My New Favorite CD

Okay, so I enjoyed the Twilight movie. I didn't think it was the World's Best Movie, but I think they did a good job. There were a few things I would have changed (such as not filming one of the scenes on an obviously sunny day when vampires aren't supposed to be outdoors at school on a sunny day), but I enjoyed it for the most part.

But I LOVED the music. Muse, Paramore and Linkin Park are already three of my favorite bands. So liking those songs on the album was a given. I think "Full Moon" by The Black Ghosts is my new favorite song, and I love "Flightless Bird, American Mouth" by Iron & Wine. So not only did the album include music from some of my all-time favorites, it also introduced me to a couple of new artists that I enjoy. Oh, and Rob Pattinson's voice isn't bad, either. Although I get kind of bored with the song halfway through, so I'm not sure if I love it, but his singing isn't bad. And "Bella's Lullaby" is pretty enough that it has me considering buying the score in addition to the soundtrack.

Anyway, whether or not you're a fan of Twilight, you might want to check out the music.


Our Christmas Tree

I had resigned myself to not having a tree this year. The movers put our Christmas tree in the garage, and we have rather large spiders in our garage. I'm terrified of spiders (which is partially due to a traumatic experience involving spiders and a Christmas tree). So I didn't want to get the tree out of the garage and into our house only to discover a bunch of spiders. I figured the baby was too young to care, and The Princess would get over it when she opened her presents on Christmas morning. I told myself I didn't care that we wouldn't have a tree, but I kind of moped on the inside.

I had to go to Target today to pick up Sparky's Prevacid. Even though I activated the Benny card on Saturday, and the automated message said to please allow 2 business days for the card to work at the pharmacy, the card did *not* work at the pharmacy, and I now have to submit a very large pharmacy bill for reimbursement. I'm not very happy about that, but I digress.

I took The Princess to Target with me, and when we got home, she went into the house and exclaimed that daddy had put up the Christmas tree. I assumed he had taken the three mini trees from the spare bedroom and put them into the living room. So I was really surprised when I entered the living room and saw our adorable Christmas tree all aglow. We found the boxes of ornaments and had a wonderful afternoon decorating the tree.

It was so much fun unwrapping the individual ornaments and reminiscing about their origins.

This ornament was given to us by George's mission president during our first Christmas together.


This is the ornament I bought for The Princess' first Christmas.


I didn't want Sparky to feel left out, so I bought her an ornament this year, too. Although it doesn't have her name engraved on it yet...


Here are a couple of the really cool ornaments I bought at Old Navy last year after Christmas for 75% off. They matched my tree's color scheme (candy colors - pink, purple, blue, red, and silver, green, and aquamarine), and I totally forgot that I bought them. So it was like an early Christmas present this year when I discovered them. :)



Here's the nativity ornament that Lizzy picked out for us this year. I love it!


And I love The Princess' reflection in this image.


And a couple images of the full tree in all its' sparkly glory.



I think "Santa" is just about finished wrapping The Princess' gifts, and the stocking is already stuffed and ready for Christmas morning, so I'm going to turn into a pumpkin now. I just wanted to wish everyone the merriest of Christmases. I miss all of you soooooo much, and I can't wait to see everyone again.


Email Survey

My SIL sent me this email survey. I've answered it before, but I can't remember who's received the email in the past (mostly people in the group, I think). So I figured I'll put it up on my blog, and then when I receive the email, I can be lazy and refer people to my blog. :)

1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? Nope - my name is pretty unique.

2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? A few days ago. I was looking at a competitor's website and became frustrated at the lack of regulation in the photography industry (both quality of work and pricing). It makes it rather difficult to re-establish and succeed in my chosen profession.

3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? Depends on the day.


5. DO YOU HAVE KIDS? Yes, 2 beautiful girls.

6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON, WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? I don't know. I would definitely hope so.

7. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? Never. (Can you feel the sarcasm radiating from the screen yet?).


9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? Absolutely not. I don't like heights.

10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Lucky Charms - the real ones, not the generic kind.

11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? Most of my shoes don't have laces, but no.


13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? Cookies and Cream milkshake from Chick Fil A.


15. RED OR PINK? Definitely PINK!!! I'm a girlie-girl that way...


17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? My family.

18. DO YOU WANT EVERYONE TO SEND THIS BACK TO YOU? Not really applicable since I'm not emailing it to anyone, but I'd love for people to do this on their blogs.


20. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? A peanut cluster.

21. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? The Princess giggling and singing the ABC song as part of her bedtime ritual with daddy. And the heartbeat track playing through the baby monitor.

22. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? Too difficult to pick just one color. Especially with all the nifty Crayola-ish names.

23. FAVORITE SMELLS? Rain, Miss Sparky after I've slathered her with Baby Magic baby lotion, The Princess' hair after she's just had a bath and her hair is almost dry, my hubby after he's taken a shower (I love the smell of his shower gel and shampoo).



26. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? I don't really like watching sports on TV, but I enjoy watching gymnastics and ice skating during the Olympics.

27. HAIR COLOR ? Red-ish.

28. EYE COLOR? Blue.

29. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? Unfortunately, yes.

30. FAVORITE FOODS? Chick Fil A, Evil Jungle Princess Chicken, Chicken Parmesan, really well-made chicken curry.


32. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? The first half of The Nightmare Before Christmas.

33. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? One of my hubby's old shirts - it's green with writing on it.

34. SUMMER OR WINTER? Spring and autumn.


36. FAVORITE DESSERT? Thaifoon's Chocolate Volcano.



39. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? Books? Ha!! I haven't read a book in a while. Although I'll probably re-read the last Twilight book soon.

40. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? Some sort of space scene - looks like a cluster of stars.

41. WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON T.V.. LAST NIGHT? I have vague memories of half listening to Jay Leno's headlines.

42. FAVORITE SOUND? At this point in my life? Silence. Or Miss Sparky's giggle. The Princess has an adorable laugh, too.



45. ANY NEWS IN YOUR LIFE? Nothing that everyone hasn't already heard.





Tortilla Soup

I didn't plan my menus very well this week, so I was scrambling to find something to make for dinner tonight. I figured I had everything in the house to make Chicken Tortilla Soup, so I decided to Google some recipes. In the process, I stumbled upon a definite keeper. I changed it just a bit (extra cumin, added black beans), and I'm now out of diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, but it was soooo worth it!

This makes a lot of soup. You could probably cut the recipe in half and still have enough for at least 4 people. Lucky me has plenty of leftovers. :)

Chicken Tortilla Soup

2 tsp Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion, Chopped
4 Garlic Cloves, Minced
1 Medium Jalapeño Pepper, Chopped
1/2 Medium Green Pepper
4 Small Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
2 Cups Frozen Corn
1/2 Cup Dry White Wine or Water
3 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Chili Powder
4 (14 oz) Cans Chicken Broth
2 (14 oz) Cans Diced Tomatoes
1 (14 oz) Can Tomato Sauce
1 Can Black Beans, Mashed

Cheese and tortilla chips for topping (optional)

Saute onion, garlic, jalapeño, and green pepper in olive oil in a large pot until soft.

Add all the rest of the ingredients to the large pot and bring to a boil.

Remove the chicken after about 20 minutes, shred with a fork, return to pot, and simmer an additional 45 minutes.

I had a bunch of leftover corn tortillas from my failed attempt at baked chicken tacquitos, so I cut some of them into strips, fried them in oil and sprinkled them with salt. I personally prefer them to tortilla chips in my chicken tortilla soup.

According to the nutritional information, this recipe only has 3.1 grams of fat. Or course, that's before adding the chips and cheese. This is the first tortilla soup recipe that I would actually be willing to eat without the chips or cheese, but I didn't. That's why I still have about 15 pounds of baby fat to lose. That and the fact that I eat waaaaay too much chocolate...


New Pictures

Just some images I captured a couple days ago. I was playing with bouncing the flash behind me and to the side (thanks, Paula). I like the effect, since I *have* to use flash indoors with my sad little camera.









This Week's Menu

I have lots to write about (and pictures to post shortly), but it's 12:15AM, I just got home from seeing Twilight (yes, for the first time), and since Miss Sparky has another ear infection, my guess is that she'll wake up at least once in the middle of the night, so I'm going to keep it short.

I'm feeling uncreative this week. So far, I only have 3 days planned. I didn't cook tonight because I had to run and pick up groceries and Amoxycillin for Miss Sparky before I left for the movie. So this is what I have so far... Please, please leave me some suggestions for the rest of the week (with recipes, if you're not too busy), if you're feeling at all charitable. And you should be, since 'tis the season for that kind of thing. :P

Tuesday - Crockpot Veggie Lasagna (since I'm too lazy to brown hamburger first thing in the morning).

Wednesday - Baked Chicken Tacquitos

Thursday - Some sort of Chicken Curry in the crockpot because I have a whole bag of frozen chicken thighs to use up.

And that's all I have so far. So suggestions would be most welcome and appreciated.

I'll post some new pictures of the girls soon, and tell you my opinions of Twilight, etc.


Weekly Menu

I think I'm going to start posting a weekly menu. I almost always plan a menu at the beginning of the week, but I never seem to follow it very well. What's the point of planning a menu in an attempt to save money at the grocery store if I never follow it? I figure if I post it online, maybe I'll feel more accountable and actually follow the plan. Wish me luck!

Monday - Baked Chicken Parmesan with Angel Hair Pasta
Tuesday - Blueberry Pancakes and Scrambled Eggs (The Princess has a late appointment with the ophthalmologist, so I want to keep it simple).
Wednesday - Taco Soup
Thursday - Crockpot Shepherd's Pie
Friday - Chicken Enchiladas
Saturday - I think I'll be too tired after the mini sessions at Green Pea Nursery, so it may be a yo-yo night...
Sunday - Barbecue Chicken Pizza - am I really brave enough to attempt homemade pizza crust?


More Fun Contests

Modern Molly Mormon is celebrating their one year anniversary. Which means they're having lots of fun contests this week. Yay us!!

April Showers offers adorable unique custom blog design. Check out her site for some great blog designs as well as all sorts of graphic design goodness.


This Made Me LOL

Yeah, I'm a Twilight geek...

Robert Pattinson, Daniel Radcliffe
more lol celebs!


No "Good Mommy" Awards for Me

The other day, I could hear a tell tale creaking coming from The Princess' room, in addition to the usual radio blaring (she constantly has music playing in her room). She was listening to Abba - she loves the song Mamma Mia, probably from all the movie previews. :)

What was the creaking sound? Well, she doesn't have the world's strongest bed. Based on the noise, I knew that she must be jumping upon the poorly-constructed contraption.

What should I have done? A good mommy would go into her child's bedroom and sternly remind her of the lesson learned in the book "No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed." The well-behaved child would have been able to relate, because it's one of her favorite bed time stories.

What did I do? I told her to wait for a minute while I put a new memory card in my camera. After I set up the flash, I told her to start jumping again. Wanna see the proof that I'm a bad mommy? Here's the evidence.





Don't worry - my "bad mommyness" doesn't extend to allowing my children to write on the walls wherever they wish. The top part of the wall in the background is covered in dry-erase material and the bottom half is purple chalkboard paint (yep, it comes in colors now - how cool is that?!?).




More Fun at the Doctor's Office

We went back to the doctor's office for the third time in a week-and-a-half. The Princess had her 5-year-old well child check-up, and Sparky had her ears re-examined (they're fine) so that she could get her four-month immunizations. They both had shots today. Amazingly, I still have two happy girls at home right now (knock on wood). It's even more amazing since Miss Sparky still hasn't had a decent nap today.

The Princess is apparently following in my footsteps. She failed her vision exam, so we have to make an appointment with the opthamologist. She also *techinically* failed her hearing test, but since she hears everything at home, they'll re-test her before kindergarten next year. The doctor also recommended a good pediatric dentist and wants us to take her to see a genetecist, since there's apparently some testing that can be done to possibly determine whether or not she has her dad's syndrome (although a negative isn't a guarantee that she doesn't have it). Thank goodness for flex spending - especially with our crappy new benefits.

After her check-up, The Princess and Sparky both got their immunizations. Sparky went first, and they woke her up from a mini nap to stick a needle in her leg - she was NOT happy about it. But she calmed down pretty quickly. Then it was The Princess' turn - two nurses came into the room - one for each leg (I'm grateful they try to do it as quickly as possible by having two people administer two different shots). She was okay with the Polio vaccine, but the MMR made her cry just a little. She was really brave, though, and settled down the moment they told her she could go look in the "treasure box."

So that was our excitement for the day. We'll see if I still have 2 happy girls this evening. Keep your fingers crossed for us!


Salsa Chicken - Yummy!

We're having one of my favorite recipes for dinner tonight - Salsa Chicken in the crockpot. It's so yummy (and ridiculously easy) that I have to share the recipe. Disclaimer: I will not be held responsible for any failed diets. Read this recipe at your own risk. :P

Salsa Chicken

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
1 jar salsa
1 can black beans (drained)
1 can corn (drained)
1 block of cream cheese (optional, but it makes the recipe. I usually use about half of an 8 oz block)

Place chicken in crockpot. Cover with salsa, black beans, and corn. Cook on high for 4 hours (some people cook it for 6 hours depending on the size of the crockpot). Add cream cheese for the last half hour (I shred my chicken before adding the cream cheese). Serve over rice or tortilla chips.


Fun at the Doctor's Office

For the first time in about 3 weeks, Miss Sparky slept through the night last night. Yay us!! Of course, it meant that I didn't sleep very well, because I kept waking up and wondering why she was still sleeping - I didn't want to wake her up, so I'd go out to the tv room and wait until I heard her breathing on the monitor. She slept from 9PM-9AM. Keep your fingers crossed that this is a new habit - I could really use some consistent sleep. :)

When she woke up, she was covered in a crazy rash. I called the doctor's office, and they wanted me to bring her in. Of course, by the time her appointment rolled around, her rash was completely gone. The doctor thinks it was a really delayed reaction to the Amoxycillin she's taking for her ear infection, but everything seems fine, so we're going to finish the course of antibiotics.

While we were there, The Princess and I got our flu shots so that we didn't have to make a trip back tomorrow for the flu shot clinic. The nurse was AMAZING! I was nervous like always, but she did this thing where she tickles your arm, and by the time she told me to relax, it was over. I didn't feel ANYTHING! I was amazed. The Princess was rather nervous for her shot, and she cried a bit, but I think it was more nerves than pain, because she stopped crying after about a 10th of a second when we told her she could have a lollipop.

As we were headed back to the car, The Princess tripped over her shoes and fell head first into a parking sign pole. It was really loud, and totally freaked out the lady walking behind us. She helped me carry the car seat and diaper bag back into the doctor's office (we were literally 10 steps outside the building - gotta love the irony) since I was carrying a screaming child at that point, and waited in the waiting room while the doctor took a quick look at the Princess. I thought it was really sweet that somebody would be that concerned about our well-being, and I thanked her profusely for her help.

The Princess has a pretty huge knot on the side of her head, but she's feeling fine. Hopefully the rest of the weekend will be less eventful.


Recent Princess-isms

I totally agree with my dad - I would love to get inside this little girl's head for a few minutes - just to see what it's like. Not only does she have the most crazy photographic memory, she comes up with the most amazing ideas. Here are a few recent Princess-isms - they're never preconceived - they're just things she says in the middle of conversations with us.

"I'm an activist on paper. I think up the ideas, and then make my dreams come true." I think I need to have one of those vinyl wall sayings made out of this one and put it up on the wall above my computer.

And here's another one - she was talking about heroes and what she could do when she's bigger to help people, and what she could do right now: "I know I am a small hero, but my hands can make a small difference."

This one was from last Sunday. We were driving to church and asking her if she remembered her favorite scripture story for her part in the primary program: "I think I forgot to click 'yes' in my mind. So I may have put it in the trash and forgot it"

That last one makes me giggle. Obviously she spends far too much time on the computer - not really her fault, though, when you consider her parents.


I've Been Tagged

Hilary tagged me today, so it's my turn to answer some questions. Call me a geek (I've come to accept it), but I love blog tag.

8 TV Shows I Love to Watch...
1: House
2: Bones
3: Life on Mars
4: Top Chef
5: America's Next Top Model (I know it's cheesy, but I like the photo shoots)
6: Saturday Night Live (at least the Weekend Update)
7: Project Runway
8: Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

8 Things That Happenend Yesterday...
1: Overslept and got to church late
2: Helped the kids practice for the primary program
3: Wished Shayne a happy birthday
4: Talked to my mom on the phone
5: Snuggled with the munchkins
6: Listened to Sparky giggle - it's rare, but adorable!
7: Watched Get Smart
8: Made Mongolian Beef in the crockpot

8 Favorite Places to Eat...
1: Anywhere that I don't have to clean up the mess!
2: Chick-fil-a (It's bad that there are so many of them here!)
3: My mom's house - she's a great cook!
4: Thaifoon
5: Texas Roadhouse
6: Anything Italian
7: Cafe Rio
8: Bajio

8 Things I'm Looking Forward To...
1: Paying off hubby's student loans
2: Having lots and lots of portrait clients
3: Christmas
4: A trip home next summer
5: And end to The Princess' tantrums
6: A trip to Disney
7: Getting The Princess into a dance class - she LOVES dancing!
8: Fitting back into my pre-pregnancy clothes.

8 things on my wish list...
1: To get Sparky on a somewhat predictable schedule
2: A clean house
3: New car
4: New shoes
5: A Mac computer with LOTS of space for photos
6: New camera
7: New camera lenses
8: A fenced yard

So now I'm supposed to tag 8 people who are supposed to fill this out and tag 8 more people. Lizzy, Erin, Susie, Jen, Lori (mom), Ashlee, Sam, Sarah.


The rest of the Halloween Pictures

I could only get "studio" shots of Miss Sparky. She wasn't feeling particularly photogenic on Halloween night.

The pictures of The Princess were taken the day before Halloween. We were on our way to a costume party, and we stopped by this little wooded area that I've been meaning to scope out for a while.

I really like the spot (although the wooded areas around here still make me a little bit nervous - we could still see the road, though), but I'll go a little earlier in the day next time for more ideal lighting.


Halloween Pics

I know it's late for Halloween pictures, but I wanted to share some images of The Princess in her Alice in Wonderland costume. These pictures are from the Halloween party at Daddy's work. She doesn't look particularly thrilled in any of these images, but I promise she had fun. There were a LOT of people in attendance, and I think she was a bit overwhelmed, but she enjoyed it.

She started out wearing a black ribbon in her hair, which made her more obviously Alice, but she got tired of wearing it pretty quickly. I still think she looked cute, though.


A conversation with The Princess

Me: Let's call Grandpa Clover and wish him happy birthday.

Princess: Oh man! I thought today was Halloween and it would be dark outside!

Me: It will be dark later.

Princess: Will we go trick-or-treating when it's dark?

Me: We'll probably go a little bit before it gets dark.

Princess: How many minutes?

Me: It won't be minutes from now, it will be hours. We'll go trick-or-treating after dinner.

Princess: I have an idea! Let's eat dinner now! (It's 11AM).

Me: If we go trick-or-treating now, nobody will be home.

Princess: Why? Is everyone still asleep?


Collecting Party

The dog was acting particularly hyper yesterday, so The Princess and I decided to take her on a walk. The long way around our block is a full mile, so it's a pretty nice walk for all 3 of us.

The trees are finally starting to look fall-ish here, although most of them just kind of go brown and fall off the trees in a diseased-looking way. Some of the trees are beautiful shades of red and gold, however. The Princess decided we were on a "collecting party" and proceeded to pick up as many leaves as she could hold. We brought them home, and I took these pictures of them.

It's really cold here right now. The nights are almost freezing. It's supposed to stay that way through Halloween night and then warm back up to 70 on Saturday. I don't really think that's fair.


Repost: Our "Little" Family Portrait

Here's the most recent portrait of DH, The Princess, and me. From the same session as the "big" family portrait. One of these days, we'll figure out how to have a family portrait made while I'm not pregnant, so that all of our children can be physically seen in the portrait. :)

She doesn't look entirely thrilled to be here in this image, but it's very Princess-esque.A bit happier here. Ignore the vents in the background - they were edited out before being printed. And I soooo need a haircut! I'm currently debating going back to the pixie cut or growing it out. I definitely need to get my bangs cut, at least, but still looking for the right stylist who doesn't work too far away from home.


Reposting the Evolution of Our Family Portrait

I just realized that I can copy the posts from my old blog and repost them here. I really like some of those old posts, so I'll probably work on reposting over the next few days.

S and E were married in February. While Bry, his wife and the twins and my parents were in town, S's friend agreed to subject herself to the chaos of creating our family portrait, since I still haven't mastered the art of the self timer. My aunt and uncle graciously agreed to let us use their new house as a studio space.

The twins were really well behaved, but The Princess is sooooo not into having her picture taken when she knows it's what everyone wants her to do. Here are the various outtakes from family picture day, as well as the final family portrait. Several of them would have been the "keeper" if The Princes wasn't such a photographer's child. :)

First, the outtakes...

And here's the keeper...


Really Big Frogs

When we were at the garden on Monday, we came across a little pond with some REALLY big lily pads. The first thing The Princess said when she saw them was, "Whoa, those must be for some REALLY big frogs."

I tried to take this picture at an angle to give perspective to how big the lily pads were. You can kind of tell, but they were ginormous. They were probably big enough for two people to sit on (if people could actually sit on lily pads, of course).


The "official" 5-year-old portraits

We took The Princess to a local garden for her birthday since the museum we were planning on taking her to was closed (go figure). While we were there, I decided to take her five-year-old portraits. Maybe I'll actually have some of them printed this time instead of just leaving them on my hard drive.

She's still at the age of the unnatural cheeser grin. So if she looks sad in these, it's because I was asking her to give me a more "natural" expression. Her current idea of a "smile" for the camera is to open her mouth as wide as it will go and close her eyes as tightly as possible - not very attractive for a portrait.


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