Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Merry Christmas II

We just got back from a fun long weekend in Indiana with Kent's family. We ate a lot, did a little shopping, played a game or two (do crazy eight's and war count in the game total?) hung out with family, and opened a lot of presents!

The kids were great at waiting to open presents, but when we were all getting settled, they did start to get impatient..."can't we start opening YET?"
Once we gave the go-ahead, the kids were very single-minded in their goal to open everything and see everything as fast as possible...

...except for Jesse. He was very single-minded about getting each toy out and playing with it before moving on to the next present.

As you can see above, the other kids are long done opening their things, and Jesse is still on one of his first presents. (Oh yeah, and you can also see the apparent wrapping paper bomb that went off!)
We had fun boxing with the Wii again. Except this time Meredith got a chance to test out her skills.

It's been a few years since we've gone to Indiana so close to Christmas, and we were really glad that we did. It was so nice to see everyone and celebrate together. Jim and Bev, we'll see you in a few short weeks! (I must say that I'm not sad that it won't be us making the 6-hour drive then!)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Cinnamon Rolls

A while ago my mom and I made a cinnamon roll tea ring for our family Christmas breakfast. My mom was in charge of keeping Jesse occupied, and Meredith and I were in charge of making the tea ring.

I took the easy route this year and made dough in my bread machine. I now regret this time-saving decision since the rolls were not nearly as good as the ones that my mom makes. But I guess I'll know for next time...

Yummy butter, sugar, and cinnamon goodness!

Shaping the ring.
Just pretend you don't see my daughter eating raw dough!

It was nice to have my mom there to tell me what to do - this was the first time that I had made a tea ring instead of just making regular rolls.
Not exactly the finished product, but I forgot to take a final picture. So just imagine that these are baked, frosted, sprinkled with red and green sugar, and ready to eat.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Merry Christmas

Here are some pictures from our Christmas with Theresa's family.

Fun boxing with the Wii. Well, I think Randy had fun, but I don't know how much Kent enjoyed being knocked out time and time again!

Fun watching the boxing...

You would think he was looking at all the presents under the tree instead of watching the boxing match. (OK, so he was probably having fun watching Kent do everything to NOT get knocked out!)

Yummy fondue. This year because of my mom's surgery on the 23rd, the question was raised as to if we should scale back the Christmas Eve meal. I think I 'bout had a heart attack - mess with tradition? No way!

Jesse got a tractor and wagon for Christmas...

"Come on Mom, can't you get it out of the box any faster???"

"Seriously, I have the tractor but hurry up and get the wagon out of the box!"


When Jace received these little cars, Jesse was quite upset that they weren't his. Thankfully Jace let Jesse play with them!

Does this tell you anything if you see the kids reading on Christmas Eve? I think they were having fun, but were just having a little down time...yeah, we'll say that they were just too exhausted from all the playing!

Speaking of exhausted, oh what a toll the Christmas festivities take on a girl.

The stockings were hung...

by the stairway with care.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Tip of the Day, or week or month

a special gift - the yummy kind

Everybody loves to receive packages in the mail. I don't get many but whenever there's one waiting I'm so excited. This week one evening, I arrived home to a special package waiting for me at the door. The return label said MK Cookies. Yum-o! That's Rachel Ray speak for DELICIOUS. My new boss was so thoughtful and sent MK Cookies for my family to savor this holiday. They were fresh, chewy and packed with chocolate chips. This special treat reminded me of how meaningful it is to receive - and give, a special delivery. I'm going to add MK Cookies to my card file of gift ideas for hostesses, teachers, and far away friends.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

9 filled hospital waiting room chairs, 2 McDonalds' drive-throughs, 1 ruptured disc repaired, and a partridge in a pear tree

Yesterday my mom had back surgery in the morning to fix a ruptured disc. Thankfully everything went well, and she is on her way to recovery. She was hoping that she would be able to come home yesterday afternoon or evening, but she wasn't able to. So this afternoon she will be discharged (we think) and will come home to a house full of her children and their families.

We're not really sure how she will feel, but we do know that she won't be able to do anything for the next few weeks while she is recovering. (The "doing nothing" will include no bending or lifting.)

While we certainly aren't happy that mom had to have surgery, we are so very grateful that her pain was something that could be taken care of...that surgery went as well as was expected...that she is able to come home and be with her family...that everyone will be together for Christmas except for my niece who is in service in Sweden...and that we can celebrate the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Get well soon, Mom!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tip of the Day, or week or month

The Search for the Perfect Gift

How kind of my sis to build up the pressure to be her guest blogger. Really, I'm not a very good writer but I'm a pretty good talker and I suppose that's how I got into this. So here goes.

I recently took the StrengthsFinder 2.0 test and one of the questions was something along the lines of, "Do you search for the perfect gift or do you search for a nice gift?" There's no question how I answered that one, my goal is always to search for the perfect gift. This summer I found the perfect tool to help me find perfect gifts. I picked up this card file made by Real Simple at Target. Each person in my family has a page and other people that I frequently shop for also made it in the book. Whenever anyone mentions something they'd like or even their favorite candy or snack, I write it on their card. When it came time to make a gift list this year, I was all set. This card file is also great for my shopping list, to do list, and lots of other bits of information I don't want to lose. The cards are perforated, lined and color coded plus it easily fits in my purse. A special thanks to my cousin Amanda and Aunt Marlinda for introducing me to this great tool.


Guest Blogger

I'm thrilled to have my sister be my guest blogger here on the lil 'ole Iowa Country Blog. She will be sharing a tip of the day (or tip of every other day or tip of every week or something) with us. She is by far the most organized and efficient person that I know, and I'm so excited to hear what she has to share. (How's that for pressure, Kristen!) The picture to the right is not from her office, but her house is not that far from this picture. So she definitely has organizational and storage tips that I know I can use.
So keep your eyes open for her fun posts!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Orange Marmalade & Pickle Relish

Last week my sister, Kristen, and I made pepper jelly together. Unfortunately we (well, actually Kristen) forgot the red peppers. Ok, so the red peppers are the most important ingredient in red pepper jelly, but no big deal! (She's sitting right beside me as I type this, so I can give her a little grief!) Seriously though, the recipe calls for either red or green peppers, so we made one batch with green peppers and one batch with orange and yellow peppers. The orange pepper jelly is really pretty, it's just that it looks more like orange marmalade instead of pepper jelly. The green pepper jelly is totally the same color as pickle relish...tastes just as good as red pepper jelly...but just looks like pickle relish. Who knew that bright green peppers would end up looking so army green when chopped up?

Snow Day II

Snow Day Count
Snow Days: 2
Early Outs Due to Snow: 3

Meredith had another snow day last Friday to bring us to the total count above. Beth or Kim, can either of you tell me how many snow days were built into the school calendar? Like, will they have to go to school into June again? Anyway, Meredith officially started her Christmas vacation on Friday - and is excited that she gets to be home so much. We'll see how long it takes her to start asking when she can go back to school to play with her friends!

We had a church snow day on Sunday morning in addition to the snow day for school on Friday. Meredith was totally bummed that she couldn't wear her Christmas dress to church, so she wore it around our house. She also got a bunch of little ponies for a Christmas present from a friend, so she played with those all morning long on Sunday.

Apparently the ponies were hungry for pancakes for breakfast too.

And this afternoon they all had to take a nap when we got home from work.The ponies are sharing a pillow with Meredith tonight in bed. Unfortunately that means that Meredith gets about an eighth of the pillow. Which is actually fine because she usually ends up sleeping with her head at the foot or either side of the bed anyway.

Again, fun times for snow days and Christmas break!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow Day .5 Take 3

Snow Day Count (from Dec. 18)
Snow Days: 1
Early Outs Due to Snow: 3

Another early out today.
Another chance for Meredith to go to Grandma's house and play while I went back to work.
And another chance to play with something special and fun - like my camera! I won't make you see all the pictures that Meredith took last night (all 85 of them) - but here are our favorites!

First off, we have the person holding the camera.

Next up, we have Meredith's favorite kitty sitting outside in the cold, watching our every move and waiting for the ice storm to start.

And finally, we have Meredith trying to get Jesse to look at her...Can you just hear her (in a sing-song voice), "Jeeeessssseee look at meeeeeeeeeeee!"

And if that doesn't work, she'll MAKE him look at her! Poor guy - he doesn't stand a chance against his big sister!

the little things...

Oh the little things, like a bucket of field corn, tractors, blocks, and imagination...

(I was hoping that he would stay on the play mat with the corn, but oh well, it's easy enough to sweep up!)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Snow Day .5

Snow Day Count
Snow Days: 1
Early Outs Due to Snow: 2

Meredith had another early out yesterday. The brave little school bus and driver that made it up the big hill on our gravel road - I'm glad she could see where the road was since it was totally covered! (I know the picture looks a bit grainy, but that's just the falling snow.)

Um, can you tell what her favorite colors are? Doesn't she look thrilled that she had an early out? As it turns out, I think she was just happy because of the snow; she had no idea that she got out of school early. Ah, to be a kindergartner again and blissfully unaware of things!

And poor Fluffy (my parent's dog)...stuck outside in the cold!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Zach turns 8

On Sunday afternoon we went to my nephew Zach's 8th birthday party. He didn't have a Star Wars themed party, but he definitely had a Star Wars birthday since many of his presents had to do with Star Wars.
We had a fun time getting together with family and just hanging out. The evening was cut a little short due to the ice pellets coming down - it was neither snow nor freezing rain.

My intention was to take lots of pictures to document the party. What actually happened was that I got a lot of unfocused pictures until the food was ready, and then the camera was abandoned in exchange for little smokies, chips, rotell, and diet pepsi. (Seriously - not much can compete with diet pepsi!)

I did get the shot below of my niece Gretta being crazy as usual!