Monday, December 28, 2009

Uncle Paul

We're so happy that Uncle Paul (JaNae's little brother) finally made it in spite of the snow storm the weekend before Christmas. It's been almost 3 years since we've seen him and it was fun to reconnect and get to know him again.

By the time he got here we had exactly 19 hours to catch up before he was off again. Lots of wrestling, cuddling, reading books and a quick late night talk filled our few hours. By some miracle the kids all warmed up immediately and fell in love with Uncle Paul. Maya was even balling hysterically as we said goodbye.

I must little brother is growing up. He laughed at me as I struggled to imagine him doing grown up things (like falling head-over-heels in love...isn't he like 12 years old still?!?!) Being second of 11 kids its always a fun experience to get to know my little siblings once they reach adulthood but its always harder than I imagined to "let" them grow up in my head! I swear the realization that they are growing up always ages me a few years...Is this what it's going to feel like when my own babies start heading out into life? I'm sure it will be much worse!

We're so glad you didn't give up and you made it even for one short day Paul!!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Let it Snow!!!

This is what we woke up to on Saturday morning! Definitely the most snow we've seen since moving to this area.

And it just kept coming all day!

Into the blizzard! We couldn't hold the kids off even though it hadn't stopped snowing.

It was much more fun once it stopped snowing. Ryan spent most of Sunday shoveling us out of here. I think I haven't done anything but get kids bundled and un-bundled over and over for the last couple day. Is anyone with me on how long it takes to get all those layers on?!? At least Hayley and Maya are old enough now to actually stay outside for longer than it takes to put everything on!

Hurray for some great hills in our neighborhood!

We even dug a snow-cave. That's how deep we're talking. Hayley and Maya have just spent the last 2 hours playing polar bears in their cave! So fun...

(We really did attempt to have everyone pose for the camera in this picture but Maya fell back then started slipping on top of this is what you get!)

Ryan managed to make it to work today and we're hoping my brother Paul finds a way to fly in today. He's stopping in for 48 hours to say hi on his way to England for Christmas. (We're super excited because it's been almost 3 years since we last saw him!) But his arrival on Sunday night was thwarted by the hurry Paul...the clock to your departure is ticking quickly!!!

Foot Fetish

I love discovering kids little quirks! Maybe this one is revolting if it's not your kid but I just find it adorable. Alice is our little toe-picker. She loves to clean out her toes as you try to change her diaper. On this day, Hayley had sat on the couch to get a foot rub and a heart to heart with mom after a hard day at school, when Alice decided that Hayley's feet really needed some cleaning out between the toes first! What a little cutie...

Funny thing is, Hayley's obsession is foot rubs. She gives good ones too! So pretty soon we'll have a full foot service salon in our house.
Alice: clean 'em out and get them ready
Hayley: rub and moisturize you think she could specialize in toe nail painting?

I'll work on it. Considering I can't stand feet...don't even like to touch my own...I've got a good thing going here!

p.s. did you notice the new front room set up in that top picture. If you've been here...we converted our front room into a much larger room by moving some major furniture. Believe me it's no small task to move a 75 gallon fish tank!!! But we did it with no fish deaths. And I love the new set up...we can actually all fit in the front room now and the shag rug just calls to me to sit on the floor and play with the kids!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


These are the all-time classic-can't-live-without movies according to me. I believe that each on can be watched an infinite number of times without growing bored! And now that I have so many on my list I can just cycle through them regularly!

Maybe you've seen them all--maybe there are some you've never heard of and need to go running to find and maybe you need to enlighten me with your knowledge of others that I haven't discovered.

But just for the record...this is where hours of enjoyment in my life have been spent!

It all started with Anne-with an "e." Who couldn't love Anne of Green Gables? or Avonlea?

(This is definitely where I took notes on the art of a kiss to remember...but there were more lessons to come...)

(Anne of Green Gables, 4 hours + Anne of Avonlea, 4 hours)

When I was 17 years old the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice was released during my last year in England. I remember watching it episode by episode as it came out on TV each week. It was torture waiting for the next week!!! You think you had to wait 5 hours for that kiss...I had to wait 6 weeks!!!

Pride & Prejudice has become the measuring stick, in my book, that all of my classic movies are measured by. Mr. Darcy also makes a difficult comparison for most dating partners...luckily I was able to far surpass him with my own "Mr. Darcy"!

(6 episodes, 55 minutes each)

My parents still live in England and have been so kind as to keep us up to date on all the latest BBC releases. In recent years we have been introduced to several more wonderful adaptations of excellent stories. Elizabeth Gaskell is one of the authors of these stories. I can't say that I have managed to read more than a couple chapters of her books but I am completely in love with her stories through the eye of the camera!

North and South (not the Civil War classic that you are thinking of)

North and South is a darker story than P&P but every bit as grasping with excellent character development! I love the use of light and color in this movie and how it tells so much of the story without a word! The romantic tension in these movies is almost too much for me to handle, and yet keeps me coming back!

(4 episodes, 1 hour each)

Cranford. Lighter than North and South. Just as captivating as Pride & Prejudice. Darling story about a town and it's people. Left me with a few unanswered questions--not compeltely satisfied with the conclusion but loved it all the same. Typically in these movies the heroin has a good romance to end things. This one used the heroin as the narrator but never gave her a happy-ever-after ending. But don't take that as criticism. It can be refreshing not to have all the loose ends neatly tied up at the end of a movie. The realist in me just needs to peek through!

Good news is...just heard from my parents that there is a special coming out this Christmas that is Cranford a year later or something like that. So I'm excited to see if it helps the ending a little. I'll have to post the title of it once it is available to us USA-ers...usually not for quite some time!

(5 episodes, 1 hour each)

Although I love this one, I wouldn't rate this as highly as P&P. It has a little more feel of an old-time soap opera but it is still a classic to me. I love the relationship of the father and daughter "goosie". Again, excellent characters and actors.

Biggest flaw...they end with a fabulous romace hook-up but forget the kiss...this was almost unforgivable in my book. I was in disbelief for quite a while. Since when do you see the couple walking off into the distance on some expedition and call that satisfying?!?!

(4 episodes, 75 minutes each)

I love this version of Sense & Sensibility. Great comical adaptation of Jane Austen's book.
But I never knew what I was missing until I saw this recent BBC version of Sense and Sensibility. It doesn't have quite the comic twist that Hugh Grant naturally lends to the earlier version. But I have to say I favor this latest Sense and Sensibility. Instead of just feeling like it was a great movie, I leave it feeling part of it and completely wrapped up in the emotion and drama of the characters. (Ryan said I couldn't wipe the smile off my face for a good 10 minutes when we finished watching it!)

(3 episodes, 1 hour each)

My parents haven't stopped talking about this one for the past year but it just recently became available in the right format for us to enjoy. So thanks to Netflix we just finished the 1st season. I think season 2 is available to us February 16th...and the 3rd season is about to start airing in the UK right now.

Lark Rise to Candleford is a trilogy of semi-autobiographical novels about the countryside of north-east England, at the end of the 19th century. They were written by Flora Thompson and first published together in 1945.

This is a different feel than the other movies I have reported on because it is in an episode format. Each TV episode has it's own sub-storyline with the main characters developing through each episode.

The TV series takes episodes from the three books to create the story of two towns. A small, farm-town, Lark Rise and the more wealthy town of Candleford. The characters and actors are top notch. The episodes entertaining. I think it took us a couple episodes to know the characters well enough to feel "hooked" but now we are wondering how we are going to live without our daily installment until the next season is released!

(10 episodes, 1 hour each)

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Turkey-lurkey Craft

Last year we made these turkeys with apples as the body. But this year I came up with an option that the kids will actually eat!

Using a pumpkin-chocolate chip muffin as the body we decorate using toothpicks, and whatever candy you can find! I bought a bag of "peach rings" from Target and that seemed to make a good face. Used frosting to "glue" on chocolate chip eyes. I've never found anything that works as well as candy corn for the gobbler. Little marshmallows would work well for the feathers too.

Pumpkin Muffins

1 2/3 c flour (I do 1 c white +2/3c whole wheat flour)
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1 c pumpkin
½ c melted butter (I do 1/4 c butter + 1/4 c applesauce)
½ tsp almond extract (add last) (I usually just use vanilla extract)
1 Tbl. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 c chocolate chips(last)

Mix wet and dry separately then add together.
Put in muffin tins.
Bake at 350° for 20-25 mins.

Enjoy!!! I always double or triple goes fast!

I'm heading into Hayley's first grade class next week to make these the day before they take off a couple days for Thanksgiving. Yum! Yum!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Good timing for gratitude

Maybe it's fitting that I have a lesson in gratitude the week before Thanksgiving. Tonight I find myself exceedingly grateful for the loads of laundry that I washed, folded and put away today.

Our washing machine up and quit several days ago and I had thought I'd be at the laundr-o-mat today doing loads of laundry. But no, I got to leisurely put them through cycles then fold them on my bed while I watched the news.

Thanks must go to my fabulous husband who managed to diagnose the problem and fix it for $30 instead of the $100's we were dreading having to spend on a new machine!

I just don't hear myself saying it often, so listen up...hurray for laundry!

Now, I find myself walking around my house feeling grateful for every appliance that makes my life easier (and hoping nothing else brakes!)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Welcome to the Emergency Room Club! finally happened: our official welcome to the parents of the emergency room. After 6 1/2 years in the child-rearing business we made our first trip to the emergency room for a broken bone yesterday. And not completely surprisingly, Alice that was the little one that thought it was time for our induction!

Thankfully, it wasn't one of those moments of panic that sent us speeding down the road to the ER. No, we decided to think about it for a night first. Just to warm up to the idea.

Alice fell down the stairs on Thursday evening. I was somewhat surprised that it was such an innocent event. Just an accident--a trip. Not a daring leap from the counter or some other ridiculous stunt. Alice still doesn't talk, so with lots of shaking her head "yes" and "no" we decided she had pulled a muscle in her neck. She laid flat and completely still and didn't want anyone to touch her all evening (very strange...and somewhat nice...this kid never holds still!) By Friday morning she was still in a lot of pain so we thought we'd better get some x-rays just to be sure. So, we leisurely farmed Maya out to play with friends (thanks Alicia!), found someone to pick up Hayley from school later (thanks Becky!) and waited for Ryan to come home from work before we began our adventure at the ER.

After some painful examinations and x-rays the determination was a broken collar bone. The doctor assured us that this was a good bone to break--it heals quickly and cleanly. No casts. Just pain for a week or so. We have a cute little sling but of course that is a little too confining so she mostly just holds her arm by her side. We're happy that she's at least off the couch and moving around and hoping we don't have to grace the halls of the ER anytime soon again!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

1st Grader '09-'10

Here's the official school picture. She is 6 1/2 years old.

We're so happy to be Hayley's parents! It's so fun to watch her grow and learn and mature. She is loving school for both education and social reasons. She's a natural little social butterfly that is just friends with everyone and is still our little sponge that wants to learn and understand all that she can. What a fun age!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Halloween-ing 2009

I tried to fully appreciate how stress-free Halloween costumes were around here this year! I know that one day that is going to change but for now--kids look at costumes at the store but they don't even think to buy them let alone beg for them. They don't even ask me to make elaborate costumes the night before. They simply go to their dress up closet an hour before trick or treating begins and choose something to wear.

These are our two Dorothy's from the Wizard of Oz--with their favorite stuffed dogs dressed up as Toto.

Maya had thought she was going to be a princess (no lack of options in the closet for that) but then Hayley chose to wear the little school uniform dress that G&G T sent her (she actually wears it to school all the time and people always tell her she looks like Dorothy). She managed to convince Maya to dress up as Dorothy also. Only Maya decided she didn't want to wear the school uniform dress that actually looks like a Dorothy dress. She wore a different blue and white dress because it had little flowers on it--so she really wasn't "dressed up" at all. But the important thing is they both thought they were Dorothy!

And with matching pink sparkly shoes that dressed up as ruby red slippers we and our imaginations went trick-or-treating!

This little bug just happened to fit into a pumpkin fairy outfit that I had bought in post Halloween clearance sales several years ago. It just hasn't fit anyone at the right time of year yet. She was a cutie and learned the rules of trick or treating really fast!

This is the double-sucker suck! Inhale that sugar!!!

The loot...this picture doesn't do it justice. We did one drop part way through trick-or-treating to empty buckets at home. Then by the time we were done I had to help Maya carry her bucket it was so heavy. She just about stumbled every time she took it to go up to another door. Time to go home!