Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas market in Manchester & HS Musical 2

I love Christmas!

I love going to see plays and musicals.

And I love bonding in friendship and knitting the relationships within our family.

With those 3 things in mind, last week we went into Manchester to see High School Musical 2 at the Opera House. My friend, Jane, and I each planned to take our two daughters who happen to be great friends and who also love HSM. I truly enjoy getting to know Jane better as we spend more and more time together. She is funny and loves to make fun of my American accent. I give it right back to her with her own British dialect. Accents here vary depending on what part of the country you're from. Jane is from a part that talks funny. LOL (Jane, I hope you read this.)

Since we were going into Manchester, we thought it would be a great opportunity to go to the German Christmas market that’s held there each year. They serve a dish that our family really likes called “raclette”. It’s a Swiss food that consists of potatoes and melted raclette cheese on top with gherkins and pickled onions on the side. I can do without the last two items and feast on the cheese and potatoes alone. But, then again, who couldn't?

Since Shawn loves the Christmas market, with his German heritage and love of sausage, he wanted me to take the boys along and meet him there. After we browsed around, had a bite to eat and some hot chocolate, all of us girls left to go see the musical that drew us to the city to begin with.

These next few photos were taken last year, but can you believe I forgot to blog about it? We bloggers will find a place to put it in eventually, and here is my opportunity... one year later. Since we are talking about blogging now, isn't it difficult when you have like 50 ideas swirling around in your mind to write about, which is overwhelming, that you decide not to write about anything at all? Is it just me, or do you do that, too?

Sorry about the blur...

Striking a pose while waiting for the tram.

Melanie and Braaten

I can see that the raclette is gone and we are sharing a pasta/potato dish.

This santa is huge and really pretty.

Shawn and his little ladies.


This is a giant "pyramid".

And now for the more current photos: here's Meg, Mel, Ames, and Bray.

They had to wait a whole 10 minutes for the show and kept saying, "How many more minutes?"
It was really a great show that even Jane and I enjoyed.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

diapers, dynamic duos, and delicacies

Have you ever noticed that life can go from mundane to madness at an alarming rate? That has been our weekend, but I have to say that it has been all good.

Starting on Thursday, we have had our friends' two boys until tomorrow morning. They are enjoying Rome as I type and as their little ones are fast asleep.

I've been changing this little guy's diapers. It's like riding a bicycle. Even though I haven't done that in 6+ years, it all came back to me very quickly.

Here he is with his big brother and right after a 2 hour nap. Naps are good.

As if having two extra kids in the house isn't enough, we also celebrated Grant and Cooper's birthdays yesterday. The theme we were going with was some sort of "Superhero" dress up party. I asked them to wear anything they already had and this is what they all came up with. It was a blast!

And if having 2 extra kids in the house for almost 4 days, plus throwing a party for soon-to-be 8 year olds doesn't quite keep us busy enough, how about cooking a major Thanksgiving feast to feed the masses? Maybe we should throw in putting the Christmas tree up and stringing the lights. Hmm... my husband did that after we ate.

Now we're onto finishing the tree and decorating the house...

That's what we did. God blessed it all, and now I need to get to bed! 'Night everyone.

Oh, how 'bout those crazy santa hats on our new header? I know... lame.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wordless Wednesday!~ Toothless Grins

I've been at it again!

Pullin' teeth.



For other "Wordless Wednesday" posts, visit "5 Minutes for Mom".

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cesar Millan... HELP!

Dear Dog Whisperer,

Do you make visits to homes in England by chance? We could use your help and would be more than happy to fly you over here.

Carol and Shawn B.

In all seriousness, we're having some issues with our pooch and can use some help. Dog training is not one of our specialties, and I think we will definitely be seeking help/advice either here in the U.K. or when we move back to Michigan.

Fletch is 2 and 1/2, is a wonderful, loving dog, and we all love him tons. The problem is that if he is off of his leash/lead, running around and getting exercise, he will not come when called. He pretty much comes when he's good and ready and usually comes back half gray, half golden. We do realize that he's a hunting dog, loves squirrels and other small creatures, and is just behaving as any red-blooded retriever would. We just want him to be obedient.

Ever since he re-joined us in October, 2008 after having been apart from us for 5 months, he came back not so tolerant of children. He was staying with friends of ours that have no children, but have a Golden Retriever of their own, and Fletcher was extremely happy there. They loved him very much and basically spoiled him. That didn't bother us a bit, we truly appreciated how they cared for him.

As he acclimated to his new environment here with 5 children that he knew for over a year before we parted from him, he displayed low tolerance for our younger 3 children. He was trying to put them lower than him in the hierarchy of our family. He would give them a low growl, and also show his teeth at times. We have taught the twins how to show dominance and it has been fairly successful, however he still will growl at them at times.

This has been going on for about a year now. Just yesterday we had friends over with their two children, ages 10 and 7. We are cautiously aware of Fletch's tendency to try and dominate children, and so try to make everyone aware, all the while leaving him out so that we can try and get through this. Sure enough the 7 year old goes to pet him and he snaps at her, leaving a little mark on her hand. She becomes terribly frightened, cries, and gets lovingly consoled by her mom. We, of course, are embarrassed, frustrated, and upset at Fletch. We put him up in our bedroom for several hours as we visited.

Outside of this bad behavior, he is THE most loving dog. I honestly don't know what to do. After our friends left, I said to Shawn that we need to get a muzzle for Fletch so that he can be around children. His thought was that we just put him in another room to protect the children. I think that's good as well, but it doesn't solve the problem.

Help! If you have any suggestions or recommendations, please comment or e-mail me.

Here he is all gray and golden and ready for a bath.

Look at that poor face. He so doesn't like his bath.

We're committed to getting to the bottom of this. Thanks for listening. It feels good to get it off my chest.

(P.S.) S & L, we are so sorry for what happened yesterday.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

a teeny, tiny victory

a.k.a. a wii victory

We had some friends over for Sunday roast today, we thanked God for all of our blessings, ate to our heart's content, had sundaes for dessert, laughed, talked, and played the Wii.

With my competitive nature, I enjoyed this little moment.

Happy Sunday & Blessings to you!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

You're Gonna Miss This Moment ~ Kid Art

Pam over at "You're Gonna Miss This...Moment" hosts a weekly blog carnival where we get to post about moments we will miss with our children. It's great taking the time to smell the roses and realize all that God has given us in our kids, appreciating the little things, and then writing about them.

Mimi over at "He & Me + 3" has posted about her kids' artwork and inspired me to do the same.

Our kids love creating are and most recently the twins have been hard at work.

Cooper was on a role of making all different kinds of paper guitars and painstakingly cutting them out. He gave me 4 of them to hang up right by my computer.

Both boys made paper pillows to put on my already heavily pillowed bed.
I love theirs.

What mom doesn't like a bouquet of flowers? There's a little note tucked away in there that says, "I Love You" made by Cooper.

And, finally, Cooper made this necklace out of some of my pink ribbon, construction paper, and a Susan B. Anthony dollar coin. Precious!

Friday, November 20, 2009

From Blog to Book

Recently I was reading someone's blog, and I can't remember whose it was. There was a photo of a group of bloggers that decided to meet that were looking at someone's blog published into a book. It grabbed my attention once again, because when I first started blogging I also saw one on Rachel's blog that she had made.

At that exact moment I could have had one made, but it would have been the sum total of 2 pages. Isn't sum total redundant? I've often heard it stated that way. I digress as I often do...

Between those two inspirations, I had my very own made and BOY, AM I THRILLED WITH IT! It is very well made and I decided to have it bound with a hard cover for an extra $10 I think. I don't keep figures in my head for too long, but Rachel does. (Don't tell her I said that. She loves numbers). I can look it up if you want to know the exact price. I also had a 20% off coupon that made it much cheaper.

Here's a quick peak at it:

Front Cover

Dedication Page (I used it to explain how I started blogging instead)


Back Cover

Is it not fabulous?!

I can not highly recommend doing this enough! It's a great Christmas present that can be made just for you if you'll whisper the idea in someone's ear. When my husband, who supports my blogging fully saw it, he was really excited. He especially wants his mom to see it because she doesn't have a computer and she enjoys this sort of thing. Our kids have been known to thumb through it at various times during the day, too, and they love it.

Thanks for sharing my joy in this journey.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"52 Weeks"~~~~16/52 Photos of Me

Forever In Blue Jeans

Carin over at "Forever in Blue Jeans" has given the challenge of moms finally getting in front of the camera. It has been fun participating in it, and I dare say it's been a challenge.

Last weekend, Shawn and I had the opportunity to go to Barcelona for 3 WHOLE days, all by ourselves, to explore the city, sip some sangrias, and just relax. It was amazing.

I've only put a few pictures in this post, but will most assuredly put more in the next. It's late and I'm tired, so I'll keep this brief.

The weather was around in the low 70's and it felt really great. This cafe' was near the all famous Sagrada Familia. It's a ginormous church that Antoni Gaudi started around the beginning of the 18th century and died before his work could be finished. It is currently be worked on and the construction should be completed by 2026. Wow! That'll take awhile.

I interrupt photos of aforementioned site, to bring you this. The-tiny-door-within-a-giant-door that is the entrance to the apartment we stayed in. We both managed to not get hurt while entering and exiting the many times that we did.

A kind woman took this picture of us. Don't worry, later on in the trip we lugged the all important tri-pod with us, so as not to bother both poor, unsuspecting tourists or locals.

And a few repeats from the fun I had at Picnik dot com to make this collage.

happy thursday!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wordless Wednesday! Shepherds Watching

Last year, our family dressed as shepherds to be part of the telling of the Christmas story in church. I can't believe I forgot to blog about it then!

For more Wordless Wednesday posts, visit "5 Minutes for Mom".

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Dryer Saga Continues...

Not really, but for blogging purposes, that title sounded good.

See this pile of stuff? Where do you think that was? I guess the title kind of gives it away.

We just returned from Barcelona, which was a wonderful trip and I'll tell you about it in a day or two, to empty out suitcases for all 7 of us leaving me with the never ending task of Mt. Washmore. (All you Flylady fans will get that!) We were all in 4 different places at one time, which means loads and loads of laundry to contend with upon our return. Not to mention there was alot some waiting to be done before we ever left because my old dryer was out of commission.

Lo and behold, my new dryer shows up today. I was expecting it this morning, but it arrived early afternoon. No problem. I went to operate what looked like would be somewhat complicated due to all the new settings I would soon get to know all too well, when the dryer just would not turn on. It turns out that socket behind the dryer no longer works. I think the old dryer blew it out. Now we need to get that fixed.

I plugged it into an outlet above the countertop. If you look closely, you'll see it. Go ahead, take a peek.

Click on this baby to see all of the new settings.

Oh, what about the first picture of that pile of stuff? That was what came out of the very first load that I dried today. Apparently one of the kiddos had a pack of Wrigley's Spearmint in their pocket. I have no time to check all pockets. Do you do that? Just curious.

My quest will continue for at least two more days. And you know full well, that new clothes are getting dirty as I sit here and type.

I'm just thankful I have a new dryer! Sheesh, it's hard to have a washer or dryer go bad on you, isn't it? By the way, I visited that laundromat twice that day. I have this thing about wanting all of our wash done, and the house spotless before I go on a trip.

And now, totally off the subject of laundry, here is the table as I set it tonight with the help of one of the twins, Grant. Since Thanksgiving is not celebrated here and my neighbors probably think I'm weird with pumpkins out in November, I decided to bring them in. Afterall, we will celebrate Thanksgiving a few days after the official holiday since my sweet hubs will be working on that Thursday.

I love all of the bright colors.

Friday, November 13, 2009

"52 Weeks" ~~~~~15/52 Photos of Me

Carin over at "Forever in Blue Jeans" created this great meme. It's an opportunity for us picture-taking moms to get in front of the camera for a change. Whatdaya say? Give it a try.

Over this past weekend we decided to have a "report card" day for the kids. It was an opportunity for us to celebrate them and their hard work in school. We decided to take them bowling and then out to lunch.

We love spending time together and a few games of bowling is a great way to do that.

Braaten and Daddy-o

Super Cooper


Marvelous Melanie and Amazing Austin

Grant the Great

We ate at Pizza Hut and the pizza was extra good!