Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Well, we had a fun Christmas and are looking forward to a Happy New Year this weekend!

Highlights:
  • Trips to see the lights at Temple Square
  • Going to the Bountiful Temple to see the artwork and read the gospel story. Phillip said that there is room for Joseph, Mary and Jesus in his room.
  • Seeing family Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the day after Christmas
  • Doing a kick line in matching plaid pajamas with Pete's Sisters
  • The kids faces Christmas Morning
  • Phillip amazed by the Lollypop that Santa brought him!
  • Smashing Gingerbread houses on the porch
  • Getting Christmas cards and taping them next to the fireplace
  • Gingerbread cookies and Sugar Cookies
  • Eating a LOT of good food!

Christmas Morning:





Phillip and Pete and the robot "RedMan"



Smashing Gingerbread Houses:


The beginning of the end of Christmas ... Now there is a nice family of deer on our porch. Please don't turn me into the "Hoarders" show. I promise we have room to store this AMAZING collection of Christmas junk.



Saturday, December 11, 2010

Meltdown in December






Neither me, nor the kids had a meltdown, (did I get ya?) but all of the snow is almost off the ground. Can you believe it!! There is no snow in December!! I was tempted to string some more lights ... (when is my Christmas Intervention scheduled?! ha!) Instead we went to the park with the kids.

Here's a quick update on the kids:
Amelia is walking now. She waddles around pretty good. She can go down the stairs which I think has opened up a whole new world for her. We kept all of the toys in the toy room and she never went down there unless I went with her. Now she is free to crawl down the stairs and dump out the madame alexander dollies whenever she wants! It's funny how she is turning into a little kid so quickly. EVERYTHING has to be fair. We now have to get 3 courtesy cones at Artic Circle.

Lily is potty trained!! YAY!! I was putting it off. Around when she turned 2 she started showing signs that she was ready .. but I wasn't ready. The Summer came and went so quickly. I even marked a week on my calendar (which kept getting pushed back). Anywho, I figured I wouldn't worry anymore and try again when she was 3. But one morning she managed to take off her jammies put her diaper in the garbage and was laying on the floor trying to put on a new diaper. That's when I thought to myself .. she's ready ... whether or not I am. She did pretty good the first week. Only a few accidents. Now she does really well. If we are out, she LOVES to announce that she has to go potty. It sometimes turns into a game, but I keep taking her to the bathroom as many times as she wants. Yay Lily! You are a BIG GIRL!!

Phillip is really excited for Christmas. My mom gave us an advent calendar and he moves the marker for the date first thing in the morning. He recently discovered the game cube downstairs and can play on it by himself. He said, "I am a video game guy." ha! I think at pre-school they had taught the kids about brains and other organs. I told Phillip he could play a video game if he played the toy room. He came back up stairs really frustrated, "MOM, I can't clean because when I go in the toy room, my brain tells me to play with toys and not clean!!"

I hope everyone is enjoying this fun season!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Cutting Cable!!

Oh cable, you have been my friend for a LONG time. I remember going to friends' houses in elementary school and my eyes being glued to "Nickelodeon" & "The Disney Channel". The mom's would ask "Does your mom normally let you watch THIS much TV?!" We got cable in High School, I had cable through college, and living in Philadelphia. My studio apartment didn't have much furniture, but it had a HUGE arm chair that sat right in front of the TV. Ahhhh bliss! ;-)

So WHY cut the cable?! It all started when we switched to the Comcast bundle this past spring. I didn't like the TV program guide ... they make it so hard to find shows and half of the time you aren't subscribed to the show. They have On Demand, but a lot of the shows that you see on the guide you also have to pay additional charge. I felt like they were trying to gouge us for every additional charge .. etc. and I was a paying customer! We started looking into other options and realized we don't watch much shows that aren't on the broadcast channels.

This is what we did:

Phone:
Google Voice Phone Number - (Not a phone line) - This is a phone number that I give people. It has very good customized voicemail. (speech to text that is sent to your e-mail, personalized greetings depending on the caller). You can have it forward to all your phones at once. When people call it, my cell phone, home phone, and computer starts ringing. Good thing for me because I can never seem to find a phone before it goes to voicemail. You can text people on their phone. You can easily block numbers .. etc. It's free right now. There are apps that you can get on a smart phone and can call people for free (similar to skype).

Magic Jack - Home line - It's not ideal. It has to be plugged into your computer. $40 for the majic Jack and $70.00 for 5 years of service. I had to change my phone number because they don't port numbers. Other options: ooma - I didn't go with ooma because of the $250 up front fee. Ooma works like vonage, (plugged into your cable modem, then into your phone base) and has only $12.00/year fee. They can port your number for $40 fee.

TV:
We bought an antenna. ($60) Pete put it in the attic and attached it to the cable that runs to our TV.
Hulu.com (free) - you can watch a lot of shows online. I may look at paying for hulu+ which comes in HD and you don't have to watch commercials. We'll see though. I hook up my laptop to the TV if we want to watch a show.
Netflix ($9.99)- I LOVE netflix. We have one blueray player that can stream netflix and there are a TON of tv shows and movies that you can stream. I also like getting the DVD in the mail. It feels like a present.
(reading between the lines, I will NOT be watching LESS TV, I just will be watching it differently: Live TV, online, or streaming to the TV)

Internet:
Still with Comcast. Sadly, our town only has 2 options for high-speed Internet and Comcast has the faster speeds. The other companies that I would look at if they are in your area is: Utopia - Fiber options in your area; Clear - Internet & Phone wholesaler.

So now we only have our Internet bill & Netflix (I pre-paid for majic jack). Even though we did buy some new equipment, we will be saving $90 a month.

If I, a licensed TV bum, can cut cable, anyone can!!




Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I Believe

Preface:
Our Relief Society group at church decided this year to think about what we believe and possibly share a 'belief' statement once a month throughout the year at church. I shared mine already at church and they will be printing a book for everyone in the ward. I was debating whether or not to share this, as it is close to my heart. A friend from High School who was battling cancer passed away yesterday. I realize that I can hopefully offer some words of comfort to those who are struggling with this loss.

I Believe

I believe that the trials and blessings in our life are all part of a greater plan or purpose.

When speaking of trials, I recently was struggling with the fact that there were so many people around me that had to go through such hard trials. My younger sister was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 16 and lost the battle when she passed away when she was 18. Other members of my family have struggled with cancer. And here I am, someone who has lived an almost perfectly healthy life. Why am I the one that is sparred this trial? I was struggling with feelings of guilt and doubt when the answer came to me, "Heavenly Father had a plan for each of us. We each have a part to play."

In the Book of Mormon, (Mosiah 18:9) the Prophet Alma spoke the people waiting to be baptized at the waters of Mormon. He said "are ye willing to bear each other's burdens? ..Are ye willing to mourn with those that mourn, comfort those that stand in need of comfort?" I may not be in the hospital bed, but I know I can do my part to lighten the load to those that are suffering. I know that Heavenly Father places people in our lives that we are able to help or who can help us.

I know that my Heavenly Father has had a hand in blessing my life.

I bumbled my way through college. I didn't know what I wanted to do. I ended up going into computers. I was still single in the classes with 50 guys and 3 or 4 girls. My dad would ask,"why not date some of your classmates? There are so many of them?!" I told my dad," The odds may be good, but the goods are odd!" Pete and were at BYU at the same time, but I guess we had some growing up to do before we could meet .. I am still waiting to see when I will finally grow up! So here I was single and ready to graduate. What was I going to do? Go on a mission? Go to Law School? Get my masters? I eneded up interviewing for jobs in the fall and got a job offer in Philadelphia. I didn't know anyone there. It seemed completely random to move out there by myself but it somehow fell into place and felt right. About 6 months after I moved into the singles ward Pete and I started dating. The rest is History! That has to be one of the greatest blessings of my life.

We think that we are in control of our lives ... Trying to make the best decisions, exploring opportunities. Sometimes we follow the guidance of the Spirit and it just doesn't make sense. But looking back, I can see Heavenly Father's influence in my life. Because of this influence, I am more blessed than I would have ever hoped.

As I begin to contemplate how other people have played a role in my life ... How I have affected other peoples lives .. I believe more than ever that I have a loving Heavenly Father who guides and directs my life.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Festival of Trees


WARNING ... there are a lot of pictures of christmas trees and decorations ... don't be stressed out for me! ... I'm a little crazy and a little obsessed with Christmas junk! ;-)

So, we started decorating a little early ... almost 2 weeks before Thanksgiving. I'm glad I did it early because now I get to enjoy the decorations and I don't have to worry about decorating the day after Thanksgiving.

So let me take you on a tour of my "FESTIVAL OF TREES!"

Living Room - Harvest Theme ;-) This Tree reminds me of the tree from the Christmas Carol, when Scrooge meets the Ghost of Christmas Present. I tried out some new decorating techniques that I saw at Thai Pan and Modern Display. I used green mesh fabric and some brown chiffon to fill the tree, along with ribbon. Joly ole' tree and I get to use my autumn decorations a little longer ;-)


Now, in the kitchen. We do have 'some' reference to Thanksgiving. (The little Thanksgiving tree that Pete's Aunt made us still has a spot by the sink. I love it!)

"The Turkey Tree"

The rest of the kitchen is a candy theme. I was crazy to try and do South Beach and live in a 'candy' kitchen. Here are wreath projects that we did last year. We got some styrofoam forms and glue-gunned candy to them. We were worried that all of the time was going to be a waste if it didn't 'keep' for another year. But, wrapped in a garbage bag, inside a wreath box, and they were good as new!




Almost 8 years ago me and some of my sisters submitted a small tree for Festival of Trees in honor of my little sister Julie. This fun little tree is now known as the "Julie Tree." This tree went from my sister's in-laws, to my sister, to my brother, to my mom's basement. It was looking a little sad and needed a little face lift. I was glad to help out this little tree!

"The Julie Tree"


Peppermint Garland

The kids rooms:

Phillip's M&M Tree


Lily & Amelia's Princess Tree

Now lets walk down to the basement where the craziness just gets crazier ...

Old fashioned Christmas Tree with Train Village. Pete has an almost complete collection of "The Christmas Story" village. He has his grandpa's train in working order that runs around the town ... complete with animated gondola and Santa. My favorite part of this tree are the animated soldier ornaments that play christmas songs with bells.


It's going to be a 'Coke Christmas' - I don't think I have posted a picture of our downstairs diner kitchen yet .. here it is! I even have have a cookie jar collection (I need to get a weekly dose of 'hoarders' on A&E!). We got some cute coke ornaments from ... you guessed it .. a garage sale. I thought it would be funny to have a diet coke garland. Guess how many days it took to collect the 8 'diet coke' ornaments.




And last but definitely not least, we have a 'Star Wars' tree in the movie room. I can just imagine the kids looking at this tree and asking, "Mom, what is the true meaning of Christmas?"



So there you have it, 8 trees, 2 garland (inside & outside), 4 wreaths, countless animated singing Christmas toys .. isn't it wonderful!!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

HALLOWEEN!!

Hello Kitty Witch!

What a MONTH! Well, I got a second-kick of Halloween energy and October went out with a BANG!

Food Drive - Last week the Scouts took the food and money that we collected. We filled almost 2 huge rubbermaid bins full of food and decent amount of cash donations. We will make this an annual tradition to "Scare off Hunger!"

Pumpkin Carving: Friday, I cleaned out the pumpkins. We roasted the pumpkins seeds and had a good salty snack all weekend. We cut out the pumpkins on Saturday. Which is your favorite? I may have to do some more pumpkins next year. Homer Simpson maybe? ha!

Doughnuts: We found a doughnut dispenser at a garage sale for the sole purpose of making doughnuts on Halloween. I was determined to get it to work. The Yeast doughnuts didn't taste very good, but it was the perfect application for the spiced cinnamon doughnuts. So GOOD! I didn't take a picture. I should have taken a picture of our kitchen (what a MESS!!) .. or captured the smell .. the deep fryer always makes our house smell like a chinese restaurant. ha! Next year I'll do it outside!

Early Birthday Surprise: Friday night, the cat was out of the bag and I decided to give Pete his Birthday present early. Below we used the new contraption as a Halloween costume in the rain. Little Amelia is R2D2 and is shielded from the elements. Here's the funny story behind this find. Emily told us that she saw a R2D2 refrigerator or something like that at a garage sale. It turned out that it wasn't for sale, but the wife said that her husband never used it. Emily was worried she didn't get me a birthday gift. I told her that in lieu of a birthday gift she could track down this guy and see if he would sell the R2D2 to me. She didn't know which house it was and it took 2 tries to find the right house. They weren't home when she stopped by a bunch of times. Finally she got the number from the wife. I happened to be in Mapleton for a Halloween spook alley. I was at Emily's house and her home number rang and Emily said, "It's for you Cathy." Pete said, "For Cathy?!" It was the guy and we figured out a price and I planned to go to his house to look at it. Anywho, I tried to be coy and said I had to run to my friend Melanie's house for something, but I knew that Pete knew, but he didn't know that I knew he knew (confusing?) ha! Now our life is complete. We have a drink cooler that rolls on casters and is the shape of R2D2.


Halloween photo shoot: The Ritz Camera store by us does free Halloween photoshoots and you can get a sheet of pictures for free as well. They do it from 10:00 to 3:00 PM, so I recommend doing when your kids are getting ansy for trick-or-treating. I am copying Emily's decorating idea and I'll switch out my picture frames with seasonal pictures. I'm trying to figure out how to set up a similar studio at home.



Trick or Treating: - We did trick-or-treating at one of the rest homes after the photoshoot. We took a break and tried trick-or-treating in the rain with just me, Phillip, and Lily and 2 umbrellas. I think we only got to 5 houses in an hour. We took the whole family to some of the houses in the neighborhood and called it a night.

Clean Up and Set Up: - Yesterday Pete worked from morning until night taking down Halloween inside and out. I helped, but often got distracted by other projects. Pete also sets up the Christmas lights the same day so we don't have to worry about doing it in the snow.

What a wonderful time of YEAR!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Disney - Part III of III - Stay at John & Kaley's House




We had a GREAT relaxing weekend at John & Kaley's House. I give it a four star stay!!

We got babysitters and went to a Greek Restaurant. We happened upon some tourist shops in 'Tarpon Springs, FL" We found some great cat T-Shirts. I found a piece of Amethyst for $4. I had a funny idea. We'd bury it in the sand when we went to the beach. He LOVED IT!!

We also went to a close by beach where we all enjoyed the white sand. Don't worry, we stopped by a 'Flea Market' on the way. (had to fulfill my garage sale itch) We got to enjoy the amenities of John and Kaley's neighborhood. REALLY nice pool, playground... even a beach volleyball court. YAY!

I enjoyed Phillip's random questions and quotes ... He told Kaley, "You talk like a Princess."

He asked John, "What is hand in Spanish?"

IT was a FABULOUS TIME!! I apologize for the manic blogging, but I was restraining myself. Looking at all of the videos and pictures makes me want to go back. Am I CRAZY?!




Disney Trip Part II of III



The Disney Celebration!

We went to the Magic Kingdom Halloween party. It was great! We got to see almost all of the park and meet all of the characters. I loved it! If you are planning a trip around October, I would look into it! We had 3 other full days at the parks!

Highlights
  • The Halloween Decorations, Halloween characters, Trick-or-treating, Halloween Parade and fireworks... Did I mention...I like Halloween?!
  • Phillip loving the Tower of Terror!
  • Epcot - German Dinner - Worth it! The kids danced to the polka music while we gorged ourselves on an all-you-can-eat German food buffet
  • Animal Kingdom - AMAZING! I love that park!
  • Stroller swap & fast passes - took us a while to figure it out, but we never waited through the full line
  • Parades & Firework shows
  • Meeting characters. Lily kept saying that she met all of her friends, "Mini, Donald, & Mickey ..."

Lowlights
  • Getting up the next morning after the Halloween party
  • Crowds at Disney Hollywood Studios - Gak!
  • Getting on the monorail after the firework show at Magic Kingdom


Family Picture with the 7 dwarfs!


Video of the kids Dancing at 11:30 PM! Are we 'good' parents for keeping them out so late?!

video

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

DISNEY Part I of III

Well, we are officially back from our trip. It was a LOT of fun! Wahoo!

Trip 1
Pete goes to ADA conference

Pete had to go to classes straight from a red eye flight. Gak! I got to hang out with John and Kaley over the weekend while we were recouping from the flight. Fun times! We ventured to downtown Disney which was fun and crazy.

We hung out at Kaley's grandma's house. It was fun racing the golf carts, eating a big lunch, and catching lizards. There was a 2 foot gnome that I was really jealous of! A home isn't a home without a gnome!














Fed the birds




Saw a gater!

We went to Chevys for dinner and ended up celebrating my birthday Again! We even carried the hat home in the plane. Phillip asked,"Is she 31?!". We said we were just singing happy birthday He said, "but we already sang Happy Birthday to her!"



Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!



It's the BIG 30. I can't believe it! Time flies!

I don't like to brag, but I'm really excited about my new toy. Pete gave it to me early so I could get it loaded with games and movies for our upcoming trip. I got the iPad! yay! I'm a sucker for gadgets. I would sometimes drool, sometimes make fun of the iPad. Deep down I was really jealous of anyone who had one. Pete got it for me to celebrate me passing my test (CISSP test) yay! and for my birthday.

Anywho, I was having a deep thought about the last 10 years. A lot has happened in my life. Your 20's are really pivotal years. As a teenager, I remember church leaders stressing making good decisions, finding a good husband/wife, keeping standards. But it's true. The decisions you make during those pivotal years affect the rest of your life!

Here's a look at the past 10 years of my life

Year 20 - Sorting mail at BYU
Year 21 - Decided to go into Information Systems, worked as a balloon animator
Year 22 - Finally figured out what a computer does and worked at the BYU server room, got a job offer with PwC
Year 23 - Graduated, moved to Philadelphia, started working for PwC
Year 24 - Met Pete, Dated Pete, Got engaged to Pete
Year 25 - Got Married, Phillip was born, Moved to California
Year 26 - Moved to Utah
Year 27 - Lily was born
Year 28 - Pregnant with Amelia
Year 29 - Amelia was born
Year 30 - I got an iPad! ha! Just kidding!

Friday, October 01, 2010

A Crazy Week!

So, I had a big project at work this week. I had to rely on a lot of people to help out .. THANK YOU to Pete, Merilyn, Penny, Paige, Mom & Becca! The week got even crazier when on Tuesday, Phillip in the kids were jumping around and BUMP!! Phillip cut his head. It was a pretty big cut. Pete took Phillip to Instacare. Phillip did really good and was conversing with the doctor like an adult. The doctor asked him what he was up to, and Phillip said, "Well, ... um I'm going to turn six." (his 5th birthday was last week). He asked Pete, "Why are they putting strings in my forehead?" .. he also said, "I feel like a fish" and made the motion of a hook pulling the skin of a fish. This was our first time getting stitches for someone in the family. I wasn't there for the commotion, but I'm glad that he was well taken care of! I'm excited for General Conference this weekend. :-) A great way to relax after a stressful week!






Friday, September 24, 2010

Happy Pumpkin Jack Birthday Phillip!

Phillip blowing out the candles. When asked what he wished for, he said, "I wished that I can eat cake." Phillip is SO PRACTICAL!

Pumpkin Jack cake. Rolled fondant over buttercream. Do I dare take credit? It was late last night after I had spread the buttercream and I was getting the fondant dirty. Pete stepped in and was a lot better at this more precise type of decorating.

Spook Alley. It was a little too scary for some of the kids. I made them reach their hands in an african kist for 'eyeballs' (grapes) and 'brains' (spegetti).


Playing pumpkin ... pumpkin ... pumpkin ... pumpkin JACK!!

The wig and hat race. Who knew that I had a good collection of dress ups!

So here's a look at Phillip's 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th birthdays. All I can think is that he has grown up so quick. Or has he always been a grown up and his looks are just changing? He is always surprising me with the things that he says. He has such a mature personally for a now 5-year-old. We are pretty casual with shoes in the house. But, if friends come over Phillip, makes them take their shoes off. He only lets me get one treat at the grocery store. (since when does the 'ONLY ONE TREAT' rule apply to me?!)

Some funny Phillip Stories:
  • I was trying to get him to memorize or at least read the primary scripture for August. 2 Nephi 27:33. I told Phillip repeat after me ... "For behold, I am God, and I am a God of miracles..." Phillip: "For behold, I am God ... I'm NOT God." I tried to explain that the scripture was Heavenly Father speaking for himself to the prophet. I tried again. Phillip: "For Behold, I'm God ... Mommy, I'm NOT God. I know who God is ... He is my Heavenly Father".
  • Phillip refused cotton candy and a cookie one night because he had ice cream earlier and he said, "Only ONE treat!"
  • Phillip keeps talking about his baby brother 'Tardan' who is 0 years old. (THIS IS NOT AN ANNOUNCEMENT :-)
  • We had had a long day at church, both Lily and Amelia were screaming and we decided to leave 15 minutes early. Phillip said in the parking lot, "That is the LAST TIME! We are supposed to stay until it's finished!"
  • One time, when leaving sacrament meeting, Phillip announce really loud, "That was a good show."
Phillip we love you! You make life fun! You even make me more responsible ... can you imagine it!! "Mom, you forgot your purse!" he said as I left my purse in a shopping aisle at Smiths.