Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Good Citizen Sam & Lunch Guests

Sam brought home an invitation last week inviting us to an early morning ceremony yesterday morning for the children at his school who had been selected as winners of the year-end citizenship award for their classroom. Needless to say, we were so proud of Sam. In true boy fashion, he was more excited about the donuts and juice, but as a mom, I loved to be there to hear his teacher tell about why he was a good choice for the award; his helpful spirit, his friendliness, his attention to the world around him, and his use of only kind words. Way to go, Sam!

Today, we got a visit from Kristi and Genna. It had been way to long since we were together last, and we purposefully didn't plan to go anywhere. It was fun to listen to the girls play together and to catch up on all the goings on. Good just to be together. We soaked up a little sun, too, as we pushed the girls on the swings.

Thanks for the wonderful visit, ladies. Can't wait to do it all again.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Chocolate Peanut Butter Trifle

My sister-in-law Lena is the trifle queen. And ever since our trip to Utah (when she introduced me to a fabulous Chocolate Brownie Trifle), I have had a bit of trifle on the brain. So when I ran across mention of a chocolate Peanut Butter Trifle over at {unwrapped}, I had to give it a whirl. Not too much work, with a huge chocolate and peanut butter payoff. Yummers!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Trifle

1 chocolate cake mix
1 pkg. peanut butter chips
4 1/4 C. cold milk, divided
1/2 C. whipping cream
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
2 small pkgs. Instant Chocolate Pudding Mix
1 small carton Cool Whip
8 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Pour the batter into a greased 13 x 9 baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.

In a heavy saucepan, combine chips, 1/4 C. milk and 1/2 C. cream. Cook and stir over low heat until chips are melted. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla. Cool to room temperature. Place the remaining milk in a mixing bowl; beat in pudding mixes on low speed for 2 minutes. Place pudding in the fridge for 3-4 minutes to set up a bit.

To assemble, crumble half of the cake into a 4 qt. Trifle bowl or large bowl. Layer with half of the peanut butter sauce, pudding, Cool Whip and ½ of the crumbled Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups; repeat layers ending with Cool Whip and remaining ½ of crumbled Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Zebraman, A Cool Site & Cleaning Day 5

We have a new superhero living at our house! His name is "Zebraman" and he is the patron superhero of zebras. His job is, and I quote, "to protect zebras from all dangers such as cheetahs, lions and wildebeests. Even panthers." Notice his cool cape and superhero socks. Brilliant.

And for cleaning today, the kids (Sam didn't have school today) and I organized the movies, toys, and art supplies in the family room. I should be done with the whole house by tomorrow night. WHEW!

And for all you moms living in the Omaha metro, a girlfriend told me about this great website that offers all sorts of ideas for fun times in Omaha and has awesome coupons and discounts available through them. For example, right now they are offering $10 passes to Coco Key if you go during the day. Very cool.

Have a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Monotony and Cleaning Day 4

I wish I had something witty to post along with my cleaning picture today. I don't. It's been a pretty regular day. Anna played at the Broughs. I went to the commissary. It is humid and pleasant (with a huge storm predicted this evening so no soccer practice). My allergies are killing me.

BUT, my entire upstairs has been cleaned! I did the kids' wing today...both bedrooms, their bathroom and the linen closet. I even bleached all the bath toys.

Does it make me a nerd if I get all tingly after typing that?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My Tumor and Cleaning Day 3

We'll start with the good news first. Today's cleaning space was the master bedroom, bathroom and closet. Without a doubt the easiest day so far. thank goodness, because I have a tumor.

Yes, my friends, upon my return from our trip to Utah, I noticed a tumor on my side. It seems to greatly limit my productivity and tries my motherly patience. There is a name for this type of tumor. It's name is Joshua Grant. Albeit it cute as a button and smart enough to give me a big, open-mouthed kiss when I am about ready to sell him to the next band of roving gypsies to pass through, it has made me seriously rethink going anywhere alone for the next little while. I'll give it a couple more days. Then I might have to resort to surgical separation. Or at least a chocolate cookie bribe for a few minutes alone so I can pee.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hearty Tomato Soup and Cleaning Day 2

After a gloriously warm and sunny weekend, yesterday was a bit of a and rainy. So I made soup for dinner. It was quite possibly the last time we'll have soup for a while, but I wanted to share the recipe nonetheless. It is a winner from my friend, Nancy Partridge.

Hearty Tomato Soup

2Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. dried basil leaves
6 oz. of softened cream cheese
1 1/4 cup milk
2 (10 3/4 oz. each) cans of tomato soup
2 (14 1/2 oz. each) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
i pkg. cheese tortellini

Melt butter in saucepan. Cook onion and garlic in butter for about 2 minutes until onion is tender; remove from heat. Stir in paprika, basil and cream cheese. Gradually stir in soup and milk. Beat with a wire whisk until cheese is melted and soup is smooth. Stir in tomatoes. Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until hot.

Today's Spring clean chore was the kitchen, dining room and living room. Organizing drawers, throwing away expired medication, scrubbing the floor, polishing the cabinets, cleaning glass and bleaching towels, washrags and pot holders. Everywhere else just needed a good dusting and vacuum. There is almost nothing I love more than a clean kitchen. Hooray!

I also needed a fresh idea for a centerpiece for my dining room table. So I swiped an idea from a friend and filled a hurricane jar with my collection of vintage cookie cutters and candy molds. Thanks for the great idea, Shawna!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Google Reader & Spring Cleaning Day 1

I am officially infatuated with my Google Reader. I know, I know, everyone has been telling me how great it is, so I finally got all my favorite blogs loaded in this weekend and I've been LOVIN' it. It's amazing all the time I save. Now I can find more blogs to stalk. Cool.

For those of you who know me, I tend a bit towards OCD. I prefer to call it being "particular." I know some of you more generous souls are giving me the benefit of the doubt, but I have a feeling I've doomed myself after this week. I am one of the sick people who actually loves to Spring clean. Seriously. LOVE it. Since this is the first official Spring clean in my new house, I'm documenting the insanity. It might give you some ideas of your own. If you have even better ideas, share them. I'm always looking for cleaning sistahs.

I have a weekly cleaning routine anyway, so I'm following that with some extras. Monday is laundry day and empty trashes for Tuesday garbage day. So today, I caught up on all the family's regular laundry. I then went a step further and removed the tags from all my kids' summer clothes and washed those as well. As I put all the clothes away, I'm taking out clothes that are too small or way out of season and washing those to either sell to "Big Wheels to Butterflys" or putting them in boxes for my sisters or a garage sale. Those I can't part with are going in their respective bins by size in my basement. I also scrubbed down the laundry room and emptied all the trash cans in the house and washed them inside and out. Monday? Check!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Anna's New Word

Anna came downstairs this morning to let me know that she was having trouble getting ready for her dance class. I think these were her exact words...

Anna: "Mom. I looked in my drawer and the only panyho I could find was too small."

Apparently, "pantyho" is the new singular for pantyhose. Whatever it is, it sounds borderline obscene to me.

Have a great weekend!

Fun Idea #1

I don't know about you, but I am really missing Scribbit's Winter Bazaar. Not missing winter so much, just the Bazaar part. It was such a great source of fun ideas and recipes, but it also helped me to remember to share those cool ideas I come across on my blog. So for the next little while, (or at least when I remember), I'm going to try and share a tidbit of fun...a craft idea, a time-saving tip, or a random recipe once a week. No real structure and I'm not brave enough to host anything, but it's just a way to help me remember to pass the love along.

So for today, my fun idea comes from Ginger, a friend in my ward. Her husband travels for his job and for much of the past year, she has been a single mom of 5 kids. Seriously. I was over at her house this week and she shared a most excellent idea with me. Now, it probably won't apply to all of you, but it certainly is helping me and our little family.

My Sam flat out refuses to eat hot lunch. Refuses. So Tony or I end up getting all the stuff for his lunch out the night before and putting together a fun little lunch for him. Ginger does the same thing and although she only has 2 kids in school, she makes a sack lunch for ALL OF HER KIDS. I mean, you have all the stuff out anyway. It is no harder to pull a couple more lunches together. So the next day at lunch, she just pulls the lunches out for her kids that are still at home and she's set. I love this idea because you have a chance to better plan lunch without a hungry kid breathing down your neck, the kids don't have to all eat at the exact same time, AND Anna thinks it's pretty cool to eat out of a lunch sack...even things she would normally complain about. Good idea? Thanks, Ginger!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

We're Home!

Anna and I got home last night from our 4-day trip to Utah! I was too busy having fun to take many pictures, but I didn't realize what a TERRIBLE job I'd done until I got home and I don't have a single picture of Wendy. Or Becky. What's up with THAT?? I'll try and make this short and sweet and touch on just the highlights.

On Saturday, we had the McIllece baby shower for Becky and baby Tucker. Joan's living room was filled to capacity and it was an added bonus for Anna and I to see so much of our family on this trip. Saturday afternoon, I got schooled in Acquire and we ate pizza with Wendy, Russ and Becky, Joan, Donny and Lena. Such a fun day! Donny wore Anna out with tickles and chases.

Sunday we said good-bye to Wendy and then went to church with Russ, Becky and Joan. I snapped this picture on the way in and it pretty much sums up the whole trip for Anna...Uncles are everything. Russ and Anna got a D- for reverence during church. We had a family meal and then Anna and I headed down the road to stay a couple days with my sister April, David and baby Breea.

On Monday, we hung out with little Breea (who we met for the first time this trip), got pictures taken of the two little girls together by Heather at Unwrapped (more on that soon), celebrated April's birthday and shopped. Oh, and shopped. Such a fun day.

Tuesday, April Breea, Anna and I went to visit my dear friend Chery, who I haven't seen in probably 8 years but who keeps me updated so well through letters that we have never lost touch. We met (dare I say?) over 14 years ago in Alaska. I told her I was going to post some "back then" photos of us and she made me promise I wouldn't. It was a delight to see her and her beautiful kids! Then back up to Salt Lake for lunch with Joan, Donny and Lena at Cafe Rio (yummers) and then back to Donny's house for the McIllece Bracketology Trophy Exchange and to meet Anna's "cousins" Tika and Tarbo. Then more shopping, a quick nap for Anna on the way to the airport and then home again.

When we landed last night, we got a message from Becky saying that baby Tucker should be making his much anticipated appearance today. Good luck and we love you!

Thank you everyone for making our trip so much fun. GIRL-POWER!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Little Uncle Love

Greetings from Utah! Just a quick picture that was too cute not to share. This is Anna getting some love from her Uncle Donny and her Uncle Russell (Tony's brothers).

Have a great week and I'll be back in a few!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Be Sweet

While making a valiant effort to make my cream of wheat more palatable this morning, I got this friendly little reminder.

I don't think the kind people at Splenda have any idea about my temperament most mornings, but a great reminder nonetheless.

Anna and I are on our way to Utah tomorrow for a girl's weekend to attend Becky's baby shower and to play with April and Breea. So I'll be MIA for the next 4 days or so. I'll have lots to share when we get home. Have fun and be sweet!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


This is sorta how I felt today...trying to get ready for Enrichment tonight with my three little "helpers" and Tony in San Antonio. I even had the twitches.

Ever had one of those days?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Bracketology Babe

Just in...until March Madness rolls around again, the McIllece Bracketology trophy will hold a place of honor in our home. Good thing, because after two wins in three years, Anna really considers it "her" trophy. I must admit, it would have been a bit more fun to have it coming home to Nebraska if Donny hadn't been such a dang gentleman about having his bracket handed to him by a 4-year-old...with a little help from her daddy.

This is a very, very big deal. We have an official commissioner. We have our own rules. We have our own scoring system. We have a traveling trophy, AND the plaque that bears the winner's name for posterity. We have a blog. We even have a "control" bracket completed by which team's mascot is the most ferocious and capable of taking a fight. AND, we have the trash talking. Seriously. And we look forward to it every stinkin' year. As always, thanks so much for the fun!!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Happy Birthday, Sweet Joshua!

Our darling little caboose baby is officially one year old today. Joyous, and perhaps a little bittersweet. It is so fun to watch him grow and delight in his developing personality, but just the same, I'm wishing today that time wasn't passing so quickly.

We celebrated with cake and presents yesterday because Tony left early this morning for a course in San Antonio. The big kids helped open all the presents, and Josh was happy just to be in the center of the chaos.

His favorite things currently are speed crawling, eating Kix and cheese, riding facing forward in his big-boy car seat, and giving high-fives. He has the quickest smile and loves to be in the middle of the action. Not hard when he is the center of our little world.

It really seems like last week that Josh joined our family. Despite the many challenges of his pregnancy, he has never ceased to delight every member of our family. We wouldn't be complete without him.

So, little booger-boo, we wish you every happiness this year and always. We love you to infinity and beyond!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Who's the Boss?

Since we moved to Omaha last summer, I have been at war with the local city library. Usually, the library is one of my first discoveries in a new town. In fact, the library and the local Target are what I consider our personal "McIllece Family Welcoming Committee." But not this time. Our home is in a very new development, and because we technically haven't been incorporated into the city limits, we have to PAY A YEARLY FEE in order to check out books. From our local library. Scandalous. How much you ask? $30. But its the principle of the thing. So I decided to show them. We've lived here for 8 months and 4 days and I have never been inside the Sump Memorial Library. I even grunt and shake my head in disgust when I drive by.

But after some major soul searching which included a realization that I have easily spent five times the yearly fee by actually having to purchase books to read, being desperate enough to re-read Madame Bovary for the sixth time, and knowing all the local Border's employees by name, I finally bit the bullet. Slunk in the door, wrote the check and got my very own library card. And checked out four books for me and one for Anna.

I guess I showed them who's boss.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Odds & Ends

First of all, I know there are a few of these Conference packets floating around in cyberspace, but my sister-in-law sent this one to me today and it was too cute not to share. Thanks, Wendy!

May I just say that I think we have an extremely talented artist living at our house. Right before dinner, Sam brought a project to show me...something he had been working on since he got home from school. It was a little booklet about dinosaurs.

This is the cover.

And this is on the inside.

It's the dinosaur's skeleton.

What a kid.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Welcome, Spring!

Whew! It feels a little like I dropped off the face of the earth there for a few days. We had a nice weekend as a family--going to swim lessons, soccer games, giving the first summer buzz cuts to the boys, and catching up with some old friends.

But for tonight, I wanted to share my visiting teaching gifts I made for the month of April. I was having a hard time coming up with an idea because usually Easter is in April, so I had to come up with a new idea for the month. I found some big bags of mixed flower seeds in the $1 bins at Target and picked out the butterfly mix which is guaranteed to attract butterflies to your garden. I thought the butterfly theme was even more appropriate when you consider the name of the town we live in...check out this post and this post.

The butterflies are from an old Snipits paper piecing pattern and I used my PSX alphabet stamps to stamp the greeting up the side.

Have a wonderful evening! I'm off to watch American Idol with my husband.