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December 30, 2009

Sucker for Swagbucks!

Ok, so normally I am skeptical of anything that pays you for doing almost nothing.  I mean, c'mon nothing is free these day (including healthcare, people)!  So I had to do a little research and do my usual perusal of various bloggers who have used "swagbucks" and earned money in the form of gift cards. The result?  I now have a toolbar at the top of my browser that I use whenever I can to earn me some bucks!

This is NOT a "get rich quick" scheme and, for those moms out there who use the bonus points from buying diapers can attest, it adds up slowly.  BUT I gleaned from my research that people who did this over the last year actually had enough gift cards for ALL of their Christmas shopping!   We are talking hundreds of dollars worth here!  After the lean Christmas this year, I have to say I am pumped about the idea.  So, if you are interested in checking it out, go to this link so I can get credit for referring you.  It's free to sign up and right away you get 3 swagbucks to start your stockpile.  I would recommend loading their toolbar onto your browser for all of your online searches so you start earning whenever you are online.  One caveat, it is not as thorough as Google sometimes, but if you search for Google to further your search, you get credit for that.  I'm willing to sacrifice some efficiency for my pocketbook this cause. :)

If you need further testimonies, read this blog post and see the subsequent comments (but if you choose to check SB out, come back to my page and use my link since I referred you).

Happy hunting...oh, and Happy New Year!!

December 26, 2009

Christmas w/ the Kids

C in his Christmas best.  (E was uncooperative)

Opening presents (E once again MIA)
See my new KitchenAid stand mixer in the background?  Yay! :)

Christmas meal...for the 4 of us!

Where there's food...there's E!

Hope you had a Merry Christmas too!

December 18, 2009

Christmas Letter 2009

Trying something new this year...instead of typing, printing, and sending out our annual Christmas letter, I have decided to post on my blog a recap of 2009 in the Recke household.  Of course, as a courtesy (and because I love getting them in the mail) I will also be mailing out the mandatory photo card to make sure relatives and close friends see how big the kids are getting! :)
By the way "C" and "E" represent the kids' names...we opted to protect their privacy since this is a public blog.

Ok to recap...
C is now a 5 (almost 6) year old little guy.  At the beginning of this year we enrolled him in preschool (opting to hold him back from kindergarten for another year to acclimate more to English & school structure) at Silver State Christian school.  He was off to a rocky start and got into various kinds of trouble nearly daily.  We did get him evaluated through the Colorado public school system and in the end determined that he needs some speech therapy to work on enunciation, but otherwise it's a wait-and-see approach to whether he has extreme hyper-activity.  We have experienced a dramatic turn in his behavior though.  We see him trying harder to "control his energy" and listen more to his teachers.  It's really encouraging to see his English get better and better and to be able to recognize certain letters and numbers.  Rewards like seeing movies and playing at an indoor amusement center called "Monkey Bizness" definitely keeps him motivated!  He also adores his little sister, E.  He is just so extremely kind and gentle with her, it makes me melt.  What a great kid we have! :)

E is now 1-1/2 years old.  Hard to comprehend, really.  She is growing like a weed and at 12 months we began buying only 24mos or 2T clothing.  She is off the chart in height, so she is definitely following in Daddy's footsteps in that department!  E stays home with me these days so it is fun to see her developing day to day.  Her favorite activities are talking on the phone (fake or otherwise), climbing furniture, chasing C around the house, babbling (another of Daddy's traits, hehe), and really just exploring with the natural curiosity of a toddler.  She is truly a bundle of joy and has really completed our family!

Tom is doing great with his Pillar To Post franchise.  He continues to grow his business even in the midst of a recession (amazing feat, really) and his dedication to his work is impressive.  We can only look forward to the future when (hopefully) the economy rebounds and his business explodes.

Even in tough times, his business ethic and hard work has enabled me to be a stay-at-home mom.  I quit my job at Wm Ohs in February and have been enduring enjoying commute-less work ever since.  There have been days when I question my decision as it seemed so much easier to design kitchens than to herd children all day.  But then...I see my daughter take her first steps or see C's joyful face when I pick him up from school, and it is so worth it.  It reminds me of the song "You're Gonna Miss This" by Trace Adkins.  It just passes by so fast!

Some other 2009 highlights worth noting:
  • We took our first family vacation to Yellowstone & Jackson Hole in August
  • C played in both soccer & T-ball leagues.  Surprisingly, he liked t-ball the best!
  • C lost four teeth!  He truly wants "two front teeth" for Christmas. ;)
  • Auntie Erin visited and took Csaab up in her plane where was a "hero" for flying it.
  • We had nice visits from Nana & Papa Fedraw for E's 1st b-day and their yearly pilgrimage west for a break from the B&B world.
It was also a year of some sadness.  I lost my beloved 13yo Golden Retriever, Toby, in October (you can see my tribute to him HERE).  He had been ill and was diagnosed with tumors on his spleen that was causing some internal bleeding.  It's typically remedied by surgically removing the spleen, but for such an old dog, it just seemed cruel to put him through it...with no guarantees.  So, the very difficult decision to put him down was made and I cried for days.  I still miss him terribly and am realizing that this is the first Christmas in 13 years that I won't be seeing him tear open the wrapping on his gifts.  Bitter-sweetness.

Anyway, that's our year in a nutshell.  I pray that this holiday season finds you surrounded by your loved ones and filled with lasting memories.  Have a blessed Christmas and happy New Year!

With Love,

December 11, 2009

My Cup Runneth Over...

So, you know how God chooses the most amazing ways to communicate when we need it most and, like me, we sometimes often forget to run to His Word for reassurance?  Well, lately I've been struggling with my decision to be a stay-at-home mom.  It's HARD!  It's a 24/7 job that seriously lacks in accolades.  Today I was online doing my typical stress-reducing blog hunt when I came across this blog.  One of her posts just spoke to me in a song she references.  Read these lyrics, and take heart all you moms out there!

These are the lyrics to "Sacred" by Caedmon's Call on their new album titled Overdressed.

This house is a good mess
it’s the proof of life
no way would I trade jobs
but it don’t pay overtime

I’ll get to the laundry
I don’t know when
I’m saying a prayer tonight
cause tomorrow it starts again

could it be that everything is sacred?
and all this time
everything I’ve dreamed of
has been right before my eyes

the children are sleeping
but they’re running through my mind
the sun makes them happy
and the music makes them unwind

my cup runneth over
and I worry about the stain
teach me to run to You
like they run to me for every little thing

when I forget to drink from you
I can feel the banks harden
Lord, make me like a stream
to feed the garden

wake up, little sleeper
the Lord, God Almighty
made your Mama keeper
so rise and shine, rise and shine
rise and shine cause

everything is sacred
and all this time
everything I’ve dreamed of
has been right before my eyes

December 10, 2009

These are a few of my (kids) favorite things...

  • Counting the days until "santa comes"
  • Weekly dinners with Tio & Tia (our next door neighbors)
  • Singing (he is pumped for his preschool Christmas program!)
  • Bedtime stories
  • Swimming
  • Formulating a list of invitees to his birthday party
  • Iron man, Spiderman...essentially any superhero
  • Learning vowels & consonants (actually, not really a "favorite" per se, but I have hope!)
  • Kisses
  • Story books
  • Horses
  • Playing chase with big brother
  • Baths
  • Chocolate (inherited from mommy, I'm afraid)
  • Stuffed animals...anything fuzzy or furry really.
  • Leaves...has to have one in hand whenever she is outside.
My favorite things?  These kids who amaze me daily.

December 6, 2009

What I want for Christmas...

Honestly, how can you have a bad day with a face like this around?


Saw this on another blog and had to copy it...funny and sad at the same time.
Of course I am not a fan of this whole "Twilight" phenomenon anyway and this just proves my point of how silly it all is (sweet mercy, when will it end?!).

November 27, 2009

What am I thankful for?

These guys...
and that they get along so beautifully.

C's thankful for the tooth fairy!

Happy Thanksgiving 2009!

November 19, 2009

TeeVee Shmeevee

Ok, so big changes coming in the Recke household. Actually, they will be minimal for outsiders but huge for us. We have made the radical decision to end our cable subscription and move away from the hypnotizing pull of TV. Tom wants to throw the TV out with the garbage, but I've manged to coerce nudge him into at least getting a converter box to keep the local stations. What led us to this radical decision you ask? Well, lots of reasons. Number one is the permeation of Hollywood influences in which traditional family values are slowly being eroded by "new normals". Those new normals are slowly de-sensitizing us to what God wants for us, and actually leads to us convincing ourselves that those things are not harmful as long as our faith is strong. What?! I speak of TV, but I have long held this policy for movies too. I never got into the frenzy of "Harry Potter" and am very leery of "Twilight"...things of the occult just scare me, even if they are "fiction". Same goes for anything with sexual or violent over (or even under) tones. I guess this all means less movies too...

The second reason is that we see C becoming less creative in his activity. If the TV is on, no matter what is on, he is literally zoned out. It's a scary thing when we can look back at 2 years ago when he hardly cared about TV. We feel guilty for having anesthetized him with cartoons for so long now. And I guess we also see that it is dividing our family. Instead of doing things as a family, we are all retreating to our separate corners and either watching TV or playing on the computer. Not very constructive and it breaks my heart that my kids might grow up seeing more of Spongebob Squarepants than of Mommy & Daddy. So, from December 1st and on, 6-9pm is family time with no technology...except for the ipod if we have to resort to dancing contests for entertainment (E loves to dance)!

The upsides to all of this? Probably too numerous to even guess, but mostly I truly believe we will be a stronger family unit. I hope that C will develop a stronger desire to learn and read, and that will trickle down to E as she matures. We will also commit to regularly using local recreation centers (this will be more than covered with the money we save in cable bills) for exercise and developmental activities. It also will get me off my butt more since daytime TV has become somewhat of an anesthetizer for me as well! Not to mention, I will get more "me time" since the rec center offers babysitting services while I work out. Why didn't I do this sooner?!

Speaking of "me time", I have been taking cake decorating classes. I finally have my creative outlet...with the only downside being we have weekly cakes to consume. This week I downsized from the 8" round to the 6" round so that hopefully it disappears faster. What I'm finding though, the taste and smell of buttercream frosting gets old really fast. I can actually frost a cake now without keeping a spoonful for myself. Progress! I will post pictures of my most successful creations when I get a chance.

Have a great Thanksigiving everyone! Hug your family and BE THANKFUL!!

November 16, 2009

Pre-holiday Lowdown

Hard to believe it's already mid-November! In just a week we will celebrate 2 YEARS of parenthood, with C's "gotcha day" rapidly approaching on the 26th, which I believe is also Thanksgiving. How fitting! What an incredible blessing he has been in our lives, we feel so honored to be parents to such a great little boy. Speaking of C, he lost his top front tooth yesterday. I'll need to post a picture, it is always funny to see little kids with a huge gap in their grille.

I also feel the need to praise C for his amazing turnaround at school! I'm not sure what finally clicked, but we are no longer having to deal with behavior issues. About two weeks ago, we started getting "good boy" reports from his teachers, and they have been consistent! Not to say he's got it all down...he did admit to me last week that he has a hard time not running in the bathroom, but as he says, "I'm working on it". He loves the praise he gets from us, as well as periodic treats like seeing a movie in the theater. He also enjoys telling me the letters he learned in school that day which, as anyone who knows him can attest, is huge. He still has trouble focusing and honestly forgets what someone told him 2 minutes prior. So, for him to remember what the letters were that day when I pick him up from school is a major accomplishment. We are still getting him professionally tested though, just to make sure he has an appropriate attention span for his maturity level.

And then there is my little E. Sigh. She is a wonderful toddler, but I am afraid we have reached an early version of the terrible two's. Even though she is almost 17 months, we are dealing with temper tantrums when she doesn't get what she wants. This includes screaming, crying, and throwing herself to the ground. Mostly this happens because big brother has what she wants or is doing what she wants to do. Example: C stands on a stool and brushes his teeth in front of the sink. E then needs to grab a stool, stand next to C, and brush her teeth too. She definitely has an independent streak a mile wide. Conversely though, she is amazingly sweet and good-natured. We have lots of cuddle times and she absolutely loves to give kisses to anything and everything...especially Argish (our dog) and stuffed animals. I love seeing her personality develop and can't wait to hear those babblings turn into actual sentences. She is also an awesome sleeper, sleeping 10 hours straight every night. We are so blessed I tell ya!

Here's some pics of E's antics:

Playing in the box. See all the nice toys surrounding her? Yeah, boxes are so much more fun. Perhaps Christmas shopping this year should be at a packaging store...

October 26, 2009

Goodbye my friend

May 3, 1996 - October 26, 2009

"I lost a special friend today
the kind you can't replace,
and looking at his empty bed
I still can see his face.

I know he's in a special place
our Lord has for such friends,
Where meadows, lakes & flowers
help make them strong and whole again.

I know he's watching over me
He'll be with me when I cry,
So with one more kiss on his beloved head
I told my friend goodbye.

Today I said good-bye to the best dog I've ever had...and ever will. Tobias Oliver Jared was released from his life here on earth, to rest in peace and in our memories.

My Dearest Toby,
I love you with all of my were my first "baby". I'll never forget holding your 2-week body in my hand and telling the breeder, "this is the one"! From day one you had an independent streak that told me we were a perfect pair. And we were. I hold tight to the days when we ran together, hiked the California trails, swam at Chatfield dog park, and played in the neighborhood park...chasing your beloved tennis balls with everything you had. And boy you loved to swim! You could sniff out water a mile away and I was often found running after you, frantically calling your name while you ignored me and bolted for the beach. You saw me through a lot of changes in 13 years. You accepted Tom when I got married and you (begrudgingly) put up with two kids climbing all over you. You were a trooper! But now, now you are no longer imprisoned by a body that is in pain. You are to run, free to swim, free to lay in the sun. That said, I miss you more than you can possibly know.

Thanks for memories, friend. I'll forever cherish them.

September 11, 2009


It's been 8 years since that tragic day. I still remember it like it was yesterday. I hear about people recalling where they were when they heard the news...I was in my car going to my 6am boot camp workout in San Jose, CA. At that time they didn't know it was a commercial airplane and that it was a terrorist attack. An hour later I was back in the car hearing with horror that another plane had crashed into the towers. I stayed home from work, glued to the television coverage and realizing that someone had declared war on us. It was so surreal. I was angry, I was heartbroken, I was fiercely patriotic. I think for once all Americans felt the same way and for a brief moment in time we were truly the United States of America. I will never forget. And I will always be proud of the men and women who answered the call to defend our country, regardless of political agendas. My husband was one of them and I love him for that.

On to current dilemmas. C has been back in school for 2 weeks now. I was so looking forward to whittling down to one child for half the day...I could run errands and get things done that are normally much more complicated with 2 children in tow. Well, that part is good. The part that is not so good is the fact that we have either A) a class clown or B) a child with ADHD on our hands. Not sure which and we are working to get him evaluated by professionals. Honestly, every day that I go to pick up C, I pray that he behaved and that I get the "good boy" report. It happens about half of the time. There is no rhyme or reason to his bad vs. good days. One day he is Beaver Cleaver, the next day he is Eddie Haskell. I never know which personality will emerge and it is aggravating! We bribe, we threaten, we cry...I just don't know what registers with the kid. The thing is, he never had any accountability for the the first 4 years of his life. Being an orphan, his basic needs were met but that was it. There were no expectations, no responsibilities. I doubt he even heard the word "no" very much. Urg.
On the other hand, E has heard the word "no" and is saying it quite often. Double urg. Perhaps I should go back to work...ha.

August 17, 2009

Let Them Eat, frosting!

Today was a day of creativity for me. I spent some of it re-designing my blog for no other reason than it's just fun to experiment with HTML's and templates. I'm happy with the result (facebook friends can see it by clicking on "view original post" at the end of this entry), so perhaps it will stay put for awhile.

Then it was time to make a cake for me the kids. I've been on this cake-making kick since getting hooked on the TV show "Ace of Cakes". I'm going to take classes in September for cake-decorating...mainly because I am so bored with staying home and not honing my creativity in kitchen design anymore. Actually, I'm still not sure which hobby I want to pick up: photography or cake decoration. Photography is kind of out for now because the camera I want is a Nikon DSLR and it sells for upwards of $1k. Cake decoration is cheaper, but then I know I will eventually find my kitchen too small and my oven too inefficient...which will make the camera seem cheap in comparison. I feel for Tom as he will bear the brunt of this vexing issue.

Anyway, I made a traditional white/yellowish cake with chocolate butter frosting. Not too complex, but I focused on technique more than anything. Dare I say it turned out quite nicely..?
The kids enjoyed it too...

August 11, 2009

Facebook and Other Things

I've been staying home with the kiddos for the last 6+ months and it is full of ups and downs. It is HARD to transition from a full-time job to stay-at-home mom. I know, women say that all the time, but it is so true! Not to mention it seriously is the most challenging rewarding job I've ever had. I just wish I got paid for it. Perhaps with all these govt. bailouts, I can petition for "mom's wages" mock but these days it doesn't seem so ridiculous.

So, a few months ago I finally got on the bandwagon and created a Facebook page. It's been awesome reconnecting with old friends who I have lost contact with, especially the best friends who made my childhood so memorable. For that I like FB. BUT, it is a love/hate relationship. Isn't it a bit narcissistic to assume that everyone in your world wants to know what you ate for breakfast? I know, it's not like that. Whatever. Enough about that.

I'm old. My 20-year high school reunion is coming up here in about a month and it's depressing to think about. I honestly don't feel ready to attend a 20-year reunion of anything! I have a one-year-old for crying out loud! Alas, I can't ignore the facts. I am almost forty. I remember my parents turning forty, they had over-the-hill parties and wore black. Definitely not ready for that. Isn't 40 the new 30? I'm telling myself that at any rate...
Anyway, I'm not going to my reunion. I'm realizing that these reunions are more for the ones who enjoyed high school and have maintained the relationships that they had back in the day. I had to move from Colorado to California at the angst-ridden, pubescent age of 13 and never had the confidence to enjoy those following years. I missed my old friends and my old home for much of it and, the minute I graduated, was back in Colorado for college. So, reliving those years is just not where I want to go right now. Now if there were a college reunion...whole different story!

On to my wonderful children...
C is 5(!) and a true boy. He's supposed to start kindergarten this year, but after an evaluation, we have decided to hold him back a year. His maturity level isn't quite there yet so hopefully another year of preschool will help. He's a bright kid, so I have no doubt that at some point he will catch up to his peers. We are excited to take him on his first camping trip to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone later this month.

E turned 1 on June 26 and is such a joy. She is growing like a weed and is almost walking! She has taken 4 steps in a row at various times, but relies on her fast crawling to get around.

Today I took her picture in her very first pigtails!

I am a little nervous for the camping trip where, for the first time, she will be away from her crib for more than a couple of days. Routine is huge at this age, so she may have some adjustment issues.

That's where we are right now. I did a little better this time and only let a few months slip by without updates. Small steps, right?

April 27, 2009

Has it *really* been 1-1/2 years?!

Wow, time sure flies. I have to apologize for the serious delinquency in updating this blog! So much has happened over the past year that it has been nearly impossible to update on our life as Bean settles in with new parents and a new sister. Since I am no longer the care-free, all the time in the world-type person anymore, I'll bullet-point all the highlights...

-C had successful heart surgery on March 7, 2008. The 2cm hole between his left and right atrium's (termed an "atrial septal defect" or ASD) was patched via an arterial catheter at Children's Hospital. The doctors were AMAZING and we were really well taken care of. Subsequent check-ups, however, have not revealed a huge improvement in the efficiency of his heart, so we anticipate valve replacement 10 or so years from now.

-We welcomed E.G. into our family on June 26, 2008. C's new little sister weighed 7lbs 6oz, and was 21.75" long. She takes after daddy in height so I see those awkward years of high-water pants in her future, poor girl.

-We all flew to Wisconsin Dells for Thanksgiving '08 where Tami's Grandparents met their first great-grandkids for the first time. It was truly a blessing to see 4 generations together for the holiday!

-Tami quit her job in January due to high childcare and preschool costs and has been a "homemaker" since then. It has taken some adjustment and lots of patience, but it has been the right decision with regard to lessening overall stress. Eventually there is a plan for her to return to work, but that will wait until C starts kindergarten this Fall and when E is somewhat independent with her mobility and eating skills (less money for daycare).

-C just lost his first tooth! His lower front tooth had been quite loose for some time, so one night we just pulled on it gently and out it came. C is pretty excited about growing some "big boy" teeth and is already feeling around for other loose teeth. The money from the tooth fairy doesn't hurt either! ;)

So that is our past year in a nutshell. We feel so blessed with our wonderful new family, and it has been quite a learning curve! C is an amazing big brother and really is wonderful with E. Perhaps his time in the foster home helped him hone those skills, but whatever the case we could not be more proud of him. Additionally his English is rather impressive! It is so incredible how easily it came to him and how well he has adapted. The only sad thing is the loss of his Hungarian language, but with so few people speaking it, we hope it isn't a big regret. We are already looking forward to a trip to Hungary in a few years, when E can last that long on a plane and C can really appreciate where he came from.

Hope all is well with those who still read this, I'll try to be more on top of updates in the future!

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