Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Time for HGTV's Annual Dream Home Giveaway

It's that time of year again. HGTV starts their annual Dream Home giveaway tomorrow! I LOVE to watch the show & fantasize about winning. Of course, I'm the type of person who never wins anything, so I know it is just a fantasy, but it is soooo FUN! The last few years the houses haven't seemed very conducive to raising a family, I'm hoping this year's house will be better.

California wine country is one of my favorite places to visit & seems like it would be a very nice place to live (expensive, but nice). Since we don't have cable anymore, I'll have to wait for the tour to be available on the website. This year I'm planning to enter every single day!!!

Since this is one of my favorite fantasies, I'll probably be talking about this a lot over the next couple months. I'd love to hear everyone else's opinions on the house. Be sure to enter, I'm sure just about anyone has a better chance at winning this than Me.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

What a crazy day!!

The tree was gorgeous!!! Having just the tree lit is one of my favorite parts of Christmas.
Gramma (my Mom) made pink tutus for all the girls. We tried to get them to sit together for a didn't work too well.

Then we tried having all the kids sit for a group photo...this is one of the best ones. The program that fixes red eye won't work for me tonight, I'll fight with it more tomorrow.
Speaking of fighting, this is how my 19 month old daughter & my 15 month old granddaughter spent the afternoon. Baby Daughter is a bit of a bully.

Everyone had a really good day. The kids let us sleep until almost 9 & other than tired babies we didn't have any crankiness all day.

Merry Christmas Everybody!!!

It's been super hectic around here getting ready for Christmas, but it's DONE!!! The stockings are stuffed, the presents are wrapped & under the tree. The kiddies are all nestled snug in beds (not THEIR beds, but at least beds).

Pictures will be coming, but I need to find the card reader, suggestions on places to look greatly appreciated.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Lemonade Award

My Friend Janet at The Money Jar has given me the Lemonade Award!!! I'm so excited!!! THANK YOU Janet!!!! Janet has two GREAT blogs that I LOVE!!! Her strong faith and positive outlook are inspiring. I'm going to pass this award on to the blogs I read that I feel present great attitude and gratitude.

One Thing
Life in Focus
Five Times Blessed
Musing, Rambling & All Around Blathering
Adventures in Learning
Sometimes We Do
My Love Knot
I Love this Circus

Here are the rules:
1. Put the logo on your blog or post.
2. Nominate at least 10 blogs which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude!
3. Link to your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love and link to this post and to the person from whom you received your award.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Music Monday-The Christmas Carol Edition 2

Hubby & I both LOVE Anne she is singing one of my favorite Christmas Carols

It's Monday again....

December is just flying. Yesterday was the third Sunday of Advent & my 3 yr old was soooo happy to see the pink (JOY) candle lit on the Advent wreath. The kids & I splurged & went out to lunch and then did a little Christmas shopping. I'm addicted to tree ornaments. I only put up one tree, but I probably have enough ornaments to decorate at least three 7 ft trees. I hadn't planned to buy any new ornaments this year, but we found some on sale that were just too beautiful to pass up. We also found Webkinz ornaments buy one get one free.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Just another Busy December Saturday

Today was pretty busy. Hubby works on Saturdays so we don't get to sleep in. The 10 yr old & the 8 yr old had Christmas pageant rehearsal from 9 until 11. Fortunately, my Mom is here & the babies stayed home with her. The kids ran through the entire pageant 3 times & then we met with the costume department. The 10 yr old is a wise man, (perfect for him, since he is a self proclaimed know it all) he will be wearing a tunic & a velvet cloak....he's very pleased that he is the LEAD wise man. The 8 yr old is, of course, an angel. She will have a white gown, feathered wings & an adorable halo. Afterward we stopped at the store & bought donuts.

The babies were happy to see us when we got home, they had been busy writing on themselves & the walls while Gramma thought they were playing with dolls.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hubby went back to work today

Wednesday and Thursday are his regular days off, but he would have been home even if they weren't....he was THAT sick. He is still not 100%, but he is much better than he was. The 3 yr old & the 1 yr old are both still coughing, but they seem to be getting better too. *knock wood*

I've been keeping busy in the kitchen. Yesterday, I handmade 5 1/2 dozen tamales. Hubby has been selling them at work. They are a bit labor intensive, but not overly difficult. Authentic tamales are very hard to find in this part of Tennessee, there seems to be a pretty high demand for them. So far, I've only made pork tamales, but next week I plan to make up a batch of shredded beef & after Christmas (or maybe for Christmas) I plan to make a batch with shredded chicken.

Today, I'm making a crockpot of stew (taking some to a family from church who had a baby last week), a big batch of my homemade bread (some for the family from church, some for us), sugar cookies & cranberry nut bread. My kitchen smells soooo yummy!!!!

Cooking used to be one of my favorite hobbies, but over the years of fighting with my picky eaters, it has become more of a chore. The cooking I've been doing lately has been FUN again & I've finally figured out why. I've just been making what I feel like making & whoever wants to eat it can, those who don't like it for one reason or another can go without. Unfortunately, this plan wouldn't work for dinners, but at least I'm back to enjoying most of my time in the kitchen.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

WARNING....the sickies have invaded my house

We are now in our second week of passing around some bug. It started Nov 30th with the 3 yr old puking in the taxi that rescued us after I had to have the van towed home, she had loose bowels before that, but the puking was the sure sign that she was definitely SICK. The 10 yr old & the 8 yr old followed with puking the next two days & then the 18 yr old was too sick for work or even hanging out with his friends until all hours for two full days.

Miraculously Hubby, Baby Daughter & I were spared.....we thought. Baby Daughter started with the very ugly diapers this past Sunday. The bug has evolved with her, she also has a cough, green snot & runs a fever off & on. It isn't going away. The 3 yr old now has the green snot and a cough. Hubby was running a fever when he got out of work on Tuesday, his stomach is "iffy" & he feels congested. I spoke with our oldest on the phone Wednesday, he & his wife & baby all have a cold/stomach thing too.

I'm the last one & so far it hasn't gotten me *knock wood*. My stomach is feeling a little "iffy" though & today I noticed I was having trouble catching my breath after carrying Baby Daughter up the stairs. If you don't see me for a couple days, you will know why. Hopefully the 18 yr old, 10 yr old & 8 yr old are recovered enough to take care of the rest of us if I do succumb.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I am not usually a fan of lots of rain. But Tennessee rain is different. It is refreshing and often an improvement over the weather just before it. We had been having a pretty cold few weeks, the rain has brought WARMER weather!!!! We live in a very hilly place, so we don't get mud or puddles, it all runs downhill until it finds the Tennessee River. Half an hour after it stops raining there is usually no visible trace that the rain ever happened....that is kinda nice.

Works for me Wednesday---Alternative to the chocolate filled Advent Calendar

A few years ago I made the mistake of buying one of those Advent calendars that has a piece of chocolate under each door. The chocolate was the same nasty stuff they make hollow Easter bunnies out of & really not worth the $10 I paid for that calendar, but the kids LOVED it. Last year, mean Mom that I am, we didn't have any Advent calendar. The kids complained for months afterward. One of the first Christmas related things my 8 yr old asked me this year was if we could get the calendar with the chocolate. Instead of paying way too much for yucky chocolate I came up with an alternative plan.

Our church had free Advent calendars on a table the first Sunday of Advent & I picked up 5. On the back they have a Bible verse, under each door they have a complimentary verse. 10 yr old, 8 yr old, 3 yr old & 1 yr old each have their own calendar....the 5th one is a spare for when the 3 yr old or the 1 yr old destroys theirs (I know it will eventually happen). Each night the 10 yr old reads the verse on the back for that day, they all open the appropriate door & 8 yr old reads the corresponding verse under the door. Then we count how many more unopened doors we have & finally they each get to pick a candy from the special present bag (recycled Christmas gift bag from last year). I bought a Hersey chocolate assortment & a Wonka assortment...spent about $6 for all the candy. Hubby asked if it was left over Halloween candy.....he knows me too well. Unfortunately I threw that all out before I hatched this ingenious plan.
The key here is that my kids are very HAPPY with this year's plan, they are enjoying the Bible verses & we have no fighting over yucky chocolate. Works for ME!!!
Be sure to check out Works for Me Wednesday over at Rocksinmydryer.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tackle it Tuesday--Nut Breads for Christmas gifts!

It's already the second week in December. Wow, the time is sure flying. I've been meaning to get started on making some nutbreads for gift giving. I've also been meaning to use up the fresh pumpkin that is sitting in a ziplock bag in my fridge. Today's the day!!!

Here is the recipe from my post over at Large Family Cooking.
I only have 2 mini loaf pans & since I was on a roll, I decided to make pumpkin muffins out of the rest of the first batch. I made 12 regular muffins

2 mini loaves and 6 bigger muffins with 1/2 cup of raisins added into their batter.

cooking time for the regular muffins was 20 minutes & the cooking time for the mini loaves & the bigger muffins was 35 minutes!

The puree in the ziplock bag was from one not very big pumpkin, I am amazed that there were 6 cups of puree!!! All together I ended up with 8 mini loaves, 12 regular muffins, 6 bigger muffins with raisins & 2 pumpkin pies!!!!! The kids will make short work of the muffins & the pies. Poor Hubby doesn't like pumpkin, I guess I need to get busy making something special for him next.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Music Monday-The Christmas Carol Edition 1

Christmas Carols are one of my all time favorite things about Christmas. As I get older, I find that the ones that are about the TRUE meaning of Christmas bring me the most happiness. Loreena McKennitt is an artist that Hubby & I both adore. All her music is beautiful, but her Christmas songs have that extra spark that makes them required listening in our home. I've always liked this song, she does an amazing job with it!!!

Thank you to my friend Janet for starting this was just what I needed to brighten my day!

Loreena McKennitt-God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Advent Lessons and Carols

Tonight at church, we had a special Advent service. My Mom is here and wasn't feeling like going, so the 3 yr old stayed home with her. The 8 yr old & 10 yr old have been practicing for weeks to be ready for this special night & were very excited that Daddy was going to be able to attend. They sing in the kids choir every Sunday morning, but tonight the kids choir had three songs that they sang all by themselves. I think the oldest child in the kids choir is only about 12 & one song was entirely in was both impressive & beautiful.

The logistics of getting everyone there were complicated. 18 yr old had to be at work at 4. 8yr old and 10 yr old had to be at church to get into their robes by 4:45 and then I had to get to Hubby's work to pick him up by 5. It was a bit on the frantic side, but I managed it all & Hubby, Baby Daughter & I were even on time for the 5:30 start.

This is the first time I have ever been to a service like this. There were at least 7 bible readings, no sermon and lots & lots of singing. Baby Daughter is still under the weather, so she nursed most of the time. After the service there was a very nice reception in the parish hall.

Getting dinner made & eaten and the kids to bed on time was a challenge. Everyone is sleeping soundly now & tomorrow will be another busy day.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Let me start out by saying I do really LOVE Tennessee. However, I am not much of a cold weather fan. When Hubby & I made the huge decision to leave Central California and move, we looked very carefully at all the places we were considering & one of the reasons we chose the exact location we did in Tennessee was because it's average winter highs and lows were almost identical to the average winter highs & lows of the city we were leaving.

I lived in the California Central Valley for 30 yrs. We got actual snow ONCE in those 30 yrs. I can count on one hand the number of times we got snow flurries. The week after Christmas in 1990, the temperatures were in the teens all week & our pipes froze, but it had never happened before.

The website we consulted told us that the average winter low in our California town was 38 and the average winter low for our new Tennessee town was 36....only a two degree difference. The average high for both was 46. Sounds like a good match on the computer screen, but now that we are starting our 4th year here I see that looking at averages can be a very flawed way to determine what the ACTUAL weather is like.

Our California winters were cold, rainy, grey & foggy. The cold was a damp wet cold that soaks into your bones & makes you feel like you will never be warm again. It would rain for weeks at a time & everything would be covered in mud starting in October or November. Some years you wouldn't see the sun for a month or more. When it wasn't grey & raining it was so foggy you could barely see the front of your own car while driving. We didn't have snow or ice delays, we had FOG delays and even a few FOG days in particularly bad years. I remember one Christmas that the temperature was in the upper 60's & we took pictures of ourselves opening presents at the park in shorts to taunt our New Jersey relatives....but usually it got cold & wet and then stayed that way until mid March.

Tennessee winters are is a dry cold & doesn't sink into your bones in the same way as the dampness, but it is soooo much colder. We frequently have ice on our car that won't let us open the doors in the mornings, the roads are icy & snow flurries are so frequent they are no longer even worth mentioning. We have to leave the water dripping in our bathrooms to prevent the pipes from freezing & the pipes outside the house are all wrapped in thick foam stuff to keep them insulated against the cold. The most actual snow fall we've had was about 2 inches the first year we were here, but it is early in the season this year & a BIG snow has been predicted before the season is over. Every year we've been here we've had at least a week when the HIGH temperature didn't get out of the mid teens. Night time temps frequently dip below 10. But every year we've also had a week or two in January or February when the temperatures suddenly jump into the mid 70's and the night time temps are in the 50's or even 60's....those dramatic swings must skew the average. Spring is not predictable here either. Some weeks will be nice and warm with temps in the 50's & 60's but just when you think it's ok to pack up the winter coats & gloves it will suddenly drop back into the 30's or even 20's for a week or more just to keep you on your toes.

I don't miss damp, grey, foggy winters, but I do wish it wasn't quite soooo cold here. Thinking about it, weather is one of those things I seem to rant about the most. Be warned when summer gets here I'm sure to rant about the horrid humidity.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Winter depression is trying really hard to sink in

Winter is my least favorite season & due to finances Christmas has ceased to be my favorite holiday. It seems I never have the money to buy the things people in my life want. Lately, I have trouble having the money for things like heat & gas for the van to get hubby back & forth to work, so where exactly money for gifts & donations to strangers & food for all the food drives is supposed to come from is beyond me. Even the kids are not enjoying the build up to Christmas as much as usual because they have been warned not to expect much under the tree. It is hard to find meaningful or significant gifts on our current budget. Maybe if I were a crafty person I could MAKE gifts, but sadly that is not a skill I possess.

The cold, gray, damp weather really doesn't help my mood, neither does the sick baby who not only is teething, but is also still fighting the stomach bug that the rest of the kids had earlier in the week. I need a break in a big way & it is not going to happen.

I'm trying to get started on decorating for Christmas. Unfortunately, even that is being depressing this year.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday.... Carpet in the Dining Room with kids

First of all, let me say that I do not own the house I live in and if I did, I would just rip out the dining room carpet. Since the house is a rental, we are limited in our options. My solution was to buy a cheap 9X6 rug at Walmart & put it under the dining room table. This is the only table we eat at, so with a 1 yr old & 3 yr old a LOT of food seems to end up on the floor. The rug protects the carpet, it's easier to clean, it's much darker than the carpet and if there is a MAJOR spill I can roll it up and take it outside to clean it. This rug is saving not only the landlords carpet, but a bit of my sanity as well.

Check out the other great tips on this weeks WFMW.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I'm back!!!

No, I wasn't on vacation or even too busy with the holiday. Our internet was down for a WEEK.