Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Need a good movie?

 If you haven't already, you MUST see...
(Released about year ago and we finally watched it recently after rave reviews from Holly.   Greg and I both highly recommend it.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pink Christmas

Ok, I'm going to be brave and take the plunge. Deadline is this Thursday. Anyone want to support me ( I mean- "join in the fun") by signing up too?

If you've been to Kristi's blog before you know all about it. For those who don't it's a way to help a family in need and get lots of goodies for yourself in the process...

From the Pink Christmas blog...

This year Pink Christmas will be sponsoring a entire family - they are amazing. They have immigrated to Washington D.C. from Africa and are beginning their new life. They have 4 amazing children. Ages 12, 8, 2 and just a few months old. The sweet mother just had twins but one passed away and the other little boy is still in the hospital weighing just a few pounds. They need everything that you could think of to begin a new life in a new home. All the money will go to helping them get the necessities to do just that.
Here is how it works.
Pink Christmas is an (*optional*) $15.00 donation. All proceeds will go to our Pink Christmas Family. (over the next few months you will have a chance to get to know them better)
To sign up you must leave a comment on this post and then send an email to {this is how I will double check to make sure I don't miss anyone}
By September 1st you will receive in the mail a pink envelope with the name of your Pink Christmas Girlfriend. (ssshh remember this is a secret) You will also receive a lot of goodies from all of our Pink Christmas Sponsors. (they are the only way that this is even possible)
Copy the below questions in your email along with your answers. This questionnaire will be sent only to your Pink Christmas girlfriend for her to start working on your gift.
The deadline for the completion of the project is December 1st.
Please plan on sending your completed gift to your girlfriend by December 5th
I then encourage you to send your gift wrapped gift by December 5th, (with delivery confirmation) so it will have plenty of time to arrive to its new home. Then no peeking until Christmas morning.
The rules of the gift giving… well there really are no rules to making the gift. But I encourage you to use your creative juices, have part or all of your gift made by hand and share a piece of you. Keep in mind there is someone out there thinking of you during this time and creating something just for you. Only give something that you too would want to receive. And Yes you can have someone make the gift for you. (many of our Pink Christmas Sponsors would love to help you with that)

{Come on Hol- you said you'd do it! Anyone else?}

Monday, July 28, 2008

See what blogging can do??

This is one of the best posts I've read in a while... so, so fun! Check it out.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

52 Blessings Project: Week # 30

New Friends

Also, while on vacation with the kids in Michigan, I was blessed make some new friends. I was invited to a Blog Party of sorts. Now for the Muskegon girls, it was more of their regular "Girls Night Out" evenings. For me it was meeting friends, that I already "knew" from their blogs. What a fun night! Beth and Holly figured out that both Beth's sister Andrea (who had recently moved away) and I would be in town at the same time, so plans were made. Leanne I've known for years as my aunt Tami's best friend (but no she's not much older than me- only a couple of years difference!) Beth, Andrea, and Caity are new to me though. I've been getting to know each of them by reading their blogs. Strange to meet someone for the first time and not have to actually introduce yourselves. :) I had a great time & loved these girls! Granted I knew I would from their blogs and the fact that they are Holly's friends!
Beth & Caity

Leanne & I... Leanne was so sweet to bring along treats for everyone. She does a "Try it Tuesday" post on her blog each week where she reviews some new goody she finds. She gave us cute little packages of LesserEvil Kettle Corn. Yummo! She made Holly her own package with a dairy free snack. So thoughtful.

After dinner we went to Beth's house where I got to meet her and Caity's sweet families. Caity and her kids...

Beth's daughter in a bit of an animal cracker induced haze. :) (It was pretty late!) Beth, I hope the "corns" on her feet are all better! :D

Andrea brought over her little man as well- what a cutie he was!

Then a tour of Beth's place complete with Mickey Mirror...

... and fertility chair! (You should do a post about this chair sometime Beth.)

Followed by lots of fun conversation...

(A little blurry but... Classic Holly laughing-during-a-story face that usually gets everyone laughing to tears!) BTW, sorry Holly for stealing most of your pictures- feel free to post them on your blog too! :)
Thanks to you all for welcoming me into your lives. I wish we'd had more time together!

Oh! I'd be remiss if I forgot to mention who made this whole day possible, and worry free. BIG thanks go out to Nathan (Holly's husband) who managed 7 kids ages 12, 10, 10, 7, 7, 4, and 4 all on his own pretty much from 3pm until after midnight while making it fun for all of them. He seriously played games with them the whole time! He even made them his special mac 'n cheese and a chocolate peanut butter fudge cake and let them make the frosting.

They were all asleep when we got home too (except for Jackson who wanted to read about 100 books with Uncle Nathan.)

Thanks Nathan!

52 Blessings Project: Week # 29

Old Friends

The kids and I went "home" to Michigan last week. It was great to see some old friends. I'm blessed to have friends that even though I haven't seen them for a long time, it doesn't feel like it has been long!

We stopped in to see the Merx's in Detroit on our way to Grand Rapids. Oh, how we wish they were still in Buffalo! It was fun to stop in even if just for a couple of hours. So fun to hang out- so hard to leave them all!Angie had to protect Owen a little from all of the big kids that invaded his house. He wasn't sure how to react to them!Brian thought taking pictures would keep him from being on someone's blog. Wrong! :)Jack Jack loves Owen (as all of the kids do)... even if he kept calling him Baby Hyrum!Torturing Owen by making him sit surrounded by the BIG kids. Cute Owen- wish he was still here so he'd know us better! :)

I wish I'd had my camera at Church on Sunday. So great to see so many familiar faces. I love how my friend Sarah introduced my kids to the Primary. She said, "Some of my favorite people are here today. They probably don't even know they are some of my favorite people, but they are because their mom is one of my favorite people." What a way to make all of us feel super special... so thank you Sarah! {And if you're reading this, don't forget to try to leave a comment:) And that goes for everyone! If you don't have a Google account, just write your comment, sign it and click on Anonymous under "Choose an Identity", then post it.}


I forgot that I would post a picture of Jillie and her old friend Monica. They were best friends during preschool and kindergarten, before we moved away from Michigan. Whenever we come back the girls always have to get together again for a day. They have a great time together - and have plenty in common still.

By the way, as a side note... I have reached a blogging milestone.

This is my 100th post! WooHoo!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Happy Birthday Jack Jack!

"Oh My Goodness! "
(as Jackson would say)
Jack Jack is 4 years old!

Four years ago today... Kristin came over to watch the kids, while Greg and I left for the hospital for our scheduled induction. I was so done being pregnant. So uncomfortable. SO. SO. HUGE. We got a fabulous nurse at the hospital that acknowledged that this was my 4th time going through labor and delivery... which meant that I knew best what I needed. I was very grateful for her. I know from experience that I do not dilate well until I get an epidural. The pain up until that point is pointless- and makes it all last longer than it needs to. This nurse said, "There's absolutely no reason that this needs to be painful at all. When you start feeling any, I'll exaggerate a bit for you and get that epidural put in right away." And she did and it was great. We laughed and joked through the whole labor & delivery. I remember thinking- 'I really don't want to do pregnancy again, but I could deliver a baby any day- piece of cake!' It only took a couple of pushes to get him out, but because of the cord wrapped around his neck, Jackson was blue when he came out. Greg remembers thinking, "That's it?? After all of this, the baby's just dead??" Thankfully, none of the nurses or Dr. Wolf showed any concern. They just worked their magic and he was breathing fine on his own in a few seconds- though he didn't cry. This was the first time of many to come where he's done things differently that any of our other kids!

His sisters and brother were so happy to hold him that day... and our family was complete.

{Jaleigh was born just 3 days before Jackson... you should check out Holly's post about her- it's great!}

1st Birthday- in a hotel while house hunting in NY (store bought Elmo cake)

2nd Birthday- celebrating with Jaleigh

2 yrs old- blueberry picking in MI

3rd Birthday

3 yrs old- wanting a picture in his USVI shirt that was too small from the get-go.

4th Birthday... I kind of failed him by not throwing together a friends party. He had a happy couple of days anyway though. The night before was Chuck E. Cheese...

Then on his birthday he got his favorite- Mac n cheese dinner & Mickey Mouse Birthday cake{I'm terribly disappointed in Jack Jack's cake. It was not at all like I wanted it to turn out- but due to poor planning on my part and lack of time... well, at least Jackson still liked it anyway & it tasted yummy.}

And opened lots of presents!

Jackson now...

Fan of Indiana Jones, Webkinz, computers, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Hannah Montana, Herbie, Cars, watching strangers home movies from Disney parks on YouTube ...

Loves to get his picture taken.

Loves to take pictures.

Loves to look at his pictures and videos.

Says, "Look!" (actually it's "Yook!") or "Look at that!" numerous times every day.

Often asks to go to Disneyland- like we could just go on over right now.

Enjoys playing in the water- would rather play with toys in the wading pool than go in the big one still.

Has a passion for finding things that match or are "the same!"

Jackson has this dark spot on his hair that you can only see when his hair is very short.

Jackson LOVES music- singing, dancing, playing instruments,...

This is karaoke to Hannah Montana.

Kissing is his latest hobby. Grammie G got a big one last week.

He's very good at that now- probably thanks to all of the exercises Theresa's (speech therapist) done with him. He figured out how to blow out his candles this year too- he is very excited about it. We actually had to wait to light the candles until after we sang Happy Birthday because he wanted to blow them out fast!

We love our Jack Jack!!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

52 Blessings Project: Week #28

Family Visits

This week we have been blessed to be on vacation- at home- since we've had family visiting us all week. The Hill Cumorah Pageant is just down the road- well 1.5 hours down the road- but it's close enough to give far away family a reason to come see us. :) This year we had the Avery family visit followed directly after by Grammie G and Cousin Jake. SO. MUCH. FUN. Great times for the cousins to play together, the grown ups to spend time visiting, everyone building memories together... topped off by the sharing the spiritual experience of the pageant. It reminds me of one of my all time FAVORITE books...

Sunday, July 6, 2008

52 Blessings Project: Week #26 & #27

Two blessings come to mind this weekend:
Living in the United States of America
and Good Family Friends

I saw this quote on another blog. I don't know if it's common knowledge that passed me by somehow or not... but I loved it & found it related well to my blessings this week. John Adams wrote the following to his wife Abigail about the 4th of July,
"It ought to be celebrated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illumination, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward, evermore."

Well, we share the same sentiments around our house and we enjoyed our celebration of this great country we are blessed to live in. We may take our freedom for granted sometimes. I'm grateful for the celebrations and commemorations that remind us how good we have it, how wonderful this country is, and how blessed we are. The fact that we enjoy religious freedom is paramount to me. If it were not for our Founding Fathers and for those who fought & gave their lives, the gospel of Jesus Christ could not have been restored. I love that I live here- especially so close to where the gospel was actually restored. I love the patriotic feeling I get when I sing or listen to patriotic songs. I am proud to be an American.
Now about the blessing of good family friends. Since we got married it has been tricky for Greg and I to find couple friends to spend time with since we both need to like both of them. Part of the reason I'm sure is that we haven't been real social- maybe too homebody-ish. I remember early on in our marriage too talking about the fact that growing up we remember our parents having friends, but not really ones that they would spend time with very often. We never saw our folks double dating with another couple from the ward or something like that. In both of our families there was a lot of extended family around, so that is who our families were social with. I think the concept of couple friends was a bit uncomfortable to us- a little foreign. What ever the reason, I think we're more comfortable now. As we have moved from place to place we have made progress :) Now, here in NY we've finally found a comfort zone. We have families that are good friends- and everybody likes everybody. We've been blessed now to have friends who feel like family... and new friendships continue to develop. {Thank goodness that we get some new ones when others up and move! (read: Merx's!)}. :)

Anyhow... We had a great Independence Day with some of our family friends- the Lewis', the Christensen's, and the Brandt's.
Our 4th of July festivities began when our first guests arrived at about 12:45pm.... and lasted until the last family left at about 11:45pm. An 11 hour day of fun- at least for us- I hope everyone else had as good of a time! :)
We played, ate, played some more- swimming, playground, water balloons, swingball, Trivial Pursuit, name that 70's or 80's tune off of Greg's iTunes, bounce houses, lots of visiting...and of course more eating (can you say dessert for dinner?). Then there was the parade- watching Reagan march in the junior color guard was the highlight, music and snacks in the park, the fireworks show- and then home for our 'not-quite-so-legal-bought-in-PA-fireworks' show in the backyard. So many pictures I want to post, I'm going to try a slide show. Jillie posted all about our party on her blog too...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

June Birthdays

It's July already and I still haven't posted anything about Reagan and Jillie's birthday parties. Shame on me! So... while I should be cleaning and organizing (or sleeping) so I am prepared for the many guests that will be here starting on Friday for a 4th of July party and on through the entire next week... I will drop a quick (ha!) post about their fun days. {By the way we are very excited that we get to have family visiting all next week!!}

Reagan's birthday party "Luau" was the Saturday after her birthday.

{Reag with her cake and pinata...poor girl looks so exhausted. This was such a busy time with end of the year activities, great weather which encouraged late nights, but early mornings with school still on, and she was fighting a cold & not getting much rest when she did get to bed.}

She invited her 6 school BFFs and they all had a fun afternoon together. {BTW You may recognize most of the day's decorations... left overs from the Caribbean party my parent had for the kids while we were in USVI. Thanks for leaving them!} Reagan wanted a craft so we decorated foam visors to start out the party.

While the girls' visors were covered in dolphins, fish, etc...

Kobe's of course had to be more masculine and say "Indiana Jones".

Pizza lunch on the patio for everyone of course since that's usually what Reagan loves to eat!

Then everyone just swam and played outside the rest of the party until it was time for the pinata, presents, and cake.

{Jillie took some pictures with an underwater camera for fun.}

Speaking of the cake... it's been our tradition that the birthday kid designs their cake & I try to make it happen. So here's her design and mine...
Three weeks later we basically did it all again at Jillie's Pool Party. 12 year old parties are very different- and much easier on Mom! :) yea! We held the party on her actual birthday even though it was a Monday... the day before the last day of school. They had a "half day" which means they went to school at 8am, watched the movie Because of Winn Dixie and left school at 10:30am. Most of her 8 school BFFs came home on the bus with her (a couple forgot their bus passes so their moms had to drop them off after all). The girls just hung out listening to music and talking while I finished decorating and made lunch. Lunch was Jillie's favorite- sandwiches.

Then the girls just played outside and surprisingly spent a lot of time in the pool (it wasn't as hot of a day as Reagan's party.)

Jackson also provided a lot of entertainment for these girls as he danced to the music for them!:)

He also spent some time watching everyone in the pool from his post up in the playground.

These girls entertained themselves. They had a water balloon toss game that they did on their own. I didn't even have to make one water balloon! Oh, the freedom!

Jillie's "cake" was a big chocolate chip cookie. I made it the night before, but actually decorated it during the party. (That's a first!) She did give me a simple design though. Just a polka dot "J". No problem.

Another first was filling goodie bags during the party. I happened to find some cute mini bags in metallic colors at the dollar store that morning, but even though it was a last minute thing, I had plenty of time to do it. Towards the end of the party we gave them each a t-shirt to decorate with fabric markers. (I prefer the markers to the paint- less mess and really no drying time.)

After the girls left at 5pm, this is what I found in front of the TV. He had an exhausting day!

Finally we took Jillie out for her birthday dinner. (Greg was out of town and I didn't want to cook anyway.) She chose IHOP.

While Jillie liked her omelet, overall we decided the place is pretty awful and we'll not be returning! In the end though it turned out to be a great day and according to Jillie, "my BEST party ever!" Can't beat that.

Happy Birthday girls!