Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Jesse's 4th Birthday and Other News

There's so much to catch up on - where to start? First of all, Jesse's birthday was fun! We kept it pretty low-key, just some play time with the family at Adventure's On Wonderland, and he got to bring along one friend. Alex came over after school, so we had some time to do some crafts and stuff here first (open presents, eat dinner, etc). Here are some pictures:

Before school with his birthday cupcakes (you can't tell from the picture, but he had picked out gummy spiders to go on top).

Decorating Party Bags - Hey Brett, you might want to lean in a little so you don't get cut out of the picture!

Jesse chose this for a craft - painting piggy banks (Go figure - our one child that loves money as much as Alex P. Keaton)

Nathan - crawling around wondering why he doesn't get to participate in the cupcake baking, piggy bank painting and party bag decorating.

Jesse and his lovely orange drink mustache

That's Scott in the left corner having a ball war against the four kids

This past weekend Scott ran a Volleyball tournament at church. It was a lot of fun, although I didn't get to see too many of his games as I was running a Nursery for small children of some of the players (including our own). Thankfully, I had a couple of people to help out here and there, as we actually had, at one point, 23 children aged 8 years to 10 months in the Nursery. But I did enjoy the few minutes I was able to watch Scott - he's a pretty good volleyball player! Come to think of it, I can't think of a single sport he's not good at.

I don't have any pictures to share from the tournament, but I do have a couple from the weekend before. What a fabulous time we had in Cleveland! Samantha & Nathan were angels on the drive there and home. I was so glad I had Samantha in the back to hand Nathan a sippy cup or some Cheerios every so often! She's becoming quite a big helper.

Samantha & Jayna reading together the morning we left. Oh, and since it was Gibb's birthday that day, Jordana made German Pancakes with this yummy apple syrup - they were AMAZING!

Jordana and I spent most of the time shopping, of course, and we had so much fun! The first day we shopped at this great outlet mall about 40 minutes from her house where we found some awesome deals. I got tons of cute clothes for the kids. I think the best deal ever was a skirt for Samantha for $0.99! And this GAP sparkly sweater, which was 30% off the lowest ticketed price of $3.99! C'mon, that's practically FREE! The next day we went to the mall, which was a little more expensive, but I needed my Bath & Body Works fix. And I found a pair of shoes at Nordstrom at 8:59 PM on Friday night, my last night there, 1 minute before they closed. Another great place I discovered is this store called Marshalls (just like Winners in Canada). I found nice winter boots for Samantha & Brett, a winter coat for Samantha, and tons of practical stuff like socks and underwear for the kids (all name-brand) - and my total purchase was under $75.

Overall the trip was great, except for this one little thing that happened on Thursday night. It looks like this:

(In case you can't tell, that's a crack in my rear bumper. You know - the bumper on the new van we got to replace our old van that was stolen from our driveway the night Nathan was born).

So, we were driving home from the outlets on Thursday night, and I was going pretty slow to begin with as the weather was bad. This guy driving a blue Ford Mustang hit me from behind and then spun out in front of us and I had to come to a complete stop to avoid hitting him (did I mention we were on the highway?) Then he took off, exited the highway, and continued speeding away until he finally had to stop at a red light (at which point we got his license plate number). We went to the police station to file an accident report - luckily nobody was hurt. But when the officer called the guy to get his side of the story, he denied the whole thing and says he noticed me following him, but that he's not the one who hit us. We had to wait at the station while the officer drove to the guy's work to check out his car. (Meanwhile, I'm totally bummed because this whole thing was really cutting into our precious shopping time!)

After the officer saw the dent in the exact spot we described, the guy proceeds to tell the officer that the dent was "there when he bought the car". Riiiiiiiiiight. Anyway, to make a long story short... our insurance company is working it out, and hopefully we'll have a new bumper soon.

This post has grown long enough, and I need to go to bed, as I'm a little under-slept due to a flu bug that's been going through our family for the past two days. I've been the only one who's managed to avoid it and I'm hoping I've become immune after washing five sets of bedsheets and piles of blankets, plus scrubbing out carpets, couch cushions, puke-bowls, and pj's non-stop for 48 hours.

But I have one more thing to share before signing off. Uncle Eric and Aunt Chrystal had a baby boy on November 21 (Jesse's birthday)! Welcome, baby Dane - we can't wait to meet you next summer! Dane is my first cousin, born to my Mom's little brother and his wife. I think it's kind of cool that he's the same age as our youngest child - don't you just love big families?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I'm feeling a bit emotional tonight. I'm not sure why I get so worked up about our kids' birthdays, but for some reason I always seem to get sad when it's time to say goodbye to another year and stage of life.

I feel like Jesse has really turned a corner in the last little while. He's more mature, more helpful and even more serious at times. Don't worry, he's still the rambunctious trouble-maker we all know and love, but he's definitely showing us that he's growing up.

So, in honour of Jesse's last night as a three-year-old, here are some Jesse pictures:

Recovering from a bee-sting on his foot :(

Eating cherries in Grandpa's garden

Did we mention those were sour cherries?

Reading with Josie

Jesse & Chase

Are we there yet?

Canning peaches with Uncle Eric

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Verdict Is In

Thanks to everyone who voted and/or left comments about Nathan's hair. Now that the poll is officially closed, I've decided to go with the majority vote and give Nathan a little trim. We did have family pictures taken today, so we can remember what he looked like as the "Shaggy Dog", as Scott says.

We'll probably cut his hair sometime between now and his first birthday.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

My Birthday

So, I turned 29 yesterday. I had a great day - and THANK YOU to all of you who sent a card, called, emailed and/or Facebooked. I really appreciated it!

We went to Tony Roma's for lunch. This has been a tradition of ours for the past few years, ever since they started sending us Certificates for a free meal on our birthdays. We usually manage to go at least once for one of our birthdays (Scott's is only a month later).

Scott and the kids picked out an amazing cake from Angelo's (chocolate and raspberry), which we had later on when Samantha & Brett were home from school. We were all out of candles so Scott used just one huge sparkler instead. Jesse was scared of the sparkler, which is why he isn't in the picture.

It was a relaxing, fun day spent with my family. For my birthday gift, Scott is sending me to Cleveland to go shopping with Jordana. I'm taking Samantha and Nathan. I can't wait - it's going to be so fun!

Jesse loved the ribs!

Nathan actually enjoys the taste of lemons - even the rind! I know it sounds cruel to give a baby a lemon to eat, but we couldn't pry the thing away - he was loving it!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Girls Night Out

Two of my dear friends, Adrienne & Tasha, took me out last night with some other girlfriends to one of our favourite dessert spots - Caffe Demetre.

They were so sweet and brought along some birthday gifts, including a set of 4 cookbooks called, "Delicious Breakfasts", "Delicious Lunches", Delicious Suppers", and "Delicous Snacks". Each page has a recipe and picture (I love that!) and they all look truly delicious!

Today I was showing everyone my gifts, and I told the kids they could look through and find a recipe in each book that we could make, and to mark the page with a Post-it note. A little while later Samantha came and told me they had run out of Post-its. I went back to find this:

I guess I should have asked them to mark the pages they don't want me to make.

(Side note: Thank you girls - I LOVE the cookbooks and can't wait to try 'em out!)

Friday, November 9, 2007

We're Connected... Again

Scott and I went cell phone shopping today.

You see, we had canceled our own cell phones when Scott took the Deloitte job, since they provided his cell phone for him. Let's just say we were totally spoiled for the past 18 months, as we basically used the phone as much as we wanted and never saw a bill, ever.

Now that we're back to working from home, we have to enter the real world again and get some phones. So, we bundled up Brett and Nathan, picked Jesse up from school, and walked across the street to the mall to buy a couple of cell phones. Sounds simple, right? Wrong.

First of all, you have to decide what kind of plan you want. Not only are there about 50 plans out there, but there are also choices for add-ons, opt-ins, bundles, shared plans, and calling features, to name a few. After spending way too much time discussing all of our plan options, we realized that none of the plans were right for us. So we had to settle for a mediocre plan and add on the features that we really wanted (i.e. pay extra to get what you need).

Luckily, Scott had researched Blackberries before our excursion, so he knew the exact model he was going to get. I was getting a free phone for signing up, so there wasn't too much choice involved there either. All we had to do was sign our life away to this company for 3 years, and we could then buy the Blackberry for ONLY $299.99. Somehow they make this sound like a great deal. Oh, and if you decide to cancel anytime before your contract is up, you have to pay them $400 per plan and give them your first-born child.

The whole ordeal took about 2.5 hours. Brett and Jesse were bored after the first 5 minutes. After wrecking a phone card display in the middle of the store, eating a whole pack of gum out of my purse, and getting scolded by the mall manager for ripping some plants, we decided they'd had enough. Scott took them to Zellers to look for a small toy to keep them occupied for the rest of the time while I continued shopping.

The nice part is that we left the mall with two new devices activated and ready to use. And it's amazing what you can do with a phone these days. My phone doubles as a camera, video camera, mp3 player and PDA.

Well, if you've actually read this far, send me an email and I'll give you our new numbers. But I should warn you that we probably won't have time to chat as we'll be busy looking for part-time jobs to help pay for the phone bills.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Mexican Lasagna & Awesome Brownies

Today at about 5:00 PM, I had 4 hungry kids, an almost-empty fridge, and no plans for dinner. Normally, in this situation, I would go to my favourite recipe site, all recipes, and do a search for something quick and easy with very few ingredients. (Or else I would make sandwiches , soup from a can, or something else equally exciting.) Unfortunately, Scott was on an important business call in the den, so I didn't have access to my computer.

I decided to wing a recipe I had seen made somewhere at sometime with ingredients I had on hand and this is what I came up with. I know there are quite a few recipes for this type of dish out there. It may not be totally original, but I didn't follow a recipe when I made it tonight, so it was new to us.

Mexican Lasagna

Chop an onion and saute in a heated pan (with olive oil) until soft. Add 1 can of stewed tomatoes with juice, 2-3 cloves of garlic (I used the frozen cubed kind), 1 cup of water, 2 tsp cumin, 3 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, grate a huge mound of chedder cheese (or other Mexican blend). Drain and rinse 1 can of black beans. I happened to have leftover shredded chicken from our quesadillas last night, but you could use any cooked chicken (seasoned with taco-type spices).

Get a box of oven ready lasagna noodles, and you are now ready to layer your lasagna. Well, almost ready. I had to add in a little step here due to one of my children being a little weary of seeing "vegetable chunks" (ie tomatoes, onions) in any type of casserole. So... I blended the whole tomato mixture in the food processor to make a thick, smooth, sauce. It's amazing how many vegetables my kids will eat when the can't see them. ;)

Stir the chicken and beans into the tomato sauce.

In a 9 X 13 casserole, spread a thin layer of sauce, then noodles, then a thick layer of sauce, cheese, noodles, sauce, cheese, etc. until everything is in the pan. Top with a final sprinkle of cheese and back at 350 for 50-60 minutes. Let stand for 10-15 minutes before serving.


(ETA: Next time I might experiment with coloured peppers, black olives, or chopped green chiles, etc. Also, I think it would be good topped with shredded lettuce, sour cream, salsa, and tomatoes - or you could substitute tortillas for the lasagna noodles.)

While the lasagna was baking, I found this brownie recipe and we had these for dessert, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Awesome Brownies

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8 inch square pan.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup flour, salt, and baking powder. Spread batter into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overcook.
  4. To Make Frosting: Combine 3 tablespoons butter, 3 tablespoons cocoa, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 cup confectioners' sugar. Frost brownies while they are still warm.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Brett in Alberta

I just realized it was three months ago that we were in Alberta, and I still have tons of pictures of our trip to post! I guess I have a little catching up to do....

Here are some pictures of Brett in Alberta. He loved the trip so much, and often talks about the fun things we did and the people we visited.

Playing with Magnetix at Grandpa & Grandma Jensen's house

Spending time in the backyard with Grandpa Jensen

Brett LOVED the dirt pile in the backyard!

Hangin' out with his buddy Jayce

Hiking at some falls in Waterton

At the top of Bear's Hump in Waterton with cousin Sara

Brett loved the biscuit rides at Waterton Lake!

Playing street hockey in the alley behind the Stewart's house

More hockey...

Grandma Jensen... not too sure what to think of Brett's cheesy face

Brett LOVES his big cousin Matt

Brett & Uncle Carlos - two of my favourite people ever!

The cousins dressed up and put on the play "Cinderella" at the Stewart's home. It was hilarious! (That's Uncle Dave in the pink wig behind Leah)

Good times... I can't wait for next summer when we can do it all again!