Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Blog Party - Day 10 - Decorating

This is going to be my last day participating in the Blog Party. My parents are visiting from Wisconsin so I will not be online much. It's going to be hard to stay away, but it's "the right thing to do"... especially since they brought bring fresh cheese curds. I had a great time participating and have "met" lots of wonderful, funny, thoughtful and intelligent women. My Google Reading list has multiplied and I will continue to visit many of you. I also appreciate all the nice comments everyone has left. Thanks even to all you lurkers out there for coming to visit. I've received around 500 hits since joining this party and I'm completely shocked. Feel free to leave a comment any time. I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

Sponsors: Day Ten Momdot Blog Party Question is Brought to you by Organic Blankees, Huddy Buddy, and Baby Legs.

Do you decorate for the Holidays? Do you have a themed Christmas tree? Share pics! Do you think there is such a thing as OVER decorating?

Our decorations are pretty simple. We have a tree, some holiday nick-knacks and some stockings we hang on our stairs since we don't have a fireplace. Our tree is never themed but it contains lots of ornaments that are handmade by family or have some special meaning behind them. While our neighborhood does not do this, I think it's really neat when a street gets together and does a theme. If you aren't able to do this, I think you should put up as many lights as possible. I do not think you can over decorate. Currently, we only have a few outdoor items, but we are adding to the collection each year. Our goals is to have an electric bill in December that reaches the $1000 mark.

It seems that I don't have pictures of our decorates to share. All of our Christmas pictures seem to be taken over by Morgan. Funny how kids do that.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Blog Party - Day 9 - Receiving

Sponsors: Day Nine Momdot Blog Party Question is Brought to you by jaC Jewelry, Cutie Covers and Sassy Baby.

Most unusual gift you have received? Best gift? Do you re-gift?

I really don't have any interesting present stories - good or bad. All of my gifts have been pretty normal. The one thing that comes to my mind, has nothing to do with Christmas but rather my birthday. My parents bought me luggage for my 18th birthday. Nothing says time to move out more than that. Well I guess they could have got me a U-Haul. That would be worse.

And no. I don't re-gift. If it's something I wouldn't want, chances are my friends/family wouldn't want it either. We donate instead.
I can't wait to read what special gifts others have received.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Day 8 - Blog Party - Black Friday

Sponsors: Day Eight Momdot Blog Party Question is Brought to you by Koshas, Leapfrog and Soda Club.

Do you shop on Black Friday? What time do you start? Do you complete your shopping this day? What’s the best deal you have ever found? What’s your shopping strategy?

I shall make this short and sweet.

No way, no how do I shop this day. I avoid Black Friday like the plague. The name even sounds like a plague. I refuse to subject myself to waking up early, standing in crazy long lines just to get into the store let alone to pay for the things, and fighting all those crazed shoppers. My sanity is worth more than the money I would save.

No thank you.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Day 7 - Blog Party - Making a List

Sponsors: Day Five Momdot Blog Party Question is Brought to you by Sillymonkeez and My Baby Bump

Who’s on your naughty list? Whose on your nice list? Why?

Naught List:

1. Cat at 3 Kids and Us, Trish and Natalie for thinking dirty thoughts about our pickle.

2. AIG for being such greedy, horrible people and STILL having outrageous conferences on our dime

3. United Launch Alliance (ULA) for planning on giving ALL of their employees 60 day layoff notices right before Christmas and playing Russian Roulette by telling them only some will get the real two week notice in February. But who those will be? Well, shhhh it's a secret.

Nice List:

1. All the wonderful new bloggers I have found through the Momdot party with a special shout out to Melissa, who manages to read my non-party posts and Sarah, who must be my separated-from-birth twin

2. Everyone at Momdot for hosting this party. You girls rock!

3. And of course, the cheesy but true answer - all my RL family and friends for being so wonderful and supportive not just on a day to day basis but also with some of the hard times we have faced.

Day 6 - Blog Party - Childhood Memories

Sponsors: Day Five Momdot Blog Party Question is Brought to you by Flying Colors Baby, Uncommonly Cute and Lollipop Book Club.

Favorite holiday memory from YOUR childhood

Each year around Christmas time, my family would drive from Wisconsin to Indiana so we could celebrate with our extended family. Being an only child, this was one of two times (summer being the other) that I would get to play with family members my age. Besides the excitment of being able to play, I would basically get three Christmases. One at home and one at each Grandparents. One Grandma would always go way overboard and practically fill the whole room with gifts. I think it took us hours to open. On each gift she would tie an ornament for decoration. We could never keep the ornaments, we always had to give them back so she could use them again for next year. Since I saw them year after year, they had a great comfort to them.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Day 5 - Blog Party - Charity

Sponsors: Day Five Momdot Blog Party Question is Brought to you by Baby Pop and Chic Covers
Do you volunteer during the Holidays? What organizations do you donate your time to? How do you teach your children the true meaning of the holidays?

I guess I already described my favorite volunteer work in the Day 2 post - Operation Christmas Child. We not only donate our time to the processing center, but we also pack shoeboxes through out the year.

Other things we do:

- My work sponsors Beacon of Hope. Kids from less fortunate families make a wish list and we buy the toys off the list.

- My church has a Christmas Store where we donate toys and then the parents can buy them for 25 cents to the dollar. That way they are still have the dignity of being able to provide for their family in an affordable way. The store has also offered Christmas trees for $5-10. We toys and work at the store.

We teach Morgan the true meaning of Christmas by our actions and through conversations we have about Jesus. We have her participate in the charity events. We read books that explain Christmas is Jesus' birthday and we go to church.

Our church is very big on volunteering through out the year. We are encouraged not to be "pew potatoes" and to donate our time each month. They also have a philosophy of 5+5. This means that what ever we tythe to the church, we should cut in half and find other organizations and missions to give the other half to. When it comes to charity and Christmas time, it is not any different for us than the other 11 months of year.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Go Figure

On Sunday we brought Morgan to the Science and Nature Museum to see the new dinosaur exhibit. This is what she picked to do. How was it you ask? No clue. We entered the dinosaur hall, she took one look at the T-Rex skeleton and screamed "out! out! out!" in a pure panic. Needless to say, we didn't see much. On the other hand, she wanted to go into the Mummy hall where she looked over all the skulls and shrunken, mumified bodies with facination. Odd child.

Oh the Humanity

If you ever want to see the human race at it's best don't go to Chuck E Cheese. At 6 pm. On a Saturday. I don't know what April and I were thinking. Obviously a major slip in judgement. Since the neighborhood guys were having their poker game, we thought it would be fun to bring the kids to Chuck E. Cheese. It was anything but fun. I can't tell you how many kids I had to body block from climbing, jumping, pushing their way on to rides our kids were riding. Didn't matter if the only spot these kids could find was the hood of the car, they saw a free ride and they swarmed like killer bees. It was pure insanity. I have never seen a group of kids so rude, so misbehaving and so disrespectful. I still have flash backs and find myself in a corner rocking myself. Never again. Never again.

Day 4 - Blog Party - Cooking

Sponsors: Day Four Momdot Blog Party Question is Brought to you by Bottlewise and Glow Mama

What is your favorite Holiday recipe, describe your Holiday table, biggest holiday cooking disaster?

You seriously do not want me to answer this one. I am a horrible, horrible cook. Can't stand it. I am very lucky to be married to a guy who loves to cook. He does most of the cooking for us. During the holidays, we usually go to his mom or dad's house so we, I mean he, only needs to bring a side dish. I guess there is one thing I can make pretty well - pumpkin pie. Anything else I attempt would fall under the category of biggest holiday cooking disaster.

Good thing Morgan inherited Mark's talent. Here she is helping Grammie (Mark's mom) cook for Christmas.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Day 3 - Blog Party - Shopping

Sponsors: Day One Momdot Blog Party Question is Brought to you by Appledonia, Hippos Toes and My Bag

Oh my. It appears I did it again. Once again I need to clarify yesterdays post. I really didn't think about what I wrote but it appears that we have lots of blog partiers who are going to make the naughty list. Hide the Pickle is a German tradition that Mark's family passed down. There is a pickle ornament (and NO not a real pickle) that one person hides in the tree. The first person to find it wins a small prize. It is a family orient tradition, not a family making tradition. - LOL! I should have explained it like Sandy did.

Now for today's question: When do you start Christmas shopping? How do you budget for Christmas? Do you stick to your budget?

I usually start shopping in November. I'm not one of those people who could buy from sales during the year and stock the stuff away. I would never remember a) that I bought something and b) where I hid it.

Budget? What's that even mean? Well, I try. I try real hard but inevitably we (including my husband in this) don't usually follow it very well. We say we are going to spend x amount on each family member, but then there is always that one more super cute thing you just have to get them. Maybe we will do better this year. Except there's that electric Barbie car that Morgan wants...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Day 2 - Blog Party - Traditions

Today's Momdot Blog Party is sponsored by: LaPlates and Lets Go Strolling and Natitys Design

Traditions, what are some of your favorite family traditions? What are some traditions you want to begin?

Before I begin with today's post, I must clarify something from yesterdays. No, I do not hang a real piece of cheese on the tree. The ornament is made out of foam similiar to the cheeseheads you may have seen people wearing at Packer games. I love cheese, but I would not want a stinky, moldy piece hanging in the house. Plus we have a cat. A real one would last all of five minutes up there before the tree would come crashing down. Now that we cleared that up (you guys had me cracking up) let's go on to today's post.

We have lots of the common traditions: trimming the tree, hanging up stockings, going to church on Christmas Eve and then driving around neighborhoods looking at lights, playing hid the pickle (OK, maybe this one isn't so common).

One of our new traditions, and a personal favorite, was started just three years ago. After Thanksgiving, we volunteer at the Operation Christmas Child processing center. Unfortunately, Morgan is still too young to volunteer at the center (she still participates in creating shoeboxes), but my parents come all the way out from Wisconsin to help. You feel like a real-life elf when you are surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of brightly wrapped shoeboxes filled with toys that will go to less fortunately kids around the world.

There is a Thanksgiving tradition that I would like to start. I saw it in one of my parenting magazines. You make a cute turkey out of yarn wrapped around Styrofoam balls and colored construction paper for the tail feathers. Each family member takes a feather and writes something they are thankful for, then the tail goes onto the turkey. Each year you add more and more feathers so your turkey gets fuller and fuller of thanks. I think this would make a great family tradition. Now if only I could get myself down to Michael's to buy the materials.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Still Coping

Morgan was taking pictures of the sky with her camera. She informed me she's trying to get a picture of Cheyenne up in heaven. She said it wasn't working but she still had other pictures of Chey on her camera so that was OK.

Tonight was hard. Mark is out of town again. I'm sure he's having a rough time being away from us in Vegas and all. So Morgan is extra sensitive and very weepy.

She's been alright with the shrimp guarding her at night which has been very surprising. Last night she said that her shrimp must be dizzy. Why? Because all he does is go round and round in circles.
If you look really closely, you can see him on side of the bowl where the cup is at. And yes, the water really is that gross. He used to have three other friends to help him keep it clean, but now he's all alone.

Day 1 - Blog Party - Introductions

Sponsors: Day One Blog Party Question is Brought to you by La Belle Toile and This and That by Randi: Intro to Blog Party, Introduce us to your family and share Holiday pics or videos of past years (Christmas, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving)

Hello and Welcome to the Momdot Blog Party! I never know where to begin with these introductions. Ummm... Hello. My name is Michelle and I am blogaholic. I have only been blogging for a couple of months now, but I am hooked. On second thought, maybe that's not the right type of introduction?

How about I am a mother to one crazy four year old (our whirlwind) who can be the sweetest thing one minute and a tantrum throwing thing the next. My husband and I have been friends for 15 years and married for 8. We got married in 2000 so counting the years would be easy. I am orginally from the Cheese State but now live in the Centennial State but I still have an undying affection for all things cheese. One of my favorite Christmas ornaments is a cheese wedge that my husband lets me hang on our tree only if it's placed deep inside the back branches.

The following are some pictures from our holidays past. So sit back and enjoy.

At a poinsette greenhouse outside of Green Bay

The obligatory company holiday party

Mark's side of the family Christmas reunion (Morgan and her two cousins Ava and Alizah were all born within a month of each other)

Morgan's 1st Christmas

Our Christmas Eve Angel Last Year

Wordless Wednesday

A little turtle love in Hawaii.

Join in the fun by clicking here

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dealing with Death

Here is the rest of the story.

Morgan has know for a long time that Cheyenne has been sick. It's been pretty obvious and we have been talking openly about it - Cheyenne is getting real old, she might not be with us much longer. For the last couple of weeks, we have been having her say goodbye to Cheyenne before we leave the house. She would give her a hug, a kiss and say goodbye. We have encouraged her to pet Cheyenne more the usual. We knew the hardest part was going to be the nights since Cheyenne has slept with her her whole life. But Cheyenne herself, started to ween Morgan from that. The last week or so, she has been barking to get out of Morgan's room before Morgan has fallen asleep. Strangely, Morgan accepted this fact without much fuss. She decided that her shrimp (one of those self-contained eco-system jars) would now keep watch over her at night.

When it was time, we called a service called Peaceful Passage . They come to your home so your pet does not have the added stress of being at a clinic. If you have a service like this near you, I strongly, strongly recommend it. The day before the appointment, I took lots of pictures of Morgan with Cheyenne. We set her up on a playdate with the neighbors. We were not going to tell her what was happening until after.

On the day of the appointment, Dr. Christine from Peaceful Passage came out to our backyard. She had one of those super fuzzy blankets and fed Cheyenne lots and lots of treats. She waited until Cheyenne got really comfortable with her. Then, while I was feeding Chey snacks, Dr. Christine gave her a small shot with super strong pain meds. We all pet and talked to Chey as the medicine kicked in. After that shot and once Chey was good and relaxed, Dr. Christine gave her a shot of anesthesia to put her out like they do for surgeries. She waited until Chey was completely out before giving her the shot to stop her heart. Afterwards, she left us alone so we could grieve in private. At this point, I found out from Mark that Chey had passed before the last shot. She was so tired and old that the anesthesia was enough to set her free.

When Dr. Christine came back, she took an imprint of Chey's paw and engraved her name on a keepsake for us. She carefully cut a tuff of her hair and wrapped it in ribbon. Then she gently and carefully wrapped Chey's body in the blanket, keeping her head out. We walked Dr. Christine to her van, but once she noticed the neighborhood kids outside, she asked Mark to cover Chey's head so as not to scare the kids. At her van, she placed Chey in the backseat which was covered in pillows. Her body was safely cradled. She pulled down the blanket so that her head was once again showing. She took a nice homemade quilt and covered Chey with that as well. We got to say goodbye one more time with absolute confidence that Chey was going to be treated well on the end of her journey. She was brought to a crematorium where her ashes will be scattered on some land in Parker. I can not say enough how compassionate and caring this Dr. Christine was. She treated Chey with the upmost respect. She made an extremely difficult situation a little more bearable.

When Morgan got home we immediately let her know that Cheyenne had died. We did not give her details, just that Cheyenne died and her body wasn't here anymore. She did not ask any questions. If she does ask us how, we will merely say that she died in her sleep. Morgan talks about how quiet the house is without her. Together we talk about our sadness. Morgan has been collecting Chey's hair. Unbeknownst to us, she had a huge stash secretly hidden. She showed it to us and asked us to put it in a baggie for her along with the ribbon-tied locket.

This morning I told her I was sad that Chey wasn't around to let outside. She had me look at the bright-side, she said, at least that means she isn't eating her poop anymore. I couldn't help but laugh. It will be sad, but at least there is happy and funny memories to share.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

In Loving Memory

Thirteen years ago I bought my own place. Since I was a single female, I decided I would feel safer and less lonely with the company of a canine companion. There was a farm that raised American Eskimos. I called and was told that the litter was already taken. A couple days later, they called me back to inform me that one had been returned. A reject, but was I still interested. I drove out to pick you up. On the ride home, you must have been car sick because you threw up. It was easy to overlook this mess because you were such a cute tiny ball of fur, with one floppy ear that did not quite stand up yet. I named you Cheyenne.
Since then we have been through a lot together. Your fur has dried many tears. You have been a faithful companion. Your paws have hiked many miles. You have slept in a tent countless nights. You loved to play outside and get dirty. And boy were you good at it. People who didn't know you would comment about how such a pretty white dog could get so dirty. You loved it.
Then Mark came into our picture and you accepted him as he accepted the fact that he would have to buy clothes based on your shedding. No more black or dark colored clothes for him. he loved you as his own. Now we were a family of three.
When I was pregnant with Morgan, people expressed their fear about your breed. You were not supposed to be good with small children. You might get jealous. You might bite. All of that was just words. From the day we brought home Morgan, you embraced your new role as guardian. You proudly took your new position taking watch at the foot of the crib. And there you stayed, even when Morgan transitioned to a bed.

Then you developed a limp. Oh so slight at first. Pain medicine appeared to work for a while. Then the limp got worse. We took you to several doctors until finally you were diagnosed with a tumor pressing on your sciatic nerve. We tried to make you comfortable but we had to leave you behind as we went camping and hiking. Soon you had troubles making it around the block. With in time you hardly moved at all. The pain medicine was no longer working. It has been a good journey. You have been a good dog. You fought a good battle, but now it is time. Time for you to rest, my dear friend. So now with tears in our eyes, we say goodbye. It's time to run free. Run now like you haven't run in years.
Cheyenne Burch
June 1995-October 2008

Friday, November 7, 2008

A Little Monkey Bizness

Cori and I got the kids together for some playtime, not just for them but for us. There is a new place that opened called Little Monkey Bizness. It's a spin off of the regular Monkey Bizness but it's geared towards kids 2-6 (nobody over 6 is allowed). Another added bonus is the coffee shop inside so the kids can play while the adults get (semi-)uninterupted conversation time. It was a nice place, but Connor and Morgan both agreed that they like Monkey Bizness more. The play equipment seemed to be geared more towards 2-3 year olds - no giant slides to please those that are thrillseekers.

They did have an art room with painting and coloring which both kids enjoyed. The logo for Little Monkey Bizness is a girl monkey with a bow in her hair. All the coloring pages had this monkey on them. Connor was complaining that there was nothing for him to color - he was not going to color a girl. Morgan put her great problem solving skills to use. She grabbed some scissors and cut the bow off the paper, handed it to Connor and said "Look it's a boy now". Connor happily colored away.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Lady Luck

I can not believe it happened AGAIN! Another contest at MomDot and the second time I saw my name on the winner page. This time I won a t-shirt from Baby Fish Mouth. Baby Fish Mouth specializes in "fashion for future film fans". They carry shirts and onesies sporting famous quotes from movies with a toddler/baby twist. Morgan's shirt arrived in their signature movie popcorn box.

She received the Fight Club version: The First Rule of Daycare - Don't Talk About Daycare.

With this luck, it looks like I need to book a trip to Vegas ASAP!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

By Popular Request - Pixos Review

I tried to find a picture of the Pixos Portable Pack set we purchased, but alas, I could not find the exact one, even at Target's website. Replace the small 3-D mold for a large flat blue mold, change the pattern templates and you have an idea of what we purchased for $19.

The kit comes with three two-side templates that you place behind the molds. The templates tell you exactually how many of each color bead you will need and the difficulty level of the pattern (green smiley face for easy, yellow straight mouth face for medium and red surprised mouth for hard). All of our templates were the easy ones. The template also lets you know which mold to use by using a red or blue symbol to match the mold colors. One mold lines the dot rows up, the other mold off-centers the dot rows. All of these directions are super easy to understand, even for a child who can't yet read, making this a very good "alone time" toy.

Our templates included white beads. These were hard to see through the mold. I would suggest marking them with a pen it to make it easier to view.

I really liked that this kit came with storage box. The top tray allows the beads to be separated without being dumped out of bags each time. Easy for little fingers to reach in and grab. Also, there is plenty of space below the tray to store the pen, spray bottle templates, molds and finished creations. A must have if you are an organized neat freak.

My biggest complaint about this toy is the pen. You are supposed to use the pen to place the beads into the mold, but we never got it to work. It's like the pen is too fat. The sides bump into the already placed beads knocking them out. Morgan decided very quickly to abandon the pen and use just her fingers. She would still accidentally bump beads with her fingers, sending them scattering. There were a few moments of frustration, but she persevered and has completed three of the six templates in a matter of days.

The kit only comes with enough beads to complete each design one time. Unless you completely abandon the templates, there isn't much opportunity for open-end creativity. If you are looking for that, I would suggest buying the Perler Activity Kit Group Buckets. However, those buckets require that the beads are ironed, where as Pixos beads just need a spray of water. There are always trade-offs.

Once you spray the beads with water, the directions say to wait 10 minutes. We found that it was best to wait at least an hour. After they were completely dry, Morgan had no problems removing them from the molds herself. None of the finished designs have broke. They seem to be pretty sturdy.

While, as an adult, I am some what disappointed with the kit (seems expensive for an unusable pen, a cheap spray bottle, and a limited number of beads), overall this product has provided lots of entertainment for Morgan. From a four year old's point of view, she loves this thing. And I guess that's what really matters.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Week In Review

I'll try and make this week summary short and sweet.

Last week was Spirit Week at Morgan's school. The first day was crazy hair day. Apparently Morgan has an inner punk rocker just dying to get out.

There was also PJ day, sports day (she wore her Barbie cheerleader outfit), and then costume day, where she wore her Jasmine princess costume.

We also carved her pumpkin. Our tough little girl suddenly has an issue with being messy. Her reaction when she found out she needed to use her hands to clean out the pumpkin can be summed up with one word that she used over and over: GROSS! She actually went to the drawer and got herself a spoon instead.

Mark thought power tools were the best way to carve.

Morgan wanted in on the fun too so he had to go back to the old fashion way.

The weather on Halloween was down right warm. For the first time ever, no jackets were required. Madison was actually hot in her Barney costume.

Our neighborhood completely rocked. People from other communities came into ours as the word about our cool factor spread. There were haunted garages, people dressed up on their patios and lots and lots of decorations. One neighbors costumes and garage set up had Morgan so scared, she saw it and started running away and hiding in a nearby yard. After that, Morgan was choosy about which door she would go up to based on the scare factor.
Next, we got the parent of the year award. We decided to let Morgan gorge herself with as much candy as she wanted on Halloween. This ended with her running into the bathroom and throwing up at the end of the day. In hindsight, this was a bad idea.

Did I mention that candy is Morgan's addiction.?I have never seen such a candy fiend before. Some kids lose interest in their candy after a few days, some lose track of their candy and parents can slowly make it mysteriously disappear. Neither of these tactics work with Morgan. Last year she would throw a fit wondering where her third Starburst package went. Yes, she counted, inventoried and remembered all her candy. So this year I had a plan. I would give Morgan the option to trade her candy in for a toy after a week of binging.

Two days after Halloween, we were in Target and Morgan saw a Pixos kit. She asked if she could trade her candy for this. I told her that we could come back next week and get it. She was very insistent that she was ready now to trade it in. Mark thought this was going to end poorly, but we got the kit with the agreement she needed to trade in her candy when we got home. As soon as she got home, she ran up to her stash and started throwing it in a bag. To Mark's amazement, we didn't have any issue at all.
I'm sure the vomiting incident helped.