Monday, December 20, 2010

Gifts, gifts & more gifts

So as many of you know, Mike & I attend Church.  We go as often as we can, which means most Sunday's with the occasional week off to do something else.  I won't lie, some weeks it is especially boring.  But we chose this Church (which is like  a15 minute drive north of us) because the pastor(s) tend to have more interesting sermons, and the whole Church in general is pretty family-oriented.  The Mom's group I attend is also Church-based and I enjoy going to that.

Anyway, every once in a while the sermon hits a chord with me.  This Sunday (19th) would be one of them (and incidentally, you can listen to it here once it is up!).  The pastor spoke about gift giving at Christmas-time.  He started out by recounting an npr story about the perceived worth of a gift vs. what was actually paid for it.  His example was some "all-natural" chapstick his mom insists on buying for him every year.  It probably costs her $7 but he likes the regular $0.75 chapstick you can buy at the market better, so the "lost cost" of that chapstick is $6.25.  If you add this up over every gift given over the Christmas season, we could solve the country's budget crisis!

So then he suggested that why do we feel the need to spend more money?  If you look at the life of Jesus, he never gave "things", he always gave his time and talents instead.  Why don't we do the same?  Give a "coupon" to your spouse offering to watch the kids while they go out and do something for themselves.  Give a harried couple an overnight without their kids to give them a chance to reboot and recenter themselves.  Offer a picnic in the local park with your neighbor to get to know them better.  The best thing you can give people is your time!

So I'm sitting there nodding and thinking these are great ideas!  And I'm coming up with some of my own, when I suddenly realize... it's the WEEKEND BEFORE Christmas, and I have all my shopping done already!  ARGH.  This is something I could have used YESTERDAY!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What's been going on at our house.

Kevin has taken a liking to bubbles similarly to Amanda.  Here he is watching intently as the bubbles come out of our bath bubble machine.  If you look closely, he's got a bubble stuck to his head and he doesn't even know it!

Having two kids as opposed to the one has had it's share of challenges.  Now that Kevin is getting older, he wants to do EVERYthing Amanda does.  So we both find ourselves fighting off kids who want all the attention on themselves.  This first picture is one night Mike got out the massager to help his sore arms.  Both kids wanted to play with it too!

Kevin likes the massager too, it seems to help his sore gums when he's teething

And here are some pics from over the weekend.  I made caramel brownies to bring to a christmas party.  Just getting stuff out of the cupboard was a challenge!

Amanda helped me make the brownies.  She helped unwrap all the caramels, and had so much fun doing it!

And enjoying a brownie straight out of the oven!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Kevin's First Haircut!

So today was the straw that broke the camel's back when it came to Kevin's hair.  I took the kids to Target and the checker kept saying "she's so cute" about Kevin.  Amanda also needed a haircut, so I called and made an appointment immediately.

Before, these are from Thursday, Kevin wanted to play in the sink.  They show you how long his hair was getting.

And here he is in the "chair" getting ready to get his hair cut.



After that it was down hill.  He cried and tried to cling to me, so we ended up in a regular chair with him on my lap.  Gladys did a wonderful job working with a squirmy toddler though, and his hair came out very cute :)



Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Anyone else have a scrooge of a husband?
I love holidays.  Not only do you get a day off from work, but you get to decorate the house!  Christmas is definitely one of my favorite holidays because of this.
And every year I fight my dear, sweet, loving husband because he refuses to help.

I always like to decorate the weekend after Thanksgiving.  It's officially "Christmas season" and we usually have nothing going on.  Well this year, we were busy, but we had Saturday afternoon free, so I took out all the boxes and began to decorate.  Amanda wanted to help, and I had to call in about 600 favors to get Mike to take a picture of us, so here you go.

I am really not too fond of the fake tree.  My family always gets a real tree, which is steeped in family tradition.  Always the first week fo December, we go with two other families and traipse out to the "u-cut" Christmas tree farm (which is getting harder to find in the middle of Los Angeles now!) where we spend 2 hours finding the perfect Christmas tree - not too tall, but wide and full, and no holes.  And it has to smell deeeeee-liciously of pine.  Then we all traipse home and have dinner together and recount our search for the perfect Christmas tree (expect pictures after this weekend!)

Mike on the other hand, always had a fakey-Christmas tree in their house.  Our compromise is that years we fly to Illinois for Christmas, we put the fake tree up, and the years we stay home we get a real tree.  That way we're both happy, right?

Anyways, I discovered over the past several years that Mike has his way of making the fakey look "perfect".  So after I set it up and put the lights on, I let him go to town.

Here he is "teaching" Amanda how to spread the branches to give the appearance of the tree looking full.

And I spent the next hour putting ornaments high on the tree so that the cat and the baby can't get them and break them.  Our tree now has the upper half looking awesome, and the bottom half looking bare.  I am guessing it will be like that for several more years until the cat stops caring and the kids are old enough to know better.

Monday, November 29, 2010

To be a kid again...

Mike went on a trip to Vegas in October. While he was there he played at an arcade-type place (kind of like Chuck-E-Cheese) where the games spit out tickets. One of the things he got with the tickets was something called "B'Loonie". You blow into a tube connected to a tube of liquid latex basically, and you end up with "balloons". But the balloons are sticky, so what they ended up doing was sticking them to whatever was around and going on to the next one.  Thus, I ended up with "baloons" growing out of my trash can one afternoon.

The next couple of pictures is pretty funny and needs a little explanation.  So I was undressing Amanda one evening for her bath (while Mike was in Vegas) and my hand slipped before I got her shirt all the way up over her head.  It was still covering up one of her eyes, so I laughed and said something about her being a pirate.  Amanda proceeded to say "argh matey" which made me laugh even harder.  So I left her shirt partway on and tied the sleeves behind like a bandana and we pranced through the house saying "Argh matey!"

Fast forward a couple of weeks and I am trying to get Kevin undressed for his bath.  He is a slippery one who often runs away, which he proceeded to do before I could get his shirt all the way off.

Well, now Amanda wants in on the fun too, so she insisted I do the same to her shirt! Then both kids ran around the house acting like pirates.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I love the Internet

I remember growing up my mom had a special coupon drawer.  Yes, a full drawer dedicated to just coupons.  She poured through the Sunday newspaper and clipped them, and whenever they came in the mail, she would throw them in her drawer.  Then when it was time to go shopping, she'd take a good 15 minutesto go through her coupons and make sure she wasn't missing anything.
Compare this to today.  There are websites like where you just go, print what you need for that shopping trip, and wallah, instant savings! 

People used to buy Christmas gifts for family, then either package & ship them themselves, or carry them in their bags to their destination.  Today, shipping is free on most sites (especially around the holidays), and often cheaper than buying in a brick-and-mortar store.
I just purchased all the gifts for my neices and nephews for Christmas. was having a 4-day sale w/free shipping, and through my work I got an extra $5 off.  I sent them all directly to Illinois where they will be waiting when we arrive on the 23rd of Dec.  Easy peasy!  I love that.  No gas used, less time to find things, cheaper than doing it myself, and sooooooooo much easier.

Now comes the hard part.  Amanda is at an age where she understands Santa.  We're going to be in Illinois for Christmas this year.  Do I buy "Santa" gifts for her and ship them out there for her to find Christmas morning?  Then try and figure out how to get them home.  Or tell her that Santa still comes to our house in CA and she will get them when we get home?  I'm thinking a little of both.  Maybe some small gifts that can be carried she will get in Illinois, and anything big will be waiting for her at home.  Either way, should be an interesting holiday...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

15 months

Ok, was able to extract and upload to blogger this picture.  Tell me if that is not the cutest face you've ever seen?

I think Kevin is teething.  He puts something in his mouth almost constantly.  He currently has his two bottom teeth, and it looks like the top two are beginning to cut through.  Only took 15 months, but he's finally getting his teeth!

It's amazing how different boys & girls are.  Kevin *loves* to make as much noise as he can.  He yells, screams, hits two things together, whatever he can to make some noise.  Amanda on the other hand, scared of anything that is even slightly loud.

Here are a couple pics from when he discovered he could make a lot of noise hitting the stove with a wooden spoon!

By the way, notice his outfit?  That would be what daycare put him in when he soiled his regular clothes.  They claimed it was the only thing the could find, but I checked and he had 3 perfectly good outfits there, that were not swim trunks.  Oh well, we had a good laugh out of it!

Picture Problems

My pictures don't seem to work from work anymore.  I can't extract the link to the picture on flickr.  I have a bunch of pictures to post too, and I can't get them over here!  Work is pretty much the only time I can sneak a minute to post on this blog.  Home is where the chaos starts!

This last weekend we took the kids and my sister Erin's kids to a local park and had "professional" photos taken to be used as Christmas presents.  It was supposed to be of just the kids, but she ended up taking pictures of each of us with the kids too.  I'm still waiting for the link to see the results.  I wasn't blown away by her technique, and after viewing a friends' session, I'm not expecting anything spectacular.  I'm beginning to think I'm jaded.  Maybe it's the new camera, but I feel like I have very rarely gotten the caliber of picture that I want.  Amanda's 6 month pictures and Kevin's 1 year pictures are the exception.  I really liked those pictures.  But other than that, I would call everything else "blah".  What I really really wish is that I had gotten the name of the photographer who did Amanda's 6 month pictures at JCPenney and then possibly hired her outside of there.  Because she had some really amazing ideas and beautiful shots.  But alas, it's been 3 years and I have no way of finding out who that was at this point!

Another of my pet peeves - the prices photographers charge!  I completely understand a price for their time.  Say $200/hour to have them take your picture.  You are paying them for their time, just like I am paid for my time at work.  However, what I don't understand is ALSO paying an arm and a leg for the photograph.  Ok, I am not paid ALSO per spreadsheet that I prepare at work.  So the whole "copyright infringement" thing is just assinine in my opinion.  If I pay you for your time, I shouldn't also have to pay $500 for a picture that took you a fraction of a second to push the button on the camera for.  If I then can't pay for the photograph, I just paid $200 for nothing!  Ridiculous.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Home is where the heart is.

I really hate "wordless wednesday", but these really don't need much of an explanation.

Sophie's favorite spot at night:


This is Halloween!

Here are a few collages of some Halloween photos.
The two in this of Amanda are from Saturday at our Church Halloween party.  The other is of Kevin getting into the candy bowl on Halloween night!

This one is of Halloween night, getting ready to go out, and of Kevin in the stroller (he made it one house and was done)


This is a pic of Amanda's pumpkin (she drew it herself, and then we cut it out), and of trick-or-treating. Amanda did amazingly well and went out for more than an hour!


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Caught in between

I am non-confrontational.

There. I said it.

I hate confrontation. Despise it even. My mind goes blank, my palms get sweaty, and I forget everything I want to bring to the table. This is why I like e-mail so much. I can think about what I want to say, compose it the way I want to say it, re-read, re-write and finally send.  Then it's just up to the e-mail gods that the person on the other end reads it the way I intended it to be!  But that's a story for another day...

Today I start off the day like any normal day.  And at some point I get a phone call asking me to help with what could potentially become a lawsuit against the company I work for.  Great.  And guess what, I'm the one who knows & understands this stuff more than anyone!  So far, all correspondence has been by snail-mail (his choice) or e-mail (my choice).  But now they want to have a phone call!  Ack!  Panic time!

I get copied on a bunch of e-mails about a conflict that really doesn't even include me, but I got pulled in due to being the head of the parents group at our daycare.  Great.  I don't really know if I should even respond, but I feel bad for these people all the same.  I just don't want to be the next head on the chopping block!

So today I feel stuck in the middle.  I am the cream of the oreo, the marshmallow in the s'more.  Lovely.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Being Artistic

My parents have a great yard for nature photos. Here's a few that I think turned out pretty good!




Fun at Grandma's!

On Sunday Mike wasn't feeling well, so I took the kids and headed up to my parents to give him some time to sleep.  While we were there, they needed to do some yard work and Amanda was more than happy to help!
Helping Grandma take the pool cover off:

Getting the broom to sweep up the pine needles around the pool area:

Helping Grandma sweep up pine needles

And dumping them in the trash can

Posing with the broom:

Then it was time to clean the pool! First the spa

Then the pool. But first, a pose for Mommy!

She did it all on her own (one pine needle at a time)

Then Kevin got up from his nap

When we got home, Daddy showed Amanda how to do a somersault on the trampoline!

All in all an exciting day :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Catching up!

Amanda LOVES bubbles, and the bath bubble machine that she has makes tons & tons of them. Here she is playing with the mountain of bubbles she got.



Pic of her after I cut her bangs (which were getting so totally long)


Preview for Halloween. Trying on her Cinderella outfit:


Kevin playing with a tennis ball tube



And one of the funniest pics I've taken. I was playing with the monochrome setting and Kevin came right up to the camera lens!