Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Project Life Tuesday - November Week Four

Welcome once again to Project Life Tuesday! I am taking a photo every day in 2010 and putting them together in an album to create a unique keepsake of this year for our family. Be sure to check in on what others are doing with their project over at The Mom Creative!

Sunday, November 21st - While I was at work, the boys enjoyed one of their favorite games - "push the truck."  Every once in a while, they will send the truck rolling back and forth between them for a solid three minutes.  Bliss!

Monday, November 22nd - Our first day in Chicago!  No kids....just us and the big city.  We enjoyed pizza at Gino's East, shopping on Michigan Ave, and then travelled through the pouring rain to a flooded Navy Pier for dinner.  Hey, I had a Groupon!

Tuesday, November 23rd - Day 2 in Chicago was all about the Shedd Aquarium.  We spent a good four hours or so there and then headed to "The Bean" to complete our short little getaway.  We had such a great time!

Wednesday, November 24th - Safe and sound at Evan's parents' house for Thanksgiving, the "Michigan Kooimans" demonstrate what true quality family time is all about.
Thursday, November 25th - Yup, I missed that face while we were in Chicago.  Happy Thanksgiving!
Friday, November 26th - This is what happens when I'm at work and the boys decide they want to "play pillows" with Daddy.  Craziness!

Saturday, November 27th - I know he's just trying to be affectionate, but if I had a nickel for every time I have hollered at Isaiah for dang near pulling his brother's fingers clean off, I could go buy my minivan.

I don't know about you, but this week was exhausting!!  I'm about two months (give or take a week or two) behind on writing out my hand-written journaling for the Project Life album.  Looks like I'll have a project to do after New Year!

Hope you have a great week!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas Lists

They've started playing Christmas music on the radio.  Know what that means?  That means that I get to hear "Feliz Navidad" about 546 times before December 25th.  Still, there's something about hearing those songs that really gets you in the mood for the holidays.  The decorations are up around town and I am reluctantly accepting that the snow is just around the corner. 

Isaiah "decorating" our tree in 2009

Anyway, as has become my way, I'm ready to publish our wish lists this year.  Again, let me remind all eight of you who actually read this blog that these lists are really intended to give our family some gift ideas.  I put it on the blog because it's the easiest way to get the lists out there in one quick and easy step.  Heck, maybe you'll end up seeing something that you want to get for someone on your list!  I aim to please.

Without further ado, here are our wish lists for this Christmas!

My little man received a Leapster Explorer for his birthday, so some easy gifts would be games and accessories for that:
One of the gifts we are giving him is the Tag Junior Reading System by LeapFrog.  Some great book choices to go with that are:
**If you're interested in any of these LeapFrog items, use code CSLEAP15 to get 15% off your order from the LeapFrog online store.  I'm not sure when the code expires!  They are also offering FREE shipping on orders of $50 or more right now**

As for regular books, one of Isaiah's favorites right now is Where Do Balloons Go? by Jamie Lee Curtis.  We have literally worn out the library's copy.  He also really likes all the Little Critter books by Mercer Mayer.

Other than that stuff, I know Isaiah would still like to have a lightsaber and he always, always needs clothes.  He's in size 3T right now and could really use some warmer PJs. 

Next to his Daddy, my Beast is probably the toughest to make a list for.  He's wearing his brother's hand-me-down clothes nicely, but is keeping pace closely enough that we might start overlapping.  Stay tuned on that one.  In the meantime, he could probably stand for some shoes (he's wearing size 6 right now) and maybe some pajamas (24 month or 2T...depending on the brand).  He's all set on outdoor winter gear, but it's never too early to start thinking about spring.

In the toy department, he's really been enjoying playing with his big brother's toy trucks.  He especially likes the kind that keep going after you give 'em a good push.  He's also taken a real liking to the Toy Story characters, so I'm sure he'd appreciate adding Jessie, Rex, and Mr. Potato Head to our collection!

Otherwise, books are always great!

I want tickets to see the Wisconsin Badgers play at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.


No?  Fine.

I'm going to go ahead and get my big mac-daddy request out of the way right away.  I realize this one has pretty much no chance of landing under my tree, but I just like to click on it every once in a while and stare at it:  Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras.  Gorgeous, isn't she?  While you're at it, click here to see the other object of my lust.  Hello, lover.

Now for the easy stuff - books, movies, and such:

I'd love to get a camera strap cover for my DSLR.  Shey B has the one pictured at left (which I love) for $29, but the deadline to order for Christmas was November 23rd.  I'd be willing to wait!  The one pictured at right by Cotton Candy is pretty sweet too. (Get it?  Sweet?  Is this thing on?)

While we're on the topic of cameras and pretty things, I have a rather unconventional item on my list this year: Photoshop Actions.  I am drooling over the "Give Me Everything for PSE Bundle" by Paint the Moon Photoshop Actions.  There are so many wonderful action collections to choose from on this website, I would love to have a Gift Card to this website!

Call me crazy, but I'm dying to get in on this whole "skinny jeans with a super cute boot over the top" trend.  I know, my build hardly screams out for skinny jeans, but I trust that if Pioneer Woman can wear them, I can too.....right?  She gets the "Classic Skinny" jean from Banana Republic and wears these gorgeous boots.  Of course, both are WAY out of my league, so how about a gift card to the former and maybe a gift card to Piperlime to find something similar to the latter?

Since I'm the only one in my house who drinks coffee and I have to brew a 4 cup minimum every time, I end up throwing out a lot of coffee.  Mommy no likee.  A Keurig Elite would be suhhhhweeeet!  Kohl's even has a killer deal on it (not sure on the expiration on this however):  use the code CYBER20 to get 20% off PLUS get free shipping.

Finally, I would be pleased as punch with gift cards to any of the following.  I *heart* gift cards.  Gift cards are wonderful.  Long live gift cards!  Kohls, Amazon, Old Navy, Archiver's, Snapfish, Target

He's always the toughest to coax a list out of that doesn't consist of just JC Penney gift cards and tools.  I gave it my best shot!  True to form, Evan would like gift cards to Amazon, JC Penney, or Audible.com.  He's really big into the audio books lately, so he requested that I really stress the Audible idea!

As for "stuff," he did create a short wish list of some goodies he'd like to see wrapped under the tree:
See what I have to deal with?  Love you, honey!

What's at the top of your wish list this year?  Or maybe there is a special gift you're super-excited to GIVE someone!  I'd love to hear about it!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Secret Trip

Guess where we were last week?

Yup, that's an enormous stainless steel bean behind us.

I made my own attempt at Pioneer Woman's "hip trick" to take photos of our crazy-small hotel room (more on that later.)

I ate what I can only describe as the best pizza of my life.

And, most importantly, got to spend some quality time with my hubby....just the two of us.

More photos on details on our trip to Chicago to come!  (I'm still working on editing photos.  It's been a busy week!)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you are travelling today, be safe. 
If you are spending the day with those you love, be grateful. 
If you are indulging in a starch filled, calorie packed, nap inducing meal, enjoy and know you're among friends.
Whatever it is you're doing to celebrate your holiday today, I hope it is blessed.

And if you find yourself staring at a three year old running straight at you, growling and pretending to be a T-Rex......welcome to my holiday!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

You Give Me Joy

This die-cut piece of patterned cardstock has been sitting in my scrapbook stash for a long, loooong time.  I wanted to showcase this photo of Micah from his one year photo shoot for the final page of his scrapbook, but I was really struggling to come up with the papers I wated to use. 

Then my eyes landed on this gorgeous die from My Minds Eye and the whole layout came together quickly!

I apologize for the colors being slightly off in this photo, but I'm just not that good with my camera to know how to keep it more true and the lighting in my scraproom really isn't condusive for it.  Anywho....

I used my handy dandy trusty Thickers by American Crafts for the first part of the title.  Die cut paper is by My Minds Eye.  I can't remember the brand of the "JOY" diecut (sorry), but the paper flower (another one of my favorite embellies in my stash) is by Bazzill. 

What have you been scrapping lately?

Photo of Micah is by Jenn Van Wyk.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Project Life Tuesday - November Week Three

Welcome once again to Project Life Tuesday! I am taking a photo every day in 2010 and putting them together in an album to create a unique keepsake of this year for our family. Be sure to check in on what others are doing with their project over at The Mom Creative!


Sunday, November 14th - Isaiah's birthday party was on the same day as his Grandpa Howie's birthday.  As it turns out, they both like chocolate cake.

Monday, November 15th - Isaiah got a Leapster Explorer for his birthday and he immediately wanted to play it as soon as we set foot in the door this afternoon.  He looks like such a big kid!

Tuesday, November 16th - It's going to sound strange, but Isaiah is terrified of balloons flying away.  This is his small collection of balloons he has "rescued" that are tied up and kept safe in his room.  To read more about Isaiah's globophobia click here.

Wednesday, November 17th - I realize a photo of Micah eating isn't really anything new around these parts, but I got excited because he was eating this tuna sandwich like such a big boy, with only quartered pieces rather than little hunks!

Thursday, November 18th - Today I picked up the ingredients to make the brine for our turkey, to be cooked by my resident master chef (Evan) on Saturday at Fat Man's Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 19th - The batteries are almost dead, but this little fridge toy has been bringing Micah tons of delight lately.  It just makes him giggle and squeal!

Saturday, November 20th - There once was a time when we got together with our friends for Fat Man's Thanksgiving and it was just us adults.  I swear I only blinked my eyes and now there are four wonderful kids we get to enjoy it with.  (And one more Baby Schneider on the way!)

Travel safely this holiday and may your Thanksgiving be blessed!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

To My New Friends

I miss church.

If I were Catholic, I suppose this post might be considering a kind of confession.  Then again, if I were Catholic, it probably wouldn't count anyway, so I'd be right back where I started.  Have I confused you yet? 

Let's back up.  I miss church.  I miss everything about church.  The sermon, the praise & worship, the teaching, and the wonderful people I have met.  God has not forgotten me (he's good like that) and knows the yearning in my heart and has introduced me to some new friends who are refreshing my memory of what "church" means.

See, a church isn't necessarily the physical building where you go once a week to learn, pray, and praise.  In addition to that definition, the church of Christ also refers to his people when they come together as a community of believers.  God never intended for us to make a go of this life on our own (remember that Eve gal?) and he understands that we need to surround ourselves with a community of support to lead successful lives.  That's where church comes in.

Let me back up for a moment and share our story and why I'm suddenly waxing poetic on this topic.  I was raised Lutheran and never really connected with my faith on a deep level.  It was just something I did.  I can tell you with 100% certainty that God brought Evan in my life to bring me closer to Him.  Through my relationship with my husband, I was re-introduced to Jesus and my faith was jump-started through the Evangelical Free church in our hometown.  We were married at Edgewood Community Church and then found a church home at Blackhawk Church when we moved to Madison as a married couple.  After we moved out of the city and into our small town, attending Blackhawk became more difficult.  The 45 minute drive to church wasn't really convenient anymore and my work schedule really eliminates a lot of options (I work every Sunday morning).  We lost our church.  We got lazy and quit going.  We stopped participating in life groups and Bible studies.  I'm not proud of it and I'd be lying if I said I didn't care.  I do care.  I want to change it.  My kids deserve better than that.  My heart aches to have a church again.

Remember when I wrote about a neighbor who discovered my blog out of clear blue sky only to realize she lived 4 houses down from me?  That was a God thing.  Julie and her family know Jesus and in her I have found the Christ-loving friend I have been praying for.  She's also introduced me to her network of friends, other mothers in our area who are funny, strong, gorgeous women who are also Christ followers.  They've welcomed me into their homes, invited me to their church, introduced me to their children, comforted my crying baby, and sung Happy Birthday to my son......all without knowing much more than my name. 

Since we haven't been going to church, God brought one to me.  He's amazing that way. 

(And we will be getting our butts to church very soon!)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Isaiah's Globophobia

At my birthday party this August, Isaiah unfortunately suffered a traumatic experience. 

Do you see the tip of that red balloon up by his forehead?  That's the balloon that he had taken off one of my birthday presents.  After he had enjoyed my mother's heavenly cake (for which I like to think he is thanking God for in this photo), that balloon ended up getting untied from his chair and made its way into my toddler's hand.

And then he let go.

It rose and rose until it was no longer in sight and Isaiah lost it.  He wailed like I had never heard him cry before.  It was awful.  He was inconsolable for at least an hour and the whole drive home we tried to tell him that the balloon had flown up to play with the moon.

For the next few weeks, Isaiah had to know where the moon was at all times.  He would ask, "Where moon go?" every time we were in the car.  He would check for the position of the moon before going to bed at night.  He absolutely had to have reassurance that his balloon was safe with the moon.

To make a long story short, Isaiah has an extremely irrational fixation on balloons.  When I bought him a helium balloon as a treat a couple months ago, he worked himself up into a fit of hysterics from his fear that it would fly away.  At both Micah's and his own birthday party, he hasn't been able to handle being around them!  I've blown up bundles of helium balloons and tied them down to suckers, but Isaiah is absolutely terrified that they will fly away, even if we are indoors.  He clutches them so tightly his knuckles turn white and he freaks out if anyone tries to touch them. 

Where it gets really strange is that he needs so badly to know those balloons are safe that he has accumulated a little collection of balloons in his room that he keeps "safe and sound."

They are tied to his bookcase and you better believe he checks them every day to make sure they are safe.  See that cow balloon at the top left that's wedged between the shelf and the wall?  That's the one I got him Labor Day weekend.  He was so upset that we had to secure it in his room.

The green and yellow balloons at the bottom are the two he "rescued" from his birthday party on Sunday.  The five bunches of helium balloons I had assembled had to be removed to the garage before the birthday boy had a nervous breakdown. 

I even checked out a book from the library called Where Do Balloons Go? and it has become one of Isaiah's favorites.  Almost every night, we read about how the balloons get together for a big balloon dance, have races with rockets, and mingle in the sky. 

What else can I do here?  Does anyone else have a child who is dealing with an irrational fear?  How can I help him overcome it?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chicago - Tell Me Where to Go!

The dates are set, the hotel is booked.  Now comes the hard part:  What do we do while we're there??

I don't know if you've noticed this yet, but I am a very Type A kind of person who needs to have a plan.  If I don't have some kind of list or itinerary for our trip to Chicago, I'm going to feel absolutely lost.  Yes, I want to have some flexibility to be able to enjoy our vacation and do whatever the heck we want, but I really need a solid "must see" list or I won't be able to function properly.

I understand this is psychotic.  I've accepted that.

That's where you come in!  No, not on diagnosing my psychosis.  I need your help on making my "must see" list!  Where should a young, hip, styling couple go during a whirlwind trip to Chicago?  Have some ideas?  Great.  Now throw them out. 

We are (sort of) young, but we're hardly styling.  We're just your average couple from rural Wisconsin who have (perhaps insanely?) decided to hit up Chicago for two days ON A BUDGET.

On our list already:
  • The Shedd Aquarium - We tried to go here when we were in Chicago with my in-laws a few years ago.  Alas, we did not actually make it into the building due to some issues involving a driving rain and a see-through skirt. 
  • The Cheesecake Factory - I don't give a hoot if there's one in Milwaukee.  If I get in range of one of these bad boys.....I'm there.
  • Michigan Avenue - Window shopping doesn't hurt my budget a bit! 
  • Millenium Park - What it is about that enormous, stainless steel bean that is just so darn endearing? 
  • The Field Museum - I love dinosaurs.  I used to dig under the wood chips on the playground at my elementary school and pretend I found fossils.  This place makes me feel like a kid!
  • Riva Restaurant on Navy Pier - Here's where I get to feel like a grown-up!  We scored a Groupon for only $20 that will get us $60 to spend on a fancy schmancy dinner.  It's business casual....does that mean I should wear a dress?
  • Weber Grill Restaurant - This will probably be where we get dinner on our second night.  I highly doubt Evan will need any convincing on this one.
  • Garrett's - Evan's aunt claims they have killer caramel corn, so that's good enough for me.  Sold!
So, what else should we do?  Other suggestions so far have been Willis Tower, Smith &Wollensky (for a drink only!), and Trader Joe's.  We need to figure out more activities especially.  We can't make our entire trip about food.

That being said, this is the most important question of all:

Where do we go for the BEST pizza in Chicago???

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Project Life Tuesday - November Week Two

Welcome once again to Project Life Tuesday! I am taking a photo every day in 2010 and putting them together in an album to create a unique keepsake of this year for our family. Be sure to check in on what others are doing with their project over at The Mom Creative!


Sunday, November 7th - Believe it or not, I have never made Rice Krispie Treats before.  Sure, I may have helped my mother make them back when I lived at home, but tonight I suddenly got the urge to whip some up with the help of my assistant.

Monday, November 8th - Yes, Isaiah is wearing the same shirt as yesterday.  I can't begin to tell you how much he loves his Aaron Rodgers jersey.  He insisted on wearing it again today!

Tuesday, November 9th - It's Isaiah's 3rd birthday!  We had a little mini-celebration tonight with chocolate cake, candles, and a copy of How To Train Your Dragon.  Hard to believe it's been three whole years since I became a mama!

Wednesday, November 10th - Micah's new favorite game is to stuff as many shoes as he possibly can inside the washing machine.  Sure, it keeps him busy for a few minutes, but I've had to make a habit of checking for small shoes left behind before I do a load of laundry!

Thursday, November 11th - The boys "helped" me scrub my kitchen floors today.  My patience gave out before my knees and wrists did, but we didn't get the job as finished as I would like.  Both kids needed their clothes changed after this little activity!

Friday, November 12th - A new friend invited us over for a playdate and my kids were two among probably fifteen children running around!  They had a blast playing with their buddies and then our hostess was kind enough to include Isaiah among the November birthdays when we had birthday cake!
(Photo withheld since there are LOTS of children in it who are not mine!)

Saturday, November 13th - We worked together on prepping a few dishes for Isaiah's birthday party tomorrow.  While Daddy chopped veggies for the deli platter, Isaiah worked on cleaning up the leftover stems.  I have no idea what that means, but he's certainly concentrating on his task!
Hope your week is blessed!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Not So Caring Tree

The Caring Tree at the restaurant where I work has me a bit angry fluffed.  Every holiday season, we set up a Christmas Tree near the entry of our restaurant and a local organization hangs cards on them that are filled out with the gift wishes of local children who are "less fortunate."  Our customers can select an ornament, as it were, from The Caring Tree and purchase the child's requested gift.  They then bring it back to the restaurant where it is then collected and wrapped to be delivered to the child for Christmas.

Sounds great, right?  Really, it is a wonderful idea and every year I pick a card off the tree.  Here's what has my feathers a little ruffled.  Most of the gifts listed make perfect sense: sweatshirts, jeans, remote control truck, CDs, and Barbies.

This year, there is one particular card that hangs on our Caring Tree that stands out.  It reads:

13 year old Boy. 
Gift requested:  XBox Game - Wanted: Weapons of Fate

Seriously??  Oh let me count the ways that this is inappropriate!!  First of all, I wouldn't consider someone to really meet the requirements of being a participant in this charity if they're rocking an XBox at home.  Maybe this is just my ignorance showing through here, but we were only able to get a Wii game console this year and that was because we redeemed my husband's airline miles for it.  We're hardly "less fortunate"....quite the opposite, in fact.  But this isn't about me.  I can't help but wonder if this "less fortunate" family is now qualified as such because they have foolishly spent their money on things like and XBox rather than clip coupons, set a budget, live frugally, and save their money.

Second, I'm all for requesting a gift that isn't neccesarily for something the child "needs" because part of the thrill of the Christmas gift is to get something that's more of a "want."  I'm down with that.  However, I would argue that it is in very poor taste to request this type of game. 

Wanted: Weapons of Fate is a game that "revolves around a centuries-old, secret fraternity of assassins that kill people as dictated by the mysterious Loom of Fate."  The player can "curve bullets and kill your targets, just like the characters in the blockbuster film."  Ready for the cherry on top?  It won't come as much of a surprise that this game is rated M for Mature.  And don't even get me started on the dangers of such violent video games to our young men.  (Read "Boys Adrift" by Dr. Leonard Sax if you're interested.  Rocked my world!)

So sorry Caring Tree, I don't consider it charity to buy a mature, violent video game for a 13 year old boy.  I consider it irresponsible

Friday, November 12, 2010

School Me!

I feel like this really shouldn't be as difficult as I'm finding it, but I'm stuck.  I want to be able to make a photo collage in Photoshop Elements, but my dim-witted brain is just not figuring it out.  I can make a two-fer collage like this one:

What want to do is to make a collage with several photos of multiple sizes like this beauty from Jessica Turner's blog, The Mom Creative:

I'd just ask Jessica, but the poor dear is super crazy psycho busy and she's getting her butt kicked by first trimester morning all day long sickness.

Can you help me out?  What's the easiest way to make a photo collage like this in Photoshop Elements?  Can I do one with a small border framing the photos?

Blog Widget by LinkWithin