Monday, December 29, 2008

Santa was very good to us!

Christmas was wonderful! Oh and warm - yes shorts and sandals and palm trees for Florida this year. (The pictures are all from Christmas morning at our house.)
Christmas Eve we have a tradition we started years ago with my Grandma Alder....breakfast with the Alder family. Nineteen of us gathered bright and early - 7:30 a.m. to meet for breakfast (unfortunately a few had to head off to work so we meet early so no one is left out.) I think it's something we all love to do. It's tradition!
Christmas Eve night we gather with the Chandler's (my mom's family) and exchange gifts and play a fun and lively game of White Elephant gift. Bring a nice $35 gift and leave with a nice $35 gift (hopefully!) The gift can be stolen 2 times before it's frozen. I won a $25 Publix gift card and a $500 gift certificate for $25 at Publix every month for the next 18 months. I think I lucked out on that one. Neal got a cool small indoor remote control helicopter.
Christmas morning we started in our own home. Our tradition is 5 presents - Santa brings one, dad, mom, and the 2 siblings give one. It keeps it simple and not overwhelming. I really like the tradition we started. It makes you think long and hard about what the one gift will be.
Christmas brunch is spent with the Steinhour's. We gather together - all 33+ (10-12 adults and 21+ kids under the ago of 15..give or take a few depending on who's in town). It's actually pretty mellow. The kids get along very well. We exchange a few small presents and just spend time visiting with each other.

Christmas afternoon is spent with Grandma and Grandpa Alder followed by linner with the Chandler's. All 19 of us gather again and exchange gifts.

I love Christmas. I love how it makes people smile. I love how it makes people forgive. I love how the spirit of Christmas is the spirit of Christ (thanks Pres. Monson for that thought.) I really do wish there was a way to bottle up the feelings of Christmas and hand it to people throughout the year to remind them of how wonderful it is.

We hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and will have a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Our Christmas Tree

I know a little slow on getting pictures uploaded, but here's our Christmas tree. Notice the sparse decorations in some areas and a high concentration of decorations in others. Nope I don't change's what the kids did. One day I might have a designer tree, but not in the next 10 years (at least).

Our Family Nativity

For FHE tonight we painted a nativity. First we went over the story (briefly) and made sure they knew the main people. Eli knew most of the story! I'm always amazed when they actually know stuff that I swear they never listen too!

I actually really love nativity sets - I semi- collect them(this is probably an unknown fact to some people.) Currently there are 6 variations of the nativity set up around my house.

The boys painted 4 pieces each while Neal and I did 2 each and Morgan pretended to paint or bumped into dad and mom while they painted.

Enjoy the pictures of our newest nativity collection. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Santa Claus is coming to town!

By the Pointer Sisters (the best version EVER.) That's the boys favorite song right now. Even Morgan gets into it by dancing in her car seat. It's the first song we hear when we get in the car and we usually listen to it several times in a row and definitely more than once in a car trip. My favorite song this year is Josh Grobin and Brian McKnight singing Angels we have heard on high. It's a beautiful version of a pretty song.

The holidays are in full swing. We started listening to Christmas music the week of Thanksgiving. We put up our lights on the house Thanksgiving weekend. And for FHE on Monday we bought our tree. The next night we hung our decorations. I love letting the kids do most of the decorating. All the ornaments get clumped together and are usually low. I don't like to change it - it's what they did and when I see 4 ornaments on one tiny branch it makes me smile. I do, however, add some ornaments to the top, ribbon, and ting, ting once they get done.

Merry Christmas! May you not be too rushed to enjoy it!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

$0.84 for 36 batteries and some other stuff

So I'm trying really hard to buy things I need, could use in food/life storage, and use coupons.

Recently I went to Publix (our grocery store in town) and got $102 worth of groceries for $22. I felt pretty good about that! I still have times when I walk out spending more than I should, but in general I'm getting the hang of it.


36 batteries (AA & AAA)
2 men's deo
2 candy bars
1 BC Powder

.84 cents out of pocket.

Seriously! I know it's hard to imagine if you aren't into the couponing and CVS deals. But I promise I handed them $1 and got change. AND they gave me $19 to come back and spend with them.

Try it out - you might get good deals for an unbelievable price!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Conversation with the hair dresser

I love my kids. I'm trying to be better about stopping and taking a minute to watch them and enjoy them - the dishes, laundry, and all the other millions of distractions can wait. I only have them at this moment in their life right now - no redo - so enjoy the moments.

So...haircut time. Eli and Dylan sit down to get haircuts at the same time. Morgan is so interested in what they are doing to her brothers - she stops and stares and calls out "EY" which is about the only word she knows - almost everything is "EY", which Dylan graciously accepts. So she staring, Dylan is smiling from ear to ear and occasionally laughs because it tickles. Eli is so big now he tries to talk with the hair cut lady. "I'm Eli and that's my brother Dylan. I tried to cut my hair. " (Yep, during school - snipped a chunk right off the front). "My dad cut my hair and he cut my ear. It still hurts." (Okay he did try and straighten out the front so it wasn't so off. And then when he was probably 3 or 4 Neal cut his hair and nicked his ear. It's funny that he remembers that.) I laugh and say, no it doesn't. "I like playing Lego Batman and that other kid" (He means Robin) "Dylan you are doing so good." Dylan says smiling, "Yeah I know!" "On Batman Lego's there are good guys and bad guys and the bad guy Joker can shock people and make their skeleton show." (The haircut lady is saying an occasional oh and yes) . Morgan has now found a seat across from the boys and it watching and calling out "EY". Eli continues on nearly the entire time he's getting his hair cut. It made me smile. One of my favorite mom moments is to watch them do something that shows their personality and how their brain works. Thank you hair cut lady for enduring the Lego Batman stories.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Big Apple - Perfect for our 10 years Anniversary!

A month later...better late than never.

We wanted to have as much time as possible so we left J-vill at 6:30 a.m. and got into New York by 9:30 a.m. However, our shuttle service did not get us to our hotel until almost 12:00. Let me just say, driving rules in NY are nothing like everywhere else I've been. Blinkers don't exist, the white lines on the roads are merely suggestions, and brakes are only used when necessary. It was scary yet fun!

Day 1: We checked in. Our hotel was the Marriott Marquis in Times Square so it was fun to be right in the middle of it all. Times square isn't really all that big - it's just tons of advertising and famous stores squished into about 3 blocks. Neal surprised me with bouquet of 10 beautiful roses.

We did the Broadway/downtown double decker bus tour of NYC. It was fun to see all the famous sites and getting the background info on them.
For the evening events we tried to get into see a Broadway play. We heard that you should just buy your tickets at the TKTS booth. Remember I decided to wing this trip. We really wanted to see Wicked, but tickets were $115 each so I thought any play will do, let's just wing it. Well the TKTS booth was INSANE - long and nothing really good to see. I had also heard if you go to the theater then you might get seats directly from them. Off we went to the Gershwin Theater where Wicked is produced. We got there just as they were nearing the end of a lottery for the front row seats - 20 seats total would be sold by lottery. We patiently waited and lost. I was walking away, but Neal starting talking it up with people who won and one couple graciously sold us their tickets - $26.50 each - front row center! It was awesome (the price and the play!).

We had enough time after the lottery to grab some dinner. That is Neal's dinner - Pastrami on Rye. The food in NY was great - we didn't eat anything we could eat here in J-ville. But one thing I didn't plan for was the cost. We never ate for less than $65 - breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Seriously EXPENSIVE.

Day 2: We did the NBC/30 Rock tour which was cool. We saw the sets for MSNBC and Saturday Night Live. Neal was the helper out of the audience and practiced using a teleprompter. We also did the Rockerfeller art tour. The view from the observation deck was wonderful.

Oh we ran into George Clooney. He asked me to marry him to which I of course responded - I'm a happily married woman. The wax museum was a little creepy! Neal would stand still and then start talking when someone else came by him. It was quite funny!

Then we had a romatic dinner at Tavern on the Green on our anniversary night. The ambiance was nice. Afterward we headed to Serendipity a restaurant made famous from the same name movie. We both picked a yummy dessert and enjoyed the eclectic nature of the store. Neal surprised me after dinner with a "proposal" with a love letter tucked inside a ring box. (For those not aware, I lost my wedding ring on a trip to SLC and was lucky to get an early 10 year upgrade, which is beautiful!) At Serendipity he put a bride and groom on my ice cream. Such a romantic guy!
Day3: We went and did a session together in the New York Temple. We try really hard to visit Temples when we are on vacation together. And one day we'll have an RV and just travel around the US visiting all the Temples. We had lunch right near the Temple and Neal ate a quail egg and prosciutto pizza (different for sure!)

Thus far the weather had been a nice and tolerable mid to high 70s. But one this day the high was going to be in the 50s. We did bring jackets - but Florida jackets aren't that heavy - especially when riding a double decker bus, in a dress and heels with no hose on. We were freezing, but making the most out of our bus tour of upper Manhattan/Harlem/Central Park. My toes were so frozen when we got to the stop closest to our hotel it felt like I was walking on nails.

Once we changed out of Sunday clothes we headed back on the bus and stopped to check out Canal Street. Canal street is where you go to buy fake purses. It was an experience. We got dropped off around 5:00 p.m. and were told to get back by 6:00 for the last bus. I did get me a Coach and Kate Spade purse in that quick time frame. After dinner, we went to the Empire State Building to see the city at night. It was FREEZING. And everyone up there goes up there to make out. So we didn't stay to long.
Day 4: We had most of the day to finish up things we didn't do yet. Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, Grand Central Station, shopping. The Statue of Liberty was smaller than I thought it would be. Ground Zero is now built up to the street level and there is so much construction that barricades and fences cover up anything you might be able to see. I am drawn to it due to my connections with Sept 11th, but until they complete the memorial, it was nothing more than a construction site covered by fencing. We did see some of the make shift memorials on our bus tour. Grand Central Station is grand. We rode the subway a lot this day b/c our bus pass was only for 3 days. It was interesting trying to navigate the rail system and then to actually find the Grand Central Station seen in movies was another challenge. But the architecture and lighting was beautiful.
We had a wonderful time. We love spending time together. We did lots of fun things, but we didn't even do 1/10th of what NY has to offer. But we got the basics covered and enjoyed our anniversary together. All I have to say is....

Friday, November 14, 2008

TSO wishes you a Merry Christmas!

Try really hard not to be jealous - Neal and I went to see the Trans Siberian Orchestra on Wednesday night. Our nephew really wanted to see them b/c he likes their famous Cannon D Christmas song. You might not be immediately familiar with TSO, but they are famous for making classical and Christmas music with electric guitars and an orchestra. (Usually during the holidays you see an email or U-tube clip where a man has synchronized his house Christmas lights to music - well that is TSO).

They put on a Christmas program during the first half of the show - a heart warming story mixed with their version of famous Christmas songs and a totally awesome light show - seriously the light show alone is worth the cost of the tickets. Then the second half is classical and TSO famous Christmas songs with drum, violin, and guitar solo's. We had a fun time. Best of all it starts the holiday season. Neal and I bust out our Christmas music on Thanksgiving day, which is right around the corner.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

4th and 4th

If you'd like to do a random fun post - go into your photo area open the fourth folder and the fourth picture and post it.

This was our pumpkin craft project at Micheal's this year. Eli is my number 1. He's a great big brother who (most of the time) is gentle and sweet with Dylan and Morgan. When he does accidentally hurt them, he cries right along with them. He loves Lego's. His favorite church song is Listen to the still small voice. He's left handed. He loves to help dad build things or fix things. He's a hard worker. When we were talking about voting for the next President he and Dylan wanted Pres. Monson and Jesus to be the President. We love our sweet Eli!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sick, Sick, and more sick

I've been up to my elbows in throw up and poop. I know so glamorous! My kids starting getting sick the week that I was leaving for New York and haven't gotten better yet! Everyone has been through it (including Neal and I on a much milder level). And Eli just isn't getting better - he started on Oct. 16th and was still throwing up last night - Oct. 27th. Today we were accident free and I AM SENDING ELI TO SCHOOL.

I have a very funny - "I'm so glad I'm a mom" story that shouldn't be told in writing, but if you'd like to hear a pretty humorous story about poop, carrots, a vile the size of a dime, and why any other person in the world would be getting paid $30+ dollars and hour to do what I did - give me a call. Seriously, only mothers get these kind of unpaid experiences and laugh about them (note some sarcasm in my comment - no really I love being a mom - but elbow deep in poop is not my most favorite part of being a mom - oh well that's life - move one.)

And to top it off....the computer continues to be on the fritz so I can't upload any pictures of New York. But I will, I promise (Neal sorry I keep messing up the computer) :-)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I've been Tagged

So I'm suppose to answer these questions on my blog. Enjoy!

5 Things I was doing 10 years ago.
1. Getting married - Oct. 17th, 1998
2. Getting back from my honeymoon.
3. Moving into an apartment
4. Doing temp work
5. Opening present from my wedding

5 things on my to do list today
1. Clean
2. Do laundry
3. Pay bills
4. Gather coupons to go shopping
5. Catch up on blogs

5 snacks I love
1. Salsa and chips
2. Oatmeal cookies (homemade only)
3. Butterfingers
4. Ice cream
5. Pickles

5 things I would do if I was a millionaire
1. Travel
2. Build a new house (a modest mansion - 3200 sq. ft.)
3. Help family
4. Let Neal start up his own business
5. Buy a new car

5 places I've lived.
1. J-ville
2. Rexburg
3. Salt Lake
4. Tallahassee
5. J-ville again

5 jobs I've had
1. Winn Dixie cashier
2. Airport Communications Dept.
3. Event Planner
4. Truffles
5. Mom

5 People I tag! (sorry)
1. Barbie
2. Erica
3. Tara
4. Heather
5. Anyone who wants to do it!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

New York here we come!

This week Neal and I will celebrate our 10th Anniversary in New York City! Yeah! It's been over a year worth of planning and saving. My sisters have been volunteered to watch the kids while we're gone (Thanks girls!) Friday night we have plans to eat at Tavern on the Green...which I made reservations for 3 months ago. Other than that we have no definite plans - which is so unlike me. Well, I did buy the New York Pass which just pre-pays you to get into all the stuff in NYC. Other than that we'll just go where the crowds push us.

Happy Anniversary Neal! I love you!

Can I do a craft?

Dylan is my artist. The first thing I hear from him the morning is, "Mom can I do a craft?" And he no longer considers coloring or painting a craft. And he doesn't stop asking until I sit down and do a craft with him. We've done sand art, stain glass (kid style), decorated Halloween pieces, hats, foam art supplies are low and my brain hurts from coming up with stuff. Saturday we took Eli and Dylan to Michael's to do a Pumpkin decorating class. They loved it. Now how am I going to top the pumpkin craft? Any cheap ideas would be appreciated.

Shelly's family, Amy, Grandma JC, and Renea showed up to craft and watch.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mad Coupon Skills to the extreme

I love using coupons, always have, always will. Neal swears if we won the lottery I'd still use coupons and to that I say - heck yeah! I love it when I get something that is worth $10 for $2. Well I was recently introduced to some serious, whole 'nother level, couponing by a friend at church. She has figured out how to use coupons and CVS discounts and store credit/cash. So I've been trying for a few weeks now to get over to her house and learn these skills.

Here's my first attempt. I got $30.47 worth of stuff for 7.68 - that's a 75% savings.

Then I went to Publix and got $166.01 worth of stuff for $96.43 - that's a 52% savings .

And I'm not even that good. I know people who save 79% and 82%. I'm working really hard on learning how to get better!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Halloween Fun!

I know a little early....but here's what happened. I was trying to distract Dylan and I mentioned, "hey we should get up in the attic and get our Halloween decorations." Two days later, I could not longer hold him off. So today we started to decorate. He tried on a few costumes and took the following pictures (he's my artist - if I leave the camera down he'll take pictures of everything and nothing - thank goodness it's digital and I can hit the delete button.)

So, bust out your Halloween decorations - once Halloween hits, the rest of the fun filled holidays arrive quickly.

P.S. This year we are doing a pirate themed Halloween not the Frank N. Steinhour theme from the past 6 years. I know, why mess with tradition, but Neal made everyone (except Morgan) costumes and we have tons of decorations, so it's time to move on. Arrrggghhh!

Plastic Surgery for a One Year Old

Sounds funny - but I suppose technically that's what she had - Otoplasty. Her check up went well. He says there's still swelling, plus the stitches could take up to a month to dissolve. I'll be honest - it's not as pretty as I was hoping, but Neal keeps reminding me there is at least one more surgery to go. I guess for plastic surgery I was hoping for a nearly normal looking ear. The fact is the ear is smaller and we are hoping with this surgery that the cartilage has become unrestricted and can now grow better. He had to add skin to the top of the ear which made it thicker than a normal ear. Plus it's still quite red. Here's hoping to long hair soon. Besides she is beautiful!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Surgery Success

We are home and Morgan is doing GREAT! She was happy and calm the entire time. We can definitely count our blessings. There were some mishaps along the way. First, the hospital didn't call to confirm her surgery, to which I called and was told she was not scheduled. Forty-five minutes later they confirmed her for a later time. We meet with everyone prior to the surgery. The doctor went over what he thought might happen and said we would head home once she felt well post-op/recovery. The nurse gave her some "happy medicine" to chill her out. Then, as they were about to take her, the nurse realized the doctor didn't mark her ear. Twenty minutes or more later, plus lots of nurses grumbling and complaining that the doctor had to follow the procedures and policies, our doctor came back to mark her ear. The nurses weren't overly kind to the doctor. Neal let it be known that he wasn't happy with the nurses for making our doctor mad just before he was about to preform surgery on our one year old daughter.

The surgery was just about 2 hours long. Everything went well, but it ended up being more extensive than our doctor thought so Morgan and I had a spend the night at Wolfson's Hospital. Which then turned into an all Friday affair too, because the doctor didn't make it to us until after all of his surgeries today.

She really was happy and calm 95% of the time. She didn't really like it when the nurses or doctors wanted to check her ear. The stitches are all dissolvable, but could take up to a month to dissolve. She has to wear the headgear you'll see in pictures for a few weeks (especially since she favors lying on that ear). And then in a few years we'll have at least one more surgery.

She's sleeping soundly and snuggling with dad now. Thanks for keeping her in your prayers. You can definitely still pray for her because she has a few weeks of solid recovery time to make sure her ear heals well.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Weathering the storm by preparing

So Tropical Storm Fay has been hanging over Florida for 3 days now. For those family and friends not in Florida - don't worry we are all OK! I've lived in Florida my entire life and Jacksonville has been blessed to NEVER have a direct hit from a hurricane. Basically it's a really bad thunder storm that lasts for days and days and days. Except there usually isn't any lighting or thunder - just high winds and rain and rain and rain. The city has cancelled school and work since Wednesday. So what do you do when you shouldn't really go outside (although we have a little bit) on your food storage.

We are on a huge food storage kick right now. Tuesday night, right after they announced the city was closing down, I wanted to try to make jar bread for food storage. In order to make it, you must use Knox gelatin, not eggs, to allow for a longer shelf life. I headed for the store which was already a mad house. I thought people might not be out until the next day, but sure enough there was a million people there, no buggy's (shopping carts) to be found, and everyone loading up on water, non-perishable food, and batteries. Seriously is this the first hurricane season all of my neighbors have been through? Don't they know this can and usually does happen at least once during the hurricane season. So I go to get my Knox gel and got out as quickly as I can.

I make the banana jar bread. Next we make 7 quarts of cooked beef. And I've been working on getting my recipes fine tuned. My calling is 2nd counselor in Relief Society which puts me over food storage and our Bishop has asked each family to get 3 months supply of food by September 2nd. Neal and I have made that goal with Bishop's storehouse food BUT I came across a DVD from a Sis. DeWitt out of Arizona that put a whole new, easy, and dare I say, fun way to get prepared with a one year supply of food. Let me know if you want a copy - you can't download it anymore from the Internet.

I hope everyone else is having nice least let Florida inspire you to prepare and get your food storage started!

Monday, August 18, 2008

First Day of School

Today was Eli's first day of 1st Grade. Thankfully he still has a love for school - hopped right out of bed, showered, got dressed, ate breakfast, and was ready to head to school. He asked me if he could walk home from the bus stop by himself and I fibbed and said they don't let 1st graders walk home by themselves and we'll talk about it when he's 10. His picture makes me laugh! The shirt is too big, but he insisted on wearing it tucked in. I can't wait until the bus gets here in a few hours. Update: The bus was nearly 50 mins late. And Dylan couldn't wait for Eli to get home. "When is the bus coming? I want to play with Eli," he'd ask every 3 mins. And Eli's favorite part of the day......the playground. He got to upgrade from the Kindergarten playground to the regular playground. "It's big and fun. I tried to go across the monkey bars, but it was too hard."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

AARRGGHH - We won!

The company we purchased the pirate murder mystery dinner from has a contest for party of the month. WE WON! Which means we get a free mystery dinner party. Neal's 30th birthday is in April so everyone start getting excited for another night of murder and mystery!
Check out the pictures on their website: