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Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010 .. Beginning Again!

To say that ten years has gone by doesn't seem overly monumental .. until you begin to recount the things that have occurred in that period of time. Did all of that really happen in that span? It did! And you know what it tells me? Life is too short .. time is gone in a blink .. and life should be lived and not wasted.

Rick and I met in the year 2000 and were married in 2001. Our family was created during the last decade. Our older two went from children to teenagers. And our little two were born and are now the ages that Kyndal and Dawson were when Rick and I met. How strange!

In the course of 10 short years I gave up my career to devote my life to my family full time. Rick developed himself professionally to the point that he is literally a force to be reckoned with in his field.

We've lived with minimal. We've lived in the "middle". And we've lived in extravagance. And not one of them has been any better or worse than the other. One thing is clear, though, extravagance does not equal joy.

In this period of time I've pulled away from family and then drawn closer. I have believed that my way of living was the only way of living and then realized that it just isn't true. I have been in a place of self-superiority and come to a place where I realize just how pretentious it all has been.

I have learned that even the greatest of marriages almost fail (and some actually do), that raising your children to love God and with strict moral values does not mean they will go the way you want them to go, and that friendships change because people continually do.

Most of all I have learned that for 10 years I have done nothing but live how I thought others wanted me to live, hardly taking the time to ask myself what would make me happy and bring me true joy. I have looked as though, on the surface, I have "had it all", but realize I don't have anything if I don't experience true joy with what I do have.

The years of '09 seem to be great years of change for me. In 1989, I graduated from high school and embarked on my true independence. In 1999, I started another new life when I divorced Kyndal and Dawson's dad. And in 2009, I find myself ready to start something new again. I don't know what those new things are, yet. But, you can be sure that Rick and I will dream and discuss and plan and then do!

Life is too short .. and there's lots to do in the next 10 years!

In 10 years, my children will be 25, 23, 16 and 14. Rick and I will have been married just under 20 years. My parents will be retired. All of my siblings will be 40 and older. We will definitely all be in new stages in our lives. What will we do between now and then? I pray time is not wasted on things that just do not matter.

Have a wonderful New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What Would You Do if You Could Do Exactly What You Wanted?

Would you be living where you are? Would you have the job you have? Would you be doing the things you are doing?

Or would you make drastic changes?

Why is it that we generally think we have to live the life we are living .. that we are restricted in our dreams?

I don't have an answer for why we do that. But I do know that it's a crock!

Rick and I have often said that we would love to pack it, and them, all up and move to a tropical island. And we're serious about that dream.

This week while hanging out at my parents' we watched House Hunters International on HGTV and oohed and aahed at the tropical lifestyles couples were choosing to live .. retirees, families, etc.

And then we got to talking ... why not? What is really keeping us from actually moving our entire family to a warmer climate with a slower lifestyle? I'll tell you what .. nothing! At least nothing if we are willing to be patient.

Rick and I wouldn't be able to consider it until Kyndal and Dawson were graduated from high school because their dad would never allow me to move them to another country. And, my niece will graduate the same year as Dawson and my parents and sister want her to be able to finish high school in the states. That's in six years.

In six years ...

... My dad will be able to collect full retirement.
... My parents will have enough time to pay off their home and other property to purchase their retirement home.
... Kyndal, Dawson and Rylee will be out of high school and able to make their own decisions about whether they come or not.
... Eli and Brynne will be entering middle school (and at a good age to start growing up on the islands.)
... Rick will have had enough time to develop his career to a point that he could work from anywhere.
... I'd have enough time to get my teaching degree to teach if I wanted/needed to.
... We'd have enough time to save some money for a down payment on a house there.
... Tim and Shawna (my brother and sil) would have enough time to get ready for a move there.
... We'd all have enough time to learn Spanish semi-fluently.

Why Spanish???

Because we are seriously talking about packing up our entire family, including my sister and aunt and all pets, and moving to the Dominican Republic in 6 years. And we're serious. That would have anywhere from 11-13 of us moving, as a family, to one beautiful location. The Dominican Republic is a place where we could all be happy .. it has something for all of us. And that's no easy thing to accomplish.

For starters, we want to take a vacation there to check things out. We're talking about all of us renting a large villa in Cabarete, Dominican Republic, in the summer of 2011, for a week.

Sounds amazing, doesn't it?

Looks amazing, doesn't it?

What would you do if you could do exactly what you wanted to do? I say, "Do it!" Life's too short!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Nicole's Daybook

I've decided to change the title of my weekly Daybook entry to Nicole's Daybook.

For Today ~ December 29, 2009

Outside my window... it's not my window. I'm in Missouri at my parents'. Outside their window it is overcast, snowy and cold.

I am thinking... about how I need to call my doctor about my prescription first thing this a.m.

I am thankful ... that 2009 is coming to a close and that my busy "quarter" is over and that in January I only have TWO things on the calendar for the entire month, so far!

I am wearing... my pjs and slippers.

I am remembering... the whirlwind of activities we have done this fall and beginning of winter ... 5 big birthday parties (including my dad's 60th), a huge fall craft party at school, Halloween and all it entails, Thanksgiving, Christmas and all its celebrations. It was a successful and exhausting holiday season.

I am creating... my dad's digital picture frame library before I leave this week.

I am going... to go with my sister today to get her yorkie, Sophie, groomed.

I am reading... The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks (YES, still, still, still ... again), and I swear I'm going to read it this week!

I am hoping... that we don't get anymore bad weather so I can easily get back home on Thursday.

On my mind... is all of the organization and cleaning I need to do at home.

From the learning rooms... although it's Christmas break, Brynne is still in full swing with learning words and writing.

Pondering these words ... Lots of words from the kids that this was the best Christmas ever!

From the kitchen... we're enjoying all of my dad's meals (chili one night, homemade stir fry last night .. can't wait for tonight!)

Around the house... there are dog toys and kid toys strewn all around.

One of my favorite things... is just sitting on the couch, drinking my coffee and relaxing.

A few plans for the rest of the week... we're staying here in Missouri until Thursday morning and then heading back to Oklahoma in time for New Year's Eve. That night we are taking the kids to a hotel to swim and spend the night. We'll take them to Toys R Us to spend some of their Christmas money and out to dinner. I'm hoping we'll drive through the Rhema Bible College Christmas lights. Then on New Year's Day we're taking them to see the new Chipmunks movie, then going home to get the house completely back in order for the new year and re-start of school and our normal schedules.

From my picture journal.

Santa and Mrs. Taulman sneaking a Christmas smooch.

Get to know other special women at The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Menu Plan Monday ~ Post Christmas Edition

The beauty of the week after Christmas is that the kids and I always spend it in Missouri at my parents', so they feed us! I left Rick with lots of leftovers from our Christmas dinner (some turkey, stuffing, broccoli cheese rice casserole) and some leftover sausage, potatoes and corn on the cob from his company holiday shrimp boil.

We'll be home Thursday, but we're taking Eli and Brynne to a hotel for the night. We'll take them to eat somewhere fun (for them) like Chuck-E-Cheese or Incredible Pizza.

On New Year's Day we'll be back home for the weekend. We will probably just eat lots of easy things and more leftovers. I am pretty sure it's time for a freezer and pantry purge anyway. I think there are some good things in there that can be put together for weekend meals. If nothing else, we'll have some paninis or breakfast one night.

I will be looking forward to planning the next week's menu over the weekend, and will get my grocery shopping done on Sunday for the week.

Enjoy your week! I know I'll be enjoying my week where my dad cooks every night. Last night we had chili and fried potatoes!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas with Kyndal ... finally!

We were planning to drive to Missouri, to my parents', on Saturday. But I had been pretty sick both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, despite all the festivities, and hadn't gotten us packed like I needed to. With the snow we were afraid that the travel would be long and that we would end up driving after dark, so we put off our travel until today. Rick had to travel for business yesterday, so last night the kids and I got bathed and jammied by 7:00 and curled up on the couch with hot chocolate to watch Polar Express. Then we turned in early so we could get an early start this morning.

The roads were actually almost completely cleared until we turned onto my parents' road, so travel was pretty easy.

When we got to mom and dad's, Kyndal was already there. We were all really excited to see each other! We got right to opening presents with her, and with my family.

She was very excited to get her gifts.

She got a North Face coat, a Victoria's Secret Missouri Tigers hoodie, some new sheets, a customized poster of her and her horse, a necklace, some fingerless gloves and cool bobby pins (from Eli and Brynne), some sleeping shorts (from Dawson), some Missouri Tigers sleep pants, some VS panties and her stocking stuffers.

Then we did our gift exchange with my parents, sister and niece. I'm always excited to give my gifts. This year it was lots of photo gifts (as usual) with some extra goodies.

Dawson and Kyndal will be going with their dad tomorrow for the rest of Christmas break. The little guys and I will stay until Thursday morning and then head home to ring in the new year with Rick.

A Mommy Blogger (Me) Who Can Relate to 'Confessions of a Mommy Blogger' and so on ....

While sitting in the waiting room at the office of my OB/GYN, I picked up a copy of Wondertime Magazine. An article about blogging caught my eye, especially the lead-in ...

"Blogging is narcissistic — and time-consuming. It gives strangers (not to mention the in-laws) ammunition for criticizing our parenting choices. And one day it could really mortify our kids. Here's why we do it anyway."

This article is called "Confessions of a Mommy Blogger" written by Catherine Newman .. and it's right on.

If you still read my blog and still wonder why I do it and why I am so obsessed with it (or if you are as obsessed with it as I am but can't figure out how to explain why to others), read her article here. It says so eloquently why I do what I do, and why millions of other women do it to.

Like when she says this:

"In the scrapbook version of my summer vacation, I would paste together a sunny collage of sea and sand and smiling kids. In the blog version, I might be more inclined to mention the steaming beach Port-A-John, where the final quarter of Birdy's sandwich ended up tumbling into the reeking blackness. If scrapbooking is the urge to put it all together, blogging might be the urge to take it all apart. Blogging might not make life tidier, but it keeps life in your memory, and keeps it real."

And this next statement is oh-so-true:

"I've checked for reader comments as obsessively as I once stuck my eighth grade hand into the echoing hollows of our mailbox. (Anything for me? A letter from Shaun Cassidy detailing his undying love?) Every week for five years, dozens and sometimes hundreds of women have written to me to say, in essence, "I hear you, sister." And I have just loved this — the feeling that I'm not alone, the reassurances that I'm doing my best .. "

And there's always the argument about how our families feel about us blogging about them. What she says next hits home:

"But my children might feel differently. A teenage Ben might one day balk over the fact that tens of thousands of people have chuckled about his pooping in the stairway. I console myself with the idea that, hey, teenagers are going to resent the very way we take air into our lungs, so why not give them something to really resent? (I do picture these kids in college, though, turning their blogged childhoods into a drinking game. "Everyone whose mom wrote about their diaper leaking ... CHUG!") But the truth is that while I may tell funny stories about the children, the only person I reveal over and over again, the person whose neurotic habits and flaws and struggles lurk in everything I write, is me."

And finally, through the words of the anonymous author of the blog Bub and Pie, these sentiments:

"'I go through my day in a kind of 'compose post' mode, where I'm actively selecting words to describe my children — their beauty, their quirkiness, their inner lives — and that process helps me to see them, to be mindful of who they are.' Writing gives me a way to step back from my life and really see it."

So, if you read this and still don't understand why I allow this blogging to be such a huge part of my life, it's obvious that others really get it. And that's exactly why I do it.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Slip Slidin' Away

I took the kids into town this afternoon to go to Gamestop to pick up some new Nintendo DS games. First of all it was nightmare there because they were having a B2/G1 on all used games. But we found our games and stood in line for 45 minutes! When it was finally our turn they realized that they didn't have one of the games I wanted (the only one Brynne could play). I was so frustrated because I had already stood in line that long. Anyway, I ran and grabbed a game I thought she might be able to play so we could get our free one, and we were out. Geez!

Then we stopped and got crickets for the lizards since we'll be leaving town tomorrow.

On the way home, we were driving at a steady and slow pace. I wasn't accelerating at any rapid speeds and wasn't using my brakes at all. Literally in a second we were in the ditch. Must have hit a sheet of ice .. I don't know. Brynne said, "Oh no, now we can't go home!" Eli said, "Nice shot mommy."

And we were stuck!

The truck behind us stopped and came back to talk to me and said he thought he could pull me out. That angel and his family did exactly that. Dawson said, "Give him some money!" I asked the man if I could pay him something. He just smiled and said, "Merry Christmas!" I started crying. He and his family were so kind. Restored my faith in humanity for a moment.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A White Christmas!

As with a lot of families in the Midwest, our Christmas plans were changed because of the weather. Although we loved waking up to a blanket of snow, we were sad that my family (including Kyndal) weren't able to make the drive here to spend Christmas Day with us. This is the first year in Kyndal's life that I haven't spent Christmas with her. I was very sad, but there was nothing we could do about the weather. So she got the opportunity to spend the day with her dad.

The kids got up around 8:00 a.m. with lots of hugs and a "Merry Christmas" and we ran into the living room to see what Santa brought! Since it was just the five of us this year, we took turns opening our gifts so we could enjoy them more.

After about an hour this is what our living room looked like.

And this is what everybody got for Christmas from Santa.

Of course the Pink Nintendo DS and orange kitty were Brynne's favorite gifts. She also got a Tag Reading System, some Days of the Week underwear, a cd and DS game, lots of little goodies and an abacus (yes I know that sounds weird, but she loves to add.)

Eli has played all day with his new blue DS, and his Uno Moo game, and his Hot Wheels, and has watched his America's Funniest Home Videos dvd about 5 times. He even got to wear his new snow boots and gloves today!

Dawson said this was the best Christmas he's ever had! He got a full drum set, some cool necklaces, a DS game, a Hurley coat, an Element beanie and wallet and some Kiss rubber duckies (that I picked up at Rick's company party Dirty Santa exchange.)

Rick and I always have so much fun opening our gifts from each other, and from the kids. I'll spare you the photos of us, though!

Mama got the crock pot she's been wanting, a new cutlery set (that I broke in today), some homemade gifts from the kids, some gloves from Dawson, a hefty Hobby Lobby gift card, a "potpourri" of kitchen utensils and such (much needed and appreciated!) a magazine subscription to Southern Living, and a couple of cool t-shirts.

Rick got lots of photo gifts this year. I had a photographer come to our house and take some professional portraits of me that I had made into a collage. He loved them! I also had a collage made of pictures of the kids and a personalized calendar for his office. He also got his usual pjs, gourmet green olives, a new beanie, socks, the Glee soundtrack (we love that show) and a magazine subscription to Golf Digest, and an OSU visor from Dawson.

After the gift explosion, the kids bundled up in the 19 degree weather and went out to play (briefly).

The kids played all day, and I snuck in a nap. Rick cleaned up and I spent most of the afternoon working on dinner. We had turkey, homemade dressing, broccoli-cheese rice casserole and rolls. It was yummy!

We had such a nice day together as a family, probably one of the nicest and most relaxing Christmases ever.

We're heading to Missouri tomorrow to see my family, and to see Kyndal (who I have missed.)

Right now Rick and I are sitting on the couch watching Elf.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve

Last night we celebrated Christmas Eve with Rick's sister and her family. We always have such a fun time with Milton, Julie, Tom and Angela. We ate our traditional Mexican dinner of enchiladas, salsa, chicken fajitas and tacos. We watched "Christmas Vacation" and the kids opened gifts. At the end of the night Dawson, Eli and Brynne threw out reindeer food for the reindeer.

Eli has been arguing with me for weeks that it always snows on Christmas. Well, we live in Oklahoma, so that actually never happens. But, guess what ....

Eli was so excited he couldn't stand it! He drug each of us in rotation to the front door to look at the snow drifts about ten different times throughout the night.

Then it was time for bed and for Brynne to do what she had promised ... to give her "keys" away to Santa. She collected all of them and put them in a gift bag.

Then she wrote a note to Santa.

When the reality of the situation hit, she started crying. I wanted to give in so bad, but decided to press on. Her and Eli slept in Dawson's room with him, like they do on most weekends and especially on Christmas Eve. When we went up to check on them before we turned in, Brynne was sleeping on the floor with Dawson. (She made it all night and was so excited this morning when she got up and saw that Santa left her the orange kitty she had asked for if she gave up her keys.)

Rick and I did our traditional gift-wrap-a-thon after the kids went to bed, and we turned in around midnight.

Merry Christmas from Our House to Yours!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Santa Message Revealed

I blogged about the Santa message you could register for and receive here.

Last night I showed the videos to the kids.

First we watched Dawson's video from Santa and found that Dawson is on the Naughty List. Santa told him that he still had time to get on the Nice List. Eli and Brynne were wide-eyed about Dawson's fate!

Then we watched Eli and Brynne's messages. When Eli found out his Nintendo DS was on the list, and that he was on the Nice List, he jumped up in the air and said, "yes!" Brynne just stood and stared in awe at what she was hearing. When she saw her picture and found out she was on the Nice List, she just smiled and continued to stare. She was bewildered at what she was witnessing.

When we were all done Eli started crying. I mean huge tears! He was so upset! I asked, "What's wrong buddy?" He said, "Dawson is just not with me!" He was devastated that Dawson was on the Naughty List. I assured him that Dawson still had time to get on the Nice List, but Eli said, "There's not enough time!" I told him that maybe he could help Dawson all day tomorrow and if he sees him being naughty to remind him.

He went to bed with red, sad eyes.

These two little ones believe! And Dawson said, "The sad part is that if there really was a Nice or Naughty List, I would probably be on the naughty one."

There's still time, Dawson ... there's still time!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

Since yesterday was Eli's birthday, I decided to devote all of my posts to him. So, this week's Daybook is coming a day late. And I'm going to skip my What a Kid! Wednesday post, because it's Christmas week and by default all my kids are great this week!

For Today ~ December 23, 2009

Outside my window... it's just finished raining.

I am thinking... about how Christmas really starts for me today, because we finished the last of the birthdays yesterday. I just can't fully be thinking "Christmas" until that happens. So now, today, I have lots of preparations to begin.

I am thankful ... for family and getting to spend Christmas with them.

I am wearing... my pjs and robe. I intentionally slept in today (if you call 8:30 sleeping in), and am needing to get moving for a busy day. Gotta get in my computer time, though.

I am remembering... Christmas traditions of my childhood: Going to my Grandma Alice's on Christmas Eve (loved that Christmas celebration!), then to Calhoun to some friends' with a huge group of people until really late that night; doing Santa on Christmas morning; then how the Christmas tree was undecorated and in the ditch by noon on Christmas Day before we went to my Grandma Joan's in the afternoon.

I am creating... a frenzy of wrapping paper and such today. Gotta get those gifts wrapped!

I am going... to doctor's appointments the next two days to have all of my womanlies checked .. Merry Christmas to me!

I am reading... The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks (YES, still, still ... again), and it's my goal to finish it next week at my parents'.

I am hoping... that the weather in Missouri doesn't get bad over the next two days so that my family (including my daughter) is able to make it here Christmas Day.

On my mind... is when we will be allowed to move and what we are to do in the meantime.

From the learning rooms... NOTHING! Although I am finishing working with Eli on learning his full name, birthday, parents' names, telephone number and address so that when he gets back to school he can recite it to join his class' High Five Club.

Pondering these words ... "Oh mommy, it is so very perfect!" ~ Eli when he came in and saw the extremely amateur on-the-fly all-taped-up Mario Brothers centerpiece I made for his birthday party. It was all worth it at that moment.

From the kitchen... we're eating lots of yummies this week!!! Can't wait! I am also going to make homemade Almond Joy balls sometime today. You use mashed potatoes .. isn't that strange?

Around the house... there are Hot Wheels cars everywhere, and a huge Hot Wheels trick track that's hooked to my dishwasher door and runs the full length of the kitchen into the dining room.

One of my favorite things... is the true belief of Eli and Brynne that Santa is watching them and really going to come bring them presents! I have used the "Oh, you better not do that because Santa is watching" trick like crazy and as soon as I say it they straighten right up and say, "I'm sorry mommy". I have been asked several times if I think they are still on the Nice list. I think they might still be.

A few plans for the rest of the week... I have a doctor's appointment today and then am getting my nails done. Most of the day today will be devoted to wrapping presents. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and Rick's sister and her family will come to celebrate with us as we always do on Christmas Eve. We'll be up at the crack of dawn, or before, on Christmas morning and my family and Kyndal are (hopefully) coming to spend the day and night. We'll spend the whole day eating, and hopefully playing some cards. On Saturday the kids and I will get up and head to Missouri to spend several days at my parents'. While we're gone Rick will take down all of the Christmas decorations and get them stored. When I come home, my house will be back to normal. (I love it that he is an organization freak!)

From my picture journal.

My best attempt at a Mario Brothers centerpiece.

Get to know other special women at The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Super Birthday for a Super Kid!

Not only is today Eli's birthday, but today was also his birthday party. He was so specific this year as to who he wanted to invite to his party. It's fun for him to have real friends now. School as been so good for him! And it was such a great group of kids! It is clear why he chose these specific ones. They had a great time!

He has been waiting so patiently for this day! Brynne's birthday is in August, Dawson's is in October and Kyndal's is in November. He has had the hardest time waiting for his birthday this year! We created a countdown chain to Christmas and included a blue chain for his birthday. Here is is tearing it off!

Daddy and Eli got up early this morning to go have a donut date.

When they got home it was time to get ready for his party.

We invited his friends to our local Putt-n-Jump for two hours of Open House playtime. (Just a note. If you have a child with a birthday around one of their Open Houses, it is so worth it to schedule your party on that day instead of paying the $175 or so for an organized party. I seriously paid $74 for 11 kids to jump.)

After Putt-n-Jump we came back to our house for his Super Mario party and ate pizza (Mario's favorite italian food), Princess Peach cheese puffs, Yoshi juice (sugar free cherry koolaid) and mushroom cupcakes.

Then Eli opened his gifts.

He had such a good time with his friends! And that's what it was all about! It was a great day!

Tonight we are just taking it easy at home and having dinner together.

My Sweet Boy is Six!

At 5:00 a.m. I checked into the hospital, full of anticipation and excitement!

The induction was to begin at 7:00 and I was thrilled to be having a VBAC (vaginal delivery after c-section) because I had a c-section with Dawson 7 years earlier.

I was tiny. At 38 1/2 weeks I was only measuring at 35 cm. (This had actually caused a stir of concern at about 32 weeks to the point of determining whether I would need to deliver much earlier because of the baby's failure to thrive.) When I checked in, the nurse felt my stomach and just couldn't believe how small he was for a full term baby.

Everything was going good .. for a time. But I started having a strange pain quickly. They went ahead and gave me an epidural when I was only dilated 2 cm. And things went along okay .. for a time. Then I failed to progress and his heart rate started to drop with the contractions. And I started to bleed, unexplainably. We carried on the rest of the morning, and into the afternoon. But then his heart dropped off the chart and started back up at only 20 bpm with a slow climb. When this happened the second time the nurse came in and shut off the Pitocin. The doctor came in and said that we were going to need to do an emergency c-section, that she needed to get him out.

Two problems .. I had already had an epidural so could not, now, have a spinal for the c-section. And it was now just three days before Christmas and I was getting ready to have an emergency c-section. I knew that meant I was going to be in the hospital over Christmas. I was devastated for my other two children!

The doctor upped my epidural as much as she could. I would like to say that I felt nothing during the surgery. However, I felt as though a roast was being carved and I was the roast. I felt every tug of the scalpel. But out he came with a tiny scream.

Eli Jackson Taulman was 5 lbs. 11 ozs. and 19 inches long. He was tiny! I thought, "What am I supposed to do with a baby that small?" My other two were 8 pounds.

I started sobbing. My doctor looked at me and said, "You will go home on Christmas Eve if you want to." And I wanted to. So, I was determined to feel well and recover well so I could go home, and I did on Christmas Eve afternoon. We spent our first Christmas at home with our Boogie Bear. It was so special!

And you can see that no one else was happy he was home.

And every day since then has been just as special. There have always been challenges with his developmental delays, but we always pull through to the other side.

Eli was born so small because my placenta basically stopped working. He was an IUGR baby (Intrauterine Growth Retardation). He wasn't small because he wasn't being fed. God created him to be small so he wouldn't need as much nourishment. Isn't God amazing? Not only did God know every blond hair on his over-sized head, but He purposefully made him small so he could survive in an environment where he wasn't receiving all a typical baby would need. God provides for our specific needs even before we enter this world.

Today is Boogie's 6th birthday. I stand amazed at what this little guy has overcome and accomplished in his short 6 years. Everybody knows Eli, and I mean everybody! His smile draws you in from across the room and if you get close enough his hug draws you in even closer.

I love you Eli Taulman. You are a bright spot in my day. And you are perfect!

Happy Birthday, Boogie Bearapotomus!


Monday, December 21, 2009

Santa Message

Calling all parents ... whether your kids still believe in Santa or not ...

My new friend Beth e-mailed me and told me about a website where you can input information about your kids and receive a personalized video message from Santa. It is the cutest thing! I did one for Eli and Brynne that is so sweet! They will be thrilled! I also did one for Dawson because they have a "naughty list" option. It is hilarious! My little ones always say Dawson is on the naughty list, so they will get a huge kick out of his video message.

Thanks so much, Beth!

If you have time you really need to check this out! Click here to go to the site.

Be good!

Menu Plan Monday ~ Christmas Week

I am so excited for this week's cooking! My refrigerator and freezer are bursting at the seams, ready for all they are to provide for our family!

We always have a Feliz Navidad celebration on Christmas Eve (only because we eat Mexican food) with Rick's sister and family. Then I have the pleasure of cooking lots and lots of food for my family on Christmas Day.

Also, Eli's birthday is tomorrow. I usually let the kids pick the meal they want for their birthday. But, I forgot to ask Eli this year! See, it's been busy around here. So Tuesday is subject to change. Although he really does love what I have planned for dinner that night.

Here's what's going on this week in the kitchen:

Monday ~ BBQ chicken sandwiches (** Update: these were so good! I bought a bag of frozen chicken legs at Aldi for about $2.99. I cooked them in the crockpot for about 4 hours, then drained off the broth to use with my stuffing on Christmas. I pulled all the meat off the legs and put it back in the crockpot with some barbeque sauce. Then I slow-cooked it on low for a couple more hours. We ate the barbeque on hamburger buns with a slice of American cheese. Yum!!)

Tuesday ~ Cheesy chicken and rice casserole

Wednesday ~ FFY (Fend for Yourself)

Thursday ~ Feliz Navidad celebration: Julie's famous enchiladas and salsa, chicken fajitas and beef tacos, homemade guacamole, brownie bites for dessert

Friday ~
Late Breakfast: Annual biscuits and gravy and cinnamon rolls.
Early Dinner: Roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, homemade stuffing, dad's famous noodles, broccoli rice casserole, green bean casserole, rolls, pimento cheese and celery (appetizer), homemade pumpkin pie for dessert

Saturday ~ Breakfast before everybody leaves: Homemade jalapeno and cheddar sausage rolls

Sunday ~ Mom and dad start feeding me and the kids! Rick will have lots of leftovers.

Boy, I'm hungry! I'd better get up and get started preparing for Eli's birthday party tomorrow. I've got to get cupcakes and decorations made.

Have a Merry Menu this week!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

What We've Been Up To This Weekend

Rick has been gone this weekend, as well as Dawson, so the other kids and I have been home all weekend alone. It's been a nice weekend, with lots of relaxing, watching holiday movies and playing. But it's also been full of lots of projects and work.

Please disregard the fact that my 4 1/2 year old has a pacifier in her mouth and one in her hand. She has promised that she is giving them all to Santa this year in exchange for a (stuffed) orange kitty. Keep your fingers crossed!

Eli and Brynne are thrilled that this is the first weekend of a two-week Christmas break from school. They stayed in their pjs yesterday until about 5:00 p.m.

I got in a cleaning mood and headed upstairs to deep clean. I don't do that very often (get in the mood or clean upstairs). Our upstairs is mostly devoted to Kyndal and Dawson. Their bedrooms are up there and they have a living room. The playroom is also up there. Kyndal and Dawson are responsible for taking care of cleaning their bedrooms and bathrooms, putting away their laundry and generally cleaning the upstairs. They do an adequate job, when asked. But sometimes it just gets to the point that I need to get up there and scrub. And that's what I did yesterday. Brynne cleaned up the playroom and Kyndal spent a lot of time in her bedroom getting it cleaned up. And I also got all my laundry for the week done, the downstairs bathrooms cleaned and the dusting done.

It felt so good to have all of that done!

Then while Brynne took a nap and Eli watched t.v., Kyndal and I did our annual holiday baking.

We had to get out of our pjs and run out to get Christmas dinner groceries and get the oil changed in my car. We made a quick stop at Kohl's and then headed home.

We spent the next hour or so making homemade Justin Bieber concert t-shirts for his concert Kyndal and my niece are going to tonight.

And Brynne did some painting.

After everybody was bathed and all of our messes were cleaned up, I scooted the kids off to bed so I could relax with a cup of hot green tea and some HGTV under the glow of my Christmas tree.

Today my mom, sister and niece are coming for the big concert. I'm hoping to get some gifts wrapped and under the tree, and maybe do a couple of my organizing projects I posted about a couple of weeks ago. So far I have only done one project out of twelve. With just the busyness of the holidays, and general cleaning and upkeep, I haven't had time to get to them!

Maybe this week .. but, Eli's birthday and party are Tuesday and then Christmas officially starts for us on Thursday. So, maybe not.