Tuesday, December 29, 2009

18th anniversary recap

We got dressed up to go out for supper at the Italian restaurant in downtown Alexandria called Bella's on Broadway. I got to break out my new peep-toed, snakeskin, slingback pumps... MEOW!
The atmosphere was very romantic and the food did not disappoint.
We shared crab cakes with roasted red peppers and pineapple salsa for an appetizer. I tried the grilled pear salad with balsamic dressing topped with candied walnuts & goat cheese and for an entree chicken Marsala with portabella mushrooms served with steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes... heavenly! Steve had cranberry salad with creamy poppy seed dressing & feta cheese and for an entree pesce parmigiano also served with steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes.
The pièce de résistance was the decadent chocolate cake we had for dessert... incredible!
When we got home later that evening, we were greeted by messages and pictures from Kippy, which really touched my heart.
It was a very memorable anniversary!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Then & now...

Our wedding day, December 28, 1991.
I have loved this man for 23 years and today we are celebrating our 18th wedding anniversary. If interested, you can read the story about how I met Steve my senior year at a basketball game 60 miles from my home town here.

We have always done something special to celebrate our wedding. Sometimes it has been very simple and other times it has been more elaborate. Sometimes we celebrate the occasion with other friends or family members, but mostly we choose to dress up and splurge on supper.
On our 10th anniversary, I added another annual tradition.
I made an anniversary scrapbook and included a picture of us each year with some highlights of what happened to us during that year.
Since 2001, I have added one page a year and along with the highlights from the year, I started including exactly what we did to celebrate our anniversary.
There are always ups and downs in life, but the constant for the past 18 years, is the value Steve & I have for one another and in our marriage.
I am thankful that as an 18 year old, I knew not to let this guy get away! I love you, Honey!!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Making use of the snow

The Christmas Winter Blizzard of 2009 brought lots of fresh snow and with the temperature right at 31 degrees, it was perfect snow for making snowpeople!I was so excited to play in the snow that I went out by myself and started the construction of a HUGE snowman on Christmas Day. Eventually, the rest of my family joined in because they didn't want to be left out. Thankfully, Grandma Rose ventured out and took some photos of our progress.
I like my snowmen to have a theme or at least some decoration of some sort.

We started with a Santa Snowman and then we worked on adding a companion.
We had several false starts on making "Rex", Santa snowman's faithful companion. Just as we were trying to add the eyes, Rex's head fell off... Abby was devastated because "It will never be the same!!!!!" Eventually, Steve and I fashioned a new head and this time added the eyes more carefully, so his head wouldn't be knocked off again.
Bella's leash was the perfect accessory. {Abby finally calmed down and was happy again}.
We were all soaking wet by the time we were done. Here is our final group project. {umm... no I don't know why I am crouching down.} I look like goober, but couldn't figure out how to fix myself in Photoshop.
Wait. I have an idea!
There. It looks better when I am not in the picture!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Treasured Christmas moments

Our company arrived a day early (Dec 23) to avoid getting caught in the huge Christmas 2009 blizzard. Our guests included: Russ & Kristy with Noah and Nixin arriving from Esko, MN as well as my folks coming from Guelph, ND.
The snow came early in the AM on Christmas Eve and Russ was more than happy to help out with the snow blowing multiple times.
The kids were entertained by some afternoon sledding at Roosevelt Park.Late in the afternoon, we got dressed up in our Christmas finery to attend Christmas Eve Mass.
We feasted on our traditional supper of potato soup {mmmmmm} and oyster stew {ewwwwww} before moving on to the excitement of present opening.
Nixin was a very happy elf who helped out whoever needed it. The excitement in the faces of the kids really captured the fun of gift giving.
Kippy was very happy about the combination art set she got. We were missing Randy & Anna's family, but were glad they made it safely to Casper, WY to celebrate with the Kaup family.
Abby is the typical tween-girl and most excited about clothing.
One of my favorite memories was from the night of Kippy's Christmas program when I introduced Luke, kindergarten son of our dear friends, to my mom. He looked back and forth between my mom and me and exclaimed, "Hey, you look the same! {pause} But your not. She's taller!" pointing to my mom. We definitely do look alike.
A plate was set up for Santa and his reindeer before the kids snuggled into bed wearing their new Christmas jammies.

We were greeted Christmas morning by more snow and some very excited kids. Santa brought wii Sports Resort for the girls and we spent hours and hours playing and being entertained by the action.
One amazing thing was that I actually beat Steve in a video game... it was wake boarding and I barely squeaked a win out, but hey, it was a win!
In the afternoon, the temperature hovered around 32 degrees and made for the best snowman making weather.
We were very proud of our snow sculptures. Christmas day also included taking the kids swimming at the AmericInn were my folks were staying. The adults enjoyed a very rambunctious game of throwing dice for White Elephant gifts. The competition was loud, but I think everyone ended up happy in the end... except Russ, who got the dreaded singing hunter with the deer on its back.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Gingerbread Mania

One gingerbread house kit + extra candies & colored frosting + two demanding decorators = a beautiful confectionery creation and a headache for the mom.
We have been decorating a gingerbread house during the Christmas holiday for the past 5 or 6 years. And I am finally catching on to why Steve always flees the house whenever this particular project gets underway.
I really do like making the gingerbread house but the nit-picking arguments between the decorators wear me down like sandpaper. On the bright-side, projects like this reaffirms my choice to stay away from Elementary Education as a career.
I like to supplement the gingerbread kit by picking up additional candies to broaden the decorating choices.
A couple of my "extras" turned out to be very bad ideas. The can of red frosting with 4 different tips looked like a perfect add-on, but in reality the red frosting was incredibly difficult to manage. It would mostly just spray out like an uncontrolled geyser and look like a bloody mess when it landed. The frosting gel writers weren't much better. Although they did squeeze out easier, unfortunately it wasn't thick enough to stay put and eventually slid off the gingerbread. Both of these issues raised havoc with the decorators.
See how the gel frosting outlining the window has slid and drooped a bit? I think it adds to the charm, but that is not how the decorator saw it.
The gingerbread house was evenly divided between the two decorators. They each got two sides and were in full control of ordering me to dispense frosting as needed.
This is the artistic results of the side assigned to the oldest decorator (her name rhymes with Crabby).
And here is the side assigned to the youngest decorator, whose nick-name rhymes with "Lippy".

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sing it loud, sing it proud

We enjoyed three performances this past week that the girls participated in. Kippy's had two programs, one in the afternoon and one in the evening, which were small and intimate and very entertaining although a bit long {nearly two hours}. The kindergartners are always a crowd-pleaser with their impatience and unpredictability. They didn't disappoint this year either!
There are only 10 kids in Kippy's third grade class, which is divided evenly between boys and girls. This is a pic from the afternoon performance.
Kippy also volunteered to play Silent Night as a piano solo. Kippy had Grandma Shirley, great-uncle Jim, great-aunt Esther and aunt Maribeth cheering her on in the audience.
Here she is singing loud and proud during the evening performance.
I was lucky to get her to stop and slowdown so I could take one photo with Grandpa Rod and Grandma Rose who came to the evening show.
Abby had a Choir concert with 6th, 7th and 8th grades performing. She is in the front row, 4th from the left.
The size of her 7th grade class makes it hard to see her. I added a red circle and arrow just to point her out in the crowd. The music quality and talent is abundant in this group and it was a very enjoyable concert.
And Abby was lucky to have Grandma Shirley, great-uncle Jim and great-aunt Esther attend her performance as well! It is a long drive for family to come from out of town to watch the girls. It means so much to us and we are grateful to have family visit during this special time as we prepare for Christ's birth.