Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year's Eve!

The last day of 2008 finds me making homemade bbq beef taquitos, salsa, bean dip, and chili con queso. YUMMY! The rest of the bunch are in the midst of a Star Wars movie marathon - note the complete lack of interest in what mom is doing......

Here's wishing all of you an amazing 2009!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Day to Celebrate

Today is a big day of celebration....
For starters,
Happy Anniversary Rick!

I love you tons! Since we are celebrating our 3rd anniversary, here are just 3 things from the super long list of things I love about my husband:
1. He goes above and beyond everyday to take care of me (and the girls)
2. He willingly puts up with our social calendar because he knows how much I love to hang out with friends.
3. He loves to listen to Julee and Alexis laugh so most of the time he is doing funny things to make them laugh - it makes our house a happy, though often crazy, place.

And second,
Happy Birthday Grandpa Bear!

Today we celebrate my dad's 67th birthday. We love you tons and miss you even more! Wish we could be there to celebrate with you! We could easily list 67 things we love about him, but that could get lengthy. So here are just a few:
1. his teddy bear growl
2. how he always sounds excited to talk to you on the phone
3. how he still calls me Stephi Jo like I'm 5 even though I'm 35
4. the way he interacts with the grandkids - he can fit right into their world (his ting tang walla walla bing bang song comes to mind)
5. you can always trust his judgement and inspiration when it comes to making decisions

Both of these guys play a special role in my life and I cannot imagine life without them!
Love you both!

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

What a great Christmas we had! We spent Christmas Eve as a family watching 'Alvin and the Chipmunks' and frosting cookies. Christmas morning we had a fun time opening presents and having brunch. In the evening we went over to hang out with friends and eat yummy appetizers and treats!
New jammies for Christmas Eve!
Santa stopped by sometime in the night.....
The final look just before all the presents are passed out...
Alexis is excited to get a jewelry set from Grandma and Grandpa
Julee gets her very own digital camera - WOW!
Alexis made this cute soldier out of a Pringles can - my favorite gift!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas Eve!

Today is Christmas Eve! We are so excited that Christmas is finally here! All the presents are wrapped and under the tree and a yummy ham dinner is cooking in the crockpot.

The girls and I just finished rolling and cutting out the traditional sugar cookies. Later tonight all the bells, trees, and gingerbread boys will take on their own personalities when we frost them "like Grandmama does".

Alexis' Big Day

Again, the weather in New York added a little excitement to our lives as a big storm came through and left 10-12 inches of snow last Friday. Alexis' baptism was scheduled for Saturday morning at 10am. Late Friday evening, we decided to postpone until later in the morning hoping for a break in the weather and for the snow plows to take to the streets. As luck (or was it more than luck?) would have it, everything worked out. The snow had stopped, the plows were plowing, and our good friends went to the church early to fill the font and shovel the sidewalks. When we got to the church, the parking lot had not even been plowed yet which made for a very interesting parking job. By 11:30, everything was ready especially Alexis! Our home teacher and Julee gave the talks and Rick baptized and confirmed her. Of course, I played the piano and gave the closing prayer. Two of Alexis' buddies (who are mom's friends) also participated by saying a prayer and leading the music. We are blessed that so many of our friends and ward family were able to attend despite the lousy weather. Alexis' dad and half sister, Ava, even made the trip from Michigan to share this special day with her. We are so proud of Alexis and her GREAT decision to be baptized. She is a great example to us and those around her!
Don't worry - we made her lose the socks before she went into the water!

One last practice - Alexis was NOT going to have to go under twice!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ice Storm and Julee's Winter Concert

One thing I have learned about the weather in this part of the country is that it can really mess everything up! The day we had our big ice storm that left everything looking like this:....

(All the shiny you see is ice on the trees)

.....they cancelled all school functions which included Julee's Winter Concert. Of course, they rescheduled it for the very next Thursday which conflicted nicely with the Relief Society Christmas Dinner and Program which I was in charge of. I was bummed and not sure what to do because I couldn't be in both places at the same time and I REALLY didn't want to miss her concert. Finally, it was decided that Rick and Alexis would go to Julee's concert on Thursday night and I would sneak in to one of the concerts on Friday when they performed for the school. The concert was great and I am proud to say that Julee is an awesome percussionist! The band performed 4 songs and she played 7 different instruments within those 4 songs. Here is video of one of my favorites. Julee is playing the snare drum which can be heard very distinctly - she even had a little solo of sorts. Hope you enjoy as much as we did!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Small miracles

I am always grateful for those opportunities/situations that arise to remind us that our Heavenly Father is constantly watching over us no matter how big or small the situation. Last night was one of those times. We were in the midst of a huge ice storm here in the Northeast where it had been sleeting for almost 24 hours straight. Late last night (around 11pm) we heard a loud noise like a car crashing or something. Then our car alarm started going off. We grabbed the keys and went downstairs to see what happened. This is what we found......

The branch laying between the two cars (ours is the red one) snapped off the tree due to the weight of the ice on the branch. There is not even a scratch on our car. Unfortunately, when the branch fell it hit a car across the street and broke the back windshield. The branch was large enough to span the width of the street. We ended up having to call the police who had to have DPW come out and use a chainsaw to cut the branch into pieces in order to remove it. We felt sorry for the poor guys from DPW who were out there in the nasty weather clearing the street. This morning it is still raining and there is a big mess outside our front door. Ugh......BUT, we are truly grateful that no damage was done to our car. We are also grateful to still have power since many of the neighborhoods around us do not. What a blessing!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Happy 8th Birthday Alexis!

Today Alexis turns 8 years old! Here are a few facts about Alexis:
1. has the most contagious giggle - you can't help but smile when you hear it.
2. is a smart girl and has been selected to participate on her grade's Odyssey of the Mind team
3. loves fluff sandwiches
4. loves to read more than she loves fluff sandwiches
5. can quote almost any Sponge Bob Square Pants episode beginning to end
6. refuses to wear jeans or socks with a seam at the toe
7. is dying for enough snow to build a snowman
8. makes friends with everybdy and anybody
9. can be convinced to try almost any kind of food and usually likes most of them
10. is very stubborn and set in her ways (since birth as many of you know)
11. says things that never cease to amaze you and definitely keeps you on your toes
12. cannot wait to go to her first Faith in God activity
13. has made the most important decision to be baptized (December 20th - you're all invited)
14. is "practically perfect in every way" according to her 2nd grade teacher
15. takes life by its horns and doesn't let go - loving every minute of it

Alexis is an important member of our family and we love her very much! We are proud of her and what a good girl she is! Happy birthday baby girl (she'll hate that I wrote that)!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! This holiday we enjoyed a relaxing day of good food, lots of laughs, and most importantly, great friends! Hope your turkey was as yummy as ours.....
Some of the kids working up an apetite for dinner. In case you are wondering, they all entered the cage willingly........
The boys get a meat carving lesson from the dads.
The F E A S T!!

Alexis the Indian ~ notice the pink headband with coordinating feathers.

Julee (almost 12) and Declan (6) watch a movie on her MP4 player. They were so cute sitting there sharing headphones.
(P.S. Note the new profile picture - taken on Thanksgiving Day.)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Saratoga Battlefield

A couple of weekends ago, we decided to tour the Saratoga Battlefield, the turning point of the Revolutionary War. Rick had a work function there the day before and loved the area so he wanted to take us. It's less than an hour from the house so it was a great day trip. The weather was beautiful and the leaves were gorgeous! As we were driving into the park, there were a couple of deer right along the side of the road. We spent a good half hour watching the deer up close. The girls were entranced. We then took the 9 mile driving tour stopping at the various points of interest to walk around and read about that part of the battlefield. It was fun to let the girls run around ~ most of the areas of interest had circular paths so they would lap us multiple times. Next summer we plan on going back to see one the real-life reenactments that take place there. Here are some pictures from our visit. (The pictures from the post just prior to this were also taken there.)

We were able to get less than 20 feet away from the deer and they just hung out providing the show.

Alexis kept running down the paths with her British and American flags she bought in the gift shop screaming "Julee run, the British are coming, the British are coming!"
Julee reacting to the cannon that doesn't really go off.
Rick's favorite part of the tour - the Boot Monument - commemorating the leg wound Benedict Arnold received just as Americans captured the area. It was pretty cool.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

These are a few of my favorite things

1. Rick

2. Julee

3. Alexis

4. Fall in New York

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hot Stuff!!

Hello Everyone, Rick Here.....

So... the other day I was feeling culinarily adventerous, and missing the Southwest in general to boot, so I decided to try out a variation on Jalapeno Poppers that I discovered.

Basically, you take the Jalpenos, slice 'em in half, fill them with a grated cheese/cream cheese mixture, wrap them in Bacon and bake them in the Broiler for 15 Minutes.


They turned out super-yummy! The combination of pepper, cheese and bacon is a literal taste explosion. I do think, however, that we were lucky this time around. The jalapenos had all of the flavor, but not too much of the searing heat (They must have been East Coast jalapenos from NEW YORK CITY, or something....)

Steph, being the great sport that she is, took on the role of sous chef as she did all of the slicing, de-seeding, and bacon wrapping for me. I think it's the only time in almost 3 years that I have been in charge.....

Below are a couple of pics of how they looked as they were coming out of the broiler...

Anyways, I was wondering ...what are some of your favorite regional foods? Or dishes that make you think of "Home"?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tag - You're It

I got tagged so all of you are tagged too!

The point of this tag is to list 5 joys, 5 fears, 5 obsessions/collections, 5 surprising facts, and tag 5 people.

5 Joys...
1. Movie night with my family
2. Hanging out with my friends
3. October in New York
4. A long bath and a good book
5. Music

5 Fears...
1. Heights
2. My girls' saftey
3. Our basement (or the dungeon as the girls refer to it)
4. Snakes
5. Rodents

5 Obsessions/Collections...
1. Chick Flicks
2. Scrapbooking
3. The need to organize everything
4. Emailing
5. Staying up late

5 Surprising Things about you...
1. I hate shopping
2. I dislike surprises
3. I can never tell you what I want for my birthday or Christmas
4. My DVDs are not currently in alphabetical order
5. I can change the oil on a car

Tag 5 People...
1. You
2. You
3. You
4. You
5. You

Sisterhood and Service

As you may or may not know, I am currently serving as the Enrichment Counselor in our ward (in the women's group at church). Our stake is currently working on a joint Relief Society/Young Women Humanitarian project. The project is to make T-shirt dresses or simple A-line dresses that will be sent to the Humanitarian Fund in Salt Lake City; and then ultimately to little girls in less fortunate countries. What fun it has been to be part of the planning in what has turned out to be a very successful and spiritual experience. It has been so exciting to see the sisters (both young and not so young) serve in such a capacity. We planned a couple of joint Enrichment/Young Women activities where sewing machines were stitching, gathers were pulled, and wrinkles were ironed out ~ all to the less than silent hum of laughter and sisterhood. There were older sisters teaching the Young Women how to sew, and Young Women teaching older sisters how to sew. Many of the sisters who were not able to participate in our Enrichment night activities, took it upon themselves to make dresses at home out of fabric pieces found in sewing closets or just recently purchased at the fabric store.

A couple of weeks ago, our ward had a project celebration dinner in combination with the Relief Society General Broadcast. At this dinner, we chose to hang up (in the gym) all the dresses (88 to date) that had been so selflessly made so that the sisters could see the impact that they can make by opening their hearts to others. Since I was mostly in charge of the project and partly in charge of the dinner, Rick and the girls (and my good friend Cindra, the RS president) were lucky enough to get to help me hang the dresses What a treat that was for our family. With EVERY dress that was hung, Alexis would say, "Oh mommy, some little girl is going to love this dress! This one is the cutest!" Little does she know how loved those dresses will be and how much they will be appreciated. Anyway, it was a fun evening with a yummy dinner (we introduced the sisters of the eastern US to Hawaiian Haystacks), a sight to behold, and wonderful messages from our church leaders! How blessed my life is to serve and how fortunate I am to partake of the strength of Spirit that comes through sisterhood and service. I hope these pictures tug at your heartstrings of service like they did mine!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Primary Talent Show

This past Saturday morning the Primary had a Talent Show. Julee and Alexis both participated and did an awesome job! They wanted to share their performances with all of you.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Mom's Favorite - Full Disclosure

It was brought to my attention that it seems that there is always more of Alexis in the blog than Julee. A hint of potential favoritism was even let me take a moment to dispel any and all rumors on either side or in favor of either girl. If you were to ask Julee who is mom's favorite, she would say Alexis. If you were to ask Alexis who is mom's favorite, she would say Julee. Typical sibling rivalry. If you were to ask Rick who is mom's favorite, he would say whichever one didn't leave their bath towel or dirty clothes scattered on their bedroom floor. He would add that if they both had clean bedroom floors, not only would it be likely that the world would certainly be coming to its end, but they would both be my favorites. Little do they know, they are both my favorites though they are likely never to see or understand that.

Having said all that, it is true that there are more appearances on this blog by Alexis than Julee. The reason for that is Alexis' attitude is 'hey mom, check this out - you can put it on the blog'. While Julee's attitude tends to lean more towards 'DO NOT put that dumb picture of me on the blog for the whole world to see'. Anyway, the other night we went to dinner at our friend's house. The 2 dads worked on computer stuff, the 2 moms chatted all night, and all the kids played Legos and Game Cube. It was lots of fun. As part of the evening, the other mom straightened Julee's hair just so we could see what it looks like. It came out really pretty and made Julee look so grown-up. Julee has never had straight in her whole life. When she was little, we wondered if her hair would ever grow in. When she was about 18 months, it started growing and out came these huge bouncy curls (lucky girl!). So here are a couple of pictures of Julee and the debut of her long, straight hair.
Bonus picture: This other picture is a framed collage that we made of Julee's trip to Arizona this summer. She brought home some postcards that she wanted to hang up in her room somehow so we ended up with this. We think it turned out awesome and adds a touch of the Southwest to Julee's otherwise upstate NY bedroom.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

1st Day of School

Julee was less than thrilled to go back to school today. Being in 6th grade now, she switches classes and teachers for each subject. She is happy to have some of her friends from last year in her homebase and seems to like all of her teachers (so far). She's bummed that the classroom notes state that each child should expect 60 minutes of homework each night. "It's just wrong," she said.

Alexis on the other hand, was filled with excitement and anticipation. She is now in a "grown up" grade (2nd) and her teacher is "super nice". The highlight of her day was when they went out to play on the playground and it wasn't even lunch; and that there is no homework for the whole week. Any other questions posed about the day were met with a shoulder shrug and an "It's all good, Mom. Can I play on the computer?"

Here are some before and after photos of the big day. Looks like they both survived rather well.....

Smiles, school supplies, and all.....

Waiting for the bus
Whew - I made it through.....
So good to be home!