spend just $30 a week on groceries for a family of 3, then surely I can stick to our $100 a week budget for 5. Right?

But at what cost? Yesterday the kids and I were in the car from 10am to 3pm running from store to store. We spent $16 in the McD's drive-through so I think that about negated all that I saved. I did come home with a few Christmas presents for girls, but they were with me so no surprises there. Needless to say everyone missed their afternoon nap and the girls were in rare form for Cubbies that night. In fact when I picked them up I was pulled aside and practically reprimanded by their table teacher because they hadn't listened to their teachers at all and ran around the room the entire time, like savages. I slinked away feeling like an aweful parent. That my kids would be the ones that the volunteers say "oh boy,those girls are here again." Is it possible to be kicked out of Awanas? I'm afraid we might find out.

After dinner I got back in my car to run 3 more errands. I finally got to my third stop at 10pm. Wednesdays are double coupon days you know, and I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to double those $0.25 coupons. Fine, so 2 of them were $1.00, but you get the idea. I walked in to start looking for all those good deals only to find that some of them were no longer available. I ended up leaving without buying a thing. I just couldn't think any more. I felt dazed and confused and knew I would make bad decisions. My heart wasn't in it. And I didn't know where I was supposed to store all those items I was going to stock-pile anyway. All I could think about was going home and crawling in to bed. So that's what I did. And this morning, I woke up with a sore throat. Lesson learned.

Somewhere between all the running around I did yesterday, I was able to give myself a reality check. I kept hearing in my head "Why am I doing this? It's just not worth it." Maybe when all my kids are in school I can do it. But until then, who wants to drag 3 unwilling littles around with them all day when all they want to do is play outside? And who wants to leave the house the minute their Hubbie gets home so they can drive around in the dark going from store to store? If I had more time on my hands I too could be hitting CVS, Walgreen's, Wal-Mart, Target, KMart, Rainbow Foods and Cub Foods. I'm exhausted just thinking about that.

Instead I choose to stick with my favorite (Cub) and plan my weekly meals around their loss-leaders. Clipping coupons that make sense, but for the most part just buying the store brands because they are always cheaper anyway. We've already switched to Target brand diapers and formula. And you know what? Sam leaked just as much in Pamper's as he does now in Up & Up. And the cheaper ones are actually cuter with their blue and green polka dots. And all formulas are regulated by the FDA so they have to be equally nutritious. These two alone save us $100/month.

And while I'm still on my soap-box can I just say, do you know how many reward cards I have added to my wallet in the past 2 weeks? I've got one for Gymboree, The Children's Place, Old Navy, Babies R Us (Toys R Us), and Rainbow Foods. Enough is enough! And I refuse to play the CVS and Walgreen's games. Why can't these stores just let their prices be their prices? I know, it's all about advertising and getting you to come in and come back. Maybe I'm too cynical, but now all I see are the huge marketing giants behind all the little perks, gizmos and programs.

From now on I'm just sticking to my list, shopping alone and only buying what I need. Can I get an Amen?

Alright, that coffee break has long since been over. In the mean time I've given 2 time-outs and saved Sam from playing in the toilet water too long. Yep, I just found him with toilet paper in his mouth and I'm afraid it came out of the toilet. *sigh*

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My 8 seconds of fame...hehe

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Earlier this summer the girls and I helped my brother, Jason, shoot a commercial for this fan and lighting store. A few years ago, Jason and his partner bought the store from the original owners that were going out of business. He figured instead of being out of a job, he'd rather own the place. Perty smart, I'd say.

You can see the commercial here, just scroll down a bit. Jason's the one in the green short-sleeved shirt talking to the couple wearing black (in case you wondered). And I'm in the first 8 seconds of it, wearing my VERY purple shirt. Go Vikings? I had no idea I had such bad posture and I could really use some new jeans. LOL

By the way, I've got him ordering me the cutest little PINK, retro looking, table-top fan for the girls' room. They are gonna L O V E it! I'm thinking white noise here. Grasping at straws to stop their insane habit of waking up 2-3 times each night. It's actually gotten better since it's no longer every 1-2 hours all-night long. Their pediatrician recommended a reward system and that's helping somewhat, but not quite the miracle I was hoping for. So we trudge on and pray for the sleep we so desperately need.

I'll show you the fan in the girls' completed room, when it comes in. I've been doing a lot fo decorating lately and I have loads of pics to share. But, that party comes first...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Finding Joy...

...in the little things, when life seems to be taken over by the big things.

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Lots going on over at our house. Will update properly after the big party this Sunday. I could use 48 hour days right about now and a body that doesn't need sleep to boot.

Hope you all are having a great week.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Good-bye summer...

...hello fall.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Rub-a-dub-dub

After breakfast this morning, Sam was covered in toast. That's his favorite food these days, so I'm sure he didn't mind. He definitely needed a bath and the sink was calling to us. I never did this with the girls, but wish I would have now. It was so easy!

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We've got an extra deep sink. The kind you can put a whole cookie sheet in and not see any of it sticking out. So I would say that Sam is definitely bigger than a Jelly Roll pan. ;)

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He wasn't quite sure what to think about being in the sink at first, but he slowly warmed to the idea.

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Here's a look I've never seen before.

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You're so funny Sam.

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By the end, he was ready to take over and do the scrubbing.

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Here's to more fun baths in the sink.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Creamy Almond Chicken

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Here is another of our families favorite meals. Not exactly low-calorie, but it's oh-so-yummy. I love the unique flavor that the cream, Dijon and marmalade create. There is nothing else like it.

I always start out by flattening the chicken with my meat mallet (I have this one and it's amazing). It cuts the cook time almost in half and the chicken turns out more tender because of the shorter cook time.

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Cook the chicken in a TB of butter and then remove to a plate.

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You should have a brown looking pan like this. Perfect!

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Pour in 1.5 cups of heavy cream and stir up all the brown bits. This will add great color and flavor to the sauce.

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Add about 1 Tb of Dijon mustard, 2-3 Tb orange marmalade and a pinch of Cayenne pepper. Let it simmer to combine and thicken up for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Taste the sauce and adjust to your liking. You may decide it needs more Dijon or more marmalade.

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Add the chicken back in and simmer for another 5 minutes.

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This makes plenty of sauce so you could even cut back on the cream, cook more chicken or make it just like this, with lots of extra sauce for your rice.

For the full recipe, find it here.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Happy Happy Birthday

The girls were thrilled to turn four on Wednesday. Dad took the day off of work to help make their day extra special. We started off with a yummy pancake breakfast at our favorite place (Sam especially enjoyed the pumpkin pancakes and I enjoyed escaping the messy house for a day).

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I made each of the girls crayon rolls, late the night before. Here is a link to the tutorial I used. They were super easy and fun to make. Might also be fun to give as party favors at their party in a couple of weeks.

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They LOVED them, despite Allison's look.

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Then it was home so Sam could nap and on to lunch at Red Lobster and then to the Children's Museum. The traveling Clifford exhibit ends on Monday so we figured it was high time we made the trek to see it. The kids had a blast! All week Emily would tell everyone she met, that we were going to Wordwhirl (Birdwell) Island for her Birthday.

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Delivering the mail was a big hit.

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Captain Sam

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Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!

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Allison mastered the art of extreme bubble making. She was really fun to watch, taking it so seriously.

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Making a little music video.

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Sam did a great job missing his afternoon nap.

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He was happy as a clam to play with the little boy in the mirror.

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We ended the day by stopping at a local bakery so each of the girls could pick out their own small cake. Emily chose chocolate and Allison, lemon. A yummy dinner at home, followed by dessert and a bedtime story and they were fast asleep. It was a BIG BIG day!

Happy 4th Birthday my little ladies.