Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Well, we are home from our whirlwind trip to Denver for Christmas! (Now we just have Christmas gift exchange with hubby's parents and siblings followed by another Christmas gift exchange with my parents and sibling to go...) But I thought I'd write up a few highlights:

Hubby's sister managed to get a plane into the Denver airport after all...apparently when she asked if there was any chance, they told her that if she got to a gate right now, she could get on a plane leaving in 20 minutes...of course, then she got picked for the super terrorist screening which involved some machine that puffed air on her, and all her bags being dumped out and inspected.

We managed to close down several stores. First dumb move, hubby and I decided to stop at Wal Mart on the way up (I had some gift cards, was out of several baking staples, and thought that we might want to bring breakfast for the morning to the hotel)...we didn't close Wal Mart down, but apparently my MIL and SILs did (a different Wal Mart) getting last minute stocking stuffers. We closed down Barnes and Noble (getting a copy of National Geographic's Green Guide to wrap up for my parents, since I got them a subscription to it, and hubby thought they needed something to open) and later hubby and his sister closed down Walgreens getting diapers so that we could go to midnight Mass...

Everything that hubby's family does takes longer than hubby thinks. We got to the hotel first, but hubby figured that they would be there pretty soon...when they did finally get there, they got stuck in this one elevator that was possessed the whole time we were there...then we had to try to figure out where to go to eat on Christmas Eve...we were meeting Brittney's parents and sister, plus the nine of us staying at the we had a party of twelve. Hubby was calling around, while MIL and SIL and SILs husband went down to the front desk, because MIL had paid for two rooms on Expedia, but they only found one reservation when they got there, so she paid for another room...eventually they figured out that the second room was under SILs (married) name...eventually we found a restaurant that was open until 10, and could handle a group of 12...

While eating, we decided (all still in our traveling clothes) that instead of getting up early to go to Mass before heading over to the hospital, we might as well go to midnight Mass at the church on the way back to the hotel. That was fine, except Charlotte was in her spare diaper that we brought for dinner and pooped, so that demanded a last minute Walgreens run for more diapers.
Midnight Mass was listed as starting at 10:30...well, we got there at 10 ish, got a pew that would hold the nine of us (Britt's family had already gone to Mass at the church near the hospital), the choir started singing at 10:30 (Charlotte started singing then, too) and Mass started at 11 (Eva was asleep on her aunt at that point...Charlotte didn't fall asleep until about communion). It was a beautiful Mass at a beautiful church.

MIL has a tradition of getting everyone Christmas jammies (which, at this point she is buying 9 pairs per year), so after Mass and back at the hotel, everyone came to our room to get their pajamas...of course hubby and his sister already had the girls in pajamas...they were very happy to change into their new "Hannah Montana" (Eva) and "Disney Princess" (Charlotte) jammies. Then hubby's sister ended up staying in our room (she was originally going to sleep on the sofa bed in her parents room, but Eva wanted her to stay and sleep with her in the sofa bed instead). Charlotte was between us, and fell asleep tugging on my was past 1 I wasn't going to complain!

The girls woke up at about we took them swimming in the hotel pool from 8 to 9, then from 9 to 10, they watched some horrible version of Heidi made with dressed up dogs on PBS (I am NEVER going to support public television...the dog thing has turned me off for life...) while we all got showered and dressed. Then we exchanged our Christmas presents, then at about 10:30 we did stockings in grandma's room. (I got the dryer balls I have had on my Christmas list for a couple of years now, and Charlotte got the Tinkerbell movie, which the girls are currently watching). Finally, we checked out of the hotel at about 11:30 and headed over to the hospital for a very lovely family dinner with Brittney and her family.

We left Denver at about 3:30, and were able to get home with plenty of time for me to cook a nice dinner...while I was finishing up cooking, hubby called his turns out they were still an hour away from home and cruising one of the bigger cities to see if anything was open so they could get dinner. Hubby told them to enjoy their 7-11 cheeseburger dogs while we were eating a nice home cooked meal...I told him that it reminded me of "A Christmas Story" where the neighbors dogs eat the turkey, and they end up at a Chinese food restaurant with the proprietors singing "Ringle Rells, Ringle Rells..."

Overall, we had a really good trip! It was great fun to be together as a family.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Deck the Halls...

Well, we are getting close to our Christmas travels...we just took our dog up to my MILs house for the rest of the week (her dad will be taking care of all the dogs over Christmas) and we are doing our stockings tonight. I've also been a crafty supermom for the last couple of days (not a role I take on very often) and Eva, Charlotte and I have made Christmas ornaments and cards for their Aunts and Uncles. Once the girls get up from their late nap (Charlotte hasn't actually been napping...mostly crying and yelling) we're going to make cards for their grandparents.

A week ago or so, hubby won two gift certificates in our local chamber of commerce's Christmas drawing...$25 to a restaurant, and $25 to the John Deere dealership...well, yesterday I got a call from the grocery store in my MILs town, and found out that I won a gift certificate there...Charlotte really wanted to talk on the phone, so I only could hear about every other word the guy from the store much so that I couldn't figure out what store he was talking about (the grocery store up there doesn't have a traditional grocery store name) when we took the dog up today, we decided to pick up (and spend) my gift certificate. I had it in my head that it was probably a $25 certificate (I don't know why I decided that...) but it turned out to be for $50! That was awesome, shopping for staples with $50 certificate! Also, several of the items that we have been flat out of that I have been refusing to buy until they go on sale were on sale there!

I was thrilled that it was $50, as today we got hubby's pay stub for Friday's direct deposit, and I was a little bit bummed by the total (not that it was bad, it just doesn't leave us much wiggle room in the budget...and we'll have to see if we can squeeze a little bit out for our savings.

The kids are going to go nuts for the next couple of days. Here are their gift receiving moments:
Tonight - stockings from us
Tomorrow night - PJs from Grandma
Thursday - stockings from Grandma, gifts from us
Friday - presents from Grandma (yes, all the same grandma up to this point) and probably gifts from aunts and uncles (if they don't get those on Thursday)
Saturday - gifts from other grandparents (mine) and my brother
Sunday - hopefully we will be done with presents by then...but I'm not holding my breath!

Thank goodness we mucked out their toys already...I don't know if we'd be able to get into the house if we hadn't!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Not the day I was expecting...

...that doesn't imply that the day was bad...just different than I had planned (I don't know why I even TRY to plan, being married into the family that I am!)

The plan was for my MIL and I to go pick up hubby's little sister at DIA today, but with the whole plane crash incident and the nasty weather up in the pacific northwest, her flight was cancelled. Of course, we found this out when we were almost to hubby's hometown, where the girls and I were going to meet MIL and head off for last minute Christmas shopping (for MIL, I'm done) and a trip to the airport, while hubby headed out to the farm to keep an eye on his dad and the dog.

So, we spent the day all together instead. It was actually a lot of fun! I wrapped a million Christmas gifts (when my girls started finding their Christmas presents in one of the spare rooms and dragging them out to play with...) and the girls got to do a bunch of Christmas crafts (they made a bunch of gift tags with stickers, glitter and glue.)

The SIL who was supposed to come in today couldn't get another flight until Christmas Eve, which is the day that her hubby is also flying in. Of course, SIL could only get a flight into the Colorado Springs airport, while her husband is still flying into, I guess we get to take a slightly longer route to the hotel where we are all staying Christmas Eve to get her at the airport.

Family gatherings can be quite complicated!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Quick Takes Friday - yes, this is all I do anymore!

1. My Knight in wrinkled armor
I've been meaning to post a picture of hubby in his regalia since he participated in his first color guard a couple of months ago...but I forgot our digital camera, then we bought a disposable one, then it took a while to finish it off (because I never remember to take pictures) then it took a while to develop it...of course, then the picture had to be scanned into the computer, but here he is (finally!)
2. Today we will be finishing up our first quarter of Kindergarten! YEAH!!! (Of course, we could be finishing up right now, but I don't know that I have enough caffeine in my system at the moment) After we finish (testing the final two prayers: meal blessings and act of contrition, and the final two pages of math) I get to figure out how to scan everything in to the computer to send electronically (hubby's preference) or bundle it all up in an envelope and mail it in (my preference)! Also, I really should get a few last items into her notebook to show her progression since we started before I do my happy dance and hide the school stuff until the new year.
3. Speaking of the act of contrition...we have our penance service tonight. Father moved the usual 8am mass to 5:30, and the penance service is at I am debating whether or not to have hubby come home, leave for Mass, come home, eat dinner, bundle everyone back up to head to the penance service, get back home (most likely) late for the girls bedtime, and then collapse...or do some, but not all of it. On a side note, I have had a mental block on the act of contrition my entire adult life (when you are baptised at 18, they don't particularly teach you about confession in RCIA...I didn't even know that it was a normal thing to know a formal act of contrition until I had a priest yell at me for not knowing it at my 2nd or 3rd confession...the first 1 or 2 were with Jesuits, who didn't seem to have a problem with it...) but, after having to help Eva to memorize it, I now know it! I also know a morning offering and the guardian angel prayer from teaching them to Eva.
4. I don't think hubby has gotten to work at his normal time all week...the trucks have been severely delayed (two hours late today) every day except Wednesday, which happened to be his day off. It's getting a little irritating having him get up at his normal time, get ready to go, and then get a call from his boss saying not to come in until he gets another call...I'm sure it has been irritating him...but that means I have to put up with him first thing in the morning (I much prefer he tortures his co-workers with his obnoxious morning person ways!)
5. On Wednesday, we took a trip up to the front range, because my FIL had surgery on Monday but had some complications because of his asthma, and was kept in ICU for several days to monitor his lungs. He doesn't like doctors, or hospitals or anything like that...and he really doesn't like to not be at home or at work. Unfortunately for him, he's not allowed to do much of anything for 6-8 weeks (he won't even be able to eat solid foods at Christmas...he and Charlotte will have to fight over the mashed potatoes)...unfortunately for my MIL, he will be home all the time and cranky about it...He got out of the hospital yesterday and is at home now. Hubby sat with his dad for most of the day, while the girls and I finished my Christmas shopping, and helped my MIL get closer to finishing hers. Then, hubby's little brother and fiancee came down to visit as well, so we all got to have dinner together (minus FIL, who was enjoying jello and chicken broth at the hospital.)
6. I am DONE with all gifts for Christmas. Eva's bean bags (well, they are actually full of corn) are done and wrapped, all the stocking stuffers are bought and wrapped. I even have the candy bought...though I still need to get a few nuts, and our box of fruit we ordered from FFA hasn't come in yet. Each girl is getting one store bought present, one homemade present and some stocking stuffers. I always forget how little their stockings are, so I have WAY more stuff than will fit in them...but in my family, it is a tradition to have an overflowing stocking. But, note to self, next year BUY FEWER STOCKING STUFFERS!
7. I was pretty excited about singing in the choir for midnight Mass, but I have come to my senses. So, instead of being at home on Christmas Eve, attending Mass and getting home at midnight (or later) just to get up at 5 am and drive to Denver for the family Christmas at the hospital, have Christmas and drive back home so that hubby can be at work at 7 am on the 26th...we will be driving up to Denver after hubby gets off work on the 24th (hopefully around 1 or 2pm) staying the night in a hotel with a bunch of the family, and then having Christmas the next day, followed by driving home. In booking the hotel room, there were two varieties of rooms with the same rate. One style was 1 King bed with a sofa bed, the other style was 2 Queen beds. When I put into the dumb website that we had two adults and two kids, it wouldn't allow us to book a King bed room (Charlotte still falls out of bed without a railing, so it makes more sense to have her in bed with the two of us as bed rails) because we exceeded the room capacity. Then I tried with 1 kid, which still apparently exceeds the room capacity. Finally, I told the computer that we just had two adults (which may be true, because it wouldn't surprise me to have the girls ditch us to stay in their grandma or their aunt's rooms) so that we could get a King size bed. I am wondering if lying to a computer constitutes a sin that I should confess tonight.
Of course, there are more quick takes over at Jen's blog!

Friday, December 12, 2008

7 Quick Takes Friday


I am tired (today) because we spent too much time awake last night trying to google a painting. Hubby noticed the address label on some one's Christmas card was a Renaissance painting of two naked women, with one pinching the other one's nipple. You don't even want to contemplate the wordings we attempted to find the end we found a couple of very funny posts regarding that painting. One told us that it was at the Louvre, which gave us the ability to find the second (that actually had an image of it!) I kid you not, the explanation in a children's art book was "I am pinching my sisters nipple to show that she and the king are having a baby prince." Hubby giggled more about the painting after finding out more about it...

Eva did the first half of her phonics review for our first quarter of Kindergarten. She did really well, until we got to the part she had to write. She got all the sounds right and said them correctly, but she confused b and d in the first word, and kept looking back at it for every other word. So, by the end every b and d on the page were backwards. I'm trying to keep telling myself that that is perfectly normal for any little kid, and particularly since she is 4, she will learn eventually. Unfortunately, my perfectionism seems to be rubbing off on Eva...must work on that!

Today we have 1/5 of our full funded emergency fund done! I'm pretty excited about that, as it means we are finally getting serious again about our money situation.

I really need to get serious about finishing up Eva's Christmas present. I'm planning on making bean bags for her, but I haven't gotten them sewn (I haven't put away the sewing machine either, though), and I keep forgetting to grab the dry corn or beans from my MILs house to stuff them with. Goal for today's nap time GO SEW!!!

It looks like we will be going up to the Denver area on Christmas day to celebrate with Brittney's family. She is doing pretty well, though I think she is still technically in a coma. They do know that she will be going home in February...of course, we don't know what condition she will be in then, so please say some extra prayers for her and her family. (For anyone just visiting, Brittney is hubby's 20 year old cousin, who was in a very bad car accident a little more than 10 weeks ago who received severe brain injuries, and is now in her third hospital, which is the best brain rehab center in the area.)

Today is my brother's birthday...let me do the math really quickly...he's 33 today. Hubby was lecturing me yesterday about how I NEED to call my brother today to wish him a happy birthday...never mind that we are going to see him and my parents (they are all coming to visit us) on the 27th. Of course, my argument is that the best birthday present he could receive from me is me not forcing him to have an awkward conversation with me. I love my brother...but other than our completely crazy mother and our slightly less crazy father and other various crazy relatives, we have close to NOTHING in common. As a compromise with hubby, I am AT LEAST supposed to have the girls draw him a birthday card and mail it today...

Of course, as usual there are lots more Quick Takes over at Jen's blog!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The President-Elect's "Buddy?"

Is it just me (and MM), or does Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich look like this artifact from the 1980s?

Just wondering... ;-)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

"...and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it."

MM and I have a little bit of a guilty pleasure of watching "The O'Reilly Factor" after the girls have gone to bed most nights, and last night was no exception. One of the top stories last night was Rev. Jeremiah Wright's return to the pulpit at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. I'm pretty burned out on the whole Jeremiah Wright thing--as I'm sure a lot of people are--but the clip O'Reilly played from his sermon last night got me thinking a little bit.

According to The Chicago Tribune, Wright was discussing media speculation that his career (and the future of Trinity) had been badly damaged because of the many soundbites from his sermons that had been used against Barack Obama in various stages of the presidential campaign. The Tribune says Wright quoted Matthew 16:18 (sort of), saying:
"Jesus said upon this rock I will build—listen to the promise—my
church," he said. "And the gates of hell—listen to the promise—the gates of
hell—neither ABC nor CNN—the gates of hell—neither Hannity nor O'Reilly—the
gates of hell—neither Time, Time magazine, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago
Tribune . . . the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Nothing will
be impossible with God."

So... he kinda loses me on this one on several levels. At first, I thought he was implicitly making himself out to be the Pope, since this passage is so important to Catholics and our theology surrounding papal authority (and I wish that O'Reilly, as a Catholic, had at least brought that up). I suppose the more fair use of context here, though, is that he is trying to say Jesus's church--as described to and "built upon" Peter--has been attacked by those media outlets. While that may very well be true, I find it pretty dubious that Trinity is really what Peter and the early Christians had in mind when Jesus used the term "church," especially if you look at the practices described by the "Early Church Fathers." Nor do I think Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly are exactly what Jesus had in mind when referring to "the gates of Hell."

Anyway, the papist in me got kind of agitated by Wright quoting "our" passage to legitimate himself or his church or whatever he was talking about. And his general level of asinine anti-Americanism (which he revealed again by referring to December 7th as the day the US government killed 84,000 civilians in Hiroshima--yes, I know...), together with the news today of more corruption in Chicago-area politics, has me thinking we Americans had a big blind spot during this last election.


Friday, December 05, 2008

7 Quick Takes Friday

1- Sticker
Yesterday morning in my pre 10:00 am stupor (it used to be much later...parenthood has helped me function before noon!) Eva came up to me to show me a sticker...I looked over and it was just covered in snot. I figured that she had been wiping her nose with her hand and told her to throw out the sticker and go blow her nose and wash her hands. Fast forward to after nap time...I'm changing Charlotte's poopy diaper, and Eva got my full attention by saying "'Member a long time ago when I put that sticker up my nose? I'm glad that it came out today!" To which I responded with a "what do you mean?" kind of response. Then it all came together and made sense to me...Eva waking up complaining about her nose hurting, the sticker she had to show me, why it was completely covered in I asked her when she had put it up her nose and she said "A long time ago, I think it was like 5 years" (insert little 4 year old hip wiggle at the "like 5 years" comment), I pointed out that that was impossible...I never did get a straight answer out of her when it occurred...

This week I won a years subscription to Dave Ramsey's My Total Money Makeover from a giveaway over at One House Schoolroom. So, I have been wasting A LOT of time on the forums there, and being very obsessive about money. Pretty much our phone has been constantly busy most of the week because I've been playing on the computer or downloading commercial free pod casts of the Dave Ramsey show. The thing that made me sad after I first started was that I went back into Quicken to figure out when we had become debt free but the house (baby step #2) and that was way back in February of 2007. We have 1 month emergency fund saved up (I'm aiming for 5 months), but we really could have been done WAY before now had we been even slightly serious, and just saved up money for an emergency fund rather than putting money in college savings since that time. Then, we'd be starting college savings NOW and Charlotte wouldn't have a over $400 loss in her (index) fund. Eva's (actively managed fund) is doing a little bit better.

3-Restaurant Christmas Card
In the "not doing a very good job of changing our financial habits" department...yesterday we got a Christmas card from one of the restaurants in town...Hubby was kept late at work, it was snowing, story time was moved from the library to another venue (because of an ongoing dispute between the library and the bookmobile, strangely enough!), and all of us were at wits end (okay, mostly me and hubby, the girls were fine) so we ended up deciding to go to said restaurant for lunch...not entirely because we felt guilty getting a Christmas card when we haven't been in the place for a couple of months...

On the "much better financial habits" front, Hubby had been thinking for a while about increasing the amount we pay on our mortgage every month (the fact that HE was thinking about this is almost miraculous!), which is something that I have been contemplating as well. At first we thought we'd up the amount by $50 (we already round up to the nearest hundred, which pays an extra $50.81 per month), but then I did a mortgage calculator with the current amount we owe (under $69,000 now, woo hoo!!!) and found out that to pay it off in 15 years, we would have to pay $100 more than we do we made the commitment, changed our automatic payment to be $100 more, and we will make this work! So, if we simply stick to paying the new amount for the duration of our loan, we will pay it off before I turn 45!

5-Advent Wreath
We have been doing our advent wreath at dinner (either the evening one or the mid-day one depending on nighttime meetings.) Our Advent wreath has the following on each candle holder -3 wise men, nativity, shepherd, angels. Last year we serendipitously picked up an Advent booklet from church that has each week themed (prophecy candle, Bethlehem candle, Shepherds' candle, Angels' candle) of course, it is WAY over the heads of the girls, but I'm sure it is good for them nonetheless. They get to take turns snuffing the candle which they really enjoy...but their favorite part of all is sniffing the candle snuffer at the end...and Eva' pretty much always declaring "it smells like FIRE!" (I worry about her sometimes!)

6-10th Anniversary
Hubby came up with the idea recently that he should offer to take me on a trip for our 10th anniversary this summer...which is a fine idea...he just keeps threatening me with vacation destinations such as Iowa (in July???), etc. I keep teasing him that he should take me on a cruise (I don't really mean it, but it's fun to harass him) and each time, it turns into another discussion about pirates...

7-High Speed Internet
So, we have anytime I am on the computer, no one can call. In fact, if I could work it out, I'd probably stay connected 24/7 (I don't like the phone...I don't like calling people, and I don't like talking to people...particularly if I am supposed to make small talk...) but the past several people to call have commented on how our phone is always busy (and I figure it would be rude to say "yep, I don't really like getting phone calls anyway, so it wasn't bothering me") and hubby has started to give out his cell phone number to everyone he needs to get in contact with because he knows that our phone is almost always busy...Of course, when I asked if I could start giving out his cell phone number, too, so that he could be my personal secretary, he said no. So, I am thinking once again that maybe I'll get high(er) speed Internet for my 30th birthday this summer. Hubby got dish network for his 30th, so maybe I should follow in that theme and upgrade from cheap dial up to the least expensive high speed we can our upgrade from 5 fuzzy channels that went out when the train went by (about 20 times a day) to the cheapest dish package with DVR...Plus, then we'd be able to watch cool YouTube videos like the one of a shrimp walking on a treadmill that we saw on the O'Reilly Factor last night!

Bonus-I'll throw this one in for free!
First of all, she is always telling me that I would be so proud of her for such and such decision because it is eco friendly ("I'm so GREEN!") I'm not so sure I understand why...she seems to think that I have a deep love of environmentalism...but in reality, I'm mostly just cheap. So, she buys into the whole Al Gore global warming thing (and makes her students watch his dumb movie every year now) and carbon credits, etc. (She doesn't buy any carbon credits, even though they own two houses and travel back and forth between them EVERY WEEKEND!) So, she called me up the other day because she had seen on the news that there was going to be a workshop for farmers on how to sell carbon credits for things that they already do. She wanted me to call my in-laws and let them know since they might be able to make money selling carbon credits (I doubt it...I'm thinking the whole FEEDLOT thing would turn off most people willing to buy carbon credits!) So, let me get this straight...we should all buy carbon offset credits every time we sneeze (okay, maybe more like any time we drive, fly, or have anything shipped anywhere), but those carbon credits we are buying are from people who would be doing said task anyway??? I mean, really...can you get any dumber than that???

Of course, more quick takes over at Jen's blog.