Thursday, November 27, 2008

I'm Exhausted!

Happy Black Friday everyone! For those of you that were out in the crowds, way to go and for those of you who weren't well, I can't really blame you for staying home!! I have gone shopping on Black Friday for several years now and today was no different. I was out the door and on my way to the stores at 3:30 am. I normally start at Target and work my way around from there, usually only hitting 2 or 3 stores but today I decided on a new plan. I started at Carson's (whch opened at 4 am) and picked up new pillows for the family and some flannel sheets for my aunt. Carson's must have opened the doors a little early because I was standing in line waiting to get into Toys R Us by 4:20 and I know that I was in Carson's for at least a half an hour!

Anyway, this is the first year that I'd gone to TRU because I always thought that it would be a madhouse but I was pleasantly surprised by what I found. The line went from the doors, around the corner and all the way to the end of the building by the time they opened the doors at 5 am. Fortunately I was near the front and I got in pretty quickly. I have say that TRU was very organized and I will definately be going back there! They gave out numbered tickets for certain "big" electronics but you had to actually be in line to get a ticket and it was first come, first serve which I thought was really fair. Another thing that I absolutely LOVED is that there were employees standing outside making sure that everyone that stood in line got in before all of the people that stayed in their cars and tried to just sneak in once the doors opened (I hate when people do that, I think it's SO rude)!! They were also very organized when it came to standing in line to check out and even taped arrows to the floor so that people knew where to stand to wait in line. The staff was fantastic too! I had to check out in the electronics department because I had some stuff to get there and the employees would actually get your stuff for you while you waited in line - it was great!!

After leaving TRU, I went to Target, Macy's, Costco and the Carter's outlet. I wasn't planning on going to the Carter's store but I had some time to kill before Costco opened so I decided to stop in and boy am I glad that I did. The whole store was 50% off and an employee at the door was handing out additional coupons at the door so everything was 80% off!!! I got the kids at least $500 worth of stuff for next to nothing and that totally made my day!!

After 6 stores and 7 hours of shopping I finally made it home, cold and hungry and ready for a nap. The kids were excited to see me, which is always nice and Bill was glad that I didn't come home battered and bruised! I ended up putting off taking a nap so that I could (sort of) help Bill finish putting up the Christmas lights outside and make lunch. I fell asleep on a wing chair in the frontroom around 2:30 and slept til about 4:00. Bill was kind enough to keep the kids from disturbing me (although really I'm sure there could have been a reenatcment of D-Day going on in front of me and it wouldn't have woken me) and he also unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, threw in some laundry, folded the mountain of laundry that was in our room and got us dinner. He may have done more but I'm still a little fuzzy about this afternoon.

This year the stores didn't seem as crowded as they have been in the past and I managed to get in and out of stores in a decent amount of time. I'm pretty sure that I've finished all of my shopping for the kids which is a huge relief and I even picked up a few things for others who are on my shopping list. And even though I am ready for bed again now, I'm glad that went out today. It's such a good feeling to know that you've gotten something accomplished. I think it's a great way to kick off the holiday season and I'm (sort of) looking forward to next year!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sending a Little Holiday Cheer Abroad

I've added the "Let's Say Thanks" application from Xerox to my blog so that anyone who wants to can send a message to a soldier over seas for the holiday. I know that not everyone was in favor of this war to begin with but that does not change the fact that there are thousands of men and women who are away from home and fighting for our country so why not take a minute to send them a greeting and to let them know that someone back home is thinking about them.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

It's That Time of Year Again

No, I'm not talking about Christmas or Christmas shopping exactly, although I am planning on starting that very soon! It's time to start posting stuff on Ebay! I sporatically sell things online throughout the year to earn extra money for whatever we need (for example at the end of last year I sold enough stuff to pay for our trip to Wisconsin Dells!). Anyway, evey year I go through the kids clothes and toys and sell them around Christmas time. It's a great way for me to weed out the stuff that they not longer use AND get extra cash to buy them new Christmas presents. I know it sounds silly to get rid of stuff just to bring in new stuff, but it's like a circle of life thing so I go with it.

Among the various things that I've got to sell this year I've also got some combo sets that I am selling like Hannah's Dora house (and the million little pieces that came with it), Alexander's Diego Rescue Center (and it's million pieces) and possibly a Bitty Baby crib w/ bedding, diaper bag and high chair, oh and the actual Bitty Baby that Hannah hasn't used probably since she got it. I'm hoping to get a decent price for them, so cross your fingers for me because here I go!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Catching up with Plenty of Pictures!

I've had so much going on around here that I haven't had any time to post. I've been wanting to put up pictures from Halloween but I keep putting it off. Today I figured that if I put it off any more that I'm going to be posting Christmas pics along with the Halloween ones and that's just something that I cannot do so here goes!

A few weekends before Halloween we took the kids to a pumpkin farm. We normally go to Bengston's in Orland Park but this year we decided to try a new one. We ended up at Cottonwood Farms in Crest Hill and it was great! All of the attractions, except for the pony rides, was included in the price of admission which was really nice because at Bengston's everything is separate (and expensive)! The kids had a blast going through the haunted barn, riding the train and playing in the 3 play areas. Bill and I even got to go on a train ride with them, they had a train that was big enough to fit adults!

Slide Races in the play area

On the train

Playing on the firetruck

We always pick our pumpkins out of the field instead of picking from the ones that they bring up and put in piles all around the farm, so after playing for a while and grabbing some lunch we got on the hayride to be taken out to the pumpkin fields. Now most "farms" just place pumpkins randomly in a nice neat field and replenish them as they need (I'm pretty sure that they don't actually grow them themselves but who knows) so imagine our surprise when we get to this field and see that it is an actual pumpkin patch with pumpkins still on the vine!! Even though I have been going to pumpkin farms my entire life I had never seen one like this - I was pretty impressed!

A genuine pumpkin patch!!

Alexander didn't want to take pictures but I was lucky enough to get this one

The whole family

We ended up spending most of the day there and it was well worth it, we will definitely be going back there! The kids had so much fun that they passed out in the car and did not wake up until the next morning!! They ended up sleeping for about 14 hours!

After the pumpkin patch

She was too tired to take her coat off after walking in the house!

The Saturday before Halloween we carved our pumpkins. The kids wanted to draw their own faces this year so we gave them each a marker and they went to work.

Alexander and his "happy" pumpkin

Hannah and her "Scary" pumpkin

They wanted to carve their own pumpkins this year too. We had bought pumpkin carving safety knives and they gave it a try. Unfortunately they are still a little small for carving pumpkins and it's still a little too hard for them so they ended up giving them over to mom and dad.

Trying to cut the top open

Trying to just get the knife out

Bill being silly - can't you just see why I love him!?!?

After the carving was done we put them in the living room and the kids took pictures with them.

The finished products

After much anticipation, Halloween finally arrived. Both kids had parties at school and I was lucky enough to be able to help out at both parties. There was a costume parade before lunch that the whole school participated in and then the big kids were off to lunch while the preschoolers got to go home for the day. Bill came to the parade and took Alexander home afterwards. Since I am a room mom for Hannah's class this year I headed back in to help with lunches and to get her party underway after that. Let me tell you, I have a new found appreciation for teachers!! After spending 2 1/2 hours with 36 kindergartners I was exhausted!! I don't know how teachers do it but they've got to be the some of the bravest people out there!

After taking a short nap (yes, I napped!) Bill and I took the kids trick or treating. We ended up walking around with one of our neighbors and her 2 kids which was really nice.

This year the kids were a witch and Batman

Getting the goods

After about 3 blocks Alexander was done so Bill took him home to pass out candy. Hannah was just getting started so she and I and our neighbor and her kids kept going. We ended up going about 5 more blocks before Hannah's bag hit capacity. Her bag was so heavy that she couldn't carry it anymore and I ended up lugging it back home. As soon as we got home, Hannah took over as "official Novak family treat giver". Every year she stands at the door and waits for trick or treaters so that she can give them candy (and will not move from her post to save her life) and this year was no different. She eventually got tired of standing at the door so my smart little girl dragged over her Dora chair and sat in front of the door waiting. She finally passed out her last piece of candy at 8:00 and we made her close the door. She was a little upset that she had 9 pieces left but was happy when I told her that she could keep them for herself and her brother. We spent the rest of the night hanging out, playing board games and watching t.v. I thought that we had a great Halloween season this year and I can't wait for next year.