Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Free Food!

Ever heard of McCormick and Schmick's? Have one in your area? If you do, and you make a reservation there online, you get a free $20 gift certificate. Pretty cool, huh? They had the same deal going on a few months ago, only with $25 instead, and Chad and I went. It was really good food, but you do need to know that it isn't cheap. We had decided it was a special night on the town for us so we got everything - appetizer, two entrees, dessert - which we normally don't do, and even with the $25 off, we still paid around $50. We have talked about going again and just getting appetizers and a dessert, or something like that, because we are cheap like that. Here is a sample dinner menu. I wonder if you can go for lunch?

Colin and the camera

I have been letting Colin use my old camera, which is a bit of a challenge for him since the screen is broken. He still keeps at it though, and yesterday I taught him how to use the timer. Colin has been amusing himself with it ever since, and today I downloaded his pictures for him. I found a few that are hilarious. These are from this morning and the thing that cracks me up is that he got Gabe to fully cooperate. They are even doing the same thing in each picture.

Smiling for the camera....

Pretending to sleep......

Making faces at the camera. Colin always makes the oddest faces when he is doing this. I don't know where he gets his inpsiration.
On a side note, I have a bad habit of leaving cupboards doors open. I think it stems from the old days of cleaning the kitchen while a baby was sleeping - I hate the banging shut sound they make and still whenever Chad does it at night I think he is going to wake the kids up. I know, I am weird. Another bad habit is that I HATE washing pots and pans, and always put them off. Just noticing the background.....

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Blankets for Ethiopian babies

I frequent the blog of a woman who has ten children - six of them through adoption from Korea and Ethiopia. Her sister is traveling to Ethiopia soon and is taking supplies, and money to buy supplies, for the OB ward of a hospital. Mary, the writer of the blog, is holding a blanket party on Feb. 1st, to raise money to buy blankets for the babies in that ward when they are born. You can visit her site that day to donate money through paypal and all proceeds go directly towards baby blankets. In case you are wondering why you can't donate a blanket instead, it isn't easy to cart blankets across the world, plus it makes a lot more sense to buy the blankets there, where they are cheaper, and the money can contribute to the Ethiopian economy. Thought some of you might interested!

Monday, January 28, 2008

President Hinckley

Chad called me from the bus this morning to tell me that President Hinckley had passed away. He takes the bus with another member of the ward who told him the news. It wasn't a shock, of course - we all knew he was old and his health wasn't strong, but it is still sad to see the prophet that I have known best leave the world. Colin asked what was wrong, and I explained it to him. He was definitely more shocked than I. He isn't very familar with death, and definitely knew who President Hinckley was. I let him know that dear President Hinckley is now with Heavenly Father and the sweet wife that he missed. Can you imagine how wonderful that reunion was? That, more than anything, is what brings tears to my eyes.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Battling the winter weight

Chad and I admitted to each other yesterday that we have put on a few more pounds than we should have over the course of the holidays. We decided that in addition to going back to the good eating habits that we are very familiar with, once a week we are going to find a healthful recipe and make it together. We chose Stuffed Turkey Burgers this week, and made Grilled Zucchini Rolls on the side. We followed the recipe exactly with the burgers. I roasted my own red pepper under the broiler for the stuffing part, and we grilled some slices of whole grain bread to put the burgers on. The kids really liked them. I would add a little more seasoning because they were a little bland, but they were still tasty, hearty, and held together quite well on the grill. With the zucchini rolls, I followed the recipe but left out the fresh basil, because I forgot to buy it, and I used reduced-fat feta cheese instead of goat cheese, because Walmart and Aldi don't carry goat cheese, and I wasn't about to go to a third grocery store. Chad and I both really really liked the rolls. They had a nice summery taste to them. It was a very filling meal, without leaving us with a too-full bloated feeling.

I love Thai food!

Friday was kinda of a blah day, so Chad went out and got me Thai take-out for dinner to cheer me up. I know, finding comfort in food is not the best idea, but it sure worked! We found a Thai restaurant near our house that is almost as good as our ol' favorite in Provo (and about twice as expensive with horrible service). I was dancing around the kitchen while eating it, it was so good. We got Pad Thai and Masaman Curry, two Thai classics. I always try to venture out and try new dishes but it is so hard with Thai food because these two dishes are sooooo good. If you haven't ever tried Thai food, DO IT! If you don't have a restaurant near you, you can order some curry paste here - you just have to add coconut milk, which can be found at most grocery stores, and potatoes and chicken. I have tried that paste, among others, and it is by far my favorite. You can also find Pad Thai in many grocery stores, or online here. Just make sure you add all the good fresh stuff, like bean sprouts, cilantro and crushed peanuts. I am making myself hungry now!

Friday, January 25, 2008

I love these pictures

The boys were sick of being cooped in the house, so Chad went out in the backyard with them despite the cold and just acted goofy for awhile. Here he is pushing Gabe in the stroller after Colin.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

REFI Time!!! - (Guest Post - Chad)

Nobody is more understanding of the economic downturn than I am, especially with the company I work for reporting 4th Quarter profits down 98% from last year (Bank of America). People are losing their jobs and there is so much uncertainty in the air. With that being said, there are some great opportunities out there. Because of what I do for the bank I keep close tabs on a lot of financial indicators and of course interest rates. If you ever had thought about refinancing or taking the plunge and buying, you are not going to find rates lower than they are right now. The 10 year treasury bond, which is the most indicative figure that influences mortgage rates, is at a 5 year low, and represents one of the 3 or 4 lowest figures since 1958. The rule of thumb is that refinancing typically makes sense if you can cut your rate by 1/2, keeping everything else constant. That should provide a good payback period for your closing costs on the refi.
We just refied, and went from a 30 year fixed to a 15 year fixed, and we were able to secure a 4.5% fixed interest rate - down from a 6.25%. It may not sound huge, but we should save about $190,000 in interest over the course of the loan. Good rates are out there - I thought I would bring it up in case anyone was on the fence. Obviously when purchasing you need to take into account local markets and not let the rate dictate that decision.
Assuming you're not a dork like me and have your own amortization calculator, here is a great website to calculate if it makes financial sense -
Again, I am by no means an expert, so if anyone has any other comments, please include them. Feel free to let me know if you have any questions as well. Rates can be found at any financial lending website.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Pictures from Chad's birthday

Notice the wax melting down the side of the cake. It isn't easy to have 28 candles lit at once. I think the heat melted the cheesecake a little.

This picture was taken right before cake time. Yes, the boys are still in their pajamas from the previous night. That was the day church was cancelled so we just bummed around the house all day. We ate ribs for dinner, which explains why the boys are so messy. I love this picture. Those boys of mine.

How do you do hot chocolate?

My handsome hubby introduced me to more than egg nog when we were married - he also taught me the joy of hot chocolate made with milk. I had previously used water with my mix (like the package instructs you to) and wowzers is so scrumptious when it is made with milk instead. We only keep skim milk in the house anyway, so it doesn't add any fat, and you get your calcium too, so if you don't mind some extra calories, it is soooo worth it.

Around the holidays, when I had some extra half and half lying around, I would stir some into Colin and Gabe's hot chocolate at the the end to cool it down. They lapped that stuff right up.

Oh, and instant oatmeal made with milk = way yummier as well.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Happy Birthday to Chad!

Yes, this is a picture of Chad doing dishes on his birthday. He is now doing laundry.
Yes, I am the worst wife in the world.
Yes, he is the best husband in the world.
Not just for the dishes and laundry though. Those are only the icing on the top of the sweet Chaddycakes. He is the joy in our household. The fun, the optimism, the smile that comes easily. He is the worker who is always improving something. He is the best friend to the mommy, and the favorite playmate of the kiddos.
We love you Chad. You are center of our happy family.

Cancelled Church

We got a call last night that church would be cancelled in the morning because of fears of icy roads this morning. It was snowing/raining last night and there were freezing temperatures expected through the morning, so they didn't want anyone traveling on dangerous roads. As soon as we got the call, Chad said, "Happy Birthday to me!" (his birthday is today, and the cancellation meant he got to sleep in until 9:30).

I woke up this morning to the sun glaring through my window, and this is a picture of our backyard. It is indeed very sunny, but still very cold. There is no sign of ice from our house, but we haven't been anywhere else, so maybe there roads are bad elsewhere and I just don't know.

Our first winter here, straight from Provo, we were utterly shocked when the first storm hit and the news started announcing all the schools, stores, businesses, and churches that were closed. Nothing ever closes in Provo. I have a very vivid memory of driving to work with Chad and the car started sliding when we were going down a small hill, but we had to keep going because we were definitely still expected to be there.

Icy roads are more dangerous than snowy roads, I will admit, but I still can't help but think that the southern reaction to a winter storm tends to be a bit dramatic. However, I really don't mind at all. I would much rather have all my obligations cancelled for me than venture out in bad weather.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I looked out the window, and what did I see?

I guess it starting snowing at about midnight last night. By the time I woke up this morning, it had already turned to rain. Colin was still asleep, and after awhile I had Gabe wake him up (which was really sweet - he did it with kisses) just to make sure it wasn't all washed away before he woke up. We only get snow once or twice a year, so of course Colin immediately wanted to go outside. I explained that this wasn't snowman-making or sledding snow, but that he could walk around out there if he wanted to.

And of course he wanted to. He lasted all of five minutes before he came shivering inside.

Gabe was content to sit it out.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A date with Daddy

My mom said her goodbyes last Friday night, and flew back home early early on Saturday. I woke up later that morning to see Colin standing by my bed, bawling with all of his heart. He burst out, "I miss Granny!" and crawled into bed for some consolation cuddles.

The sweetheart was seriously down in the dumps that day, so while I put Gabe down for a nap later, Chad decided to go on a "date" with Colin to cheer him up. He wanted to take him to Zuma Family Fun Center, where we went miniature golfing not long ago. Chad told the very excited Colin where they were going, tore a coupon out of the Entertainment book, set it on the counter and run upstairs to get ready. When he came back down, the coupon was gone. He went into the computer room where he found Colin, with the coupon in front of him, typing into the address bar Chad just had to crack up. The little guy was just so excited that he had to look it up online and figured the whole thing out by himself (with the help of the coupon, of course).

They had a great daddy-son-date. Chad said that Colin was just jumping for joy the whole time. They played a round of mini golf (no clogged holes this time), Chad got to bat in the batting cages, and Colin got to ride the go-carts all by himself. Then they went to McDonald's.

And Gabe and I took a two and a half hour nap!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Win a house!

Every year, HGTV builds an incredible dream home in a different part of the country and gives it away. Wow, they are gorgeous. I'm not much of a coveter, but when I see these homes, I desire them with every beat of my heart. I happened to turn HGTV on today and saw this year's house. It is in the Florida Keys this year, which doubles my desire, because nothing is as relaxing as the beach for me. You should check it out and enter the competition. I know that telling all of you to enter actually lessens my chance of winning, but I am hoping that if one of you wins you will invite me there for a week (purty please!)

Chad and I have talked about these homes in the past and we have always said that if we won, we would use it for a few months and party like crazy with family and friends and then sell it. I was talking to him about this one today, and I told him that if I won it, I was totally keeping it. I would not be able to part with this one. I would be willing to be pratical and rent it out when we weren't using it, but I can't imagine a more incredible vacation home.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Baby names...

No, this isn't an announcment, I have just been thinking about baby names lately because Sabina and Bobby just found out they are having another boy. They really don't know what they are going to name him, expect that his middle name is going to be Jose, after her father.

Just like a lot of girls, I had some names picked out for my future kids when I was in high school. Since I was already nuts about Chad then, the boy name was his middle name as the first name, and his best friend's name as the middle name - and yes, sooo cheesy, that name was bestowed upon our firstborn six years later. The girl name that I had picked out will never ever be used. It was Katrina Breanne. This name was dropped as a possibility even before Hurricane Katrina, and it is definitely out now.

Each time we have had a child, we have picked out a boy name and a girl name before the ultrasound, so that the little one could be labelled as soon as we caught a peek of what lay between their tiny legs. If Colin had been a girl, he would have been named, get this.....Cosette. Now, I still think it is a cute name, and if I had a Cosette, I am sure I would still like it, but we won't be using it in the future.

If Gabe had been a girl, he would have been named Ivy Blythe. I still like this name, but Ivy sounds too snooty-trendy now, so we probably won't be using it. Some people balk at Blythe because it is a very ugly little town, but it is what brought Chad and I together, and for me it is also about Anne Blythe. Plus it has a great meaning. So I still like.

Gabriel was the only boy name we could agree upon last time, so we don't have any boys named reserved either.

I know people that have all of their future kids named, like my sister Ashley. I am just too fickle for that, at least with girl names. My taste changes too much.

Notice that both of my boys have pretty ordinary names. Not too trendy - they are not in the top ten, and I was relieved to see recently that Colin is actually dropping in popularity, but both of them sound pretty ordinary.

And then there are the girl names.....kinda off the wall. We go for more traditional male names but seem to feel more freedom with the girls. We aren't alone in that though. Girl name trends are all over the place, while boy names like Jacob and William have been in, or near the top ten forever.

When I look at girl names, it can't be anything remotely trendy. I like my own name, but I did not like growing up at Katie J. I don't want my girls to have to worry about attaching their last initial to their name in every class they are in.

I also care more now about the name having significance. Both of my boys are named, at least partially, after family members (Gabe's middle name is Robert, after my dad.)

How about all of you? Do you have future names picked out? Do you care if the names are popular already? Do they have to have significance? Do you find your tastes changing?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Jane Austen's Persuasion

Last year my sister Christie and I were talking about Jane Austen and she found out I had never read Persuasion. Don't ask why I hadn't before, I have no idea. She urged me to check it out, and as soon as I got home from Blythe I did. It is definitely one of Miss Austen's finest, and I am sure it will become one of my re-reads. Some people say it is a more grown up romance, and I agree (because I am such a grown-up :o).

So I was really excited to hear that PBS is going to be showing Persuasion as a part of their Masterpiece Theatre tomorrow, Jan. 13. It is the first of six Jane Austen movies they are presenting, including the much loved long long version of Pride and Prejudice (I have to just mention here that the I really love the new version too - it is one of my favorite movies). That is actually the only one of the six that I have seen, so it is going to be a glorious few months of Austen for me! Hooray for DVR!

Watch them and let me know what you think! Check your local listings for times.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

My excuse......

for not blogging lately, is that my mom is here. Sorry!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Heads up

According to a bunch of slick-dealers, Old Navy will be offering already clearenced items at an additional 50% off, in store, starting on Friday. It may vary by store, but is probably worth taking a peek at. I hit this sale last year and found some great deals. It is the perfect opportunity to stock up on clothes that you know your kids will need in the future.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Top 5 Movies of 2007 (Guest Post - Chad)

Let me preface this post by saying this was a year full of poorly scripted films and Sequels selling out for the easy buck (See Spiderman, Pirates, and Shrek). With that being said, I think there were some nice films that are worth mentioning. None of them will crack my All-time Top 5 - except probably #3 (Future Post?), but still, worth seeing.

5. Transformers - This was the first movie we saw on the new TV and Sound system, so maybe this is a classic case of being caught up in the moment, but I really enjoyed this movie. I thought for an action movie, it was peppered with some witty writing and you can't knock the amazing special effects. I would have loved to have seen this in the theaters.

4. Breach - What a fantastic movie. For some reason "Breach" only grossed $33 Mil in the US, while somehow "Norbit" can rake in $90 Mil (Including $15 from Levi and Audra..:). This was the best movie that nobody watched. Essentially this is the true story of Robert Hanssen (played by Chris Cooper), who is considered the biggest US spy since World War II. Great way to spend $2.50 and a couple of hours of time.

3 - Simpsons Movie - Does it make any sense that this falls #3 on this list, but could be a Top 5 All-time movie? I know that is completely counter-intuitive, but I envision myself watching this movie 10-15 times during the course of my life. It was everything I was hoping it would be, and then some. They push the envelope a little further than what FOX will allow, but never cross the line (except once). Absolutely hilarious. If you don't find yourself laughing uncontrollably during this movie, you are either a Communist or you simply don't understand English and should probably enroll in a Community College.

2 - The Bourne Ultimatum - Let me just state, that I loved the first two, and this was my favorite. Unlike Shrek, Pirates, and Spiderman, they tried. They took a hugely successful series and improved upon it, instead of killing it and making a few bucks along the way. There were a few phenomenal scenes that simply made this movie better than all but 1 in '07...

1 - I am Legend - I love watching movies with Katie because she has great composure during movies and can be counted on as a pillar of strength when things get intense, and its good to know its there. About 45 minutes into the movie I used the restroom, when I came back she had her coat partially covering her face because the movie was just too much. This movie is a fantastic mix of intensity, emotion, and shear horror. What I like most about this movie is that they didn't cheat. Most movies that fall into the horror genre cheat. They get their intensity from grizly images and sudden loud noises - "I am Legend" didn't do that. The biggest mistake I made was using the bathroom, I almost feel cheated. I am not a huge Will Smith fan, but he did a great job. The special effects were on par with what you would expect as well. Please drop the $7.50 on this movie, as waiting until it becomes a New Release would be cheating yourself. Let me know your Top 5 - I'm always looking for a great movie - Here is my honorable mention list: Harry Potter: Order of the Phoenix, Blades of Glory, Oceans Thirteen, Dan in Real Life

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Oh Jack, I just want you to be happy!

Chad and I spent New Year's Eve watching the Lost Season 3 finale. We have sure enjoyed catching up, and the last episode left us in typical Lost fashion - answering a few questions and raising a dozen more. I am so glad it starts again this month!

Spoiler for any of you who aren't caught up, beware:

I vaguely remembered hearing that the flash back scenes in the last episode were actually flash fowards scenes, and I spilled the beans to Chad right when it started but said I wasn't sure if I was right. Well, we quickly decided I was wrong because they were showing his ex-wife and stuff, and then WOW there was Kate. I had really been hoping I was wrong because Jack was so sad and pititful that I didn't want it to be his future.

Whose funeral do you think that was?

Choo Choo!

Chad's parents got a yearly pass to Discovery Place for Christmas, so we decided to head over there last Friday. We made a little adventure out of it and took the new light rail service, which was actually cheaper than paying for parking uptown. The boys went wild for the "train" and despite a major meltdown from Gabe at Discovery Place (the kind where you go "wow, I have that kid"), it was a great day. The boys both got a kick out of the exhibits and afterwards we ate lunch in the building where Chad works. Colin is already asking when we can go again. Thanks Bill and Judy!