Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Greatest Gift of All

Christmas Music!!! It truly is a wonderful gift.  For as long as I can remember I have loved Christmas music.  I remember driving my family nuts by starting to listen to it as early as August!  I would probably listen to it year round but there is something about the anticipation of listening to that first carol that I just love! So I usually hold back until sometime in October, but by November I am in full swing!  Different songs/artists always bring back certain memories and I can't get enough of it.

 I get teased quite a bit for my taste in music.  I mean what 60 30 year old woman doesn't love Neil Diamond, Kenny Rogers and Justin Bieber?  But that doesn't stop me.  I love music and I love making other people listen to the music that I like. A lot of the time I can change people's opinions of certain artists just by pulling over on the side of the road in my black jetta and refusing to drive until a certain roommate of mine agreed to listen to Neil Diamond with me!  Oh the good old days.  Sorry about that Bec!
So here you have it.  My favorite Christmas tunes!
I would have to say without a doubt my all time favorite is Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers – Once Upon A Christmas
I really do feel like I belong with them!

I love every single song on this album.  My earliest memory of these songs is sitting around the table with my sister and mom at our old house decorating Christmas cookies and singing along.  Anytime, I decorate Christmas cookies I want to listen to this music and it takes me right back.  Another great memory I have of Kenny and Dolly is a car ride I took with my dear friend/cousin Mandy.  We hadn't known each other very long at the time but we clicked from the first time we met.  (She is married to Matt's cousin) We were riding together to a Christmas party and she was driving.  I hopped in the car and said I have this CD that I love if you want to listen.  It is my favorite ever.  She said sure what is it?  I told her, and then it happened, she said "I love that album too!" And guess what she had it in her CD player.  From that moment on I knew we were meant to be together.  Er I mean that her and Ben were meant to be together! haha  
Number two.  This has also been a love of mine for quite a while.  Mariah Carey – Merry Christmas I believe it came out in the mid 90's.  My sister bought it and rocked out to that CD in her gray camero many many times.  This is another CD that I can say I love every song!  I could probably sing every song in the order it is on the CD a cappella.  

On to number three.  Point of Grace has always been one of my favorite groups.  I love their harmony and their songs are always so uplifting.  So of course I would enjoy their Christmas album Point Of Grace – A Christmas Story.  I don't have any specific memories from this but what I do remember is that whenever I am playing this with Matt in the car he says "can you please make the stop yelling at me!" haahahah Guess this one wouldn't be on his favorite list.  :)
Now I can't imagine that number four isn't on every single one of your lists.  I am not sure why those chipmunk voices don't drive me crazy but for some reason I just can't get enough of them.  My kids love them too and that makes it even better.  

Number five is a newcomer.  And yes I am sure I will get some flack from people for loving this but I just do!  It probably has something to do with my love for boy bands.  It takes me back to high school and jr high.  Yes, it is Justin Bieber – Under The Mistletoe

Yes, I did that. :)

Honorable Mentions

Speaking of being mocked for my music selections here's a doosy for you.

This is one of those CD's that my dad had when i was little and I listened to it simply because I was excited to have a CD player so we would listen to anything.  But now I love it. 

Now I will list songs that I DO NOT like.
Sorry Paul, super lame song.

Dumbest lyrics ever.  

I'm sure there are more that I love and more that I do not like. I definitely love the classics like, Nat King Cole, and Bing Crosby but those go without saying.  And I usually don't like fake made up Christmas songs.    
In the mean time I am so ready for the Christmas specials to be in full swing! 
This year is going to be hard for me.  I am used to running around between family get togethers and Christmas parties with friends and I am not going to be able to do that this year.  As of right now I am just hoping to at least  make it home for the weekend of Christmas to be with our families.  But if not, I will still be with my sweet family making new traditions and memories together.  I'm looking forward to my very first white Christmas too!  
Let it snow let it snow let it snow!!!

PS-clicking on the blue links will take you to Spotify and you can listen to my favs.  If you haven't signed up  you should check it out.  It is pretty awesome.

Wrapping it up!

And I only took two pictures of our thanksgiving feast! What in the world?  But the good thing is that they are two of the yummiest items on the menu.  First up, Green Bean Bundles!  These little guys are amazing.  bacon, beans, brown sugar, butter!  Seriously could there be a better way to eat veggies?  
I originally found this recipe on Kelly's Korner Blog.  Click here for the recipe.

The next picture is these wonderful rolls.  My mom had found a recipe for roadhouse rolls.  
The best part about these rolls was that we did them in the bread maker.  It was soooo easy.  All we did was put all the ingredients in the bread maker and put it on the dough setting.  No needing, timing or any of that other bread making business.  When the dough was finished my mom rolled it out and formed these rolls and in the oven they went!  We also did a brown sugar butter to top them with but found that plain butter was all we needed for them.  

Once dinner was finished and we had ran the dishwasher for the 32465416461st time we hit the road and headed up to Coeur d'Alene for the holiday light show.   We got to the boat just in time to hop on so we didn't have any time to take pictures with these fun characters.  

It was so so fun watching the kids light up with each new thing.  The lights were great and the boat was fun!

The Grinch sent us off with a funny little message.  I couldn't really hear him but he was pretty funny.

We traveled out across the lake heading to the North Pole!  It really felt like it too!  It was freezing.

Once we arrived at the North Pole, Santa and his helper Pepper Mintpatties the elf told us all about what was going on at the NP and then read his nice list.  It was so awesome to see the kids faces when they heard their names on the nice list.  Although Jude misunderstood and thought he was on the naughty list.  :) 

Hot chocolate and hot toddies were the perfect thing to keep us all warm on the boat!

After our trip we came inside and warmed up next to the fire.

And on the way out Madels and my mom did a little singing with the carolers! 

And speaking of Christmas Carols, come back tomorrow for a list of my favorite Christmas music.  
What is your favorite Christmas music?  

Saturday afternoon my parents loaded up and headed home.   We had yet another day of relaxing and watched the civil war game with my cousin and his family.  It was such a lovely week of spending time with family and friends and sleeping in until whenever I wanted that these last few mornings of school have been quite difficult getting out of bed.  But I am thankful to be back into the routine of school.  We are looking forward to having my Grandparents here this weekend!  And the kids are still waiting for some snow to play in!!! 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

One giant blur

Somehow between Saturday night and Friday night I managed to take only a few photos on my phone and none on the camera.  Again those days were a blur.  Sunday the kids and I spent with Matt's family.  (He had to fly home so he could work work work.) We did our thanksgiving and had a nice full table as usual.  I love that the kids have so many cousins to play with on both sides of the family.  Basically as soon as we walk in the door the kids are off and play upstairs with all kinds of fun toys.  Some of which I am sure Matt played with as a child.

Monday I was able to spend the evening with several of my besties.  My sister made a delicious dinner and we just had a great time sitting around the table catching up.  I love you girls!!!  Thank you sissy for all you did for me while we were there.

And of course my trip home would not have been complete with out a trip to the Alibi with my wonderful friend Rebecca!!!  If only we could have watched the civil war there together!!!  

I miss you all already.  

And then dun dun dun.......The fun began.  
We had planned on leaving early afternoon on Wednesday with my parents to head back to Pullman.  Unfortunately my dad was working in Ellensburg and wouldn't be done in time to leave from Albany with us.  So we made plans to meet up with him some where along 84.  The plans seemed so simple.  But guess what we didn't consider?  Thanksgiving TRAFFIC!!!! Holy Schnikies!  We started looking out at the freeway around noon and could see it was already backed up in Albany.  We talked to my dad and decided to take the back roads.  Thank goodness my mom was driving because I would have totally been lost!  The traffic along those roads weren't super bad but what should have taken an hour and a half ended up taking much longer. 
We had borrowed my grandpas pickup while we were in town so we had to return that to Vancouver before heading home.  This meant mom and I were in separate vehicles for the first part of the trip.  Near the beginning of the trip we realized that my mom had no brake lights! Ahhh no good.  This basically began a string of events that would contribute to the 12 hour drive.  As crazy as all the stops, horrendous traffic, rain and so much more  were it was really awesome to see how God was right there with us the whole way!  Each stop had a purpose and even though it seemed like it took forever to get home I was thankful for each thing.  Our trip from Oregon City to Vancouver should have been about 30 minutes took close to 5 hours!!! But once we dropped off Grandpas pickup it was smooth sailing!

Here we are with my awesome cousins and aunt who took time out of their gingerbread decorating competition to pick up the pickup!  So glad to see you all.  

We were finally down to one vehicle and from there it was great!  Mom and I were a bit delirious from the drive but had a great time chatting about all the crazy stuff that happened.  I wish I would have blogged right away because I have forgotten so much.  We met my dad shortly after and stocked up on treats at the gas station to get us the rest of the way there.  

Well we finally pulled into our drive way around 1 something! 
Thanksgiving day was a blur of food, dishes and football.  It think.
We had no food since we hadn't been home for a week so mom and I hit up Walmart (ps if you ever have a chance to shop at Walmart around noon on thanksgiving DO IT) It was so nice and empty.  
Once we got home the kids decorated their gingerbread houses from Grammy and mom and I worked on all kinds of snacks.  By the time it was time for dinner we were all so stuffed we decided to wait until Friday to do our actual thanksgiving meal! 
In trying to keep with the theme of packing everyday as full as I could I decided to hit up Walmart again, for some black Friday deals.  Let's just say that was a nightmare.  And I didn't get the item I wanted.  :( I won't go on.  That store was CHAOS!!!!!!!
Come back tomorrow for an update on the rest of our weekend!!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Next stop BBQ and Annual Meeting

Some how when you cram something into every single moment of a day it starts to blur! But I LOVE it.  I love being busy and I love spending time with my family and friends.  Friday I spent the day with my sister but I don't really remember much of it.  That may also have to do with the fact that we took all six kids to Target! Oh my.  That was quite an adventure!  But nothing an icee and popcorn won't fix!  
We also squeezed family pictures with Valerie Hibler in between rain showers.  It was freezing but I am so excited to see them.  Stay tuned for a preview of those!
Once we wrung ourselves out, we made our way to Bo Macs BBQ with Matt's grandma and family.  We had never been there and have always wanted to give it a shot.  It was great!  I had the pulled pork and Matt had ribs.  

The kids with Grandma Rose.

And Great Grandma Norvene.

Matt and I took Grandma home after dinner and had a really nice time visiting with her.  

From there Matt and I made our way up to Portland and the kids stayed at Trent and Lindsey's.  
It was so nice to be able to stay over night in Portland rather than running around trying to get kids settled before Matt's meeting at 7am and my get together at 10.  This year the ladies had a brunch and the Heathman and took a tour of the baggage handling system at PDX.
After that we were able to meet up with our Hoffman friends and visit before heading to our dinner.  
We always have a great time at the dinner and I love the excuse to get dressed up! 

One of these girls was relocated to Arizona and one was relocated to Eastern Washington :)  Hello paleness!!!!

We have been hanging out at this meeting with the Cerotsky's  and McKay's for 10 years now!!!

Here we are our first year!!! I'm not sure much has changed.  
Matt and Andy graduated from OSU together and we have been having fun together the whole time!!! 

I just noticed that Stacie is far more tan than I am in all of these pictures.  I guess I can't blame living in Pullman on my paleness.  

Tiffany, sadly this is the only picture of us together this year! 
I'm sure glad you jumped up in it.  :) 
And I am pretty sure Jacob hides from me when he see the camera come out!  I have no pictures of that guy

I just love having our Hoffman Family! 

Thank you Cerotsky's, McKay's and Moore's for such a fun fun night!!!
Here's to many more!  And ladies you better come to the spouses luncheon with me next year! 

And.......We're back!

Wow!  Talk about a crazy two weeks.  I am just now starting to recover and will probably catch up on my sleep sometime around Christmas.  :) In the mean time I am going to try and recap our wonderful trip home.
The weekend before thanksgiving we have the Hoffman Annual meeting.  And since we are in Pullman this year it made for a great reason to make the trip back home.  We decided to fly out on Wednesday night, and Matt flew home Sunday morning and the kids and I planned to drive home Wednesday with my parents since they were planning on coming here for thanksgiving.  Sounds like a simple plan right?  HA

Wednesday Madels had her thanksgiving feast at school and Jude's was thursday.  Luckily Jude's class was rehearsing their program so i got to sit in a watch.  Unfortunately he was being a stinker and spent most of the time with his back to me.
Nope, Jude you aren't being distracting at all. 
So sad I didn't get a picture of his face in that cute little turkey hat.

Here is Madeline's place mat for her feast.  And all of the things she is thankful for.

Olive fingers!!!

The teacher left the classroom for 2 minutes and this is what happened.  Conga Line! 

Once we finished at school we hopped in the car and headed to Spokane.  

Freezing cold walk out to our plane!!

Jude was responsible for our entertainment on the plane.  His ears were plugged so he was talking super loud.  Comments included, but were not limited to, "Dad there is a duck fan back there!!!" "This doesn't feel like flying, it just feels like plain sitting."  "I could run faster than this plane."  "A cheetah could run faster than this plane."  And everyone's favorite, "So this is why we are wearing seatbelts!"  (said after lots of turbulence and a very bumpy landing.)

We got to my parents pretty late.  My wonderful Uncle Steve and Aunt KK were so very kind and brought us my grandparents pickup to borrow while we were there.  We left the airport and headed straight to dad and mom's house.  Pretty much everything after that is a blur.  
These are the things I know for sure.

Most of Thursday Matt and I spent the day at the King's Coffee Shop
It was a great place for Matt to get some work done and I helped out behind the counter.  My sister so graciously took the kids for the day.  Did I mention it was her birthday? 
It was so great to spend the day with family and lots of fun to be helping out at the shop again.

Thursday evening  we celebrated  my beautiful sisters birthday!  My mom so generously treated us to dinner at my favorite restaurant, Sybaris!!  We always have the most amazing food along with trying out something new and adventurous.  The adventure this time was, bone marrow.  Below is a picture.  It was interesting, and odd to eat it straight out of the bone.  We also had many other tasty items.  I grabbed a menu but lost it somewhere along the way.  Their menu changes monthly but check out the website to see all the great things they have to offer.  Sybaris Menu  

I for some reason thought I should pack my day as full as possible.  We finished dinner around 9 and Matt left to play poker with his friends and I headed to Salem for the midnight showing of Breaking Dawn with my awesome cousins Joy and Shannon and of course Jenny and Libby!  We have seen them all together and it just gets better every time.  Love you girls!!! And apparently Libby needs a blog.  :)

So that wraps up the first two days of the trip.  I'll be back soon with more!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Introducing Rebecca Gayley, friend extraordinaire.

This week  I would like to introduce to you my wonderful friend Rebecca Gayley.  Rebecca is a graduate of the University of Oregon class of 1994!  She has worked for The Statesman Journal and landed her husband while covering his high school basketball game.  Rebecca boasts a yahtzee score of 490 and has the cutest little poochy poo name Coco Puff. (oh yeah, and two pretty great boys and husband too) We go way back, and will go way forward.  I know I will always have the best time when we are together and I can't forget to mention that she has texted me EVERY single day since I moved!!! What a friend.

This was us last year watching the civil war together!  Probably one of the funnest days we have had together.  And I am pretty sure it was one of the best days for the guy in the background of the second picture too! 

So without further adieu, I give you the first guest blog post from my dear friend RG

A couple of months ago, I try to forget the exact date, my friend Nicole (you all know Nicole) announced she, Matt, Madels & Jude were MOVING....! Who's this Matt person, I wondered? I had spent many months hanging out with Nicole at her house, eating tuna sandwiches & drinking iced tea. Jude & Bret took a few playdates to actually enjoy each other's company, but our patience and lack of meddling (rare) paid off and they became great friends. Madels named her Teddy Bear hamster after my toy poodle, CocoPuff. Life was BEAUTIFUL!! But Matt? Hmmm... Never heard of him.
Matt is like my husband: he works -- a lot! I did, one rare occasion, catch a glimpse of this elusive husband. Nice guy.
Denial turned to reality and the Kings were on the road to Pullman, WA. Packed up, shipped out. LAME.
Equally lame is moving to WASHINGTON, of all places! Yes, it's fairly close when you check out a map. Vancouver is just a bridge ride from Portland. But Pullman, home to the Washington State Cougars, a Pac 12 team, is home to well, just that. Not much else. Not even a Target?!? Good luck with that, Nicole. Pullman is a whopping 8-hour drive along some random highway in an easterly direction. (I think, anyway.) It's closer to Idaho than Oregon. Ugh.
Little did I know that I would be driving to Washington nearly every week... but nowhere near Nicole.
I drive to Seattle, the Emerald City from Salem, the Cherry one (What is Pullman's moniker, Nicole? Please share) nearly ever week. I am pretty sure every state thinks its neighboring state has the WORST drivers; Rest Assured: OREGON AND IDAHO ARE CORRECT THAT WASHINGTON HAS THE WORST DRIVERS EVER. I am super hoping Nicole moves back to Oregon before they get her & turn her to the dark side.
Oregon drivers, let's play a little game, shall we?
FACT: The speed limit on I 5 from Vancouver to Seattle is either 60 or 70. Question: When the speed limit is 60, how fast do you drive? The correct answer is 65. Thank you. When the speed limit is 70, how fast do you drive? If you said 72-75, you are correct! You are a good driver. But if you are a typical Washington driver, you would have answered 55 and 68, respectively. Please go back to Driver's Ed. You FAIL!
FACT: Road construction is inevitable in Washington. Question: When there are orange cones and barrels and people working in the rain, and the speed limit drops to 50, how fast do you drive? The correct answer is 50! Set your cruise control! People's lives are on the line!! If you are a typical Washington driver, you accelerate to 60 or more. FAIL!
FACT: The left lane is the PASSING LANE. You use it to pass slower drivers. Question: If the speed limit is 70, and you are in the passing lane, are you passing a slower driver? If you said, NO, I simply like this lane the best, it's my favorite. CONGRATULATIONS: YOU ARE A TYPICAL WASHINGTON DRIVER. PICK UP YOUR NEW PLATES!
FACT: A parking lot is for parking your car. Question: When you are parking your vehicle in a parking lot, do you drive through the main corridors looking for a prime parking spot? The correct answer is YES. If you are a typical Washington driver, however, you drive willy nilly through the parking lines and almost crash into drivers simply trying to park. Remember this is a parking lot, not a freeway. I know it is confusing. Parking lot: park. Freeway: Drive. Maybe make yourself some flash cards to practice these points.
FACT: Seattle has a lot of people (including students, tech-savvy Microsoft employees, tourists, commuters and even, Canadians, eh?!) who very often use the freeway to get from once place to another. In this way, Seattle is a lot like other big cities. To help drivers along, there are signs along the freeway, for example: EXIT ONLY. Question: When you are in a lane and there is a sign that reads EXIT ONLY, do you A, stay in that lane because you need to exit, or B, signal and get out out that lane because you do not need to exit? The correct answer is A Or B. If you answered, I DON'T KNOW BUT I WILL WAIT TO THE VERY LAST MILLISECOND TO DECIDE THEN EITHER CUT YOU OFF GETTING OUT OF THE LANE OR CUT YOU OFF TO GET INTO THE LANE, you, my dear, are a full-fledged, card-carrying Washington driver. Your car has lots of dents, your signal is broken, but your cappuccino is near perfect!
One of these days, I will meander off Interstate Five, and take the road less traveled and visit the Kings. Yes, I am afraid! But I am bold and I know the ways of the Washingtonian... and I will succeed.

PS: I don't cook often enough to blog about cooking.