Friday, January 30, 2009

Remember when.....

Allan in the 2nd grade
Allan in 1981. 12 years old.

Allan on the Left and brother, Randy on the Right
Allan is on the Right, holding his hatchet
Stud wrester, 1987

Allan at 9 months

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Since Allan had to leave for Terre Haute on Monday and will be staying in OH throughout his birthday weekend, we celebrated his birthday last weekend. We gave him a couple little gifts, made an awesome shrimp stir-fry and ate lots of pineapple upside-down cake. To avoid burning down the house with 40 candles, we opted for one candle, for each 10 years.  :) 

Blowing out the candles
The 40 year-old hottie and his older woman. 
Getting lots of love from the 3 little birds.
A photo calendar for his office

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Happy 4-0!

To the love of my life. To my best friend. To Allan. 
Allan is 40 today and I hope that this birthday makes up for all of the crappy ones that he has had in the past.  Not that they have all been bad, but he sure doesn't have a great track record.  Just to throw out an example, last year, I had high hopes for finally making it a "nice" birthday.  I made lasagna (one of his favorites) and set the oven up for delay cook since the kids and I were going to be at Faith Formation until 6:15. The plan was to have it cooked and ready to eat the minute he arrived home. Then, follow up with cake and gifts. HA! On my way to church, I realized that I had set up the oven, but didn't put the lasagna in.  I confidently called my neighbor, Danny, and asked him to take the lasagna out of the fridge and put it in the oven. No other action required.  Simple, right?! Wrong!  He put it in the microwave instead.  Since lasagna cannot be cooked in 15 minutes, we had to order pizza from the Country Store at the last minute.  What a letdown! 
So, that being said, I have high hopes that all of my surprise plans will flow smoothly and this will be the best birthday EVER!!!  I so wish I could be there with him to enjoy every minute of it, but this is honestly the best gift that I could give him.  Stay tuned to find out what it was........ 
Enjoy some of the pictures from Allan's youth. I'll try to scan more later. 

Holland, April 2000
T&A dating in 1997. 
Back in the day. Junior prom, 1986.
Today. Crazy as ever. 

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cookie Pops!

Last Sunday, our Mom's group at church had a bake sale.  Given that I LOVE to bake, it was a given that I would make something for it. What to bake? I have lots of tried and true recipes, but I wanted something that was different, something that would sell well and something that was FUN.  After doing a quick online search, I found a recipe for cookie pops.  Believe it or not, I had EVERYTHING that I needed to make them. Actually, I have about 564 popsicle sticks that have been in my drawer and have been driving me crazy.  So, this was the perfect recipe. 
It really was the perfect recipe and they turned out oh so cute! The kids had a ball helping me decorate them too. 
I thought I would share the recipe because it is super easy, they taste good and would make a great treat for birthday parties, play dates, bake sales, school parties, etc. 
Here is the recipe, compliments of Land O'Lakes

Cookie Pops
1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup honey
1 (18.25-ounce) pkg. yellow or chocolate cake mix
2 eggs
Decorator sugars and candies
wooden craft sticks

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine all ingredients except decorations and wooden sticks in large bowl. Stir until well mixed. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in decorator sugars. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes. 
Immediately insert wooden sticks half-way into side of each cookie. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets. 

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Good Luck PD

We were very fortunate to have Dennis and Paul stop by for a quick overnight on their way to move Paul into his new home in Charleston.  I am terrible with details, but the long and short of it is that Paul will be living in Charleston during at least six months of his training in the Navy. Nuclear submarines, smart guy, Navy, training.  Those are the facts that I can post with confidence. 
Another fact that I can post with confidence is that Paul has a way with women.  Young, old, middle-aged, they all love him!  Emma is no exception.  The little girl who is afraid to speak to all men other than her daddy was literally climbing on poor Paul!  I even have a photo to prove it! OK, maybe I am being a little dramatic.  The boys loved him too.  But to see little Emma hanging on a man, other than Daddy, was beyond shocking (in a good way, since it was Paul).  
Seriously though, we wish Paul all of the best in his new life adventure. And we are happy that it is taking place so close to our home.  

Emma has holes.....

Before piercing
After piercing

In her ears!  Holy smokes, we were in the mall right after Christmas and saw the Claire's store. There was a little girl getting her ears pierced and I asked Emma if she wanted to get hers done. Emma emphatically said, "no!".  I walked up to the other little girl and asked if it hurt. She told me that it didn't and Emma started to cave. The big obstacle in getting her ears pierced was the pain involved. After hearing that it wouldn't hurt so bad and that both ears could be done at the same time, Emma decided that she would have them pierced!  I didn't question it for fear that she would change her mind. We quickly (within what seemed like 2 minutes) had her ears pierced with what seems like the most expensive earrings available.  Not a peep came out of Emma.  Her eyes about popped out of her head during the piercing, but that was it! 
She picked out two sets of free earrings due to the current promotion. One set was a dangly pair of pink and white diamond-ish heart earrings.  She is DYING to wear these.  Her six weeks of wearing the studs is up just in time for Valentine's Day.  Perfect for wearing the new HEART, dangly earrings!!!  Can you hear her squeal?!  
She looks absolutely adorable in her new pink flower earrings! Check her out!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Today, I'm Not a Dishrag!

Tuesday, Jack's teacher, Ms. Liz told me that Jack has a new nickname at school.  Ms. Donna, an assistant who helps children out of the cars, dubbed Jack as "dishrag".  This was given to him because he still cries, fusses, kicks and pouts when he has to go into school.  Ms. Donna has to literally grab him out of the car and carry him into school.  When he isn't kicking, he goes limp like a dishrag to avoid being taken into the very loving and fun atmosphere that we call preschool. 
I told Jack what he was being called and explained once again that he could go into school with a smile on his face.  Today was pajama day and he was very excited about going.  When we got to school, he put on a smile and told Ms. Donna as she was getting him out of the car "today, I am not a dishrag!".  That put a smile on EVERYONE's faces! 

Thoughtful Emma

It is tradition that I buy Allan an SI swimsuit calendar each year after Christmas.  I don't particularly care for looking at these hanging in our garage, but if that makes him feel like the garage is him domain and manly, then so be it.  I will give him that joy. 
Keeping with tradition, I bought one for him again this year. He quickly put it up along with a poster of someone in a little bikini.  I guess after seeing them hang around day after day, year after year, I become blind to them and don't even notice them after awhile.  Emma, however, notices everything. She was in the garage with Allan and the boys one night while they worked on Will's derby car.  After looking at the calendar and posters for awhile, she asked Allan just why he liked these pictures of girls in bikinis so much.  He told her that he thought they were cute.  She thought for a moment and then asked him if he would like a picture of her in a bikini to hang up as well. Quickly thinking, he replied "no thank you".  Amazingly, she left it end with that.  
Don't you just love kids' thought processes?! Don't you just love kids?!  They are the best - especially ours! 

Sunday, January 11, 2009

December 2008, part 2

Jack got a Batman computer from Santa!
Allan digs into Christmas dinner
Jacki digs the rolls!
How many kids can jump on the tramp at the same time?
Santa listened and brought Will a Tribot!

One of Emma's favorite gifts was an i dog.
Will can even carry Jack in his new backpack!
The best gifts of all - Will, Emma and Jack
Nana gets some Gail Pittman plates
Celebrating Mom's birthday. You would think Emma was the one turning 40!

On to December 2008, part 2!  I really have to get caught up so I can post some new things.......
After the bad Christmas cookie incident, we had a very nice visit with my mom and Mary Jo. We exchanged gifts and had a nice Christmas dinner.  Also during their visit, they took the kids out for dinner and to see the lights at Tanglewood.  This left Allan and I alone to have dinner with a couple of friends in honor of my birthday.  It was a very thoughtful surprise. 

Finally, the kids were out of school on break and the fun really started!  We spent most of our days playing.  Sad as it may be, the kids just don't have a lot of time to play once they are in school.  There is either homework, sports, Faith Formation or some other activity that prevents long periods of plain old playing.  So, we took advantage of their time off for Christmas and got down to the business of playing and having fun. 

On Christmas Eve, we attended mass and Will and Emma participated in the pageant as a camel (Will) and an angel (Emma).  It was a beautiful mass and very meaningful. By the time we got home, it was time for bed so Santa could stop by.  As we were saying our prayers, John and Jacki arrived and everyone got excited all over again.  The birds finally went to sleep and Jacki and I got down to the business of beating the guys at Euchre.  HA!  I just love it when John looses.  We stayed up way too late, but had a great time playing cards and catching up with John and Jacki. 

Emma was the first one up at 6:00ish.  Thank goodness, we made the rule that the first one up could not wake the other siblings.  Poor girl just couldn't stand it though. She kept going back and forth between our bedroom and the living room with updates as to what she saw.  FINALLY, Will and Jack came down around 7, with John and Jacki following. Then, it was time for the fun to begin.  Will got the Tribot that he desperately wanted.  Emma got the Barbie house that she asked Santa for 100+ times.  And Jack got the much wanted Batman computer that he wrote to Santa about.  The only disappointment was no candy cane underwear for Jack. Evidently, the elves didn't have any small enough for him!  Thankfully, Jack wasn't too phased by this.

We had a relaxing morning with breakfast casseroles and mimosas, then played in our jammies into the late afternoon.  Finally, we decided to shower and get dressed so we could go out and enjoy the beautiful day. I believe it was nearly 70 degrees that day. Nice enough that we didn't need coats, took a walk through the neighborhood, jumped on the trampoline and had a bonfire with s'mores after dinner.  Does it get any better than that?! 

We had a beautiful Christmas and feel very blessed that we were able to share it with at least some of our family. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

December 2008

December started out with great promise. Christmas programs were scheduled, gifts were purchased and some already given out, Christmas cards had been printed since October, plans had been made for neighborhood gifts and our annual cookie baking get-together with my mom and MJ.  What is it that they say?  "The best laid plans....." I don't remember the rest of it and I guess that goes without say because I really thought I had our month planned out and we would once again enjoy a leisurely holiday full of meaning and togetherness.  HA!  
Things started out well with the tradition of going to the mountains to pick out the perfect tree. Will chose it this year. I think it took about 2.3 seconds to find t
hat tree. It really was a beautiful tree and for once, it wasn't humongous.  As always, we also drank hot cocoa, talked to San
ta and rode horses while waiting for our special tree to make it's way down the mountain.  
We even stopped for a Mexican lunch on the 
way home.  YUMMY! 
Things went well putting it up this year. I believe this is the first year that Emma did not break an ornament. She has an irresistible urge to play with each and every most delicate ornament that we own. I can just hear her thoughts: "but they're all SO beautiful! I just have to touch it!" Having a special tree to put upstairs for the children with their own ornaments may have helped.  It sure took a lot of time to run up and down those stairs with each ornament! Wink!
Jack was the first (and only one) to have a Christmas program. I arrived early enough to get a good spot for recording the event.  Thank goodness!  That boy was so stinkin' cute I couldn't stand it!  He was the LAST one to make his way out to the stage. When he finally arrived, he stood about three spaces away from everyone else.  Looking back, I think he did it so he could draw more attention to himself.  As it that would be an issue!  He danced and rang a jingle bell the whole time.  He was in his own little world, just boogieing down to his own music.  I giggle just thinking back on it!  Being a rather shy little guy (where did THAT come from?!), I am quite proud of him and his performance. He never did spot me until the very end and I think that was a blessing. 
Shortly after arriving home from his program, diarrhea set in.  It happened so much that I lost count. To shorten this story, we ended up in the ER that night after seeing blood.  
We stayed there until 3am at which point they told us there was nothing they could do and the tests from the sample I produced (I used a turkey baster to collect this) did not detect anything life threatening.  We had to wait this one out.  Luckily, on the 10th day, the blood and diarrhea ended and we didn't have to see a specialist. It was evidently just a very bad virus that has luck would have it, made it's way through the entire family.  There is more to Jack's bowel story, but that will have to come later. 
Around the middle of the month, my mom and MJ came down for our annual Christmas cookie baking extravaganza.  To shed light on the amount of cookies that we bake, I bought a 25 pound bag of flour for this occasion.  OK, we didn't use it all, but by golly, we sure did make a good dent in it! The good news is that we had a ball doing all of the baking, drinking, chatting, laughing, baking, munching,drinking......the bad news is that my cookies all turned out crappy. I am blaming it on the cheap butter that I bought because the problem with all of them was that they spread all over the cookie sheets.  They tasted good, most of them, but they looked really sick. So, that's my story and I'm sticking to it!  Maybe I'll have better turn out next year. 
Stay tuned for December 2008, part 2..........

Saturday, January 3, 2009

November 2008

With November, came a few new milestones. Emma decided to grow her hair longer so she could do more with it as a flower girl in Danielle's wedding. During a trim, Muff (our beautician) french braided it!  This was a first as we have always kept Emma's hair in a short bob. 
One morning,Will decided it was time for him to make his own breakfast so that I wouldn't be so busy in the mornings (ha!). He made a hard fried egg and toast. And he did pretty darn good!  I'm still not sure I want him using the stove unsupervised, but it was nice having him help out. 
Will turned 8 during November. We actually spent his birthday driving to Ohio for Thanksgiving and Danielle's wedding. While it may not have been an exciting birthday,Will sure made the most of it and had a great day anyway! He even had his favorite meal of macaroni and cheese at Noodles in Columbus. He spent his birthday night with Nana and Jack while Mom, Dad and Emma went to rehearse for Danielle's wedding.
On the day of the wedding, Emma met up with the "big girls" and got her hair fixed at a salon in Tiffin.  Later she was quoted as saying it was the best part of being a flower girl. She had a great time all day long and was a real trooper.  She never got tired of dancing (could be from all the chocolate she ate at the reception), she smiled (for the most part) and never hesitated in leaving Mom and Dad to join in the wedding party fun. 
Danielle and Tim's wedding was just beautiful - it just ended way too soon.  
As is current tradition, we spent Thanksgiving with our Ohio families. It was wonderful seeing everyone and spending time (a little, anyway) catching up. No matter how long our trips up North are, we never seem to have enough time to see everyone.  We did have a fortunate unexpected visit with Terry, Carla and Eric. We met up at Chico's and enjoyed pizza and beers for lunch, then just hung out talking the afternoon away! Later that evening, we joined my mom, MJ and Grandpa Allan, and Sharon and Steve for our annual "Tasting Party".  What a hooch, I mean hoot!  We tasted lots of interesting spirits and even played a game.  I can't remember the name of it, but we had to read these phrases that weren't real words, but when said the correct way, sounded like real words.  It was funny to say the least.