Friday, December 17, 2010

Another Shutterfly Deal

I just ordered the Buddy Walk thank you cards yesterday, but I am using them to send to people that supported Emmaline and our family in the 2010 Buddy Walk for Down Syndrome in September (yes, I'm a little behind). For posting this project, I'll be receiving a $25 Shutterfly gift card that I plan to use towards Emmaline's 4th birthday invitations (still can't believe my baby will be 4 in February!). If you are a blogger and are interested in earning this great deal, clickHERE for more details. A big thank you toEmily for letting me know about this!

Buddy Walk Thank You Notes

Classic Without Edge Party 5x7 folded card
Create personalized greeting cards and invitations by Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I Love Getting Mail at Christmas!

I {big red puffy heart} Christmas cards! We got our first ones last week and the kids are enjoying looking at all of the pictures of their friends.

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past 10 years, you've probably used, or a least heard of, Shutterfly. I love using this website to print our digital pictures, but they also have really amazing card and gift ideas. This year they are offering 50 FREE cards to anyone willing to blog about their holiday deal. Details can be found HERE.

They have a lot of great Christmas card options to choose from this year. My favorite can be found HERE. I love it for the following reasons:

1. You can personalize it with your family initial.
2. It lets you use multiple photos of your munchkins, pets, loved ones, etc.
3. "Merry Christmas" - I despise cards that are politically correct and say "Happy Holidays". If not for the birth of Jesus, there would be no event to celebrate, so every year when you receive our Christmas card, it will proudly proclaim "Merry Christmas" as a reminder of the One who makes life possible.
4. It's RED!

If that card choice doesn't strike your fancy, click HERE to see all of Shutterfly's other card options that come in just about every color scheme and theme imaginable. We've used this site for birthday party invitations, birth announcements, and thank you notes, so there is sure to be something that will fit with whatever you have in mind.

They do more than just cards though! I was up WAY too late last night finishing calendars for Christmas gifts for some relatives (who shall remain nameless as they read this blog and I don't want to ruin the surprise!). Calendars are a super easy gift to make online. You just choose your pictures and then arrange them however you like for each month of the year (or they will arrange them for you, but I like to do my own!). There are tons of different backgrounds to choose from and you can even personalize birthdays, anniversaries, and other important dates. Even better...they save the dates in your account, so when you go back at a different time of year to make another calendar, you don't have to re-enter the information. With a few clicks of the mouse, they will automatically fill in the dates for you! While I like the traditional-size calendars, this desk calendar is quickly becoming a new favorite in my book. Right now, their calendars are "Buy one, get one 50% off", so don't let this deal pass you by if you have a few people left to buy for this Christmas.

So, check out the great holiday collection at Shutterfly, and then come back here and leave a comment with your favorite card or gift idea. I'd love to hear what you come up with!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

All Dressed Up

It isn't often that Nathan and I get dressed up to go out, so we were excited to put on fancy clothes to attend a wedding today. It was for my friend, Jessica, whom I sell Usborne books with. The wedding was so sweet and the reception was a lot of fun. We even ate salad out of martini glasses. On a side note, when we got married 12 years ago, someone gave us a set of martini glasses that we have never used since we don't drink. I can't wait to put salad in them! There was also a fun area at the reception that had dress-up clothes and a disposable camera. We had fun with this, as evidenced below!
UsBuddies: Jana, Me, Sherry (our supervisor...her daughter is the one that got married today), Billie, and Janine
UsBuddies, take 2
Todd (Janine's husband) and Nathan

Sunday, December 5, 2010


We got our first taste of snow and it's not even officially winter yet! It was only a couple of inches, but the kids were so exited to play in it after church today.
Jacob's snow suit makes me laugh! It is the same one that I wore when I was younger and I hated it because it wasn't girly enough for me. I'm glad that my parents hung on to it though because it is perfect for Jacob!
Ellie thinks it is funny to pretend to throw a snowball at me whenever I take her picture!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

It's a Very Veggie Christmas!

Today was Very Veggie Christmas at church. Basically, parents drop their kids off at church and can enjoy several hours of kid-free shopping or whatever they want. While the kids are at church, they watch a Veggie Tales movie, play games, sing songs, make a craft, and eat lunch. It's a great community out-reach and our kids have an absolute blast hanging out with their friends. Mom and I help run the registration area and then organize the kids' papers and crafts so they are ready to picked up when parents arrive. There's also lots of down time volunteering in that area, so I get to follow the kids around church to take pictures.
Playing games in the auditorium
Run, Run, as Fast as You Can
Ellie gets ready to make a craft
Emmaline throws Bob the Tomato into the tub

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cake on a Stick

I did a book party for my friend, Jenny, and as I was leaving, she gave me some leftover treats for the kids from her daughter's birthday party. The party was Veggie Tales-themed and the treats could not have been cuter. They were almost too cute to eat, but the kids took care of that pretty quickly!

At the party, I met her friend, LuAnne, who makes these amazing creations. You should really check out Lulee's Lollies and see what she has to offer. She does weddings, birthdays, baby showers, corporate parties, and can design pretty much anything you want.
Jacob with Larry the Cucumber
Emmaline enjoys a Pea
Ellie and Bob the Tomato

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Turkey Day!

Happy Thanksgiving! We have so much to be thankful, it is family and food! I'm thankful that we live close enough to celebrate with our families (both sets of parents live within a couple of miles of our home). I'm thankful for the food God provides for us to enjoy on this day (and for a husband that works hard to earn the money to purchase said food). I'm thankful for a warm home to celebrate this day. I'm also thankful for a mom who loves to cook for her family!
Sai and Katie
The Dinner Table
The Kids' Table
Emmaline snuggled in for a post-meal nap with Mimi

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sai turns 30!

Today, Katie's boyfriend, Sai, turned 30! He lives in North Carolina, but flew up to spend Thanksgiving with her. After she picked him up at the airport, she brought him back to Mom and Dad's house for a surprise party. He went to college in Massachusetts, so he is a big Boston Celtics fan. Katie ran with that theme which was evidenced in the mints, cake, posters, and balloons. We had a fun time celebrating a really great guy!
Emmaline gives Sai a birthday hug
He had never played "Pin the Tail on the Donkey" before (apparently, it's not popular in India...who knew?!), so guess what we did for a party game?!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I'm back!

It has been forever since I've updated the blog. The break was nice, but I'm glad to be back because I've missed sharing what our family has been up to. So, hang on to your hats as I write about happenings this fall and then try to catch up from the rest of the year. If you're on my e-mail list, you'll be receiving posts in a crazy order, but hopefully, it will be worth your while. It's good to be back!

Literacy for a Lifetime

I completed my first Literacy for a Lifetime program this month! Basically, LFL is a 50% grant-matching program offered by Usborne Books & More. A company or group of people donates any amount of money (minimum of $200) and then Usborne will give that amount plus 50% more in books to the organization of their choice. The organization can also choose up to 50% more in books from our Spanish-match list to make the most of the donation.

I really fell in love with what the program can provide when I went to Usborne's national convention in Tulsa, OK in July. I mentioned a little about it on Facebook and was contacted almost immediately by someone from church. Her company supports a charter school here in Dayton, and she wanted to have a fundraising luncheon to earn money to get books for the school. At the fundraiser, they raised $600! Because the school opted to take advantage of the Spanish-match titles in addition to the regular donation, they received $1200 worth of brand-new books for their school. The boxes pictured above hold those precious books and the principal was absolutely thrilled when I dropped them off this week.

If your company likes to support your local community, or if you and a group of friends would like to make a donation to a preschool, daycare, or other organization, please contact me via my website.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Another Tournament

Jacob and Nathan competed in another martial arts tournament. Jacob did sport karate and Nathan did a weapon and non-weapon form. They both did really well and I was so proud of them!
Jacob didn't win anything, but we can see lots of improvement in his skill. His biggest battle is with boredom. He is so excited and pumped up when we first get there, but after all the waiting, he is so bored and tired. I'm guessing this will change as he gets older and matures, but I know he would do so much better if he could compete as soon as he got in there.
Nathan doing his weapons form
2nd and 3rd place medals
They had extra medals, so the tournament director gave Jacob one. We told him it was for having a good attitude. He always has a smile on his face and doesn't get discouraged if he loses.

Potato Soup Recipe

My mom came up with this yummy recipe for potato soup. Several people have asked the it, so I'm sharing it now. If you want to make this a vegetarian dish (which I often do), leave out the bacon pieces and saute the veggies in a little olive oil and replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth. This is great on a cold, snowy day with apple slices and bread. Enjoy!

6 slices of bacon, cut in 1/2" pieces
1 med. onion, finely chopped
3/4 c. celery, finely chopped
1/2 c. grated carrot
2-10 1/2 oz. cans chicken broth
2 c. water
5 large potatoes, diced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1/2 tsp. dill weed
1/2 c. flour
3 c. milk
1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Fry bacon pieces until crisp. Remove, drain on paper towel.
Add onion, celery, and carrot, saute in bacon drippings until tender.
Add broth, water, potatoes, salt, pepper, and dill weed.
Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Whisk flour into milk and add to soup while stirring.
Cover and continue cooking on simmer for 30 minutes.
Stir occasionally. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Before serving, add 1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese.
Stir well until cheese melts.
Garnish with reserved bacon pieces.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Operation Christmas Child

Today we took our shoe boxes to church for Operation Christmas Child. We've been doing this for several years now, but this is the first year that the kids took an active roll in the buying and filling of said boxes. It's hard for our kids to imagine life without Christmas or presents, so this was a good opportunity to explain life in different parts of the world. God has been a part of their life since they were born, but some kids have never heard about Jesus or the importance of his birth. I'm so thankful for little projects like this that help our family focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Another Andy, Another Birthday

This time it is my nephew, Andy, and he turned 17 today. He is quite the soccer star, so of course the party was soccer-themed. We ate the best grilled pork chops and cheesy potatoes before the cake and presents. Andy has to be one of the most appreciative kids that I know. He was so polite, thanking each person after he opened their gift to him and then giving them a big hug. As an added bonus, my sister from California, Angel, was in town, so we got to visit with her during the party.
2 Thumbs-up for his soccer cupcakes
As you can tell by this sweet face, they were good!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Andy turns 25!

November is a busy month for birthdays in our family. Tonight we celebrated my little brother, Andy, who turned 25. We dined on Joe's Pizza and then ate his traditional birthday cheesecake made by Mom.

My sister, Dee, brought a fun game that we tried out tonight called "Find It". It is supposed to be for my nephew, Colton, but the adults monopolized the game trying to find all the hidden objects. Whoever invented this is a genius because it is fun, self-contained, and will occupy kids for a long time as they try to finish the list. I will definitely be looking for these for Jacob and Ellie for Christmas this year.
Ah, the long-awaited season 4 of Psych, the funniest show on tv
The Birthday Boy and his cheesecake
The kids didn't want cheesecake (crazy, I know!), so they opted for ice cream sundaes instead.
Emmaline loved hers!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Magic Castle - Jacob's 8th Birthday

This was supposed to be a family outing, but I ended up getting sick with an awful sore throat after Jacob's party last night. Emmaline stayed home with me, but Nathan took Jacob and Ellie to Magic Castle this afternoon to enjoy his official birthday day. They had a good time together and brought home Fazoli's for dinner...Momma always feels better when she doesn't have to cook!
Ellie shows off her age
Enjoying a birthday icee