December 11, 2011

Holiday photo mish-mash

Holiday Photo Dump:

THANKSGIVING

That's my hubby...always a jokester!
The beautiful place setting: mom's china, Waterford glasses, beautiful handmade placecards
(by my sister-in-law Andrea) and the most adorable owl knit silverware holders (from Cracker Barrell!)
First year for a kid's table!
Adorable kids table place settings
These two little turkeys couldn't be trusted at the kid's table...
so they were squeezed at the end with the grown ups :)

1st ANNUAL UGLY CHRISTMAS SWEATER PARTY

We love to entertain, so when I snagged a 3 crockpot cooker/warmer for $20 at an after Thanksgiving sale I needed an excuse to use it. We invited the neighbors for a taco night and decided to put a little holiday spin on it by adding in the ugly Christmas sweater contest.
It was a blast! (Please excuse the blurry pictures...they were taken by a 4 year old!)

The whole gang
When the votes were tallied...my "Sugar Cookie recipe" sweater took the pot!
Although Jeff's sparkly fabulicious sweater ensemble was a close 2nd!

NEIGHBORHOOD SNOW DAY

Although we live in Texas, our neighborhood ensures that the kids get to enjoy an entire day of playing in the snow...something that usually doesn't happen otherwise. They bring in a big truck of ice and fill the hill by the soccer field with snow. For $5 there is sledding, a gourmet coffee bar, hot chocolate, cookies and a ton of fun!







LETTER TO SANTA

Because we will be traveling once again for the holidays, we had to write a letter to Santa asking if he could come to our house early so we wouldn't miss out on having "Christmas morning" as a family (and wouldn't have to ship everything to/from where we are going to be)








December 06, 2011

My face...on toy shelves everywhere!

Okay so maybe this particular item can't be found now, but at one point waaaayyy back in the 80s, my sweet little face could be found on the shelves of national toy stores everywhere. That's right!

As I mentioned in this post a while ago, I was on the box for Kenner's Special Blessings doll, Christina Blessing. When I went back to my childhood home for Thanksgiving, my mom had cleaned out the closets and made a pile of "stuff" she wanted gone. She took advantage of the fact that we had our vehicle and couldn't use the 'I don't have room in my checked baggage' excuse for once.

There it stood covered in dust. I took some pictures just in case you didn't believe me the first time.


I showed the boys and asked them if they knew who the little girl was on the box. When I told them it was me, they pretty much thought I was the coolest mom ever. I mean what kid wouldn't want their mom to be on the side of a toy?

Okay, I am lying. They could have cared less. Darn...I really thought this would make me cool in their eyes.

So what happened to my acting/modeling career you ask? Hmmm, well, I did go to LA after I graduated from college for a 6 week acting course. When the class was complete I had a choice to make. Do I stay in Hollywood and pursue one of my life-long dreams? Or do I run back to the Midwest and into the arms of the guy waiting for me there?

Six and half years of marriage and two kids later...I guess you know what I chose. Now my life in the limelight is a distant memory.

And that is just fine by me.






December 04, 2011

A quick Lights of Love recap...

The weather cooperated! The rain tapered off just in time for the event. The Kids K was first - I opted to stick with Aiden (mostly because I knew he wouldn't want to run very far!) and Ricky partnered up with Ethan. As the participants gathered close to the start line, Aiden already seemed a bit overwhelmed. Ethan, on the other hand, was raring to go! When everyone took off, Aiden started strong...but I think teveryone whizzing by all around us totally freaked him out. He began crying so we stepped off to the side and decided to walk until we met up with Ethan and Ricky on their loop back around so we could snap a picture.



Ethan absolutely loved everything about it. The lights, the energy, the people and the race. He ran the ENTIRE way - granted it isn't very far at just about 2/3 of a mile - but he IS only 4! I have to say I was impressed. Along the run, Ricky said Ethan shouted "Daddy, I LOVE this running thing!" He loved it so much that he BEGGED to run the 5k with Ricky. I literally had to hold him back, crying, as Ricky headed to the start line. Looks like daddy has a new running partner :)

The event included several activities for kids - a craft station where the boys made cute little elf hats, a visit with Santa - and free hot chocolate and snacks provided by various sponsors. There were also some food trailers offering pizza, gourmet coffee, empanadas and more for purchase.

Lights of Love 2011Boys at Lights of LoveRicky after Lights of Love

Our team ended up raising just under $700 - a big thank you to those who donated in Aiden and Ethan's name! The event brought in almost $200,000 for Ronald McDonald House of Austin and Central Texas - WOW - what an amazing success! These funds help this organization continue to provide families with a "home away from home" while their loved one is receiving treatment at a local hospital. My family has benefited from the generosity of those supporting Ronald McDonald House Charities, so it holds special meaning for us!






My only hope of ever living a life of fame and fortune...

People Magazine - Before They Were Stars
Photo credit: People.com
Let's rewind to 2009...

Everyone knows how much my Ethan loves to perform. I hope he makes it big one day so that I can be interviewed by People magazine or Katie Couric for one of those "Before they were Stars" pieces. They always interview the mom. :)

I have no doubt that they would play the video from this post.

Ethan is 2.5 here. And although the post is called "Move over Justin Timberlake", it could also be another Justin...Bieber. Except my sweet Ethan would  never be embroiled in a messy paternity suit.

A mom can dream, right?

(Click the link above to read the post and see the video from December 2009)






December 02, 2011

Lights of Love

It's raining outside which totally stinks because tonight is our first time participating in the Lights of Love event benefiting the Austin Ronald McDonald House.

Lights of Love

When I say "our" first time, I should clarify...I will not be running (not my thing), but Ricky is and the boys wanted to be just like daddy so they are taking on their first 1k as part of the "Friends of the House" team. I will however be cheering them on (and probably wiping runny noses, keeping them motivated and walking most of the time right along with them).

The boys will be donning adorable reindeer shirts and antlers, and we had planned on painting their noses red, but I'm afraid that will be a mess if the weather doesn't clear up.

Although if it is indeed still raining, we might have to skip the event all together :( Aiden is very sensitive to cold, damp weather. It wreaks havoc on his respiratory system and I really don't want to put him in a situation where  we'd be dealing with breathing treatments throughout the holiday. We've gone quite a few weeks without the good ol' nebulizer and we'd like to keep it that way!

Hopefully, the rain will let up and this magical tree-lit nighttime event will be one that our family will look forward to every year.

There's still time to donate to this awesome cause! To help the boys meet their fundraising goal, please visit the individual links below. Thank you!






December 01, 2011

From milk to Silk

I get grossed out pretty easily when it comes to food. Usually it has something to do with finding foreign objects mid-bite (um, curly hair/fingernail/bug anyone? All true stories. I'll spare you the details. Mostly because the thought of these stories pretty much makes me want to vomit. Again.)

Because I've experienced all of the above, it isn't uncommon to find me closely inspecting my plate as I'm digging in. Eating at home isn't as bad - I mean at least I know my kitchen is clean. But eating at restaurants? All bets are off.

My husband thinks I'm insane that I am so picky about what dining establishments make the grade with me. And it's not just him, I can remember going on road trips as a family and driving my dad crazy mad with my objections to the dives he would sniff out from the highway. I blame this on my mother. And television. (Hellooooo...have you seen Kitchen Nightmares or those investigative reports on Dateline?)

A few of my personal requirements:

  • Must have the health department's "Grade" form clearly displayed; grade must be an "A".
  • Must have well-kept appearances - if the outside, entrance, dining area and restrooms are not clean, I simply cannot trust that the kitchen is up to cleanliness standards
  • Wait staff must appear well-kept - who wants someone handling your food when it looks like they haven't slept and/or showered in 4 days?
  • Must have the appropriate number of visitors - if it's prime-time for lunch or dinner and nobody is there, I will make negative assumptions about all of the above conditions

With my notorious restaurant pickiness, it kind of surprises me that I am not more choosy when it comes to the actual food I put in my mouth. I have flirted with vegetarianism in the past - even going 5 years without eating any red meat - but I could never give up chicken. Then, when I got pregnant, I craved hamburgers so my trendy stint as a vegetarian ended just like that.

I've avoided revisiting the subject in recent years because I have now experienced Texas barbecue. And, frankly, I'm afraid there is just no going back. Yum!

But let's talk about milk. I used to LOOOOVVVEEEE milk. Milk in my cereal. Milk with cookies and brownies. Milk with spaghetti. A cold glass of milk before bed.

Until I read this article shared on a blog I read, A Momma's Desires and Pacifiers. (PS - if you have a weak stomach or want to maintain your love for milk, you may want to skip the article. Consider yourself warned). (PPS - you should really visit the blog - it's like mine...but waaaayyy better).


From the moment I read that article, I have not had a drop of dairy milk. I went cold turkey ya'll. I still eat cheese and other dairy products where milk might be an ingredient, but gulping down a straight glass of milk is a thing of the past for me now. I have made the switch to Silk soymilk and am not looking back.

Conveniently for me (but not so convenient for him), Aiden was recently diagnosed with a slight dairy intolerance so the switch to Silk was necessary in our household. Plus, my kids love it and honestly didn't even bat an eye at the change.

I think it's best for me to avoid the documentary "Food Inc." Otherwise I'm afraid I might not eat anything ever again.

*Disclosure* I was not compensated in any way to mention Silk in this post. It just happens to be the brand of soymilk I chose for our family. In addition, I realize there are many opinions regarding the consumption and/or safety of cow's milk. I also acknowledge that my opinion may have been formed less upon scientific evidence and more upon my gag reflex. Say what you will, I'm trusting my gag reflex. :)






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