Merry Christmas to you!

We wish you all a Fun, Safe, and Merry Christmas!!!

Another year has flown by....The twins have grown considerably. Holland can say just about anything. Just the other day when I was cleaning up she told me "Good Job". She can also count to 10 and say her ABCs. She loves a good cuddle in the morning and evening. She calls herself "Honin". As soon as she sees me or Ryan she will say "Hi Mommy" or "Hi Daddy". She loves when Daddy comes home because she looks forward to a BIG kiss and a bear hug. She loves a good tantrum...but that is when the cuddling really comes in handy.

Ethan LOVES choo choos and trucks. He has the movie Polar Express memorized from start to finish. He also loves to be thrown about. Ethan loves when daddy comes home because he knows it is time for"rough housing". He gives me the sweetest smile. You know, the ones that melt your heart. He loves to be with his sister. When she is asleep he will go in their room and talk to her until she wakes up. He mumbles alot..but believe me he thinks he is saying real words. Some of his favorite words right now are "No, You, Tree, Dada, Choo Choo, Snow, Outside, What's that? and truck".

Ryan loves his new job at Discover. He has been with the company well over 10 years so it is good that his job is fulfilling. In addition, he has also become quite the handyman. This old house we bought needs alot of work. We have finished our downstairs and 50% of the upstairs. We have done alot of the renovating of our home to ourselves. Ryan is now proficient in installing doors, staining and painting banisters as well as electrical work. In the evenings I find him in the garage with his new table saw. The TV is not getting much use anymore. It may be time to disable the TIVO. AND I am pretty sure Ryan can also count to ten like Holland...or maybe even to 100.

p.s. I think he is cute.

Me, well, I am busy with kids, work, friends and my church responsibilities. I also find time to go shopping once and awhile. If I am lucky I will also get in a "short run" or workout at the gym. The twins definitely keep me busy. They test me on a daily basis. As they get older I find myself putting them in time out more often, cleaning up more messes, and receiving more juicy kisses. We have the most fun at weekly playgroup and the indoor tree house at the Mall ( I secretly love it because I can window shop). I love working with the youth at church. We have already had 2 sleepovers and 1 week long camping trip. I love the energy and vivaciousness the girls bring into my life.

Overall, our lives have truly been blessed this year. Living away from family and close friends is hard at times. But, I love my little family of four and the joy our little ones bring us.

Can't wait to see what 2008 brings!


Favorite Movie

We are going through a major train phase. Ethan loves, and I mean really LOVES choo choos. We watch Polar Express about 5 times a day. Ethan calls it his "big choo choo" as opposed to the little Thomas the Train he constantly is holding. He even has Holland addicted. She wants to watch it as much as he does. I have to admit I like it too. I cried watching it the first time.


Slang for the Month

These slang flashcards are the product of a "white elephant" gift exchange we had at my house last night...courtesy of Sarah. I wish I had pix to post of the fun night. I loved the slang so much that I am instituting a monthly blog entry here at "The Real Rachel Ray". So here is this month's first slang word....



Freezing Rain, Sleet, Snow

That was the weather forecast I heard today -- isn't winter FUN?
I think playing in the snow (Ethan says "shnow") with 2 toddlers is super FUN!


His First Tinkle

After months of flushing the toilet, handing mommy toilet paper, and watching us go pee (sorry for the visual)....Ethan went pee-pee in the toilet for the 1st time. Ethan is officially a big boy! I am so, so proud of him. Now the hard work begins.

I would love some advice because this is my first kid to train. Hopefully Holland will follow in his footsteps. Way to go Little Brother!


Matching Sweaters and Screaming at Santa

Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Love Ethan, Lake & Holland

Have you ever worn the same outfit as someone else at a party? It happened to me once on a double date. The girl and I were wearing the exact same outfit. I was embarrassed..but still thought I looked cuter :) My sisters and I sometimes wear the same stuff at family events. Saturday was a matching day for me too -- with Kendee. I promise we did not plan it. Don't we look cute?

It was a big picture day. We managed to survive the ice storm just long enough to get some great pix of the Rowley family. We took photos of the kiddies with Santa. Oh man, that was a nightmare. My kids were screaming and shaking. I don't have a clear picture of it, but you get the gist.

The 3 little monkeys were cute as could be while they held hands through the mall.
Don't you love the Holidays? I do...can't get enough of it lately.

KJ, I hope we can do it all over again, minus AXIS and ALLIES. Thanks for another fun night Rowleys.

I expected much worse...

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Family Ties

Amber & Leo
Grandma Barbara
Eri k aka Little Bumma
Heather & Brandon
Laurel & Tom
Lee & Jeff
Mimi & Papa

Patience & Reagan
Sandy & Robert

Sarah & Ryan

Happy Birthday Little Sister

Happy Birthday Sarah!
I still remember you when you were this little. I love being your older sister
I will always remember when I sprayed hairspray in your eyes
I will always remember when you would borrow my clothes without asking
I will always remember our late night talks in our bedroom
I will always remember getting you ready for your school dances
I love you.
Happy 27th little sister!
p.s. don't you love mom's shoes in the back? I think I own a pair like that.


First Snowfall

It snowed yesterday for the first time this season. The kids loved it. Ethan says "snow, snow" every time we go outside. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We had family move close to us last year and we spent the day with them yesterday. I can't remember how we are related. I think it is through marriage, removed like 10 times are something. It doesn't matter because family is family!

I get a little choked up each year during the Holidays...I miss my family's holiday traditions. Yesterday was a fun and filling day. I made sure to eat every 5 minutes. I did not want any food to go to waste.

With the snow on the ground and Thanksgiving over, we are officially heading into Christmas. I am playing Christmas music non-stop. The Fall Decorations are coming down this weekend. I will put a tree up this year. I love to have the Christmas Tree Lights on every evening. It makes the house very magical!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...


And the winners are...

Here are the winners of Rachel's "Pay it Forward"

I will send my little goodies to you in about a week. Please email me your mailing address to Rayfamily2005@gmail.com. Once you receive your little gift, make sure to "Pay it Forward" to your other blog friends.

I am so happy to Pay it Forward and I hope you enjoy my gifts to you!

I am thankful for absence...

...because it makes the heart grow fonder.

In 4 short weeks we will be with our cousins again. Yay!!!


A week ago today...

Blog Girls
There were 4 girls, 5 kids, 2 quiches, 10 pastries and lots of "girl talk". Over all, if was a successful blog party. Meeting people over the Internet can be fun! This is how we know each other:
I met Mrs. Dub at a playgroup about a year ago and we hit if off. Kendee and I go to the same church and we are buds. Alifinale and Kendee were friends in High School and room mates in collage. Alifinale knows my good friend Mandee who I used to work with about 4 years ago (and originally knew Ryan). It is a small blogland after all.
It was great to have you all over. I realized that in person Alifinale is not only skinny, but super skinny. She is a fun girl and I wish she lived closer so we could hang out more often. It was fun to finally meet you.

Alifinale & Kendee

(did you know Kendee is having a girl in April?)


I want to take TEN!

I raided my kid's Halloween bags and I found this lovely treat. TAKE 5 - Has anyone ever had one of these? It has peanut butter, caramel, peanuts and pretzel covered with milk chocolate. That is some good eatin'. The name is kind of lame...but the taste is YUM-O!

I am a little slow on the uptake because they were introduced in 2004. I never bought one because I rarely try new candy bars. I like my TWIX and Snickers way too much to vary at all.

If you have never tried one, I suggest you go to the store right now and get one ... or maybe two or ten because one may not be enough.


It's My Turn to "Pay it Forward"

I have been lucky enough to win TWO
"Pay it Forward" gifts.
Let me tell you, these girls do not disappoint. Thanks COCO for the custom cards, napkin holder, napkins, and Christmas Dishtowel.

Thanks ALIFINALE for a custom Christmas CD and scarf. I seriously scored!
I really appreciate the tribute to Christmas in the gifts I received. I love this season and I am looking forward to all the movies and music. There is a station in Chicago already playing Christmas music...I sneak a listen when I am in the mood.

Did I tell you I met Ali? Such a fantastic girl to know. I will post about it a little later this week.

Back to Business...

What is "Pay it Forward" you ask? Well, I will pick 3 comments from this post and send the 3 winners something homemade or fun from me. Someone started it on their blog way back when. It is a fantastic idea and I can't wait to mail my fun gift to you. So start commenting!!!

I would like to pay it forward to 3 of my readers/friends/family. So please leave me a comment so I can "Pay it Forward" to you. And in your comment leave a little note including a favorite Christmas Song and/or movie. I will consider comments until Friday the 16th.

If you are chosen, you will be contractually obligated to pay it forward via your blog. But it can be whatever you choose...homemade or not. I think I am sending a box of favorite things.

Just do it!


Happy Halloween

There have been so many activities leading up to Halloween. We went trick or treating at the shops in Wilmette on Saturday. They are not sure what trick-or-treating means. All they know is Mom is handing them candy so they will keep quiet and stay happy. Ethan loves suckers most...but he will eat any candy really. Holland does not really care. I think should would prefer a sippy cup of milk.

This afternoon was spent with some friends from playgroup. We went "trick or treating" in Glencoe and then came back to my house for some yummy treats. It was a great time. Ethan cried this first half of the outing and Holland cried the second half. We are all tired, so I think we will all take a nap.
Some pix for your viewing pleasure!

We ended the evening with Trick or Treating with Lake or "Yake" as Holland calls him. It was a fun night. After the kiddies went to sleep the adults had a little fun of their own which included sugar cookies, pumpkin pie and a game of SETTLERS!


Music Rocks

My sister has begun running again. That is her above. Isn't she HOT? I am thinking about starting again too. It has been so long for me ... almost 2 years.
Anyway, she is looking for some fun and upbeat songs to listen to while running. You know...the type to get yer butt movin'. And I am always looking for fun songs to listen to while driving in the car. And you never know...maybe I will actually start to run again.
What are your top 5 songs to run/workout/jam to?


Dancing Babies

Star in Your Own JibJab! It's Free!
This is my favorite...

My life as a Stripper...

...will have to wait until tomorrow. I know you all want to know about me and my pole dancing ways...

BUT My sister just sent me this . Is it just me, or are these hilarious?


The 4's

May 2006

This is for you, L...

4 jobs...
Stripper ( seriously)

4 places that I have lived...

4 favorite foods...
Hummus & Pita Chips
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
egg mcmuffin from McDonalds

4 favorite music artists ...
Matchbox 20
Gwen Stefani
Billy Joel
Elton John

4 places i'd rather be...
Lanai, Hawaii
St. George, Utah (with my sisters)
The movies
Blogger Party

4 favorite movies...
Sliding Doors
The Holiday
Somewhere in Time

4 favorite books...
Pride & Prejudice
Book of Mormon
Positions of the Day (yoga, duh?)


Decorating Dilemma

Renovations have begun again at the Ray Home! We are ripping out the old carpet, casings, and baseboards upstairs. I need to begin painting this week, but I cannot find a color I like. Should I go neutral? Funky? Some people say my house is too neutral. What to do?

I am looking for a great neutral (beige, brown) for the hall. I would like a pretty, creamy yellow for the twins' room and guest room (future baby's room). I am open to any and all suggestions. Whenever I begin a project on my house I freeze up. I cannot make a decision to save my life. What would you recommend? Post something on your blog if you like.

Below are photos of the 1st floor of my home
(still needs some final decorating, but you get the idea).


Celebrate Good Times, Come on

The weekend started off with a little getaway. We took the train into the city and stayed at a great hotel overlooking the lake. It was in walking distance to everything (movies, restaurant, and Michigan Ave (shopping, people!).

We celebrated our anniversary and Ryan's 33rd birthday. Now that we have 3 events in such a short time (anniversary and 2 birthdays) we tend to squish everything together. I remember one year when we took a cruise for our anniversary AND we went to San Francisco to watch a 49ers game for Ryan's birthday. Those times are long gone. Now our lives are filled with true responsibility - Children. We would not have it any other way!

So, my favorite shopping friend (she coined that term) stayed at my house to watch the twinnies for the night. My kids did not even flinch when we left the house. Holland was obsessed with Miss Dub (she calls her "E"). She loves babies! And Ethan is pretty easy going these days. So we were off to a night alone. YAY!

Yesterday, we celebrated Ryan's birthday. I feel bad that it was a little low-key. Ryan does not seem to mind. We ate dinner and cake with some friends at church and that was that. And who doesn't appreciate a yummy Marzipan Cake form a delicious bakery?

Happy Birthday Ryan!



I love when they share with each other, when they hug & kiss each other, and I LOVE when they hold hands.


Thanks to you...

Thank you Mandee for my cute Notebook. I haven't decided what to write in it. But I almost want to frame it. Maybe I will use it as Wish list? Write cute things my kiddies do? A journal? Don't know...but thanks for thinking of me. You are so sweet.

Thank you Kendee for spending the evening with me and my family. The pix are cute and you are a super cute pregnant girl!