Sunday, December 30, 2007

Busy Saturday

We started out early yesterday to Chicago. Steph, Nina and I went to see Poppy and wish him Merry Christmas. He said to me, "Oh, was it Christmas?" :( He looked good in spite of himself and had had his first haircut in about 3 years! His hair was surprisingly darker with less gray than it had when it was long. We brought him lots of new boxers, organized his clothes to separate them from his new roommate Larry, bid Poppy farewell until next time. It seems he doesn't know who we are, but likes to have visitors for about 5 minutes :) I wish he was close to home so we could see him more often. I did find a home here willing to take him, but they were very sure that the move would be quite disruptive and confusing for him, so I chose to leave him where he's least for now.

After Poppy we were off to John Robert Powers where Kristina had her acting audition. She did well, although was surprisingly shy?!? John Roberts of course is an acting school...with fees that start in the $2000 range! I told my little budding actress that if she really wanted to do that, I would pursue it once I got out of school and had a much more flexible schedule. When Steph was little and dabbled in modeling, we often got a 4 or 5 hour notice to be in Chicago for a commercial read. Ummmmmm, yeah...I just don't see that working in my life today. After graduation I plan to work 3 long days a week and perhaps every other that will free up some more time. So for Kristina's acting dream...not no honey, just not today. Thanks for your patience in letting me pursue my dreams first.

We headed home in hopes to meet up with Carlene, but technical difficulties didn't allow for that. Bummer...I hesitate to say I can't wait to get back to school...because I can't wait to see my friends, but I can SURELY wait for the additional burden on my schedule and time. I have so enjoyed my time off and love the fact that I still have a whole week left :) :) :)

After a nap, we all joined forces to tidy up the house before my scrap night. Before everyone arrived, I finally got the kids new computer set up that they got for Christmas. Tim is going to come to the technical part of getting it exactly as they would like it, but the first step has been's out of the box! Sarah, Candi, me and our new member Shana :) had a good time. We had Chen's (Thanks Shana for picking it up) and everyone got a lot done. Sarah is making the cutest valentine book...I will for sure need to purchase one! Candi worked on her new years cards, and Shana worked on Aubrey's first year tin that I made her for the baby girl and Stephanie worked on a Christmas paper bag book. I, well, I worked on making a new outfit for Kristina's cheer bear. (Not scrapbooking I know, but something that needed to be done and soon, so I'm glad I got started!) I will finish that today and make the necessary accessories. Sarah and Candi had ran to Archiver's and bought some new treasures. Very neat. We ended about midnight with our gift exchange. I got some really neat family themed coasters that I really love and some boy/girl chipboard people that I can use in my new love book. We planned our next night for January which is very exciting because we also have a scrap weekend planned for February. Fun!

So, what's on the agenda for this week? I have to get caught up on case notes and my billing for December at Chasi, I want to read ahead for the beginning of classes, I have a few assignments from my new internship-- VERY exciting! {more on that later}, Thursday I have clients all day, Friday I have baby girl :) (I think) and then I'm taking Zoe and Jason to Sapora playworld and out to Pizza, Saturday Kristina has practice and a game, and then Sunday we have Aubrey :) I also want to get my Family room painted this week. Perhaps today I can get to Walmart for some paint chips. I have to call the floor guy to schedule the refinishing of the scraproom and hallway, so that I can get my stuff moved (a long time goal) I really want to get the carpet cleaned on Saturday AND my new entertainment unit should be here on Wednesday I think, so I definitely want to have the family room painted by then! I need to hunt down some new wireless phone jacks to ease the wires running all over problem, but first! Today, I promised my brother I'd cook a turkey for that's the project of the day.a I plan to spend the whole rest of the day reading...the newspaper, my new schoolbook, and my new project for my new internship. It is a beautiful frozen day outside and the weather is supposed to hit the deepfreeze for the next few days. Sounds like a good time to sit by the fire with a good book, or two, or three:)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Ms. Senior Arizona

I added a new link to my faves and friends today.. Ms. Senior Arizona. this pageant is quickly coming up on March 1st, 2008 AND my mom is a contestant! Although they don't have the 2008 contestants listed yet, keep an eye out for my mom! Good luck mom :)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Get your adjustments!

So, tonight I went to Kohl's to use my Kohl's cash hopefully to purchase some flip flop such luck...HOWEVER, I did buy 5 super cute ornaments with my Kohl's cash AND I gave them all my receipts for the past two weeks and they gave me back $30!!!! Cuz, did you can take your receipts and since almost the whole store is on sale, they'll give you the difference between what you paid and the current price! Can't really beat that with a stick now can ya?! Ok, there's my financial wisdom for the grab your receipts and run to Kohl's!

Aubrey Thursday?

Yup! Today, we got to watch the precious baby girl again :) I told my niece that although I would never want another "full time" baby, I sure love having her over. She is just the best baby! Comes from being well cared for at home :) I just marvel at her amazingness {is that a word?} (Pardon her broccoli face) Every time we see her she has a new word...she barks and meows now ~ We had so much fun today-- she played with her new remote I got her for Christmas that says hello in 3 languages...she still wanted to play with my Tivo remote but settled for hers when I gave it to her :) When her mom came to get her she had to say bye really loudly!!! Too funny!

I was finally able to kick the kids off the wii long enough to watch 3 days of Y&R, I'm only a week behind now! After my second lazy day...I've decided it's back to the grindstone for me. Laying around is really only pleasurable to me for a short period of time. When Kevin came home last night it was too odd saying things like, "Hey did you know Whoopi is on the view?" I felt like I should have on a robe and slippers and rollers in my hair! At least I took a shower yesterday :) Well, since that's really not the life for me, it's back to this...My $290 worth of books for my next two classes! I have clients all day tomorrow and then I have my paperwork appointment at UIC for my next internship. Hope all goes well there, since that is really where I'd like to work when I leave Circles. I long for the days when I set my schedule AND I don't have to be somewhere at 6 AM! (Oh, did I mention the pay increase won't be too bad either) I have three more college educations to pay for very shortly and am hoping the new income will be a boost! I start teaching child development classes in 2 weeks at the Y for a little extra money. They pay twice as much as my day job, so I really couldn't say no to that. And hey, I get one night off a week, why not teach classes!?! I did get my butt out of the house today to take Kristina to the Ortho, and yes it is time...almost 6k and she will have a nice straight bite and straight teeth to go with it! I have to send the forms into my insurance to see what they'll pay and then she should be wired up in about 6 weeks. She said, "I guess I'll have to stop sucking my thumb" (Nothing would make her Dad happier by the way) I said, yeah, I guess it's time [cough, cough]-- I'm going to get some cleaning and homework done here tonight. I have my scrap party Saturday night, and thought (silly me) that I would clean and prepare Friday and Saturday...well except I have clients all day tomorrow and Kristina has an acting audition on Saturday in Chicago. It's ok I guess, I needed to meet up with my friend Carleen, and I have to drop new boxers off for Poppy, so at least I'll get those errands accomplished. Tonight I want to get to Kohl's to spend my Kohl's cash. I am the worst at letting it expire and vowed not to do it this time. I want to get some flip flop slippers and see what they have left for snowman ornaments. Better run! Until next time...

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas 2007 in pictures

Could take me all night to complete this post, but I'll give it a go! (The main trouble is I want to download a bunch of pics and my joints are very achy today...) (Give me enough stress even good stress, and the fibro flairs up)'s my best attempt at Christmas in review. For those of you that couldn't be here, we missed you and we wish you could have been here to share with us. (Mom, Bubba, Karen, Larry, Kim, Brandon, Kimberly, Christine, Poppy, Gramma Bee, Aunt Ruth, and on and on :) -- As I sit at home tonight in the calm I must admit it is a sigh of relief for it to be over. I don't go back to work until the 7th of January and am so looking forward to the respite. Don't think that I'll be sitting around however...I still will work my internship, am starting homework for next semester, have phone jacks being installed, furniture to pick up, computers to set up, family room to paint, ortho appts, Dr. appts, and a host of other things to accomplish! Hopefully the laundry pile will make it to the top of the list! By Christmas Eve day we were about ready for the MIL came to help me finish cleaning while I finished wrapping and began cooking. Tim and I went to pick up Kevin's gift, stopped at OSF to drop cookies off for Sandi, and made a last minute jaunt to Walgreen's for batteries. We stopped by my brother's house and were most pleased to find he was coming for Christmas :) We headed home to get started...My Mom had given me instructions on how to make a yummy ham-- before.... and after... It was very yummy {if I don't say so myself} and I am so glad we have leftovers! Aubrey decided to spend time with me in the kitchen. I just love that baby girl so much! She came to play yesterday while her Mommy and Daddy worked and she was just an angel all day...Today, she played with my magnets on the fridge (a new favorite of hers) -- I love this photo cuz she's playing with magnets (round 2 its) made by her late Great Grandma Bee...I was sure Gram was here in spirit when the next generation was playing with her sparkling creations! When dinner was finally ready {only 45 minutes late} Kevin was the head at one end of the table and Aubrey held down the other end. After dinner the kids couldn't wait any longer...we finally (you'd think it was like 5 years of waiting) got to open presents :) Tim/Deb, Shana/Ryan, & David were all happy with their Blue Man Group tickets...I can't wait for us all to go together...this is a show we've all wanted to see for a while and it will be such a great family time! The Fritz family made it through the evening even though Ry was sick and had to work that day (thanks for coming anyway!) and the Ruchus was super happy when they 1..opened their new computer from Grammie, Papa and Mom and Dad, and 2...opened their new Wii from Bubba Bill and A. Karen. Thanks, thanks, thanks, to all who helped my kids have a great holiday! I got some cute jammies and a new entertainment unit for the family room while Kevin relaxed in his new lazy boy. Aubrey had a great time playing with the packing tape and putting holiday bags on her head. She especially loved this one with the glittery fur! Stephanie, Kristina and Dad all took turns bowling...Kristina is quite the good Wii bowler :) While upstairs Uncle Tim, Uncle David, and Brennan carried out the WOW tournament. I'm so glad my son loves his uncles so much-- he always looks forward to their visits! Jake and I took a moment for a holiday snuggle {really he's a gift to me every day} At 10:00 Kristina and I headed off to the candlelight service at church. It is always so serene and peaceful there on Christmas Eve. I lifted up a special prayer for Sandi and her family for God to heal her and send her peace. We finally crawled into bed after 2A and were up at 7 waiting for the pitter patter of teenage feet down the stairs. The kids were up looking for their gifts from Santa and true to form...Santa delivered :) Brennan got a pokemon battle dome and the girls each got a digital camera (Yeah for Mom, no more sharing) -- they got lots of stocking stuffers and were soon ready to head to Gramma's house. The super dysfunctional side (I AM winning) decided not to show up (typical) but I was glad we were there. My MIL is one of the greatest people I know and she really doesn't deserve the continued maltreatment from her other grandkids. She made yummy bbq ribs, scalloped potatoes, fruit salad, tossed salad and deviled eggs. Yummmmm!! Oh and earlier in the day she made us Christmas Brunch! (a family tradition) -- we opened gifts (like this super cute draft blocker) , spent lots of time chatting with Kevin's sister and her husband, took our Christmas naps, and watched Hairspray. The girls were really excited to share their love of this movie with Grandma. We finally returned home and made our thank you phone calls. We are playing phone tag with Bubba but were able to reach Grammie and were all sad to find out that she's sick too :( B-U-M-M-E-R -- Hope you feel better soon! Whew! This might be the longest post in history maybe :) If you're looking for a new year's resolution and you live out of town...please consider starting a blog. They are really easy and I so look forward to staying in touch with my family and friends. It is truly the next best thing to being there! I wanted to thank everyone again for sharing our holiday with us. Hope yours was great too! Happy Birthday Jesus!

Monday, December 24, 2007

I almost forgot!

Yesterday...I completed the baking :) In my book, the baking is not done until the peanut butter blossoms (all 16 dozen) (note my terrific new stacking cooling racks!) and the cornflake wreaths are finished!I am certain my brothers will enjoy their cookies this year :) (Along with my husband who has already enjoyed quite a few!) We had Zoe & Jason over yesterday to build Gingerbread Christmas trees. We had so much fun. After the tree building and the washing down of TOTALLY sticky kids, we ate some pizza and watched the Grinch. It was such a fun night! We ventured out into the blustery cold to take them home and I was VERY grateful to return home to my cozy house! Merry Christmas!

The final list

I thought I'd scan in a copy of my Christmas card to post, but you know I can't find the last 10 I have to mail out...why is life like that? Why is there a sticky spot on the keyboard tray right where my wrist wrests? (Add cleaning the keyboard tray to my list!) SO! Here is the final list?!? Clean and scrub the kitchen top to bottom, clean and scrub the upstairs bathroom top to bottom, clean the family room and rearrange the furniture, vacuum the halls, polish the floors with that miracle orange cleaner (the best ever for hardwood), wash the entry rugs, wash the sticky keyboard tray!, pick up Kevin's gift (hence the need for the furniture rearrangement), stop at the hospital on way and deliver cookies to Sandi, find two gifts I've hidden so well that I can't remember where they are, wrap anything remaining, find the missing Christmas cards, pack and ship Mom's and Cassie's gift (sorry, I guess there's no way they'll arrive today :( OH! and cook for 15 :), buy new camera battery (the most important task of all) -- and then relish in all that is the holiday--time with family, excited kids, babies to snuggle, memories to make, pictures to take and scrapbook 10 years from now :) ...and then top it off with a peaceful candlelight service of carols at church. I better get started! I got up at 6 and haven't done a thing except feed the starving (at least they think so) animals! Have a blessed Merry Christmas! If all goes well, photos will be posted here tonight for all you out of town guys that can't be here. They should be up by midnight :)

Take a moment to pray

Please take a moment to pray today and to pray hard. My friend Sandi Johnson was admitted yesterday to the hospital with a blood clot in her jugular vein. Her worst nightmare (besides the cancer) was to spend Christmas in the hospital and there she is. Her mother's heart is so sad to not be providing the picture perfect Christmas for her kids that she had hoped for. Also, little Julian is trying to make it through his last Christmas on Earth...please pray for peaceful hearts for his family. Both Sandi and Julian can be followed on the links to the right of my blog. Julian's updates are posted on "Mom2my6pack" and Sandi blogs every day (as her health allows her to, even from the hospital) on "SandiJohnson" Before you sit down to you family's holiday celebration, please remember them in your prayers. I have about 32,000 extra Christmas cookies left over (ok maybe a slight exaggeration) but I am going to call the hospital and if I can, take a tray up for Sandi to have in her room. Riverside Church meets tonight at 10:30 for candlelight service, and Sandi will definitely be on the list there. Sandi -- God is powerful, more powerful than any of this. Hang in there...don't let go before the miracle~

Sunday, December 23, 2007

White Christmas, no wait Green, no wait White

I was a bit sad yesterday that it had gotten warm enough for all the snow to melt. With all the snow we've had so early this year I thought for sure a white Christmas was in order, then yesterday, well, it didn't look so promising. But wait! This yes snow, and 50 mph wind gusts...who could ask for more than that? Just kidding regarding the wind...but it sure is a lot prettier with a new layer of snow! {I'm dreaming of a white Christmas...just like the one's I used to know :) } I 'm baking my 4th dozen cookies this AM waiting for baby girl to arrive. Kristina heard the commotion and got up to join me...the house is quiet and sleepy -- that's the good part of getting up early! We did enjoy the warm weather yesterday so that Stephanie could climb up on the roof (again) and rehang our lights that had blown down in an earlier wind storm. We discovered that using last years hooks was not a good idea...they were a bit stretched out evidently and didn't hold the lights tight enough to withstand the wind. After checking 3 stores, we finally found new hooks yesterday at Target. With Stephanie's help our lights are back where they should be :) and are looking festive again! Check another thing off the list in preparation for tomorrow! Hopefully today EVERYTHING will be checked off except for a little last minute cleaning and cooking Christmas dinner...yummmmm! Baby girls daddy texted me that they're running a bit late today...guess I'll run out and get the paper :) Have a wonderful Sunday!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Cookie Marathon

At the Ruch house, we've been baking cookies for the past 7 hours. Since we got such a late start today (4:00) we had to table 2 varieties until tomorrow. This year we made cut out sugar cookies, pecan crescents, peanut butter blossoms, corn flake wreaths, cranberry cookies, snickerdoodles, thumbprint cookies, creme de menthe balls, chocolate crinkles, and strawberry sandwich cookies. I also baked 12 dozen cookies for my mother-n-law. She tends to make well done cookies :) so she asked me if I'd bake them for her...sure :) Each year along with the traditional favorites (cut out cookies, corn flake wreaths, peanut butter blossoms, and pecan crescents) I try out a few new recipes. This year I made chocolate crinkles (a favorite recipe of mine from the 1970 BH&G cookbook!) The pages of this cookbook are very yellow, but the cookies are still yummy! I make thumbprints and snickerdoodles that are "new" old favorites. I tried 3 totally new recipes this year. I tried the cranberry cookies, the creme de menthe balls and the strawberry sandwich cookies. The cranberry cookies will definitely return next year as they are T-A-S-T-Y! The creme de menthe cookies found themselves in the trash can. This was a no bake recipe and it was awful! I cannot describe what it looked like and tasted even worse! The strawberry sandwich cookies won't be assembled until tomorrow-- so the vote is still out on those.

Cookie baking was so much easier this year with my two helpers...
They did most of the rolling and all of the cutting. When it came time to do the intricate cutting, Mom was called in for reinforcement! Stephanie said...I think you better do those...These cookies are the strawberry sandwich cookies. You make one cookie for the bottom, layer strawberry jam, and then put the other cookie with the cut out on top, so the jam shows through...pretty! (I hope they taste as good as they look!)

With all this help, I had a few minutes to relax between batches which was nice! Tomorrow is decorating day...the day all the frosting is made, cookies are frosted, decorated, assembled, and of course tasted! My brothers are the happy recipients of most of the cookies along with my Christmas guests. I started this tradition when I couldn't afford Christmas gifts. My brothers used to bring their tins back empty in hope they would get filled again the next year :) So...I keep filling 'em. It just wouldn't be Christmas otherwise. I wanted to mention why we were so late starting the cookies....Well, first I "slept in" until 8:00 which felt remarkable, then I had to finish shopping. I had the hardest time finding what my son wanted for Christmas (he had 28 things on his list by the way). I just didn't think it'd be that hard! Target finally saved the day. They had I think almost all of the items on his list. (Obviously wish I had gone there first about a week ago!) Anyway, I am finally done, and that is a big relief. Tomorrow, I'm up @ 6 -- to finish baking the cookies. Then baby girl comes over at 7:00. My MIL is coming to help me clean, we will be going to church, and then I have Zoe and Jason coming over to decorate their gingerbread trees. Be on the lookout for super cute pics on the ole' blog tomorrow!

Finally, what does it mean when the popular Christmas gift of 5 years ago suddenly comes back to life?
Stephanie's furby has lived in her closet since losing interest in this toy a few years ago. If you are familiar with these toys, you know they sneeze, sleep, talk, yawn, giggle, cry and a myriad of other things. When my girls both had these we had to put them in the linen closet at night to get them to shut up so we could all sleep. Well, the other day I was waking Stephanie up and I sure heard a familiar sound that I just couldn't put my finger on. I pondered...what is that? "Steph, who is talking?" "Oh, my furby just started talking again the other day!" Craziest thing ever! I think Steph has a video of the crazy thing on her blog...It sure brought back memories of past Christmases and the hunt for the seasons "have to have" toy. I distinctly remember driving out to Kaybee toys for this guy, after calling all the toy stores in town and finding out they just got in a shipment! I wish I wasn't still playing those games, but after Christmas, I'll divulge the "have to have" toy of this season, and how it came to be...Until then...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Trying to stay caught up :)

Stephanie's Choir Concert was Monday night. Of course, my battery was low and went dead during the second number. I apologize for my shakiness...I must get a tripod for video---especially when using the zoom. The concert was terrific. They ended with their traditional "Let peace begin with me" in honor of the 9-11 attacks. The choirs began singing this song in 2001 and it is now the tradition. It is very moving with over 100 kids singing together. Harlem schools have such a wonderful fine arts program and I'm so honored to have my kids be a part of that. Kristina's first trombone concert was Tuesday--
I was a very proud mom! Grandma, Mom, Dad, Brennan and Steph all turned out to watch. She did a great job. After the concert we had to hurry home to finish up our teacher gifts, support staff gifts, and treat bags for Kristina's class. (It's my last child's last year in grade school, so the last time we'll be completing this task.) I was happy to be able to afford this, as I remember the year in the past I had $10 to buy teacher gifts for 3 kids. Talk about a challenge! I'm grateful to be able to give. Kristina worked hard putting together her treat bags...
I made the cards and assembled the teacher gifts...
The funnest part of the evening was the assembly of the almond bark pretzels. At first we thought we'll never get done with all these, and in fact we weren't done til after 10, but it sure was great. Dad was the almond bark melter, (and taste tester) , Stephanie and I were the almond bark fillers, and Kristina was the M&M placer. We had quite the assembly line going! Yummm! We made 12 canisters for the support staff at Rock Cut. Kristina said she heard one of her teacher's say to the principal..."Doesn't Kristina bring great gifts?!?" That was nice to hear. Through all of the work, we laughed and had a great family night. Check out my "green eyes!"
Last night I got most of the rest of my shopping done. I only have two presents left to get for Brennan and Arissa. I will be SO glad to be done with that and to not be shopping on Christmas Eve :) Tonight, we will make our Christmas Cookie shopping list and Christmas Eve Dinner Shopping list. This is such a good math activity for the kids. I told them, are your fraction skills ready? Because tonight we have to add the recipes and total them to figure out how much of each ingredient we will need. I bought the girls the cutest Santa aprons to wear complete with Chef's hats that say Ho-Ho-Ho (How cute is that?) -- AND, the best purchase of all, I got stacking wire cooling racks for my kitchen! Perfect for people like me with no counter space. They were 3 for $9 at Kohls which I thought was a terrific deal. (And they are non stick that!) I'm getting so excited for Christmas...Last night I finally found a baby remote control for baby girl. You know she gets real angry when I take the remote from her, so now she will have her own :) The only family concern right now is that my brother David hasn't returned my calls. If you are reading this...CALL ME! Still no news from Tracey--still trying hard to let go of that situation. But, above all that STILL excited about Christmas!! 4 days and counting...