December 31, 2009

Happy Birthday Big Bear!!

A few weeks ago one of my seniors at school was having 'girl' troubles. He asked me how I knew that I was marrying the right guy? I didn't even have to think about my response I told him that I knew Big Bear was the right one for me because:
  • He made me feel comfortable from our very first conversation
  • He makes me laugh
  • He is always trying to grow and learn
  • He gives me confidence when I need it most
  • He helps me be a better person
I know I am extremely lucky to have found such a person to share this life with. This coming year I know our relationship is going to change, but I feel that it will only get stronger. Sure there are going to be some rough moments as we both try to figure out this parenting gig, but there is no one else I could ever imagine taking this journey into parenthood with!

I love you! Happy Birthday!!!

December 30, 2009

It's FINALLY Our Month!!!

April referrals are starting to hit!
It seems surreal, yet so very exciting to see families that I have 'known' for four years finally seeing the face of their daughter!! I am so excited for all the April Families! It's finally our turn!
Congratulations to all the families who are seeing their baby's face for the first time!

It is wild to think that there are only nine days ahead of us. NINE DAYS!!!
It is starting to seem real!

December 27, 2009

Boy! What a Christmas!!

Christmas 2009 will definitely go down in the memory books as one of the strangest Christmases we’ve had in the eight years we’ve been married. I’ll try to give the short version recap.

Three Weeks Before Christmas

Big Bear and I just couldn’t get up the gumption to put up any decorations. We didn’t want to put up a tree. We didn’t feel like pulling out any of the Christmas decorations. Nothing.

Finally we decided to get some wreaths for outside. We also decorated the light pole with a string of lit garland. We figured this way we didn’t look like total Scrooges. Of course the neighbors on both sides of us put out HUGE holiday displays this year.

Christmas Week

Santa came early to our house. First he stopped by with this for Polar Cub:

At first I had a bit of buyer’s remorse while waiting for ‘Chilly’ to arrive, but after opening the box and seeing just how adorable he is, I am so happy Santa delivered him! Look how much my nephew enjoys him too:

Christmas Eve

Big Bear and I always celebrate Christmas Eve with my side of the family. My brother and my nephews usually come in from Chicago. We go over to my parents' and have a wonderful dinner.

This year Big Bear had been fighting a nasty cold all week, and it hit hard on Christmas Eve. He felt so awful that he even tried to get into a doctor, with no luck. So, sadly he didn’t go to my parents. It just wasn’t the same with out him. We had a nice time, but I left pretty soon after dinner.

Christmas Day

Big Bear’s mom makes a big breakfast on Christmas morning. Then we all sit around the tree and pass around gifts. It is fun.

This year Big Bear’s brother –who spends the night at my in-laws with his girls every Christmas Eve – woke up with a horrible case of the flu. My mother-in-law called and told us early Christmas morning. She said she wasn’t going to cook, but we could still come if we wanted to. Both Big Bear and I decided that it would not be a good idea since he had such a cold. He didn’t need the flu, too.

Big Bear did feel better by the afternoon, so we went over to my mom’s for surf and turf. I can’t talk about the turf, but the surf was oh so good!

Day After Christmas

Big Bear’s mom called and wanted to make breakfast. Big Bear and I picked up my nephews and we all went out to the farm. It was a lot of fun. We spent the day with my nephews, Frog face and Turtle nose. We played games back at our house, went to the mall, and had a wonderful day! It was the best day of the entire week!

Here is Frog Face pushing Turtle Nose on the tire swing out at the farm

Such a crazy mixed up Christmas could be karma for not decorating and not feeling any Christmas spirit this year. It could be because Big Bear was so sick, and I was fighting it off all week. In my heart, though, I think it is because we are both so ready for the next chapter in our lives. There have been too many years spent dreaming of Christmas morning with a little one in this house. I feel that deep down we just wanted to get past this holiday because the next big event for us – God willing – will be our referral! Hopefully we will get it before Easter.

December 24, 2009

Thinking of Polar Cub...

Merry Christmas Polar Cub.
Though you are not in our arms tonight,
You are in our hearts ~
tonight and Always.

December 23, 2009

Baking - Day Two

Sugar Cookies
The recipe I use, and will ALWAYS use, for sugar cookies was my grandma's recipe. Every holiday she would pull out a huge Tupperware cake carrying container that she'd turn upside down to hold lots of cookies. My dad would always tease her about pulling out the same cookies from the freezer every year. Yet, we always knew she baked and baked for the holiday.

I started rolling these out late last night. I looked at my bag of Christmas cookie cutters and the only one I wanted to use was the star. My grandma had one exactly like it. I guess I was feeling a little nostalgic last night. I ended making all stars. Maybe next year I'll go back to the Santa Claus and Christmas tree cookie cutters. This year stars seem to be appropriate.

Big Bear and I had these treats a couple of years ago at a friend's house. I looked up the recipe on-line and made them last year for the first time. These are the easiest candies to make, yet they seem to disappear the fastest of all the candies. Last year I received more compliments on these than any other cookies. I wouldn't give out the recipe because I'm embarrassed to tell how simple, but what the heck ~ it's Christmas. I put the recipe for Snowballs at the bottom of this post.

Sonja Hennies
These cookies are another family tradition. Many call them thumbprints, but I have always known them as Sonja Hennies, not sure why. The picture is misleading. There is only 1/8 of a teaspoon of jelly, yet in the picture it looks like so much more. My mom always made these using grape, strawberry, and apricot jelly. I used to buy a jar of apricot jelly, but it always went to waste and I would end up throwing it away just to buy a fresh jar the following Christmas. Now I make strawberry and blackberry. (sorry Mom)

Peanut Butter Balls
I remember when I was in high school a lady brought these peanut butter balls to a Christmas party my mom and dad had. Everyone loved them, and my mom asked for the recipe. Peanut Butter Balls have become a tradition ever since. These are my brother's all time favorite, so I will always make them for him. They are a pain to make, but it fits because he has always been a pain, too!
(Love ya, Bub!!)

Peanut Butter Blossoms
I remember my Aunt Sue making these way back when. I have been making them for years since. There is nothing better than chocolate and peanut butter! :o)

Spiced Pecans
A friend of mine from Chicago made these pecans and they are the BEST!!!! I usually make several pounds a year. I make a pound for my family and a pound for Big Bear's family. Usually Big Bear takes at least a pound to work. I made these last night for his Christmas lunch at the bank today. I'll make more in the morning. I love to make them on Christmas Eve morning. They make the house smell so good.

1 16oz package Oreo cookies
1 80z package cream cheese, softened
1 120z bag white chocolate chips

Using a food processor crush Oreo cookies.
Mix in cream cheese.
Roll mixture into balls.
Refrigerate until firm.

Melt white chocolate chips in a double boiler
Dip balls into chocolate.

I told you they were ridiculously easy! I drizzle the chocolate over them, that is the most fun part of the entire process!!

My heart is just not into Christmas this year. I didn't want to make any cookies this year. I am not making nearly the variety that I usually do. Now though, I am glad I made the cookies I did. They are tradition, they are family, they are love. Love that has been passed down from my grandma, my aunt, my mom, and one day will be passed down to Polar Cub ~ whether she likes it or not. :o)

December 22, 2009

Busy Baking - Day One

As usual, I didn't finish everything I wanted to yesterday. There are just never enough hours in the day. I did get these cookies done and packed away

If you like dark chocolate Midnights are amazing. They are a pain to make, but so good with a hot cup of black tea!

Ricotta Cookies
I borrowed this recipe from Lisa last year. My nephew LOVED them so much he wanted me to make another batch the day after Christmas last year.

Chocolate Chip
I know these don't look like the typical chocolate chip cookie, but they are good. These are the only cookie Big Bear asked for this year.

Cherry Winks
These cookies have been on our families' Christmas table for as long as I can remember. My grandma and then my mom made them. These are my favorite of all!

I also made the peanut butter balls and snowballs, both of which I need to dip in chocolate today. I made the dough for sugar cookies and for Sonja Hennies. I have more to do today, so I better get moving. The chocolate should be melted so I'm off to dip snowballs!

December 21, 2009

Snow & Cookies

On Saturday we had our first good snow of the season. We didn't get anything like east coast, but we did have about six inches. It was so pretty.
When I snapped this picture Tucker and Bailey were sitting by the fence looking really cute. They heard me and moved. :o(

I swore I wasn't going to bake cookies this year, and then I was asked to 'do a few'. I went through my binder trying to pick a 'few', but it was so hard. It seems that everyone in my family has a different favorite. How could I not do everyone's favorite?

I am not doing as many this year, but I think it will be a busy few days.

So far...

I have my 'To Do List' ready...
The ingredients are all accounted for and ready...
I'll try to post updates as I go along.

December 19, 2009

Smart Dogs

My Aunt Sue sent this in an email. I just had to share.
I sure wish my pups were this handy!

December 14, 2009

Aunt Judy

On Saturday my family lost one of the sweetest people I have ever known. My Aunt Judy passed away suddenly, unexpectedly. I still can’t seem to grasp the thought that she is gone.

Aunt Judy had the most tender heart. I don’t believe she ever said an unkind word about anyone. I have many special memories of times spent on Aunt Judy and Uncle Bill’s farm.

I remember:

· learning that you never set the egg basket down in the chicken house. If you do the hens will attack the eggs. I still feel bad about all the eggs I lost learning that lesson.

· watching Aunt Judy, and several women from church, butchering chickens with amazing skill. Chicken bodies were flying one way and heads the other. What a sight!

· climbing the fence to the hog pen with my brothers and cousin and learning the hard way that there is a hot-wire that must be stepped over. I can almost feel the buzz from the wire that knocked me on my keester in the hog pen. (Go on and laugh, I do – now.)

· a cold day in December many years ago when I went to watch as my aunts and uncles, my grandparents, and several of their friends work all day butchering hogs. That is a day I will never forget.

· standing for nearly an hour at the stove stirring the contents of a big pot so my aunt could make bodae. Not fun at the time, but it was a task I am glad that I experienced. Not many suburbanite kids like me get to have such an experience.

· many Easter Sundays spent around the kitchen table with my cousins and brothers laughing and cracking Easter eggs on each other’s head.

· sitting under the big tree out by the house on lazy summer afternoons chatting and laughing the hours away.

These are just a few of the many memories. I will always treasure the time I was able to spend with my family in southern Illinois. Aunt Judy will truly be missed. Judy was an angel here on earth. As hard as it is to comprehend that she is gone, I know that she is a true angel up in heaven.

December 13, 2009

Late Night Surfing...

...only leads to trouble!

Look what I found:
Wouldn't this be just perfect for Polar Cub?!?!

It isn't a necessity,
but it's so cute!
It is pricey,
but wouldn't it be FUN!!!

Oh! How I wish Santa could deliver this to our house on Christmas Eve!!

December 9, 2009

Smiles Are Contagious...

In class we are reading A Christmas Carol. In today's chapter one of the lines from the Ghost of Christmas Present was how '...laughter is contagious...'. I was truly impressed with the discussions that followed about that phrase when we were discussing the chapter.

Therefore, I have decided it's time to move the last post down the page and spread some holiday cheer. Thank you for all of your comments, email, and texts. I am very thankful for all of you.

I know that this song has been around the emails and blogs, but I just love it. Those reindeer are hilarious!!!

Happy Christmas!

December 8, 2009

Peaks and Valleys

A long time ago ~ long before Big Bear and I were married ~ a friend told me that marriage is a series of peaks and valleys.

Little did I know at the time just how true are those words.

I just wish that the valleys didn't come along when the peaks are rolling along so blissfully peaceful. A nice stroll to the valley would be much more pleasant than the jumping off the ledge that seems to occur.

Thankfully the trek back to the peak is worth the effort, no matter how hard the journey can be at times.

December 6, 2009

Happy St. Nicholas Day

I still dream of the day we will celebrate St Nicholas Day.
Maybe next year.
Happy St. Nicholas Day!!

December 3, 2009

It's Official...

It has taken a full year, but all of the Marching Pandas are out of here!!! No offense to any of you, but in the nearly four years we have been waiting I have never been so excited to have a month completed.

Next up are the Flying Tigers! Flying Tigers is the name of the April, 2006 LID Yahoo Group. This morning I had over 25 emails from the Yahoo Group! Excitement is in the air, and it's not Christmas excitment.

I can't wait to start putting those blue X's on the April calendar.

December 2, 2009

This Just In...

The rumors are flying that CC@@ has sent out referrals and that they have finished March!! This is HUGE news!!!

If this rumor is true then there are only seven 'referral' days ahead of us! SEVEN!!! (I'm not counting the two weekends.) That could mean a February or March referral!!! I'm hoping for February, but as we all know never hope when it comes to the wait.

As soon as I know for sure I will check off more of those calendar days!!! Woooo Hooooooo!!
Congratulations to my friend Kaycee and her family!!! They will get to see their daughter's picture soon!!!!

December 1, 2009

Not My Cup of Tea

In this post I told you about the “Winter Meltdown” the YMCA was offering. I was nervous, but excited about attending. I have needed something to ‘click on my switch’ to lose weight.

Unfortunately, this program is not for me. The people have all been really nice, and I did learn a few things, but - as I feared - I am the only one with a significant amount of weight to lose. Everyone there is mainly doing the program so they don’t gain weight over the holidays.

Because of this I think the program is much more lax than I was hoping it would be. I don’t mean to whine, but we were told that we would weigh in private. Nope, they weigh everyone right in the front of the group. Yes, that’s fine if you have 20-30 pounds to lose, but it is just too difficult for me.

My Type A personality would have lists and charts to keep everything in order. After getting on the scale they would write it down on the back of a sheet of paper. Everyone’s weight was listed on the back of a different sheet of paper. How in the world are they going to keep track properly? Am I being too critical?

On the good side, my ‘switch’ has clicked back on thanks to joining the “Meltdown”. Other than the excessive amount of martinis my sister-in-law and I consumed on Thanksgiving I did pretty well while Big Bear and I were in Chicago. ;o) Also, thanks to the Y, I have tried several of the toning classes they offer and a ZUMBA class. After I got over the feeling of having two left feet during the ZUMBA class I really enjoyed it and plan on attending more classes.

Even though I won’t be attending the “Meltdown” meetings I still plan to Meltdown. I have been working on adding variety to my clean-eating meals. I have increased my distance during my walks already. Good things are happening and instead of getting the cheers at the Y, I am going to bore you with it here. :o)