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Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Weekend

Did you have a nice Thanksgiving Day?  Did you do the whole turkey dinner, or do like my brother and stay home alone with a pizza and a movie?  We did the family thing.  It's nice in one way to go to someone else's house in that I don't have to kill myself cooking all day.  But at the same time it has its downsides too...NO LEFTOVERS!!!  That's the worst!  I don't know about you, but I can't live without leftover turkey sandwiches.  That's tragic.  The solution?  TWO Thanksgiving Days!

Yesterday we spent the day with family at a relative's house.  The kids played so nice together all day long.  I made a comment to Sami about that and she quickly said, "Don't get used to it!"  lol.  Sami doesn't usually socialize with the rest of the family, but guess what?  I've got proof!  Here's a pic of her here playing catch with Matthew and Dad....

There were some small kids there...maybe 2 and 4...and my big kids played so nicely with them.  They taught the little kids how to play Smear the Queer, monkey in the middle and just generally ran around with them in the yard all afternoon.

I made my kids stop and take photos.  Sara?  No problem!  She's such a ham!!!  She loves to pose.  Here is her modelling shot...

And another posed play shot...

This year we opted out of buying the outrageously overpriced and poorly shot school photo packages for the kids.  I knew I could do better and way cheaper on my own.  Since the kids were all dressed nicely and everyone was in a good mood, I took my own school photo pics...

Maybe I could have found a better backdrop for Sara and Matthew, but I was trying to avoid having other people or weird things in the background, so I decided on the stucco wall.  I took Sami's on the wall, too, but all the ones I took of her looked like either a mug shot or a forced, fake smile.  No good.  But when I took a photo of them together on the hammock, I loooooved the way Sami looked, so I cropped her out and made that the individual photo too.

I took a photo of my 3 kids together on a hammock, and I think they are the best pics of the 3 kids I've had in many many years.  I am so excited!

I bribe them to take nice pics by telling them they can do a goofy one after I get a good one.  And, my husband NEVER takes good photos.  His eyes are very sensitive to light, so he's either squinting or has his eyes closed all together.  I got so lucky.  Yesterday was overcast so he wasn't wearing his dark dark dark sunglasses, and it was light enough that I didn't need the flash.  I'm so happy to FINALLY have a good photo of my hubby!!!  Here is Jeff...
I had the best bargain on the planet this morning!  I took my photos on a CD to Walgreen's to their photo kiosk thing.  I picked my photos, sizes, etc...I got about 6 regular 4x6 prints, 8 wallets of each of the kids and 4 wallets of Jeff, 4 5x7's and 1 8x10.  You know how much it cost?  Just under $22!!!!!  They printed up beautiful and vibrant on glossy paper.  The 8x10 was only $3-something.  My jaw dropped.  I am going to have to take advantage of this more often!!!!  The kids' school photos would have cost me at least $45 ($15 for each) with NO 8x10's, and certainly not one of them all together looking awesome.  I was doing the happy dance in Walgreen's!  And it only took about 10 minutes to get them printed up.  I'm so excited!  It usually works out that we pay all that money for the kids' school photos and then I never give them out because I don't like them.  These I am so proud to give out.  And I can't wait to get a frame for my 8x10 and hang it on my wall!

THEN tomorrow I will be cooking all day because as I said earlier, I can't go without my own turkey and leftover turkey sandwiches.  Got a 21pounder in the fridge.  I only have a very tiny wall oven, and this turkey will just barely fit.  I'll have to bake the pies and green bean casserole starting at 7 a.m. so I can get the turkey in by 10a.m. so it will hopefully be ready by 5p.m.  My parents will be coming over to have dinner with us, and then after dinner they will sit and watch a movie with the kids or something.

All in all, a very good weekend.  I am bummed out a little bit, though.  I haven't WON anything in about 2 weeks!  (oh, the horror!)  I'm going through "winner's high" withdrawals.  Better win something soon to get my fix!

I hope you all are having a great holiday weekend.  Drop me a line and tell me about it.  I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Loving Fall

I think Fall is probably my favorite time of year.  In October the temps here in Phoenix finally drop below 100 degrees, and the nights actually get a little chilly.  In November we start sleeping with our windows open.  Love the crisp air and getting snuggled under the blankets at night!  I just can't sleep when it's hot, but when it's chilly I always sleep so much better and soundly.

Fall is also a time of sports activities.  Matthew plays football and Sara is playing soccer again.  This is Matthew's best year at football so far.  He has always been a good athlete, and Jeff (who usually coaches his teams) says that he is the most coachable kid.  He may not be the strongest or the fastest, but he listens, learns and applies the skills.  But this year in football he is becoming much more aggressive and really coming into his own.  It's so much fun to watch him play.  Their team is 4-2 on the regular season and next week starts the playoffs.  They have lost twice to the same team, so maybe in the playoffs they'll finally beat them.  That sure would be nice to stick it to 'em!  Anyways, here is a little video of Matthew's highlights from the last game.  It is only 1 minute long, so go ahead and watch it. 

Sara's team still has quite a few games to go, and they have only lost 1 so far.  She said the other night, though, that next year she wants to play football with the boys instead of playing the co-ed soccer.  lol.  But daddy said no.  He's afraid his girl (as tough and as strong as she is) might get hurt.  I would worry more about her hurting someone else!

Another thing I love about Fall is baking.  Twice last month I made my grandmother's apple spice cake, and it is DELICIOUS!!!!  Soooooooo moist.  I'm thinking about looking for recipe contests and entering it to see if it will win a prize.  I'm thinking about adding dried cranberries and chopped walnuts for a little more flare.  I'll have to try that and see how it tastes.  During the holidays I always bake cookies with the kids to take to the houses we visit.  We always make chocolate chip, oatmeal, sometimes molasses, sometimes peanut butter, or we might find something new to try.  The cake will be a great addition to what I usually make.  Do you want to know my secret for home made chocolate chip cookies?  I've got 2...First, after mixing up the batter as directed, add some extra flower to make the batter thicker.  Your cookies will get fatter and softer.  Second, UNDERbake your cookies by a minute or so.  While they are cooling on the rack they will continue to cook a bit in their own heat and will turn out perfect.

The  kids had fun with Halloween this year.  For the first time in quite a few years they carved pumpkins.  The pumpkins were on sale at Fry's for just $3.88, and they were good sized ones too!  Here are some pics...
Matthew didn't like the squishy pumpkin guts.

Sara embraced the squishy pumpkin guts.

So did Sami!

Sara was the best gut scraper of the 3.

Sami's finished work of art.

Sara's pumpkin with string hair.  Daddy helped a little.

And here are some Witchy Kisses!

Then of course the anticipation of the holidays is starting to build up.  I just love the winter holidays.  And this year is super sweet because today Jeff starts his job on a build out at Intel.  For those of you who don't know, he is an electrician with the union and commercial construction has been way down because of the economy.  He has only worked 3 months this whole year.  But the jobs out at Intel usually (knock on wood) last a while.  So this will (hopefully) be the first year in quite a few that he will be working through the holidays.  Even though he's going to start getting checks we will still have to live like paupers because since he was off for so long our savings got depleted paying the bills.  Now we have to put every penny we can back into savings to get that built up again for the next layoff.  In construction they pay you to build it, not watch the paint dry.  So as soon as a project is done you're laid off and go back down to the hall, put your name on the books, and wait for your number to get called for the next job.  When the economy was good he'd get laid off one day and within 2 days he'd be out at another job.  Right now it's 4-6 months between jobs.  I know, sucks, right?  I'm really hoping that this Intel job will last long enough to carry through to some better times. 

I'll leave you with this cute/funny pic.  Matthew is notorious for cleaning up everyone else's plate at dinner.  One of his favorites is wiping up the spaghetti sauce with garlic bread.  Here he is with not just his plate, but also Sami's plate AND Sara's plate.  Hey...they left sauce!  :)