Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My Favorite Things #11: O Tannenbaum

Like my friend Becky, I love the glow of my Christmas tree. You would think I'd get it up earlier so that I can enjoy it longer, but I'm having trouble staying caught up just with the day-to-day right now, so we're lucky we even have a tree! The kids and I went a week ago and picked out a live tree at our local grocery store. They have nice trees for one reasonable price. If I go to a tree lot, the tree I want is always the most expensive, so I prefer the "one price fits all" approach. (No, I haven't given in and bought an artificial tree yet, though I assume I will eventually. I love the smell and, well everything about a real tree!) This year I surrendered all control. I allowed Tanner to pick the tree, although I didn't understand his choice until we got it all decorated. I think it looks great now. I also let the kids put up all of the ornaments without my guidance. I have to admit, I do look at the tree and think that I should move a couple of things. You probably can't tell from the picture, but most of the ornaments are silver and red balls. There are small and large balls of both colors, and half of the red are shiny and half are matte. If I hung the ornaments, I would spend way too much time and effort trying to perfectly alternate the sizes and colors. I'm proud of myself for letting the kids do it and not going back and fixing it. It still has the pleasing glow, and that's all I really care about. I have to mention how excited Carter is that we have a real tree in our house. He must not have been paying attention last year!

I have to include a picture of the three cute little trees outside my front door. My same friend Becky found these on clearance after Christmas last year and was sweet enough to pick a box up for me and for our friend Ally. I had to wait a full year to finally be able to put them up. I love the atmosphere it creates before you enter our home.
Hope you're enjoying your holiday decor!

Friday, December 12, 2008

My Favorite Things #10: A Night Out With My Husband

.......particularly when there's a free meal involved (department Christmas party), and I've used the event as an excuse to buy a new dress. This will be the first time I've left the baby with anyone other than John, but we've got the cute girl across the street coming to babysit, and I trust her completely. I'm looking forward to a night of being just a wife. It re-energizes me and makes me appreciate being a mother.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My Favorite Things #9: My Little People Nativity

I asked my mom to get this for me for my birthday when we lived in Spokane. It's one of my favorite things to get out at Christmas time. I think the pictures say it all:

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My Favorite Things #8: Little Girls in Leotards

Katelyn started taking dance in September. We were referred to an amazing teacher who has a preschool (Katie's only in the dance class) in addition to teaching creative dance to students of all ages. She's been doing it for over 30 years now, and her daughters are also teachers. Every December all of her students (there are over 100) perform the Nutcracker at a local high school. This week we had dress rehearsals on Monday and Tuesday nights, and the performances are Wednesday and Thursday. Every child gets a chance to be seen on the stage, which of course the parents love. I'm so excited to go tomorrow and watch the look on John's face when he sees his adorable little girl up there - he still hasn't seen her dance at all.

Monday, December 8, 2008

My Favorite Things #7: Blogging

It's been a little over a year and a half since I started my blog. It didn't take me long to realize what a great way it is to stay connected with friends, and to make new connections with people I may not have had the opportunity to meet. Blogging has been a source of comfort for me. It has been an outlet. It's been entertaining, and it's been uplifting. When life has kept me from being able to post or read others' posts, I've felt like something is missing. I could go on and on about why I love to blog and the positive effects of blogging, but you wouldn't be reading this if you didn't already know. So thanks for taking the time to read my blog, and for putting yourself out there for me and everyone else with your blog. If you're wondering who I'm referring to, check out the blogs on the side of the page. (If your blog is private, I obviously didn't include it in the list, but not because I don't love you.)

So for the love of blogging, I'm going to respond to the tag from Ginger yesterday:

1. Do you like bleu cheese? Not usually, but nothing goes better with hot wings than bleu cheese dressing.
2. Have you ever smoked? I've never smoked a cigarette. I always hated the smell so badly that I couldn't imagine inhaling the stuff.
3. Do you own a gun? No. We're considering it, though.
4. What flavor Kool-Aid was your favorite? Grape, but I was always nervous that it would give me a Kool-Aid mustache, so to this day I'm very careful when I drink it.
5. Do you get nervous about doctor appointments? Only when it's time for one of my kids to get shots. I don't like that one bit.
6. What do you think of hot dogs? About once a year, a hot dog sounds really good. Then it takes me another year to work up a craving again. Of course, that doesn't count polish dogs at Costco. Those almost always sound good, loaded with onions and ketchup and mustard. Oh, and corn dogs are a different thing altogether!
7. Favorite Christmas movie? Because it's my husband's favorite, I've come to love It's a Wonderful Life.
8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Despite my recent post, in the morning all I want is cold, cold water. Always.
9. Can you do push-ups? I hope I could do a couple, but that's about all I could hope for right now.
10. What's your favorite piece of jewelry? My wedding ring. That's the only serious jewelry I own, anyway.
11. Favorite hobby? Playing the piano. Blogging and sewing are close behind.
12. Do you have ADD? I never have, but I'm going through a stage where I'm having trouble focusing on one thing at a time. It's driving me crazy!
13. What's one trait you hate about yourself? Just one? Procrastination is at the top of the list.
14. Middle initial? M.
15. Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment? It's really hard to type without using my left index finger. I need to get to bed. I hope Carter sleeps through the night.
16. Name 3 drinks you regularly drink? Diet Dr. Pepper and water. Those are the most regular.
17. Current worry? My house is a mess.
18. Current hate right now? Headaches.
19. Favorite place to be? In the living room with my husband after the kids are in bed.
20. How did you ring in the new year? With good friends and too much food.
21. Where would you like to go? I am always aching to go to Europe, but I've been thinking a lot about Hawaii lately. I've never been there.
22. Name 3 people to tag? Cassie, Becky K, Becky C
23. Do you own slippers? Yes, but I never wear them. I should!
24. What shirt are you wearing? One that looked cute to me right after I had the baby, but has lost its magic.
25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? Never tried it.
26. Can you whistle? Yes, but I can't do that super loud whistle with 2 fingers in your mouth. I've always wanted to be able to do that!
27. Favorite color? I always say purple, but I like a lot of different colors in different contexts.
28. Would you be a pirate? Never. It would make me way too sad to steal from people.
29. What songs do you sing in the shower? I don't think I've sung in the shower since I had kids. I'm always listening for someone to be crying or causing trouble while I hurry as fast as possible.
30. Favorite girl's name? Katelyn Elizabeth, of course.
31. Favorite boy's name? C'mon! Carter, Aidan, and Tanner.
32. What's in your pocket right now? I'm proud to say that my comfy lounge pants have no pockets!
33. Last thing that made you laugh? My little baby looking up at me and smiling and cooing like crazy.
34. What vehicle do you drive? A 2001 Chrysler Town & Country. Minivans rock!
35. Worst injury? Sewing through my fingernail into my bone.
36. Do you love where you live? Yes and no, for many reasons. But I truly believe that there's a reason we live here right now. The people around us are amazing!
37. How many TVs do you have in your house? 4
38. Who is your loudest friend? You have to read Ginger's response to this because it's hilarious and it echoes my sentiments. While I don't really have loud friends, my son Carter has the loudest voice you've ever heard - seriously!
39. Do you have any pets? Yes. Two cats and a snake. A big, giant, snake.
40. Does someone have a crush on you? I think my baby does. I catch him watching me, just waiting for me to look at him. Then when I look, he gives me the biggest smile he possible can. Sounds like I'm the one with the crush!
41. Your favorite book? I always have a hard time with favorites. Right now I'd narrow it down to A Handmaid's Tale, 1984, and Crime and Punishment.
42. Do you collect anything? I had a lot of collections as a kid - coins, erasers, small glass animals - but I can't think of any collections that I've held onto or started since then. I'd like to say that I collect shoes, but I don't think I have enough to be taken seriously.
43. Favorite sports team? I really don't watch sports. The closest I come is having golf on while I do things around the house if I happen to be alone. It's peaceful, but entertaining at the same time.
44. What song do you want played at your funeral? I don't ever think about what should or will happen at my funeral. Off the top of my head, I'd say Rachmaninoff's second piano concerto, second movement.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

My Favorite Things #6: Christmas Lights

I loooooooooooove Christmas lights! When I was little, my parents liked to drive us around town just to look at lights. I've done it with my kids a few times, but now that they're getting old enough to remember, I want to make it a tradition.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

My Favorite Things #5: Diet Dr. Pepper

Sorry, but it has to be said. I'm at a phase in my life where I'm particularly attached to that sweet, sweet nectar. For the first few months of my pregnancy, I couldn't stand the thought of carbonation of any kind. Then I suddenly developed an intense craving and got into a bad habit - going to the gas station for a DDP from the fountain, with a few squirts of cherry for good measure. A few weeks after Aidan was born my addiction became serious. My body realized that it was operating on a substantial sleep deficit, and I felt so much better with that caffeine boost to get me through the day. So for a few months, I drank at least 44 ounces of pop daily. Wow, that's crazy for a girl who grew up only having soda a few times a month, if that!

Now my life is getting back to some degree of normalcy and I'm only awakened 2 or 3 times each night by one of my two little boys. I don't really need the caffeine as much. So I get a fountain drink about twice a week, and I rarely finish it, even though I've downgraded to 32 ounces. But I still love Diet Dr. Pepper. It will always have a special place in my heart.

(If you think I'm strange for blogging about my love for a caffeinated beverage, check out these awesome ladies, who've both done the same. See, I'm not so weird, after all.)

Friday, December 5, 2008

My Favorite Things #4: Shopping

You've read about my not-so-impressive television habits. Now I'm going to come clean about my materialistic addiction to shopping. Boy, you're going to get to know me this month if you don't already!

I love to shop. My favorite things to shop for are (in order of importance) shoes, clothes for my kids, home decor, fabric, and clothes for me. Most of the time my shopping is more window shopping than purchasing. I buy a few things here and there, but I'm always looking for screaming deals and I'm hesitant to buy much if I feel like I'm spending more than is necessary. There are very few shopping trips where I come home with more than a few things. And as luck would have it, when I have money in hand and want to make a substantial purchase, I usually can't find anything worthy of my money. For instance, last year my mom gave me money to buy shoes for my birthday. I went to the mall and searched every single store. I tried on dozens of shoes and went back to stores a second time to reevaluate their selection. I went home empty handed and had to look elsewhere before finding the perfect pair. This is probably a good thing, because I end up really loving and appreciating what I buy in the end.

I know, you're just dying to hear where I shop. You're in luck, because I'm about to tell you.

For shoes:
Nordstrom or Nordstrom Rack
any little boutique I can find with a funky shoe selection
Famous Footwear, only lately because I'm short on $

For kids' clothes:
Children's Place
Carters (because I have a baby again)
Old Navy

For home decor:
Tai Pan Trading (just went there today!)
Pier One
Bath & Body Works (OK, it's not decor, but it's for my home)

For fabric: Any quilt shop I can find, specifically:
Material Girl
Quilter's Haven
Fabric Center

For my clothes:
Ann Taylor, hands down
Ann Taylor Loft
Ann Taylor factory store
Do you see a trend? I've purchased 1 pair of jeans in the past year and only a handful of other items.

As for the *, my sweet husband is currently shopping for my Christmas present. He spends hours every night searching the internet for the perfect pair of boots. We're in the process of trying to sell the Manolo Blahniks he bought for me because they're too small, and that money can go toward a new pair of something. My sweet husband is becoming very educated about boots - Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo, Christian Louboutin, Dolce & Gabbana, Dior - all of which he looks at every night and all of which are way out of our price range. But it sure is fun, and it makes me feel very spoiled.

Now I'm dying to know, where do you like to shop?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

My Favorite Things #3: My Parents

I LOVE my mom and dad! This picture was taken at the Messiah Sing-Along last weekend. It's an event we've tried to attend together as a family every year. One of the best things my parents did for me was to teach me to love music. When I was little, I watched in awe as my mom played the piano and the guitar. I loved to sit with my dad in church and listen to his deep voice as he sang the hymns. I loved playing their records on the record player in our living room, and I thought the 8-track to cassette converter in my dad's old Plymouth Duster was the bomb!

Because of my mom's example, I begged to take piano lessons. My parents told me I could start lessons when I turned eight, and I was ready to go the minute my birthday rolled around. Now, even though I don't get much time to play and I'm getting pretty rusty, I'll always have that ability. It's one of the things that makes me truly happy. As does singing. I don't have an incredible voice, but I have a good ear and I love singing in group settings. Being a part of a concert hall full of people belting out their parts that intertwine and create beautiful harmonies is a spiritual experience for me.

I can't leave out the the music I grew up listening to. I'll always have a special place in my heart for Wagner, and for The Carpenters, America, Abba, John Denver, and Peter, Paul, & Mary. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for giving me the gift of music.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My Favorite Things #2: My TV Shows

I was saving this post for a day when I didn't have time for anything longer and more meaningful. Unfortunately, that day is today. I'll save the details for another time, but trust me, it's been one heck of a day!

Have you ever wondered how the Bells spend their evenings? Well, after dinner, I spend time helping the kids with their chores. Some nights there is homework to be done. Every night Tanner and John read to themselves while I read aloud to the little kids. Then it's jammies and toothbrushing and tucking kids in bed. And then, John and I have our together time. Some nights that time is pretty short, but most nights we have time to watch one show together. (It helps to have a DVR, because the shows take significantly less time to watch that way, and we're not at the mercy of the networks' schedules either.) So we watch TV, we talk, we mock everything, we laugh our heads off, and we love every minute of it! Here are the shows we watch together:
I tried to put them in order of importance, but that changes depending on the season and our moods and.................whatever.

There are some shows that John refuses to watch, or that we don't have time for. These shows I watch while I feed the baby in the middle of the night or while I'm cleaning. Once again, I tried to put them in order, but it really depends on what's on (a lot are seasonal) and what my mood is.

OK, so I realize this list makes me look like a total TV junkie, and I really am. But not all of the shows are on all of the time. And believe me, with 4 kids I am not a couch potato! Remember, I'm up at least once in the night, and I have to stop every 2 to 3 hours during the day to feed my baby.

So I have two questions for you:

1: What have I left out? and

2: What are your favorite shows?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My Favorite Things #1: Reconnecting

It's always awesome to hang out with people who live far away. In June, my baby sister Cassie came out for a visit. She stayed with us for a few days and the kids had a blast with her baby boy, Evan. While she was here, we went for a walk with my sister Stephanie. We walked from her house to the Bountiful Temple and back. It's only about 5 miles round trip, but it's all uphill on the way up, and super steep, then just as steep downhill on the way back. Being 7 1/2 months pregnant, I had a hard time, especially pushing 70+ pounds worth of kids! It's the only walk that comes close to my beloved Spokane walk in difficulty.

In August, I had an opportunity to see my dear friend Alisa. She was in the state for a wedding, so the kids and I drove a few hours and met her with her darling kids at a park. We had a delicious KFC lunch and chatted while the kids played. I hadn't seen Alisa since we all left Spokane in June of 2007. You know you've got a great friendship when you can pick up like you were never apart. Here are our kids:
Unfortunately I was too shy (and I HATE pictures of myself) to ask for a picture of the two of us, so I hope she'll forgive me for stealing this pic from her blog:

I can't wait for our next rendezvous. I just hope it lasts a little longer!

In October, my friend Lucy was in town for a few days and stopped by for a visit. Lucy was already living in Spokane when I moved there, and we wasted a year in the same city, not being friends. I was introduced to her, ran into her a couple of times, and heard nothing but good about her, but we never had a chance to get to know each other. Then when we both moved from Spokane, we ended up in the same city again for another year. This time, we did get to know each other, although I think we should have spent more time together. She was nice enough to bring her kids to my MusicMakers class every week, and Becky and I thoroughly enjoyed our chats afterword at my house. Here's the picture her cutie Seth took for us:
Becky and I are planning a road trip to visit her someday soon.....

Monday, December 1, 2008

Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens

It's December! I can't believe that Christmas is only 25 days away! We have no snow on the ground, and this afternoon the temperature gauge in my van read 58 degrees. I love the mild weather, so I'm really not complaining. It just takes me a little longer to get into the holiday spirit when it doesn't feel like Christmas time. But I'm excited now. We even got a good portion of our shopping done this weekend. Now I just need to decorate...

You may have noticed that my posts have been few and far between lately. I'm still trying to adjust my routine to life with 4 kids and feedings every few hours. Don't get me wrong - I'm loving it! I just haven't figured out how to fit blogging in again. But I'm going to. Hopefully sooner than later, because I want to try something new this month. Beginning tomorrow, I'm going to post something every day, and I'm going to call it "My Favorite Things." The posts will be in no particular order. I'm hoping this will give me a chance to catch up on things that I didn't get to blog about this summer. And maybe it will give people a reason to start checking my blog again! Can you even wait for tomorrow?! See you then!