Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Finished Tree!

I promised my mom photo's of my finished tree. I put up photos a week or so ago---when it was newly erected, but not quite finished. So bear with me as I share the finished product! You can click on the photo's to make them bigger--to see the details. It's my favorite tree that we've ever had. The first photo is how it looked the day we put it up--the following two are from yesterday. The ornaments are a little more spread out in the first one--far more tightly compact on the finished product--and I have added the red and white ribbon that weaves through the tree--it's one of my favorite things! We have many more presents under there now, than we did even last night--so that is always fun to see!

More Ted!!

Where was this photo when I made my convention t-shirt? THIS would have been a perfect addition!

Mind you--It's a Thanksgiving theme and Postie Con was weeks before--but hey--had I known this was brewing--I would have waited!


The Kids Sets!!

So--you are back for more! Oh wait--you read from top to bottom--so you haven't gotten to the monster Nativity Scene post---just wait--it's next!! But as I mentioned in that post--I have a few sets that the kids get to play with. This was done for a couple of reasons---mainly because I love the sets, and it was an excuse to buy more---but also because I was hoping they would leave the glass ones alone, when they had their own to arrange.

My favorite set is the Veggie Tales set. I got last week for my little 3 year old. He knows these characters-so it was fun to watch him wandering the house with the little wiseman with the crown singing "Cheeseburger" in his fabulous 3 year old voice.

My older boys like the building block set. They put that on together 4 or 5 times a week just to rearrange everything. It's really cute.

Nativity Sets!!

I've mentioned many times that I have a collection of Nativity Scenes going back to our first Christmas married. But I've never chronicled them---so...if you are offended by such things--look away! For those of you still looking--I've been married a decade--so this will be a long post! But again--mostly for me!
The top one I actually married into. It's about an inch tall--and it was about the only Christmas decoration we had our first year married. Christmas 1997.

The day after Christmas I headed to the mall to get the Nativity set I'd had my eye on for MONTHS---but was waiting for the price to come down. This set is big. The tallest piece being around 6 inches tall. It's bisque white with gold accents--and it's been on the piano every year since I got it. Christmas 1998.

I now had two different style glass sets, so for 1999 I went for a wooden set that my baby could play with. I only had one baby in 1999 and he loved to carry these little wooden pieces around. I don't know what it is about the Baby Jesus--but he's a draw for every child I've ever seen. Christmas 1999.

The most fun of any collection is when other people jump in to it. This next nativity scene was picked out and brought home as a surprise by my husband. I had already picked one out for the year, but put it aside until the next year. It's more fun when your spouse gets involved and shares your excitement in something! Christmas 2000.
This next one is the first "non-set" one. It's a snow globe with the angel up top and the stable animals around the base. I had originally had one with the city of Bethlehem around the base. On the way out the door to a Christmas party, I realized I didn't have a gift for the exchange. So I gave my snow globe intending to win it back. Sadly--I didn't, and I spent the the holiday season going from one Walmart to another trying to find another one. I never did--but walking out of the last one a couple was giving away puppies--and we got Brownie (our shepherd/coyote mix)! Christmas 2001.

This is my favorite set to date. I found it in August in Sam's Club in Utah. I couldn't walk away from this set--and honestly, it was not expensive at all. It looks like Lladro--and it was a fantastic deal. My mom got one too! This set actually lives in my living room year round. It has since I got it. It's just too pretty to put away! Christmas 2002.
This next one I found at Big Lots. It's nothing special--but it was unique. It's one piece, frosted on one side, shiny on the other. My favorite thing about this one -In all of the nativity sets I've ever seen--I've never seen a dog checking out the Baby Jesus. You can see him down on the bottom right. Well, he looks like a dog to me! Christmas 2003.
This is another favorite. Again, very inexpensive--but so cool. It's three different Mikasa crystal pieces. The far left--the Wisemen. The center is the Holy Family, and the far right are the Shepherds. It's frosted glass with gold stars on each individual piece. Totally unique--and totally cool. Christmas 2004.

This next one is the stain glass piece at the bottom of the photo. My sister made one for my parents a little larger and I always loved it. Christmas 2005.

The picture above the stained glass was purchased this year. It's a Willow Tree Nativity Plaque--and I couldn't pass it up! So it counts as an extra. There are a few more extras floating through some of the photos--but those are secrets!!

This is another set purchased by someone else getting into the spirit of the collection. My sister Stephanie was sweet enough to get this middle piece. It sits on a mirror--and the frosted pieces have a hint of color to them and then glittery gold highlights. It sits on a shelf on the wall in my living room--and I love it! Christmas 2006.

Last but not baby!! I bought this set over several months on Ebay this summer. I just purchased the stars a week or so ago--and it is currently on my mantle. THIS photo--isn't mine--Mine was too big to get a good photo of--so I'm using a stock photo. Because it's the set I've always wanted--and it's the most expensive set I've ever purchased---and it's number 10--I decided that this set would be the last! I don't think there is a house I will ever live in big enough to house more than 10 nativity sets with ease!

Of course, I have four sets that the kids love to play with--but that's not counted in mine--and that will come in a later post!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Entertainment Center!!

Now that we've covered the entry--we'll move on to the back wall of the living room. It's the entertainment center. It used to have a TV in it in the old house--but not in this one. But it's fun to decorate year after year!

I have different collections on the shelves. Whether it be Santa, Snowmen, Reindeer & Tin Soldiers, to Angel Teddy Bears--the bottom shelf is where we hang the stockings. Mostly because they fit there just fine. But in the last house we didn't have a mantle to hang them by--and this year we do, but it's in the family room--far far away from the Christmas tree. So this little tradition stuck around! Up top is garland--and some more of my Santas and Christmas trees.

Christmas Is Coming!!

I spent the day getting Christmas on the inside of the house finished! It was a lot of fun--and a lot of work. But it really makes the living room my most favorite place to be! I like to go sit in with all of the normal lights off but the Christmas lights and the Christmas tree on--sipping hot chocolate! Ahhhh, it's Christmas!!

There are going to be a lot of pictures in the next few posts. Namely because it's my first Christmas in this house--and I want to document it. Secondly--I love it so much, I would just like to copy it next year! And lastly--I have to show my mom all of the things I keep telling her about! So if you aren't into the whole "Christmas Decoration Documentation"--you will want to skip over this and the next few posts!

This is the entry way. The banister going up the stairs as well as the front wall. I used to have the train circling around the bottom of the tree--but it's just too big, and I didn't have anywhere else to put it! So it's on the floor next to the Snowman Box Tree. Probably lame...but Christmas to me!

Do You Honestly Want Him???

Do you see anything strange about this picture? Truly--take a moment and look at what you see. Now the shrinking diminutive women aside, do you see anything else strange?

Well, let me tell you what exactly is going on in this photo. We have some men and women (OK, 1, but women sounded better than woman) who would like to be the "Commander In Chief" of the United States of America. President of the "Free World"---and yet during the Pledge of Allegiance one Presidential hopeful felt it was beneath him to put his hand on his heart. ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?

Mr. Barack Hussein Osama, Oh--I'm sorry--Obama--felt it beneath himself to put his hand on his heart and pledge his allegiance to a country he wants to run someday! And yet still...millions of you will vote for "THIS"?

Take the ring out of your noses people---step away from the kool aid and take a good look at what you really want!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Girly Christmas!!

I have never really had a "girly" Christmas before. But this one is going to be fun! I'm not sure how I got such a girly girl--I never was, and I still lack most of the social graces to even be considered feminine!! But Blakelynn is all girl--even if her name isn't!

She knows that she is getting a vanity for Christmas. You know, a big one that she can still use in high school as she primps for dates (yikes!!). There is a beautiful one at Target that will be perfect in her room. My fear...she will never leave it! She will literally sit in front of her mirror and brush her hair all day long!

To make matters worse...she fully understands the use of said vanity!! Last night we were in Meijer (like a Super Target) and we were wandering through the toy section and she pulled out this darling little bag of play makeup. Walks up to me and says, "I need this for Christmas too, cause it will go perfect with my vanity!" Yes--she's four!! I'm in trouble!

Friday, November 23, 2007

10 Years Ago--Part 3!!

Well, they said it would take about 90 minutes of pushing to get first babies out. But what they hadn't accounted for was the fact that my epidural had worn off and there was no way I was going to stay in that much pain for 90 minutes! We started pushing at 12:10 am and Shakey Jake came into this world 23 minutes later!! His head set a record at St. Marks Hospital in Salt Lake City--that was still standing the last I heard from my wonderful Midwife!!

They had an OBGYN on hand just in case a C-section was required--which it wasn't. In fact, the midwife kept shooing the OB out of the room because she kept shaking her head and saying "She's going to need a "C", that baby is just too big!" He came out at 8 lbs. 14 oz and 19 inches long! He had long, thick black hair. He was born with a fever so they put an IV stint in his wrist for antibiotics. My mom came to visit him after their Thanksgiving dinner and looked in the window of the nursery. The baby they were working with had a stint in his arm, but way too much black hair to be Jake--but she was wrong--it was him!! He was beautiful from day ... well, he had an elongated head at birth-so we'll say--day 2!! He was a colicky baby and a handful! But that little guy turned into a blonde / blue eyed genius with a tender heart, and a friendship with his mom that rivals any!! Love you buddy!!

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Holy Cow!! Is this perfect? I was online this morning looking at some of the Black Friday ads, and I found this over at It's a Hillary Clinton, "Nut"-cracker! LOL!! Honestly--there is nothing more frightening than a rabid-liberal-feminist lesbian!! Normal, everyday, fun loving, down to earth lesbians...I have NO PROBLEM with you!! But when you get to be so out of this world wacko like Rosie and Hillary---I take issue!! And don't go giving me that "Hillary Isn't A Lesian" shpeel--because we've all heard it before--and it's a load of bunk!! Read her book--and then tell me she's not!

All I can say...Men--protect your "nuts"!!

10 Years Ago Part 2!!

We got home from the theater and I went to bed--it had been a long day and I was looking forward to another long day of shopping in the morning! I woke up early as I usually did with a baby sitting on my bladder. While I was sitting half asleep in the restroom I had a thought "Wow, right now would be a perfect time to have my water break." No lie, immediately there was a rush of very warm fluid out of a very "new" area! My water had broken!!

I called the hospital and let them know what happened, and they said that I should start getting ready to come in. So I went upstairs and woke up my husband with the classic "Honey, It's Time!!" statement. Holy Cow the TV shows and movies are right! He jumped out of bed and starts running in circles. I stopped by the door of the room where his is now very nearly dressed and said calmly-"Do you want to shower first, or should I?" He stopped mid snap, looked at me strangely and said, "Is there time for that?"

We finally got to the hospital around 10:00 am, and my husband went downstairs to sign me in. The midwife came in and was surprised to find that I was being signed in-she thought I was coming in to see if my water really broke. Duh, I'm not that dumb! Yes, I'm a first time mom--but after years of peeing--I know when a rush of warm "fluid" is coming from a different bodily orifice-thank you!! She got some litmus paper, and didn't even get it near me. The fluid on her glove from prepping me-turned the litmus bright red, and she informed (?) me that my water had broken! Again---refer to the above "DUH" statement for my thoughts on the moment!!

I was admitted and sent to walk the halls waiting for labor to actually begin! And I could have been walking the outlet stores by this time!! Hello!! So we walked until I couldn't walk anymore--I just wanted to lie down. It was several hours before they started the pitocin, and several hours after they started the pitocin. Luckily--I chose a great "football" day for my husband to sit around a watch! It was rivalry weekend! BYU played Utah, and Michigan played Ohio! He was happy to have nothing to do but run for nurses every so often, and watch football! Finally around 11:45 at night, they decided that it was going to be time to push soon--but don't worry mom-it usually takes about 1 1/2 hours for the first baby!!

Well, NOT when it's my first baby!!! To be continued -- on Jake's actual birthday!!

10 Years Ago Today!!

Wow, it's November 21st, 2007! Time has flown! 10years ago, my in laws came to town to be near for the birth of our first child. He had decided to cook a little longer, and was 7 days past the date the doctor had given as his due date. I had told the in laws that he should be a week after that-around the 20th-so they came a little later.

After they got to town, we spent time shopping for "1st Grandbaby in 9 Years" stuff. It was fun. As a treat, they had gotten us all tickets to the theater on the 21st. We had dinner at Michael's restaurant "JW's" and then walked up the street to the theater. We were going to be seeing "The King and I" with Hailey Mills.

We were sitting in our seats and watched as 2 of the most famous Utah Jazz players walked in with their families. The production was wonderful. When it was over, we walked back to the restaurant and had dessert.

My in laws joked around that due to all of the walking--I would have Jake on the 22nd, but just in case I didn't we were going to go up to Park City and shop the Outlets. To Be Continued!!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

It's Wednesday!!

I'm actually feeling better--not great or perfect! But definitely better! I was planning a trip to Insta-care today (yes, I've been planning it for about a week now)--but feeling so much better--and a possible snow storm, I'm thinking I'm sticking around the house today! I have laundry to do--and I do at some point need to get out and pick up the fixing for the Pumpkin Cake and mashed potatoes that I'm bringing to dinner tomorrow.

I was in such a great "Christmas" mood a few days ago, but it has come to a complete stop! There isn't ONE Nativity set out! Surprising I know...I own over 10 of them--but here they sit boxed up from the move--and I'm struggling to get into the festive mood again! Bummer!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Christmas Tree!!

We have a family tradition of putting our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. However, this year, Jake's 10th birthday is the day after Thanksgiving and we have a family birthday party. So we decided to put it up early. Our kids are out of school this whole week--so we thought it would be a fun activity for the family their first day out of school! They had a blast decorating the tree--all of our homemade gingerbread men made of salt dough are still in the oven drying. Once they are done--we will decorate them, get their little red and white bows on them--and hang them as well! I hope they turn out really cute!!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Gift For Eva!!

Have you ever met someone and seemed to have hit it off right on the spot? Well, for my husband and I (Aunt Peggy too) we met Andrew "BenSpark" Bennett. I had known him online for awhile--ran into him over and over during one of the early "Puzzle" challenges. But what a super nice guy! We talked to him for awhile at the Tao party--until we were all called over to the stage to kick off the party--we abandoned our watch over Drew's water bottle--and it was immediately picked up by the waitstaff--whoops!

Anyway--Sunday evening we headed to the airport for our midnight flight and as we headed back to eat- there was a familiar face over at the "Recharge" desk. I said (rather loudly) "Hey, that looks like Andrew Bennett of the!" I said it that way so that if it wasn't him--the guy wouldn't necessarily know I was talking to him--but of course, it was him--and we got a final "goodbye" in.

We passed the gift shop and they had this darling little pink puppy in the window--so we ducked in to get it for Drew's new baby Eva. As we headed back to give it to him, he was gone. So it became a gift for Blake instead.

The cool thing about this little puppy, it lets you name a star. So we headed over this afternoon and named our puppy and our star. Since we couldn't give Eva the puppy--we decided we would give her a Star.

We named the puppy-- Princess Blake-- we named the star-- EvaGrace-- and we chose the Andromeda constellation. The Andromeda constellation was chosen for a couple of reasons-- first, it's the Princess constellation-- and with Blake and Eva-- I think it's only fitting. Secondly--Andromeda is a very "comic book" sounding name--I guess from the whole Star Trek thing--but I was going for more of a "Cybertron" theme--and if that didn't just click with you--then you don't know the BenSpark!!

So is the location of your little girls star...

Andromeda 2H 32M 38.42s 40 12'52.75"

You can click on the charts to make them bigger!

It was really fun--I may have to find these little stuffed animals for my kids too!

My Baby Crib!

Monday we have a huge dumpster being delivered to our old house. We have family and MEN coming to help clear out whatever is left in the house. I can't believe we are to that point already! After that, it's paint, flooring and doors--and then we can rent it out or sell it! Wooo Hooo! I gave all of my baby furniture to good will the last time we went through the house. The baby bath, the car seat/stroller combo, the exer-saucer and most of the toys. The sad thing--well, for me anyway...on Monday the crib goes! I'm not normally attached to baby cribs, but this is the one we got when I was pregnant with Jake! Moved it and cleaned it up when I was pregnant with Grayson! Moved it again when I was pregnant with Blake--and lastly it's where my last little monkey man Barrett slept! I have no need for it anymore. We aren't having any more kids. But there's just something about it going into the trash that makes me sad--not that anyone would want it--it's just hard to leave one stage forever! Goodbye Babies!!

I'm Spoiled!!

We have this beautiful tree in our front yard--you know the kind of tree that has four really amazing seasons! Currently it is in it's bright Yellow Autumn season, but I'm sure I'll grab some photo's of every one of them. I love this tree! This tree may be a big reason why we bought this house. I love it's size, it's shape--everything! Except for the beautiful carpet of bright yellow leaves it leaves on the ground underneath it!

I have been sick for a while--but being sick does not get to cut into the "Good Neighbor" responsibilities that come with the care and upkeep of my yard! This is the first weekend since the leaves began to fall, and it is my civic duty to get out there and clean up the mess! I've been lying in bed all night trying to come up with a plan of action. It ranged from attaching the bag to the lawn mower and dumping it into the lawn bags (every 30 seconds after it got full) to using the blower to corner the leaves in the yard and scoop from there. Then I realized one thing...we don't even own a rake in this house!! Whoops!! So imagine my thrill this morning when out of no where the doorbell rings. It is a wonderful family from around the corner. They own a landscaping business and they are offering their services to clean the front yard and side yard for $30.00! HOLY COW!!! Is that a lot? Is that a little? I feel like it's not a lot considering the dread I was feeling in having to get to it! Next year we will have our ride on lawn mower and I will be the bomb yard cleaner upper--but for this year--these wonderful people are my heroes!!

Because of them--I can do the one thing I really need to do today...get to Insta-Care to get on some heavy duty antibiotics! I've been sick for over a year--and I really don't think that is too normal!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Tao Las Vegas!!

This is my husband at Tao! We were there for the BCA party--and I have to say--I was not prepared for all that Tao was. My hubby was! He, being a Chef, had read up on the place--and knew things about it that I didn't even know. He even knew that it was the 2nd Anniversary that same evening, and that they were expecting some VIP's.

All evening he just kept's such an honor to even be here, or I just can't believe we are here--you have no idea how amazing it is that we are here!

So I had to take his picture on the deck with the cool Tao sign in the back!!


This is the floor in the "Mall" section of the Wynn hotel in Las Vegas. The entire lobby is laid out in this intricate mosaic. It was GORGEOUS!! I had to stop and take a picture of it. Can you imagine being the tile setter that had to inlay this pattern? It's amazing to my mind.

We loved the Wynn--I truly wanted to take a picture of their public bathrooms as well--they were amazing! The rooms at the Wynn were a bit out of our price range--but we will definitely stop back in for a visit the next time we are in town!'s the only casino we found where there is actually a table game for "War"! How cool is that?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Success Of Liberty!!

My sister Steph was in town yesterday with her husband and son and we went to the Field Museum to see Sue the T-Rex. When you go to the museum you have to park at Soldier Field and walk across the street. On our way out there was a quote by John F. Kennedy that I was stunned to read. I wanted a picture of that monument so badly but I was soooooo sick that Barrett and I left early to go sleep in the car while the others enjoyed all that the museum has to offer.

As we passed it on the way in, I again wanted the picture, but was honestly barely upright--so I didn't stop. Today--I did look the quote up--and I'm putting it here. I love it because it comes from a Democrat. It comes from the "Golden Boy" of the grand Democratic past--and yet--it is so meaningful today. I'm sure it would never be brought up in today's political/media blind world--but I wanted to post it--because it IS America--and I'm proud to be an American!

"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty."

I'm not a huge fan of Mr. Kennedy, and I'm sure this was written by a speech writer--but so poignant and true today as it was 30 years ago!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Chicago Business Magazine!!

Several weeks ago I did an interview for Crains Chicago. Now I have to say, I'd never heard of them, so the interview wasn't really that big of a deal. I answered the questions as best I could--hoping not to look foolish or come across as inept, or worse be mis-quoted! That last one happens all of the time when we "bloggers" are interviewed. My husband happened to call from work one evening and asked what I was doing. I told him I was doing an interview with some little Chicago newspaper (so sorry Crains!!). He asked who--I told him "Crains Chicago something". There was the most minutest of pauses and I get a stunned husband saying, "Chicago Business?" ummmmmm, I guess so, have you heard of them? So lets just say--this 'little' interview turned out to be big-and it started to get the nerves pulsing!! Now I was even more worried about what I would say!

I submitted my interview--and thought that was it--when I got a phone call from a photographer needing to come over to take pictures for the article. It was the week of Halloween and so crazy--but we scheduled it for either Thursday or Friday after Halloween around 3:30 in the evening.

Blakelynn had been the pink princess for Halloween and was so excited when it was over, so that she could wear the dress full time. The morning of the photographer--she removed her P.J.'s and put the dress on. She did this for two full days after Halloween--so I don't know if the photo was taken the first day in the dress--or the second!

I blog in the corner of my kitchen. It really is the heart of the house. I can see to the right into the family room, to the left into the backyard and the kitchen table is directly behind me. I'm in the middle of the action. If the boys are outside getting a little rough--I just open the window and chat with them. If they need a sandwich--I'm right here, if they want to watch a movie--again--really close.

So the day comes for the pictures to be taken. My boys are in the backyard with their friends. Blakelynn is playing with her barbie dolls at my feet and Barrett is asleep in my arms--it's what he does everyday around 4:30 pm. My poor photographer got a little lost and ended up coming to my house nearly 2 hours late (sorry John!!) Barrett wasn't asleep at the scheduled time--but was sound asleep by the time he got there. I had left the front door open, so that the photog could let himself in--I can see straight through to the front door from my desk...see, it really is the heart of the house.

So John gets there and tells us not to move--this is the shot he wants! He asks how long Barrett will stay asleep--and was happy to hear that we probably had an hour or two before he would stir. So he rushed to get all of his lights set up. He did great--and honestly-I'm sure people would look at this picture and think..."Wow, they really staged that good." but truly--this is what he walked in to! He had hoped to be able to capture the boys outside the window--but there is a big shrub--and it wouldn't have been that easy. He took a lot of pictures. Some with me looking at him, some with me just working. Blakelynn would get up and play at the table and color--or flop back down on the floor. It really was a very easy---very natural shot!!

Sleepy Bears!!

The Convention folks were given a TON of these fabulously cute little Travelodge teddy bears. We each got one in our 'swag bags' at Postie Con--but at the end there was a table full of them. So I grabbed one for each of my kids. We brought home a ton of other souvenirs for the kids, but threw this baby in with the rest and our green entrance bands to Tao--see for yourself, the bears were a hit!

I went into their bedrooms to give them a final kiss goodnight, and after the third child in a row was found snuggling with their bear--I figured it must be a photo op! Here are all four of the kids with their teddy bears!