Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Special E-Mail

This is an e-mail I received early today from B2. She is writing about Christmas. Our nickname for her is "Boo." How sweet is this? I'll remind her of it when she is 16 and really mad at me for something! Ha ha!

I think the word beat is supposed to be best, camer is supposed to be camera, and by means bye.

hi mom

i love you soooooooooo much you are the beat mom ever i love my camer i love all my stuff

love boo

PS write back i love you soooooo much by

Monday, December 29, 2008

Great Weekend

We had a very nice, relaxing weekend.

We left Saturday morning around 10:30, dropped the dog off at the vet's office, where they also board, and headed north to Peoria, IL. Bruce used to take a boy's weekend trip there just about every winter, so he knows his way around the town pretty well. On the way, we contacted my cousin, who we made plans with to go to dinner that night. Once we got into town, we checked in at our hotel (Sleep Inn, which was actually very nice, except their internet wasn't working) and then headed to my cousin's house for a short visit. We all then ate dinner at Alexander's Steakhouse, which is one of Bruce's favorite places in Peoria. The steak was awesome and catching up with Dan and Mary Ann even better.

Then Bruce drove himself to the Civic Center, where the Peoria Rivermen play hockey. He dropped himself off and the girls and I headed to Northwoods Mall. We really only went to 3 stores there, but we were there for about 1.5 hours. First, we went to Build-A-Bear workshop, where B2 used a Christmas gift card and some Christmas cash and built herself a dog. It is a husky and she chose to name her "Winter." Whoever came up with the Build-A-Bear idea must be a rich person these days! After that, we headed to Aeropostale, B1's new favorite store. She too had a gift card and cash to use from Christmas. They had a lot of things on sale and she got some good buys. Last stop was JC Penney's, where we needed to return a few things and get B2 a couple pairs of jeans. Then we headed back downtown to pick up Bruce. He and I took turns going to the Par-A-Dice casino for an hour each (while I was there, he and the girls returned something to Wal-Mart and shopped there a little; while he was there, the girls and I went to Culver's for some dessert!). I won $5.40 and he lost $8.00 so all in all, that isn't too bad!

Yesterday, we slept until about 9:30am and then went to get a little breakfast in the hotel lobby. The girls wanted to swim, so I swam with them for awhile and then Bruce did while I got cleaned up. Once we were all ready to go, we headed out to do some shopping. We went to an area with some shops different than what is in the mall. We also ate a mid-afternoon meal at Red Lobster, for which we had gift cards to cover the entire cost. We headed to the Civic Center for another hockey game, this time for all 4 of us. We left with about 3 minutes to go in the game. The Rivermen were winning 3-0. As it turned out, they LOST the game in overtime, 4-3. Yeah, apparantly, the opposing team scored 3 goals in the final 3 minutes (one with .2 seconds remaining) and then won in a shoot out. Wow, did we miss some stuff!

Anyway, today we again slept until about 9:30am (the beds at the hotel were great!), got up, got ready, and headed to one of Dan and Mary Ann's favorite breakfast spots. When we arrived there, we were greeted by Dan, which we were not expecting! We had a great breakfast before getting on the road and heading home.

It was a very nice weekend. It is nice to just get away from home once in awhile. It seems like when I am here, I am always looking around for something that "I should be doing" but when I am away, that is not an option. Last night, for example, I laid in bed and read a book about Disney World that I had purchased yesterday afternoon. It was awesome! I also love staying in a hotel because I love when all 4 of us are sleeping in the same room.

Friday, December 26, 2008

I Did It!

Last year, I posted about the possibility of preparing the dressing (stuffing) for our Christmas dinner. With everything that happened last year with my mom, we didn't end up having Christmas dinner and therefore, I didn't make any dressing. Well, this year my mom made Christmas dinner! And I made the dressing. And it turned out pretty darn good! I was happy with the outcome. My grandmother's husband (who is very critical of his food) complimented me on it, so I knew I had done well! Yay!Not that anyone really cares or wants the recipe (I read both my grandmother's recipe and my great aunt's recipe, which are similar, and combined the two together for MY recipe), but I am going to post it here, mostly for my own record. This way, I know I have it written down somewhere and next year if I am asked to prepare it again, I will be able to recall what I did.
1 regular size loaf of bread, laid out about a week in advance to dry
1 stick butter
1 lb. pork sausage
giblets from the turkey (already cooked liver, gizzard, heart, and meat from neck bone)
1 large can pet milk (only used about 3/4 of this)
2 eggs
2 medium onions
2 apples
3 small potatoes
6 full stalks celery
1 can beef broth
salt and pepper to taste
Brown pork sausage in about 1/3 of the stick of butter. Chop (I used my Pampered Chef chopper for all the necessary chopping) giblets and neck meat and add to pork sausage once it is browned. Chop onions, apples, potatoes, and celery and add to pan. Do not drain any of the grease/liquid from the pan. Salt and pepper the mixture and allow it to simmer on low for about 15 minutes.
Wet the dried bread with warm water. Squeeze out excess water and put bread in a large baking pan. Mix eggs with 3/4 of the pet milk and pour this mixture over the bread. Also, melt the remaining part of the stick of butter and pour it over the bread. Salt and pepper this and then stir to combine. Once the meat/veggie mixture has simmered, add this to the bread mixture. Mix everything together well. I then transferred it to a bit smaller baking pan to bake.
Bake at 325-350 for 1-2 hours depending on your liking. Stir about every 15-20 minutes while baking and if necessary (to keep from drying out), add a little beef broth each time you stir.

On another note, I posted a different recipe today over at St. Louis Recipe Swap.

We went to the movies tonight after Christmas at my parents' house and saw "Marley and Me." I haven't cried like that in awhile. That's all I'll say. B1 was crying too, and I don't think I've ever seen her cry in a movie. I do like this new tradition though. Once again, it was amazing how many people were in the theater!

Monday, December 22, 2008

It's the Most Wonderful (Busiest) Time of the Year

Sometimes people laugh at me because I like to do my Christmas shopping early. Usually, I am basically done with it come December 1. I do this because, like everyone else, our December is usually pretty crazy. And more so this year because B1 is not only playing in one, but two basketball leagues AND B2 is playing this year for the first time as well. I was reminded this week about how nice is it that the shopping and most of the other stuff is complete. Friday night, Triad played Highland in boys basketball. Triad won, which as I have mentioned in past posts, is always great when we are playing our arch-rivals. Before the game, the four of us and my brother went to dinner at Diamond Mineral Springs. They have a seafood buffet on Friday nights which includes crab legs (yummy!). After dinner, we quickly went to the square and while Bruce waited in line, the girls and I walked around and took some pictures. They then went in to visit Santa. This is where the first 5 pictures were taken.
Saturday, B2 had a basketball game at 11:00am in Marine and B1 had one at 5:00 in Highland. We ran a few errands in between. After the 5:00 game, several families went out for pizza. Both of our girls had a friend spend the night that night as well.
Sunday morning, we got up and got ready for church. It was the day of the Christmas program and B1 was a narrator while B2 was one of the Wisemen. This is where the last 5 pictures were taken. After church, B2 had a game at noon and B1 had games at 1:00 and 2:00. Thankfully they were all at the same place! As soon as the games were over, we ran the girls to Bruce's mom's and then headed to St. Louis because we had Blues hockey tickets. We had Blues tickets last year at this same time and all I really remember about it was walking around there in sort of a funk because my mom had been diagnosed 2 days prior. After the game (which started at 5:00pm), Bruce and I went to Lumiere Place. Once we finally left there, we still had to go grocery shopping! We left Schnucks in Collinsville at like 12:30am! We didn't go to bed until like 2:00am! It was a fun, packed day! Today, Bruce and the girls had a Daddy/Daughter shopping day. They went to St. Louis Mills while I stayed home and played Santa with the wrapping paper! I also got a bit of a head start on a couple food items I am going to need over the next few days. Tonight was a Girls Night Out for me as I went to Neruda in Edwardsville with Katie, Patti, Heather, and Ronda. It was a good meal and I've been wanting to try this restaurant for a while now. We try to do a GNO every 2-3 months.
Tomorrow, we might take the girls to Dave & Buster's (finally) for their first quarter report card rewards. Hopefully, B1 won't read this because they don't know about it yet!! :-)
On Christmas Eve, Bruce's side of the family comes to our house. They usually arrive shortly after we get home from church, about 5:15. We eat dinner which is a casual affair and eventually open gifts. We always have "A Christmas Story" on the TV too!
Christmas Day consists of us getting up and exchanging family and Santa gifts. Then we head to Bruce's HUGE family dinner (his dad had 14 siblings) for a noontime meal. I try not to eat too much because I want to still be hungry for the meal at my parents' house, which this year I'm told is going to be around 4pm. Last year, because my mom was too sick to host family on Christmas Day, our family of 4 went to a movie that evening. I tell you was very crowded! We were so surprised. We saw "Enchanted" last year. We think we may keep this tradition and go to another movie this year, after we leave my parents' house (it will probably have to be a late movie, but that's OK because we don't have to get up early the following morning). The movie "Marley and Me" comes out on Christmas Day and since we love dogs, we think that may be the one of choice.
Of all the days we celebrate Christmas, I think Dec. 26 is my favorite of all! That is the day we go back to my parents' house and exchange gifts with them and my brother. My mom makes like 4 different appetizers, I bring a few, and we snack all day! It's great!
This year, I think we are going to go away somewhere on the weekend after Christmas. We will probably stay somewhere on the 27th and 28th. It won't be anywhere real far or too exciting, but just a couple days to get away will be nice. Then on New Year's Eve, we have made a tradition of going bowling with other families. We go to Camelot Bowl in Collinsville and we rent 2 lanes from 7pm until 12:30am. It's always a fun time and again, there is a lot of food!

I hope all of your holiday celebrations and traditions are memorable this year!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Gingerbread House 2008

Somewhere along the line, it has become a tradition for B1, B2, and me to decorate a gingerbread house for the holidays. We had a snow day on Monday this week, so that was the perfect time!

This picture was actually taken when we were almost through. B2 is working on an M&M "path" outside the front door of the house. We decided that next year, we might try to use Pez candy for the path, since it looks a lot like little bricks!

Here is B1 concentrating and applying the icing to the front of the house. I think she found out that it is harder to squeeze that icing out than it looks!

Teamwork.....we added a gingerbread tree this year as well. I actually think I like the way the tree turned out more so than the house!

The finished product. I like the way we chose to do the roof this year. The green gummy candies are supposed to be bushes and in front, B2 made a "melted snowman." Of course, B1 thinks that was a stupid idea but I think it's kinda cute!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

12th Birthday Party

We celebrated B1's 12th birthday last night with a swimming party at the Korte Recreation Center in Highland. I think a good time was had by all. She invited eleven girls and B2 invited one. Bruce and I LOVED this party! In the past, she has always wanted to have sleepover parties. We have always taken the girls (usually 5-7 of them) out for pizza and bowling and then back to our house for cake, ice cream, presents, and.......wildness! Then the next morning, we have to deal with breakfast and who is being picked up at what time, etc. etc. This party had none of that! We didn't have to clean up, we didn't have to deal with any drama (there were plenty of things to do.....if someone got angry at someone else, they could just move on to the next form of recreation!), and we got a good night's sleep! YAY!!

Here is B2 (on the left), our new neighbor and our old neighbor.

Here is B1 (on the left) with 3 of her friends. The mini indoor waterpark is a big hit.

I brought a big crock pot of mac 'n cheese as well as a few big bags of chips. We were provided hot dogs, popcorn, and soda. We had access to the big party room for 1.5 hours (after the girls swam for 2.5 hours)

Her cake was really pretty. I ordered extra flowers and Wal-Mart (Katie's FAVORITE store) did a great job with it. This was not included in the price.

You always gotta have one of these pics, don't you?

The whole group of them! Fun picture! I'll pay $108 for a party like this anytime!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

About My Hubby!

Ok, I copied this Husband Meme from Kim's blog. I don't think she'll mind!

About Bruce:

1. He's sitting in front of the tv, what is on the screen? Baseball, football, hockey, wrestling, CSI Miami, or George Lopez

2. You're out to eat what kind of dressing does he get on his salad? Ha ha, that's funny! Bruce and salad? NOT.

3. What's one food he doesn't like? anything green

4. You go out to the bar, what does he order? Diet Coke

5. Where did he go to high school? Triad High School (the best school in the land)

6. What size shoe does he wear? 10-1/2

7. If he was to collect anything, what would it be? Sports memorabilia and ball cards

8. What is his favorite type of sandwich? Arby's Arby-Q or McDonald's McRib

9. What would he eat every day if he could? Turkey

10. What is his favorite cereal? I can honestly say I don't know if I've ever seen him eat a bowl of cereal!

11. What would he never wear? A robe

12. What is his favorite sports team? St. Louis Blues or St. Louis Cardinals

13. Who did he vote for? McCain I think

14. Who is his best friend? Patrick, Mike, Dan, and Ryan

15. What is something you do that he wishes you wouldn't do? Get crabby and take stuff out on him that isn't his fault

16. How many states has he lived in? One - IL

17. What is his heritage? German maybe?

18. You bake him a cake for his birthday; what kind of cake? Chocolate with chocolate icing (lots of it!)

19. Did he play sports in high school? Football for a year or two and maybe baseball for a year or two also? I should know this but I don't.

20. What could he spend hours doing? Watching Dierks Bentley in concert

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

He Makes Our State Look Good (?)

Our illustrious Illinois governor was arrested today on charges that he was basically trying to auction off president-elect Obama's seat in the Senate. How stupid can you be? This takes me back to a prior post, where I also voiced my opinion of "J-Rod." Here is what I wrote back then:

J Rod.....our governor. He governs from his home in Chicago. When we were at the state fair this past summer, we wandered into the Republican tent and in there was an empty doll house that said "Governor's Mansion" on the front of it. Also on the front was a sign that read "Vacancy." I thought it was hilarious! I took a picture with my cell phone but it's not clear enough to put on the blog. Yes, he governs from Chicago. Wouldn't you think he might want to live and work in Springfield, the STATE CAPITOL? I don't claim to know much at all about politics, but through the years that he has been governor of our state, I do know of some education-related issues on which I disagree completely with his point of view.

I hope he is forced out of office.....and soon!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

What Is It? It's A Major Award!

Yep, sure is! This is a blow-up Christmas decoration in our front yard. I LOVE IT! It's a replica of the leg lamp from "A Christmas Story" favorite Christmas movie. I bought this last year on e-bay and proudly displayed it in our yard then. This year I put it closer to the road. Bruce tends to think it might look like something other than a leg lamp. I think you have to see it in person to decide what you think it looks like! The plastic around the outside helps to hold it up and is what causes Bruce to think it looks "inappropriate." But I really don't care.....I LOVE IT!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Not the Greatest Week

Yes, it wasn't the greatest week of my life, but it wasn't the worst either, by far. Here is a recap:

Last weekend, probably Friday, I began noticing that something weird was going on with my face, particularly around my eyes. I asked Bruce and my mother about it but neither seemed to think things looked much different than usual. But I knew something wasn't right. By Sunday night, something was definitely wrong and I began to think about what the heck I had done differently in the past few days. I came to the conclusion that it must be the new tube of mascara that I started on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. My eyes were itchy, a bit swollen, and red like I had been crying or someone punched me. The wrinkles under them were very defined and I looked like crap. The whites of my eyes were fine, but the skin around them looked terrible.
I went to school on Monday with make-up caked around my eyes and wearing my contacts. I thought I looked OK and would get by with it with minimal attention. I did not wear mascara and planned to lay off of mascara until this situation cleared up. I also planned to throw away the new tube of mascara and go back to the old brand (I don't always buy the same brand of mascara). Well, by the end of 2nd hour, I could tell that my students were looking at me in a strange way. I finally said " my eyes look weird?" and almost unanimously, they said "YES!" Alrighty then! So I got out my mirror and checked it out and yes, it seemed to be getting worse. So I decided that maybe a call to the doctor might be in order. I got an appointment for 1:30 that afternoon, which means I only had to leave school about 1/2 way through my 6th hour class (and due to my 7th hour prep, I didn't miss much time with the kids). I ended up with a diagnosis of "contact dermatitis." They gave me a shot of steroids, steroid pills, 2.5% hydrocortisone cream, and was told to also buy Claratin for the antihistamine. Wow. But finally, yesterday and today, things were starting to look better. I have not worn mascara since last weekend and don't plan to do so until maybe Sunday. Today was the first day since Monday that I wore my contacts. My glasses at least hid some of the redness for the past 3 days! It was the tube of mascara shown above that did this to me. I know lots of people use this one but I guess it just doesn't agree with me! I should have taken a picture of my lovely eyes to show you, but darn, I didn't!

Then, Tuesday night around 9:45, our carbon monoxide detector went off. You see, I had moved it from its usual spot (where it has been plugged in (in the hallway) for 14 years) to another outlet so that I could plug in a Christmas decoration. The new outlet location butts up against the outside of our house where a gas lantern burns in the yard. About 3.5 hours after moving the detector there, it went off. Bruce unplugged it, plugged it back in, and about 10 minutes later it went off again. Great. We thought maybe it just didn't like its new location and being that close to a gas lantern, so we moved it back to the hallway. Well, about 15 minutes later, it goes off there. Wonderful. Now it is past 10pm and of course, both girls are asleep. So Bruce began making phone calls and we decided to go spend the night at my parents' house. Bruce ended up talking to my dad, my brother, my brother-in-law, 2 friends of the family, Ameren, the county sheriff's dept., and FINALLY the local fire chief agreed to come over to our house (at about 11pm) and bring a newer, more updated detector. It does pay to live in a small town sometimes. Scott, I know you read this, so THANK YOU!
Bruce had planned to just stay home, wait the suggested 30 minutes, and if it didn't go off, stay at our house. The girls and I and Shinza had already gone over to my parents' house. I called him and told him that I just wanted him too to come over there to sleep because I didn't want to take any chances. So he agreed. We slept in my parents' bed, the girls each slept in a twin bed in their two extra rooms, my mom slept on the couch, and my dad slept in a chair! Yeah, we invade their house and they give up their beds for us! I tried to reason with my dad about this and his response was something like "your mom slept on that couch for 9 months while she was sick; she sleeps fine there! And I sleep fine in the chair!" was too late at night to try to argue with him. It also pays to live near your folks!
Bruce went to Wal-Mart and got 2 new detectors the next day. He decided that maybe we ought to have one in the basement as well as upstairs. One of the new ones is shown above.
The week did get somewhat better after that, although I had to stay home with a sick B1 yesterday. She had some sort of stomach thing going on which was really only pain and nothing else. Last night about 12:00, I was wondering if she had given it to me but by this morning, I felt better. I had to go to school today after a sub ran my class yesterday. That is not so bad when you plan for a sub. But when you have to stay home unexpecedly, it can suck. Luckily, it looked like I had a decent sub as things were left in order on my desk, etc. The kids didn't complain about her either, which always helps. Today could have been a terrible day at school but it was actually fine!
I am tired though. I need a good night's sleep in my own bed, with no middle-of-the-night interruptions. I am hoping to get that tonight. But first, we get to go to B2's first ever basketball game, which begins in a little over an hour! YAY! :-)
(Hope this makes your day, Dan C.!)