Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Good-bye 2008, Hello 2009!

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right! Oprah Winfrey

Isn't that the truth. In the next couple days I plan to make a list of things I want to do better in 2009. A new year is a fresh start, a way to erase the bad and start over again. I know I have made some mistakes in 2008 and I know I will make some in 2009. I just hope I learned from them and can make some changes for the better. Once I get my list figured out I will post it and hopefully be held accountable for it. I know my list will be full of practical items as well as personal ones. I hope that you take a few moments to reflect on your 2008 as well and who you want to be in 2009.

May your 2009 be full of God's Blessings and please celebrate the New Year Safely!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Review: Ridemakerz



Previously I posted about the company RIDEMAKERZ and their cars. So, after we customized our cars on the computer I posted about our experience here
http://sincerelystacie.blogspot.com/search/label/coupon
We had the boys wait until Christmas to open them and actually put them together. They were very excited about their new cars. We did not get the remote control option so they could drive them around themselves. I would also suggest that you get a sound card different from the standard as the others have more options for sounds. But, the cars are WAY COOL! I think my husband was secretly wishing that he had one of his own. So, if you haven't checked out their website it is http://www.blogger.com/www.ridemakerz.com and for a few more days you can still use a coupon code to save $10 off a $30 purchase. Enter in 93474 in the checkout! This offer expires January 4, 2009.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas to You!

"Christmas waves a magic wand...and behold everything is softer and more beautiful." Norman Vincent Peale.

I wish each of you a Very Merry Christmas and may you remember the magical gift we were all given...the birth of Jesus Christ. I pray that you know Him and will celebrate His birth.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

JOY!

"The joy that you give to others is the joy that comes back to you." E.B. White

If you have run out of time and didn't get all your Christmas shopping done, the best gift you can give is yourself. Give someone a gift of your time, your attention, your ear, your heart, your shoulder, your hand. This will be a gift remembered long after they open that scarf or kitchen utensil. It is a gift of you. If you are creative...make a little certificate on paper and state what you are giving to that person. Does your friend need a day off, so you are going to give her a few hours of babysitting her children? Does your mom need some help cleaning out a closet? Does your sister need a night out for dinner? Does your neighbor need a meal delivered to her door? All of these ideas will cost you little more than your time and effort and what better a gift is that?

Review: Miles From Nowhere


Teenage Joon is a Korean immigrant living in the Bronx of the 1980s. Her parents have crumbled under the weight of her father's infidelity; he has left his family, and mental illness has rendered her mother nearly catatonic. So Joon, at the age of 13, decides she would be better off on her own, a choice that commences a harrowing and often tragic journey that exposes the painful difficulties of a life lived on the margins. Joon's adolescent years take her from a homeless shelter to an escort club, through struggles with addiction, to jobs selling newspapers and cosmetics, committing petty crimes, and finally, toward something resembling hope.
I received an ARC of this book from First Reads. This book will be available in January 2009.
This was a fast read, but an extremely depressing story. Joon is a teenage runaway in NYC in the 80's who falls into prostitution, drugs, and alcohol. She is frequently beaten, homeless, and continues to make poor decisions. Aside from all that, the reader is still drawn to Joon and her story is hard to put down. You want to think that she will kick her drug habit, find a job and maybe even reconnect with her parents. I won't spoil the storyline, but will say she does find some comfort by the end of the story in someone least expected. There is a hope for Joon at the end which is much needed. The story at times turned vulgar and gruesome. Joon confronts abortion as well as serious "cutting". These were the most difficult for me, personally, to read through. One passage I connected with was this...He had no idea that grief was a reward. That it only came to those who were loyal, to those who loved more than they were capable of. The story was one that I wanted keep reading, although the storyline wasn't enough to make it a fabulous read for me. The writer has a great talent for making the scenes believeable and visible to the reader. I appreciated the writer's talent to tell Joon's story in such a painful and poetic way. I do think this will be a much talked about book in 2009. I give this book 3 stars.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Movies






Last night we all snuggled up in front of the fireplace and the big screen tv and watch 'The Polar Express". This is an annual Christmas tradition for us as well as watching other Christmas movies. I store all of our Christmas movies and books away with all the other Christmas decorations so that we can only have them out at Christmas. I think that makes them more special when they are only out for 6 weeks at a time. Some of our favorite Christmas movies to watch are "Elf", The Wiggles "Yule Be Wiggling" and "Santa's Rockin", "Sponge Bob's Christmas", "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", and of course, "The Polar Express. Our daughter will be 4 in 3 weeks and last night, it was like she was watching "The Polar Express" for the first time. She became very emotional during the scenes where the boy is in danger, she was in awe of the North Pole and Santa, and ran over to her bell on the tree when the movie was over to make sure she could hear it ring! It was a joy to watch her experience it and know that she and her brothers feel that magic of Christmas.



This year we also added a new Christmas movie to our list, The Little House and the Prairie Christmas. This is one of my favorites. In the Christmas at Plum Creek, the children are all young and the family has very little to spend for Christmas. Everyone in the family is sacrificing in order to purchase a gift for someone else in the family. But, Laura makes the biggest sacrifice. It was a very good lesson for our kids and even my hubby got a little misty!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Review: Katie Brown Celebrates


A few weeks ago I won the book "Katie Brown Celebrates" from the book blog bookingmama.blogspot.com and the Hachette Book Group. I received it the other day and couldn't wait to look through it. I LOVE cookbooks! I could sit and read through cookbooks all day long. But, this is more than a cookbook, it is a party planner and a cookbook all in one. The photos are amazing and make everything look so easy and beautiful. I am hosting my Niece-to-be's wedding shower in April and there are a few ideas from this book that I would like to incorporate. There are also some great ideas for a kids party as well. There is a theme for each month including decorations, food, and even party favors/crafts. Some of the recipes are so easy I was amazed how they end up looking so delicious and elaborate! I can't wait to try some of them! So, if there is someone in your life who loves to throw parties, cook, or create unique crafts, this book is for them! You can go here to get more information about this book http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/books_9780316118187.htm

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Snow Is Magical!


We had a snowstorm yesterday and another expected tomorrow. This morning when I woke up everything was quiet and covered in that footprint free, perfect snow. This quote from J.B. Priestley describes it quite well for me... "The first fall of snow...is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of world and wake up in another quite different." The snow may cause disrupted travel plans, traffic hassles, school delays, or cancellations of events, but snow is also a beautiful event that not everyone in the world gets to experience. Even though I may not always like it and by February can be down right tired of it, I do appreciate the fact that I live in Iowa and get to experience it. Snow is a magical gift and today I am enjoying it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A House Full of Memories!


Yesterday we celebrated the day we purchased our house. I thought it was a fun way to remember the day we brought the kids out to see their new house and all the memories we have created here over the last 5 years. I still remember the boys running from empty room to empty room saying what each room would be. Then the next night we came out and put up our tree in the empty living rooom and decorated it. It was important to me to have that done since we were moving so close to Christmas. So, this year we had a special supper of tacos and then all of us made a gingerbread house. We shared some special memories that we have had in our home. I am so grateful we chose to move to this little community. We love the school system, we love and appreciate all of our neighbors, and we truly are grateful for our friends. It is hard to believe we have only been out here for 5 years, but the friends we have made I know will last a lifetime. This is the house that I expect to live in for the rest of my life. I can imagine our kids coming home here with their own families. Over the years it may look different, have different furniture (except the couch in the basement is stuck there forever), or new paint colors, but it will always be home to us and a place where they can feel safe and loved!




Monday, December 15, 2008

This is what is so great about small town Iowa!

This weekend was our small town of 700's Christmas celebration. It is a chance for us to get everyone together and share in the Christmas spirit. On Saturday, they served pancakes, eggs, and sausage to everyone and then each one of the kids picked out a toy and visited with Santa. Then on Sunday, there was a lighting contest as well as a silent auction for 14 decorated trees that various businesses donated. Chili and Chicken Noodle Soup and homemade cinnamon rolls were served. A wonderful opportunity to get together with your neighbors, your friends and celebrating Christmas together! This is one of the things I love about small town Iowa living! We were able to win a bid on one of the trees...a sport related tree that the boys were very excited about! Here is a short video clip from the weekend. Our kids aren't featured but, our friends kids are! Van Horne is such a great community. Come check us out....there are even building lots available!
video

Lands End Survey Opportunity




Mom Select and Lands End are offering an opportunity to win a Lands End $100 Gift Card. All you have to do is fill out their very quick survey. It only took me 4 minutes to complete the survey. Click on the link to complete the survey....http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=v1XWko6pU98QYbCX2rp9hw_3d_3d Once complete you will be entered to win the $100 gift card! Good luck! The survey must be completed by December 19, 2008, to be entered into the drawing!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Stress Is Over!


Tonight I got my haircut (very relaxing for me), and then went to Toys R Us where I was able to COMPLETE my Christmas shopping, at least the stuff I am responsible for. (I can't speak for my husband.) It was amazing that I found everything I was looking for...exactly what I wanted...some even "on sale"... for our kids as well as other kids I am buying for. What a great feeling to walk out of the store knowing the stress of Christmas is over! I head on over to Starbucks for my favorite treat...an eggnog latte and then on home only to find that....the kids are all in bed AND ASLEEP! WOW! So, I carry in the packages, kiss my husband and head to the gift wrapping station where I (pause) WRAP ALL THE PRESENTS AND PLACE THEM UNDER THE TREE! It is amazing! Tomorrow is DECEMBER 12! Woo hoo! I am just feeling so good right now that I had to share my joy with you. What a great feeling to have the stress of all that shopping gone. Now next week I can spend my time doing what I really love to do....baking!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It's a Snow Day!

Today was our first No School Snow Day of this school year. Our kids didn't have school on Monday for a prescheduled teacher work day...so this is day 2 of them being home! I decided we needed to be a little more structured today or we might all go crazy! So, this morning Bennett and Reagan helped me make some cookies and muffins (Patrick chose to play video games). This gives us a little head start on our Christmas baking. We had a great day with minimal fighting, good conversation, and a lot less stress! I am hoping to be able to get back to our normal routine tomorrow as I am sure the kids are too. I am going to share our cookie recipe from today! I got this recipe from my friend Jodi and we think they are yummy!

Jodi's Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
2 C sugar
1/2 C milk
1 stick margarine
3-4 tsp cocoa
1/2 C peanut butter
3 C quick oatmeal
1-2 tsp vanilla

Bring the sugar, milk, margarine, and cocoa to a boil and boil for 1-1.5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add peanut butter, oatmeal, and vanilla. Mix all together and drop onto waxed paper with a spoon. Let cool.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Merry CHRISTmas!

I wanted to introduce you to a song and a group that our family loves! The Go Fish Guys are a Christian group of 3 guys who "make music that kids love and won't drive parents bonkers". If the kids and I have tasks to complete...I frequently put a Go Fish CD on because it is sure to get us moving and makes our chores more fun! Check out their website at www.gofishguys.com

Here is a video of one of their Christmas songs talking about keeping the "Christ" in Christmas. Everywhere you go, people are saying "Happy Holidays", but keep in mind that Christmas is all about the birth of Christ, and make sure you are saying "Merry Christmas" to everyone you meet.


video

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Snowman Idea and Storytime





A few months ago I offered to lead a storytime for toddlers at our small town library. So, in November I held my first storytime with 4 little ones. We learned about leaves and it was a fun hour in my day! This month my theme is "Snow". So, thanks to my friend Tina, a former teacher and current stay-at-home mom who has all the best ideas, I am giving each of the kids one of these treats to take home with them. I don't remember what Tina called them, but I just thought they were the cutest! So, if you need to take treats to school, send goody bags for a party, or have gifts to give...here is your great idea for the day...heck, maybe even the week!

SNOWMAN COCOA
1 ziploc bag
2 T cocoa mix
11 or so mini marshmellows
1 snowman peep (yes they make these...I had no idea)
All you need to do is add 1 cup of hot water!

So, I hope the kids like them tomorrow and I plan to file this idea away for future use! Thanks Tina!

I will be reading SNOW by Cynthia Rylant who is the author of the Henry and Mudge Book series and ALL YOU NEED FOR A SNOWMAN by Alice Schertle which is one of our kids favorites.






Monday, December 1, 2008

First snowfall of the Season!



This weekend we had our first snowfall of the season. The snow was wet and perfect for snowman making and snowball throwing. The kids couldn't decide what to do first....decorate the tree (as we had originally planned) or go out and build the snowman! Both got accomplished and we have a new addition to our front yard!