Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Let It Snow Hodgepodge

1. Do you send Christmas cards? If so about how many will you send this year? How do you display the cards you receive? Or don't you? (gasp!)

Yes, we do send (or give out) Christmas cards, usually with either a picture of our family, or a picture of the girls. We send out around fifty. We display the cards we receive on our banister.

2. When do kids become adults?

I think they become adults when they are 18, or when they have graduated from High School. It can be a rather fine line.

3. Does your 'beauty regimen' change with the seasons?

I don't really have much of a 'beauty regimen', so it stays the same regardless of the seasons. I guess I do moisturize a bit more in the winter, but that's about it.

4. What's something you like to eat that might cause another person to turn up their nose?

I can't think of anything that I like to eat that other people would turn their noses up at. I do like squash and mushrooms, and those are both things that certain people in our family find repulsive, so I will go with those.

5. Gloves or mittens?

Definitely gloves! I haven't worn mittens since I was a little girl. I found this video, and apparently, owning these particular gloves can change your life. I don't own a smart phone yet (stupid cell phone contract) but Hubs does, so maybe I should get him a pair for Christmas?

FYI....this is EXACTLY how it looks outside my door right now! Brrr!

6. What's the longest queue you've ever been in? Was it worth it? Queue=line but doesn't queue sound nicer?

Probably standing in line for the Toy Story ride at Disney World. We had to wait so long, that children were literally napping while we waited! Was it worth it? I don't think so.

7. Besides Christmas, what is one thing you are looking forward to in the month of December?

My oldest daughter is in the play "The Homecoming" at our local theatre. This is the story "The Walton's" is based on. She is playing the part of Shirley, who is one of the Spencer children. The shows are next weekend, and we are all very excited to see the weeks of hard work pay off.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

So, here is an update about my medical tests. The pulmonologist does not think that I have emphysema, so THAT is good news! However, I do have some sort of restrictive airway disease, and he is not willing to "label" me yet, but he thinks that I may have chronic asthma. He put me on some new meds, and I have to see him again soon. Thanks for all of your prayers. I appreciate it!

In other news, our town is currently experiencing blizzard-like conditions. We are expected to get from 6-10 inches of snow tonight. We had something called "thunder snow" and it was pretty weird. It was thundering and lighting, WHILE it was snowing!

Power is out in the town next to us, but ours is still on. Of course, I got smart this time, and filled up the tub and several large containers with water, just in case. Since we have a well, if we lose power.....we lose water! No water = toilet that won't flush. With five people living in the house, that is NOT fun.

The kids around here are all excited about a possible snow day tomorrow. That is one of the disadvantages of doing school at home. You don't have to "go" anywhere, so school can continue as usual. Ha!

That's OK, we have "snow days" when the sun is shining instead :)

We need to find all of the winter gear, as the girls are looking forward to going sledding tomorrow.

Now....where did we put those boots....

Monday, November 28, 2011

Just Imagine

When I was younger, I didn't have any Legos, but my brother did. He also had Lincoln Logs, and we would spend hours building things together.

Since I have all girls, Legos haven't been a real big part of our family. Unlike families that have boys, that word has never appeared on any Christmas list my girls have written.

Barbies: Check

Baby Dolls: Check

Kitchen: Check

American Girl Doll: Check

Legos: Ummm.....No

However, my youngest daughter has now taken a liking to them. Living in a small town, we don't have a Lego store. Sure, you can buy them at Wally World, but it isn't quite as fun.

So, while we were in Chicago, we decided to visit a real Lego store.

Let me tell you, it did not disappoint! THIS is what greeted us at the entrance of the store.

Impressive, eh? This is made entirely out of.....you guessed it....Legos! I can't even imagine how many hours it took them to put this together.

The Chicago skyline was in one window, and this Lego man was in the other. To be honest, this one rather surprised me. I was kind of shocked that in this day and age, they would actually make a Lego man smoking a pipe. They are not allowed to post cigarette ads on billboards anymore, or have commercials on television, or even advertise for them in a magazine. So, isn't it rather odd that a store that sells toys for children, would in a round about way, be advertising smoking? What do you think?

This gigantic dragon could be seen throughout the store. His head was at the back of the store, but his body appeared to be "coming through" the ceiling every so often all around the store.

Here is a close up of his mouth

This black cat with a white patch resembles my mother-in-law's cat, Cozy.

My oldest daughter said this reminded her of Hubs and I. Awww

The best part of being at the Lego store? Playing with the all the Legos!

Here is our favorite cowboy, Woody, from Toy Story. I think they should have put Jessie next to him. That would have been cute!

This is Hubs, my oldest daughter, and my brother-in-law standing next to him. He was very tall!

Being at the Lego store made me remember just how much fun Legos can be. Hmmm....maybe I will put them on my Christmas list this year.

You never know, Santa just may decide to put some in my stocking.

I have been a very good girl this year....

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Semi-Extreme Couponing

Today, I had my first ever experience with semi-extreme couponing.

I have watched the show (you all know the one) and marveled over those people who buy things with coupons, and pay very little money or even get their items for free.

I have stared at the television in disbelief as I watched a lady buy 50 bottles of mustard, for just her and her husband....and HE didn't even like mustard!

I have a friend who gave me a ton of Sunday papers that were just going to be thrown away. Since they contained coupons, my friend rescued them, and passed them out to her friends who wanted them. So, I thought I would try my hand at some semi-extreme couponing.

I am not one to beg the neighbors for their coupons, or go "dumpster diving" just to save a buck. But, if you want to give me FREE coupons, that can save me some money? I will gladly take them off your hands :)

I love using coupons, but I do not like how long it takes to use them. First, you have to match them up with the sales ads. Then, you have to cut them all out. Next, you have to pick the ones that you will take to the store with you.....and actually remember to take them. Minor detail, but very important if you want to save any money.

The store where you can save the most money using coupons in our area, is not one that I frequent, so I don't know where everything is. Add that to the LARGE number of coupons I was trying to handle, and it added up to a pretty hectic shopping trip.

Oh, did I mention that this is also the week of Thanksgiving, and half the town was also there trying to get their holiday goodies? Yeah....

But....after a mere 4 hours of shopping (oh brother) I managed to save $48.98 in coupons.

With all of the store promotions, and other non-coupon savings, I saved a grand total of $118.97. Not bad for a day's work.

The lady at the register told me that I was the first person to exceed the cash register savings limit. I can't see how that is possible, since I have friends who, I am sure, have saved WAY more money in coupons than I did, but maybe she was using the grand total savings amount instead of just coupons? Not sure. No balloons or confetti dropped from the ceiling, so that was a tad disappointing. I think I should get some sort of prize, don't you?

I need to become more familiar with the store's coupon policy, because I think that I didn't save quite as much as I was supposed to. I guess they will only double so many coupons for so many items, or something like that.

But, even with that, I still saved a bunch of money, so I am happy. I still had to spend $156.36 though. Definitely NOT like on the show where they pay $3 for $1,000 worth of groceries.

I had to buy quite a few things that I didn't have coupons for though, and I even got some stocking stuffer things, and one present, so not too bad.

While I was on the way to the car, I saw a ten dollar bill floating down the parking lot. Yes....it was literally floating. It was raining so hard, I felt like I had taken a shower with my clothes on....while pushing two carts in the parking lot.

I asked the lady who had just passed by me if she had dropped her money, and she said, "Oh, probably". Ha! Hope it was hers. She had an envelope of money with her (probably her "grocery" envelope a la Dave Ramsey ) so I'm pretty sure it was.

It was a pretty eventful trip, and now my freezer and fridge are filled to overflowing.

Not to mention we have enough deodorant to last us at least six months.

So, any of you coupon pros out there want to give a newbie some advice on how to make couponing easier?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Virtual Field Trips

Would you like to take a virtual field trip of a Pilgrim Village? Wampanoag Homesite? Plimoth Plantation? You can go to Scholastic and find all of that, and so much more!

My girls and I just finished watching some of the videos, and we learned so much! It was a fun, interactive way to learn more about the Pilgrims and Indians, and what life was like in the 1620's.

Just in case you were wondering, I DID spell "Plimoth" correctly. That is how they spelled it back then. Apparently, they didn't have any spelling rules, so people just spelled things however they wanted to.

Kind of like if you go on Facebook today, and see how creatively people spell the words bored, tomorrow, or truly, just to name a few. You would be amazed at how many people cannot spell these elementary school words. Or....maybe you wouldn't.

Anyway, on this scholastic site, there are also story suggestions, crafts you can make, printables, read-alongs that allow you to tour the Mayflower, and slide shows of the first Thanksgiving.

One neat idea I got from this site that I will be implementing with my girls is simple. First, write out the letters of the alphabet. Then, for each letter, they must come up with something that starts with that letter that they are thankful for. I can't wait to see what they come up with. It stretches their imagination to go beyond naming just the ordinary things.
I think Hubs and I will do this activity too, and then we will all compare our answers.

That means that tomarrow, we truely will not be bord.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

American Girl

Before I had children, I had never heard of "American Girl". One of my friends, who had a daughter, mentioned it when my oldest was just a baby, and then she said, "just wait".

Wait? Wait for what?

Then, when my daughter was about five....it started.

The catalogs mysteriously appeared.

And they kept coming.

And coming. And coming. And coming.

With the catalogs, came the nagging.

"I want this!"

"I want that!"

"Look, it's on sale!"

And so, I found out what my friend meant when she told me to "just wait".


So...."Santa" was asked to bring two little girls a much desired American Girl doll.

Santa went above and beyond, and he made them wooden beds, and Mrs. Clause made them bedding to go with it, and stenciled on the beds to make them extra special.

That Christmas morning, there were two very excited little girls, who were overjoyed with what they found wrapped under the tree....two dolls by the name of Samantha

and Kit

Complete with the story book about their lives.

Fast forward to the littlest sister, and of course, she also wanted an American Girl doll, just like her sisters had. Santa felt that she was not old enough to take care of an expensive doll like that quite yet, so she received a Bitty Baby. (I talked about how to clean the dolls on this post).
When the youngest was six, she received her very own "Just like you" American Girl doll. She named her Jenny.

And the catalogs kept coming.

My youngest daughter wanted to take a trip to the American Girl store. The nearest one to us is in Chicago.

So, when we planned on taking a trip to Chicago, the first place on the list was the American Girl Place.

Here is the glass elevator at the The Water Tower shopping mall where the American Girl Place is located.

It made me a little bit sad that we had never gone when my oldest girls were younger. It is a little girl's dream come true. But, a fifteen year old? Not so much.

My middle daughter still enjoyed it some what, and my youngest of course, never wanted to leave.

She really wanted to get Jenny's ears pierced, and so we got the camera all ready to document the experience.

When we arrived, it was rather anticlimactic, as we were told that they did not do it in front of you, but rather, took the doll to the back, and the machine "pierced" them back there.

So, we sat Jenny in the chair, and the lady brushed her hair, and we took pictures of that.

By the way, we went to the AG store on a Wednesday, and there was NO wait! Definitely better to go during the week, than on a weekend. See? No line! I can't imagine what this place looks like on a weekend...

For $14, the AG store pierced Jenny's ears, and that included a card with six pairs of earrings.

Hubs mentioned he could have just taken her into the garage, and "pierced" them for free, but that wouldn't have been quite as much fun.

And it wouldn't have included earrings.

For those of you who have all boys, or live under a rock, American Girl is HUGE!

Not only can you buy the dolls, but there are literally thousands of accessories that you can buy to go with them.

See the little white dog next to the doll? That is Coconut. She is probably the most popular little "pet" that you can buy for your doll. They also have horses, that cost almost as much as a REAL horse.

FYI....we own Coconut.

We purchased Coconut from a garage sale.

For a quarter :)

My youngest daughter standing in front of the "Just like you" doll case.
With these dolls, you can purchase one that....well....looks just like you! They have all different colors of skin, hair, and eyes, so they can be your "twin".

As you can see, they had already started decorating for the Christmas season. Not a fan of the saying, "Happy Holidays". What holiday are we celebrating?

It is CHRISTmas, people!

Just in case YOU have a little girl who has something from American Girl on her Christmas list, be aware that not only is there "Black Friday", but there is something called "Cyber Monday". This is the Monday AFTER Black Friday.

I was able to get the outfit that "Jenny" is dressed in, for 50% off, on Cyber Monday last year. When a single outfit for the doll can cost $25, that is a good deal!

So....be looking for sales on that day!

I know I will....

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sunshine Hodgepodge

1. What song reminds you of a specific time in your life and what is it about that song that makes you remember?

"You Are My Sunshine". I used to sing this to my girls when they were babies. I loved singing to them as I rocked them to sleep.

I only sang the "You are my sunshine" part of the song to them. I didn't realize that the song goes on....and is quite depressing!

The other night dear as I lay sleeping
I dreamed I held you in my arms
When I awoke dear I was mistaken
And I hung my head and cried

You are my sunshine my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are grey
You'll never know dear how much I love you
Please don't take my sunshine away

I'll always love you and make you happy
If you will only stay the same
But if you leave me to love another
You'll regret it all someday

You are my sunshine my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are grey
You'll never know dear how much I love you
Please don't take my sunshine away

You told me once dear you really loved me
And no one else could come between
But now you've left me and love another
You have shattered all of my dreams

You are my sunshine my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are grey
You'll never know dear how much I love you
Please don't take my sunshine away

~ Jimmie Davis

Yeah...glad I just sang the "You are my sunshine" part to them.

2. What's something you've given up on?

Being good at sports. I tried to play a few, and I am just not very good. Maybe if I tried harder, I might get better. But....I don't want to ;)

3. What's something you'll never give up on?

My family! They mean the world to me.

4. If you had to cook something from scratch in the next hour what would it be?

Do you mean without a recipe? Maybe "Cheeseburger Soup". It is a family favorite.

5. Have you started Christmas shopping? Decorating? Listening to Christmas music?

A little. But, ONLY because I was in the right place at the right time. Usually, I don't start shopping for Christmas until after Thanksgiving.

No, I refuse to decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving. One holiday at a time, people!

No, I haven't started listening to Christmas music yet. However, I was forced to listen to it when I was in the store. They were playing it BEFORE Halloween! Pretty soon, we will just start celebrating Christmas in July!

6. What do you know about your parent's wedding?

I know that I was the flower girl, and my brother was the ring bearer.

I know that on the day they got married, their town was experiencing a severe blizzard, and people were advised NOT to travel on the roads!

I know that there are hardly any pictures, and the ones that they do have were not taken professionally.

I know my Mom wore a borrowed dress.

I know they didn't have a fancy honeymoon.

I know that regardless of all of that, they are still together today, and have been a wonderful example to Hubs and I of what love truly means ♥

7. I can't believe I _______________.

....am 37 years old, and I am being tested for emphysema. What?! How is that even possible? I am a non-smoker. Never smoked even a single cigarette in my entire life. They told me my lungs are functioning like a 63 yr. old smoker. A smoker!

I am going to the hospital on Thursday (which just so happens to be my birthday) to have further testing done to determine exactly WHY my lungs are functioning that way. Whatever that test reveals, will determine what further tests I will need, and what medicines they will give me. Prayers would be greatly appreciated.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I know this is late, but here are some pictures from our church's "Trunk or Treat". This takes place on Halloween, and is open to the community. Hubs and I did a "Birthday" trunk, as both of our birthdays are soon after Halloween. It was great fun to tell the kids "Happy Birthday!" as they approached our trunk. You should have seen all of the puzzled looks we got! Some little kids even told me that it was NOT their birthday. Haha! We did encounter a few people who had Halloween birthdays though.

It is a great outreach activity as 10% of our town comes to our church parking lot that night. We pass out candy, hot chocolate and coffee, and have a drawing for free bikes. The kids always enjoy it, and this year, we had perfect weather.

My youngest and I, wrapping the "presents". One of the presents we wrapped, was actually toilet paper. When the neighbor girl came over, she got all excited, and asked what was in the present. When I told her toilet paper, she looked at me, like I was very weird, and said "Who wants toilet paper for a present?!" Ha!

"Happy Birthday!"

My youngest daughter with her friends

My middle daughter with her friend. They dressed up as twins :)

My three girls together. They were a glowing stick person, twin, and Hello Kitty.

Here is our glowing stick person....in the dark....glowing!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pick Up And Go Hodgepodge

I'm doing Hodgepodge a day early...

1. Of all the tools and gadgets you own which do you most enjoy using?

I guess I would have to say my Ninja.

As usual, once I bought one, they made a "new and improved" one though. It always seems like they wait until I buy one (whatever it is) and THEN they go and improve it. Ha! Anyway, I really love the small Ninja that came with the big one. I use it like a mini food processor. It is perfect for chopping nuts, or making a small batch of salsa.

2. When (if ever) is impatience a virtue?

When your health is concerned. I'm a firm believer in not waiting until things are bad before you get help. More on that at a later time....

3. What temperature do you keep your thermostat set to in winter? Do you have another way to heat your house besides a furnace of some type?

We have a very large family room, so we have a gas insert fireplace in there. It heats up the room so much, that we can't keep it on all the time, or we would all die from heat stroke! It doesn't do a whole lot for the rest of the house, though it does help out a little.

We keep the heat at about 68 during the day, and 66 at night. Our home is well insulated, and retains heat fairly well. We have a large bay window in the front of our house, and when the sun is shining, it really helps heat up the living room.

4. Do/did you have a close relationship with any of your grandparents?

I have/had a close relationship with my one set of Grandparents. My Gram passed away, and I miss her every day. My Grandpa is still alive, and I talk to him on a regular basis.

My other set, I have a pretty close relationship with my Grandpa, but my Grandma (who has passed away) I wasn't real close to.

5. When did you last have a family portrait taken?

We try to take one at Christmas time for our Christmas card. This past year, we just had the girls (and Benji) in it.

6. What does the word patriotism mean to you?

To me, it means that you are proud of your country, and you do your best to honor and respect it.

7. Do you like to play cards and if so, what's your favorite card game?

Not really. Every once in a while, I will pay solitaire. As a kid, I would play cards quite a bit, but not so much as an adult.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Lately, I feel like I have so much to say, but not much time to say it! I still haven't posted pics from our church's Trunk or Treat we had on Halloween night.

Hubs' family is coming to visit us from Maine, so we are off to Chicago to see the sights, go to museums, and do some shopping.

I'm sure I will have lots of pics to share when I come back.

I love homeschooling. We can just pick up....and go! No catch up work when we get back and I don't have to ask permission or let anyone know my girls will be absent. It doesn't matter that it is in the middle of the week. It's a convenient time for us to go, so we go. The girls can miss this whole week of school, and spend time with their family.

Until next time....

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It's A Monster Of A Hodgepodge

1. Who taught you how to cook?

My Mom.....sort of. I already mentioned that my Mom is an awesome, AMAZING cook. The problem is, I never paid much attention to how she actually cooked things. So, when I got married, I really had very little cooking skills to go on. Hubs could cook better than I did! He had been on his own for a while, and was forced to learn. I went to college, and was on the "meal plan" so other than some Ramen noodles or mac n' cheese, I wasn't required to cook anything.

In the beginning of our marriage, there was a lot of trial and error, and dinners that didn't turn out quite right, along with baked goods that were less than ideal. Hubs was always so patient, and reassured me that some day, I would be an amazing cook. That it would just take time.

I would like to say, that he was right :) Thankfully, I did learn, and now, I do make some pretty tasty dishes, if I do say so myself. I still call my Mom every once in a while with a cooking question though.

I am also making sure that when my daughters leave the house, they will know how to cook for themselves!

2. Have you been told you think too much? Are too much of a perfectionist? Are you too sensitive? Were they right?

YES, to all of the above. Hubs tells me that I think too much all the time. And....he is right. My mind always goes to "worst case scenario" too.

I do tend to be a bit of a perfectionist, but only on certain things. I wish I could pick and choose what I feel should be perfect. I would choose to care more about being organized and less about how my hair looks. Ha!

I do think I am a little too sensitive. I tend to read more into things than I should. Although sometimes, I think a certain male who lives in my house doesn't read enough into things...

3. As a child did you have a favorite blanket or toy? Tell about it.

I had a doll that my Gram made me that was a reversible night and day doll. I loved that thing, and could NOT sleep without it. I remember a few times frantically looking for her before bed. She was so well loved that there were just a few strands of her yarn hair left on the "night" side.

4. What 'institution' do you have the most faith in?

Marriage! I have seen many marriages stand the test of time, and I firmly believe in it. It's not always easy, but nothing in life worthwhile ever is.

5. Chrysanthemums-pansies-burning bush-ornamental cabbage...your favorite in an autumn garden?

I can't choose, they are all so pretty!

6. What superpower do the kids in your neighborhood seem to posses?

Being invisible! We don't have a whole lot of kids in our neighborhood, and the ones we do have, aren't out very often.

7. Are you a fan of the cranberry?

A little. It really depends on what it is in. I don't like cranberry sauce, but I do like cranberry if it is in some sort of baked good.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

My middle daughter had her play, which is the reason I have been a little quiet on the ole' blog lately. It takes a lot out of a Mama! Here are some pictures from "The Monster Hunters".

My daughter and her best friend at the radio station, promoting their play.

She played the part of Margot, the leader of the "Secret Society of the Girls Who Like To Make Bracelets Club". Margot is mean and nasty, and since my daughter is a sweet girl, she really had to practice this!

Some of the girls in the club

Putting on her glitter so she could be all sparkly. She had to wear a ton of bracelets!

Enemies in the play.....best friends in real life :)

She had to kiss this boy at the end of the play. Ha!

Frances, Pip, Penny, and Margot

Some of the monsters

In the play, Finn draws a tattoo heart on his arm that says, "Finn + Margot". We just had to get a pic of that!

Hubs was teasing the boy, telling him to "blow it up!" Finn said, "That's all it goes!" Too funny.

The whole cast