We're back...alive and well and had a great time in Utah. The drive there and back was pretty chaotic with the kids, but it helped us to realize we were being CRAZY to think we could drive up to Oregon this summer with the kids. I am going to start looking for airplane tickets ASAP.

We stayed with my Aunt Brenda and her kids on the way down which was so fun. Her kids are teenagers and it made me realize how much I love youth. They are so amazing today, much stronger than we were at their age.

Utah was snowy and cold which was fun. It was fun to get bundled up and see the pretty white snow outside. Santa brought Tanner a kitchen. His reaction was a little different than we thought it'd be. I don't know if he was overwhelmed with a few extra people in the room or what, but he wasn't as excited as we thought he'd be. I've heard that's pretty normal at this age....that Christmas morning can be overwhelming for little ones. Kate was thrilled with what Santa brought her....a doll and Little People bus. She played with them until she noticed that Tanner was playing with something else. She always wants to be doing whatever he is doing. It's really cute.

Shad and I decided to each get a free day while we were in Utah. day I watch the kids from morning until night while he does whatever he wants guilt-free and one day I get to do whatever I want. It was GREAT! I think we will do that every vacation. Shad chose to go skiing and I chose to sleep in as late as I possibly could and then go shopping.

In Utah we stayed at Robin and Mikes house (Shad's sister and bro-in-law). It was really fun getting to know Mike better and spending time with both of them. Marion (Shad's Mom) stayed there the whole time too, which was wonderful. Tanner is absolutely in love with her. He cuddles with her so much more than he does with me. Somehow, I am WAY down on his favorite list. So unfair.

Every single spare moment I had I spent researching Digital SLR cameras. I know I got a new camera last summer, but it's just not turning out to be what I expected. I wanted a digital SLR then, but went cheap and now it is biting me in the rear end. Sooo I decided on a........

Nikon D40

I also ordered an 18-55 mm lens, 50-200mm lens and an additional flash. Once I do some research I will get some lens filters as well. I have been so incredibly excited that I honestly can't sleep at night. I think about all of the pictures I want to take. I look at photographers websites of kid galleries and try to figure out how to get certain pictures. I am sooo excited!!! I won't get it until my birthday though (less than 2 weeks away). I told Shad when it arrived in the mail, I would take out the batteries to charge it and then give him the camera to wrap up. That way I can play around with it on my birthday. Again, I am so excited. I put my old camera up on Ebay today and plan on buying a casio ex-v8 on ebay with the money. It's a tiny digital camera that we can just throw in our pocket in Disneyland and places like that, where I wouldn't want to risk bringing the nicer camera.

So tonight is New Year's Eve and Shad and I will most likely not stay up past 10:30pm. So sad. We haven't stayed up until midnight since we had a New Year's Eve party 4 years ago. Are we getting older or what? Actually, in our defense, I tried finding a sitter about 4 weeks ago, and had no luck. All of our sitters are in Utah until Wednesday.

My kids have been awfully preoccupied for about 4-5 minutes, which means they are probably taking something apart and creating something new with the left over pieces. I love you all. Happy New Year.

Merry Hoopla

I was tagged by her to do the "Holiday Hoopla". You asked for it and now you got it.

Holiday Hoopla

here are the rules:
1. List 12 random things about yourself that have to do with Christmas

2. Please refer to it as a 'hoopla' and not the dreaded 'm'-word. I'm assuming she means "magical"

3. You have to specifically tag people when you're done.None of this "if you're reading this, consider yourself tagged" stuff is allowed.

4. Please try and do it as quickly as possible. The Christmas season will be over before we know it. Got the rules?

Here's my list:

1. As a kid we spent the coveted of all holidays celebrating at my great grandmother's home. You know "the big one". It was truly a fun time and boy does it bring back warm memories. It was by far (back then) my truly favorite of all holidays. My cousins, aunts, and uncles would come from all over the country. I can smell the home made bread whaffing from my grandmother's oven as if it were yesterday. Oh and her beautifully set tables. There were many. It was as if looking at a Norman Rockwell painting. The best of fun times. Sadly when she and my great grandfather passed so did the big family gatherings.

2. I remember so vividly racing around and rushing to get to candle light service. On time. I always had a sense of peace when we lit our candles as we sang "Silent Night". It's been many, many years since I've been to candle light service.....

3. I loved the "cheer" in the air during that "hoopla" time of year! How I wish I could turn the clock back 20+ years! It was such a different time. I hate what it has commercial...

4. As I got older my girl friends would meet Christmas Eve after an exhausting day of shopping. We would exchange gifts and share a bottle of wine. We would laugh and talk for hours. We still get together once a year for our annual girls trip. And boy do we still laugh..topics have changed a bit....

5. Before fh I was married to another. We had a big tree trimming party at our home every year with our back door neighbor's and their kids. T and I would sip on the Bailey's as we decorated the tree and laugh until we cried. She was a southern girl living in the Midwest and finishing her degree and was taking Spanish. Have you had the pleasure of hearing a southern belle speaking Spanish?! Yes, she made me laugh but because she was so sex crazed. Stay on topic, anyway, as the evening ticked by and the more tipsy we got we started throwing the icicles on the tree. Funny how the next morning it didn't look as beautiful as it did the night before!

6. I use to love nothing better than going to my parent's for the holiday. You see my mom was/is related to the Griswold's! Santa didn't need Rudolph to find their home. I could see the "glow" from Atlanta! Ahhh, but it was beautiful. Fh has always said when we had kids he was going to do the same thing......

7. One year my sister Val and I found our gifts and unwrapped them. We some how were discovered and mom threatened to take the gorgeous watches back! We never snooped again. Really.....

8. One of my most special, special years was 1988. We were with my in-laws. (ex). My mil was such a great cook. She made everything with her own hands and grew everything in her back yard. Anyway, she use to get the biggest thrill out of the gifts we would give her. It's not that it was anything flashy, or expensive, but it was always something that reminded me of her. Something I knew she would love. It was a stuffed animal, but not just any stuffed animal. It was a giant chef rat! She laughed so hard it made me smile. I always did the shopping..Still do.

9. Now that we don't live in the same state as our families, we celebrate with friends and their families. Everyone brings a dish and we just mingle and have a good time. My girls love going to P & B's because they have the biggest toy room of all!

10. Watching my dad's face as my mom opened his gift. He would go out every year in the ninth hour to look for the perfect gift for the woman he loved so much. Oh, don't think he was doing this last minute. He always had a mapped out plan and knew what he was searching for. Her most favorite was the crystal nativity scene. She has cherished that the most.

11. When I lived down south we spent the morning of "the big one" at my sister's home. We would crawl out of bed at oh-dark hundred and into the car still in p.j.'s to watch her two boys open their gifts. I can still hear the laughter in the air and the look on my sister's face. Her boys were not the "studs" they are today, but damn were they the cutest little boys I'd ever seen! She would plead with the boys to open all the gifts. After all everyone wanted them to open "their" gift. They were perfectly content with just the one gift. She would make this ginormous delicious breakfast and we would watch as the children played with the one favorite toy of the day...... Funny they're still like that at 16 and 19! They have never wanted for much.

Now that we have our own children I wanted to have our own traditions. On the "eve" of the big one we stay up watching animated movies with the girls really, really late. Yes, they get to stay up just this once....and I sooo enjoy the movies. Probably as much as the girls if not more! We stay in our p.j. Christmas day all day... Well until we have to leave the house.

They you have it.... I know it's late but I tag Jewels, and Christine

My special friend

This is for her. I know how sad this time of the year is for her. I know she misses her mum and how she wishes her daughter's would have known her. For just one minute. A love like hers doesn't come along often in life. I hope you my friend know how I admire your strength and how much I love you. You've got a lot of people who think you're pretty special. I'm always here......we're here for you.

When Tomorrow Starts Without Me

Author Unknown

When tomorrow starts without me,
and I'm not there to see;
I wish so much you wouldn't cry
the way you did today,
while thinking of the many things
we didn't get to say.
I know how much you love me,
as much as I love you
and each time you think of me
I know you'll miss me too;

But when tomorrow starts without me,
please try to understand,
that an angel came and called my name
and took me by the hand,
and said my place was
in Heaven far above,
and that I'd have to leave behind
all those I dearly love.
But as I turned to walk away,
a tear fell from my eye,
for all my life, I'd always thought
I didn't want to die.

I had so much to live for
and so much yet to do,
it seemed almost impossible
that I was leaving you.
I thought of all the yesterdays,
the good ones and the bad,
I thought of all the love shared
and all the fun we had.
If I could relive yesterday,
I thought, just for a while,
I'd say goodbye and kiss you
and maybe you would smile.

But then I fully realized
that this could never be,
for emptiness and memories
would take the place of me.
And when I thought of worldly things
that I'd miss come tomorrow,
I thought of you, and when I did,
my heart was filled with sorrow.
But when I walked through Heaven's gates,
I felt so much at home.
When God looked down and smiled at me,
from his great golden throne,

He said, "This is eternity
and all I've promised you.
Today for life on Earth is past
but here it starts anew.
I promise no tomorrow,
but today will always last,
and since each day's the same day,
there's no longing for the past.
But you have been so faithful,
so trusting and true.
Though there were times you did some things
you knew you shouldn't do.
But you have been forgiven
and now at last you're free.
So won't you take my hand
and share my life with me."

So when tomorrow starts without me,
don't think we're far apart,
for every time you think of me,
I'm right here in your heart.

Santa is coming to town.......

"Is there anything under the tree with our name on it"?

"I'll have another, please".
The cookies.
"Daddy, mommy said to get out from under that table"!

"I promise mommy, I won't touch".

"Abbey, hold my hand".

I look like I have gas. Picture taking is so painful in our house. For all concerned!
We live vicariously through our D.I.N.K.'s friends who travel the world, dine out, on a weekly basis, and hob knob with D.C.'s super"elite". Yes, we know people who know a lot of impo-tant peeps. Access Hollywood! It's what tabloids are made of. So it's safe to assume we wouldn't miss one of the biggest holiday parties of the season. The annual cookie party hosted by our very good friends. A party that would make the inaugural ball look like a wedding at the local VFW. Fancy schmancy. Not to mention attorney's, attorney's and more attorney's. They must have heard I was bringing the "girls". Not those girls, but the twins. Tongues wagging, finger pointing and people watching. Big Fun.

Conversation fh has with me as we are parking the car.

Fh: "You know, this is not the kind of party that the girls can just run around. There are going to be a lot of people here tonight".

Me: Deer in headlights look on my face and eyes rolling says to fh. "When have we ever allowed them to run around like crazy kids"?

Fh: "I'm just saying, (rather firmly) there are going to be a lot of people here tonight.

Me: "Yeah, I get it". Shzzzz. What was he implying?--Note: hours later I would see fh across the room laughing and shucking it up with his "boys" while mommy dearest had the twinkies tied anchored to a chair so as not to disturb the big people.

We slipped into the house quieter than St. Nick himself. We hurriedly made a bee-line to the smorgasbord eager to see what the menu would offer. I had this strange feeling we had been here before. Lol. We sucked on an ocean of crab claws, licked our sticky fingers of the bourbon soaked meatballs, devoured the smoked salmon and sipped guzzled on bottle after bottle of champagne as we engaged in the latest world affairs. It couldn't have gotten much better.

We dressed the girls in their fancy girly dresses. They. Were. Adorable. No, they were stinkin' ass cuuuuute. Spinning and twirling like they had just been crowned "Miss Junior Fair Queen". Well, in Katie's case "Miss Stripper". Couldn't get her to stop showing her bewy button to everyone! I couldn't have been prouder. We knew he would be there as he is part of the celebrity fare that attends yearly. Ahh, the advantages. He came dragging in bags of his famous delicacies. Yum-Yum. K & A smacking their lips on crab and begged for more like seals at Sea World. As they yelled "cheers" to everyone and kept running back to the bar for more....They swirled their little wine glasses as it they too were enjoying the grape. They were good. No. They. Were. Perfect. And after over 600 pictures and lots of crying we finally got the purr-fect holiday photo! It is quite trying at times. Be looking for your card in the mail.

How many times do I need to clean up vomit and diarrhea to be a real Mom?

So that's the question of the day. I'm actually thinking of buying additional sets of pajamas for myself, since that's what I've been living in lately. That way when a little bit of throw up lands on me, there's a new set for me to wear.

I am tired and want to take a nap. Who takes care of the Mom when she's sick??

Here are some cute pics of my darlings from last night. We decided not to let sickness get in the way of the festivities so we took Tanner around to see Christmas lights, with our friends Ross and Lillie and their daughters Sophia and Mila. Wow, if you just look at the pictures, we totally look healthy. Shows how pictures can be deceiving. = ) I especially like the last picture of Sophia and Tanner looking at lights. Notice that they are on someone's porch, touching their decorations. I think they thought of it more like trick or treating. They would run up to each porch to look at all the decorations. It was really cute.

These pics are from today. Tanner pushed Kate around in his grocery cart and later they opened up their presents from my Mom. By the way Mom, he opened up his garbage truck 2 hours ago and has not let go of it since. He really has been playing with it nonstop for 2 hours. I LOVE those kind of toys. Thank you!

Are We Too Old For American Eagle Clothes??

Shad and I went to Christmas shopping at the mall last night and had and extremely hard time finding clothes for Shad. In the past, the majority of his clothes have come from American Eagle Outfitters. The clothes are comfortable, hip and they have great sales. Well, last night Shad tried on a bunch of stuff there and at Hollister. Wow. Every time Shad tried something on, he'd say, "It's too tight Liz. I don't like it." Then I'd say, "Shad that's the style. Boys don't where super baggy jeans anymore and the shirts are a bit tighter." He'd say again how tight things were and "uncomfortable" and would grab a bigger size. Well, the bigger sizes would look ridiculous because they'd be hanging on him and he'd say, "these are more comfy". So he would like they way they'd feel, but not the way they'd look. We ended up getting nothing for him

While we were walking to the car (actually mini-van...let's be honest here) Shad asked, "Well, what am I supposed to wear? Where have I been getting my clothes?" We realized he has bought ALL of his clothes for the last couple of years from Costco.

His wardrobe has gone from American Eagle to Costco clothes. Now, where we live, 99% of the people that shop at Costco are 70+ years old, which means they probably aren't stocking the hippest clothes for a 31 year old guy.

So last night we're laying in bed in the dark, and he says, "I realized I'm at an in between stage." He meant that he's too old for the young styles, but too young for the old styles. Then the scariest thing dawned on us. Shad and I were the OLDEST people in American Eagle and Hollister last night! Yikes. I mean, there was the occasional Mom here and there sitting on a chair waiting for their teenager to try on clothes, but we were by far the oldest people actually trying on clothes in those stores. Then I thought, wow, we were those dorky older people shopping in a teenager store trying to be cool. How long has this been going on?

Follow the yellow brick road...

"Potty baby"..

"Please potty"...

"Let me see"...
Watching baby....

"Like this, mommy?"

Ahh, the many uses of the potty. Hopefully the "potty hat" will not become a popular trend. Rumor has it that they will be potty trained before going off to college. At that point sadly I'll be in diapers. Paybacks. What goes around comes around. Priceless......


Tanner has been making messes faster than I can clean them up and it's DRIVING ME CRAZY!!!!!! Friends have always commented on how clean I keep my house and I've always given credit to my neat freak husband and son. Well, those days have ended. I feel like Tanner is a year behind most kids in getting into EVERYTHING. He doesn't care what it is and he has no desire to play with anything, his ultimate goal is to destroy everything as fast as he possibly can. His most common phrases are, "I dump it" and "I break it". He says that right before he destroys something.

This is Tanner's play kitchen he created. The other day he grabbed all our barstools and lined them up, making a counter. Then he grabbed the baking stuff within his reach and started cooking away. Kate joined right in. I am sooo excited for Santa to bring him a kitchen for Christmas.

I am also so excited for tonight to be OVER. Tonight is our ward Christmas party. I actually think it will turn out really well, but I am still anxious for it to be done so I can start enjoying the holiday season. Soon it will be a full year that I've been activities chairman, and I feel like after tonight I will really have it down and will NOT want to be released anymore. If I didn't get so dang stressed, it's not really that demanding of a calling.

Kate and Tanner are sick right now.....loads of fun.

Stepping out of the Abyss.

I think it is safe to return to my sanctuary. The outpour of friendship from all of you has been overwhelming. Thank you for all for concern, love and support during this terribly sad, time and for the many, many phone calls, the beautiful flowers, cards, and of course the warm e-mails. I was/am truly touched. But as sad as it might be I do need to move on with my life. My children and my fh need me too. It's hard to believe we're almost through Chanukah and Christmas is starring us in the face like a 4th of July explosion. I'll catch you all up with our crazy life since Thanksgiving. Always crazy...
  • We invited my sister, her husband, her best friend, and her boyfriend from Ohio to spend the Thanksgiving Holiday with us. I had carefully planned the purrr-fect feast. We would start with a butternut squash soup, followed by "fresh" turkey (soaked overnight in oranges and wine---mmm succulent) apple pecan stuffing, mashed potatoes bake, sweet potato casserole, fresh cranberry relish with walnuts, hot rolls, tossed spring salad, fresh green beans w/walnuts and a lemon zest and of course wine! Lots of wine. (Sister brought the dessert--I don't bake.) In the ninth hour I realized I had nothing to serve the soup in! Good gawd why had this not occurred to me?! I left desperate messages with all of my neighbors hoping someone, anyone had a soup "latrine". No one to the rescue but as fh pointed out later why would they? No one would ever admit to having a soup shitter!! Yes, so typical of me. I meant to ask for a soup "tourine" but with all the daily discussions about "poo" in our home well you get the picture . We had to make a last minute run to the store for brews as my sister's fh only drinks this kind of beer! Yes, we had a stocked frig full of beer, just not that kind. Hee hee. At any rate I don't remember there being a holiday that I enjoyed more.
  • We observe the the final night of Channakuh tonight. We celebrated with some friends this weekend and daddy three turned shads of white when our friend handed the girls each a lit candle to lite the menorah. I don't think I've ever seen him move so quickly. Even when I purr I"m ready. Anyway, he was clearly fearful they might torch the place the way they were wielding their new "lites". They thik daddy looks really funny in his "hat" Kippah and they love chanting Happy han-ka" and "men-rah". Music to daddy's ears. Hebrew school here we come.
  • Now we move into the Christmas mode. Oh, this is sure to confuse. Nothing like a big man with a beard and a red suite and black boots and some funny looking hobbits with pointy ears to scar them for life. Almost forgot about the reindeer! No, definitely not high on my priority list. I don't want them in therapy---not yet anyway! I had all intentions of lighting this place up like the Griswold's but so typical of everything lately just can't seem to get my shit together. I keep hoping some little elf is going to show up late one night and do it up like a Las Vegas Hotel.
  • We have sadly just discovered that Katie has food allergies. Again. The kid who literally eats EVERYTHING. She started breaking out in these hives a week or so ago, although they weren't your typical hives. It looked as if she had been "branded". Like this! (barbaric) She had what looked like raised "X's" all over her body. Well, it appears that mommy and daddy have been slowly poisoning the poor kid with the crack that she soooo loves. Yep, she is highly allergic to milk. We thought she had outgrown the milk allergy but far from it. To top it off she is very allergic to wheat which as the doctor so kindly pointed out is in EVERYTHING! Crap. No more eating out for us. So, we will be scheduling Katie for a series of tests to see what else our little angel is allergic too and what the heck we can feed her.
  • The heavy topic of discussion at our home is Mai's new boyfriend. Heavy for me, but fh doesn't seemed to be fazed. So like him. Anyway, it doesn't hurt that new guy is drop dead stinkin' gorgeous with a ripped bod, and educated, has a great job, (accountant)and, that smile, and drives a hot car, and, and.... well he's a boy, NO A MAN! He's 29. Did I mention the bod. The arms! Yes, I drank all this in in our 5 minute exchange, but she's our girl and I don't want her hurt. I don't want her her heart to get broken. Oh man. I'm a mess. I knew it would happen. It's no secret she is so beautiful, tall, thin, NO, model ass friggin skinny, and the legs--omg, and oh so kind and, and educated too but, but...we'll you'll see. It was easy when she wasn't involved with anyone. Now my mind wanders back to my youth . OMG, I shouldn't go flashes..... and she's going out with him again tonight! Ahhhhh. Must remember to breath. It will be ok. Right?! Oh, I worry.
  • Mai leaves tomorrow night for Florida. Without me to keep a watchful eye on her. She will be staying with Jeff's brother(who is single) and lives in Jacksonville. They are going to take in the sights in St. Augustine and then head down to Delray Beach to visit "Nana. Of course no trip to Florida is complete without seeing the infamous "south beach" and all the beautiful bods. What I wouldn't give to be down there and keep an eye on that situation. Insert: big grin. Especially knowing that little miss "thing" will be sporting little skimpy numbers like this. Oiy vey. Did I mention those long gorgeous legs of hers?! Yes, yes, yes I agree, she does need time away to enjoy herself without us me looking on with my pierced eagle eye.
  • I officially kicked off my wine business with several parties and each has been bigger and better than the last. I think I may have found my niche. My "sponsor" (interesting play on words for someone who sells wine!) has been thrilled with my sales. Fh seemingly surprised that I have not drank up all the profits. Delicious wine too. I'm working on building up my client base. Thanks to all of you who have ordered from my site and helped support my cause. I so appreciate it. I don't think my kids will be going shoeless this winter! lol.
I hope you enjoy the pictures of my girly girls as that is why you visit, right? Wishing all of you are good and enjoying the holiday season. I will be making my rounds to see each and every one of you! I so much adore and love all of you. Merry Christmas, Happy Channakuh and Happy Holidays!!!!

Note: Channakuh delayed significantly tonight due to incident on way home from work.... to be continued......

Several people have e-mailed me regarding how I prepared my Thanksgiving Turkey. Because I love you all I don't mind sharing. Remove the innards from the bird. Wash the bird with cool water. Place bird in a big garbage bag and fill with water. I put the bag in the sink as easier to manage. Cut up 3-4 oranges and stuff most into the cavity of the bird. Pour about 1/2 cup wine into the cavity as well. I squeezed a couple oranges directly onto the bird . Tie bag up tightly carefully. You will need fh to help get your bird into the frig. Be careful when you remove from frig the next day as water will be sticky. remove oranges from the cavity of bird. I don't stuff my bird with stuffing/dressing when cooking it however I do stuff with big chunks of garlic, onion, celery, and carrots. Delicious!