Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

It's 6:30am Christmas Eve morning and I am the only person awake in house full of family. Santa Clause is merrily rocking away outside the window in the front yard and the sun is just beginning to come up over the hill. It's been a whirlwind week, but Christmas is nearly here!

Sunday morning, my Dad drove our family to the airport to catch our flight to Las Vegas. Our final destination being Tehachapi, CA, which is just four hours from Las Vegas, we opted to have one long flight and to drive the remainder of the way. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 11:20 and we arrived at the airport around 9:45am. As soon as we pulled into the departures lane, our jaws just about dropped. There were lines on top of lines of people waiting to check their bags. We gathered the kids and all of our bags, hugged my dad goodbye and proceeded to figure out where were supossed to be. Five hours later, we made it to the check-in counter. Yes, five hours, two Lunchables, one box of Teddy Grahams, and many games of Eye Spy we made it to the check-in counter. Obviously, we had missed our flight, so we waited to see what flight they would put us on. We were put on stand-by for a 5:50pm flight and we also got seats on a 7:5opm flight. Relieved to finally have tickets in our hands, we headed for the security check point. With two kids, this is quite an ordeal, but we survived. After checking in at our gate, we had a quick lunch at Burger King and tried to make the the wait as fun as we could for the kids. They were troopers to be honest, they did a fabulous job, even though Katelyn was totally sick with a cold! Five more hours passed and we boarded our flight, hoping that our luggage was riding with us. The flight was 4 and half hours, so we watched movies, ate snacks and the kids slept on and off. Again, they really did a great job. We arrived in Las Vegas at 9:30pm, and discovered that our bags were on a different flight that would not be arriving until after midnight. Tim and Becky, Ben's younger brother and his wife, were picking us up from the airport to make the drive to Tehachapi, but plans quickly changed since we had no baggage. They picked us up and we drove to Ben's older brother Jonathan's house, which was only 30 minutes away, and they put us all up for the night. The next morning, we drove back to the airport, retrieved our bags and started the drive to Tehachapi. Are you tired yet? Mind you that we are used to Eastern Time and we are now traveling in Pacific Time. So, we are all a little out of whack. To make a long story short(er), we arrived in Tehachapi around 4:30pm, a little rumpled and worn out, but happy to finally be at our destination.

Since we have been here, we have woken up to a surprise snow fall (Kate was so happy!), driven to Bakersfield for a little Christmas shopping, watched plenty of movies, and had lots of fun just spending time with family. Stay tuned for "Christmas with the Burgesses". Merry Christmas Eve!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Thanksgiving Tradtitions

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving. The day before Thanksgiving it is our tradition to go to our church's Thanksgiving dinner. It's huge and delicious, and I don't have to cook. Well, usually I don't. This year I volunteered to cook one of the turkeys. After reading a fabulous sounding recipe at My Kitchen Cafe I really wanted to try my hand at a Thanksgiving turkey. I have a made a few turkeys in my lifetime, but none of them were something to write home about. With Katelyn as my assistant in the kitchen, we prepared the turkey according to the recipe. The most unique part of the recipe we used was the final step. We coated a brown paper bag in butter and tented the turkey in it. After two and half hours in the oven, out came the moistest, juiciest, most flavorful turkey I can ever remember having. Success!!

"Painting" the paper bag with butter

The Turkey Tent

One Delicious Turkey!

On Thanksgiving, we usually go to my dad's house for dinner and in return we cook breakfast Thanksgiving morning. It has to be cinnamon rolls and breakfast casserole. Yumm. It really just isn't Thanksgiving morning (or Christmas morning) without them. We spent the rest of the morning laying around on the couch watching the Macey's Parade and flipping through Black Friday ads. It was perfect.

Last year, after Christmas, Ben and I bought new LED lights for the outside of the house and he was really excited to the try them out. So, we bundled headed outside and spent the afternoon putting up Christmas mights. Ben did a great job, and we love how cheery our house looks when we drive up!

Kate and Ben hard at work

Ben and the ginormous ladder

After Josh's afternoon nap, we loaded our share of the Thanksgiving feast into the car, grabbed this kiddos and headed to my dad's house. Dinner was delicious, and we were all too exhausted to even make it to dessert. It was a great Thanksgiving!

It also tradition to go shopping on Black Friday. I was up an ready to head out the door to Walmart at 4:30. While Ben and the kids slept, I was armed with my shopping cart and a list of great deals to find a store that was complete chaos. I ran into fellow Black Friday shoppers, Jessica and Anita and we compared lists. After Walmart, I took on Target and AC Moore. It was worth it, I scored some good stuff at great prices.

Our last Thanksgiving tradition is to decorate our house for Christmas the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving. We like to enjoy the decorations as long as we can. What can I say... I love Christmas!

Our sweet girl by the Christmas tree

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

We are getting hungry for Turkey!!

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and we are excited! For our family, Thanksgiving sitting around in our jammies watching the parade on tv, eating lots of delicious food and, of course, preparing for Black Friday shopping. Lots of Black Friday ads have already been posted on

We've started reading our favorite Thanksgiving book to the kids and Kate has already watched Charlie Brown and Mayflower Voyage at least three or four times. Need a cute Thanksgiving story for your kids? Try this one:

It's a cute story, done to the same rhyme as The Night Before Christmas.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween Day 2009

Halloween was so much fun this year being on a Saturday. We had the whole day to do fun things together as a family. We started off the morning with homemade maple donuts. Yum... they were really, really good. After breakfast, the kids watched Halloween on Ice on the Hallmark Channel. It was pretty neat, Katelyn liked all of the scary costumes. For lunch, we headed to McDonald's and ending up eating in the car while we waited to get an oil change for the car. The kids ate more in the car than they ever do when we go inside to eat. Noted.

Later on, while Josh was napping, Katelyn, Ben and I carved pumpkins while we watched "Tinkerbell and the Lost Treasure" on the laptop and the Florida Gators football game on tv. The kids used a kit we found at Walmart to decorate their pumpkins like animals.

For dinner we had mummy dogs (crescent roll wrapped hot dogs) and zombie fingers dipped in blood (sweet potato fries and ketchup).

Grandpa and Nana Bellinghausen stopped by to see the kiddos all dressed up in their costumes. Cinderella and Tigger, respectively. They were so cute.

We went outside for some pictures and then... it started to sprinkle. But did that stop us? No way! We put out a bowl of candy on the porch and headed out to start trick or treating with our umbrella in hand. Katelyn was really good at saying "trick or treat" this year and Josh managed to hold his own bucket long enough for our neighbors to fill it with candy. He was darn cute and his candy bucket proves it. :) We met up with the Wilde family and spent nearly two hours trick or treating... basically until the kids were begging to go home. We were damp, but it was a lot of fun. When we got home, we sat the kids on the floor in the living room and poured their loot into their laps and let them gorge for a little while. Why not.. it was a great Hallowen!

The Pumpkin Patch

A week or so before Halloween, the kids and I headed to the Pumpkin Patch for playgroup. There was a mini hay bale maze, animals to pet and feed, a tractor ride, and a huge "pumpkin patch" full of mini pumpkins for the kids to pick a pumpkin. Katelyn loved feeding the animals! She was very brave. Josh was giddy and pointed at almost everything and shrieked. Very cute. As you can tell, we had fun.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Big Ultrasound

Today it's cold and rainy outside, but we are loving it. It feels like fall and today is a day we have been looking forward to for weeks. We dropped Joshua off at Grandpa Bellinghausen's house and headed off to the hospital for our ultrasound appointment. Katelyn went with Ben and I and was semi-entertained by the live video of the baby. After 15 minutes of clicking and measuring, the sonographer finally asked if we wanted to know the gender of our little bean. Of course we did, so she wiggled around to find just the right picture and lo and behold... IT'S A BOY! The first thing Kate said was... "I wanted a sister...". We think she will learn the benefits of being the only girl besides mom. Anyhow, our second little man looks perfectly healthy and very handsome already. We can wait to meet him!

Isn't he so cute!

Baby feet and baby arms... so sweet.

Not shy at all!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pre-Halloween Festivities

As soon as the calendar turns to the month of October, we are ready for Halloween. We've spread out some really fun activities over the course of the month.

In early October, the kids got a really fun package in the mail from their Grandma Burgess. It was so cute. Grandma Burgess filled an empty soda bottle with Halloween Treats for the kids. One of the treats was a little bag of orange tic-tacs. Attached was a note that said "Heard you've been naughty, so here's the scoop... All you get is pumpkin poop!". Katelyn thought this was the funniest thing. Ever since then she has been repeating this poem to all of her friends. Thank you Grandma Burgess for such a neat treat!

Kate and the Halloween treats from Grandma Burgess

Next on our list of all things Fall was to make homemade applesauce. Kate, Josh and I headed out one morning to a local produce stand that was selling mountain grown apples for $.99/lb. At that price we bought 20 lbs! Katelyn and I spent the afternoon washing, peeling and cutting up apples. After simmering them on the stove, Kate mashed half of the apples while I blended the other half to make a perfectly chunky applesauce. Then we filled all of our pint size jars and Katelyn used the magnetic lid lifter to top each jar with a brand new lid, then we boiled them in the water bath canner. We ended up with over 13 wonderful pints of delicious applesauce. It was a great afternoon!

Apples galore!

Josh enjoying a delicious bowl of homemade applesauce

A few weeks ago, Michael's had all of their foam craft kits on sale. Katelyn picked out a spooky haunted house kit, and I promised her that we would put it together sometime in October. She was so excited about, she has asked nearly every day since them if we could make the haunted house. Finally, on Monday night for Family Home Evening we cracked open the kit and spent about an hour assembling, gluing and glittering. We haven't quite finished it yet. More pictures to come!

Ben and Kate building our haunted house

Homemade Applesauce
Makes 8 pints

12 lbs apples, peeled, cored, and quartered
3 cups granulated sugar (We only used 1 cup, and it was PLENTY sweet)
4 Tbsp lemon juice
8 (16 oz) pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands

1.) Prepare boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. (We just ran ours through the dishwasher.) Do not boil. Set bands aside.

2.) Combine apples with just enough water to prevent sticking in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 20 minutes, until apples are tender (time will depend upon the variety of apple and their maturity). Remove from heat and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes.

3.) Transfer apples, working in batches, to a food mill or a food processor fitted with a metal blade and purée until smooth. (We only blended half of the apples until smooth. The other half we left in the pot and mashed by hand. Then we mixed the blended apples back in to make a perfectly chunky applesace.)

4.) Add sugar, if using, and lemon juice. (We also added cinnamon to half of our applesauce.) Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Maintain a gentle boil over low heat while filing jars.

5.) Ladle hot applesauce into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.

6.) Process jars in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Little Man

He loves playdough!

It seems like Kate is always the one having all the fun, so I thought I should share some of the silly things that our Little Man Josh has been up to lately. He is 17 months old now, though everyone thinks he is older. He's a big kid. We can tell he always has a lot on his mind and he is very curious, but he has yet to put his thoughts into so many words. He says "MaMa and Dada" and everything else he says is a combination of one or the other. "Ma" usually means, "I want that right now!" and "Da" can also mean "doggy".

Being curious at Grandpa's house

A week or so ago, we headed over to my Dad's house for lunch on his patio. Josh was to curious to sit down and eat anything. This was such a cute photo of him peeking through the woodpile.

Grand Opening of Playdough Towers

We were playing playdough one afternoon and Josh was having a great time. After a few minutes, he got a hold of a few empty playdough containers and started stacking them on top of one another and then pointed at them very excitedly. So... we got out all of the playdough containers and started making towers. We had a great time. Our towers were as tall as Kate! Needless to say, I think Santa is going to bring Josh some blocks this year.

Cleaning the Floors with HIS Mop

If there is a mop, a broom, a stick, a light-saber, or anything of the like, Josh will find it and attempt to clean the floor with it. Maybe I am just a great example with all of the my mopping and sweeping (haha), or maybe this kid is obsessed with sticks, but he can keep himself entertained for quite a while. He was stealing my broom and coming way to close to wacking our big screen tv with the handle, eventually had to make him his own mop by shortening a spare Swiffer mop we had lying around. What a good helper.

Friday, October 2, 2009

So We Think She Can Dance... and Paint

Near the beginning of August, I started hunting for a dance class for Katelyn. I wanted something close to our house that wasn't focused on competition. Masterpiece Studios fit the bill. It's less than ten minutes away AND she gets to take dance and art, one right after the other. Friday mornings are so much fun. Katelyn gets all dressed up in her dance gear and we head to the studio. She does tap first, so we get her tap shoes on with all of other little girls. When Miss Jackie, her dance teacher, invites them into the studio, ten little girls stomp (not tap!) their way across the studio floor to hang up their backpacks and sit down for circle time. Miss Jackie calls the girls her "little angels".

Circle Time

Standing in her spot

After saying a prayer together, they all go stand in their spot, which is marked by a colored piece of tape on the floor, and they stretch out by doing "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes".

"Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes"

Kate is still trying to get the hang of it all. She is usually about three steps behind. Its so cute to watch though! Next, the practice their "Mr. Sun" routine, which I have on video at the bottom. Josh and I usually have to leave after the first few minutes of her class. He wants to go in and be with Kate so bad. When they are done with tap, they all switch into their ballet shoes for the last half of the class.

Our little dancer

When dance is over, Miss Erin comes over to get Kate and take her to the art studio next door to the dance studio. In art class, they read a book, and then do a project based upon the book. Today they read "Where the Wild Things Are" and then drew their own monster on black paper and added googly eyes all over it. They looked like monster eyes peering through the dark. She loves her art class, which is totally different than her dance class in that there is just her and two other boys. It's so neat to see Kate experiencing new things!

Mr. Sun Routine

Monday, September 28, 2009

He's a Mean One..

It's the 28th of September, it's 81 degrees outside and what are we doing? Sitting on the couch watching Jim Carey's "The Grinch". Kate has loved this movie forever. Is it too early to encourage some Christmas Spirit?  :)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Myrtle Beach 2009

It has become a tradition since the summer Kate was born that we go to Myrtle Beach with my dad and his family. It's a lot of fun. We usually spend a week in a condo right on the beach (thank you, Dad!). The kids had a blast this year building sand castles with our awesome sand castle kit. This was the first time Josh could really enjoy being on the beach and his favorite things to do were digging holes with his shovel and throwing sand at every chance. Kate was a little braver in the water this year and she found some sweet shells on some early morning walks with her Nana Kim. It rained a bit while we were there, but it gave us a chance to do some shopping and see a movie. The girls went and saw "Julie & Julia". I LOVED it! Meryl Streep played the role of Julia Child wonderfully. This movie made me want to go home and cook. I highly recommend this movie. The boys spent an afternoon and evening playing at the NASCAR Speedpark, which is always cool. It was a great culmination to a great summer!

Waiting in line to drive the race cars!

Allentown, PA

We arrived home from Minnesota on a Tuesday evening, and three days later, on Friday, we packed up the car and made the 9 hour (12 hours in our case) drive to Allentown, PA, to spend a few days (which stretched into a week and a half) with Ben's brother Chris and his family. I don't have as many pictures as I would have liked, but we sure had a ton of fun. It was a jam packed visit, full of day trips here and there. Here's a quick run down:

Saturday :
After packing a picnic lunch, we made the two hour drive to Hershey, PA, to spend the day at Chocolate World. We took the trolley ride around Hershey, listened to story of Milton Hershey and got to see all the town's historical sites. Milton Hershey was a really cool guy, he helped lots of kids over the course of his life. We have a lot of respect for him. After our trolley ride, we were on to a chocolate tasting "class", where we all about different flavors of chocolate. It was delicious, needless to say. Then we saw a 3-D movie... it was silly, I can't really remember what it was about. Honestly, our favorite part of the whole day was probably the free "tour" of the chocolate factory. It was a neat little ride that went through all of the steps to making Hershey chocolate. We finished off the day with dinner at Red Robin and arrived home late that night.

Ben and Chris had tickets to the NASCAR race at Pocono Raceway (the race was called due to rain, and the ended up going back the next day). Anya, the kids and I spent the afternoon at Chuckee Cheese.

While the boys were at the NASCAR race, Anya and I took Kaiy, Kate and Josh to Sesame Street World. It was a huge amusement park just for kiddos. It was mostly water rides, which was nice since it was such a hot day. Katelyn was braving than I have ever seen her. She rode on a roller coaster and the ride that takes you straight up and then drops. She did great and loved both of them!

With Ben back in tow, we headed to the Crayola Factory for the day. It was really neat. They had craft stations set up over an entire floor. We got to paint a ceramic turtle, play with model magic, do some painting and of course some coloring. I think this was one of my top three stops on our vacation.


This was by far our busiest day, and the coolest. After driving an hour to New Jersey, we parked the car at Summit Station and took an hour long train ride right into the heart of New York City. Our train let off right near Times Square and we walked from Times Square to Central Park over the course of the day. Our first stop was John's Pizzeria for some fantastic pepperoni pizza. It took as a while to find it, thank goodness Ben had my dad's GPS in his pocket. From there we headed over to Times Square. It was neat. Everything was so crazy busy, it was kind of hard to take it all in. Toys'R'Us is right there in the heart of Times Square, so we took the kids in for a look around. Our next big stop was Saint Patrick's Cathedral. It was beautiful, I really have no words. Then we walked down to Rockefeller Center and bought tickets to go to the "Top of the Rock". We stayed up there for nearly and hour taking in the whole city, it was awesome. We all sat down inside and just took it all in. After St. Patrick's we headed down 5th Avenue to Central Park. The plan was to take the kids to FAO Schwartz but it was already closed. Luckily, the brand new Apple store was right there, so we took the elevator down and spent some time playing with all the cool electronics. By this point, we were pretty exhausted. We had made it Central Park, but we were too tired to walk through it, so we decided to take the carriage ride through Central Park. It was my favorite part of the day. From there, we took the Subway back to the train station, ate some McDonald's, and quickly caught our train back to Summit Station. It was a whirlwind day, but we are sure glad we did it!

Thursday - Monday:
These days are kind of a blur! We were supposed to drive home on Thursday, but after all of our day trips the previous days, we were ready to just chill out, so we did. I think we went to Chuck E. Cheese again and rented some movies, but mostly we just hung out. One afternoon, Anya and I took the girls to an awesome outdoor mall that had a sweet slash pad for them to play on. It was very fun.


Ben and Chris got NASCAR ticket for Watkins Glen and spent Sunday and Monday driving back and forth to the race (It was rained out on Sunday! Two for two!)

Tuesday, we finally packed up and headed home. We had a great trip and made some WONDERFUL memories. Thanks for putting up with us for so long, Chris and Anya!

(I wish I had more pictures, but I forgot my camera on several of our day trips!)