Saturday, December 29, 2007

I got a Nikon D40 for Christmas!



Ever since I had my 35mm SLR die several years ago, picture taking has not been the same. Point and shoot cameras are great, but you don't control anything. There is nothing like the feeling of a big bulky camera in one hand and the lens you are controlling in the other! A digital SLR just seemed a little too expensive, okay, a lot too expensive. I'm cheap! If I could get it at the Thrift shop, that would have been great, but no such luck. Well, this year, John decided I needed a new camera. He got me a Nikon D40 and I feel like a new woman! I forgot what I had been missing. Thank you sweetie! I can officially call this my BEST Christmas present ever. (My new laser level is a close second)

Gingerbread memories...

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Eve...



Our family has a special early dinner on Christmas Eve. Later in the evening, we either read the story of Christmas(Luke 2) or go to a candlelight service at our church. That night, we open presents. Then, on Christmas morning, Santa comes and we have stockings... This works great for me because I don't have to worry about getting a Turkey in the oven on Christmas morning or trying to prepare a feast for later Christmas day. We all get to relax, enjoy our time together, our gifts and eat leftovers! A newly added tradition at our house is Gingerbread house decorating on Christmas day.

This year, we had several visitors for our Christmas Eve dinner; some expected and some were a last minute addition. My friend Linda and her girls came over. Linda's husband is deployed right now. We also have some neighbors that were headed out of town for Christmas and their little girl got sick on the way, so they turned around and came back home. They didn't want to get everyone else sick. I invited them to come make a plate and take it home. (We didn't want to get sick either.) Lynn was so glad she didn't have to cook. Also, we invited the mail man to dinner. I stepped outside as he was delivering some packages and asked if he got a break for lunch. He said that he would just be delivering all day and that he didn't really get a break. I invited him to come back at 2 o'clock and make a plate to take with him. He came back and we made him a plate for the road. It was really fun to share our meal with others this Christmas in an unexpected way.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

A little Christmas tune.

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We shared that we got a keyboard for Christmas;we didn't share the details, but it has built in lessons. Kate has learned to play Silent Night and wanted to share that with all of you. She is very excited that it is that easy to learn.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Stuffing

Tomorrow, I'll be baking this stuffing along with a turkey and most of the trimmings. I have been asked about this recipe once or twice before, so I thought I would share it here.

Audra’s Cornbread stuffing
For Thanksgiving, I made this and used wheat rolls instead of bread heels. I love the texture of this stuffing and the flavor is phenomenal. I'm not a big fan of lunch lady stuffing; you know, the kind that turns to mush and you can scoop it with a large cookie scoop and it holds it's newly molded shape. Me, I like my stuffing light and flavorful.

2 pkgs. Cornbread or 2 8x8 pans- cubed (bake according to package)
3-4 toasted bread heels-cubed (or leftover rolls)
1 pumpernickel bagel-cubed
1 cup margarine
1 cup onion-chopped
1 cup celery-chopped
2 teaspoons rubbed sage
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
4 cans chicken broth

Mix all breads and seasonings the day before baking and let dry out overnight uncovered in a large bowl. In a sauce pan over medium heat, melt margarine and cook onion and celery until clear. Pour over bread mixture. Transfer stuffing mix to large (9x13>). Add 1 can of broth and stir. Bake at 350* for 1 hour covered. Add 1 can of broth every 20 minutes.

Note: Turkey 15 min./lb. @ 400*

We wish you a Merry Christmas!

Last year, I got this idea to do a caroling sleepover right before Christmas. I thought it would be fun to invite some girls in the neighborhood over, bake some goodies for our neighbors and then have a sleepover the following night to carol and deliver our goodies to our neighbors. We had so much fun last year, that we did it again this year. This has the makings of a Christmas tradition in our house. Last Thursday, we had 5 girls come over to help make our Christmas treats. We made Chex Muddy Buddies (Puppy Chow), Chex goin' fishin' snack mix and something a friend of mine just made. She didn't tell me the name, so we just called them Ronda's chocolate covered chips. This is Ronda's favorite Christmas goodie to share:

Ronda's Chocolate Covered Chips



1 bag butterscotch chips (we used Reese’s Peanut butter chips instead)
1 bag semi sweet chocolate chips
1 small can salted peanuts
¾ bag crumbled Ruffles Potato chips

Melt chips in microwave or double boiler. Pour over crumbled chips and add peanuts. Mix well and drop by spoonfuls into mini muffin cups and chill.

On Friday, 7 girls came over for our caroling sleepover and we had pizza then caroled through the neighborhood delivering our goodies to our friends. Kate and Sarah helped make personalized pillow cases for each girl. They used their newly learned sewing skills to make gifts for their friends.



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Stephanie, Kate and KaLyn making Goin' Fishin' mix



Meredith (back), Emma and Sarah make Ronda's chocolate covered chips



Hayden gets to shake the bag.

Rachel, Grace and Hayden making Puppy Chow-Yum!

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Sarah got glasses!


Well, in preparation for getting out of the military, we are seeing every doctor possible while we can. Last week, all the kids had an eye appointment. We found out that Sarah is near sighted. She had recently complained that the board was a little blurry at school. We thought maybe it was because a friend of hers just got glasses. Now we know it was she wasn't just saying it. So, she got to go pick out glasses this week and she loves these cute little pink frames. She was very excited to see her first movie with glasses. Yesterday, we took the kids and a couple of their friends to see National Treasure Book of Secrets. We loved it! It made me want to go back to DC again and go to the Library of Congress, Ford's theater and Mt. Vernon (again). The kids thought it was really cool that Mt. Vernon was in the movie and they had been there.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Star Base Extra Credit

Sarah's school is participating in the Starbase program at WPAFB. She had some extra credit assignments that she did last week. I thought you might be interested in seeing our future chemist, engineer, math whiz...we'll see. Once she finishes in January, there will be photos added to the Starbase website. She attends Fairborn intermediate school.

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Weird Science

Sarah is participating in Starbase. A local program to promote math and science in schools. She has had so much fun. She is launching a rocket that she built today. This video was for extra credit. She is demonstrating Bernoulli's Principle.

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A Christmas Classic...

We often hear the sounds of Christmas carols ringing through our house. This is the song that Hayden is heard singing most. Yes, he sings it that way EVERY time. Now, he just has backup music and a microphone.

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It's almost Christmas Charlie Brown

Kate and Sarah ready to sing!

Sarah- just to the right of teacher


Ms. Gillespie, Sarah and one of her friends

Last night, we found out what it is like to be in two places at once. Kate and Sarah both had a Christmas musical performance for school at the same time. Sarah performed at the high school and Kate performed at her middle school and they both started at 7pm. We split the family down the middle, and off we went. I took Sarah and Rachel to the high school and John took Hayden and Kate to the middle school. We took a picture of them together before we left. They both did a great job and had a lot of fun. They have both been working really hard. Sarah has had to be at school at 7:30 two days a week for the past three months. They both had a great time and are looking forward to their next performance.

My Rootin' Tootin' Cowboy


Hayden got a cowboy hat from Pa Bob for his birthday in August. Well, let's just say we got some big heads in our family. (It didn't fit.) So, Pa Bob and Meme have been on the hunt for a new cowboy hat. It arrived in the mail and Hayden opened the big red box with glee. He just knew it was his hat. He was right. He loves wearing it and usually has some funny grin to go along with it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Littlest Reindeer




Rachel had her 2nd grade musical tonight. She has blossomed into a performer. She sang every song and did every motion. I don't know if you remember last year's performance... she didn't move. All hands were up in the air, except for Rachel's. It was too funny! Well, tonight, was much different. She had such a good time and did a great job. It was really fun to watch her perform. I included the group picture, but couldn't really make it much better. I'd need a better camera for that. A point and shoot just doesn't work well in a poorly lit room when you are sitting far away. It just gives you an idea of the stage... I just wanted to share.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Searching for Bolognese sauce!

Okay, this may sound CRAZY, but this is the best bolognese sauce ever. A friend of mine sends it to me ever once in a while if she has extra from her stash. She gets it from a friend that lives in Germany. I can't find this in any local market here in the Southwest region of Ohio. I have checked! I have found a website in Texas that sales this exact package, but it is $4 per package. In your shopping, if you happen to find this for less than $4 and would be willing to ship it to me, please let me know. I am out. The cupboard is bare. Now, that being said, if you know of a good bolognese sauce recipe, I'd be willing to try that too. Just thought I'd try my blog to see if any of you have seen it or would be willing to look for it. Thanks!

Snow Day 2007





Our kids and some neighbors playing in the snow.


Sledding down the hill...Rachel, Hallie and Hayden.




Sarah buried in the snow.




Hayden multi-tasking: sledding and eating snow.

Jesica had gone in and was looking out the window, watching all the kids play.


Our first snow day of this school year. We were expecting 2"-4" and we got at least 4". We haven't heard the official report yet. Either way, there was no school. Boy was there excitement in our house this morning.

Sewing class #2

Kate and Sarah went to their sewing class again on Monday night. This time, they made their pajama pants. They came home so excited! I just wanted to share.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Just a few pictures




Last night, we were taking some pictures. I thought I would share a few. Hayden had a little mishap with a friends dog yesterday. They had been playing and she was pawing at him trying to get him to play with her again. Since she is so big, her paw is at face level for him. He looks much better today.

Sew much Fun!

Emma and Sarah busy on their pillow cases.
Sarah hard at work.

Kate is concentrating.

Kate's pillow case

Sarah's pillow case

Okay, there are many things I can teach my children, but I decided that sewing was not one of them. I learned how to sew in 4-H when I was about 8 years old. I had somebody else teach me and I loved it so much that I started making doll clothes and then later in Junior High, I made some of my own clothes (mostly mini skirts and shorts). I loved going to fabric shops and choosing just a yard to make something. Learning how to sew was probably one of the most valuable things I ever learned. I thought about teaching the girls and had asked them if they were interested, but they didn't really care to learn. Last month, in the local paper, I found an article about a sewing class for kids that was two nights, two hours each and they would make a pillow case and pajama pants. The cost was relatively inexpensive, so I asked if they were interested. This time, they actually acted excited about learning to sew. Last Monday was their first class at Sew In Style in BeaverCreek. They had sew much fun! Sarah's friend Emma was able to go also. As soon as we got home, Kate and Sarah both put their pillow cases on their pillows. The next morning, they both commented about how well they slept. I thought that was so funny. They are talking about making pillow cases for their friends for Christmas.

They found out about a sleepover in January that they really want to go to. They will go to the shop at 4:30 on Friday and stay until the next morning. They will get to make some fun sleepover items and their choice of American girl doll clothes or Build-a-bear workshop clothes. They will have dinner and breakfast provided. I signed them up this week and they are thrilled. They have already been talking about it. If you are looking for a Christmas gift, neither of them have a sewing box. Also, there are monthly classes, and clubs that they would love to go to. It is great to have extra ideas.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Getting into the holiday spirit...

Sarah and Rachel decided to be funny and give Jingle Bells a new twist.



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Monday, November 26, 2007

One man band

Hayden would sleep with the drumsticks if we'd let him. He wants to drum all day. We did have to tell him that he can only drum on cushions, carpeted floors and beds. Without limits, he would drum on everything! This tells you why he wants "Rock Band" for Christmas.




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Elbow pads...

We had been talking about going to the basketball courts to practice bike riding. Hayden told me that he needed elbow and knee pads. I told him that if he practiced more, he would be more comfortable with riding his bike and wouldn't need elbow and knee pads. This was one of those 'I told you so' moments for Hayden. At the end of the video, Rachel rides up and says, "Um, Hayden, it's not going to look good on video if you're cryin'."



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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Two Wheeler!

Okay, he recovered! That is one thing about boys that if different. He is determind to get 'er done. He doesn't want to be defeated by a bike. He is able to see that if he keeps on, that he'll get it. Girls, on the other hand usually fall into a puddle of tears and cry all the way home that they are NEVER going to ride a bike again. Here is Hayden's excitement in riding his two wheeler... At the end, Rachel is being silly. She says that she wants to win 200 bucks so she can buy a pony.





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Thanksgiving 2007

The spread...

Desserts-Yum!


Aminda's new dance team


Getting ready for Black Friday!


I love Thanksgiving! When we get together with family for the holidays, we have a huge number of people. This year was no different. We hosted three other families for Thanksgiving and had a total of 15 people. We split the cooking and it made it so easy. I love getting together. We had our neighbors Ward and Dawn and their girls over. (Yes, Ward made another fried turkey) We had our friend Linda and her girls over. Linda's husband is currently deployed, so we were here adopt-a-family for the holiday. We also had some other friends Spencer and Aminda over. John and Spencer worked together in Albuquerque and now Spencer is here for AFIT. We love making a big deal out of Thanksgiving. We were invited to go to Centerville to have dessert with some other military friends, so we carpooled all 15 of us over to their house and they had some other friends join them as well. We had such a great time! I think there were close to 30 people in their home. We had several different desserts to choose from. We looked at Black Friday ads, watched football and Aminda entertained the kids by teaching them dances. Aminda is a dancer for the Indiana Pacers Pacemates. The girls thought it was so cool to have a real dancer/cheerleader teaching them stuff.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Freezer day for the Holidays...


Well, we did it again. Eight recipes(six servings each) + Ten ladies + five hours = 480 servings We tried all new recipes this time. I'll share a few.

Praline Pull-Apart Coffee Cake

Ingredients:
6 pkgs. Biscuits

Topping:
½ cup chopped pecans
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 Tablespoons Cornstarch
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup butter or margarine melted

Directions:
Sprinkle pecans into bottom of 9x13 pan (or 2 8x8 pans). In bowl, combine: brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, vanilla and salt; sprinkle over pecans. Drizzle butter over top. Cut biscuits in fourths and place on top of mixture. Bake at 375* for 30 min., or until golden brown. Let cool for 1 minute and invert onto a serving platter.

Freezer option:
Coffee cakes may be frozen before baking and thawed for 24 hours in the refrigerator. Place in a cold oven; set oven to 375* and bake for 35-40 minutes or until browned.

Nutritional Information: for each 8x8 pan
1/12 pan= 5 pts., 212 cal
1/8 pan= 7 pts., 318 cal

Lasagna In A Bun
Ingredients:
6 (3oz) French style rolls 1 egg white
½ lb. ground turkey ½ cup 2% Mozzarella cheese (divided in ½)
½ cup diced onion 1/3 cup part-skim Ricotta cheese
1 (8oz) can tomato sauce 3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

Directions:
Cut thin slices off tops of rolls. Hollow out centers, leaving ½-inch thick shells; set aside. Cook ground turkey until browned, stirring to crumble. Add onion, tomato sauce and salt. Cook over low heat for 5 min. stirring frequently.
Combine egg white, 1/4cup mozzarella cheese and remaining ingredients. Spoon ¼ cup meat mixture into bottom of each roll; top with cheese mixture. Layer another ¼ cup meat mixture, then sprinkle each sandwich with extra mozzarella cheese. Replace tops of rolls and wrap each sandwich in foil. Bake at 400* for 20-25 minutes.

Freezer Instructions:
Freeze after assembling and before baking. Just thaw 24 hours before serving and bake as directed. In a 400* oven for 20-25 minutes.

Nutritional Information: per sandwich
6points
272 cal

Pecan Pie
1 9-inch frozen pie crust
2 cups pecan pieces
½ cup corn syrup
1 cup dark brown sugar-packed
½ cup nonfat egg substitute
¼ cup low-fat yogurt based spread or butter-melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup cocoa powder

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350*
2. Spread pecan pieces into bottom of pie crust. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, or mixer, mix together corn syrup, brown sugar, egg substitute, spread, vanilla, salt and cocoa powder.
4. Pour the mixture over the pecans.
5. Bake for 30 minutes

Freezing Instructions:
Assemble as directed above. Cover with plastic wrap and foil. Thaw at room temperature before baking in a preheated oven at 350* for 30 minutes.

Nutritional information:
1/8= 10 points & 470 cal.
1/12= 7 points & 313 cal.

Friday night is Pizza night...




We love Fridays at our house because it is pizza night. John and Hayden decided to help this past Friday, so I grabbed my camera to share the moment. Hayden loves to help cook. We got this apron and chef's hat at Circuit City with the purchase of Ratatouille.

Rachel's Princess Skirt



Rachel came down stairs the other day and told me that she had designed her own Princess skirt. This is it! Who knows, maybe she'll be a fashion designer when she grows up. I just thought I'd share this with you. It gives a little insight to Rachel's sense of humor and creativity.

Mary, Mary quite contrary, how do your brussel sprouts grow?



On trees,of course! Today, I went to Jungle Jim's (Trader Joe's on steroids)and discovered this in the produce section. I was actually looking for brussel sprouts, and this is what I found. We all love brussel sprouts, so boy was I excited to find that they grow on trees-like money. I had no idea that this is how brussel sprouts grew. Did you?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Wish list x 4

Okay, I thought it might be fun to show you what my kids want for Christmas. It is funny to see their differences. I'd be curious to know if any of their items are on your children's lists. The items on their lists are in no certain order.

Hayden- age 5

1. Rock Band xbox 360 game ($200 incase you are wondering...I think John has been telling him what to put on his wishlist)
2. Hot Wheels Rumblers Thunder playset
3. Guitar (at Target for $10) He reminds me every day since he saw it.
4. DS game: Jam sessions
5. Webkinz little kinz lion
6. idog spiderman ($35 everywhere except Sam's and it is $7.81; I probably should have bought this already, but I haven't.)
7. Playmobil pirate corsair ship
8. Little Tikes Aircade Wall Court (Even I think this is cool. It hooks to your door, you shoot the ball and it returns it to you)

Rachel- age 7 (I keep forgeting and saying she is 8 and she just says, "mom, I'm 7".)

1. Disney Camcorder
2. Spotz maker (yes, it makes spots...kind of like little discs of paper?)
3. B Chic Nail Studio (Because painting her nails is a huge deal!)
4. dog
5. fishe
6. mukey (monkey)
7. horse
8. turtle
9. owl
10. duck
11. frog

Note: #'s 4-11 are real animals! She is too funny, maybe we'll get her a tour of a vet clinic, or a day at the zoo as a zoo keeper. She watches Animal planet every chance she gets and loves learning about animals.

Sarah- age 10
Okay, this girl has her list organized by categories:

American Girl Stuff ( she does have Samantha and Nellie)
1. Molly's 1944 swimsuit
2. Pup tent
3. Molly's dog Bennett or Emily's dog Yank or Both
4. Samantha's book strap & supplies
5. Samantha's party treats
6. Samantha's victorian lemonade set
7. Nellie's Holiday outfit or Nellie's spring party dress
8. Kaya's food

DS Games and other stuff:
9. Imagine Fashion designers
10. Imagine master chef
11. idog or ifish
12. Hannah Montana Music Jam
13. Yoshi's Island
14. Animal Crossing

Notes by Sarah: I also would like any girl DS covers, girl clothes, webkinz and a littlest pet shop and any books

Added at a later date:
Other American Girl stuff:
-really want with a big arrow to the side> 2-in-1 ballerina set + book
-sweet treats
-Wheelchair for dolls

DONE***! (She really wrote everything just like this. Ironically, she didn't include what she has been asking us for. A new ipod nano.)

Kate- age 12
Okay, she keeps it short and sweet!

1. Hero's season 1 DVD
2. Digital camera -pink (She does have guidelines though, she wants a very thin pink digital camera. She does not want the big fat ones that don't fit in your pocket.)
3. im me (We don't allow her to text on her cell phone, so she wants this to be able to instant message her friends. We said why don't you just call them, or email them?"

That's all for now from Kate. She may resume her list at a later date. If she does, I'll update you.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Rachel's Poem

Bat's are cool thay
dot drol, Bat's flly
ate nite thay dot bite
bat's lived n threes thay dot snes
Bat's eet fes that is not a ly

Translation:
Bat's are cool, they
don't drool, Bat's fly
at night they don't bite
bat's live in trees they don't sneeze
Bat's eat flys that is not a lie.

We're The Kids of The Future

Hayden is working on his air guitar! He has been playing since he was about 2. We did have a real guitar for him for a while, but he was seen regularly smashing it over his head like a rock star. We have not replaced the real one, but he plays the air guitar all the time. Last night, he decided to rock to "We're The Kids of The Future" by the Jonas Brothers. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did...



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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

PWOC Fall Focus October 2007

This past weekend, I experienced something I'd never done before. It was a PWOC (Protestant Women Of The Chapel) Fall Focus. This was a regional women's conference with about 500 women from Army Posts and Air Force Bases in the Southeast region. We took about 25 ladies from Wright Patterson Air Force Base, here in Ohio to Franklin, Tennessee. It was a 6 hour bus ride. I had never gone to Fall Focus before and it was a great experience.

I attended workshops throughout the weekend with topics like Preparing for the Bridegroom,marriage, being a better Bible study leader, preparing young hearts for Christ, mentoring and many more. I really learned a lot in just a few short days. I met some really great ladies and had fun getting to know some of the women from our group.

During the conference, we did create a bit of drama. We caught the carpet on fire in our prayer room and the hotel had to be evacuated. The fire department came... it was pretty funny. Some of our single ladies begged me to take a picture of this tall, dark, handsome fireman so they could have his picture. Thankfully nobody was hurt and we were able to finish the conference.

While we were there, Ronda's son,Toby,took us on a tour of the Franklin area. We saw a couple of homes of some Christian artists and then stopped at Sonic for a little snack. After that, we headed to Nashville for a quick stop. We had to be back for dinner, so we didn't have much time. We had a lot of fun!

On the way home, about an hour out of Franklin, we got a flat tire on our bus. Thankfully, we did not make the national news. I did, however, take pictures of the adventure. We were able to drive on the shoulder and get to the next exit where we stopped at a Cracker Barrel. I picked up a couple of my last few Christmas presents while we were waiting.