Friday, February 26, 2010

Valentine's Day happenings - 2010

So I didn't get a lot of pictures (ok, none of Valentine's day itself) but I do have a few from some of the festivities that I'd like to share with you.

It started with their school Valentine's Dance on February 5th, where an adult had to be there with the student (the whole time). Thankfully Brian was able to make it so we had some fun all together.

(There's a couple more pics if you go here)

Here we have Brian trying to show Vincent how to do the "Y" for YMCA

Brian holding Karah's hand so she can twirl around in a circle - she loved it!

Vincent sitting down for a minute with his classmate, Lily. I couldn't resist the cuteness factor :)

Karah with a couple of her classmates all getting in on the picture action

Vincent & Karah ~ they do love each other! :-D

The class parties were the Thursday before Valentine's day and the kids were excited about their goodies.

Karah with her Valentines

Vincent and his Valentines

And what did they give out, you ask? Well, they each had the little cards, but wanted to give out a treat too. I had first seen the idea for these treats at Little Birdie Secrets (love their site!), but hadn't seen the tutorial link - until after I had already made these. So we grabbed some Wilton's chocolate pieces (blended 2 parts milk chocolate & 1 part dark chocolate), sticks, bags w/ties, and mini candy canes (on sale @ Walgreen's for $.39/pack of 40).

The kids enjoyed helping to make them. I melted, stirred, and placed the chocolate onto the stick laying on the parchment paper and they took turns laying the mini candy canes onto chocolate to form a heart. Mint & chocolate are a yummy combination! Sure it was different from the tutorial, but I really like how these turned out. I love the contrast of the red & white "heart" against the dark, chocolate background. Plus, there's some substance to it as well. We ended up being able to use all 60 sticks in the package, making enough for both their classes plus a few extra. The kids also dipped some candy canes & pieces into the chocolate to have little yummy bits to munch on.

Notice the one I made for Brian in the bottom right corner? :) I had also tried sprinkling some crushed candy canes on one of them, but didn't like the look very well, so that one became mine on Valentine's day. The kids each got one as well and everyone was happy - and loved!

Monday, February 15, 2010

a year ...

It's been so. very. long. Almost a year, in fact. It has never been my intention to be away for any amount of time. Many things have happened in the past almost year so I'll try to keep it brief. I could add so many pictures, but then it would take forever for the page to load so please enjoy the pics here and I'll try to stay more up-to-date ... on a regular basis :)

Last year these three got older. I don't know who said that could happen, but it did happen and now Karah is 10, Brian Lee is 9, and Vincent is 8
Karah, Brian Lee, & Vincent chillin' in the backseat

During this past year, Brian got selected for recruiting duty. We packed up the house & put it all in storage, since we wouldn't know where he was going until closer to graduation. Recruiter's school was in San Diego, CA and we decided to make it a driving trip. We visited his parents in Mississippi and managed to squeeze in a couple of day trips - one to the USS Alabama, a battleship in Mobile, AL, and the another to the NASA Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
After our visit in MS we continued our journey West, dropping the kids off in TX and Brian & I arriving in CA on July 3rd. We spent the 4th together and rented a paddle boat - really enjoyed our day together. On our way back to the motel that evening, we were able to see 12 different fireworks displays - very beautiful. After almost a week in Cali, I went on to spend the next six weeks in Colorado visiting my sister.
I arrived at Ella's on July 9th with 2 suitcases, 1 garment bag, and 2 boxes full of baby goodies that I'd shopped for before leaving. It was so cute to see her with a big baby belly, but he didn't stay in there too long after I arrived. On July 18, 2009, at 8:24am my nephew, Noah David Blickenstaff, made his entrance into the world. He weighed a whopping 8lbs 9oz and was 20 1/2 inches long. (to read the birth story, click here) While I have given birth twice myself, I have never witnessed it, and it was amazing. Ella did great going all natural, something I've never done - gimme drugs LOL.
Noah resting on Mommy - about 12 hrs old

While I very much enjoyed my time in Colorado visiting my sister and enjoying my new nephew, all good things must come to an end. I drove back to San Diego to see Brian graduate recruiter's school and then we headed back to Camp Lejeune. We picked the kids back up in Texas, visited his parents again in Mississippi, then finally made it back to North Carolina.
We didn't stay there too long, just enough to load up a HUGE truck with our belongings in the storage units (yes, plural), found out the truck wasn't big enough, got a trailer hitch installed on the van and rented a trailer to fill it with the rest of our things. We then started our journey to Valparaiso, Indiana, where we are now living in an apartment. For an apartment, it's very nice. Three bedrooms, 2 bath, laundry room, attached 1-car garage isn't bad, but the kitchen is TINY. Oh to live in a real house again - lol. Honestly, it is a very nice complex and the price is great for us.
Being in a new area, we got to go to a new place for the Marine Corps Ball this year. It was at the Conrad Hilton in Indianapolis and had the most motivating & interesting speaker I've ever heard. We don't usually stay for too much dancing, so after we left we changed and ran across the street to the 4-story mall (huge!!!) to the theater to see New Moon. Since the kids were with Brian's grandma, we were able to actually have a date :D
Brian & the other recruiters from his station

Since we moved to NW IN it has put us living closer to my mom than I have in the past 12 years. For Thanksgiving she, Ron, & Randy came out to spend the holiday with us. We enjoyed a good meal, and then she went shopping with me early the next morning :) After we returned, we made pancakes for breakfast. Here, Karah is helping Grandma Gwen make pancakes.
See the family resemblance?

Seeing as we now live in a snowy area, I'm the only one in our family with any experience in that. Brian is not such a big fan of it, but the kids really enjoy it. They've loved playing in it and always try to look for ice or slippery snow to slide on :) I think the snow is beautiful, especially when it's freshly fallen, driving at night seeing the sparkle from the headlights.

Brian shoveling some snow off our front walk

Karah & Vincent "skating" on the layer of ice covering the walk

Recently, the childrend started attending a local school, and on February 1, 2010, they participated in a school music program. It was patriotic, entitled "This Is America", and their music teacher was impressed that they were able to learn the songs in such a short time. Unfortunately, Brian was unable to make it since he had to be at another high school for work. Not wanting him to miss the performance, I recorded all the songs Karah & Vincent sang plus one from 4th grade as it was a song thanking veterans. I'll post the links so you can also enjoy - just click the song title.
Vincent - in the middle row, 2nd from the right
Karah - in the front row, on the right end
Karah & Vincent at home after the program

While we're not huge football buffs here, Brian has his favorite team, the New Orleans Saints. We watched them over the season and Brian just kept getting more and more happy. He was thrilled when they won the NFC Championship and ecstatic when they won their first superbowl! I love seeing him happy, so I bought him the t-shirt, hat, and superbowl XLIV official hologram program. I also bought him the t-shirt, hat, towel, & dvd when they one the superbowl, but we're still waiting on all the items to arrive.
Brian happily showing off his new goodies

On February 5th, the kids' school had a Valentine's dance that was free, and an adult had to be with them. We were thrilled that Brian was able to get off work early and come along. They even had a couple of songs for the adults to dance with their students so we took advantage of that time together. We followed the dance with pizza and a tv show and had a great evening together - something that is rare these days (due to his workschedule).
Karah happily dancing with Daddy :)

Vincent not-so-happily dancing with Mommy
(he wanted to play with his friends - lol)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bullies on Base

Today as we were getting ready to eat lunch (pizza) I realized we didn't have anything to drink to go with it. Sorry, I just can't drink water with pizza. So we drove over to the c-store to get a quick drink. I was dressed for church except I was wearing comfy flip-flops instead of my cute heels. Karah was dressed for around the house fun, and Vincent was mixed (dress pants, t-shirt, and flip flops). I sent Karah in to grab us drinks while I waited out in the van with Vincent.

It's not like it's huge and it wasn't super busy at the time. After a few minutes she comes out with the bag of drinks and we head home. As we're leaving the parking lot, Karah tells me some kids talked to her on the way in. According to her, it was a couple girls and a boy. Well, one girl told Karah "pay me a quarter and you won't get hurt" . Karah told me this and I was like "what?!?" She said that another girl started talking and Karah just ignored them and went inside. *good girl!* They weren't there when she came out.

Obviously nothing happened or else I'd have more to write about, but still. Always be mindful of where you're at, even in a relatively "safe" place. I'm glad that Karah kept her cool and ignored them, though I'm sure it could have gone differently. Thank God He had His hand of protection on her. God is so good!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Thank you all ....

I have enjoyed your participation in this giveaway and I hope to be able to do more in the future. Since it was a small number, we just did it by hand. I was the photographer while Vincent got the lucky job of drawing.
All the names entered in
The entrants
In the box waiting to be drawn
ready for drawing
Vincent is ready to draw
patiently waiting
Mixing it up
mixing it up
He took his job seriously and didn't peek
not looking
And the winner is ....
and the winner is...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The past week in shopping

I was able to get some pretty good deals lately and thought I would share what I was able to get.

Target shopping trip - 3/19
Okay, so I can't find the receipt for this one, but I know I didn't spend much. For the buddies bars I used (1) $3/3, (1) $2/2, (1) $1/1 coupons. The puzzle was $1 and I got it to cover the overage since they were 97c each, and was something I wanted anyhow. I don't know the exact price, but I know it was less than $2 for all, including tax.

K-mart shopping trip - 3/23
I took advantage of the double coupon event this week and while I didn't get as good a deal as Hip2Save, I think I did pretty well since I've only been getting the paper (& thereby coupons) for a couple weeks now. Everything I bought I had a coupon for that I was able to get doubled, except for the dog food (not pictured) because it was a $3.50 coupon but that's okay. :-)
Overall, I bought 18 items, saved $15.70 because of sales, saved $18.24 in coupons, for a total of $31.18 + tax.
(If the V8 looks a little deformed it's because the kids each had one before we came home.)

Walmart shopping trip - 3/24
Not a bad trip this time. I attempted to use the self checkout, but it wouldn't take the coupons so the cashier was gracious enough to take me up to hers and I was able to use them all. They all went through for the full amount resulting in: $20.61 before coupons, $20 in coupons, 61c + tax for a total of $1.63 oop.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The A-Maze-ing Giveaway

Welcome to my first giveaway! To tell you the truth, I was a little nervous about doing one as I'd rather have something I made up for grabs, but this is a bit of a last minute decision due to the Ultimate Blog Party :-) Hope you all enjoy it!

Up for grabs are 2 books of mazes.

1) The Amazing Alphabet Maze book - filled with 52 mazes, one maze for each letter - both capital and lower case

2) The Amazing 50 States Maze Book - filled with 50 mazes, one maze for each state

To enter, just leave a comment with a way to get in contact with you. Drawing will be held March 27, 2009 @ 6pm EST.

Ultimate Blog Party 2009
Thanks sis for pointing out my earlier mix up! :-)
Visit Sweeties Sweeps for winnable contests and sweepstakes.

Time To Party

Ultimate Blog Party 2009
Well, it's time for the Ultimate Blog Party 2009! I remember briefly coming across it last year, but was still fairly new to the blogging thing so I passed on it. This year I think I'll participate!

For those that don't know me, I am married to my wonderful husband of 5+ years - Brian - and between us we have three children - Karah (9), Brian Lee (8), Vincent (7). My husband I met because of the Marine Corps when I was still in. He has remained active duty while I am now a stay-at-home mom. (By the way, how come no one warned me it wouldn't be easy!) We currently live in Camp Lejeune, NC, though we will be moving later this year to Who-knows-where.

I love music! Listening, singing, playing piano, flute, or the occasional violin or trumpet - doesn't matter, I love it! I also enjoy crocheting, sewing, reading, crafts, and spending time & having fun with the family. I enjoy going to church and participating there as well as fellowshipping with like-minded believers.

Initially I started this blog looking as it like an online diary of sorts. I then decided to post a little more regularly and share with family in order to keep them updated on things around here. A military lifestyle usually revolves around frequent moves, and those are almost never close to where we grew up. I love to post about my family, good deals I've been able to get, and really just about my life in general.

Let's party!!!

I have decided to do a giveaway. The A-Maze-ing Giveaway will run until March 27th, so get your entries in now!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Our needs

On Saturday, March 7, 2009, the five of us had breakfast at Golden Corral. After leaving around 11am we went to a carwash and vacuumed & washed the Rendezvous. We were at the dealership by noon. Three and a half hours later we are driving off the lot in a 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT. This is such an answer to prayer! Sure it's blue (I wanted black), but I do like the blue, and it came with features I wasn't planning on. The stow 'n' go was a must for me, along with the dual DVD players (for the trips we'll be making soon). It also came with remote start (YAY!), tri-zone climate control (driver, passenger, rear), push buttons to open the side doors, side door windows roll down, SIRIUS satellite radio, jacks & outlets in order to hook up a video game system or other video system. The other day I was actually able to use all the seats as I took myself & the 2 kids and my friend with her 3 children. We were able to talk to (and hear) each other relatively easily as the kids were all watching a movie. What a blessing!

It was something we had been praying about because we really needed a new(er) vehicle. (This is actually the first time either Brian or I have had a brand new vehicle before) Two of the tires really needed replacing along with the registration renewal / vechicle inspection coming up soon. We hope to be able to enjoy this for many years to come yet.

This is my only picture for now, but I will try to get more soon.
Matthew 6:8
"...for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. "

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

CVS trip

Today I went to CVS and was able to take advantage of some of the deals they had going on there. My first stop I used my card and had two transactions. I had it all planned ahead of time what I was going to do and how I was going to do it, but when I got there they didn't have a couple things. So I modified and here's what I got.

Transaction #1 (my card)
1 - Hershey's Bliss Milk Chocolate on sale for $3.50 (from $4.79)
used $1/1 printable coupon

3 - Cadbury Mini Eggs on sale for $2 each (from $2.99 ea)
used $1.50/3 printable coupon

2 - Hershey's Kisses on sale for $1.88 ea (from $2.99ea)
1 - Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs on sale for $2 (from $2.99) (thought it was supposed to be $1.88 though)
used $1.50/3 printable coupon

Total of items - $15.26 (originally would have been $22.73)
Total coupons - $ 4.00
Total OOP - $11.26 + tax
Paid with $10EB from last week and $1.26 cash
Received $5EB for purchasing $15 of Hershey's (before coupons)

Seven bags of candy that after sales and EB received averages to $0.89 per bag!

Transaction #2 (my card)
2 - Progresso Soup on sale for $1.25ea (from $2.99ea)
2 - Progresso Soup on sale for $1.25ea (from $3.19ea)
used $2/4 printable coupon

1 - Colgate Max White on sale for $2.99 (from $3.29)

1 - Xtra laundry detergent on sale for $1.99 (from $2.79)

1 - Irish Spring hair & body wash for $4.99

Total of items - $14.97 (originally would have been $23.43)
Total coupons - $ 2.00
Total OOP - $12.97 + tax
Paid with $10EB and $2.97 cash
Received $4.99EB from Irish Spring, and $2.99EB from Colgate

Seven items that after sales and EB received averages to $0.71 per item!

Transaction #3 (Brian's card at a different location)
4 - Progresso Soup on sale for $1.25ea (from $3.19ea)
used $2/4 printable coupon

2 - Dry Idea deodorant on sale for $2.99ea (from $4.49ea)
used $2/1 coupon x2

1 - Irish Spring body wash for $4.99

Total of items - $15.97 (originally would have been $26.73)
Total coupons - $ 6.00
Total OOP - $9.97 + tax
Paid with $9EB and $0.97 cash
Received $4.99EB from Irish Spring, and $2EB ea from Dry Idea

Seven items that after sales and EB received averages to $0.14 per item!

All three transactions
Total sale price of all - $46.20 (from $72.89)
Savings from coupons - $12.00
Total OOP (out of pocket) - $34.20
Paid with $29EB and $5.20cash
Total Extra Bucks Received - $21.97
21 items after sales, coupons, and EB received averages to $0.58 per item!

This wasn't from CVS, but I had to include it since I got it today for FREE using the coupon in the ALL YOU magazine. The magazine is full of coupons and can get it at Walmart for $2.24 + tax. Even if you got it just for the FREE item (which I'm told it usually has at least one of) it more than makes up for it right there. The coupon was good for one free (up to $6.47) Rimmel Sexy Curves mascara - wouldn't you know it cost $6.47. Totally FREE! Yay!

Monday, March 16, 2009

My Old Man

Last Thursday my dear, wonderful husband of just over 5 years turned ... 30! There, I said it. He is officially an "old man". :-) (I have to enjoy it while I can for I will soon be joining him!)
Not that either of us really consider 30 old. The balloons (which used 2 small packages of crackers as the weight) were sent to him from his parents. You'll notice in this next picture that he seems to be in bed still (at like 1pm). Since it was his birthday, he wanted to sleep in and then be able to watch tv or play video games and still be in bed. He was entitled, so we had a sleepover on the pullout bed and relaxed most of the day.
Brian on the phone with his parents as he opens his card. It says:
Hey, I know where you can get a hot, steamy shower and a nice rubdown on your birthday ...
[open card]
Car Wash! Have fun! [while it plays "Car Wash" by Norman Whitfield]
They also sent him a $25 gift card for Olive Garden

We did the rest of the cards & presents on Friday night when Brian Lee would be here to see as well. This is the back from the card I gave him which talks about The Truth of Turning 30

Here he is with the card from the kids. It says:
Dad - At last! There's a talking action figure for people your age!
[open card & hear "OOOOOOWWWW! My back! Oh! Oh man! I gotta lay down"]
Try not to think about it, and have a happy birthday!

Brian as he's opening his presents. These are actually pics of the first three he opened. If you're wondering about his facial expression, it's the fact that I double wrapped his presents. hehe
Wrapped inside these were Star Wars The Force Unleashed for DS, Lego Star Wars The Complete Saga for DS, and the NCIS Official Soundtrack. (We love NCIS!)

The kids during a brief intermission as I go to grab more presents

Inside a Pirates of the Carribbean gift bag he found a Transformers bubble bath (hey, Optimus Prime's arms move!), and a Love Monkey webkinz.
(Give ya three guesses who chose those items)

The final present! He had to close his eyes for this one while we prepared to give it to him. Upon opening his eyes he joked that it was probably a party sub. lol

Not a party sub! An Anakin Skywalker lightsaber!

He couldn't wait to get it open. He is using his engraved dogtag to open the box because he didn't want to wait for scissors or a knife. (The dogtags were another birthday present given from me along with a more personal card - I have the matching dogtag).

The happy birthday boy!

It's open!

A stand that came with it in order to display it. It is also wall mountable, so he was looking up at the wall, thinking about replacing the candle display we have there.
(Thinking was all that was done)

Yes the batteries are in and it is turned on...

Here's a better picture with the overhead lights turned off. It's pretty bright, that's for sure.

Daddy had his lightsaber so the kids got theirs in order to "fight back"

Nope, I don't think he likes it at all ... :-)

Had to include this pic - just because!

So after it's all said and done, yes I'm married to an old man, but that's okay. As long as he doesn't act old, he can be as old as he wants :)

Happy 30th Birthday Brian!!!