One of the things that I am thankful for in my life is that I had the presence of both grandmothers in my life until I was almost 30 years old. One of the things that my Grandma Rose loved to do was to bake and decorate cakes. I remember watching her in her kitchen baking and decorating and it looked like so much fun. I really think that in the last few years I must be channeling her because I decided to start making and decorating the birthday cakes for my kids' birthdays. I really enjoy it. It is a lot of work and I am not the best at it, but I have a blast doing it and hopefully one day my kids will look back and remember with fondness the cakes that I have made for them.
Last year for Rebecca's 3rd birthday I made her this cake:
This year for Jacob's first birthday I made this cake....
I also made and decorated this brownie for my Mother-in-laws birthday....
I made this Scooby-doo cake for my niece's 6th birthday....
I made this Cinderella cake for Rebecca's 4th birthday....
I really enjoy doing this and it is becoming one of my favorite hobbies!
4 years ago today, I became a mom for the first time! I gave birth to a 8lb. 10 oz. bundle of joy, who came 3 weeks early! Rebecca was born on 11:28pm on 11/28/ 2006. She is a bundle of energy. She loves to dance and sing. Her favorites include Dora, Diego, Princesses, and Special Agent Oso. She is a great big sister and a wonderful daughter!
This year, our family has been through so much! Dear hubby has a tremendous job in writing our annual Christmas letter. There have been good times and bad times. But through it all there has been so much to be thankful for!
I am thankful for my marvelous husband and my beautiful children. They are my life and the reason I do the things that I do.
I am thankful that Bill and I have jobs that we like. Yes money is tight and yes we work hard, but we are doing things that we love and that can make a huge difference in the quality of your life.
I am thankful for the support and help of my parents. My mom babysits Rebecca and Jacob while I work and she drives me back and forth to work since we are down to only one car.
I am thankful that we have finally found a community to call our own. We moved from what many called "Gettosburg" to a nice family oriented community. Yes the community is not perfect, but it is right for our family. We have found jobs we like, a church that welcomes our family and we have made many friends in the few months we have lived here.
I am thankful that I am going to church again. I stopped going after we lost Travis and I feel like I am home again. I feel whole.
I am thankful that I have family and friends who are supportive and even though I don't see them very often they know that they are never more than a phone call or email away.
One thing I am trying to focus on this holiday season is to simplify gift giving. It seems like most kids that I know, or that I have known in my teaching career, are focused on how many presents they get and who has the best ones or the most. I find this very troubling. I don't want my children to grow up and to get into the habit of asking for TONS of presents every year. My husband and I have decided to simplify our gift giving plan for our children.
This is our plan for each child FROM SANTA...
One special gift (aka toy) from Santa
Stockings are from Santa (these will be filled with candy, toothbrushes, toothpaste, bubbles, new washcloths)
On Christmas Eve, Santa will leave a new pair of pajamas and a copy of "The Night Before Christmas" under the tree to be opened before bed
FROM DEAR HUSBAND AND I...
a gift of reading...this year the kids are getting 3 books each that I won on a blog giveaway
a game or a puzzle to play with....this year it will be puzzles which I got using Pampers points and Swagbucks
And that is all. That is the plan that we are going with from this year on. We are probably not going to get the kids clothes because their birthdays are in October and November and we ask for presents that are winter clothes for that. I like the idea of simplifying Christmas gifts and making the kids appreciate what they have and really ask for what they want rather than ask for everything under the sun.
Do you have a plan for what presents you get your kids?
So on Saturday my husband said he was going to get the oil changed in Columbus while he was on his way to his work assignment. Ok whatever. It was time for it. He calls me later and says that the tires on the car are wobbly and that he had the oil change place rotate the tires because they needed it. The man cannot get away with just having the oil changed....He called the place back and they said it was because there was a nut missing on the back of one of the front tires, but it was perfectly safe to drive, etc. Now keep in mind we live an hour away from this oil change place.
Sunday morning I go out to put the car seats back in the car, and I notice that one of the hubcaps is coming away from the tire. I go in and tell Bill and he says he would call the oil change place. He calls and they say that he can take it to any of their places and they will rotate the tires back for free but that it is still safe to drive. Ok whatever. So he takes me and the kids to church and he comes back home to find the closest place. The closet place is 45 minutes away....
So we take it to that place after leaving the kids with my parents. While there, the manager looks at the tires and tells Bill that the tire that is wobbly should never have been rotated because a couple of the belts on it were broken. He rotated them back and said that he would get a new tire ASAP as that one could blow at any moment. Just great. I told Bill I didn't feel safe knowing the tires could blow at any moment with the kids in the car. So we went down the street to Walmart and they said that actually 2 of the tires were bad and that they could have it done in around 2 hours. We decided to leave the car and walk across the street to the movie theatre and see " Harry Potter and the Dealthy Hallows, part 1" instead of sitting in Walmart for 2 hours.....
So when all was said and done, I had almost $300 of unplanned for expenses. Ughh...the breakdown is as follows:
Jiffy Lube: $130
Walmart for new tires: $130
Movie tickets: $12
Popcorn and pop: $12
Thankfully we have the money in our account for the jiffy lube and the movie stuff. I will take money out of savings for the tires. Better safe than sorry.
Lesson learned: never take the car to Jiffy Lube for an oil change again.
One of my favorite hobbies is Reading. I have recently tried to incorporate more time for reading into my life because I find I get more out of it than say watching TV, spending time online, or doing other things. I have fallen in love again with our library.....
On the last trip to the library I was excited to see that Dorothea Benton Frank had a new book recently published. I had high expectations for "Lowcountry Summer" I have read and enjoyed many of Frank's books, including "Isle of Palms," and "Sullivan's Island." "Lowcountry Summer" follows the life of Caroline Wimbly Levine as she deals with being the matron of a plantation and as she interacts with her grieving brother, his four daughters from hell, her son and his older girlfriend, her various lovers--including the pig farmer with a bad heart and the policeman, her drunk sister-in-law, and her drunk ex-husband. The story follows her escapades with each character and their interactions with one another.
I started reading this book with high hopes and almost immediately was disappointed. I found the characters to be so self-centered and so focused on the absurd that it was very distracting. The one character that seemed to have any moral backing and with whom I connected was killed off in the story. The main characters are all preoccupied with sex, wealth, and who has what and with being snobs. I had a really hard time reading this book. It took me almost 2 weeks to read it and I only finished it because I do not like NOT finishing books I am reading. (That is a pet peeve of mine!). If you are interested in trying to read Dorothea Benton Frank's books, I would recommend skipping over this one entirely!
Ever wonder what happens to your facebook account once you die? Otrib.com is a service that I was introduced with through Bzzagent.com. It is an interesting web application that allows you to say what you want to have happen to your online accounts after you die. You can even name an heir to your facebook accounts. It is a morbid, but interesting thing to think about. You can decided how you want your facebook account handled and make your wishes known...you can do this using the facebook app! It is easy to sign up and let your final wishes known. One less thing for us facebook addicts to worry about! ;)
I am a BzzAgent. What that means is that I am offered products to review and try out and in turn I tell others about that product.
One of the latest products that I received to review was an apple cinnamon candle from the Glade Winter Collection products. I was given the opportunity through BzzAgent.com to sample Glade's new holiday candle collection.
Let me tell you this Glade candle smells just like Christmas. It brought back memories of putting up the Christmas tree at my Grandma's house years ago. It smells like a yummy homemade apple pie cooling on Grandma's counter.
I have tried numerous brands of candles in the past, both expensive ones and dollar store ones. I found that with most candles the scent is only there for the first half hour or so of burning and then it fades the more you use the candle. Not so with the Glade apple cinnamon candle. The first time I burned it, I lit it for over 1 hour and the scent was just right the whole time- not too strong and not too soft. The candle seems to last for a long time as well. Some candles are fast burners, the glade candle burns slowly at the right speed.
The container that the candle came in is great as well. It is decorated with white reindeer and white snowflakes. It is elegant and casual at the same time. With 2 young kids it fits right into our home decor! It is elegant enough though to fit into my mother-in-law's decor where everything has to be just right.
I was skeptical about using this toothpaste. I have very sensitive gums and there are some toothpastes on the market that I cannot use because they irritate my gums. I decided to try this toothpaste out though as has lots of outstanding qualities that made me think that it would be gentle on my gums and teeth. These qualities included
does not contain alcohol
was in a great flavor--peppermint (it also comes in Spearmint Ice, which I have NOT tried)
is made by a company that shows through their practices that they care for the environment and not just making money or a profit
So....I tried it....and.....I LOVED IT!!!! The toothpaste has just the right amount of flavor. It was not overpowering. The Tom's of Maine Wicked Fresh toothpaste left my teeth and gums feeling very clean. It also gave my mouth a fresh feeling without the aftertaste of alcohol or mouthwash that I had to use with other toothpastes. Best of all it was gentle on my teeth and gums! I think that I have found my new favorite toothpaste!
Disclaimer: The opinions in this post are my own. I am a BzzAgent and did recieve samples of Tom's of Maine Wicked Fresh toothpaste to sample and to post my opinion on.
So in all the chaos of life, I realized that Thanksgiving is next week! Christmas is shortly after that! YIKES!!! I have been trying to figure out a plan to have an easy stress free holiday this year. One of the things that I am implementing is buying a lot of our presents and cards online. Presents are 95% done! Now on to our Christmas cards......this is always a bone of contention with my husband and I. The last couple years I have done a regular card and then added a picture of the kids inside. So I was paying for cards and for photos to be printed. Last year I did a photo card where you added the picture into the front of the card like a frame. There are 2 things I noticed. First, the price of the cards and getting the photos developed is getting more and more expensive every year. Second, when I would go to people's houses I would see the picture of the kids hanging on the mantel or on the refrigerator and usually the card itself was thrown away. That seems like a waste to me. So this year, Dear Hubby and I have decided in order to save money, give the recipients what they really want, and to make our life a little less stressful we are going to order photo cards.
For Father's Day and for Mother's Day this year I ordered photo cards from Shutterfly and was really impressed with the quality and low cost of them. So we are going to order our cards through them! For as little as $0.32 plus shipping for a card these are the right option for our family!
So now that we know where we are going to order from, the hard part is going to be to decide which design of photo christmas cards is best for us.... I love these:
I love how I could put pictures from throughout the year and show how my kids have grown all year. I also love how this says Merry Christmas and not Happy Holidays. Being Catholic, I must have a card that says Merry Christmas.
I also like this card.
I love the focus on family in this card....
And in this card as well...
Hmmmm.... Decisions, decisions, decisions......
Another thing I really like about Shutterfly is that it is not just about photos or photo cards. You can also make calendars, playing-cards, and numerous other personalized gifts for those special people in your life. I am thinking that I will also make this very adorable ornament for my parents and for Dear Hubby's parents as a special gift from Rebecca and Jacob.
I will say it again and again, I love the quality of the products I have received from Shutterfly and am looking forward to using their services again to help me achieve my stress free holiday because Shutterfly ROCKS!!!!
All opinions expressed in this post are my own. However, Shutterfly is sponsoring this post by offering me 50 Photo cards in exchange for the post.
Time just seems to fly. I have been so busy the last couple months that writing on the blog seems to get pushed to the last of the to-do list and then I am too tired to do it. It is something that I enjoy so I am going to try to get back into posting at least a couple times a week at minimum. I have been so busy the last couple months. Some of the highlights include:
Working part time at my school job-- this is going great! I love the work and the kids are great. I have been only getting about 12-15 hours a week but that is okay.
Dear Hubby found a new job that was a lot closer to our new home. Before he was driving 60+ minutes ONE way to work. Now he is the new Sports Editor of our local newspaper and he literally drives 3 minutes to work! And he is back into doing what his college degree is in and what he loves :) This change has meant that I have started cooking more and just doing more around the house.
There was a 2 week period where Dear Hubby, Rebecca and Jacob all had the stomach flu thing that just would not go away. Thankfully I didn't get it.
We have been trying to get paperwork done so that we can get the kids on government health care. With Bill's new job the health insurance would have taken almost 1/4 of his paychecks and we just can't afford that.
Jacob turned 1 year old and we had his birthday party! I love that boy so much!
My mom has been in the hospital and out and that has been stressful.
I have spent much of my time online hunting deals for Christmas and coupons for our grocery shopping. I am 97% done with our Christmas shopping.
We had my mother-in-laws birthday celebration.
I have been asked to sample several products and review them. (I am hoping to get those posts done later today!)
We searched for and found a church that is a good fit for our family! YAY!
Life has just been busy, busy, busy! But I would rather it be busy than boring. I cannot believe that Thanksgiving is next week and Christmas is coming so soon! Rebecca's 4th birthday is next weekend and we are also trying to schedule the kids' baptism at the church that we have been attending. Well I am off to make lunch for my kiddos and continue doing laundry. That is the story of my life on my days off!