Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Almond Joy Cake

I've been waiting to make this recipe for almost a year now, wanting to make sure I had plenty of other people around to eat it. I finally decided our vow renewal weekend would be a great excuse to indulge in all these calories and to influence others to join me.

I wanted a round cake with layers instead of baking it in a 9x13 pan, so I ended up with way too much of the coconut filling and the chocolate topping. It doesn't look very good in this picture, but believe me, it was DELICIOUS!

Here's how I would make it the next time, halving the amounts for the filling and topping:

Step 1: Chocolate cake mix with pudding, mix and bake as directed on box. (I used Betty Crocker double chocolate that already has pudding in it.)

Step 2: On stovetop in saucepan, mix 1/2 can evaporated milk and 1/2 cup sugar. Boil rapidly, then ad 12 large marshmallows. Stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and add 1/2 bag (7 oz) coconut. Spread between layers of cake and then over the top layer.

Step 3: On stovetop in saucepan, combine 3/4 cup sugar, the other 1/2 can of evaporated milk and 1/2 stick of butter. Stir until boiling. Remove and add 1/2 bag chocolate chips. Add almonds and spread/pour over coconut. I also added more slivered almonds to the top for garnish.


Monday, May 30, 2011

A Decade

Has it really been ten years? I was trying to remember what I thought life with Chris would be like on May 26, 2001. I know that I thought for our 10 year anniversary we'd take a trip back out to the coast of Washington State and stay in Cabin #10 at the Klaloch Lodge again, just as we did on our honeymoon. Did I think by then we'd have any kids, much less FOUR? I guess not.

Well, we didn't take a trip for our anniversary but a few people did...
From left: my nieces Elizabeth (top) and Erica, BIL Keith, sister Katie, our family, my mom (next to me) and Chris's parents.

And there was no place I'd rather have been.

We had a wonderful visit with everyone. My brother and his family arrived later on Thursday evening so didn't make the ceremony but it was great to see them. My family all left on Saturday and Chris's parents left on Sunday morning. It's seemed really quiet ever since.

I am so fortunate to have friends in the wedding business; Marcia officiated the ceremony, Matt did the pictures and Renee made the bouquets for my sister and I. My friend, Stephanie, also got us a wonderful suite at The Grand Geneva. I got to watch TV from a huge jacuzzi - what a treat! I owe them all a tremendous amount of gratitude for helping to make our anniversary celebration one to remember!

So here's my favorite picture of our family. It wasn't easy to get the kids to all look at the camera at the same time AND not act goofy. I especially like William's expression in this one...

I am so grateful for the tremendous blessings of the last ten years....now on to the next ten!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Oh. My. Gosh.

I haven't been great about blogging and have been even WORSE about taking pictures, so bear with this image-less post. But I have to record some of the excitement of these last 10 days since I stopped working full-time.

It's been SUCH a whirwind for me! There were two days last week that I was gone for almost 10 hours - one when I went up to Milwaukee to see my friend, Darcy, who did my hair. Darcy was a stylist in a former life but is now the Director of Catering at a Sheraton outside the city so she took some of my business cards and added me to their preferred vendor list. Darcy and I met many years ago during my stint on Mackinac Island. She knew the old me, pre-marriage and kids and keeps all my secrets for me.

On Wednesday, I had to go to a meeting in the Chicago suburbs with my florist friend, Renee, who is having me work with her on a really large wedding in July. It's at one of the mansions on the lake and is VERY intense so she needs all the help she can get. I came home absolutely EXHAUSTED from that meeting, even though technically I had spent most of that day just sitting in the car.

On Friday, I had my very first wedding consultation. I was sooooo nervous! It was a referral from a girl I know who works at one of the local golf clubs that does a lot of weddings. I had run into her at Walmart the Saturday before my last week of work and told her what I was doing - three days later, she emailed me this gentleman's name. So I met up with him and his wife and his daughter, the bride, on Friday evening. I had thrown together a few printed materials for them to look at and basically just spent an hour doing my best to listen to them. That was my strategy: to listen. Well, it worked because at the end of the consulation, the father of the bride said that he was "extremely impressed" by me and today he called to hire me for my highest priced package. WOW!

I know it's just one booking, but I'm pretty encouraged by the fact that it was my very first consult AND I haven't even been doing this for two weeks! Now I just have to get 15 more to be able to make more money than I even made at my 50+ hour a week job. I know wedding coordination is going to be a lot of work, but at least I'm not sitting in a windowless office for 10 hours a day. The flexibility of being one's own boss is something I think just about everyone longs for and now I have it! Praise to God!

And this week is going to be another crazy one because our families are coming in for our 10 year vow renewal on Thursday. I'm so excited to have everyone in for this visit and also to get some really great photos out of it courtesy of my friend, Matt Mason. He took the family pictures for our anniversary last year, too, and I just love them. I hope the boys behave themselves during the ceremony and for the pictures afterward.

After this weekend, hopefully things will get back to a more "normal" schedule and I'll be able to focus a bit more on growing my business and getting my name out there. But I'm certainly not going to wish away the next few days - it's going to be so fun!

Monday, May 16, 2011


I took Scrabble on our usual 2 mile walk this morning and watched the sun coming up over the lake. There was a difference this morning, though: I didn't have to watch the clock and worry about being late for work. Wow, it still hasn't hit me.

I have already received a referrel for a wedding next April and so I will meet with them this Friday evening. Prior to that I have a TON of stuff to prepare: price lists, contracts, credit card authorization forms, etc. I went to an accountant this morning and set up an LLC and will go to the bank tomorrow to set up my business account. I guess I didn't realize how quickly things would start happening for me, but I'm so grateful for all of it!

I have two other potential weddings on the line, too, for next summer. And I haven't even "officially" launched yet! It's going to be a very busy couple of weeks around here but beginning in June, I will really be hitting the pavement and trying to get my name out.

We are also really excited to have our families coming up next week for our 10 year vow renewal. It's so nice of them to make the trip out here to celebrate with us. Although we do love living here in Wisconsin, it's hard to be away from our families so much. Hopefully we will do well enough this summer to allow us a trip to Michigan later in the year, too.

Happy Monday!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Happy Endings...

Well, this is it: my last day as a full-time working mom. I can't wait to spend this summer with my beautiful boys!

When I started in hotels on my 23rd birthday (just a few years ago, folks!), I never imagined I'd be working in them this long. The only reason I even interviewed for that job in reservations was because my friend wanted to work there but she didn't have a ride. So that was how I got started in my long and illustrious career in the glamorous world of hospitality.

I've done a lot of traveling and met so many great, great people over the years. I have a few lifelong friends to show for it and this career also allowed our family to move to this beautiful area that we are thankful every day to call "home." I haven't made a TON of money at it, but enough to support my growing family for the last 7+ years. Overall, this industry has been good to me.

I truly feel, though, that I've been on a trajectory toward this moment for a long time and, now, here I am on the eve of becoming an entrepreneur. It's so exciting and scary, heading into this unknown territory but I'm so thankful to have the love and support of my family and friends. I don't know what I'd do without them!

Chris, especially, has been wonderful. He is willing to step up and do whatever it takes to allow me the freedom to take on this challenge because he understands how hard it's been on me all these years, leaving my babies. Even leaving them with the best dad in the world doesn't make up for the pain in my heart as Luke cries "Mama, Mama" every morning as I put my makeup on. No more of that! (Luke crying, that is. Makeup will ALWAYS be a part of my life!)

So today I will say goodbye to all the wonderful people at my job (and to those who are not-so-wonderful, too) and never look back. At 5pm I will start my life anew and see where it takes us. Stay tuned to hear about our lives in transition....

Happy(est) Friday!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Since I'm having such a hard time getting through my last few days at this job, I thought I would try to focus instead on the things I am thankful for. But that post would be pretty much about my kids and my family, so perhaps just the things I am going to be thankful for when I get home tonight after the kids go to bed...

Popcorn, the way my dad used to make it - oil, a pan and some Red Robin seasoning. YUM! And the best part of having it as an adult is that my mom won't pig it all so there will be stale, chewy stuff left for breakfast tomorrow. Best way to start any day!

I'm sooooo glad we just found a store out here that carries this Michigan memory! None of us can get enough of it, so I go with diet (the ONLY diet drink I like) and guzzle it freely.

Curled up with Chris on the couch, we have to keep skipping back on the DVR because the lines on this show are so fast, furious and FUNNY! We like Community and The Office of course, too, but this one is my personal favorite.

What are you thankful for this Thursday?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


That's exactly how I feel right now: useless. Today my co-workers, in an effort to move forward, have divided up my work so that now I officially have NOTHING to do. Until next Friday, I have to sit here at my computer doing absolutely nothing for 9.5 hours per day. For anyone who's ever been chained to a desk, you know what this feels like.

But the worst part is that while I sit here, I know there are little boys at home who love and miss me. Yes, I'm getting paid to sit here but it's a pretty dismal way to spend most of my waking hours when I know what's waiting for me at home.

Regardless, I will do it. Only seven more days....66.5 hours...3,990 more minutes....until I'm FREE!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What's in a Name?

I think naming a child is a huge first responsibility for parents. This is something Chris and I took VERY seriously. I couldn't wait to get baby name books from the library the minute I found out I was pregnant. We talked endlessly about girl names as well as boy names, but then put all the books away until we had the ultrasound.

Once we found out we were having a boy, we got down to business. Chris liked names like "Walker" and "Parker" and "Sawyer" and I did, too, but I just didn't like the sing-songyness of a first name ending in -er because our last name ends in -er. So a lot of name options got nixed just because of that.

I liked names that didn't have a nickname because I always hated getting asked in school if I preferred to be called "Rebecca" or "Becky" and I also didn't like that if anyone DID call me by my full name, it almost always meant I was in trouble for something.

Eventually, we settled on Owen Robert. His middle name was determined long before his first name. It's the name of Chris's favorite uncle who was just 7 years older than him and died when he was 21.

Since seeing "Legends of the Fall," I had loved the name Samuel. And I loved how in the movie, they never called the youngest brother "Sam" or "Sammy," just "Samuel." So that was our second choice and we immediately knew when we got news our second one would be a boy that he would be Samuel David (David for my dad, who died in 2001 shortly after we got married.) Funny thing is, almost immediately after he was born, Samuel became Sammy - it just suited him perfectly!

I love this picture of them because they were just about the same ages here as William and Luke are now.

We didn't have an ultrasound with William, but I was CONVINCED he was a girl. We picked out a name and I called "her" by it whenever I would rub my tummy, dreaming of future mother-daughter pedicures. Seven days after my due date had passed, Chris told me we HAD to come up with a boy name which I thought was a colossal waste of time. We were waffling between Jack and Luke (middle name would be Gregory after Chris's dad) when I said, "What about William? We liked that name at the beginning." Chris immediately said, "That's it. It's William." Two days later, William showed up.

Can I just tell you how difficult it is to come up with this many boy names? When we had the ultrasound for our last one and found out we were to add a fourth son to the mix, I was SO DONE picking out boy names. We really wrestled with it for a long time and this was definitely the hardest to decide on. My pick early on was Cash but Chris didn't like it. Another favorite was Gage, but both of those options seemed a bit trendy and didn't match up with the classic names we had picked for the older three.

We finally decided on Wyatt and the middle name would be Christopher, since we had pretty much run out of other male family members. We got into the hospital elevator on the way up to have him and Chris asked if I was really set on Wyatt. I'd been having second thoughts and told him I really still liked Luke. Less than an hour later, we welcomed Luke Christopher into the world.

But now I would like to present.....Jaden and Mike.

A few days ago William decided he would like to be called "Jaden" and we have to call Luke "Mike." Not sure why we agonized so much over their names if they were just going to change them anyway.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Quote About Motherhood

“The most important person on earth is a mother. She cannot claim the honor of having built Notre Dame Cathedral. She need not. She has built something more magnificent than any cathedral -- a dwelling for an immortal soul, the tiny perfection of her baby's body.... The angels have not been blessed with such a grace. They cannot share in God's creative miracle to bring new saints to Heaven. Only a human mother can. Mothers are closer to God the Creator than any other human creature. God joins forces with mothers in performing this act of creation.... What on God's earth is more glorious than this: to be a mother.”