Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Nikolas and I met my friend Jennifer and her son Michael at Legoland today. When you first enter the building, they have a large display of the Chicago skyline, with all the major landmarks created in Lego blocks.

Next comes the jungle area. Nikolas was please to see his favorite animal represented.

After a ride on the dragon ride, we headed up stairs and saw a great SpongeBob display.

Nikolas' favorite part was the 4D movie, even though he didn't keep his glasses on for the full effect. There is also a mini factory where they show you how they make Legos and you get a commemorative brick.
They had several seasonal displays, like this Santa statue outside the cafe.

Of course, you have to exit though the retail store. Nikolas came with the money he got from Grandma Mary and Great-Grandma Ella for Christmas and was able to pick up the Chum Bucket (part of the SpongeBob collection) and a small Bionicle.

Thank You Card Making

Sunday night at work I picked up the Christmas issue of the UK magazine, Cardmaking & Papercraft because it had these A-Dor-Able chipboard stickers free inside.

The issue also had four Christmas pattern papers inside. I made the thank you cards below using the papers and ideas they had in the magazine.

Now I just need to write out my thank you notes.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas pictures...finally

I finally uploaded all my photos from Christmas to share. Here is what our tree looked like after Santa stopped by our house.

Nik and Chewy's stockings

We had a very Wii Christmas this year. Besides this sled, Santa brought Nik a Wii Play (with a second remote, yeah!), and Mario Party 8. Mom also got Disney's Think Fast for Wii.

Santa brought Chewy some fancy treats.

Nikolas made Gary a monster book.

My scrappy present: a Dymo Caption Maker. I also got a bunch of new Christmas CDs.

Does this boy look like he had a good holiday?

In the afternoon we celebrated with Gary's side of the family at his sister's house. Nik's cousins got Guitar Hero World Tour (I think). Nikolas enjoyed playing the drums, while Tyler sang and Jessica played guitar. Grandma gave Nik two more Wii games: Nick Toons Globs of Doom and Wii Party.

Saturday, we celebrated with my sister Mary and her family (Ruby is in Florida for the holidays). Nik got two more Wii games: Ben 10 and SpongeBob Atlantis Squarepantis.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas to All

Merry Christmas!
Artwork by Nikolas, done today at story time at the bookstore.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday Baking

I had such a good time baking the cookies for the cookie exchange this year, so I decided to do some more baking with Nikolas over his school break. I picked up a Land O' Lakes cookie magazine at work that had several promising recipes inside.

We started last Friday, since school was called because of the icy road conditions. First batch: Anise cookies, one of my favorites.

On Sunday, we made a batch of Holiday S'mores.

Today (Monday), we did a couple of batches of Christmas Noodle Trees made with Chow Mein noodles. The first batch was really sticky and I had a hard time molding them into trees. The second batch had too many noodles mixed in and aren't sticking together well. This tree is from the first batch.

Snowy Day

Last Wednesday (12/17), Nikolas and I were out shoveling--well I was shoveling. There wasn't much for me to shovel, just the walk, since Gary did the drive before he left for work. Unfortunately, the snow wasn't the packing kind because Nik really wanted to make a snowman or at least snowballs. Nik was able to climb the giant snow heap left by the plow.

The Reason for the Season

As Christmas quickly approaches, these songs all help me remember the true meaning of Christmas. We give presents to remind us of the ultimate gift we received when God gave his son to reconcile our relationship with him.

In the Bleak Midwinter by Cyndi Lauper
Peace Child by The Normals
Heaven’s Got a Baby by Sarah Masen
Light of the World by Point of Grace
Babe in the Straw by Leigh Nash
Breath of Heaven by Amy Grant
One King by Point of Grace
Mary Did You Know? by Kenny Rogers
Sing Mary Sing by Jennifer Knapp
Unto Us, This Holy Night by the Wiggles
When Love Came Down by Point of Grace
A Baby Just Like You by John Denver and the Muppets
Face of Love by Jewel
How Great Our Joy by Point of Grace
Mary Had a Baby by Bruce Cockburn
Brightest Star by Chris Isaak
Here with Us by Joy Williams

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Day in the Life-12/17/08

Have you ever had a day when you seem to be running from one task to another, but nothing seems to get done? I have a lot of them! So yesterday, I decided to try to keep track of everything I did to see exactly what got accomplished and where the time goes. Here's what I came up with:

6:30-wake up
6:35-On Demand ab workout with Amy Dixon
7:00-breakfast (yogurt and granola) and Internet time
7:30-wake up Nikolas, get his breakfast, put out his clothes, take shower
7:45-blow dry hair, get dressed, do hair and make-up
8:00-remind Nikolas to put on clothes, start load of laundry, empty dishwasher, brush teeth
8:30-help Nik brush his teeth and comb hair, let dog out/in, check Petco’s hours online
8:50-leave to drop Nik off at school
9:05-go to Petco to get Chewy’s Christmas gift
9:15-go to Meijer to look for cookie cutters and spoon rest. Don’t find either, but pick up 2 shirts on sale.
9:35-find cookie cutters at Target (but don’t like their spoon rest selections)
10:00-off to Victoria Secrets for a gift card
10:30-back home to wrap presents, put clothes in dryer, straighten desk, have a piece of friendship bread, upload pictures from camera and post them on blog
11:00-take business call about possible freelance assignment for new year
11:30-leave to pick up Nik from school
11:50-pick up mail from mailbox, make Nik lunch, restart dryer, see what he got from his teacher for Christmas, check his backpack, see what I got from his teacher for being a parent-helper, open mail (Christmas cards), have lunch (left-over lasagna) while checking email
12:15-talk to Gary on phone, read with Nik for book log, fold laundry, make daily card
1:00-Nik and I go through toys/books in his room to pick out things he wants to get rid of (got to make room for Christmas presents) to sell at garage sale
2:00-pack up stuff for garage sale, let dog out/in
2:15-do daily Bible reading (with many interruptions from Nik who wants to go outside)
2:40-start to get ready to go outside (snow pants, snow boots, etc.)
2:50-go outside to shovel walkway and sidewalk
3:00 Nik plays in snow while I take pictures and crush cans
3:15-come back inside and take off all the wet snow clothes, get Nik a snack, give Chewy a treat, scan daily card, post on blog and check email, have some cookies
3:35-lay down on couch while Nik watches TV--not a nap but I did close my eyes for awhile
4:30-preheat oven and start preparing casserole
5:10-put casserole in oven
5:10-5:30-surf Internet
5:30-sort through Nik’s school papers to save, date and file
5:45-turn on Christmas music, dance with Nikolas, straighten up house
6:00-eat dinner, talk to Gary, watch end of Entertainment Tonight
7:00-watch Muppet Christmas special while setting up Disney Villain Monopoly board
8:00-put Nik to bed (put toys away, brush teeth , say prayers, read story)
8:30-watch Survivor finale with Gary from On Demand
10:20-try to go online, have cheese and crackers, turn off computers
10:35-get ready for bed, read book (View from Saturday), go to sleep

Not-Your-Traditional Christmas Carol

Here are a group of some of the best novelty, comedy, odd, annoying and just plain weird holiday songs around!

Christmas Conga by Cyndi Lauper
Oi to the World by No Doubt
Dominick the Donkey by Lou Monte
Donde Esta Santa Clause by Augie Rios
Minnie and Santa by Cyndi Lauper
All I Want for Christmas I My Two Front Teeth by Spike Jones
The Chiminey Song by Bob Rivers
Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer by Elmo & Patsy
I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas by Gayla Peevey
Nuttin’ For Christmas by Stan Freberg
Santa Baby by Eatha Kitt
Christmas at K-Mart by Root Boy Slim and the Sex Change Band
A 5 Pound Box of Money by Pearl Bailey
Santa Claus Got Stuck (In My Chimney) by Ella Fitzgerald
The Pretty Little Dolly by Mona Abboud
12 Days of Christmas by Bob & Doug McKenzie
Christmas at Ground Zero by Weird Al Yankovic

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

O Christmas Tree

At Nik's school this week, the class is "traveling" around the world to find out how different countries celebrate during this time of year. They have a suitcase, map, passport and tickets. Their teacher is the "flight attendant" and they have to board "the plane" to get to each destination.

On Monday, they went to Israel and learned about Hanukkah. They were shown how to play dreidel and colored a menorah.

On Tuesday, they traveled to Germany and discovered that was the place the first Christmas tree came from. Several parent volunteers came in to help with a special project: making yummy edible Christmas trees out of ice cream cones, frosting and lots of candies.

Here is Nik's tree:

The proud baker, about to sample his creation.
Here he is this morning, modeling one of the new shirts he got from his Aunt Ruby and MaryAnn.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Breakfast with Santa

Yesterday Nikolas and I attended Breakfast with Santa at the zoo. This is our second year and both times we have been joined by my friend Jennifer and her son Michael.

Here are the boys with Rudolph.

And with Frosty.
And with Mrs. Claus

Nikolas had already sent his list to Santa but asked him for some Lego's and told Santa that Chewy has a stocking now. He has been very good, so hopefully Santa will put some bones or treats in there.

Christmas is for Children...

and here are a selection of some of the best Christmas songs for or about kids:

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus by Jimmy Boyd
Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Gene Autry
Baby’s 1st Christmas by Connie Francis
Here Comes Santa Claus by Gene Autry
A Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives
Frosty the Snowman by Jimmy Durante
The Little Drummer Boy by the Vienna Boys Choir
You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch by Thurl Ravenscroft
Hardrock, Coco & Joe by Stormy Weather
Suzy Snowflake by Stormy Weather
Heat Miser from The Year Without a Santa Claus
Snow Miser from The Year Without a Santa Claus
I’d Like to Hitch a Ride With Santa Claus by the Andrew Sisters
Jolly Old St Nicholas by Chet Atkins
Up on the Housetop by Eddy Arnold
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town by Fred Astaire
Santa’s Beard by Beach Boys
The Chipmunk Song by The Chipmunks
The Happiest Christmas Tree by Nat King Cole
The Man With All The Toys by Beach Boys
Mrs. Santa Claus by Nat King Cole
Twinkle Twinkle Little Me by The Supremes
Where Are You Christmas by Faith Hill

Sunday, December 14, 2008

8 months til WDW! We finally booked our trip!

It's official! We're going to Walt Disney World in 8 months! The local school district announced the 2009 school schedule so I was able to book our trip. We will be at WDW for 8 days right before school starts in August celebrating my 40th birthday (a little early).

While I impatiently wait for August to arrive, I'm continuing to share scrapbook pages I made from our trip in October 2006. One of the highlights of that trip was attending Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom. Here we are in costume:We attended the party was on our anniversary, so I made sure the photographer took pictures of just the two of us. I also included the Happy Anniversary pin they gave us on the layout.

The party included a special parade and fireworks, plus trick-or-treating throughout the park and special meet-and-greets with characters like Alice in Wonderland and Captain Hook.

My favorite part was the Boo to You Parade, which has a great theme song and kicks off with the headless horseman trotting down the road. All the characters are in costume and they were lots of villains, ghost pirates and Haunted Mansion specters.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Gary & I were one of the many chaperons on the trip to the zoo Nik's class took today. Here are our three charges standing by the tree decorated with ornaments made by the three kindergarten classes.

It was sunny, but the temperatures were still in the teens, so we spent a lot of the time looking at animals inside.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ah, Christmas Love...

To quote a troubadour "Christmas just ain't Christmas without the one you love..." All these Christmas songs feature Christmas romance, including one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs, "That's What I Want For Christmas." I couldn't find Nancy Wilson's version, but enjoy SheDaisy's.

All I Want for Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey
Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses
Blue Christmas by Elvis Presley
You’re My Christmas Present by Jimmy Beaumont & the Skyliners
Christmas Ain’t Christmas (Without the One You Love) by The O’Jays
Please Come Home From Christmas by Jon Bon Jovi
My Only Wish (This Year) by Britney Spears
Merry Christmas Baby by Bruce Springsteen
Pretty Paper by Roy Orbison
Merry Christmas Darling by Carpenters
Santa Bring My Baby Back (to Me) by Elvis Presley
Baby, It’s Cold Outside by Dean Martin
That’s What I Want For Christmas by Nancy Wilson
Hurry Home For the Holidays by Robert Goulet
I’d Like You For Christmas by Julie London
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) by Hanson
Hey Santa! By Carnie and Wendy Wilson
I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm by Dean Martin
It Must Have Been The Mistletoe by Barbara Streisand
Merry Christmas, Baby by Beach Boys
My Christmas Card to You by The Partridge Family
The Christmas Waltz by Nancy Wilson
You’re All I Want For Christmas by Brook Benton
When My Heart Finds Christmas by Harry Connick, Jr.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas Cookie Exchange

I made my cookies today for the annual Christmas Cookie Exchange my sister will be hosting this weekend.

Here is the recipe:
Andes Mint Cookies
3 boxes Andes Mints
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. water
2 eggs
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
Over low heat, melt butter, brown sugar and water until butter is melted. Add chocolate chips. Stir until partially melted. Remove from heat and stir until all chips are melted. Pour into large bowl and cool for 10 minutes.
On high speed beat in eggs, one at a time. Reduce to low and add dry ingredients. Beat until blended. Chill 1 hour--NO LONGER!
Line cookie sheet with foil. Roll 1 Tbsp of dough into ball. Place on sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes.
As soon as cookies are out of the oven, place a mint on top of each. After about 2 minutes, swirl melted mint with the back of a spoon.
(makes 5-6 dozen)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Remembering the Christ in Christmas

Here is a list of my favorite traditional Christmas recordings that talk about the birth of Christ.

I wish Playlist had renditions of Hangnail's version of O Little Town of Bethlehem and Flight 180's O Come All Ye Faithful, so I can share them with you. Both are contemporary Christian bands that do nontraditional version that, as Nikolas would say offer "hot air guitar" riffs.

O Little Town of Bethlehem by Hangnail
Joy to the World by The OC Supertones
Silent Night by Charlotte Church
Children Go Where I Send Thee by Natalie Merchant
What Child Is This? by Vanessa Williams
O Come All Ye Faithful by Flight 180
Do You Hear What I Hear? by Gladys Knight and the Pips
O Holy Night by Jerry Butler
We Three Kings by Beach Boys
Angles We Have Heard On High by Point of Grace
Away in the Manger by Nat King Cole
Go Tell It on the Mountain by Morris Chapman
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
Hark! The Herald Angles Sing by Jewel
I Wonder as I Wander by Harry Connick, Jr.
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear by Anne Murray
Mary’s Boy Child by Harry Belafonte
Sweet Little Jesus Boy by Anne Murray
The First Noel by FFH

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Big Boy Bed

Gary took Thursday and Friday off to repaint Nikolas' room since Nik got a new loft bed from IKEA.
Here is Nik helping paint on Thursday.

And here is Gary putting on the second coat on Friday morning. After the paint dried we started to put up the bed, but had to stop so we could go to Night in Bethlehem.

Gary finished the bed today and Nikolas was so excited to show me his new bed when I got home from work.
As you can tell we are going to have to take down his ceiling fan before summer comes.

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Night in Bethlehem

Tonight, our church hosted "A Night in Bethlehem: A hands-on Holy Land Experience." It was a wonderful, family-friendly event. The church was transformed into the village of Bethlehem, with fun activities to enjoy at the many shops.

Nikolas got to weave a basket. (It was nighttime in the village, so the flash on the camera kind of "bugged" Nik.)
You got to make a harp in the music shop. Nik liked this because when you finished you got to ring the gong.

In the bake shop, you could grind spices.

Dreidel making in the carpenter's shop. Nikolas is wearing the necklace he made in one of the other shops. There was also a candy shop and a shop to paint an nativity ornament.

As we were leaving the village, we came across some shepherds who were so excited because a host of angels had appeared to them proclaiming the savior's birth! They took us to the lowly stable and we got to meet the holy family.

Our very own Joseph, with his young wife and saviour son.