Friday, November 11, 2011

Halloween 2011



This was our 4th year trick or treating in cold Illinois. It also marked the 4th anniversary me meeting our good friends, the Traficantes, and the beginning of playdates with our kiddos.

This year I decided to dress up a little so I snagged some Minnie Mouse ears and gloves from Disney World the last time we went - it was pretty fun!

Kian decided to be a Red Power Ranger - Samurai this year - yeah I know, those of you without boys Kian's age are wondering what in the world that is...it's pretty much a super hero :)

Our quest to find this costume was not an easy one. Kian only wanted to be the Red Power Ranger. It had to be Samurai and it had to have a sword.

After looking online, I saw that the costume did not come with the sword so our mission was set. We hopped in the car and set out for the nearest store in search of the Power Ranger Samurai Sword. It's a mission that could not have been completed without Kian since I have little knowledge of the Power Rangers in general and the sword had to be specific.

On our first stop we found the costume in his size, sans sword. Even though Kian *needed* the sword I decided to get the costume anyway figuring it could always be returned. Then we were off to our next stop. Where does one go to find a very specific toy? Yep, Toys R Us. After a quick look through the aisles in the boys section and a lot of redirecting of Kian (we had to complete our mission before perusing the rest of the toys!) we finally found the Power Ranger area. Kian pointed to a toy and said that was the sword. After asking him if he was for sure that this was the right sword and his final answer being - "yes, mom!" *sigh* I knew our mission was over. Then it was on to looking through the rest of the toys. And upon coming home the sword went in the closet with the costume until All Hallows Eve.

This year I think Kian hauled in the most candy he's ever had! And he of course had a blast ToTing with his friends - and also ToTing around the Volition offices (which was where the Power Ranger was most recognized).

And as for myself, I had a blast not only walking along with Kian while he ToTed but also making Halloween goodies for Cream and Flutter.




Here is my handy work! I frosted all the vanilla "jack o cakes" and the "orange and black" cakes (they have orange frosting piped in the center before being dipped in chocolate ganache) as well as the pumpkin sugar cookies. I also made the black and orange sprinkles!!! (The fondant was done by the owners of the store - so I can't claim that). But I am pretty proud of the yummy treats I helped make for others to enjoy :)

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Lessons of the Week

In the past few days I have learned that the curve ball life throws you when you're not even ready for it can turn into something way better than you had thought. And those scraped knees....well, I've learned a lesson. Painful one at that but it's learned. Now it's time to move on.

There's nothing I can do about curve balls or the actions of other people. But there is something I can do about how I handle what comes my way.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

It's a Beautiful Week...

Sometimes you're driving along and a speed bump is suddenly in your path. Sometimes life throws you a curve ball and you're not even ready at the bat. And sometimes you're walking along a familiar street to be knocked down by a passerby. These moments conger feelings of shock, anger, sadness, and just plain walked upon. And it's moments like these that real friends reach out with a hand to help you up.

It's only Wednesday and that's been my week so far. I've moved passed the speed bump last night - that's all it was, a speed bump in my life. But I'm still trying to accept the curve ball and find a new way to deal with this pitcher. And my knees are scraped from being pushed down.

"It's a Beautiful Day" is now the running mantra in my head. I am reminded of it every time I look at my right wrist where I have 'beautiful day' tattooed in Gaelic. It's the reason why I got the tattoo in the first place. It reminds me that when things are rough there is always something to be thankful for- to keep you rolling on in life.

So why is my week "Beautiful"?
1) I'm alive
2) I am loved and cared for
3) I have a wonderful son and an amazing husband who have been awesome this whole week

To quote another U2 song: "it's just a moment, this time will pass."

And until then every day will be a beautiful day - no matter what.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11/01 10 Years Later

When someone says the numbers 9 and 11 together one thing immediately pops into every American's mind. If you were alive on 9/11/2001, you remember where you were when you first heard of the plane crash into the World Trade Center. I personally can recall that day vividly.

I was living in L.A. area at the time with my aunt and her family. I was woken by my cellphone ringing. My fiance said something like, 'A plane crashed into the World Trade Center' or ' New York is under attack.' My mind was still foggy and I thought I was dreaming. I believe I said, 'what?' about 10 times before in he told me to turn on the TV. So I went into my cousin's room, where the closest TV was to me, and turned on the news to see replays of the planes hitting the World Trade Center. I could barely believe what I was seeing. It was something I didn't want to see over and over again but had to because it was just so unbelievable.

I kept the news on as I got myself ready to head to work. Even though I lived in the LA area, it was far enough away that I didn't have to worry about being hurt from any other attacks. I worked retail at the time. Most of us just stood around watching the news in the electronics area. We had one person come in the store the whole day...well, my our area anyway.... no one was going about normal business - even as far away as a smaller city north of LA.

The attacks that occurred 10 years ago on this day impacted America as a whole. It broke all of our hearts. But it also united us in our American spirit.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

U2 360 in the (RED) Zone!

Tuesday, July 5th my husband and I headed up to Chicago to see U2 for the second time this tour. We were supposed to be at this very show last year, but the tour was postponed after Bono injured his back. Thankfully our tickets (purchased 18 months prior to this date) were still good! So all we had to do was show up :)

Our tickets were in a very special area; the (RED) Zone. If you're not familiar with Product (RED) here's a short explaination. Companies provide (RED) products for people to buy and a portion of the sale goes to (RED). The consumer gets a product and also buys AIDS/HIV meds for women in Africa. (RED) has saved so many lives over the last 10 years or so - you should check it out! Everyone uses something that is provided through Product (RED) :)

Anyway, our tickets were (RED) Zone tickets which put us on the outside ring of the stage. And not only that, it helped to buy quite a bit of AIDS meds - it was a major feel good purchase for me in many ways :)


Wonder how close we were to the stage? Check out the photo below. The outter ring was just feet away from us.


And here I am with my wonderful husband who puts up with my crazy U2 fandom :) The "Claw" is right behind us. Pretty cool self photo!


After the show started I could barely believe my eyes. This was the 7th U2 show I had been to and the closest I had ever been to the stage. I was able to see the guys without having to look at the screen (and they weren't as big as ants when I did lol).

Since we were on Adam's side of the stage, he came out on the outter ring more than any other band member. And he usually stood in our section for a few minutes rather than just walking by which is what everyone else pretty much did. Check out the super cool photo my hubby got for Adam.


Bono took his time coming down from center stage to our area. He only walked by (ok, he slowly swaggered in his Bono way) but you better believe I reached out as far as I could trying to touch him! I could not believe I was that close to him!

Below is a photo of Bono as he walked past us for a second time :)


I honestly could go on for days about how amazing the concert was. One very special thing happened that I will never forget. When they played Where the Street Have No Name, it started to rain...just a short rain... But even Bono acknowledged how special it was saying that something special always happens at their concerts in Chicago - and even highlighted saying during their Popmart Tour that their stop in Chicago gave them a confidence in what they were doing.

It was an amazing night of music that also touched my soul - just as every other show I have ever been to has done.

Enjoy the video below. It's of Bono walking by and making eye contact with my husband as he was filming (hence the crotch shot by accident lol)

video

Friday, July 29, 2011

New Recipe #1 - Tuscan Chicken with Mushroom Risotto

This is a Rachael Ray 30 Minute Meals recipe. I religiously watched her show when I was first married (almost 10 years ago!) and printed off a bunch of recipes I would like to try. A lot of them I never got around to because there were things I was afraid of (like shallots, fresh herbs) not to mention, our budget did not include being able to purchase these more pricey items. So this recipe, along with a few others, sat in a binder in the cupboard where I keep my recipes. It finally saw the light of day when I wanted to find something new to make.

I had never made risotto but I love risotto and found the courage to try making it. Well, my first got at it was not a success. Which was a shame because the mushrooms in it were one of the most expensive parts of the whole meal! But I guess you live and learn - which I did :)


The Tuscan Chicken (recipe listed at the bottom of this post) has a wonderful flavor and made the chicken very moist - even when the left overs were rewarmed. I did make a mistake though (I have to come clean), I forgot the to add the flour before I added the liquid at the end. So I wasn't able to make the rue as needed and the sauce was very runny. That is one thing I won't forget next time!

My words of advice if you decide to make this meal:
If you have never made risotto before, DO NOT use this recipe as your first go around. In a later post I will share a recipe I think it better for a first try at risotto. It's one that won't leave you in tears if you have to throw it away.

And don't forget to make the rue with the Tuscan Chicken! It's important in order to thicken the sauce...and no one wants to eat raw flour :p


Tuscan Chicken


Ingredients

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast tenderloins
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 6 sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups beef broth (yes, beef broth)

Directions

Heat a large, deep skillet over medium high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, half the chicken pieces, and a couple of crushed cloves of garlic.

Brown chicken 2 minutes on each side and remove from pan. Add remaining oil, another single turn of the pan, remaining chicken pieces and garlic. Brown chicken 2 minutes on each side and remove. Add vinegar to the pan. Let it cook off.

Add butter, shallots, and rosemary to the pan and cook 2 minutes, add flour and cook 1 minute more. Whisk in wine, reduce 1 minute. Whisk in broth and bring liquids up to a bubble. Return chicken to the pan and simmer over moderate heat 7 to 8 minutes to finish cooking chicken through.


Wild Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom stock and vegetable stock are now available on soup aisle of market in 1 quart paper containers. They are both rich and deep in color. These stocks are necessary for the preparation of this dish.

Ingredients

Directions

Place dried porcinis and stock or broth in a saucepan and bring stock to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer.

In a large skillet, heat oil and butter over medium to medium high heat. Add shallots and saute 2 minutes. Add arborio rice and saute, 2 or 3 minutes more. Add Sherry and cook the liquid completely absorbed. Add several ladles of hot stock or broth and reduce heat slightly. Simmer, stirring frequently until liquid is absorbed.

Remove mushrooms from water and reserve cooking liquid. Coarsely chop the porcinis and add them to the rice. Continue to ladle broth into arborio, half the remaining amount at a time. Stir mixture each time you add broth and remove from heat when the rice is cooked to al dente. Cool and store any remaining liquids if there are any.

The ideal total cooking time for perfect risotto is 22 minutes. The consistency should be creamy.

Stir in thyme and a few handfuls of grated cheese. Season your risotto with salt and pepper to your taste. Serve creamy mushroom risotto from the hot pan with warm, crusty whole grain breads.



Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Putting Passion Back into Cooking

A few days ago I was in the midst of my normal routine. I opened my recipe book and scanned through it to make our "menu" for the week and a list of needed ingredients. The recipes I had did not sound appealing. They were either ones that seemed more for cooler weather or ones that I had made recently. So I decided right then and there that I was going to make a goal for myself: make one new recipe per week for the next year.

In doing this I have rediscovered my passion for cooking. A lot of times I would see it as a chore. And now I start thinking that way but once I start cooking and the amazing aromas fill the kitchen, I feel the passion growing for making better food for me and my family.

My other goal is to post the recipe I tried each week along with my thoughts. I plan to post even if dinner is a failure - after all, not every recipe will be one to enter permanent rotation.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Remembering...

Over the last few weeks Kian has talked to me about missing our dog Toby, our cat Allie, and his Papaw Jay. I've have no idea why he keeps asking me about them. And at random times he's said, "I miss Toby and Allie and Papaw Jay" and the tears begin to flow.

I knew that Toby (our black lab) passed away in the summer of 2008 so I went back to see when I posted about his death. He died on June 28th - which would make the time that Kian started mentioning missing Toby around the 3rd anniversary of his death. Odd....

Allie, our black and white cat, also died only 2 months later of a broken heart. She loved Toby, became depressed, stopped eating, and her body had an illness it no longer could battle. And Kian's Papaw Jay passed away in April of last year. Since we told Kian that Toby and Allie and Papaw Jay were all in heaven he groups them together.

Kian still doesn't have a good sense of time or uses the wrong words (says weeks instead of days or last year when it was yesterday), so it makes me wonder how his little barely 4 year old brain clung to the timing of Toby's death. Kian might not use the right words, but he has an impeccable memory. Still, it leaves me to wonder how he started talking about our beloved pets who passed away out of the blue and around the anniversary of Toby's death.

Life can be mysterious sometimes...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

This Summer

So far this summer has been a hit - and is going by fast!

Kian has kept us busy with a myriad of activities. So far he has done a week long soccer camp and is currently doing t-ball and swimming AS WELL AS a reading class in the mornings for 2 hours! phew! It's the first summer I have worked outside the house, so it has made things interesting in getting Kian to and from activities plus doing the normal day-to-day things around and outside the house. Kian really does enjoy all his activities and if he didn't have them I am pretty sure he would be bored :p

Kian playing first base


No only have activities in town kept us busy, but things out of town as well. A few weekends ago we had the honor of attending Jamie's cousin (and Kian's godfather) wedding in Pennsylvania. Martin, the groom, has waited and searched for the right woman for a *long* time. Having found the right woman he snatched her up and married her while being engaged for only 6 short months - when you know it's right you know it's right :) Our long drive to and from IL to PN was worth it ;)


Martin marrying his beautiful wife, Lisa. Notice Jamie in the far right - a groomsman.

Then the day after we got back from our trip Jamie headed down to Orlando with some guys who worked on Red Faction: Armageddon to speak to the students at Full Sail University. To read more check out Jamie's blog.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Recalculated my Disney Vacation Ticker and....

I am shocked we are leaving in 67 days!!!!!!

Yeah, yeah - we just went to WDW in January and I haven't even finished posting the highlights from our trip (heck, I have an empty frame on our wall that I still need to fill with photos from our trip!).

So, why another trip so soon? Well, every year we get seasons passes to Great America or something like it. When we lived in Cali, it was Discovery Kingdom which was nice because I could look at animals, see an animal show and forgo the rides that make my motion sickness kick into full swing. :p When we moved to Central IL we got GA seasons passes. I gotta say, I hated it and sucked it up for 2 years....being the stroller pusher and lady-in-waiting for her guys to get off a roller coaster. Last summer I finally let it out that I really didn't enjoy going up there for a whole weekend - something I still feel guilty about.... So this spring, when GA was emailing us about the cost of seasons passes I was hoping that Jamie and the 7 year old would go on their own...after some glares I could see that was a no go.

"Why don't we do something we all enjoy?" was my suggestion in the hopes to avoid another summer of being the stroller lady-in-waiting. Once again I was met with a steely gaze and the question of 'like what'" So I suggested that the money we would spend on parking, passes, food, and hotel handful of times we would go up to GA, that we put that money towards another Disney trip. That was met with silence followed by some clicking on the computer key board so I went to go and do my own thing.

About an hour later Jamie was telling me about deals with Disney and how much a trip would be.... Ah....so yes, we get to do something we ALL love - not just like!

So in 67 days, Jamie can thank my motion sickness and determination to forgo my crown as the stroller lady. Those days are over! :)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

And this is the craziness of our lives....

Phew!!!

The last month or so has been one big whirl wind for all of us!

St. Patrick's Week:
Jamie's Mom, step dad, and sister came up to deliver our new front loading washer and dryer :) They all had corned beef for the first time :) But earlier in the week I had convinced Jamie that we should try to look for a larger place to live - our place was just way too small. So we had appts to see places while his family was in town - and so Kian could hang with them while we were out doing stuff that was boring to a 6 year old.

Last week in March:
We sign our new lease and start preparing for our move - painting, slowly bringing things over to the new place.

Week of April 3th:
Jamie heads to LA to do an interview on X-Play for RFA. The stinker got to see my favorite aunt and her family for the second time in a year! :p Jamie is home a few days before his dad arrives.

Kian has his first soccer practice with his team on Tuesday. And thus the craziness of activities begins for this kiddo. His first game on Saturday is rained (well lighteninged out).

Week of April 10:
Jamie's dad arrives to help us on Sunday and Monday move the big stuff over to the new house. Jamie works hard to get things set up for Kian and I so we are comfortable while he's in Ireland.

Monday, Jamie leaves for Ireland having only spent one night in our new place!

Tuesday, soccer practice again. Saturday is super cold and rainy but they have their first game - they lose but Kian had a great time!

The rest of the week is filled with me working. And then packing, loading, unpacking, shopping, rearranging, cleaning....phew!

Saturday night Kian and I pick Jamie up at the airport YAY!

Week of April 17:
Jamie and Kian set out for Kentucky to pick up a brand new truck! Jamie worked out all the details (it's a place his step-dad buys from all the time and Jamie bought his last truck there) before he left for Ireland and got a great deal. They agreed to hold the vehicle for him until Monday. Which means, Jamie slept one more night in our new house before taking off again!

This time he took the little man with him so he could have some time with him - Jamie has been gone so long that I agreed it was ok for him to miss school on Monday to go along for the ride.

Let me tell ya, the house was so quiet that I had to turn a TV on to feel more comfortable lol!

-------------------------

Phew! Just thinking about all that makes me tired! Thankfully after Jamie gets back with his new truck, things will calm down for a few weeks...that is until Kian's big birthday party arrives.

Apparently life just never slows down - just seems to get faster at times. But boy have we enjoyed the ride :)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Loadin' up the truck

It's official! We're moving. No, it's not a huge move in way of miles but it is a huge upgrade for us going from an 800 sq. ft. place to 1600!

Oddly enough we started our search this weekend after I convinced Jamie that it was time for us to move out of this tiny place and get something bigger and better. This place was the second one we saw and we knew it was for us.

Now for the upgrades; the old versus the new:

  • 1 Bathroom v. 2 1/2 baths (thank GOD!) which includes a full master bath
  • a dishwasher named Sarah v. a machine to wash dishes (woot!)
  • one car garage opened by human muscles v. 2 car attached garage with opener
  • only one door to outside v. 3 doors leading outside including a sliding glass door off the living room that goes into the fenced in backyard
  • 7 cabinets in the kitchen v. 12(!!!) cabinets with adjustable shelves
  • about a 2 1/2 ft. counter work space v. probably triple the amount of counter space AND it's all granite!
  • 4 small closets and 1 linen closet v. 5 large closets and 1 linen close
I probably could go on for days about how much better our new place is, but I won't because it will just bore you and I need to pack! ;)

Thankfully we will have both places through April so we can slowly pack and move over...but I gotta tell ya I'm wishing that I could be like Samantha on Bewitched and wiggle my nose to just move it all over there :p

Here are some photos taken from the listing that perked us to want to look at this place.



The living room looking back toward the kitchen. Sliding doors on the left side.




Living room from the other end looking at the front door. Notice the nice wood burning fireplace :)


The kitchen ♥


The half bath downstairs right off the living room.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It's the most wonderful time of the year....

no, no, no.... I'm not talking about Christmas. I'm talking about St. Patrick's Day! It's almost like Christmas in our house :)

It's the time of year that we celebrate our pride in our Irish heritage (even though in our house we do that every day!). It's the one time of year that I make corned beef and Irish soda bread (which is so flippin' good that I don't know why I don't make it when it's NOT St. Patrick's Day!

The day after Valentine's Day is when I start putting up my St. Patty's Day stuff - well, the things that aren't already up lol And you will hear traditional Irish music coming from the house more often than usual. And at night you can find me and Kian reading a book dealing with St. Patrick's day or Irish Fairytales or Myths.

Even though it's a happy time in our house there are so many things to remember about Ireland. I recently watched an episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?" where Rosie O'Donnell traced her roots back to Ireland and discovered that her family was brought over to North America during the Potato Famine. Whenever I thought of the Famine, I just figured our families scrounged for money and bough passage for themselves to immigrate. Through this episode, I realized how ignorant I was to believe that my relatives actually had money! I mean, they couldn't even feed themselves! Rosie discovered that her descendants were living in communal housing for at least a year - 4 children, men and women separated, babies 2 years old and older were separated from parents, and beds were just lined up in one large room. It really looked like concentration camps - sparse, dark, and gloomy. It was pretty much the last stop for those who had no food, no shelter, and needed help to survive. Her family petitioned to go to Montreal after being there for at least a year and the organization that headed up the work houses provided passage for the whole family to immigrate.

With this knowledge I have a new found pride in my Irish blood. The Irish people were tough! They endured through wars, famine, and persecution. They are fighters strong in spirit and will.

I can only hope that I have gained some of their spirit and will through my genes.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Disney World - Day 2 Highlights

Day two of our trip was spent at Epcot - one of our favorite parks.

We arrived when the gates opened and when walking into the park we saw Daisy (one of few places she can be seen!) and Stitch. As you can see, Kian asked Daisy to sign his autograph book. Each character has their own signature and it remains consistent no matter when you see Mickey - his signature always stays the same and looks very much the same :)




The first ride the guys wanted to do was Mission Space. Kian is standing in front of the ride's sign (super cute photo too!) This ride is a simulator so you can feel what it would be like to be on board a spaceship. I decided to pass on this ride (motion sickness plagues me bleh). Kian really enjoyed it though :)



While waiting to Talk with Crush (the turtle from Finding Nemo), Kian decided to look at the fish in a tank nearby. There were sting rays, small sharks, and this puffer fish who took a liking to Kian. In the photo above you can see him actually looking at him! I know that sounds strange, but he really was! He would swim away for a bit (if you weren't paying attention to him) and would come back to us - it was crazy!


Here comes puffer fish again! I wish we could have taken this guy home with us.

After touring different areas of the park we headed over to the "Country" area called The World Showcase. Jamie wanted to get a photo of Kian and I but Kian said he wanted to take a photo of the two of us. The result is the photo below - pretty good, eh?


Then Kian decided it was time to be silly.... which also included camera switching lol




Then someone standing nearby asked, "y'all want me to take a picture of the three of you." Thankfully we talked Kian into having a "normal" face in this one :) So a special thanks to the southern gentleman ;)


The country area is vast and there is SO much to explore. A fun part for the kids is called "Kidcot." Kids get to color a bear named Duffy and if the have a "passport" (that you can buy at a gift shop in the park) a person sitting at Kidcot will sign it in their native language!


Our first stop was China. The cast member was from Hong Kong and wrote Kian's name in Chinese and wrote out a message to him in Chinese and thankfully wrote the translation under it :) It was fun for Kian to go to each country and find the area where he could get his passport signed! If you have a kiddo and go to Epcot, this is something that you must do :)


For dinner we ate as the newest restaurant in Epcot, Via Napoli in Italy. They are known for their pizzas baked in wood burning ovens. I got my own pizza! Which meant I could try something strange ;) I had what they call Quattro Stagioni. It has eggplant, artichokes, parma cotto ham, mushrooms, mozzarella. Let me tell ya, it was delish!


And if you know me, there is absolutely no way I would leave an Italian restaurant without having tiramisu! This was super yummy too!


Kian's meal (a cheese pizza) came with chocolate gelato. As you can see, he really enjoyed it as well :)


We wrapped up our day watching the fireworks show on the water of the World Showcase. Then it was onto the hotel to gear up for day 3!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Disney World - Day 1 Highlights

We spent our first day in the Magic Kingdom. It began with breakfast with Winnie the Pooh and friends then it was onto the awesome touring plans that Jamie made for us thanks to Disney Touring Plans.com. We were able to do everything in the park that we wanted and more! If you're going to Disney World or Disneyland, I highly suggest using this site - it's worth the membership.

Anyway, we were able to get on all the rides in fantasy land before the lines grew to over 30 mins long. We were actually able to pretty much walk right onto all the rides! By far I think that Kian and I liked Peter Pan the best :)

it's a small world is located in Fantasy land as well. Which of course we had to take a picture of the representation of Ireland ;)


Kian had the opportunity to meet a lot of characters. He met Frontierland Donald, Woody and Jessie from Toy Story, Prince Eric and Ariel (when she had legs ;)), and Aladdin and Jasmine as seen below.

Aladdin apparently took a liking to Kian and had a pretty long conversation with him! Aladdin challenged him to a carpet ride and of course they had to discuss who would win ;) Aladdin was JUST like he was in the movie - same mannerisms and talking the way that Aladdin did.

At the end of the long discussion, which included Aladdin getting down on Kian's level and motioning with his hands on how fast a carpet would go, Princess Jasmine suggested that they have their picture taken with Kian so Aladdin told Kian to pose with his arms crossed.

And so he did! This was by far the best character meeting that Kian had and honestly, seeing the photos and watching the video brought back a lot of great memories. Big props to the Aladdin of the day :)


One of Kian's favorite rides was the People Mover in Tomorrowland. Do you know what that is? I didn't until we got on it. It's almost like a train ride that's up above the ground and takes you through some of the attractions. It was pretty cold when we were at WDW so this ride was not my favorite since we were moving in the cold air!

We ended our day with a special dinner called Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue. The food is AWESOME and the show is funny and very entertaining. The people on stage portray a group that travels, sings and puts on plays. As you can see from the animated faces it was pretty funny. The other super funny thing was that the actors would do impromptu jokes which sometimes would make the other actors laugh! It was actually my favorite meal of the whole trip.



Tuesday, January 18, 2011

And we are home....

Well, at least Kian and I are. We arrived back in the land of FIBs and snow last night and brought some super bad colds with us. As of today Kian is on the mend, and I'm trying to be :p Needless to say, I miss The Mouse and all the fun we had in FL. I'll post more about our trip and have photos to follow :) For now we are just keeping warm in the house and keeping our plague to ourselves :p

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Look Back at 2011 - Better Late Than Never

In 2011 I thought that I would do away with our Christmas Letter, but after looking back on the year I realized that I really needed to since we had a lot of changes and fun things happen in our family! So, here it is: The Durall Family in 2011
We kicked off 2011 with a trip to Disney World! It was SO cold (yes, even in FL it can get around freezing) but we had a great time anyway. This time around Kian was made Prince of the Day at Cinderella's Castle and participated in the Jedi Training Academy where he battled Darth Vader himself. He alo got to meet Rapunzel and Flynn Rider from the movie Tangled.


Flynn showing Kian what is in his pack while Rapunzel looks on.
(Shhhh, it's a secret and he was only shown because Kian asked).

In March we moved to a bigger house - almost double in size from our previous place! Everyone has enjoyed the extra space. Bailey has especially loved our fenced in back yard where he can roam for as long as he wants and come to the patio door and "knock" when he's ready to come inside. And there are sidewalks where Kian can ride his scooter or bike safely.
Kian turned 7 in May! (yikes!) He was a little fish this summer during his swim lessons, loved playing T-ball, and of course loved the British Soccer Camp he attended TWICE over the course of the summer. Then before Kian started 2nd grade in August, we took another trip to Disney World (yes, we are annual passholders). This time it was super hot but there was great fun had the entire time!


Kian in awe of his Phinea and Ferb cupcakes Cream and Flutter made for Kian's party


On July 5th Sarah and Jameson went up to Chicago and saw U2 perform for the second time during their 360 tour. They were able to get tickets in the (RED) Zone which gave them a close view of the stage and helped provide funds for those struggling with AIDS in Africa. Jameson thought he might have to catch Sarah after Bono walked past her, but she held her ground....barely.



The stage is "cutting through" Sarah's head and "decapitating" Jameson.
Yep, that's how close we were!

In September Sarah celebrated being a froster at Cream & Flutter (formerly Cakes on Walnut) for one year. Getting up at 5AM to get ready to frost the cupcakes is not a problem for Sarah - which only proves how much she seriously loves her job (this will make more sense to those who really know her and her morning persona). Not only does she make the frostings, she is also dyes sprinkles, bakes cookies and brownies, and frosts specialty sugar cookies for the masses in Champaign to enjoy.
At the end of November, Sarah and Jameson started a medically supervised diet. Yep, that meant no more cupcakes for a few months! But it has been worth it! Jameson has lost a total of 43lbs in the last 7 weeks and Sarah has lost 25lbs! Jameson said goodbye to two medications he has been on for several years and went down at least one pants size. Sarah is able to get in to smaller clothing - well, except for jeans. She's pretty sure there's no way to get rid of the "Kesler thighs" she genetically inherited. Before and after photos to be included in next year's Christmas letter.
Early in 2011, Jameson was promoted to Design Director on "Secret Project Y" at Volition. This was something he has sought after for many years and we all are proud of his accomplishments! Hopefully in our 2012 Christmas letter we can reveal the name of the project - we will have to wait and see! He also did quite a bit of promoting of Red Faction: Armageddon (the project he was on that shipped) which took him to London, Germany, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Dublin. We know what you are thinking: Yes, Dublin as in Ireland. No, Sarah did not accompany him. And yes Jameson felt Sarah's envy all the way across the ocean that he brought her back lots of gifts to get her to turn back to her normal coloring from the green hue it had taken on.


Jameson with the pint he poured perfectly at the Guinness factory in Dublin. He also had several other correctly poured pints at the famous Temple Bar during his stay (yeah, Sarah is still pretty jealous).


And the biggest news of all for all of 2012 was Jameson's induction into the Full Sail Hall of Fame. He was selected this year as one of 6 Full Sail Graduates to receive the honor out of a pool of 30,000 grads to choose from! Both of our families made the trek to Orlando to watch Jameson receive his award and give a moving speech about his journey in the video game world over the last 10 years. Saying that we are proud of Jameson does not even do justice to how we feel about this honor - we are beyond proud of him and all his accomplishments.



Jim, Jameson's boss on the last few projects he's been on at Volition,
introduced Jameson and handed him his award.


Kian cold not have been prouder of his Daddy!

All-in-all is was a pretty awesome year. So awesome that I just had to share (ok, brag). Even if it meant it was done a month after Christmas.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

"Frying Pans....Who Knew?"


Last night we took Kian to see the new Disney film Tangled. When I first heard of the movie I wasn't sure if I would like it or not, but since it's a Disney film it's a must see for all of us.

I don't think I have ever laughed so much while watching a Disney film ever before in my life! And the art is amazing to say the least! The movements of the characters are very human like and the hair.....oh my the hair! It looks as if you could reach out and touch it it looks so real! Makes me wonder if Disney has saved this fairy tale until they could animate hair that looks so very real.

The movie has everything every other Disney movie has - love, comedy, action, bad guys - but this film is so very different from any other Disney movie I have seen. Don't get me wrong, I am a HUGE Disney fan and have a favorite movie list about the length of my arm, but this movie takes the cake! I'm seriously thinking that it might move my all time favorite Disney movie, Beauty and the Beast, to number two!

This movie is a must see for all ages!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Dear Bose, I Love You

So, last year I started using my iPhone to download audiobooks. I started listening to them A LOT which meant I had headphones on most of the time. Well, the ear buds that came from Apple are well, frankly pieces of junk. And they apparently didn't think they would have an adult with child sized ears wearing their gear lol! After complaining and trying cheapo ear buds I finally caved and ordered the Bose ear buds. O.....M.....G..... they changed my life!


The ear buds came with small sized ear forms to put on the end of the buds so I finally had a pair that would fit me and stay in! I used the Bose ear buds all the time. I mean ALL THE TIME. It had a button that I could easily answer calls in the midst of listening to a book or just pause my book quickly.

Sadly, last month the button stopped working. I coped with it- I couldn't live without the darned things! Then, as I was scraping snow off the car the ear buds fell out of my pocket and when I picked them up one of the ear pieces was completely torn off and the wires were severed :( :( :(

So, I made a call to Bose to see about the warranty on the ear buds - after all I did get them in Nov '09. First of all, I gotta say that the customer service people are very friendly and quickly got my information and asked me pertinent questions. I would say that within 15 mins or less I was getting my broken ear buds ready to be shipped to Bose so I could start the process of them sending me a BRAND NEW PAIR of ear buds! Yep, you got it, brand spanking new for the year of 2010. And when I arrived home from our Christmas trip to see family, I got my own gift from Bose :)


I know, I know - these things look like they're made for Vulcans (you know, Dr. Spock) but really they are very comfortable! The ear buds come with the traditional style of covers in case you're not into rockin' the Vulcan look. For me, I'm a geek anyway so I don't care - they're comfortable. The pause button also works like a charm! It actually responds faster than my other pair of ear buds.

Needless to say, I will be buying more Bose products. They're stuff might be pricey but it's worth it and they treat their customers more than fairly :)