Sunday, December 28, 2008

Wintery Iowa Christmas

We're home from our Christmas travels. We had a GREAT time visiting with everyone but have to say that you can keep your Iowa winter in Iowa -- we like our much warmer Missouri weather! Our van was like, "what's this white stuff!? Why am I cold?!?"

A few photos, but Blogger is SO SLOW right now it's taking forever to get photos loaded, so hopefully I can get more up later!

Here is Sarah with her cousins Katherine, Samantha, Ai and Little Ty.
And with a few of her fun gifts ....

And making the traditional Jesus Cake with Ai, Little Ty and Mimi.

A cute photo with Dad in reindeer ears ... what this guy won't do to make his daughter happy!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Presents #2!

Christmas was a BLAST for us! Sarah is enjoying her new DS games and Barbie Diamond Castle goodies (above). She also got some perfume, clothes, a Winnie the Pooh snow globe and jewelry. One of her favorite gifts is one Kevin bought for her -- flint. Yep, the kind you use to start a fire with! She's kind of obsessed with "Survivor", "Man vs. Wild" and "Survivor Man" on tv and so she thought the flint was AWESOME! Yep, perfume and flint -- that's our girl!

Here is a gift for me that Sarah wrapped to look like a tropical drink. It's actually one of the expensive holiday boxes of Kleenex that I wanted but was too cheap to buy myself. She thought I was CRAZY for wanting it but bought it anyway.

And here she is fighting with Kevin over his gifts! She picked the nut roaster for him as he's always drooling over the roasted nuts at the mall.

She really wanted "Wish" perfume from Victoria's Secret and she was so happy when she opened it. Normally she's not allowed to shop on the Victoria's Secret side of the store but must instead stay on the high school/college themed "Pink" side of the store, but I let her venture in the middle of the store to the perfume and make-up! So now she has her "Pink" suitcase and her perfume.

Present Time!

Sorry for the delay in posting! All three of us have been under the weather with colds and then due to ice and snow Sarah's school was cancelled Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. To top it off, on Thursday night our heat pump started sounding like a Mac truck. When the repair service came on Friday we found out the the motor is shot in the pump so we had to turn it off completely and rely solely on the emergency heat function. The new motor won't arrive until after the holidays, so we've been trying to figure out what to with our travel plans and Mr. Romeo the cat!

As we ponder "should we stay or should we go" on our trip up North, we're going ahead with our "plan" of having our Christmas TODAY! Actually, Sarah was antsy last night so she opened a few presents then and a few more this morning. The rest will be tonight after dinner.

Of course one gift she wanted last night was the "big box" that has had her mind spinning for days. As the days passed, she kept wanting clues at to what was inside. So I told her:

It's not a toy.
It's not clothes.
It's not much fun "as is" but is fun to use.
It's made of metal, fabric, leather and plastic.
And it is ......

A big rolling PINK suitcase! She was pretty excited because she's looking forward to travelling.

Here are some of the photos from this morning. I'll try to post more after tonight!

And, the AFTERMATH ....

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Bells are Ringing!

For the five years Kevin was in graduate school I worked in a customer service roll where the telephone rang a lot. When the girl next to me was at lunch, my phone rang and her calls rolled over to me. When two girls were at lunch, three calls rolled into one. You get the idea.

I pretty much grew to dislike the telephone especially the sound of it ringing. In our house, we only have two telephones with one in the kitchen and one in the basement by the computer. Most people are confused when they come to our house and realize there are ONLY two telephones. What, no telephone in each bedroom? No phone in the bathroom? What about the garage?!??!

Through my slumber I heard the dreaded phone ring at 6 am this morning. I drug myself out of bed, down the hall and into the kitchen to see what in the blazes was going on -- although I pretty much knew already. The automated message was the same as Monday and Tuesday -- "No school again today!"

To say Sarah is excited would be an understatement! Being my old myself and being as this is the third day in a row this has happened so the novelty of "no school" should be worn off, I thought I could turn the alarm off and crawl back into bed for a long winter's nap. I'm so demented! There was dancing and singing and overall merriment! And no more sleeping.

So, I'm sitting here at the computer looking for last minute "must have" deals and Sarah is sitting right next to me at her computer playing Christmas games. All in all, it's a pretty darn good morning, but it's still DARN EARLY! And I need coffee .....

Just in case you need an idea of what to get ME --- and NOTE it's on sale with FREE shipping!! LOL!!!

Jura-Capresso Impressa Z5 Fully Automatic Espresso Coffeemaker
Free Shipping
Suggested Price: $4,000.00
Our Price: $3,299.00

Saturday, December 13, 2008

All I want for Christmas is .......

THANKS again everyone for sending in your holiday surveys! I print them out as they come in but unfortunately our cat decided to help me "re-arrange" them all over the basement so if you don't see your answers below just drop me a note and I'll reprint off your survey and add it!

First, one of the questions was whether you have ever recycled a gift. In other words, have you ever received a gift and then given that exact same gift to another person?

44% said Yes
56% said No

Oh, now aren't you thinking "Have I ever gotten a recycled gift??!??" And one person who said "no" also said -- "I want to, but can't seem to get myself to do it!"

On to things people want to whisper in Santa's ear. "Oh, I've been really good this year Santa!" Please bring me:

Nothing as I have everything (4 responses)
LOA (Letter of Acceptance for Adoption from China)(2 responses)
Keurig Single Cup Coffee Maker
New haircut, new shoes and date night at movies with husband
Edward Cullen
Items for trip to Europe that family will be taking soon
To be a mom
Laptop computer
Stereo that mounts under the cabinet in the kitchen
Pink pony sheets
Cleaning service for our house
Healthy, happiness and safe travel for friends and family (2 responses)
Ipod Touch Screen
Ghost Hunters DVDs
Spend time with kids and granddaughter
Wish for friend's husband and sister who are battling cancer
Wii Fit
Touch Screen camera
Sewing machine

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bigger Than a Bread Box?!?! Or is it a bread box?

Three days ago I started wrapping gifts. I wrap a few gifts a day and stick them under the tree. Some will travel with us to Iowa for family and friends and some are for staying at home. Since then, Miss Sarah has been shaking and poking and trying to peek -- and not only "her" gifts but any gifts that are under the tree!

For normal "kid" reasons, she's become FIXATED (and I mean, FIXATED) on the largest box that is for her. In the photo, it's the big blue box nearest the tree.

I told her that I had "disguised" some of her gifts. Last year she didn't know what to make of a gift she opened that was small but packed inside a larger box with bath towels wrapped around it. Now that she knows I do such things, she's spending a large amount of time trying to figure out what's inside the box! She tips it to a 90 degree angel and listens. She straightens it back up and tips it the other way to a 40 degree angel and listens. She stares at it. She talks to it. Even Romeo tilts his head to the side in amazement!

The two things she's come up with are things she asked for but aren't things we bought. The first thing she wanted is a panda bear stuffed animal foot stool that she always looks at at Sam's Club. It's actually about the right size and weight that it could be confused by the wrapped box. The other thing she thinks it might be is a cotton candy machine which is smaller than the box but she's decided that it must be inside with "disguised" things. She's most convinced it's the cotton candy machine because she wanted it last year (we didn't buy it) and she's asked for it again this year (we didn't buy it).

So when she started being so interested in this box and trying to figure out what was inside, I didn't want her to be heart broken when she opened it and it wasn't those things she had asked for. I point blank told her that those two items were NOT inside the box. Funny, but she doesn't believe me! "Yeah, right Mama!"

Then I went into how the biggest box doesn't mean it's the BEST present. "Yeah, right Mama!" She is actually totally overlooking the smaller gifts under the tree which will turn out to be the ones I think she'll like the best!

Right now, I love watching her come home from school, drop her school things and bolt up the stairs to not only shake "the big box" but to see if anything has been added under the tree!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Food Glorious Food!

(Trader Joe's Peppermint Jo-Joes)

WOW! Several more Christmas surveys have arrived -- THANKS! This has really been fun for all of us.

One of the best responses we received regarding food was actually by someone who listed this as the worst gift ever received -- dried squid snacks! You see, when Sarah first arrived in the US we took her to a small Chinese food store in town and she picked out a bag of dried shredded squid snack. Yes, it smells just like you'd think and tastes even worse -- to me. But she LOVES it. She loves it so much that the first food item she cooked and wanted to share with Kevin and me was a dried squid omelet! We happily ate it and then relived the whole experience repeatedly throughout the day! Even so, still one of those memories we'll never forgot and would never want to change.

So many good foods were listed by everyone that I'm just drooling as I type this! Note that 4 people listed HAM as a favorite (not one vote for turkey!)(although there is a vote for Tofurky which has a special place in my heart as I worked for a long time on a Tofurky recipe contest years ago trying to win a trip to Alaska for Kevin.)

And, erhum, please see that not one person listed FRUIT CAKE anywhere so I rest my case that the bricks known as "fruit cake" can quietly be placed outside to hold your shed up or placed behind the wheels of your RV without fear that anyone will care.

I didn't know what Trader Joe's Peppermint Jo-Jos were but I Googled them and they look so good I need to see if it's possible to order some! If it's chocolate and peppermint, I'm there baby!

What's so great about what people like to eat is that it's so varied and traditional all at the same time. We have some Italian, Mexican, English and German heritage foods listed! If you're planning to cook for guests, here's a list of things that will probably go over very well!


Thumb print cookies filled with chocolate
Cream cheese mints
Pumpkin pie
Pumpkin cheesecake
Pineapple casserole
Special K Bars
Peanut butter fudge
Candy popcorn
Gingerbread cookies
Trader Joe's Peppermint Jo-Jos
Homemade fudge

Other Snacks:

Chex Mix

Main Dishes:

Fillet tenderloin roast
Pizza & Calamari
Prime Rib & Yorkshire pudding
Ham (4 people listed this)

(Yorkshire Pudding .... looks so good, but I've never tried it)

Side Dishes:
Green bean casserole
Sweet potatoes
Cheesy potato casserole

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas Survey -- Part 1

I've had the BEST time reading everyone's answers to the Christmas survey! THANKS everyone!! But, there's still time so if you haven't emailed yours in yet, please do so!

I think I'll put some of the survey results into a few different blog posts over the next few days because there's just too much Christmas goodness to condense it down into just one post!

Okay, a lot of you are shopping and wrapping right now. Maybe we could all use a few tips from the survey results of "favorite gift received as a child" and "worst gift ever received."

While the question has to do with favorite gift received AS A CHILD, should we take these items as a "sign of things to come as a adult?" I mean, do you think the person who responded "big wheel" is a FAST driver now?!? Does the little kid who loved getting a puppy have a houseful of animals? Is the person who said "Easy Bake Oven" someone who loves cooking now? Is the person who received the same favorite gift "every year" someone who loves tradition? How about the Pony Plates -- does this person still like art? And the Schwin bike -- does this person still like exercise and fitness? I honestly don't know the answer to these, but it would be so cool to find out! So, think about yourselves and how you answered the question -- is that little kid still inside you?!?!?

Here are a few of the responses for "favorite gift received as a child" --

Ice skates (every year)
Barbie Dream House
Barbie Dream House (yep, favorite of 2 people!)
Tippy the Stuffed Dog
Shaun Cassidy Silk Jacket
Big Wheel
Green & Cream Schwin Bike
Easy Bake Oven
Cabbage Patch Kid
Pony Plates (plates you put together and rub paper over to make diff. pictures)
Puppy Dog
Little Ricky Doll (from I Love Lucy)

Now, on to "worst gift received" and please note many people refused to answer this one on the grounds that someone might beat them about the neck and shoulders! Also, a few answered but asked that I not post their responses. Basically, what I think it comes down to is:

Men -- Unless it's something you can buy at Best Buy (IPod, computer, etc) don't buy women anything that needs plugged in. If it has a cord and requires electricity, just put it back on the shelf and walk away. Seriously, just walk away. And don't walk over to the clothing department. Keep on going until you get to the shiny, glass covered area with the jewelry. If she can wear it on her ears, her neck or her wrist you'll have a winner! (NOTE: only three body locations were listed! You are not to buy for ankle, nose, belly button or other areas that shall remain nameless!)

Women -- Don't buy men anything expensive and expect them to know it's expensive and be appreciative of the cost! It will only really make you mad when they think it came from any one of the stores that ends in "mart". "Coach" or "Ugg" or "Michael Kors" or "Ralph Lauren" pretty much translates to "blah, blah, blah" to men -- it's like another language they don't speak. If you want a luxury brand but think you really shouldn't spend the money on yourself but it's okay to spend it on him, just give it back to the clerk and walk away. Seriously, just walk away (and come back later to pick up something for yourself).

"Worst Gift Ever Received" (sorry but the best ones I can't post due to fear of being beaten but here are some others):

Wet Vac
Vacuum cleaner
Ugly sweater
Christmas napkins
Christmas sweater
Pink fuzzy slippers
Nail clippers
Hope you've enjoyed today's results! Tune in tomorrow for more!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Does Your Tree Need a Dress?!?

Sarah went to have her hair trimmed and the entry way of our hair salon was all decorated. I was fascinated by the tree they had made where the tree actually looks like a woman's skirt. They've placed a mannequin's head on top and then made a kind of wrap dress that goes down over the top and around the back ...

And here is the view looking the other way down the hallway. A few interesting things to ponder as I was thinking "what else could you do with a tree?!" Sarah and Kevin both said "Our tree is good the way it is! Don't touch it. " So I don't think we'll be having a tree lady next year. But I love thinking about new things even if they are a little C-R-A-Z-Y!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Three, Two, One -- We're DONE!

Yesterday we took a trip to Springfield to hit the mall, TJ Maxx and Best Buy; although we couldn't find a parking place at Best Buy so we just kept moving! As for food, we had lunch at Chipotle which is a favorite of all three of us, but unfortunately not a restaurant we have near where we live. Photo above was snapped while Sarah was eating her Chipotle beef burrito and watching the busy traffic out the window.

About the holidays, last year was Sarah's first Christmas and she had only been with us for a few months as well as not understanding much English. It was a whirlwind for her with meeting so many people, traveling and just trying to figure out what the heck was going on. This year, she is STOKED about Christmas! (Okay, I know I'm way too old to be using the word "stoked" but it's the only word I could think of to really express how excited she it!)

Part of her excitement concerns gift giving. She's helped to select most of the gifts we'll be giving. It really has been good for her to step outside herself and to consider what she knows about others and then try to select a gift for each person. For so many years she was "in charge" of only herself that we consider anything we can do to widen her world view a good thing.

As for shopping in Springfield, we had a great time. Along with our Sunday "girl shopping" trip today, we are pretty much DONE with the holiday shopping. What were the last three gifts? Well ... since they are gifts for kids who don't read the blog (but don't tell anyway!) .... the count down went ...

#3 .... Swim to Me Rescue Puppy (which is too cute for words!)(for cousin Quinn)

#2 .... Season 1 of "Charmed" (for cousin Samantha)

#1 ... drum roll please! .... Star Wars Millennium Falcon TransFormer! (for cousin Little Ty)

And since we were so proud of ourselves for getting everything off the lists bought, we splurged a bit on ourselves! Sarah picked out a Hello Kitty toaster which burns an image of Hello Kitty into the toast! As Sarah would say, "It's DARN cute!" (as a side note, if you ever hear "It's DARN cute!" from Sarah you can trust me she means it! The phrase is only reserved for highly deserving "cuties"!)
Now it's on to wrapping! We've pulled out the paper and ribbons and are starting with those who live farthest away first as we don't know how long the mail may take. Our first package is already in the mail and two others will be soon too. The rest will go under the tree!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Hope to Hear from ALL of You!

Before Thanksgiving a friend sent an email called "Getting to Know You -- Christmas Edition." You answer the questions and then send it back to the person who sent it to you and then also send it on for others to answer the questions.

I've been AMAZED at how wonderfully fun it's been to get answers back from people! And I've been equally amazed at how many people have contacted me to let me know how much fun they had answering the questions and wanting to know what others had said.

So, I thought to myself ..... "Self! Let's see if we can get even more responses!"

So I'm posting the questions below. We'd LOVE to hear what EVERYONE has to say -- even if you read this blog but don't know us personally, let's use this as a time to get to know everyone! Please tell us a bit about yourself and let's have some fun!

If you would like, please copy the below questions or simply number your answers and email them to us. And you don't have to answer them all if you don't want to -- just pick the ones you'd like to answer and leave the others blank.

In a few days, we'll print on the blog some of the responses to the questions (and there are some doosies already!) so everyone can enjoy the craziness that is the holiday season -- but we'll post them "anonymously" and won't print anything hurtful or mean -- so don't worry and just have FUN with it!

Please use the "email us" link on the right side of the blog to contact us!

(NOTE to adoptive parents! When I spell checked this entry before posting the program picked up "doosies" above and wanted to replace it with "dossiers"! Yep, those dossiers are doosies! Is that too funny or what?!!??! I don't even know if I've spelled "doosies" correct or not, but I don't care and refuse to change it now!)

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
2. Real tree or Artificial?
3. When do you put up the tree?
4. When do you take the tree down?
5. Do you like eggnog?
6. Favorite gift received as a child?
7. Hardest person to buy for?
8. Easiest person to buy for?
9. Do you have a nativity scene?
10. Mail or email Christmas cards?
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
12. Favorite Christmas Movie?
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
16. Lights on the tree?
17. Favorite Christmas song?
18. Travel at Christmas or stay at home?
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?
20. Angel on the tree top or a star?
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?
23. What theme or color are you using?
24. Favorite for Christmas dinner?
25. What do you want for Christmas this year?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Fun Tree Time!

Just a few photos of the tree going up (and leaning a bit to the side!). Sarah had a fun time decorating even though we could only put lights and decorations on the higher branches so Romeo wouldn't eat them. The tree topper this year is a Christmas cat -- who would have thought?!?!?

Being a typical teenager, she had to have her "tunes" in order to work! You might be able to see the pink Ipod earphones in the photos but you can't hear her singing at the top of her lungs! She's so cute!

No, Romeo is not really eating the candy cane! Sarah thought it would be cute have him look like a baby drinking Christmas "milk"!

Monday, December 1, 2008

First Snowman

Our first light snow of the year allowed Sarah to make her very first snowman! Okay, actually it was two snowmen and they are VERY small! There wasn't much snow at all, but she didn't care because they were the FIRST EVER! She had such fun and can't wait for more snow.