Thursday, December 31, 2009

Recycling Love

Is everyone ready for New Year's Eve? Oh yeah, I have plans for an awesome spin class, a new movie to watch, and Thai food. Plus a bottle of sparkling cider to share with the kids before their bedtime. I'll sure miss that first kiss of the New Year...

Just wanted to share a really neat way to recycle those beautiful Christmas cards we all received over the Christmas Season. St. Jude's Ranch accepts used, all occasion cards that the kids then remake into new cards and then resell. It's a great way to go a little green, to help out these remarkable children, and a way to not let those beautiful cards go to waste. I know we've mostly gone to photo cards, but there are always a few real cards that I always hate to throw away at the end of the season. I'll be sendng mine in as soon as I can bear to take them down.

St. Jude's Ranch will be accepting used, all-occasion cards from:
November 15, 2009 - February 28, 2010.

You can mail your donations to:
St. Jude's Ranch for Children
Recycled Card Program
100 St. Jude's Street - Boulder City, NV 89005
877-977-SJRC (7572)

Read more about this program here.

Have a wonderful New Year!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Look What Santa Brought Us!!

Tony was able to surprise the kids with a quick 2 1/2 day visit over the Christmas Holiday! Despite the long days of travel for him, it was such a blessing to be together for just a little while. Made us appreciate being a family just a little bit more...

I have so much to blog about, but I have found myself running out of steam and time most evenings as I try to balance the demands of my job as mommy and daddy. Please stick with me...I'll be back soon with some fun ideas for the New Year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Winner & The Collector

I have just consulted with my random picker, a.k.a. Anna, and she selected ROSANNE as the giveaway winner!!

I'll be getting your loot in the mail to you after the Holidays. Thanks to everyone who played along...even during the busy crunch of the season.

And just a funny photo before I take the next few days off to enjoy Christmas with my family. I found this little blue bin on the floor in the basement and obviously Josh had gone through our big bin of plastic animals and picked out all the zebras. The kids a collector.

At least he got something from his mother.

Merry **CHRIST**mas everyone!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Giveaway Extension

I talked to my Scentsy lady yesterday and the warmer I chose to giveaway was back ordered, but should be delivered tomorrow. Thus, the giveaway will be extended to Wednesday morning. All other rules still apply. Go here to enter!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Scentsy & Door Hanger Giveaway

I'm back from my trip and all thawed out. I sure missed my kids, but a trip was just what I needed to get myself centered again and revved for the rest of the holiday season!

Just a reminder...we will be drawing a winner for the Scentsy warmer and door hanger giveaway first thing on Monday morning, so click here to get in on the action.

Good Luck!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunshine Bound!

So, my big exciting news may really just be exciting to me. But it is. Tony and his mom arranged for a 5-day trip for me, all by myself, where I get to fly on an airplane to someplace warm. And Joan is coming up to stay with the kids. I get to relax. Renew. Read. Sleep in. And thaw out. I can't wait.

But I made a promise to myself that I would disconnect from the computer while I am gone, so there will be no blogging, emailing or blog visiting. Sorry. But I'll catch up when I get home and I hope this giveaway will make up for it.

On Monday, December 21st, my impartial 6-year-old will draw a winner of these:

A new Classic Scentsy Warmer (IN CREAM) with a block of Snowberry wax. Yum.

And this Christmas doorhanger made (with love) by me.

Now on to the rules. You can have up to two entries by doing the following:

1: Leave a comment on this post and then say something nice about the person that commented above you. If they don't have a blog or it is private, make something up. :-) (Thanks for the GREAT idea, Laurel!)

2: You can become a follower if you aren't yet and would like to be OR you can link directly to this post from your blog. Let me know in your comment and I'll add your extra entry.

Have fun this week, ladies!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Santa's Magic Key & Goodies Galore

Our regularly scheduled Christmas festivities came to a screeching halt this week when Sam and Anna both made a very keen observation. We don't have a chimney. For the first time in their lives, we don't have a way for Santa to make his stealth entrance into our home on Christmas Eve. So what's a mom to do?? Take the advice of the many other military wives that have gone get creative. Hence, Santa's Magic Key. Did you know that this special key can open ANY door for Santa on Christmas Eve?? Lucky I got my hands on one of these...

We've also been chin high in Christmas goodies for neighbors, friends, bus drivers and the other great everyday people of our lives. LOVE these reindeer take-out boxes from Target's $1 bin. They are the perfect size for a little bag of treats tied with twine.

Check in later this weekend...I've got a HUGE announcement and Christmas giveaway in the works that you won't want to miss.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Gingerbread in the Air

Last week, Sam performed in his school's Christmas play, "A Gingerbread Christmas". We were so proud of him for being chosen and he has worked very hard to memorize his...line. He was very anxious for us to see the play and even committed the cardinal sin of acting and waved to us from the stage. We didn't mind. He made the most handsome toy soldier...

And this morning I spent a couple hours in Anna's classroom helping her Kindergarten class make gingerbread houses. It was so much fun to watch these little creative minds work. And what a mess they made!!

My sister-in-law Lena just sent this YouTube video to me that you have to watch if you haven't seen it before. Mom, just push the play button. Nothing will happen to your computer. Promise.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Paying It Forward

**UPDATED** I hear from Debbra that she hasn't been sending out books over the last year or so because of the increase in use of Skype and other ways of communication. HOWEVER, we still have our books and will be donating them to our base's Family Support Center which offers a similar program. If you're still wanting to participate, any base with have a Family Support Center that would be happy to take your donation.**

While Tony was deployed in Iraq, he took advantage of a really wonderful thing. A woman named Deb Johnson had organized a program that sent books, blank tapes, and in some cases, mini tape recorders to troops stationed overseas. The parent could then read the story onto the tape and send it and the book home. My kids LOVED this...especially to hear their daddy's voice when phone calls were sporadic at best.

Last week, we were giving Anna's room a good once-over and we found the tapes of the books that Tony had made during his time in Iraq and hunted down the corresponding books. On our way to the valley later that week (a 40 minute drive), the kids listened to the tape of their daddy's voice and followed along in the book. They were enraptured.

So as a service project this Holiday season, one of the things we have chosen to do is pay it forward so that other military children missing a parent this year might be comforted by a parent's voice. We bought some books new and went through our stash to find some gently read ones and are sending them to:

Ramsey's Read Me Home
c/o Debbra A. Johnson
P. O. Box 4335
Greenville, DE 19807-0335

If you are interested in doing the same, please read about the beginnings of this program and the wonderful lady who keeps it going.

Happy Holidays!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

'Tis the Season...

...for Christmas cards!! We received our first Christmas card of the season yesterday and it was delightful. It really is one of my very favorite things about the hear from our friends and loved ones all over the world. And since I finally finished our family's Christmas cards (which took all Fall to complete, call me crazy) I have had a few moments to make some Christmas thank you notes as well.

We also spent the weekend putting up Christmas trees! Our big angel one is in the living room, but this year Anna had her own pink tree in her room and the boys have a trio of trees with our handmade and collectible ornaments on them in their room. Our "m" tree is in the family room. I absolutely LOVE using our Christmas trees as nightlights!

As we were unwrapping ornaments in the boys' room, I looked over and saw this. Hey, we get our kicks where we can around here...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Blessings

The kids were off this entire week and we have spent the time playing, cooking and finishing up a few things for Thanksgiving. A wonderful family in our ward, the Wards, invited our family and another family who are missing their daddy over for a scrumptious Thanksgiving feast! And because we all had kids about the same age, after the chaos of eating, they all went downstairs to pay and the adults got to visit. Thank you for the wonderful day, Clay and Laura!!

After the Thanksgiving feast (and before the inevitable bedtime crash) we also went to a neighborhood pie fest where there was MORE to eat, lots more playing, and some more MUCH needed adult conversation. This is the pie that was my contribution...Eggnog Pie.

Bateman Family Eggnog Pie Filling

1 9" pie sell, baked and cooled
1 envelope unflavored gelatin (like Knotts)
3 Tbsp. cold water
2 cups eggnog
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 cup heavy cream
nutmeg for garnish

Combine the gelatin and water to soften gelatin. Warm eggnog over low heat and add gelatin mixture and stir until gelatin is completely dissolved and the eggnog is warm. Chill until partially set. Then beat the eggnog until it is smooth and add salt, sugar, vanilla and almond extract. Mix until smooth. Beat the heavy cream in a separate bowl until still and then fold into eggnog mixture. Pour into the pie crust and garnish with nutmeg. Chill until ready to serve.

Despite all of the craziness this week, I found myself in those rare, quiet moments in awe of my many blessings. I have a wonderful family. We are strong and healthy. We live in a country where we can practice our religious views in freedom. We are protected daily by men and woman who sacrifice everything to do so. How blessed we truly are.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Purse Invitations

Since I don't have an official calling in the ward yet, I get to "meddle" in anything that needs a little extra help. So last week I offered to make these darling invitations for our upcoming relief society meeting. Our enrichment counselor found the pattern online here and with Lena's help, we whipped out about 65 of them.

The reason I'm sharing is that they turned out so.dang.cute. And I thought how fun they would be to use for a get together or a little girl's birthday invitation. They were a little work intensive, but the work to cute ratio was way high...

Have a wonderful, wonderful Thanksgiving!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fun, Lena Style

I have always admired the way my sister-in-law Lena lives life to the fullest, and sometimes on the fly (something I don't do very well). So when that spontaneity worked in my favor (in the form of a visit) I was so excited!! But since there isn't a whole lot of, well, excitement to be had in Spokane in November, we made some of our own. With a little help from my friends. Here are some of the highlights:

On Thursday evening, I took Lena to my spin class. However, it was far from normal. Our instructor Melanie had decided to make that night an 80's theme night with music and outfits and everything. So Lena brought some of her gear and we spun out to old 80's tunes. Too bad the photo cut off my totally rad legwarmers...

Then on Saturday (between swimming lessons and book group) we went to New Moon with a group of my girlfriends. We figured that between the six of us we had 17 children. In other words, we're a little tiny bit old to be obsessing about vampires and werewolves. But we didn't look nearly as silly as the random row of guys sitting behind us. And as for the movie...I've always been firmly planted in camp Edward, but after New Moon? Let's just say the match is tied.

Thanks so much for the fun visit, Lena and baby Cora, and for all your help. We love you!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Doin' It

My sister-in-law Lena and her little girl Cora are here visiting with us from Salt Lake this week and we're having a great time...more on the visit to follow. This explains my complete and utter blogging absence, but I'll be back on the bandwagon soon.

Back to the post. Yesterday, Anna and Lena were watching the end of the movie Sharkboy and Lavagirl on the Disney channel. As Sharkboy and Lavagirl go off into the distance together, Anna turns to Lena and says,

Anna: "They are going to do it."

Lena: (long pause) "What?"

Anna: "They are going to do it."

Lena: (another long, apprehensive pause) "Do what, Anna?"

Anna: "Save the world."

Whew. That was a close one. Not sure if I'm ready to have THAT talk yet...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

An Attitude of Gratitude

I have a confession on this Tuesday night, my friends. I have no idea how single parents do it. I am constantly one step behind and two hours short on sleep. But we are finally finding a groove and adjusting to daddy's absence.

One of our sisters that we visit teach just PCSed so we are down to two. And one of those ladies is expecting her first baby, a little boy, any day. So I made this little baby blanket for her to keep him warm during the cold winter months. I think my favorite part, though, is the darn tag!! The little onesie is a Quickutz die and I use it constantly.

And for our other sister, I wanted to do this Pumpkin Granola that Laurel over at Ducks in a Row shared. We tried it and LOVED it, but wasn't up for another half a batch to eat ourselves so I fell back on the old tried and true Cherry-Berry Almond Granola in a mason jar with a gratitude quote. I love this stuff...

Cherry-Berry Almond Granola

4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
2 cups sliced almonds
1 1/2 cups mixed dried cherries & dried mixed berries
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup honey
2 tsp. cinnamon

Toss oats, coconut, almonds, and dried fruit in a large bowl. Pour the vegetable oil and honey over the mixture and stir until coated. Add cinnamon and stir to coat evenly. Pour into rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until a nice even brown. Remove from oven and let cool. Store in an airtight container.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Ice Cold & Ice Cream

We had our first snowfall today. It is beautiful and chilly and makes the whole neighborhood look lovely.

We are also having a wonderful time with my parents. Banana splits for dinner?? Grandpa's idea.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Shirt

The first time Tony deployed was about 10 years ago to RAF Mildenhall as an Intelligence Officer in support of the Kosovo conflict. And being a young Air Force wife and new to the whole deployment thing, I made a rookie mistake. The day after he left (in an attempt to stay busy, I suppose) I did every piece of laundry. Including sheets and pillowcases. It didn't take me long to realize that I had completely obliterated anything that smelled like him. He had taken his soap and shampoo with him and I had just washed away everything else. So now every time he deploys, I make him leave me the shirt he wears the day he leaves...just to have something that smells like him for a little while. And it helps me not miss him so much.

And this helps too...a huge stack of books all ready to read. If I ever get through Robinson Crusoe, that is.

And every so often, a little of this doesn't hurt either. (I know you're drooling too, Camie...)

My parents come tomorrow to keep us company for a few days...hooray for visitors!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Pumpkin Scones

Holy pumpkin yumminess! I found this recipe a couple of months ago and it has been my favorite new reipe this Fall. As good as coffee cake for breakfast with a cup of hot chocolate.

Pumpkin Scones

3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. chopped crystallized ginger
4 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg
3/4 cup regular or golden raisins

Heat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking-sheet liner. Combine flour, 2/3 cup of the sugar, the baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the crystallized ginger in a large bowl. Add butter; mix with pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, whisk together pumpkin, buttermilk and egg. Gently stir into dough, along with raisins. Drop dough by 1/2-cupfuls onto prepared sheet, about 2 inches apart. In a small bowl, stir together remaining tablespoon sugar and remaining 1/2 teaspoon chopped crystallized ginger. Sprinkle sugar-ginger mixture evenly over dough. Bake at 400° for 16 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire rack and let cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

**Just a hint...I found that it is easier to use a bit of sugar and the back of a spoon to break down the crystalized ginger than to chop it.**

Have a wonderul week!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Mourning With Fort Hood

I couldn't believe it when I heard the news about the attack on Fort Hood yesterday by a fellow Army soldier who was preparing for imminent deployment to Afghanistan. My heart breaks for the families of his victims and our family's prayers are with them.

I don't always (well, almost never actually) agree with President Obama on anything. But yesterday I must admit he got it right.

"These are men and women who have made the selfless and courageous decision to risk and at times give their lives to the rest of us on a daily basis," the president continued. "It is horrifying that they should come under fire at an Army base on American soil."


Tuesday, November 3, 2009


How did I get lucky enough... be your mommy?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Frailty, Thy Name Is Robinson Crusoe

About two weeks ago, I ran out of books on my nightstand. So I headed downstairs to our family "library" and tried to pick out something to get me by until my next order came in. Well, Robinson Crusoe caught my eye...mainly because I have never read it and I thought it might be a fun to read a classic tale of shipwreck and woe.

Now, I have a different opinion. Robinson Crusoe will cure even the worst cases of insomnia. I can't get over this guy and his ramblings. You'd think for a guy with a limited amount of ink, he might be a little less generous in his wordage. Give me a page and a half of this guy and I'm out like a light. That's why after two weeks, I'm still only a little over halfway done.

And seriously?? Please. You land on a beautiful deserted island where it is quiet, and you get to take a nap whenever you'd like. Your biggest concerns are taming goats, drying grapes into raisins, and making baskets. And yet you spend pages and pages griping.

Try doing what I do for a week.

Frailty, thy name is Robinson Crusoe.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Monster Mashin'

Tonight was our ward's Trunk-or-Treat... and the kids had a ball!

They played a couple of fun games, ate mac-n-cheese to their hearts content, and then headed outside for the candy gathering. It was so gorgeous tonight that we almost didn't even need a jacket.

Sam was Davy Crockett (thank goodness we still had the hat from his birthday party)...

Anna was Elphaba...

And Josh was the angst-ridden shark. But I must say this for the little man--he did wear that darn shark head the entire night.

And sometimes, the very best ideas are the ones you steal from your friends. My friend Jeni made these darling suckers for Halloween gifts and when I saw them, I knew that they would be a fun, easy thing to do for Halloween goodies this year. And Jeni being the lovely, talented and generous friend she is, let me shamelessly steal her idea. And she even shared her stamps (what a lady)! I love the way they look all piled up in my big bowl all ready for tomorrow night.

So after helping with Anna's classroom party today, watching kids this afternoon and Trunk-or-Treat tonight, I am ready to put my feet up and have a cup of hot chocolate. And some of the good stuff from the kids' candy stash. I won't tell if you won't.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sam's Vote of Confidence

I volunteer at the kid's school on Mondays and Sam's teacher saw me working in the hallway outside Anna's classroom and came over to talk to me. She said that Sam had come into class today and told her this:

Sam: "My dad left last Friday. And he's going to be gone for six.whole.months."

Long pause.

Sam: "That last part is a secret. Mom's not supposed to know it's for six months."

Thanks for the overwhelming vote of confidence, Sam.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Anna's Piggie Love

First of all, thank you for all your kind words and support. We have known for a bit that Tony would be leaving, but the day before and the day after he leaves are always a shock to the system. It means the world to know that my friends are thinking of our family and praying for us. Thank you so, so much.

I'll have more to share this week about Anna's birthday, but because Tony was leaving, we celebrated as a family last week with dinner out and cake. Well, she wanted pink cupcakes, but something cool like Sam's last year. So on Thursday afternoon, we made strawberry cupcakes, frosted them, used half a strawberry marshmallow for the snout, rolled out pink starbursts for the ears and used mini-chocolate chips and chocolate sprinkles for the eyes and nostrils. I had originally intended them for Anna's school class, but school policy is that we can bring in only store-bought food (which I completely understand), so our family enjoyed them instead.

Have a fabulous week!

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Truth

You know, I really believe that the Lord knows us. He knows our capabilities. He knows our talents. And I also know that he loves us enough to give us just enough challenges to grow...but not enough to send us to the looney bin.

Case in point. This week, I have been without a computer. I have been without my wedding ring. I blew out a tire on my car across town from home. I have been trying to go about my life with a degree of grace and self-confidence when all I wanted to do was hide in my closet and cry.

And yesterday, just when I thought I might not make it, the Lord steps into my life from the shadows from where he was waiting. My computer was fixed 2 days early. My ring was back a day early. Tony rescued me from certain death in a car with a completely flat tire (that was a little dramatic, but you get my point.) The newly remodeled Zips just 2 miles from home started carrying diet Dr. Pepper on fountain. And so when one of the greatest challenges of my life was due to begin, I was at peace.

You see, Tony left today for a 6-month deployment (but I won't be sharing where or other details). And the honest truth? I love my country. But I love my husband more. And I believe in him and I am learning to believe in me. So I know our family will weather the storm.

Until we're all together again.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Amy's Turkey Tuesday Giveaway

**Well, we got our computer back today and it seems to be humming again. I've been a little slow in spreading the word about this giveaway, but better late than never. More to come from me tomorrow...**

My talented friend Amy has just started a new blog and is giving away this darling turkey (which she designed, might I add). So if you'd like to get in on this terrific turkey Tuesday giveaway, head over here and leave a comment to win! Let Amy know I said hi...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Life Happens

We are having a few computer issues. And it is almost worse than having no computer at all. So while we are considering our options (i.e. throwing it out the window or smashing it with a hammer), life continues to happen.

Just before we left Nebraska, I spent a day with Kristi antiquing in Nebraska City searching for treasures. I'd seen all the fun things online that ladies were doing with old flour bags so that is what I was really looking for when I found this great corn seed bag. When I had my sewing machine out this week, I turned it into a pillow for my favorite red chair in my kitchen so that I can be reminded of Nebraska (and rows of waving corn) whenever I see it.

And this week I finally finished playing with my bushel of Golden Delicious Washington apples I bought this Fall. I made 6 quarts of applesauce (the apples were so sweet I didn't need to add any sugar...just a pinch of cinnamon) and have been drying some into apple chips that are divine. We're down to the last 4 or so in our crisper and I look forward to doing it again next Fall.

I'm missing your blogs...but I promise once we get these glitches figured out, I'll be back in full force. Hope everyone is happy and healthy!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Mummy Sticks

The big kids didn't have school today so we planned a little project to do while Josh napped. I saw these in a Halloween idea magazine and thought they were so very cute! Now, they originally call for mini M&Ms for the beady mummy eyes (which is much cuter) but I couldn't seem to find any ANYWHERE so we were reduced to using mini chocolate chips. But you get the idea.

First, we melted milk chocolate squares in a double boiler, dipped the pretzel sticks, attached the eyes to the wet chocolate, and let them harden in the refrigerator. When the chocolate had set, I put some vanilla icing in a freezer Ziploc baggie and cut a hole in one corner. The kids had a ball "wrapping" their mummies in icing! They are almost too cute to eat. Almost.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Got Us Covered

When we move all the time in the military, drapes for our windows seem like a bit of a waste. Of time. Of money. Because inevitably, they don't fit the windows at your next house. Which leads to a box of unusable drapes. But I felt like our living area needed something extra. And I found a fabulous set of barn red raw silk drapes that look fantastic with the colors and mixed textures in my decor and I'm so glad that I splurged.